16 February 2012

Summing up and the Christian Response: Part 6 of the series on American Evangelicals, War, and Iran

Iran is the hub of the Shiite world and represents the foundation, center, and caretaker role of Greater Persian culture. Shiite Palestinians, Lebanese and many Azeris look to Iran as a cultural and religious leader. On the eastern side, Hazara, Tajiks and to some extent the Ismaili community are also naturally inclined to Iran. The Iranians are very bitter that what should be their great regional role has been taken from them, or at the very least reduced by numerous powers throughout history and up to today. The French have at times shared a similar bitterness with regard to their role in Europe, a shadow of what it once was, and their former Empire.

One way for Iran to assert this role and gain credibility and standing is to oppose Israel. They can't do this overtly (in terms of a military attack) so they've played power politics and used guerrilla proxies, often defined as terrorists in our media narrative. Syria up until recently was a key player in the Iran scheme often playing a middle-man role in both the Iranian conflict with Israel and with regard to their own interests in the Kurdish fight against Turkey. Both the Kurds and now the Iranians have a lost a key player with the marginalization of Syria and the Turkish shift in attitude.

Iran will strike back when attacked. If they can't hit Israel or America directly they'll do so abroad. Some might recall the attacks in Argentina a few years ago...a retaliatory gesture. Our media often presents Iranian actions as aggressive and terroristic but often and certainly as of late, their moves are responses to rather aggressive attacks they’ve been subjected to. Their responses send a loud message….back off. If you hit us, we will hit back.

The idea that they’re in the position of aggression, ready to strike out offensively against the United States is to ignore both the past and present reality. The United States has been in a low-grade war against them for more than a generation. Iran knows an attack means annihilation. Their moves represent an aggressive and ever more desperate defensive strategy.

I am still waiting for more time to elapse and more facts to emerge before I am convinced of the Iranian plot in Washington DC. At present I'm quite sceptical of it. If it’s true then it shows a real desperation on the Iranian side. However, it would not be the first time the Mossad, the CIA or the two working together have engaged in such false flag operations.

This covert and proxy war will continue. As the Americans and Israelis continue to attack and kill Iranian scientists and diplomats, as they send computer viruses and engage in sabotage...Iran will respond. They have to. They have ideological reasons and their survival depends on it.

Do they want a large conflict? Probably not. As I said it would end their regime. It's a bit of a game of chicken. The United States can defeat Iran, there's no question. But what will the fallout be? That's anyone's guess. It depends on the level of restraint to be found in the various players. Will we have leaders like Khrushchev and Kennedy who remained level headed and refused to listen to their generals and in human terms, effectively saved the world? Or will we have Rick Santorum at the helm? Thankfully not. At least, I hope not.

But again don't underestimate his voice. He's stirring the pot and tying the hands of the Obama administration. They don't want to give fodder to the Republican candidates. I hope Obama is willing to go down as a one administration president instead of taking the nation to war...but if he loses that means Romney, Gingrich, or Santorum will be in power and that's not very heartening when it comes to the issue of Iran.

I hope things de-escalate and calm down. Leave Iran alone. Eventually they will have their own revolution and the new regime will be more likely to engage the United States... as long as they don't feel under threat!

Shiite Islam and Iranian inclinations are generally more tolerant of sects. The regime which came to power in 1979 represented a radical shift. I believe the present persecution of Christians in Iran is a direct result of Western threat and meddling...which sorry to say to a Sacralist mind...the West, the Anglo-Americans are perceived as 'Christian'...and thus converts are a threat to the state, a potential fifth column. 

Summing up....What's the Christian perspective?

One we need to understand that other countries and peoples have interests too. The United States does not possess a divine mandate. The rulers of Iran are a wicked and lost group of men. They persecute Christians though again I argue much of the persecution in the Middle East is due to what I call the Shapur Effect.

This does not mean the Church needs another Beast to come fight its battles for it. We also need to understand that intervention from an Empire which is perceived (right or wrong) as Christian does not help either the cause of the Church (which should be first in priority to us) or the security of the United States (the Babylon in which we live).

I'm sorry to say, but American Imperialism will just make it more dangerous for Americans to travel and for expatriates to live in other countries. American military operations and the Imperial worldwide footprint are not making us safe or free...it's actually making us less free and less safe, but abroad and especially at home.

We need to understand Empires manipulate and use the tools available to them. They want a cloak of legitimacy. They prefer to maneuver weaker countries into conflict with international institutions and diplomatic arrangements. This can make the aggressor which in this case is the United States (since 1979) appear to be pacifistic and to hold moral superiority. For those who don't think the United States is aggressive, just consider that America has conquered the nations on both sides of Iran and diplomatically declared war on them long ago. This does not mean Iran is innocent or good. That's not really the point. 

Iran ultimately will fall apart on its own. But it must be understood the initial replacement will probably not wish to embrace the United States or Israel with open arms. However, that said, if the situation is dealt with wisely and restraint is used Iran perhaps more than any other country in the Middle East is likely to forge cultural ties and harmony with the United States and Israel. Persians are a vibrant intellectual and wildly artistic people. They love beauty and innovation and they are not naturally inclined to the religious conservatism that has been forced on them for the past thirty years.

As Christians we can look at this whole situation, in fact we need to look at it from a non-American bias and perspective. It's the only way to wade through it. I don't see good vs. evil here....I see two evil scheming regimes, both playing larger games, and one in a situation where its survival is at stake. Both regimes care very little for the loss of life or suffering.

That said, the response and agenda coming out of the American Christian community perhaps most aptly represented by someone like Rick Santorum is completely contrary to the Kingdom and Pilgrim ethics taught in Scripture. It is rooted in heresy and represents the goals and aspirations, the power lust exhibited by the false church wedding itself to state power.

I have been frankly horrified and filled with revulsion listening to Gingrich and Santorum especially in the recent debates. The satanic arrogance these men exhibit talking about regime change and militarism more than once left me almost gasping.

This has to matter to us because I keep running into Christians who like Santorum and what he's saying, who are afraid of Iran...and yet don't seem to understand what's happening or why?

Many have embraced a theology which won't allow them to understand it. This is true both in conservative Reformed circles and definitely true in larger Evangelical circles where Kuyperianism has made inroads and when wedded to a Dispensational understanding of the Middle East...there's no talking to them. The brick wall is almost impenetrable.

What should we want? Actually something along the lines of a Realpolitik when it comes to resolving these issues. I’m not talking about Kissinger’s Imperial Realpolitik, but the notion of non-ideological, pragmatic, take the world as it is diplomacy.

That's what allowed Begin and Sadat to sit down at the table. It wasn't about ideology, good vs. evil, it was simply issues of security and interests. They weren't trying to convert each other to the rightness of their cause. They sat down in a state of mutual respect and worked it out.

Contemporary Christian thought is adamantly opposed to this approach. They want to understand modern geo-politics as an ideological battle and when cast that way you can't sit down and solve things. Your opponent is evil, no compromise is possible. The theological error is assuming that one side (always ours) is somehow good and pure.

These are the same folks who were upset with Nixon for going to China. Mao was dripping with the blood of the Cultural Revolution. Nixon was responding to the Sino-Soviet split and striking a diplomatic blow at the Soviet Union. He knew that millions had died because of Mao's policies. He looked at it practically. The United States wasn't going to invade China in the 1960's to stop it. That’s the reality. Perhaps his actions in the 1970's, going to China… could improve the world situation? That's what he hoped for.

I'm not praising Nixon and to be fair I don't think his going to China meant he was indifferent to the suffering of those people. That's the wrong way of looking at the issue. I don't think he personally cared in the least, but continued antagonism to China wasn't going to bring them back, nor stop future domestic Chinese conflicts.

Mao's death in 1976 led to the power struggle and the eventual rise of Deng Xiaoping in 1978. He's the real father of modern China, a rejection of Maoist ideology. The pictures of Mao are about the narrative, the modern Chinese myth, not reality. But would Deng have been so open to the Capitalist shift in the 1980's and trade with the United States if Nixon hadn't gone to China in 1972? Who can say?

Viewing the West or Christendom as 'good' and the rest of the world as evil is a mistake and not Biblical. The world is broken and this will not change anytime soon. In the meantime leaders who are more pragmatic in their approach to geo-politics and diplomacy, less given over to ideological extremes are probably better for the peace of the world. They're not going to be fiery Christians. For me this is not a problem in the least. They're just leaders of Babylon trying to get along with Assyria, Persia, or some other empire.

We should pray for the situation in Iran. I sure don't want to see thousands killed and another war in the Middle East. But I think we need to pray with greater earnest for the Church in the United States and the ideology and doctrine it spreads to Christian communities around the world.

Iran may be gone tomorrow. The United States may someday drop from the pages of history. But the Church will still be here. I hope the faithful Remnant isn't reduced to a miniscule number resisting the bloodlust and power of a false Church which would be a return to the Middle Ages... or that backlash against the false church leads to several generations of suffering on the part of Christians.

In the end God knows best.

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