The Middle East Mess: Obama Disconnected

The Middle East is more of a mess with each passing day. And we helped. The major player now in that area is not the United States but Iran, which is actively exporting its Islamist ideology. I know that George Bush’s actions can be critiqued, but at least when he decided to unleash a surge in Iraq, it worked. Radical elements in that country were set back significantly. Iraq, for the first time in quite a while, experienced something approaching stability.

That has now changed.

Anyone remember the city of Fallujah? It was Islamist Central until we finally brought it under control. The same with the city of Ramadi. What’s happening now? Fallujah is now back under the domination of Al Qaeda. There is no longer any Iraqi government presence there; the Al Qaeda flag is flying from all the buildings. Ramadi is now a battleground, prepared to go the same way.

Barack Obama inherited a fairly stable Iraq, but instead of keeping a small force there to maintain stability, he chose to pull out completely. When’s the last time you heard him say anything about Iraq? He seems to have forgotten it, and apparently doesn’t much care what happens. He never believed in our intervention there in the first place, so he’s disconnected to events on the ground. Being disconnected to events is one of the themes of his governance.

What about Afghanistan? We’re about to see the same scenario play out there. Even though Obama once said this was the right war, one he could support, he’s in the process of pulling an Iraq in Afghanistan. The Taliban, who were driven from the country, are now reentering. Instability is on the rise. Another tragedy is in the offing.

Behind all of this is the belligerence of Iran, the big power now in the region. It continues to develop nuclear capability, while we pretend its leaders are becoming more moderate. The “deal” Obama-Kerry want to solidify with that rogue nation has no mechanism to stop Iran’s drive toward domination, including a publicly stated intent to destroy Israel once it attains nuclear status. There’s a lot of posturing going on that belies the reality:

Sheep & Wolf

It’s always easy to talk tough, but one must have the stomach and backbone to follow through with action. Maybe that’s what’s missing:

Too Transparent

Given the opportunity to make his mark and stand up to Iran, our leader chose another path:

Iran

We are not in a good place. Unless there is a jarring wake-up call to this administration, things are going to get worse, much worse, very soon.

Dreamy-Eyed Progressives vs. America’s Security

I’m concerned that not enough Americans are paying close attention to the latest developments in the Middle East, particularly the deal reached with Iran by the US and a few other nations. Iran was hurting under our sanctions; now we’ve pulled back on those sanctions without getting a solid promise that the country that seeks to obliterate Israel will actually stop working on its nuclear capability. I’ve read a number of commentaries on the “deal,” and there are so many holes in it, it is virtually useless.

Excellent

Here is where a skewed worldview comes into play, one that will put us at greater risk. President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry seem to believe the Iranian leaders will become reasonable. They are sadly mistaken because they have a distorted concept of the nature of sinful man. Our “leaders” have spent most of their lives bemoaning American actions in the world and criticizing their own country more than other nations. It’s as if they think the United States is the primary hindrance to world peace. Iran doesn’t mind this warped perspective; it works to their distinct advantage:

All Smiles

It also helps them move closer to the goal of wiping Israel off the face of the map. Ever since the creation of Israel in 1948, the United States has been its staunchest ally, but our current leadership is more sympathetic toward the Arab world than the embattled Israelis, who are surrounded by a host of enemies. They have come to realize they can no longer count on the nation that once was their best supporter and helper in times of trouble. They are trying to adjust to the new reality:

Israel's Seat

This is not just a problem for Israel. The Obama administration, due to its off-base ideology, is unwilling and/or unable to see the long-term danger now facing America from the Iranian terrorist state. We’re also now hearing reports of talks with the terrorist organization Hezbollah, as if they also can be reasonable. Dreamy-eyed progressives are undermining our security.

The Iranian Deal: Realism vs. Idealism

Obamacare has been so front and center lately—and will continue to be so because of its effect on everyone—that our foreign policy with respect to Iran has taken a back seat in the public’s mind. Foreign policy usually takes a back seat, as we’re nearly always more concerned about what we see happening here at home. Yet what happens here in the future is vitally connected to what’s happening over there.

Iran DealWe have blustered for years now about Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. Presidents Bush and Obama have pledged not to allow such development, the basis for that concern being the radical Islamic ideology that motivates Iran. The first country to be menaced by any nuclear weapons in Iran will be Israel, which is our only staunch ally in the Middle East. Turning our backs on Israel would be a betrayal of the highest magnitude, yet this new “deal” that the Western nations have just agreed to with Iran seems to do just that.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, calls this deal a “historic mistake.” James Carafano, in National Review, calls this “Munich II,” the classic sellout of Czechoslovakia by the Western powers to Hitler in 1938. The first Munich rested on the “ridiculous notion that Hitler could be satiated.” Carafano says it is  “equally ludicrous” to believe that Iran is really open to giving up its nuclear development. Sanctions were working, to some extent; that’s what brought the Iranians to the table. Now, in this new deal, we are easing most of those sanctions. Carafano then writes about the two different worldviews in our approach to Iran: realism vs. idealism.

The realists, he says, know that sanctions were only there for one reason: bring down this regime. Idealists believe that sanctions were the “magic button” that would make the Iranians reasonable. He continues:

The parting of the ways between realists and idealists is not about two different visions of the path to a peaceful future. In the case of this particular foreign-policy conundrum, the realist approach is based on a full awareness of whom the West is really dealing with. The idealists’ assessment is delusional. . . .

The only “fact” offered so far to prove that the pact will lead to something other than a good deal for Iran is the blithe assurance that the deal was negotiated by really smart people who know what they are doing.

Are these the same “smart people” who orchestrated our response to Benghazi? We also need to realize that President Obama has a soft spot for Islamic radicalism and a seething disdain for Israel. How comforting is that? He’s always been far more willing to negotiate with Islamists than with others he perceives as his enemies:

Negotiations

I, for one, am not in my comfort zone when I think about his negotiating skills and his promises:

Iran Nuke Deal

Obama is one of those idealists Carafano wrote about, who think the Iranians will see the light, and with whom we can negotiate in good faith. As he said, this is delusional:

Bridge

Then again, maybe we just don’t know how clever he and John Kerry have been in all this. Perhaps we don’t understand their trump card:

Secret Plan

Yes, that might do it—a sure pathway for the destruction of any enemy.

Egypt & Obama

It’s never easy to get Americans interested in what’s going on in other countries. Much of what is happening in the Middle East, though, is critical, and we should be aware of developments in that crucial area. Israel, of course, is the only solid American ally in the region, and it is continually threatened with extinction. If the Muslim extremists get their way, a new holocaust will take place.

Also high on the list for extinction in that part of the world is Christianity. What we’re seeing played out in Egypt right now is downright scary. Some of the news networks aren’t providing the whole story; Christian churches are being attacked and destroyed, and individual Christians are being murdered for their beliefs. This is persecution, plain and simple.

The primary culprit in these atrocities is the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks to establish Sharia law over not only Egypt, but the entire world. Turmoil in Egypt during the misnamed Arab Spring led to an election that put a Brotherhood leader is charge of the country. Mohamed Morsi proceeded to put the Brotherhood’s plan into action, tightening the noose on Christians and moderate Muslims who were just too afraid to oppose him and his terrorist organization. Egypt was cooperating with Iran, which has declared it will wipe Israel off the map.

Finally, the military put a stop to the drift toward Sharia totalitarianism, ousting Morsi and clamping down on the Muslim Brotherhood. This has led to civil war as “days of rage” are proclaimed and casualties mount. Again, the main culprit is easy to spot:

Muslim Brotherhood

Yet this has put the United States government in an awkward situation. You see, the Obama administration had not only recognized the Morsi government as the legitimate government of Egypt, but seemed to endorse its actions. Now that the military is taking control, the people are coming out of hiding and applauding the removal of the Brotherhood. Signs displayed in the streets are not only anti-Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi, but also anti-Obama. The citizens rightly perceive that Obama chose his side in this struggle. The wrong side. This leaves him in a tough spot:

Sand Trap

If it appears he is lost in the world of international relations, it might be because he is. The American president, ostensibly in charge of the most powerful nation on earth, is powerless to do anything meaningful in that region. But he’s the one who put himself in this untenable position; he has no one else to blame.

Really Is Obama

His radical ideology trapped him. Most of the world has come to view him as little more than clownish. Unfortunately, the whole nation suffers from his reputation. This is a far cry from the adulation heaped upon him five short years ago. It was a foolish adulation then; those who cling to the earlier image have decided to remain fools now.

These Are Our Leaders?

Chuck Hagel was confirmed as the new Secretary of Defense yesterday. Forty-one Republicans voted against the appointment; four joined with all the Democrats to put the vote well over the top. Republicans who earlier voted for cloture and broke the filibuster are, in my mind, just as much to blame for this successful nomination as those who openly supported Hagel.

This is the same man who fell on his face verbally in his confirmation hearings, stumbling badly before sharp questioning. This is the man who has said the Iranian regime is a legitimately elected regime despite all the evidence of corruption and intimidation of opponents. This is the man who can’t understand why the Iranians shouldn’t have nuclear capability. And this is also the man who has made rather strong statements against our only ally in the region—Israel.

In fact, the radical anti-Semitic leader of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan, is now praising Hagel. He’s pleased that Hagel stands up to the “Jewish Lobby.” Who, in their right minds, would want Louis Farrakhan saying nice things about them? Somehow Hagel has accomplished that. But keep in mind that Hagel will not be making policy; he’ll simply be carrying out the policies of his boss, President Obama, another politician who has little good to say about Israel, and who feels far more comfortable in the Islamist world.

This “team” is rounded out by the new Secretary of State, John Kerry. He’s now on his first overseas assignment, visiting supposedly key allies, but curiously omitting some of the staunchest—no Israel or Poland on the itinerary. Kerry didn’t get off on the right foot when he stopped in the country of Kyrgyzstan; he invented a new name for the country—Kyrzakhstan. Shouldn’t the Secretary of State know how to pronounce the names of allies?

On top of that embarrassment, Kerry went to Germany to speak to students there. What did he decide to focus on? He told them that in America, even neo-Nazis have the right of free speech, and that is a good thing. Whatever one thinks of the limits of free speech, upholding Nazi free-speech rights in Germany is at least odd, probably stupid. Germany has banned the Nazi Party, and for good reasons. Germany is not America, and the history of Nazi Germany is anathema to modern Germans.  Jonah Goldberg of National Review responded to Kerry’s choice of subject rather superbly, I think, when he said,

I am all in favor of democracy promotion and singing the praises of free expression. But getting the Germans to be more tolerant of Nazi propagandizing is low on my list of priorities. Really, really, really low. Let’s see if he’s willing to give a similar talk about religious freedom and tolerance in Saudi Arabia. My hunch is that he’d be much quicker to respect the cultural distinctiveness of Saudi attitudes.

These are our political leaders. Pray that we survive their leadership.

My Teaching Ministry–Part V

The Lord has His times and places. Prior to teaching at Indiana Wesleyan, I had been an adjunct at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia. My teaching had been well received there, and I had hoped for a full-time position, but none was available at that time. But as my fifth year at Indiana Wesleyan was ending, the door opened—providentially, I believe—to return to Regent to teach in the master’s program in the Robertson School of Government. For me, this was the fulfillment of my academic dream, and I hoped it would be the place where I could hang my regalia forever.

Students at Regent who were seeking a master’s degree in public policy were earnest and dedicated. Many had left a career midstream to make this sacrifice of time and finances. I never had to labor to get their attention. My task was to be the historian in the department, offering courses that provided the historical background that was necessary for work in the field of public policy and government. I had the freedom to teach how Scripture should influence our views on the proper role of civil government. I look back on this time as almost a golden age with respect to the nature of the students I was privileged to teach. I still have strong attachments to many of my former Regent students. Not only was I a mentor, but I rejoiced to be considered a friend as well. My advisees met with me once each week for group prayer; this created a bond that remains.

Living in the Tidewater area also made for a more hands-on approach to early American history with the Historical Triangle of Jamestown, Yorktown, and Colonial Williamsburg nearby. Each year I took students to those sites; it was a highlight of two Saturdays in the fall. I even had the opportunity to help lead a trip to Israel and Great Britain, based on a summer course I offered on the roots of American government—found in both the Old Testament and the British heritage. This is the only trip I’ve made to the Holy Land, and I would dearly love to return.

In the classroom, I made the transition to PowerPoint presentations, which opened up a new world of possibilities, especially for history, as everything historical can be found on the Web.

One year I received an appointment as academic dean for the School of Government, but I was one of two associate deans under the primary dean. The position was laden with tremendous responsibilities with no corresponding authority. The university as a whole, and the School of Government specifically, underwent administrative upheaval in my final years there. The mission and goals of the School of Government began to change, and I no longer felt as tied to the program philosophically. I had spent seven years teaching these graduate students, and had loved nearly every minute of it. Although it pained me greatly, I began searching for a new position elsewhere.

Where did that search lead? That is tomorrow’s subject.

Through the Lens of Christian Faith

I’m grateful for the Thanksgiving break last week. It was good to get away, spend time with extended family and some “old” friends/former students, and kind of let the world do whatever it chose to do for a while without my involvement. Yes, I did check in from time to time to see if the world was still here. While on my hiatus, the following events transpired:

  • More layoffs occurred or have been planned by businesses since the election. The primary reason: the looming specter of Obamacare, which is threatening to destroy those businesses that can’t pay the increased costs. I see that some of our less-well-informed citizens are blaming the businesses themselves rather than the onerous regulations and cost associated with the Obama administration’s signature legislation. Our ignorance continues apace.
  • Hamas decided to declare an unofficial war against Israel. Tensions peaked, with an Israeli invasion of Gaza readied. Why did Hamas choose this time to act? Could it have had something to do with the election as well? They know they have an ally in the White House for four more years, a man sympathetic to their aims. Israel, on the other hand, is poised to suffer through another four years of perfunctory public pronouncements of support coupled with private disdain and contempt. President Obama will say whatever is necessary for public consumption while undercutting the Israeli state at every turn. Meanwhile, one poll shows that only about 40% of Democrats back Israel in their quest for self-defense. It appears the image of anti-Semitism that raised its head at the party convention is making progress. One wonders how long American Jews will remain blinded by the treatment their brethren are receiving from the political party to which most of them have chosen to give their allegiance.

  • Secretary of State Clinton and Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi hammered out a truce between Israel and Hamas—one that Hamas considers a victory. Don’t be surprised if this duo wins the next Nobel Peace Prize for accomplishing . . . nothing. After all, it’s been granted for doing nothing before. Right, Mr. President?
  • Morsi then declared himself dictator of Egypt, setting aside the entire judicial system of that country. He is now claiming one-man rule. Ah, the fresh breeze of the Arab Spring still inspires!

Yet despite all these developments, I see no sign that the American electorate is suffering any remorse over its latest decision. As I noted in a previous post, we are a nation on the edge, positioned to jettison our Biblical heritage once and for all. We no longer think Biblically; in fact, to do so is becoming precarious for those who remain faithful to Biblical truth. Biblical morality is increasingly considered a “problem.”

The society around us is attempting to divorce itself from the truths God has implanted within each of us and seeks to create new “truths.” Christian apologist C. S. Lewis, in his treatise The Abolition of Man, described pretty well the futility of any such effort:

There never has been, and never will be, a radically new judgment of value in the history of the world. What purport to be new systems or (as they now call them) “ideologies,” all consist of fragments from the Tao [Natural Law given by God] itself, arbitrarily wrenched from their context in the whole and then swollen to madness in their isolation, yet still owing to the Tao [Natural Law] and to it alone such validity as they possess. . . . The rebellion of new ideologies against the Tao is a rebellion of the branches against the tree: if the rebels could succeed they would find that they had destroyed themselves. The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of imagining a new primary colour, or, indeed, of creating a new sun and a new sky for it to move in.

The rebels ultimately will fail, but they will hurt and destroy lives along the way, and may drag an entire society into the pit as they proceed.

As I said at the beginning of this post, it was nice to take a break, but I cannot leave the field of battle for the hearts and minds of my fellow citizens. Another Lewis quote reverberates within me:

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

My pledge is to keep on faithfully viewing and writing about our culture, our politics, and our government through the lens of the Christian faith. It shines the light of truth on everything it touches . . .  and it touches everything.