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Sunday 27 March 2022

How To view The War In Ukraine?

 



Over the last month or more, I have had several different people ask me how I view the war in Ukraine. I have shared my thoughts in various ways on social media, and on my blog I have focused on dealing with the biblical support for the concept of non-interventionism. A lot of people today just brush aside non-interventionism[1] as a serious position on foreign policy. However, though it may be a relatively minority position, today, it is a well-considered position, and one held by a notable statesman like Thomas Jefferson himself;  

“ENTANGLING ALLIANCES. Contrary to common belief, the phrase "entangling alliances" was turned by Thomas Jefferson, not George Washington. Washington advised against "permanent alliances," whereas Jefferson, in his inaugural address on 4 March 1801, declared his devotion to "peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none." It is a pet phrase of isolationists warning against foreign commitments.”[2]

Of course, as esteemed a figure as Jefferson was, and as absolutely correct as he was on the foolishness of locking your country into foreign alliances, he is just one man. Hence, as a minister I thought it was of much more value to explore the Biblical theology of non-interventionism and alliances and I will continue to do so, with more writings forthcoming. But what about the war in Ukraine itself? I have not avoided discussing it, with many posts looking at different aspects of the war on my social media pages. But I have decided to finally address it in a blog itself: How to view the war in Ukraine?

This is both a simple question and a complex question. It is simple because there is really only one correct way to view the war; the accurate way, and it is complex because most people cannot agree on what that way is. This is partly because of the natural fog of war. There is often a lack of clarity during war about what is happening because both sides are seeking to deceive each other, but it is also because overall the western media has picked a very clear side and perspective and they are hitting that perspective hard. To such a degree that even those who should know better not to trust them are largely following along with that narrative. So, we will now evaluate the different ways people view this conflict. There are variations of these positions, and these are just generalizations, but the following three views broadly account for the main lenses through which to view this conflict.   

For the average normie who relies on the media, Putin is a big authoritarian bully who is picking on his poor and innocent neighbour that did nothing to provoke the attack. This is essentially the consistent message of western media and elites elites.[3] Now, even though we have zero reason to trust our elites and leadership or media, the relentlessly consistent attack of their rhetoric and visual aids in unison presenting this theme is too much for most people to see through or shake. Therefore, for most normies, on either side of the political spectrum, Putin has committed an unjust war against a weaker power, and we must do all, or as much as we at least reasonably, can do, to stop him. This narrative has the added benefit of helping people feel like the inflation they are suffering is a just pain, and necessary contribution to the effort to stop evil. This view is that a big power is picking on a little power.

The next category of people are the more informed conservatives, who know our media is dishonest, but still can only see Putin’s act as an authoritarian attack on liberty and democracy. This is because this view starts from the premise that Putin and/or Russia are inherently evil. Many people in this camp are far better informed historically and even of the recent context. They also know that the media and elites cannot be trusted, but neither can Putin, and they believe they just “happen to agree” with the media, in this one instance. They argue that they take each situation and media narrative on its own merits. They know that both sides have every reason to lie, our elites - because it is what they do, and Putin - because that is what leaders at war do to their enemies. They know there is an information battle happening.

They even know that to some degree western forces have provoked this war by foolish actions overseas, and therefore they have a more nuanced reason for saying Putin must be stopped: our elites may be bad, but Putin is worse; he is the reincarnation of Stalin, the embodiment of Hitler returned (people forget those two were mortal enemies), and he is proving it by raping and pillaging his way across a smaller power to build his empire, or rebuild the Soviet Union. They know the West has been aggressive on the world stage, but they now say, “But this war of Putin’s shows it was justified aggression.”[4] Yes, our elites are bad guys, but they are the leaders we have in this time, so we need to get behind them in their effort to contain the Soviet threat 2.0. This is just a more informed version of the first position, based on reading history, but incorrectly reading history[5] into Putin and his actions.

Then there is the view that completely shuts out the western media perspective; is not convinced that all things Russian are inherently evil, and takes a broader historical approach to what is happening. It recognizes this war began in 2014 with the US aided coup of Ukraine, but also recognizes something of the Thucydides trap[6] that we find ourselves in today. Rather than seeing Putin as the embodiment of evil, and the western elites as flawed people seeking to achieve justice and liberty in the world, this view sees what is correctly happening: we are seeing the decline of the U.S. Empire, and the results of its efforts to maintain that power, and the ability of nations to move against it now that it is weakening. This, in my opinion, is the correct way to view the war in Ukraine, which best accounts with all that is happening. This war is not a border crisis between a major power and minor power. It is a war between a regional power and the global aggressive empire, with the minor power caught in the middle.  

This view does not see Putin as our saviour, or our side as righteous. It views what is happening through the lens of power politics. The United States, or really, the global empire, has been continually throwing its weight around since the fall of the Soviet Union, encroaching closer and closer to past and present enemies, and is willing to do all that it can to maintain its power. Because of this recklessness the United States has pushed its forces all the way to borders of Russia, a regional power that said it would not stand for such a situation. The correct way to view this war is that a regional power is drawing a line in the sand with the global power, and the global power is pulling out all stops, with its information supremacy, to make a defensive war look like an offensive war.

If you deny that this is a fight between Russia and American globalism you are just not being honest or aren’t really informed about the situation. For example, the US is bragging about having been in Ukraine since at least 2014;

“The U.S. Army's Special Forces, better known as Green Berets, have had a deep impact on Ukraine's fight to defend itself from a Russian invasion, despite not being directly involved in the conflict.

"Ukraine was taken very seriously by Special Forces," retired Green Beret Sgt. Maj. Martin Moore told Fox News Digital.

After Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, a move that faced minimal resistance, the Ukrainian military began an effort to modernize its forces to prepare for possible further Russian incursions into the country. The U.S. military also quickly stepped in to help, with the Army's Green Berets taking on a critical role in training Ukrainian forces.”[7]  

America has been interfering in Ukraine for some time.

This war is really a war between globo-homo[8] and a nationalist power that has decided to say to the globalist powers, no further. This does not make Russia our friend. The enemy of your enemy is not always your friend. But Russia is opposing the globalist powers, and those of us who are opposed to globalism are watching this with fascination because if Russia is successful this sets globo-homo on the back foot and forces it to retreat. This may be painful in the short term because there will be national instability, but in the long term this will allow more nations to take their sovereignty back. Hence, why so many people are not condemning Putin and his autocracy. Because from our perspective a nationalist autocrat is saying no to the globalist autocrats, and we have been waiting for world leaders to oppose the globalists system for some time. Even Trump never really achieved much on this front.

America might say that Putin is not the good guy. I would just respond that the Galactic Empire has no credibility to judge Jabba the Hut for his activities.

But because how you see this conflict is a matter of the lens you are viewing this through and a result of the information you have at your disposal, I have decided to share at least one very good source which I use to keep informed; the Unz Review, and particularly Mike Whitney. Here is an extended excerpt from one of Whitney’s latest pieces:

“Why is NATO sending more lethal weaponry to Ukraine? Didn’t Putin say that poring arms into Ukraine would increase the likelihood of war?

Yes, he did, but the US and NATO continue send more shipments anyway. Why?

And why does Ukraine need more weapons?

Could it be that Ukraine’s 600,000-strong military is collapsing like a trailer park in a hurricane? Is that it? Is that why NATO had an emergency confab in Brussels on Thursday to restate their support for a NATO-trained army that has not successfully launched even one major counteroffensive against the Russian military?

The media insists that the Russian offensive “has stalled”. Is that what you call it when your opponent captures an area the size of the UK in less than 3 weeks or when all your air and naval assets have been obliterated or when your Command-and-Control centers have gone up in smoke or when most of your combat troops are either encircled by Russian forces or fleeing to locations west of the Dnieper River? Is that what “stalled” looks like?

Do you get the impression that the media is not being entirely straightforward in their coverage of the war in Ukraine? Do you think that maybe their WEF-linked owners might have a dog in this fight? Here’s how Archbishop Vigano summed it up recently in an article linking “Covid tyranny” to the war in Ukraine:

“The ideological continuity between the pandemic farce and the Russian-Ukrainian crisis continues to emerge, beyond the evidence of the events and statements of the subjects involved, in the fact that the ultimate perpetrators of both are the same, all attributable to the globalist cabal of the World Economic Forum.” (“Exclusive: Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò”Gateway Pundit)

Truer words were never spoken. It’s all manipulation by globalist “stakeholders” pursuing their own narrow interests. As for the war, check out this analysis from a post at Larry Johnson’s new blog A Son of the New American Revolution. I can’t vouch for the author, but he sounds a lot more credible than CNN:

“Official claims of a major Ukrainian counteroffensive near Kiev are completely fake; it’s totally made-up, it never happened—they simply don’t have a coherent military force in the Kiev area that’s capable of conducting an organized counteroffensive. All they have in and around Kiev is various bits and pieces including police and army special forces, civilian militia, regular police, some air defense, and a few artillery batteries. It’s not an offensive force—it’s a crazy quilt. …

What’s left of the Ukrainian army east of the Dniepr river is running out of diesel, and should be out of tube and rocket artillery munitions (and in fact, artillery) by the first week of April. Outside of the Donbass, it’s a war of attrition, with Russia wearing away the Ukraine’s ability to fight, using stand-off weapons (air and missiles) first and foremost. On Sunday, Russia hit a cache of munitions that was being hidden—Hamas-style—at a “vacant” retail and sports complex in downtown Kiev. Russia is finding tons and tons of Ukrainian army materiel, and methodically destroying them….

Russian and Donetsk/Lugansk forces have picked up so many U.S. and British antitank weapons, it’s visually documented they’re now using them on the battlefield. …

…Yes, but can the author be trusted?

I don’t know but– let’s face it– when the media lies relentlessly for 4 years about “Russian collusion” followed by another 2 years of “Everyone’s going to die from the flu”; any critical thinking person is going to look for other sources of information, right? It’s a credibility issue, and, regrettably, “credibility” is a term that is never applied to the mainstream media.

So, where do we go from here?

Good question; and you can see from NATO’s statement that leaders in Washington and across Europe are determined to throw more gas on the fire. That’s the message they’re sending to the world; ‘We are united in our determination to defeat Russia whether we blow up the planet or not.’ Got it? Here’s a clip from their declaration on Thursday:

“Since 2014, we have provided extensive support to Ukraine’s ability to exercise that right. We have trained Ukraine’s armed forces, strengthening their military capabilities and capacities and enhancing their resilience. NATO Allies have stepped up their support and will continue to provide further political and practical support to Ukraine as it continues to defend itself. …..We remain determined to maintain coordinated international pressure on Russia. We will continue to coordinate closely with relevant stakeholders and other international organizations, including the European Union.

Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine represents a fundamental challenge to the values and norms that have brought security and prosperity to all on the European continent” (“Statement by NATO Heads of State and Government”, NATO)

Are you surprised that NATO would openly boast about arming and training thousands of Ukrainian combatants since 2014?”[9]

Well, are you surprised? You can read the rest of this piece here, which I highly recommend. I recommend reviewing other non-mainstream sources, because they discuss information our media just ignores or shrouds in spin.

People often assume those who have a different view to them about a topic are uninformed. This is often true, but not always. Sometimes it is simply because some of us are looking at a far wider range of informative sources. I highly recommend you make use of sources like this, because at the very least they are interesting, but even more importantly, they are not written by our own elites who are highly incentivised to deceive us again and again and again. Liars often lie because if they are caught in their original lie it can have terrible ramifications for them and their position. So, they must continue to grift until it finally collapses, hopefully, after they have long retired to a nice villa somewhere. But there is one thing for certain: you will not get the correct view of the war in Ukraine from those who have consistently lied to you for years now. So, if you find yourself agreeing with them, this should at least give your pause, to re-evaluate, shouldn’t it?

List of references



[1] Non-interventionism is not isolationism or pacifism, it is the idea that you don’t entangle yourself to the agendas of other nations, but set your own course with your own people for your own people’s good. You also prepare to defend your nation against any and all enemies.

[3] For example the Australian Prime Minister “Prime Minister Scott Morrison has condemned the "brutal" and "unprovoked" actions of Russia, as its troops launched an attack on eastern Ukraine today,” https://www.9news.com.au/national/russia-ukraine-update-prime-minister-scott-morrison-condemns-actions-of-russia/3d37874c-5e39-4775-847a-ca3a6e034f95 If you believe gas lighters again and again it’s all on you when you suffer as a result of their lies. If you believe them after you have clearly seen them lie on other issues, I don’t even know how to help you.

[4] Ignoring that aggression begets aggression in return.

[5] And I think certain theologies as well.

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thucydides_Trap  - “Thucydides Trap, also referred to as Thucydides's Trap, is a term popularized by American political scientist Graham T. Allison to describe an apparent tendency towards war when an emerging power threatens to displace an existing great power as a regional or international hegemon.” Essentially this happens because the decline of the existing power, or rise of other powers, changes the balance of powers in the world, allowing them to challenge the dominant power. Even if in this case it is not directly.

[8] Globo-homo refers to the globalist immoral empire that pushes its degenerate morality and corrupt power around the globe.

Saturday 26 March 2022

Conservatives and Progressives Are Both Wrong About Inequality

 



Equality breaks things. This is why the international symbol of a lot of “equality” or social justice movements is a fist, because fists smash and break things, just as equality does. The thing equality breaks the most is the mind. The minds of both conservatives and progressives on many issues are limited because many submit their thinking to a bad idea like equality, which breaks things.  

Conservatives tend to believe in equality of opportunity. They believe that people are basically equal and that disparities of outcome essentially come down to whether or not people take advantage of their opportunities. This idea doesn’t make sense because even given basically the same opportunities two siblings will have different lives. Because of this understanding of equality of opportunity, conservatives tend to think that individual choices and aptitude, or dedication, are the basic reason for inequality in society. The wealthy got to where they are because they work harder than anyone else, the poor got to where they are because they are lazier than someone else. The West rewards those who take their opportunities, so the conservative would say take your opportunities.

Progressives tend to take the idea of people being equal even further. They tend to believe in equality of outcome, that all people should be represented in all [desirable] fields of life equally. They believe that not only should people be considered equal, but they should be equal in wealth, possessions, and more. Equality of outcome is perhaps one of the most pernicious evils in the world, and the most consistent dystopian idea to be presented as utopian. Because progressives are more beholden to the idea of equality, they believe that disparities in society are a result of systemic injustice. They must be! Correct? Because if people are essentially equal than the only reason society is not more equal is that the powerful have stacked the system against the less powerful. Therefore, where an injustice exists it is almost always the result of some structural oppression whether by race, class or otherwise. Don’t look to the individuals as being at fault for their bad actions, look to the social structures of the society around them.  

Both conservatives and progressives are wrong. First, to different degrees and in different ways they have both fallen for the lie of the possibility of equality between people. Second, inequalities in our society are not all driven from personal choices, or all driven from structural biases. The truth is that it is a mix of both, stemming from an even more basic truth: there is no such thing as equality between people. I have established this in previous articles (for example here and here). This is a radical concept for some people, but it is vital to accept if we are going to address theses issue of inequality in society.

Because the Bible does not ever promote the idea of equality, but instead often rebukes it, and because those who were inspired to write the Bible understood the fact that humans are not equal, the bible does not come at this problem from the left or the right, but from a place of understanding human nature. It recognizes the importance of individual choices, but also the need for constant social reform and breaking down of corrupted and oppressive structures. From the Bible’s perspective those with less power need to be incentivized to make good decisions that help them prosper, but the powerful also need to be restrained so they do not utterly corrupt all of society. Let’s explore how the Bible shows us the need for both.

There is a very interesting passage in 1 Samuel that explains why David was able to build popular support for his kingship; 

“1 David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down there to him. 2 And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men” (1 Sam. 22:1-2).

When David was on the run from Saul, men started to gather around him. Men who were in debt, in bitterness of soul and in distress. In other words, they were being oppressed by the system. Some might react there and say, but Matt, wasn’t it more likely these people were just not competing well in the society of that day; that they had made bad decisions in their lives? Maybe. But note what these men were like. They are not ordinary run of the mill guys.  

The account of David’s adventures with these men shows they were nothing but ruthlessly competent and capable. They were leaders among men and from among these men came some real notables;

“8 These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-basshebeth a Tahchemonite; he was chief of the three. He wielded his spear against eight hundred whom he killed at one time.

9 And next to him among the three mighty men was Eleazar the son of Dodo, son of Ahohi. He was with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel withdrew. 10 He rose and struck down the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clung to the sword. And the Lord brought about a great victory that day, and the men returned after him only to strip the slain.

11 And next to him was Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines gathered together at Lehi, where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the men fled from the Philistines. 12 But he took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and struck down the Philistines, and the Lord worked a great victory.

13 And three of the thirty chief men went down and came about harvest time to David at the cave of Adullam, when a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. 14 David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then at Bethlehem. 15 And David said longingly, “Oh, that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!” 16 Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and carried and brought it to David. But he would not drink of it. He poured it out to the Lord 17 and said, “Far be it from me, O Lord, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went at the risk of their lives?” Therefore he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did” (1 Kings 22:8-17).   

These are not weak men incapable of competing in their day. They are the crème-de-le-crème of the Israelite society. These are the kind of men that you build an ancient government around, because in the ancient world you needed fierce and dangerous men to lead your nation in battle against the fierce and dangerous men of other societies. These were the kind of men that Saul could have used to drive out the Philistines and establish peace for Israel in the land. But instead, like David, these capable men had been shut out by a corrupt system, forced into destitution. This was a continual problem in Israel, we see it all through Scripture.

We read in the book of the prophet Isaiah, God’s condemnation of how the powerful had used their position to crush the poor. They had plundered the possessions of their own people, using debt and power to take what they willed;   

“13 The Lord has taken his place to contend; he stands to judge peoples. 14 The Lord will enter into judgment with the elders and princes of his people: “It is you who have devoured the vineyard, the spoil of the poor is in your houses. 15 What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor?” declares the Lord God of hosts” (Isa. 3:12-15).

They had confiscated or bought up all the land so as to control it for themselves;

“8 Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is no more room, and you are made to dwell alone in the midst of the land. 9 The Lord of hosts has sworn in my hearing: “Surely many houses shall be desolate, large and beautiful houses, without inhabitant. 10 For ten acres of vineyard shall yield but one bath, and a homer of seed shall yield but an ephah” (Isa. 5:8-10).

Israel’s corruption had turned the guardians of the people, the elites, into the oppressors of the people;

“21 How the faithful city has become a whore, she who was full of justice! Righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers. 22 Your silver has become dross, your best wine mixed with water. 23 Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves. Everyone loves a bribe and runs after gifts. They do not bring justice to the fatherless, and the widow's cause does not come to them” (Isa. 1:21-23).

The wealthy used their power to corral and harass the poor, rather than to protect them. Because of this injustice, through the corruption of the system, the land would be judged;

“1 Behold, the Lord will empty the earth and make it desolate, and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants. 2 And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the slave, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the creditor, so with the debtor 3 The earth shall be utterly empty and utterly plundered; for the Lord has spoken this word” (Isa. 24:1-3, not the word earth here can be translated land, i.e the land of Israel).

This passage is either pronouncing judgement on the land (Israel), or on the earth, but either way it is condemning the powerful using their wealth and power in corrupt ways.

Indeed, even David himself failed to attend well to the predatory rich during his reign, to such a degree he nearly lost the throne himself to his son Absalom. Absalom was able to use the distress of the people to gather support for his kingship (2 Sam. 15:1-6). “Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (2 Sam. 15:6).

The Scriptures recognize how the system can be turned against the people; how the wealthy can use their wealth to increase their own power and position and crush the poor. Because of this God set in place laws that required the cancelling of debts, for example the year of Jubilee in Leviticus 25, and other laws pertaining to releasing fellow Israelites who were enslaved through unfortunate circumstances or decisions. The Scriptures recognized that people were not equal and because of this society would become unbalanced, and therefore it would need to be reset from time to time. The “great reset” in the Bible was the concept of periodical freedom from debt. This is the context of Isaiah 61;

“61 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn…” (Isa. 61:1-2).

This passage, which many will recognize as being part of the foundation of the ministry of Jesus in Luke chapter 4, is intricately bound up in the biblical concept of periodically releasing people from their debts and the slavery incurred by debt, so the land would remain stable. Central to God’s judgement on the Israelites was their continual refusal to enact these laws of justice;

“13 Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I myself made a covenant with your fathers when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, saying, 14 ‘At the end of seven years each of you must set free the fellow Hebrew who has been sold to you and has served you six years; you must set him free from your service.’ But your fathers did not listen to me or incline their ears to me. 15 You recently repented and did what was right in my eyes by proclaiming liberty, each to his neighbor, and you made a covenant before me in the house that is called by my name, 16 but then you turned around and profaned my name when each of you took back his male and female slaves, whom you had set free according to their desire, and you brought them into subjection to be your slaves.

17 “Therefore, thus says the Lord: You have not obeyed me by proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother and to his neighbor; behold, I proclaim to you liberty to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine, declares the Lord. I will make you a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth” (Jer. 34:13-17).

God’s law required a periodical resetting of the economy so that people could be restored to their land and be able to provide for themselves and continue to contribute to society. You would own something and be happy. That was the intention of these laws. This was central to God’s ideal for his people, “And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan” (Lev. 25:10).

The simple response many conservatives will give to this examination of the need for debt forgiveness is that this was just something for ancient Israel, not modern nations. But this could not be further from the truth. Michael Hudson in his book …and forgive them their debts: Lending, Foreclosure and Redemption From Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year, proves conclusively that the predatory rich who enslaved their populations were central to the collapse of the ancient Assyrian, Babylonian and other civilisations. The law of the word of God was written in this ancient context to seek to protect the Israelites from this same fate. This is the fate of all civilisations that allow debt to roll on unchecked. The predatory rich enslave their own people, weakening a society and making it vulnerable to incursions from outside threats. This was true from Egypt to Rome and all the civilisations either side.

Conservatives today recognize that people can make bad decisions with debts, the Bible does this as well, “One who lacks sense gives a pledge and puts up security in the presence of his neighbor” (Prov. 17:18). A lot of debt in our culture today is from people making bad decisions and borrowing what they could not possibly pay back. But this is not the full picture.

To buy a house today is something many people cannot afford without a very large debt. But the way the housing industry has been overtaken by wealthy investor buyers means people without much means have a choice to make: either buy a house and take out a crushing debt (that enslaves their decisions for decades) or stay in the rental market and pay someone else’s debt off and face constantly increasing rent payments and less control over your own home. You can say in the technical sense that those who get a home loan chose debt, but in the Scriptures, someone was in debt whether it was to finance or to their landlord, it was effectively the same thing. What is really happening is people are being squeezed into two increasingly bad positions which put them at the mercy of those who have far more than they need. Today’s economy is increasingly being stacked against those who have not; this is crushing the poor, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).

Conservatives are wrong. Debt is not just about personal choices. Progressives are wrong. Debt is not just about systemic abuses. It is a combination of both, but as society gets in more and more debt the structures in place that favour the wealthy far outweigh personal choice. Conservatives and progressives are both wrong that equality is possible. There will always be inequalities in a society, this is unavoidable. But it is manageable. God’s law gives all societies wisdom about how to manage these inequalities. A regular reset of the economy or a regular releasing or wiping from debts can bring balance, help people retain their land, possessions, family structures and dignity.

One of the reasons so many ancient Mesopotamian societies could survive for so long in such harsh conditions was that kings believed it was their sacred duty to periodically wipe debts. This kept people on their land and kept them producing to provide for themselves and from their surplus, for society. These civilisations fell when the wealthy were able to gobble up all the land for themselves, and the kings did not stop them. I will explore this further in future pieces, but for now, let’s meditate on what the Scriptures say about this topic, and ask ourselves: do we really think we are wiser than God when we say, forgiving debts regularly can’t work? Because that is how many people today think. We will explore this more in the future.    

Thursday 17 March 2022

Three Biblical Pillars of Non-Interventionism Part Two: Borders and Alliances

 




Nations should not interfere with other nations. Rulers only have authority over their own people. This is the first pillar of biblical non-interventionism. This should be all that we need to be aware of to hold to the position that the Bible is anti-interventionism. But God in his grace gives us even more wisdom on this topic. Many Christians ignore this wisdom and encourage their governments to get involved in all sorts of unnecessary and unjust wars. Though it is more accurate to note that people are conditioned to support wars that our elites want to take part in. This reaps chaos across parts of the world, areas where our leaders have no sovereignty. Why do they have no sovereignty there? Because national sovereignty ends at the extent of national borders.

Sovereign Borders

Many people are not aware that the Bible says a lot about borders, walls, demarcations of authority and the like. In fact, this ignorance was used to drum up criticism for Trump’s plans to build a wall on the southern border of the US. Many Christians do not read the Bible and even many who do, do not spend time thinking about it more than simply devotionally. Bill Muehlenberg explores the issue of borders and walls very well here. But let’s establish a couple of things ourselves.

Borders should not be interfered with, “‘Cursed be anyone who moves his neighbor's landmark.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’” (Deut. 27:17). “Do not move the ancient landmark that your fathers have set” (Proverbs 22:28). This is true for internal land markers, and national border markers. When in the process of giving the promised land to the Israelites, God also made sure they knew the limits of their authority and borders;

“2 Then we turned and journeyed into the wilderness in the direction of the Red Sea, as the Lord told me. And for many days we traveled around Mount Seir. 2 Then the Lord said to me, 3 ‘You have been traveling around this mountain country long enough. Turn northward 4 and command the people, “You are about to pass through the territory of your brothers, the people of Esau, who live in Seir; and they will be afraid of you. So be very careful. 5 Do not contend with them, for I will not give you any of their land, no, not so much as for the sole of the foot to tread on, because I have given Mount Seir to Esau as a possession…And we turned and went in the direction of the wilderness of Moab. 9 And the Lord said to me, ‘Do not harass Moab or contend with them in battle, for I will not give you any of their land for a possession, because I have given Ar to the people of Lot for a possession.’” (Deut. 2:1-5, 8-9).

God demarcated the borders of these peoples and told his people not to interfere in the borders of their neighbours. How much more should we not interfere with the borders of faraway nations? Some people may respond, but Matt, these passages are talking about how nations have overtaken other nations, so therefore God must be ok with nations interfering in other nations at times. God gave the lands of these other peoples to the Edomites, Moabites, and Israelites. Is this not interference? No. It is conquest because of judgement. God allows wicked nations to be conquered by other nations, and what is one of the ways he judges those nations? How they interfere with their neighbours:

“13 Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of the Ammonites, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they have ripped open pregnant women in Gilead, that they might enlarge their border. 14 So I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah, and it shall devour her strongholds, with shouting on the day of battle, with a tempest in the day of the whirlwind; 15 and their king shall go into exile, he and his princes together,” says the Lord” (Amos 2:13-15).

This is just an ancient way of saying that God is judging the Ammonites because they went to war with their neighbour to extend their borders. To take their neighbour’s land. This is what is happening whether a nation annexes another nation’s land or leaves military bases to maintain strong arm influence. Either way, one nation has transgressed the borders of another nation and has extended its own borders and influence.  

Ammon had every right to the land that God had given them,

“16 “So as soon as all the men of war had perished and were dead from among the people, 17 the Lord said to me, 18 ‘Today you are to cross the border of Moab at Ar. 19 And when you approach the territory of the people of Ammon, do not harass them or contend with them, for I will not give you any of the land of the people of Ammon as a possession, because I have given it to the sons of Lot for a possession’” (Deut. 2:16-18).

But they had no right to their neighbour’s land, or to invade their neighbour’s land without being provoked. Nations have every right to defend themselves, or to attack neighbours who are provoking them in dangerous ways. But not to simply extend their power over another nation, or rule another nation.

This also tells us something else important, there is a very good chance that if a nation is being invaded, it is because God is allowing it to be judged. Indeed, I would say this is almost certain. So yes, God allows other nations to be invaded and judged. But this does not give us the right to think that we are God and interfere on our own whims. But there is one more even more important underlying theme in the Scriptures which speaks against interventionism: Don’t go down to Egypt.

Alliances Are Condemned

It is almost impossible to convince a trad-con[1] that we should not rely on alliances with America or any other nation. They see alliances as inherently good, especially with America or Britain, and they almost all bring up the same argument: so, you think we should not have gotten involved in World War 2?[2] Or some other traditional narrative fall-back position that just assumes because we have had one or two successful interventions, this means we now have a responsibility or mandate to do more. I may respond to the World War 2 argument in another post, but having successfully done something once, doesn’t justify doing it again. Principle should trump pragmatism. One of the most important principles underpinning the rejection of alliances in the Bible is the idea of “not going down to Egypt”, or not relying on the “horses and chariots of Egypt”. For example,

“Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord! 2 And yet he is wise and brings disaster; he does not call back his words, but will arise against the house of the evildoers and against the helpers of those who work iniquity. 3 The Egyptians are man, and not God, and their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the Lord stretches out his hand, the helper will stumble, and he who is helped will fall, and they will all perish together. 4 For thus the Lord said to me, “As a lion or a young lion growls over his prey, and when a band of shepherds is called out against him he is not terrified by their shouting or daunted at their noise, so the Lord of hosts will come down to fight on Mount Zion and on its hill. 5 Like birds hovering, so the Lord of hosts will protect Jerusalem; he will protect and deliver it; he will spare and rescue it.” 6 Turn to him from whom people have deeply revolted, O children of Israel. 7 For in that day everyone shall cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold, which your hands have sinfully made for you” (Isaiah 31:1-7).

To look to Egypt, which was a superpower in the era of Isaiah, but a declining and fading one, was idolatry. Egypt was in many ways to Israel what America has been to Australia. A stabilizing force in their era and region. It was tempting for Israel to look to Egypt, because Egypt was a natural source of military protection from Babylon and Assyria. Indeed, the Israelites had a deep affinity for Egypt because their young nation had formed its identity while it was in Egypt. Israel went into Egypt a family, it came out of Egypt a family of tribes, a nation.

Because of this ancient connection, and the stability of Egypt, there was a continual desire and temptation among the Israelites to flee back to Egypt, to sacrifice their freedom and sovereignty for the safety and security of living in the empire of that day; 

“1 Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. 2 And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! 3 Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” 4 And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt” (Numbers 14:1-4).

Israel’s desire to trust in superpowers like Egypt continually angered God;

“11 And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? 12 I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they” (Numbers 14:11-12).

This desire to return to Egypt or rely on Egypt remained a constant temptation right up until the destruction of Jerusalem, so much so that Jeremiah prophesied against the Jewish desire to find shelter in Egypt;

“18 “For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: As my anger and my wrath were poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so my wrath will be poured out on you when you go to Egypt. You shall become an execration, a horror, a curse, and a taunt. You shall see this place no more. 19 The Lord has said to you, O remnant of Judah, ‘Do not go to Egypt.’ Know for a certainty that I have warned you this day…” (Jer. 42:18-19).

It was forbidden for Israel to trust in foreign alliances and nations. Righteous kings of Judah even asked for God’s permission before they allied with their own brethren tribes, the northern kingdom of Israel (cf. 1 Kings 22:1-5). Those who know Jeremiah well know that many Jews did flee to Egypt, disobeying God’s commands, and God gave Egypt into the hands of the Babylonians. This is a persistent theme in Bible. Egypt is synonymous with Babylon in the sense of being an empire that opposes God, and it encapsulates the temptation of small nations to rely on larger nations. In fact, even the king of Assyria points out why this is foolish;

“4 And the Rabshakeh said to them, “Say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you rest this trust of yours? 5 Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? In whom do you now trust, that you have rebelled against me? 6 Behold, you are trusting in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him. 7 But if you say to me, “We trust in the Lord our God,” is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and to Jerusalem, “You shall worship before this altar”?” (Isaiah 36:4-7).

The king of Assyria’s messenger mocks the idea of Israel relying on a dying superpower, like Egypt. Now the good news for Israel is that in this instance the King of Judah knew this as well. Hezekiah trusted in God, and God defeated the Assyrians for him. Some, who are given to thinking that all alliances are ok, say that all that is being condemned here is relying on man’s strength not God’s, and that it is ok to trust God and make alliances. But this is a pernicious misreading of the texts. The texts are saying to rely on foreign alliances is to reject God. As Isaiah 31 said, relying on Egypt was idolatry. Going back down to Egypt was idolatry. Looking to Egypt is idolatry. Relying on other nations instead of God is idolatry. This is a consistent theme in the Old Testament, which keeps reminding the Israelites of this important fact: only God can save;  

 “1 O God, we have heard with our ears,
    our fathers have told us,
what deeds you performed in their days,
    in the days of old:
2 you with your own hand drove out the nations,
    but them you planted;
you afflicted the peoples,
    but them you set free;
3 for not by their own sword did they win the land,
    nor did their own arm save them,
but your right hand and your arm,
    and the light of your face,
    for you delighted in them” (Psalm 44:1-3).

The Scriptures are clear that a righteous leader and a righteous nation looks to God. You can ignore this, but eventually the strength of all empires breaks. There have been zero exceptions in history, and we are seeing this again in our day. In fact, all alliances also break. Throughout history we see example after example of nations going to war or being invaded by those it was once allied with.

So, non-interventionism stands on three powerful biblical pillars. Individual sovereignty of nations. The sanctity of national borders. The rejection of alliances as a form of security for a nation.

If national leaders are to only have sovereignty over their own people, they have no right to seek to interfere with others. If nations are to maintain their own borders, then nations are not to seek to extend their power outside their borders, lest they be judged, as every empire in the Bible is judged. If nations are also not to rely on alliances, but rather should trust in the Lord to be their protection, then how on earth can we justify interventionism from scripture? We should not look to America for our protection. We should not seek to be protection for another nations. We should only look to the Lord, because if the Lord wants, if he deems us worthy of judgement (and it is looking like he does), then he can determine to have our entire army defeated by 300 men who didn’t put their spears down when they drank from the brook, without them having to take a life themselves.

The temptation of small nations is to rely on foreign alliances. This always backfires in the end. The temptation of large nations is to think they can rule over smaller nations. But invaders and conquerors always get invaded and conquered. It’s an old message, a simple message, but a wise message: look to God, not the chariots of men, that will eventually fail. It is a matter of when they fail, not if. God, however, is everlasting.

 



[1] Traditional conservative. The term trad-con is referring to modern mainstream conservatives. The non-interventionist position I am arguing for is generally called paleo-conservatism. Paleo-conservatives are against al but minor immigration and interventionism, they believe society should be based on Christian ethics, and that nations should largely leave each other alone, except for necessary trade. They would opposed free trade, and encourage protectionism, so that national worker is protected from outsourcing and other predatory capitalist policies. Some definitions of paleo-conservative define it as traditional conservatism, but I am not using that term in this way. I am using it to mean the mainstream modern Republican or Liberal Party position.

 

[2] By the way the correct answer to that question is yes if we could have stayed out we should have, but we didn’t have a choice because Japan was gunning for us. But then again they were gunning for us, because we were a base of operations and supply for the American and British military forces. There is nothing wrong with seeking to be like Switzerland and being well armed and opposed to foreign wars. World War 2 was also more complicated for us, because Australia though being technically sovereign, still sat under the power and influence of Britain. This hasn’t really changed, because today we sit under the power and influence of America. So, Australia though being technically a sovereign nation, has always acted like a British and now American satellite state. But in general, unless we need to defend our borders, we should stay as far away from European conflicts as is possible, and wars in general.

 

Wednesday 16 March 2022

Three Biblical Pillars of Non-Interventionism (Part One)

 



Proverbs 26:17 - “Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.”

The war in Ukraine has caused quite the stir. The wars in Yemen, Somalia and Syria, all involving the West and its allies, continue to be non-events as far as the media and most Aussies are concerned. But the war in Ukraine has caused a stir, and it is causing people to divide over whether or not we should intervene, or for some, how we should intervene, because many just consider intervention to be what the West should do. I want to strongly argue against intervention. I did not always see things this way, I used to be in agreement with the Neoconservative position on interventionism. I thought the West could spread civilisation via military intervention. I even informed myself on the topic by reading leading advocates of Neoconservative thought. For example, Douglas Murray, who published Neoconservatism: Why we need it, in 2005. Aside from noting the different publishing date, Wikipedia summarizes this book very well,

“Neoconservatism: Why We Need It is a 2006 book by Douglas Murray, in which the author argues that neoconservatism offers a coherent platform from which to tackle genocide, dictatorships and human rights abuses in the modern world, that the terms neoconservativism and neocon are often both misunderstood and misrepresented, and that neoconservativism can play a progressive role in the context of modern British politics.

The book was described by the Social Affairs Unit as "a vigorous defence of the most controversial political philosophy of our age".[1]

The book is an eloquent defence of the kind of military action that George Bush and his administration took when they invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. To put it simply, the book makes the case that the West should take democracy all over the world, including by force if necessary and use their might and wealth to solve the injustices of the world. As I said, the book is eloquent, but is essentially nonsense, and in retrospect, dangerous nonsense.

The American wars in the Middle East have served to destabilize a region that has deep roots to the most ancient civilisations in the world. Societies with deeply entrenched patterns of behaviour and thought. You can’t change this with a battalion of Marines. We may be militarily stronger at the moment, but the idea that we can promote to these ancient peoples “superior” ideas at the muzzle of an M4 assault rifle and threat of an F22 jet fighter is completely foolish.[2]

So, I don’t reject neo-conservatism without understanding it very well. I once was a big believer that we should use our militaries to solve many of the world’s problems

 


The result of the Arab spring I was referring to, was the further destabilization of the Middle East. What I was ignoring at the time was the major cause of that destabilization was Western intervention in a region where we have no right to be, and where we have little knowledge of how to really navigate, and where we have continually exacerbated existing problems. The idea that a few years, or even a couple of decades of rule via imperial military force can wipe away millennia of cultural feuds and conflicts, and ideas about how civilisation can work is the height of foolishness and the peak of human arrogance.

There are civilisations in the Middle East that have forged their identity in resisting the invader, for millennia. Only the naïve think we can change this in even a lifetime. Eventually many of those who had previously supported the wars realized this was the case, and that they were foolish. There is a reason so many conservatives, libertarians, and right wingers loved Trump’s anti-intervention election rhetoric, because we had all seen how much of a disaster foreign wars could be. However, some people think we just went about it wrong, and should still try to intervene.  

When I am arguing with people about why we should not intervene in foreign wars, I am not just arguing against those people, I am arguing against young Matt, who wrongly believed the West had every right to stamp its authority on the destabilized regions of the world. After all, we have a superior way of life, were we not doing the developing world a favour by seeking to show it our wars? We have the benefit of hindsight to say intervening was a disaster. We also have the benefit of the perspective of the Bible on this issue.

As I demonstrated in my previous post on intervention, Jesus shows us that intervening in foreign conflicts is not an automatic Christian concern. Here is another example: “13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” (Luke 12:13-14). Jesus knew there was wisdom in keeping out of a fight that was not his.

Jesus’ perspective here correctly reflects the words inspired by him in Proverbs 26:17, “He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.” When someone interferes in a fight, they think they are making two friends. But more likely they are making one friend and an enemy, and sometimes two enemies. There is wisdom in not engaging in a fight which is not your concern, and a leader must be focused on doing what is necessary for their people. Even in this regard Jesus limited himself because who better to judge between these two men than him, yet he chose not to. The Old Testament shows us why Jesus felt so strongly about this.

A lot of people who discuss this topic use vague and tangential verses like the parable of the Good Samaritan or the concept of being our brother’s keeper, or of defending the cause of the needy to seek to justify intervention. But these are all passages about how individuals should treat each other or how kings should judge their own nations. They are not about geo-political issues. Those who rely on such passages are ignoring so many direct passages which actually teach foundational biblical concepts about national sovereignty and geo-politics. When people ignore the directly relevant passages, and simply seek to build up a case based on unrelated passages, you can know their case is weak, but their will to prove their point is strong. The Bible has much to say on this issue of intervention and sovereignty, and I want to give you three biblical pillars of anti-interventionism, with this first here, and the next two in part two. The first pillar is the sovereignty of nations, or the sovereignty of leaders over their own people.  

Sovereignty of Nations

God designed nations to be sovereign, and to be self-governed within their borders. Deuteronomy 32:8 – “When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.”[3] This passage is referring to the table of nations in Genesis 10. These nations are to be ruled by their leaders from among their own people;

“14 When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ 15 you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 16 Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ 17 And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold” (Deut 17:14-17).

Israel was to ensure that they were ruled by their own peoples, not by foreigners. This is God’s ideal state for a nation. A nation ruled by foreigners, or overcome by foreigners, is a cursed nation;

“5 Ashkelon shall see it, and be afraid; Gaza too, and shall writhe in anguish; Ekron also, because its hopes are confounded. The king shall perish from Gaza; Ashkelon shall be uninhabited; 6 a mixed people shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of Philistia” (Zechariah 9:5-6).

God’s intention is for nations to be self-governed. This immediately tells us that interfering in another nation is not the correct purview of national leaders, their role is to serve and lead their own people;

“1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; 6 they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them” (Ezekiel 34:1-6).

Or as Jesus tells us, “He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 15:24). Jesus is essentially summarizing the Old Testament’s theology of national leadership. Nations were to leave each other alone, and not to seek to rule over each other. They could trade with each other, but not interfere with each other (c.f. Deut. 2:6-8). When a nation is invaded, and overcome, this is a sign that God has withdrawn his favour from that nation.

This teaching really should be enough to ensure that nations do not interfere with other nations. The leaders of a nation only have authority within that nation. If they interfere with another nation, that did not provoke them, then they are stepping outside of their God-given authority. God allows this to happen in the Scriptures, for example when he allowed Babylon to rise to power. But many passages explicitly tell us that he did this as means of judgement on the nation of Israel and her neighbours.

For example, in Habakkuk God tells the prophet that he is raising up the Babylonians to judge the land;

“5 Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told. 6 For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own. 7 They are dreaded and fearsome; their justice and dignity go forth from themselves” (Hab. 1:5-7).

But this does not give us the right to think we have the authority to do this, because God also judges Babylon for rising itself up above the nations;

“9 Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house, to set his nest on high, to be safe from the reach of harm! 10 You have devised shame for your house by cutting off many peoples; you have forfeited your life. 11 For the stone will cry out from the wall, and the beam from the woodwork respond” (Hab. 2:9-11).

Nations are sovereign only over their own peoples. Anything more goes beyond the biblical intentions for nations and causes nothing but strife. This pillar should suffice, but the Bible gives us even more wisdom on this topic, which we will explore in part two.

 



[2] Of course while some neo-conservatives want to spread democracy across the world, others believe the U.S. exists to protect Israel’s interests (for example the Israel lobbies and Christian Zionist movements), and there are of course economic interests. We cannot go into details about this here, but if you would like to learn more, watch this lecture: https://youtu.be/RTksWA1I2UI “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy: John J. Mearsheimer.”

[3] A divergent manuscript traditions translates this the sons of Israel (Jacob), but Israel did not exist when the original nations were divided and established.