When Is Enough...Enough?

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When Is Enough...Enough?

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In July 31 the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held hearings to discuss Iraq's capacity to produce and deliver weapons of mass destruction and to determine America's response to this growing threat to stability in the Middle East.

Former United Nations weapons inspector Richard Butler testified that Saddam Hussein obstructed his team's efforts to inspect and catalog Iraqi weapons during the mid-1990s. By 1998 all weapons inspection in Iraq stopped. It is suspected that Iraqi ability to produce chemical and biological weapons has been developed further along with the means to deliver these deadly weapons.

The fear of using terrorist groups to release smallpox, Ebola or anthrax over cities in Israel, Europe or even the United States is a possibility that sends fear through the minds of those who understand the devastation that could occur. The possession of these weapons serves to keep such a man in power through the use of fear. Nations in the region, which may well understand the extent of his power, seem unable or incapable of condemning, much less reacting to, such a destabilizing threat.

More than 20 years ago Israel struck preemptively against a nuclear reactor, where Iraq was attempting to produce fissionable nuclear material to build nuclear weapons. Israel understood then that Iraq posed a threat to its survival. Today the voice of Israel is among the strongest advocating a conclusive strike to bring down the Hussein regime.

A former Iraqi nuclear engineer, Khidar Hamza, testified that over the years Iraq has maintained contacts with various Islamic terrorist groups, including al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. Establishing a strong connection to these groups will be an important element in justifying American intervention as part of its declared war on terror. Without this linkage other allies will be reluctant to support the fight. Jordan's King Abdullah is one regional leader who has expressed concern over America's plan.

In an interview published in The Washington Post on Aug. 1, 2002, the king said the reluctance of others to confront the Bush administration over Iraq may leave the impression there is little opposition to military action. Abdullah said, "All of a sudden this thing is moving to the horizon much closer than we believed. In all the years I have seen in the international community, everybody is saying this is a bad idea. If it seems America says we want to hit Baghdad, that's not what Jordanians think, or the British, the French, the Russians, the Chinese and everybody else."

An invitation to chaos?

There are some who argue for a policy of containment against Iraq. Leave Hussein alone, the thought is, and eventually an internal coup or some other uprising will force his ouster. Hopefully, a saner leader will emerge to lead Iraq back into the community of civilized nations. The problem with this view, say others, is that no previous attempt to oust Saddam has succeeded and the longer the delay, the more time he has to develop nuclear weapons or use the existing weapons in inventory. It is estimated that Iraq has 20 Scud missiles left over from the Gulf War. Some experts predict Iraq is three years away from developing a nuclear weapon. The longer the wait, the greater will be the risk.

Opponents of an invasion also argue that to launch a strike would result in chaos. Iraq would feel embattled and see itself as fighting for its survival. Its only option would be to unleash a doomsday scenario leading to massive loss of life and instability in the region.

A recent article in Fortune magazine offered this comment: "...An attack intended to get rid of Saddam will prompt him to use whatever weapons of mass destruction he has, specifically against Israel, to widen the war and go down as a modern-day Saladin, the slayer of infidels. And in fact, if he's going out anyway, it's hard to believe he wouldn't want to do so in what in his mind is a blaze of glory. If he believes he's going down, everything he has will probably be headed toward Israel. If any of it hits its intended target and the Israelis retaliate, 'chaos' is a mild word for what will ensue. A region-wide conflagration, an oil embargo, ever more hatred directed at Israel's sponsor, the U.S. You get the picture. Leave him alone, say the containment advocates, and eventually the world will be rid of him" ("How a War With Iraq Will Change the World," July 8, 2002).

Many changes since Gulf War

The Islamic world has changed since the last Gulf War. The presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia has forced the government to live a double life. Allowing "infidel" troops on the sacred soil has caused a seething resentment, which fuels the perverse ambitions of Osama bin Laden and his followers. Muslim clerics have been allowed to preach hatred of the West from their pulpits and in Islamic schools, which have biased a generation of Arab youth. It appears the Saudi government will see a change in leadership soon. The current King Saudi Fahd lies seriously ill in a Swiss hospital and the court intrigue to select a successor is growing.

The Palestinian Intifada has further inflamed Arab resentment against Israel and its chief supporter, the United States. Some question the timing of an attack, given the current climate.

University of Maryland political scientist Shibley Telhami says, "Context, and the tenor of the times," are critically important. Telhami, who organizes extensive public-opinion soundings in the Arab world, believes it is likely that a war with Iraq would result, at least in the short run, in an increase in terrorism throughout the Middle East, directed at any regime-Egypt, Jordan, the other Gulf monarchies-seen as supporting America, and inevitably bring the homicide bomber phenomenon to U.S. shores. That's precisely what President Bush is trying to avoid.

Charles A. Duelfer, an ex-UNSCOM (the United Nations inspection agency) official and one of the most knowledgeable Americans about Iraq, supports removing Saddam but doesn't disagree with Telhami. "There is," he says glumly, "no shortage of kids in the region who seem to want to grow up to be cruise missiles. To the skeptics, an invasion now would only increase the arsenal" (ibid.).

The economic impact

Consider the impact that an attack would have on oil prices and the world economy. Crude oil is currently selling in the mid-$20-per-barrel range. A war could cause it to go as high as $60 per barrel.

"A proposed attack on Iraq is an extraordinarily high-risk economic adventure that could either destabilize the governments of one or more oil exporting countries by creating a prolonged period of low prices, or, if things went wrong, lead to a prolonged disruption of world oil supplies, which could be even more devastating," says Philip K. Verleger Jr., an oil expert and fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations (Thomas Friedman, New York Times, July 31, 2002).

Every $10 increase in oil price decreases the GDP by one point. No one wants to see the impact this would have on the American economy and world money markets.

On the other hand a short, quick, successful war could bring the price of oil down to $6 per barrel.

Here is Friedman's analysis: "The scenario that could produce $6-a-barrel oil goes like this: Iraq under Saddam has been pumping up to two million barrels of oil a day, under the U.N. oil-for-food program.

"Let's say a U.S. invasion works and in short order Saddam is ousted and replaced by an Iraqi Thomas Jefferson, or just a 'nice' general ready to abandon Iraq's nuclear weapons program and rejoin the family of nations. That would mean Iraq would be able to modernize all its oilfields, attract foreign investment and in short order ramp up its oil production to its long-sought capacity of five million barrels a day. That is at least three million barrels of oil a day more on the world market, and Iraq, which will be desperate for cash to rebuild, is not likely to restrain itself.

"Bottom line: A quick victory that brings Iraq fully back into the oil market could lead to a sharp fall in oil incomes throughout OPEC that could seriously weaken the oil cartel and rob its many autocratic regimes of the income they need to maintain their closed political systems" (ibid.).

Is God still with America?

Listening to the experts and reading all the articles trying to predict what will happen presents two sides and a lot of questions. Everyone recognizes the danger posed by Saddam Hussein to the world order. No one wants to see his murderous regime continue. Those who are hawkish are beating the drum for a direct attack, with the objective of overthrowing the regime and replacing it with a more user-friendly government which is cooperative with the United Nations and seeks to live in harmony with its neighbors. This solution must also include the commitment to discard and dismantle the weapons of mass destruction, which Iraq has been building for several decades.

Those like Europe and other Arab states, which oppose a U.S.-led invasion, desire the same outcome but look for it in less intrusive ways. A division of opinion exists about what will happen when the invasion comes. As we have seen, it could be a short war, or it could be a long one.

President George Bush faces a momentous decision with regard to Iraq. To commit American forces to this task will be far different than the invasion of Afghanistan. Iraqi forces are better equipped and trained than the Taliban and al Qaeda. Saddam Hussein sees himself as a Saladin or a Nebuchadnezzar, recalling ancient figures of his land. He will not go down easily. President Bush may find wisdom in looking at the biblical example of King Josiah, who found himself in the uncomfortable position of launching an attack upon a foe without the backing and support of the most important ally, God.

Repeatedly we have been told that America's fight against terror is to preserve our freedoms and liberties against enemies who have demonstrated contempt for our way of life and a cold-blooded determination to inflict harm. Yet, amid the renewed patriotism and public support behind this war effort there is the need to ask, "Is God pleased with the ways of this nation? And how long will He continue to protect America against the storms brought by those who seek her demise?" When is enough...enough?

A good king who overreached and paid the consequences

Josiah was the 16th king of Judah and one of the good kings who tried to renew the nation's mission and covenant with God. In 2 Chronicles 34:3 it says, "He began to seek the God of his father David." And in the 12th year of his reign, "he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images."

He went throughout the nation and even into the northern nation of Israel in his quest to rid the land of idolatrous worship. At Bethel, site of an altar erected during the rebellion of Jeroboam, he fulfilled an earlier prophecy made by a man of God who said the bones of rebellious priests would be burned upon it (1 Kings 13:2).

Then as God's priests were cleaning the great temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, a scroll of the law was found and brought to Josiah. Before him were read the words of Deuteronomy, which revealed the penalties to befall the nation if they forsook the law and covenant of God.

Josiah's heartrending response to these words prompted the prophetess Huldah to say that the punishment would be stayed during the lifetime of Josiah, but would surely come upon the nation after his death.

Perhaps in the hope of evoking a repentance toward God, Josiah called the people to an assembly, read the law and promised in a solemn vow to "follow the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book. And he made all who were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin take a stand. So the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers" (2 Chronicles 34:31-32).

Josiah and the people went on to celebrate the Passover with a pomp and splendor not seen for many years. Josiah was a good man, sincere in his belief, but he could not undo the past, nor, in spite of his personal example and inspiring words, produce a lasting change in his countrymen. His reforms, far reaching as they were, were too late and did not go deep enough. "Nevertheless the Lord did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath, with which His anger was aroused against Judah..." (2 Kings 23:26). To paraphrase the words of a later king of France, "After Josiah, the deluge."

Josiah's death came in battle as he involved himself in a dispute which God warned him to avoid. Pharaoh Necho of Egypt allied himself with the faltering Assyrian Empire against the rising Babylonian nation. Necho passed through Judah on his way to Carchemish by the Euphrates. Josiah went out with an army and engaged the Egyptians.

A just cause isn't always what it seems

God's methods sometimes baffle us. Speaking through this pagan king, God warned good king Josiah not to meddle in something that was not his affair. "What have I to do with you, king of Judah? I have not come against you this day, but against the house with which I have war; for God commanded me to make haste. Refrain from meddling with God, who is with me, lest He destroy you" (2 Chronicles 35:21).

Josiah ignored this warning and engaged in battle. An archer's arrow pierced his body and the mortally wounded king was carried by his soldiers back to Jerusalem. Great mourning followed the death of this beloved monarch. None wept more poignantly than the prophet Jeremiah, who more than anyone else understood what lay in store for the nation upon the passing of Josiah (2 Chronicles 35:22-25).

Judah's days of freedom were ended. She spent her last days as a vassal to Egypt before succumbing to the Babylonians.

Notice the words of Jeremiah. "'Is Israel a servant? Is he a home born slave? Why is he plundered? The young lions roared at him and growled; they made his land waste; his cities are burned, without inhabitant...Have you not brought this on yourself, in that you have forsaken the Lord your God when He led you in the way? And now why take the road to Egypt, to drink waters of Sihor? Or why take the road to Assyria, to drink the waters of the River? Your own wickedness will correct you, and your backslidings will rebuke you. Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing that you have forsaken the Lord your God, and the fear of Me is not in you,' says the Lord God of hosts'" (Jeremiah 2:14-19).

No one can predict the outcome of a war with Iraq. On paper, the United States, the world's only military superpower, is the odds-on favorite. Iraq's army and technology are no match for the state-of-the-art warfare waged by American troops. But America's leadership should walk carefully in this and any future engagement. Overconfidence can lead to overreach. The same God who weighed ancient Israel and Judah in the balance, and found both wanting, sits in judgment today over the United States and all other nations, including Iraq. God looks at evil from a different perspective than most humans. His standard of righteousness is based on a higher set of values than any of today's human governments possesses.

Recently a major issue arose over a U.S. Circuit Court ruling that the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance was an unconstitutional mixing of church and state. Many were indignant, and rightly so, that a federal court would dare such a ruling. America can claim to be "under God," but if the fruits are not evident, there exists a major disconnect. Continuing to ignore the fundamental laws of God creates a state of unrighteousness for which God will demand an accounting. God is a God of judgment. At some point He will say, "Enough is enough!"

America cannot expect to indefinitely stride the world as a colossus while it ignores the ways of the God who has blessed it with the riches of the earth. For more on how God looks at America today, write for our free booklet, The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy. WNP

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