Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Election 08 - Planes, Tanks, and Bombs

This is shaping up to one doozy of an election. Folks in Maine braved all kinds of wonderful winter weather to cast their vote. Voters in VA were so fired up that many of them showed up last Tuesday to participate in their primary.

Among the issues that concern those who’ve voted or are considering their vote is the continuing war in Iraq. I’m pretty sure that most of you have already decided where you are on the war. And though I’ve given it some thought this may be the first time I’ve actually written on the subject.
For me the issue isn’t confined to where I stand on the war as much as how do I view the use of military power. The U.S. began the conquest of Iraq as a pre-emptive strike against what we thought was an imminent military threat. We were told that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction that could be used against the U.S. or U.S. interest in fairly short order. We were also told that America would be safer once Saddam Hussein was removed from power. It turns out that we were wrong. There were no weapons of mass destruction and though Saddam has been removed, tried and executed we’re now told that we must remain in Iraq to battle Al-Qaeda who presumably wasn’t entrenched in Iraq until after the war. From where we sit now it seems that we’re between a rock and a hard place. Some say we must stay the course, root out all the terrorist and achieve victory. Others believe that a definite withdrawal from Iraq is the best course of action. In my view there is no easy way out which is why I’m keenly interested in the next president’s view on the use of military power.

For the last several decades America pursued a policy of having a strong military to counter any potential threat from the old Soviet Union. Our military strategy was based on matching land, air and sea power in sufficient strength so as to counter any advance by the enemy. However at this time I don’t think this strategy is wise in the battle against terrorism. We’ve already seen that an easy conquest of an enemy country isn’t the same as victory, nor does it guarantee instant safety. In all the talk about the surge, timetables, staying the course etc. one thing we haven’t done is have an honest evaluation of our current doctrine regarding combating terrorism and the most prudent use of the military in this conflict. It’s not enough for us to think that the surge worked and now all we have to do is wait another few years for the Iraqis to construct a cohesive government so that we can finally go home. Failure to thoroughly examine the mindset that led us into war may be one of the surest signs that in the not too distant future we’ll embark on the same course of action with the same flawed reasoning and end up with the same distressing results.

As a citizen I’m against the belief that America needs to increase the military and prepare for extended deployments around the world. As I said before it doesn’t appear that a huge, overpowering military is the safest bet against terrorism. We may need to develop a long term plan that focuses on digging up the roots of terror so that it ceases to be a significant factor in our way of life. Of course that may mean re-examining some of the sacred cows that make up our way of life. Some will strongly disagree with this and charge that we are at war with terrorist. Okay, so we’re at war. What’s the best way to win it? Perhaps I’m wrong and we should engage in a multi-year military build up. Shouldn’t we at least do a complete and thorough examination of all factors involved before making such a move? And should we choose such a course of action what’s that mean for our foreign policy for the next decade and the one after that and the one after that?

As a citizen I don’t think the nation can afford another military build-up and at the same time keep pace with the growing economies of China, India and other developing nations. And even if we could I don’t think it’s prudent to sink the amount of money it would take to do so. If the next president insists on having the ‘strongest most well equipped’ military on the planet then he or she should at least tell the American people that such a force would cost in excess of a trillion dollars. And I for one think that this nation could invest that money elsewhere.

Finally as a believer in Christ and thus one committed to the preservation and building up of all life created in Him image I feel it’s part of my responsibility to refrain from beating the drums of war too loudly or eagerly. War costs lives. And having the most powerful and advanced military in the world can too easily cloud our vision regarding the toll that war will take on those we invade. As believers I’m very concerned that evangelicals seemed just a tad bit too willing to jump on the shock and awe bandwagon without taking stock of the very real lives this action would take. Does that mean that we never go to war? Not necessarily. It does mean that we who hold life to be most precious must not be too eager to encourage our government to prosecute a war that will no doubt result in the loss of life for thousands or even tens of thousands of people. As believers in Christ who also happen by His providence to be Americans we must extend the scope of morality to include the rightness or wrongness of using military power. If we are to have a voice let’s make sure that voice is one of temperance in the use of force before we launch into the fog of war.

To Him Who Loves Us…
Pastor Lance


F. Cruzata said...

Militarily I believe we fight fire with fire. While this view will no doubt be abhorred the best course of action is to beefup the special forces groups dedicated to counter and anti terrorism. Allow the restraints to come off and let them take the war to the enemy. The consequence of this is innocent lives on both sides. I don't have the answer but to me it's similar to Vietnam. I don't mean in the sense that most do. What I mean is that our military tactics had to change to wage war against the guerilla tactics used in Vietnam.

Studying history it's a sad state that the US military is always training for the last war. When I was in the military we did all of our training in the woods and swamps ala Vietnam. All the tactics we were trained in were to combat an enemy similar to the Vietcong.

Now we see the military doing all it's training to fight a desert enemy. However what we're fighting, IMLO, are not battalions or even squads of terrorists but cells as small as 2-3 people. Because of this I say we allow the SF guys to develop their own "cells" and go after these terrorists.

Because of our current course of action we have basically guaranteed that we're going to have to stay in the area. What I see our SF bases spread throughout the country with a few large bases as the main points for resupply.

We are not going to be pulling out of Iraq anytime soon. As much as I dislike to say it, any departure I believe will leave a vacuum which will be filled with a problem 7 times worse than the original.

Anonymous said...

I'm posting anonymously because I'm going to share some information that my identity could be used to compromise some mission efforts in the Middle East.

As far as why we went, I'm sure none of us know everything. It is certain that our presence has caused many of these little cell groups to go to Iraq allowing us to fight them more effectively.

More important than this is the effect it has had on the people of Iraq and the Middle East in general. One of our missionaries in Iraq had a little home school for his children. When the fighting started and the people were freed to be educated, many of the locals began sending their children to this missionary for their children to learn alongside his children. So God raised up a Christian school to teach Muslims. In the heat of battle, this school has been in an area heavily populated with Al-Qaeda. In order to keep from drawing attention to themselves, the terrorists have been protecting the school. Talk about God's providence!

Another missionary came back to us and told us of the signs in and on roads to Iraq erected by locals in appreciation of the presence of the US military. Whatever we may think of the political landscape in Washington DC, the presence of the US military has generated a pro-US sentiment among many in the area.

This has opened doors for fruitfully sharing the gospel. In a recent clandestine meeting of missionaries reports were made as to what was happening across the Middle East. Iraq and Iran are seeing huge numbers of new followers of Christ.

Give thanks in all things. God is doing His thing despite us.

Your Brother in Christ