Category Archives: Afghanistan

Peace with Ishmael

eyeseeyouAbraham is considered the father of the Arabs through Hagar, the mother of Ishmael.   Suicide bombings, honor killings, murder of innocent men, women and children…these people don’t think like we do!  We are all products of our belief system or worldview and those raised as radical Muslims are no exception.  Christian denominations debate and draw lines of fellowship but they are not shooting and bombing one another.  Sunnis hate the Shias and both of them hate us.  Why? I don’t know all the answers, but Genesis 16 predicted the nature of the progeny of Hagar (the Arabs, in whose culture Islam came to be):

“Behold, you are with child,
And you will bear a son;
And you shall call his name Ishmael,
Because the Lord has given heed to your affliction.
12 “He will be a wild donkey of a man,
His hand will be against everyone,
And everyone’s hand will be against him;
And he will live to the east of all his brothers”
(Genesis 16:11,12)

That is why our nation-building adventures in the Middle East are so misguided and ill-advised.  The Arabs and those influenced by Arab culture will never be subjugated or altered by those from Western cultures, notably Christian cultures.[i]

We have no business putting our soldiers on the ground in any Islamic country.  Read your history!  It has never worked and never will.  Iraq is a prime example and Afghanistan will soon be.  When we leave one of these hell-holes they revert back to some sort of lawless wastelands of violence they were previously.

Now we are being tempted to intervene in yet another Middle Eastern conflict in Syria.  The carnage there horrifies the West.  As the self-appointed policemen of the world, we think, “We must do something to stop this!” But now, word has it that Syrian rebels slaughtered groups of Christians until stopped by the Syrian loyalists.  If that is true, do we want to help the rebels come to power?  Will the new boss be the same (or worse than) the old boss?

I recently asked a career military man what we should do in the Middle East and he immediately began discussing weapons systems and military strategy.  It was psychologist Abraham Maslow who wisely observed, “If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”  People cannot be changed without a change in worldview.  The only way I know to change a person’s worldview is to cease hammering and introduce them to the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.  And, the only way I know to introduce people to Jesus Christ is to imitate Him.  And, the only way I know to imitate Him is to love our enemies.  And, the only way I know to love our enemies is to pray for them and do them good, not evil (Matthew 5:43-44; Luke 6:27; I Thessalonians 5:15).

If we spent as much time, resources and energy seeking to win the hearts and minds of our enemies as we have on violent “shock and awe;”…if we sent our young men and women on missions of peace instead of war, we would rob terrorists of their leverage.  I have to believe that we can overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).

Would that cost lives?  Without a doubt.  But they would be lives given in the only strategy that will ever be effective in bringing peace and stability to this dark, violent and troubled region.


[i] I am using “Christian” in the broadest sense of the term and as a social construct as much or more than a religious one.  “Us” are Christians and “them” are those under the influence of radical (violent) Islam.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Arabia, Arabs, Change Agent, Culture Wars, Current Events, History, Ishmael, Islam, Jesus Christ, Middle East, Prophecy, Religion, Scripture, Terrorism

HISTORY? WHY BOTHER?

eyeseeyouWhy do we bother to teach history if we are determined to ignore it?  Maybe you slept through your history classes (it has a lot to do with the attitude and style of the coach who taught you) or studied just enough to pass.  So, as a public service, here are some facts you may have forgotten.

  1. No outside power has been able to gain and retain power in Afghanistan.  That’s right, none.
  2. Remember the Crusades?  Every time foreign (Western) armies enter the Middle East, for good or ill, the inhabitants are reminded of those ancient incursions.  And, since they never forget, the vast majority will hate your guts.
  3. In the process of conquering the known world, the Romans spread their armies too thin.  Consequently, they were unable to defend themselves when attacked.
  • Why have we not learned the lessons from those who previously tried to occupy and control Afghanistan?
  • Why can’t we see that we cannot win the hearts and minds of the Middle East through military might?
  • Why do we continue to act like the world’s policemen and sacrifice the lives of our young women and men and maintain garrisons around the world?  Can we defend our own nation when the time comes?

The answer, my friend, is not blowin’ in the wind.  It is there, in black and white, in the history books.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Current Events, Freedom, History, Ignorance, Incompetence, Islam, Middle East, Peace, Politics

Like Night and Day, Darkness and Light, Love and Hate.

I can’t remember a time in recent history that has provided a greater contrast between Christianity and Radical Islam.

Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.

Luke 6:22 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.”

1 Peter 2:21-23 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;”

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Filed under Afghanistan, Attributes of God, Bigotry, Christlikeness, Current Events, Egypt, Good & Evil, Islam, Jesus Christ, Middle East, Peace, Religion, Scripture

Heroes and Heroism

When Army Ranger Sgt. First Class Leroy Petry received the Medal of Honor recently, it set me to thinking about heroes.  You may be aware of the actions that caused him to lose his right hand but save his fellow-soldiers. As Fox News reporter Justin Fishel wrote, “Shot once in each leg and laying wounded behind a chicken coup (sic) in an insurgent compound, Petry saved the lives of two fellow Rangers when he sacrificed his own hand to throw away an enemy grenade that could have killed them all.”

So, I asked myself, what is heroism?  Though probably not exhaustive, I came up with this list of characteristics of heroism.

Selflessness: This is one of the basic characteristics of a hero and drives most of the other characteristics.  The hero is selfless to the point of personal sacrifice, cost, inconvenience and suffering.  Heroes don’t stop to consider the personal cost of their actions, they just act.  A hero thinks first of others in a crisis.

Awareness: The hero is not off in his or her own little world.  They are aware of the world around them and its challenges and needs.  They automatically take note of opportunities to serve and assist and do so without hesitation.

Perseverance and persistence: the hero does not give up until forced to do so.  Only then does the hero quit.  Heroes have to eventually ask, “Can I accomplish anything more in this situation?”  They know that the time eventually comes when one must pray Reinhold Niebuhr’s prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” 

Initiative: The hero does not wait for others or to be asked or forced to act.  The hero sees the challenge/problem and responds with his own gumption.  This describes Petry’s response perfectly.  According to Karen Parrish, an American Forces Press Service reporter, he described his action this way, “I immediately knew it wasn’t one of ours, because we haven’t used ‘pineapple’ grenades in quite some time,” he said. “[My] immediate reaction was, get it out of here.”

Courage: This almost goes without saying.  This is the impulse that drives initiative.  Heroes do not hesitate to act in the face of danger, hazard or peril.  Their response is reflexive.  It is a “knee-jerk” reaction where guts overrule logic.  They charge machinegun nests, they storm beaches, they run into burning buildings, they go back under fire to carry out wounded buddies and, of course, they deal with enemy grenades.  Without hesitation they get involved in the troubles of others.  They pick up wee hour phone calls to comfort and encourage.  They stop to help.  They shell out cash to questionable strangers.  On and on we could go.

Integrity: True heroes will always choose the high road, the moral course, even in the face of temptation and opportunity to do otherwise.  We are all sinners, and heroes are no different.  But, faced with a crisis their inward righteousness prevails.

As you will notice, physical characteristics have nothing to do with heroism.  One of my favorite authors is the late writer of western novels, Elmer Kelton.  When asked why his characters were not the movie-star-leading-man type (John Wayne comes to mind), Kelton replied, “Those are seven feet tall and invincible.  My characters are five-eight and nervous.”  Well, I’m not quite that short, but “nervous” sure fits.  I believe a realistic hero is an ordinary person behaving in an extraordinary way.

As I was composing this article, I came to realize that I am married to a hero.  Every characteristic of heroism fits my beloved Brenda like a glove.  She is all these things in spite of a compromised immune system and subsequent frequent illnesses.  As I watch her frequent suffering, I have to wonder how I would conduct myself in similar circumstances.  Her life, like all heroes, is a beacon and example in this often difficult and troubled landscape of life.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Altruism, Awareness, Courage, Current Events, Hero, honor, Initiative, Integrity, morality, Selflessness, Suffering

It Mystifies Me

What are terrorists hoping to achieve?  To put it another way, what is the ultimate goal of terrorism?  If it is simply to create terror, they have succeeded.  But then what is the reason for the terror?  When has terror accomplished anything other than scaring people?  It mystifies me.

If moderate Muslims are opposed to the excesses of militant Islam, why don’t they shout it out?  Softly murmured regrets for the deaths of innocent men, women and children, is not enough.  Are the moderates a bunch of cowardly sissies?  Why don’t they speak up?  It mystifies me.

Although I don’t believe Israel has a divine right to the land they now occupy, their existence in that land is real and obviously permanent.  So how can any reasonable person or group call for their destruction?  Here’s a fact: Israel is here to stay.  Why can’t that be accepted in the interest of peace and prosperity for everyone involved?  It mystifies me.

A radical Muslim organization straps explosives to women and children and sends them into a place where more Muslim women and children are congregated and blows up the woman or child wearing the explosives killing more Muslim women and children.  Why?  It mystifies me.

For decades the Afghans languished and suffered under the Taliban.  It was a sad period.  No music, no kite-flying, no toys, no television, no photographs, women confined to the home, girls barred from education, floggings in the street, public executions, etc.  Then came the coalition forces to free them and help them build a better society.  The result?  Seventy percent say they hate their emancipators.  I’m sorry, that mystifies me.

In spite of the lessons of history, the West (particularly the U.S.) continues to shed blood for those who hate them.  They continue to occupy a nation that has never been successfully occupied by any foreign power.  They continue to prop up corrupt regimes (Viet Nam was an excellent example) and impose “nation-building” despite repeated failures.  Such insanity mystifies me.

Tremendous resources have been expended on bombs, missiles, bullets, tanks, artillery which could have been used to win Middle Eastern hearts and minds with humanitarian aid, schools, hospitals and other Christian acts of mercy, charity and love.  The former merely perpetuates suffering and creates new enemies; the latter has a proven track-record of winning hearts and minds.  We persist in the former and neglect the latter.  Why does war trump mercy?  It mystifies me.

Should these things mystify me?  Am I off base?  If so, I need your help – please explain it to me. I’ve certainly been wrong before.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Altruism, Culture Wars, Current Events, Islam, Israel, Middle East, Palestine, Peace, Politics, Terrorism