It is with both sadness and a growing degree of anger at my national government that I must break away from my series on international borders to address the issue of the way our government is wasting the lives and blood of our military personnel. Earlier this week, as a law enforcement chaplain, I had the somber duty of responding to the apparent suicide of a Marine who lived in my neighborhood. By all accounts, he was an amazing man: motivated, highly intelligent (he spoke at least five languages) and brimming with common sense. He had also in his relatively young life already done seven tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why he seems to have ended his life is not known, but in the communities surrounding the famed Camp Pendleton such an act among Marines has become a growing trend of late. Please allow me to offer some thoughts on the reasons why.
Every good, every great and every beneficial idea for humanity has its genesis in the principles of Scripture, and the waging of war is no exception to this rule, though this may seem a surprising statement to some. As we have already seen in our series on international borders, it is the design of God in a fallen world that humanity be divided into many separate and sovereign nations with secure and obvious borders for each. One of the things that this naturally accomplishes is that it divides the world into two groups: the us within our borders, and the others outside of our borders.
For this system of separate and sovereign nations to function as a system of checks and balances against the spread and hegemony of evil, then, it is necessary that the government of each nation consider the lives of its people worth more than the lives of the people of all other nations. This essentially means that to a government the lives of the us are worth more than the lives of the others. This is true at all times, but is especially true in a time of war, and leads us to the logical conclusion that when engaged in war, a government must consider the lives of its combatants worth more than the lives of even the non-combatants of the enemy camp.
While I must save discussing the why of war for another time, it is necessary to our understanding of the issue at hand that we discuss the how of war, for it is here that our military is currently being failed on a monumental scale by our national leadership. Simply put, any people are responsible for the government they allow to arise over them. If they allow a tyrannical and evil system of government to rule over them, and do not stop it or overthrow it, the people of that nation are responsible for the evil that is among them – their hands are not clean, whether they are a singular nation, region, hemisphere or religion. And when that evil draws the blood of those from a foreign nation, that nation’s government is duty-bound to avenge the blood drawn. The guilty must pay, and they must pay dearly (1 Samuel 15:2,3), which brings us to the necessity of war.
War is not for the limp-wristed, nor can it ever be a palatable thing of precision and compassion. A war is waged to avenge or protect the blood of a nation’s people, and it must be done fiercely, quickly and sternly – it is not done to win hearts and minds or to build nations in your image. You wage a fierce war, you devastate your enemy, you make them understand that they never want to have your national blood on their hands again, and that if you have to return it will be even worse the next time. It is therefore only to be waged when a people, nation or region have it coming to them. When you let them have it, then, make them deathly afraid of crossing you in the future. Then bring your military home – the devastated nation or region can rebuild itself. It will give them time to do some serious soul-searching about what kind of people they want to be in the future.
After David defeated the Moabites (who were his distant relatives), he put two out of every three captives to death (2 Samuel 8:2) because he knew they would again wage war upon Israel if left alive, as they always had. He was not concerned about winning hearts and minds. And when the national animosity of Moab arose again and continued for hundreds of years more, God ordered that they be overthrown and their land environmentally destroyed (2 Kings 3:19). They had it coming, and they lost their place among the nations forever because of it.
By virtue of the barbarous act of 9/11 and others, Al Qaeda and those who harbored and funded them had the national blood of the United States on their hands, and so it was fully warranted that the United States put boots on the ground in both Afghanistan and Iraq, but there is no reason that those boots should still be on the ground ten years later. This insanity of trying to wage palatable, politically-correct warfare, which unnaturally and painfully extends the length of wars, unnecessarily costing the lives of valiant men while simultaneously imposing a devastating financial burden upon a nation, is demoralizing and saps national heart and resolve. The end result will be a nation that has no stomach for the brutal necessities of war, making it ripe for eventual military conquest by those who do.
Terrorists don’t play fair. They hide behind women, children, schools and houses of worship, knowing that the sense of decency of the West will hamper its ability to fight back. And we kindly oblige, setting such ridiculous rules of engagement for our military men that not even our law enforcement officers could survive on our own streets under them, and our men are fighting under truly Hellish conditions. Instead, we should devastate any area where terrorists take refuge, for the blood of the civilians will be on their hands, not ours. The decent people among them will eventually tire of this and throw off the evil in their midst, as we once did and will need to do again in the future.
My neighbor spent more time in Iraq and Afghanistan than it took for us to prosecute World War II. This simply should not be. War is hell on all involved, and it should not be extended past what is absolutely needed. Imagine spending four years of your life knowing that every door could be booby-trapped, that every rock may hide an IED, that every person may be strapped with explosives or that every day might be your last. Now imagine that you are told to hunt out terrorists under such conditions, but that you have to do so essentially without a magazine in your weapon and one hand tied behind your back, knowing that if you give a terrorist a fat lip you will be prosecuted by directive of your Commander-In-Chief.
We who have served and those who currently serve have always been ready to pay the ultimate price for our country, but in so doing we have only asked but one thing of our government: Use us well and honorably. We are not fighting for your reelection, nor to line anyone’s pockets, nor to build other nations in our image. We are fighting to avenge and protect the blood of Americans. Unleash us to do so, or bring us home.
As my neighbor’s covered body was wheeled out into the bright California sunshine, I wished that I had had a flag to drape over him, for it seemed right that Heaven should view him through the lens of the red, white and blue that he so faithfully served. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13), and I fear that seven tours of duty in Hell somehow cost my neighbor his life, despite the fact that he physically escaped Al Qaeda. Even as a pastor and chaplain, there are times when words escape me, and all my heart could offer to Heaven was this simple prayer: Sir, deal kindly with this hero of my nation.
To our military: We could not love you more nor be more proud of you. Ask if you need anything. Thank you.
To Believers: Pray constantly for our military and aid them in any way possible.
To Congress and the President: Unleash our military to do its job and then bring them home. Theirs is the most precious and noble blood upon planet Earth, and you are illegitimate if you do not treat it as such. Consider deploying the 2 Kings 3:19 option against intractable enemies. It worked for King Jehoshapat, and it worked for President Truman. Stop sacrificing our sons and daughters without purpose.