Could We Lose the War on Terror?

You are here

Could We Lose the War on Terror?

Login or Create an Account

With a account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up


Jesus Christ taught His followers to pray, "Your kingdom come" (Matthew 6:10 Matthew 6:10Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
American King James Version×
). The central message of His ministry was the "gospel [good news—the title of this magazine] of the kingdom of God" (Mark 1:14 Mark 1:14Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
American King James Version×
). He made it clear that this Kingdom "is not of this world" (John 18:36 John 18:36Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
American King James Version×
) and that His followers would one day "reign on the earth" (Revelation 5:10 Revelation 5:10And have made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
American King James Version×
). This would follow His return as "KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS" (Revelation 19:16 Revelation 19:16And he has on his clothing and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
American King James Version×

Christians should pray fervently for the Kingdom of God for many reasons. One of the most important is the worsening problem of terrorism.

Increasingly, as the war on terror continues, I'm taken back to a terrorist war I witnessed firsthand—one that ended almost a quarter century ago.

It took place in a country I had moved to from my native England. The country had a culture similar to that of Britain and the United States. The names of the people were the same—Smith, Martin, Rhodes, Harvey, Young. The language was English, though the accent differed somewhat.

The system of government was quite similar—a democratic system in which voters sent their representatives to the capital to make decisions on their behalf. As early America had broken away from Britain, so, too, had this country.

Many of those who lived there enjoyed a life just like that in any other modern country. We ate hamburgers with fries and ketchup, drank Coke and Pepsi, watched episodes of Gunsmoke, Barnaby Jones, Cannon, Batman and Happy Days on television, watched the latest Hollywood movies at our local movie theater or drive-in and went to see live shows at good theaters.

We bought the latest records. We paid for them in dollars and cents. We bought clothes in department stores and food in supermarkets. We drove Fords and GM trucks.

The country was militarily strong. Its armed forces were recognized around the world as among the best. In World War II it had contributed more to the Allied cause, proportionate to population, than anybody, including the British and the Americans.

Its air force was so good that Winston Churchill sent pilots there for training. The terrorists didn't even have an air force. We could attack their bases at will.

Like the United States and Britain, many of our citizens were among the modern descendants of the northern tribes of ancient Israel. Most people didn't know that, but a surprising number in many different churches did.

The beginning of the end

When the first terrorist attack took place, we were stunned—but we soon recovered. There was no need for alarm. After all, we knew God was on our side; He would see us through. The country had been attacked by a poorer, less technologically advanced people of a different race and religion. We were convinced they were all from outside, that some hostile power beyond our shores had inspired them and trained them, giving them the weapons to attack us.

Six years passed before the second terrorist attack came. The terrorist war is dated from the second attack, as if the first didn't matter. The difference was that the second attack began an intensive and bloody seven-year war.

At the beginning, the government knew it could win. It had greater military might than the enemy. As terrorism struck every corner of the republic, we likened ourselves to England in the dark days of the blitz, when the German Luftwaffe attacked its cities every night, destroying homes and killing tens of thousands of innocent civilians.

But we still knew we would win. The country's leader had Churchillian resolve. We were a decent, God-fearing people, confident that He would protect us.

But the country I lived in no longer exists. It lost the terrorist war. Its guns, air force and powerful military did not save it. It was defeated—and many of its people scattered to the four corners of the earth.

The country? Its name was Rhodesia. Today Zimbabwe occupies the same space, but it's a completely different place, a nation whose people are forced to live under one of Africa's most despotic dictatorships. In place of the prosperous, productive, food-exporting nation that once existed, we now see a country that is an international pariah, its people starving.

Sudden and shocking downfall

To say that the terrorist war there lasted seven years is misleading. I remember writing an article for an international magazine in the autumn of 1975 timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the country's unilateral declaration of independence from Great Britain.

In the article I expressed the opinion that the country would lose its war on terror. At the time some local readers were quite upset, believing that defeat was impossible. But less than a year later, in late September of 1976, Prime Minister Ian Smith conceded defeat. Over three more years of war followed as different factions struggled for power.

Certainly, there are similarities between the United States and the United Kingdom today and Rhodesia then. There is also one obvious difference—though much of the African population in Rhodesia supported the government and rightly feared the alternatives, the majority wanted to see it fall.

Even so, there are lessons for America and its allies in the war on terror—lessons we should heed before it's too late.

Seven reasons to worry

Comparing Rhodesia then with the West today, I can think of seven reasons why Western democracies may suffer Rhodesia's fate.

Complacency. For the most part, the United States has been blessed with internal peace and stability since the end of the Civil War in 1865. Great Britain can look back on more than 300 years of relative political and social stability.

Canada, Australia and New Zealand, with systems of government similar to that of the mother country, have also greatly benefited from long periods of stability. Rhodesia had enjoyed similar stability as a self-governing colony within the British Empire for almost a century—as long as anybody living could remember.

These long periods of stability make these nations, descendants of the biblical tribe of Joseph, unique in history. Most if not all other nations have been plagued with wars, foreign invasions, revolutions or civil wars during the same time span.

This incredible longevity has resulted in a pervasive complacency. It's inconceivable to the average citizen of the United States or Britain that their countries could, like Rhodesia, cease to exist.

Yet that is exactly what could happen.

Americans seem to have the world's worst case of attention-deficit disorder (ADD). Less than three years have passed since the nation was stunned by the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Bogged down in what may prove to be an unwinnable war in Iraq and threatened by further acts of terrorism, President George W. Bush announced he was to address the nation in late May.

But if you didn't have cable television, you wouldn't have been able to watch. The major networks decided that American Idol and other shows were far more important than the president's speech to the nation!

There's a certain complacency, a refusal to face up to reality, on the part of the majority who simply want life to continue as it was before. Many naively think that if America pulled out of Iraq, there would be peace.

The reality is that an American defeat in Iraq would only embolden the terrorists to fight on to final victory.

Let no one be mistaken: The terrorists want to destroy the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and other nations that support the ideals of democracy and personal freedom.

Let's also realize that the Afghan mujahideen, from whom Osama bin Laden has drawn recruits, defeated the forces of the world's second-greatest superpower. Their ousting of Soviet forces led directly to the collapse of the communist system there.

Just a few weeks ago al-Qaeda issued a statement saying that they would concentrate their terrorist acts against six nations: the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Spain and Italy. More recently, they have targeted and murdered Americans and Britons in Saudi Arabia in an attempt to destroy the oil industry there—which would have drastic consequences on the world economy.

Thirty years ago Rhodesians went about business as usual. The economy was booming. For most, life was good. Nobody dreamed it would all be over in five years.

A major cultural difference is at work here. In American and British culture, most people simply want to work and prosper, to take care of their families and enjoy life. The assumption is that others want to do the same.

But that is just not the case. All we have to do to understand this fact is look at the suicide bombers who have been a driving force in the present war on terror. Just as most people in Washington and London cannot understand their mentality, so they cannot understand ours.

Proverbs 22:3 Proverbs 22:3A prudent man foresees the evil, and hides himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.
American King James Version×
advises that "a prudent man foresees evil" and prepares for it. Individually and collectively, we need to replace our complacency with a sense of urgency, a realization of the serious challenges of the times in which we live.

We have not clearly identified the enemy. The biggest single turning point in the Rhodesian terrorist war was the fall of neighboring Mozambique. This followed directly from an event thousands of miles away—a violent coup that overthrew the government of Portugal early in 1974.

This led rapidly to independence for Mozambique and Angola, two of Rhodesia's neighbors. The Soviet Union, seeking to expand its influence, showed up quickly in both states. Rhodesians were soon fighting for their lives.

But the enemy was also within. The fact that the 19 terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks were all foreign nationals does not mean that all terrorists are foreigners.

Dr. Daniel Pipes has authored 11 books on Islam and the Middle East and is a member of the U.S. Defense Department's Special Task Force on Terrorism and Technology. Testifying in a State Department forum on Jan. 30, 2002, Dr. Pipes estimated that 10 to 15 percent of Muslims worldwide support militant Islam (

It has often been pointed out that most of the imams teaching in America's mosques, financed by Saudi Arabia, are Wahhabis, an extremely violent branch of Sunni Islam that is Saudi-based.

The United States had only 500,000 Muslims within its borders in the 1970 census. Today estimates range from a low of 2 to 3 million to as high as 10 to 12 million. Even if only as few as 2 or 3 percent support militant Islam—that's a huge number of potential terrorists. Dr. Pipes documents nine attacks from militant Muslims within the United States before 9/11 (ibid.).

Political correctness and a strong emphasis on multiculturalism in the last four decades make it very difficult for Americans and Britons to face up to such facts. But the reality is as it was in Rhodesia—that not all the enemies are outside of the country and that many are within.

One very important lesson we learned in Rhodesia must be realized by the Americans and British if they are to be victorious in the war on terror. In Rhodesia much of the indigenous African population was intimidated by the terrorists and scared into helping them. They were far more afraid of the terrorists than they were of the Rhodesian government.

This is also almost certainly the case in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries on the frontline of today's terrorist war. This should help us understand why we rarely hear of moderate Muslims condemning terrorist acts. They are not going to criticize violent Islamic fundamentalists for fear of losing their own lives and seeing their families murdered.

Jesus Christ warned in Matthew 24 that the first sign of the coming of His Kingdom would be the prevalence of false religion (verses 3-5). The first of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, riding a white horse, is symbolic of false religion (Revelation 6:1-2 Revelation 6:1-2 [1] And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. [2] And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given to him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
American King James Version×
). False religion brings in its wake war, famine and pestilence.

Political correctness has promoted the dangerous view that all religions are equal—to the point that most people in the Western world can no longer realistically differentiate between the various faiths. All are considered good and peace-loving when the reality is far different.

Low birthrate. Tied in with the first two reasons is the low birthrate of Americans and Western Europeans. This contrasts starkly with the high birthrates of developing countries in the Third World, including the Islamic nations.

For a microcosm of the problem, consider Israel. Palestinian populations have long increased faster than the Israelis.

Eventually, Palestinians hope, they will be able to return to lands within what is now Israel. If and when that happens, they would then be in the majority. In a democratic system, that gives you power. The Palestinians would be in control of Israel, and then there would be no Jewish state.

A similar situation existed in Rhodesia, where the black population outstripped those of European descent, increasing the imbalance.

Most Islamic countries today have very high birthrates, and their economies usually cannot keep pace with population growth. The result is great frustration and dissatisfaction, which they then tend to blame on the West. This creates a breeding ground for terrorism. With ever-increasing numbers of potential terrorists, Western countries with low birthrates will be at a distinct disadvantage in the coming decades of violence.

The biblical book of Deuteronomy, chapter 28, makes it clear that children are a blessing (verse 4). One of the curses Israel was warned would befall them due to their sins would be curses on the fruit of their body, which could include a lower number of children (verse 18).

Ironically, one of the major factors in the low birthrates in Western democracies, and one that is having a growing social and cultural impact, is the huge number of babies that have been aborted over recent decades.

Our moral values. Or, rather, our lack of moral values, play a part in the war on terror.

Proverbs 14:34 Proverbs 14:34Righteousness exalts a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.
American King James Version×
says that "righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." This was illustrated well by the recent pictures of Iraqi prisoners being mistreated by American military personnel. These pictures, shown around the world, have been described as "recruiting posters for al-Qaeda."

What was particularly appalling in the pictures was the degradation involving sex. Only perverted minds would think of such things. But what do we expect when pornography is easily available on theInternet, cable television and in video-rental outlets?

Even regular Hollywood fare is offensive to many peoples around the world. Admittedly there is a double standard here when we realize that many people watch these movies while at the same time bemoaning Western decadence, but the fact remains that America's violent and sexually immoral movies have served to increase foreign contempt for the nation and its perceived hypocrisy.

An evening spent watching old movies on television will soon show the contrast between what was produced 50 years ago and what is being made now. Is it just a coincidence that the United States was looked up to back then and is denigrated now?

Rhodesia did not produce pornographic or violent movies, but it did have the worst divorce rate in the world, contributing greatly to family breakdown and loss of respect.

Excerpts from Osama bin Laden's "Letter to America" were published in London's The Observer newspaper on Nov. 24, 2002. The full text was available on the paper's Web site.

When cataloging America's sins, the leader of al-Qaeda cited America's immorality as justification for his own evil course: "You are a nation that permits acts of immorality, and you consider them to be pillars of personal freedom."

He continued: "Who can forget your President Clinton's immoral acts committed in the Oval Office? After that you did not even bring him to account, other than that 'he made a mistake,' after which everything passed with no punishment. Is there a worse kind of event for which your name will go down in history and be remembered by nations?"

This paragraph shows an attitude toward the United States that is found ever more frequently around the world. Exposed to American culture through television, many in other countries are critical of American values—the breakdown of the family, the role of women, children talking back to their parents, immodest and sloppy dress, same-sex marriages, use of bad language and much more. These same liberal values can be found throughout the Western world.

It's helpful to be reminded that these were not the American values of the 1950s, when the United States was looked up to by virtually all peoples everywhere.

Internal divisions. A culture war is taking place in the United States—a verbal and media war between those who believe in the Judeo-Christian heritage of national and family life and those who reject the values of thousands of years in favor of so-called "alternative lifestyles."

The anti-biblical faction is currently winning the war on most fronts, and the effect internationally is a lessening of respect for the United States—if not outright hatred rising against the country's values.

God foretold that this would happen in Deuteronomy 28:1 Deuteronomy 28:1And it shall come to pass, if you shall listen diligently to the voice of the LORD your God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command you this day, that the LORD your God will set you on high above all nations of the earth:
American King James Version×
: "Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth."

In warning against disobedience, He said that such behavior would make Israel and its descendants "troublesome to all the kingdoms of the earth" (verse 25).

Indebtedness to foreign nations. In the same chapter of Deuteronomy, God also warned the descendants of Israel that, if they persisted in sin, they would go from being great creditors to heavy borrowers, with the resulting loss of freedom.

In verse 12, as part of the blessings for obedience, He promised that they would "lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow." For disobedience, "the alien [foreigner] who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head and you shall be the tail" (verses 43-44).

America's monthly trade deficit is the highest in the history of the world and threatens national security. The United States buys from other countries $500 billion per year more than it sells. The only way the United States can do this is to borrow from other countries while other nations buy up American companies with their excess dollars.

The threat to national security lies in the possibility that one day all America's creditors will lose confidence in the United States and pull the plug on the country.

The U.S. government also borrows heavily from overseas through the monthly sale of U.S. Treasury bonds. Additionally, roughly one third of personal borrowing in recent years has been from overseas banks. Americans may still feel that they are the richest people in the world, but it's only possible by borrowing from nations supposedly poorer than themselves!

A contributing factor in Rhodesia's fall was economic pressure from other nations, especially former allies Britain and America. It would be ironic if similar economic pressure came on the United States and Britain from nations that are presently allies. One of Rhodesia's greatest weaknesses was its dependence on foreign oil, making the country vulnerable to international pressures. The same is true of America.

We no longer trust in God. America's coins and currency may still carry the words "In God we trust," but the nation increasingly rejects the God to whom it owes its very existence.

At a time when America is most threatened, when the possibility of a major city like Washington D.C. or New York being decimated by a radiological, nuclear, chemical or biological attack is seriously considered, courts and unelected judges continue to force God out of our schools and remove all references to Him from our public buildings.

These same courts even throw out the biblically sanctioned relationship of marriage between a man and woman, forcing on the nation alternative forms of marriage that God condemns and that most of the rest of the world finds revolting.

Deuteronomy 28 again makes clear the consequences for disobedience. In verses 58-59 God warns: "If you do not carefully observe all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, THE LORD YOUR GOD, then the LORD will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plagues"—the consequences of sin.

In verse 63 He adds: "And it shall be, that just as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good and multiply you, so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you and bring you to nothing; and you shall be plucked from off the land which you go to possess."

Why, we should ask, would God bless us for disobedience? Faced with defeat, the president of Rhodesia declared a national day of prayer and fasting. Few responded. The vast majority saw little connection between their own sin and the imminent threat to their country. If we aren't willing to change our ways that have brought us to this point, why should God choose to deliver us?

In Deuteronomy 30:19 Deuteronomy 30:19I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live:
American King James Version×
He makes clear the choice we all have, both individually and collectively: "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live."

Just because a nation does not repent does not mean an individual cannot do so, looking to God for protection in these difficult times. "But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is lawful and right, he shall live because of it," God tells us (Ezekiel 33:19 Ezekiel 33:19But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby.
American King James Version×

The greatest lesson for all of us who lived in Rhodesia during the terrorist war was that we cannot rely on a country, any country, for our security. No human political entity will last forever. Ultimately, our only true security lies in God. "Seek first the kingdom of God," Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
American King James Version×
. Christians should fervently pray daily, "Your kingdom come" (Matthew 6:10 Matthew 6:10Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
American King James Version×
). GN

You might also be interested in...