What can we say? Who is to blame? If we blame anyone it may be construed as taking sides. Our consciences compel us to take sides. Our common sense cautions us to remain neutral. Our carnal natures may just be in agreement with the cardinal virtues, at least in the conclusion that decisive action should be taken. But by whom?
If someone were to kidnap my brother, what would I do? I would call the appropriate authorities and do all I could to aid and not hinder their retrieving my brother. What if I was the appropriate authority? I would have to take action myself. The question would then be, “What is the appropriate action to take?” I would block all the roads in and out of town, shut down the airports and train stations. I would establish a perimeter. I would find the identity of the kidnappers. I would find out where they live and stake out their house. I would find out who they know and track their communication. I would monitor their phone calls and credit card transactions for clues to their location. Once I found out where they were, I would freeze their assets. I would then send in hostage specialists to negotiate a release, having a special weapons unit on standby in the event of an emergency. I am not trained in such matters. I simply have watched my share of Die Hard movies.
It seems to me that Israel has attempted to establish a perimeter (disabling transportation). They also know the perpetrators and the people behind the operation (Hezbollah, “the party of God,” backed by Syria and Iran). But instead of going in to get their guys, they have opted to go ahead and destroy everything remotely related to Hezbollah. Could this be analogous to freezing their assets? It’s a tough call. One may get the sense that the action taken by Israel is more that of wrath than rescue. But the context of this crisis is not limited to an abduction of Israelis.
The U.S. had a similar crisis under the watch of President Kennedy. The Soviets were shipping nuclear weapons to nearby communist Cuba. Their intentions were clear. With such a strategic location they could launch a nuclear attack on American soil that would wipe out or severely weaken all our defenses. We could not allow the situation to persist. Through a series of tense tactical moves we averted an all-out nuclear war and persuaded the Soviet Union to remove its weapons.
Israel faces a similar juncture. The very presence of Hezbollah, the sworn enemy of Israel, in Lebanon with their vast arsenal of rockets and missiles, is a clear and present danger. They have demonstrated the will to destroy Israel. So Israel must remove the threat. The issue is not two soldiers but two decades of unchecked and imminent danger.
This danger is not limited to Hezbollah in Lebanon, but extends to all of Israel’s neighboring countries, and especially Iran. Defeating Hezbollah may not be the end to their problems, but it is a more achievable task than facing all their enemies at once.
What about negotiation? Is there a diplomatic track? The world remains neutral and crosses their fingers hoping cooler heads will prevail. But how can the fighting end? Essentially, Hezbollah was formed to fight the Israelis and ensure their destruction. They will not rest until Israel ceases to exist. And so Israel is forced to annihilate or be annihilated. But, even if Hezbollah were wiped out, Hamas, and myriad other Islamic groups, would seek the destruction of Israel. This tension in the Middle East over the existence of Israel will continue to build until The End. The fulfillment of biblical prophecy is inevitable.
At some point—maybe in this conflict or in an as yet unforeseen crossroads—the countries of the world will be forced to take sides. God help us! The Islamic states seek totalitarian domination and will follow the model of Mohammed in forcing submission. The Jewish state wishes only to survive, yet will execute swift justice upon any aggressor. Secular states will have no conscience or backbone by which to judge and will act purely according to their best interests. Communist States will lend their power expediently almost as mercenaries. Only a Christian state, if there were such a thing, would have the moral sophistication to choose sides based primarily on what is true, just, and right. Sadly, in America, the Iraq War has weakened our reserve of such values as a citizenry. Thus, the good of the world may rest on the worldview of its leaders at any given moment, regardless of the convictions of its people. However, especially in a democracy, the Church must positively saturate the culture with a reasoned and biblical worldview so that we produce more Christian politicians and more Christians that will vote responsibly for principled candidates.
This is not about me getting on some sort of soapbox to promote a misguided Christian agenda. I’m not advocating Christianity-only government, or trying to silence divergent voices. I do not believe that being a Christian pre-determines your political persuasion, or that it should be used for political gain. What I am saying is that Christianity is the only worldview capable of providing moral clarity to the prospect of war, and especially of choosing sides. Christ is the only one who can save us from our sins, and Christianity is the only worldview that can save the world from self-destruction. Whether or not one believes the religion is true, its teachings provide the best framework from which to base any decision for military action.