Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Syria, War, and Hypocrisy?

I've been, as usual, keeping a fairly close eye on the news these days, especially anything pertaining to the Middle East. I try to pay less attention these days to politics, largely because I find it so infuriating. But try as I may, I can't neglect it altogether. We as Christian believers need to be up to speed on what's going on in the world, hopefully projecting it all through a biblical lens.

One thing I'm curious about—does anyone notice the eerie reversal of roles now that the Obama Administration is sending signals that it's going to attack Syria over the Bashar Assad regime's alleged use of chemical weapons against its own people? Let's go back 10 years when the Iraq war was ignited by then-Republican President George W. Bush. What was the hue and cry from the left? "We went into Iraq on bogus pretenses...we attacked a country that had not attacked us...Bush is doing this for revenge because Saddam tried to kill his daddy....yada yada." That's only a small sample.

Barack Obama was vocally against the Iraq war. Current Vice President Joe Biden said that if Bush went to war without getting permission from Congress, he would lead a move to impeach the president. What a difference a decade makes, and what a difference when you're the ones in power instead of your opponents. Consider this observation from Russia's foreign ministry spokesman, borrowed from Chuck Missler's newsletter and other published news accounts:

Alexander Lukashevich recounted the current situation:
“…brings to mind the events of 10 years ago, when, on the pretext of false information about the Iraqi possession of weapons of mass destruction, the United States outside the U.N. went on an adventure, the consequences of which are well known.”
Russia stands behind its remarks that the evidence pointing to the Syrian military being responsible for the attack was prefabricated in order to frame the government.
Lukashevich urged the U.S. and its allies to look into all of the facts before drawing a conclusion. Russia took credit for the Syrian government allowing U.N. weapons inspectors to investigate the site of the alleged chemical attack outside of Damascus.
“This is, in our [Russia’s] view an opportunity for a thorough, impartial and objective investigation of all the circumstances of what happened,” Lukashevich said.

Obama and his Democratic allies were swearing up and down that Bush lied and people died, although most Western intelligence agencies were agreed on Saddam having chemical weapons etc. Now, what are we hearing about Syria? We're hearing about Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons, and also accusations that Assad ordered their use against his own people, just like Saddam gassed the Kurds in the north of Iraq. If indeed the war button gets pushed, will the new slogan be "Obama lied and people died?" Probably not from the Democrats.

Of course, we can watch the appointed talking heads of right and left yell at each other on the cable news talk shows, shouting over each other, refusing to answer questions put to them that are inconvenient to answer, gabbling on and on with prefab talking points. Childish, and oh, so tiresome.

But what about the humanitarian crisis? Don't you care? Of course I care. I also care about the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution. I feel now as I did 10 years ago—I wish that "we the people" would force our elected leaders to follow the supreme law of the land. The president does not need Congressional approval to order military action in the face of a direct threat to our country or an attack against our country. However, he may not order a military attack on another nation in the absence of a Congressional declaration of war. Don't give me the "it's not practical in this day and age" nonsense. We have a law, we have a Constitution. Let's follow it and do it right.

As an aside, I don't believe that the U.S. is called to be the world's policeman. National sovereignty means something. That's my ideal. But in the real world, it gets quite complicated. Let me give you an example of the twists and turns of national interest, geopolitics, and convoluted reasoning. Isn't it interesting that we only seem to find intervention proper to do against small nations who can't defend themselves against our armed might? We never tried to intervene in Russia or China when the atheistic, communist governments committed mass killings, did we? But little Serbia was bombed by Bill Clinton, like Bush ordered the bombing of Iraq. If Serbia or Iraq had deliverable nuclear warheads like Russia or China, perhaps the calculus used to attack would have been different.

Of course, when this is debated, you'll hear all the reasons and justifications. We can judge for ourselves whether these reasons and justifications are specious. President (and General) Dwight D. Eisenhower warned about the military industrial complex for a reason. He was right then, and he's right now. Now, if our elected leaders in concert with other concerned nations think it proper to intervene in the affairs of other nations for true humanitarian reasons, fine. But let's do it lawfully and not by diktat. But to me, it seems like leaders of all parties—no matter how much they claim to revere the Constitution—really find the Constitution more of an impediment than anything else. Some days, I wonder if it even matters anymore. Is it worth the paper on which it is printed? I think it is, but unless "we the people" decide to hold our leaders feet to the fire over it, it will be de facto worthless. And that is a tragedy.

In the meantime, innocent men, women, and children continue to die horrible deaths for the benefit of a few to maintain their power, control, and wealth. Over and over again. It grieves the heart, but it's as predictable as clockwork. Time marches on toward its ultimate denouement, just as Scripture says. And that is the one comfort I take in it all— we as believers serve a sovereign God who does not slumber or sleep. He has fixed a day when He will judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:31). The Bashar Assads, Saddam Husseins, and yes, even a few American presidents, will stand before Him and give an account.

And there will be final justice.

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