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Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

On Iraq

Jun 14, 2014

By now you all should be aware of the horrible situation unfolding in Iraq, with Muslim militants massacring other Muslims and Christians as they capture the major towns in the north, intent on setting up a sharia police state, and are now heading to Baghdad.

Weak as water Obama will likely do nothing about this, and in fact is a major reason why all this is happening. His cut and run policies here and in Afghanistan mean we are likely witnessing a major bloodbath unfolding in that region, with the only Middle Eastern democracy, Israel, once again finding itself with even more ominous nearby threats.

iraqI don’t really want to deal with all the geo-politics of this here, but more the situation regarding Christians there. But just a bit of background first. Richard Fernandez offers some material here worth mentioning:

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an al-Qaeda affiliated front of Muslims, have followed up their lightning seizure of Mosul by taking Tikrit, the former stronghold of Saddam Hussein. In Mosul and surrounding areas, more than 150,000 troops fled their posts as the militants advanced, leaving behind thousands of weapons, including tanks and helicopters, that are now in ISIL’s possession, said Jabbar Yawer, a spokesman for ethnic Kurdish armed forces in Erbil. The speed with which ISIL and its allies have advanced after their seizure on Tuesday of Mosul – a city of two million people – has sent alarm bells ringing not only in Baghdad but in western capitals.
The Tweets tell of a monumental collapse. ”Jesus. “30,000 men – simply turned and ran in the face of the assault by an insurgent force of just 800 fighters … Surreal scenes in #Mosul, #Iraq as US trained troops leave behind their uniforms and flee from #ISIS to #Kurdistan. ”

And the West is stuck with Obama in this time of crisis! Lord have mercy. Says Fernandez:

See him as Clint Eastwood saw him. An empty chair; the man who failed at everything including his stint at the Annenberg Foundation and as Illinois legislator; who probably even had his “books” ghostwritten for him. A blank screen, on which he proudly declared everyone could project their fantasy. His inability to think a new thought is nowhere more clearly illustrated than in his unshaken desire to release even more hardened terrorists from Gitmo. He is marching to some invisible drummer, pursuing a vision of greatness some once believed was visionary but which turns out to be merely delusional.
The most vital requirement in stopping a crisis is changing leadership. While companies fire CEOs and generals are relieved in defeat and some presidents with decency tender their resignations in shame when faced with failure, the Republic is stuck with Barack Hussein Obama, the man for whom all problems are somebody else’s fault; whose basic instinct is to sit down on a stump with his head and his hands and whine bitterly about Ted Cruz.

The political, military and historical debates will once again now begin in earnest, but as I say, as all this horrible Islamic bloodletting once again fills our television screens, it is the situation of the church in Iraq that is also so very worrying.

Churches are being destroyed and Christians massacred there, yet I have already had Christians here telling me we should not get involved, it is none of our business. Go figure! I immediately thought of Matthew 25:31-46, the story of the sheep and the goats told by Jesus. There he said he would judge people in part by how we treated him – and by that he meant how we treated his people. Consider verses 41-45:

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

Of course we have an obligation to support fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who are being slaughtered elsewhere. Eric Metaxis discusses Rev. Canon Andrew White, the so-called “Vicar of Baghdad”: “I just received word that Canon White has issued a plea for help on his blog. That plea is making its way across the Internet, but I want to share with you some of this dear brother’s words. Here’s what he said:

Iraq is now in its worst crisis since the 2003 war. ISIS . . . a group that does not even see Al Qaida as extreme enough, has moved into Mosul, which is Nineveh. It has totally taken control, destroyed all government departments. Allowed all prisoners out of the prisons. Killed countless numbers of people. There are bodies over the streets.
The area is the heartland of the Christian community. Most of our people come from Nineveh and still see that as their home. It is there that they return to regularly. Many Christians fled back to Nineveh from Baghdad, as things got so bad there. Now the Christian centre of Iraq has been totally ransacked. The tanks are moving into the Christian villages destroying them and causing total carnage.

And Michael Brown speaks to how Israel, the only beacon of light in the region, is now once again heavily under threat:

Speaking of ISIS, the Huffington Post notes that, “They have live-tweeted amputations, carried out public crucifixions and have been disavowed as too extreme by al-Qaida.” Too extreme for the murderous al-Qaida? Seriously? The tragic fact is that we simply cannot ignore the enormity of the threat of militant Islam worldwide, nor can we limit it to some dangerous pockets of the Middle East.
Al-Qaida already touched our nation on 9/11, while the Boston Marathon bombing is barely one year old. As for our friends in Israel, positioned right in the midst of one of those dangerous Middle Eastern pockets, it is with good reason that, in a very real sense, the nation lives in constant high alert, with roughly 170,000 missiles pointed at its cities, with the terrorist organization of Hamas now in a unity government with the Palestinian Authority, and with militant Islam right at its doorsteps.
After all, Tehran is less than 1,000 miles from Tel Aviv (the distance from New York City to Tampa, Florida); Baghdad is just 569 miles from Tel Aviv (the distance from New York City to Cincinnati); and Damascus is just 133 miles from Tel Aviv (the distance from New York City to Albany, New York). And we fault Israel for not giving up more territory and making more concessions to the Palestinians?

Yet the West will likely again sleep right through all this. And most Western Christians will take the attitude which I referred to above: “How is it any of my business?” The truth is, far more Christians will be worried sick about issues elsewhere, such as the World Cup now being played in Brazil.

We once again need to get on our faces before almighty God and ask for his heartbeat on all these matters. We need to give up our trivial pursuits and pursue whole-heartedly the things which really matter. And caring deeply about what is happening in the world is a major part of this.

pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2014/06/11/the-day-of-reckoning/
www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/25409
www.charismanews.com/opinion/in-the-line-of-fire/44264-heads-are-literally-rolling-in-iraq

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9 Responses to On Iraq

  • Indeed, football is acting as the major distraction in all this; a typical tactic by war-mongerers. While people’s eyes are all on Brazil, the enemy can pound away at Iraq and other countries. Goal-scoring is far more important than the obliteration of Christians. (Similar tactics are of course used in Parliaments when a government wants to sneak through unpleasant laws).

    As someone who no longer works fulltime (or even part-time) I don’t have a lot of money to offer for donations, so I am looking at all these pleas carefully and can pick only one or two; but I will offer. Other than that, it is then prayer for our brothers and sisters, and also humble thanks that it is not us in the firing-line. I may not write my thoughts effectively, but certainly have grave concerns for what is happening out there.

    This could well be the battle that escalates into the Big One; yet in Britain we still allow the blighters through the immigration doors and give them all manner of protections. Folk are still blind. God made a great job of sending delusions.

  • Did you not hear, Obama is doing something, really important, a double round of golf and then off to do some democrat fundraising event.

    Did people not understand when Obama said, if the winds change, I will always stand with the muslims.

    The events in the ME are exactly what Obama wants!

    But hey, the foozball is far more important, gooaaalllll. /sarc off.

    Neil Waldron

  • I totally agree with you Bill that “we have an obligation to support fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who are being slaughtered elsewhere”. The question arises, of the many dozens of countries where this is happening, how do we (ie “the West”) choose which ones to invade, and which not? And on what basis? And with how large an invasion force in each case?

    Does Iraq really need right now another “shock and awe” invasion by the West, followed by an American president confidently declaring “Mission Accomplished”, only to discover it was anything but? Should we ignore the lessons of recent history? Is it wise to seize every opportunity — and excuse — to invade? Will such invasion/s guarantee the flowering of democracy wherever they happen?

    I’m all for doing as much as we can can to support persecuted Christians, but I’m not yet convinced that invading the countries where they’re being persecuted is necessarily the wisest, soundest, most effective option. It would certainly be impossible to invade all of them. Should we invade any of them?

  • Thanks Rowan. But where did I say we should invade every country? Indeed, where did I say we should invade any country? I have simply said that because of Obama’s utter incompetence, if not dereliction of duty, this bloodbath is now unfolding in Iraq, and it is a tragedy of tremendous proportions.

    I am neither a pacifist nor a neo-isolationist, so I certainly think in principle that the use of force by the West is morally justified on occasion, especially to halt aggression, stop destabilising rogue states, and to prevent the slaughter of the innocents.

    Of course I am not a military strategist nor an army leader. The best way to deal with this horrific situation is far from clear. What is more clear is how the wretched policies of Obama have made this situation so very desperate and intolerable. And it may well get even exponentially worse.

  • When I saw after Gulf War 2, that the Iraqi people demanded that their country be “An Islamic State”, I knew immediately that the over 4,000 American lives, over 600 British lives and what we have paid to try to get lasting peace in that land, would all be wasted. It is this religion/geopolitical totalitarian regime that is the problem. Until they change their religion, they are doomed. Lawrence of Arabia once said of the Arabs – while ever you are squabbling among yourselves, you will always be a little people”. Dr Patrick Sookhdeo was born and raised in Pakistan. That country was set up as an islamic state. The wide white stripe on their flag, he says, symbolises tolerance of other religions. How do you see that working out? This “religion of peace” cannot peacefully coexist with anyone, not even other muslims.

  • What I have feared most about Iraq has come to pass. It has become a country of darkness by a spirited force which has instilled fear and hopelessness into the Iranian people.
    In an almost hideous twist identities, this force called ISIS has nothing to do with the Egyptian godess, Isis, which was known to be the giver of life, rebirth and life skills education.
    To the contrary, ISIS is taking life, stealing the birthright of others and re-educating people into militant Islam.
    It is hard to imagine a more satanic force than what the Christians of Nineveh are dealing with at present. May God help them as help from Obama seems unlikely.

  • Disheartening! As a veteran of Iraq I am so sadden to read about what’s going on in Iraq and seeing the news about all these mass killings and beheading by ISIS. I can only pray.

  • Thank you Bill for using your voice to wake up the church on what’s happening in that miserable corner of the earth, and could likely spread much further, and is set to do so. Sometimes we think that there’s nothing we can do. Well, there is! God’s Word tells us that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. We must pray for them every day and ask God to lead us in the kind of prayer that He wants us to pray. There are other things, like signing petitions and writing letters. We may think we are just a drop in the ocean, but to God each one of us is powerfully and wonderfully made and we can be a weapon in the hands of the Lord!

  • I think that if all Christians were united in a determined and consistent daily effort to live the Gospel, and really know and follow Jesus, then we could evangelise the whole world as we have been commanded to do. Sadly that seems still a distant prospect. I am ,of course, always in need of God’s grace myself but I don’t neglect to pray for persecuted Christians in the intercessions part of my daily prayer and I desperately hope that others do so too. We are the most persecuted people on the planet at this time yet the M.S.M. does not acknowledge this terrible reality. We are in a time of intense spiritual warfare on many fronts (consider Ukraine !!! ) and political leaders are either very clearly in the enemy camp or wishy-washy . We urgently need to pray for God’s men to step forward. Those of us who are old or ill or already fully engaged in the battle can still pray, fast and offer our trials. Those who claim to follow Jesus and currently do none of the above, urgently need to take stock and decide if They’re Christians or not.

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