Politicians are stridently arguing for various responses to Syria’s use of chemical weapons which slaughtered 1,500 people. What a tragedy! But where were all of these voices for the last several years when over 100,000 Syrians got slaughtered by guns and bombs?
There are at least 3 ways to respond to the horrific killing:
#1 The Way of Half Measures: This nearly always fails. Look at any historical war effort, especially American foreign policy of the last 50 years. Consider Afghanistan where many, many thousands of innocent Afghans have been slaughtered by Islamic militants, several thousand American servicemen and women have died for nothing, Afghan women are oppressed, Christians killed or banned--- because the Muslim leaders we support are corrupt and/or advocate a form of Sharia Law and they (and we) let Afghan farmers still flood the world market with heroin! Furthermore, many Afghans we are trying to help actually oppose “our ways” and instead empower the Taliban even now!
And all of this horror continues after we Americans have been there for over 11 years trying to bring change and have spent billions of dollars in the process! We even executed Ben Laden (and Saddam Hussein in Iraq). But notice Islamic fundamentalism has gotten worse not better. Islamic schools and mullahs continue to inspire millions of followers.
Half measures almost never work when it comes to changing people and eliminating evil governments and evil societies.
#2 The Way of the Juggernaut (or the Roman Way): This where you roll in like a steam-roller and stay in the enemy country for hundreds of years. The British only stayed in Islamic lands for one hundred years. It didn’t work. The Russians were harsher but only stayed 25 years. It didn’t work.
But try the Roman way of the juggernaut. It works. Of course it is ruthless and cruel and millions of innocent suffer, but it often works if you stay for many years. Consider that after the slaughter of the Jewish zealots by the Roman legions, no Jewish military attack happened for 900 years!
But at what a cost:-( to millions of people.
Or consider the Islamic juggernaut. It conquered more land than the Roman Empire and lasted in various forms for about 1,000 years! From 700 C.E. to 1917 C.E.—the end of WW1. With a few exceptions such as the violent Crusaders, all Christians were overwhelmed and subjugated in Muslim held countries for centuries.
This is the way, too, of America and General Douglas Macarthur at the end of WW2. It’s the approach to conquering another country which says as he did to the Japanese, “You’ll do it our way!” There is little in the way of half measures. The enemy society isn’t allowed to continue promulgating its evils like we have done in Afghanistan. No. People are forced to change to the ways of the conqueror. Of course half a million civilians were killed, but the juggernaut always does that—kill many. But it does bring change.
So should the United States invade the Middle East again, only this time take the Roman way, the Roman road? That means spending billions, locking down the country, eliminating Islam, telling the Syrians, “You’ll do it our way.”
However the Middle East isn’t Japan, not by any stretch of the imagination an ordered somewhat homogenous society like Japan. I lived in the Middle East for the most part of a year. All the people I knew who believed in God, hated each other and wanted to kill each other. On the Jewish kibbutz farm where I worked, everyone was an Atheist, but they, too, were willing to kill their enemies in the name of no god.
Places in the Middle East like Syria are volatile cauldrons of intense religious intolerance that have been only held in check by secular dictators, for decades through murder and intimidation. But at least if you didn’t cross the Assad family (or Saddam, Kaddafi) and his political/ethnic minority, you were somewhat protected. That is why, as bad as Assad is, most Christians have not opposed him. Notice now with the rise of Islamic rebels, how Christians are suffering and being driven out and killed by these Muslim jihadists.
In the case of Syria, if we Americans want to go the route of the juggernaut, we will need to think of hundreds of years of controlling and killing people in Syria. It might even take 1,000 years to get rid of the Sharia-Law-form-of-Islam consciousness out of the populace!
And at what cost in humans lives and Life.
#3 The Way of the Cross: Jesus’ way isn’t popular, not even with most Christians who would rather kill their political enemies than love them.
But if you have doubts about #1 or #2, please check out this 3rd way.
This is the way of Jesus-followers such as Elie Chacour and Martin Luther King Jr.
One way to get started is to read the true story of Elie Chacour’s Palestinian family—how they followed Jesus in the midst of war and suffering. Read Blood Brothers.
And how it has made all the difference for thousands of Palestinian Christians, Jews, and Muslims ever since.
In the Light,