Ronald Reagan “Cut and Run”

Ronald Regan - 40th President

1982. The Invasion of Lebanon. President Ronald Reagan decided to support the Israeli offensive and invade Lebanon. After a horrible car bomb killed 241 American Soldiers in Beirut, Reagan “cut and run” (or that’s what I think many neo-cons would be calling that kind of troop withdrawal today).

Today, we can all learn a lot from what Ronald Reagan wrote afterward concerning that incident and the Middle East in general:

“Perhaps we didn’t appreciate fully enough the depth of the hatred and the complexity of the problems that made the Middle East such a jungle. Perhaps the idea of a suicide car bomber committing mass murder to gain instant entry to Paradise was so foreign to our own values and consciousness that it did not create in us the concern for the marines’ safety that it should have.

“In the weeks immediately after the bombing, I believe the last thing that we should do was turn tail and leave. Yet the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics forced us to rethink our policy there. If there would be some rethinking of policy before our men die, we would be a lot better off. If that policy had changed towards more of a neutral position and neutrality, those 241 marines would be alive today.” (From his autobiography)

Ronald Reagan is often seen as the role model of a “strong foreign policy” – Yet in retrospect he advised “neutrality” in the Middle East. We need to take a lesson from our past, President Obama.

Seriously… Arabs don’t attack because you leave them alone

Picture of Muslim Worship in Mecca

Most conservatives today would say that withdrawing troops from the Middle East is nothing short of cut and run – abandoning the mission and admitting defeat. To that I say: so what? An important part of growing up is knowing that sometimes you shouldn’t fight.

One lesson to learn from the Lebanese invasion of 1982 is that afterwards no terrorists attacked us at home. Terrorists don’t attack us because they think we’re weak; usually they see themselves as defending their homeland.

Image you’re a typical jihad recruit: a young, zealousness, poor Muslim man. Which motivation is more likely to motivate you:

  • “See the American on your back door! Defiling your home land! Go attack.” OR
  • “The Americans are leaving us alone. They’re afraid. Go to a foreign land and kill as many as you can.” ?

Seriously, it’s ridiculous to think that radical Muslims will more zealously attack us in our own country just because we leave them alone. Ronald Reagan’s expedition into Lebanon is evidence to that point.

The Principle of the Matter

The best advice on the subject of foreign relations was given by George Washington in his Farewell Address:

George Washington Portrait. Courtesy of Wikimedia.

“The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. …It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world…”

For all their talk, “Conservatives” don’t seem to follow the founding fathers on this point. Do you think Republicans today are walking in the Reagan legacy? Or are they repeating all the mistakeshe told us to rethink? My rule is “…peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none…

Previous post on the topic: How Bush would have been against the Iraq War before he got elected.

A Book; The Truth.

Warning: This is a graphic film, and just like the graphic war passages in Exodus, I’m not going to sugar coat it. Parental discretion is advised.

The Book of Eli

The Book of Eli: "I walk by faith, not by sight."

Well, I’m usually the type that reads all the reviews and makes sure that I know what I’m in for before watching a movie. Really, can you blame me with all the Hollycrap that’s out there? But The Book of Eli was one movie I didn’t do that.

After seeing the trailer, I wanted to be surprised. So, I entered the theater not knowing anything beyond the trailer about this movie. How wrong can you go with Denzel Washington?

After this two hour movie, I have three letters for you: W-O-W. Just plain wow.

It is an awe-inspiring movie with great cinematography, intense action, an amazing message, gripping story, and just all around stun power! Go see it.

The Book of Eli is a post-apocalyptic story about a mysterious lone traveler (Eli) who is on a mission to save the savage human race. His mission comes straight from heaven. According to Eli, “I walk by faith, not by sight.”

All the bad stuff.

Now that I’ve told you how much I loved this move, let me tell you all the bad stuff in it. In short, it’s not family movie. It’s got an R for a reason. Probably not for anyone under 18.

If you want specifics, PluggedIn (from Focus on the Family) has a great review that lays out all the brutal violence.

But (without ruining anything) bullets not only fly, we see them blow holes in people. Not only does Denzel fight to defend himself; he lobs off heads and appendages. Blood is all over the place, and cars explodes in a show of fireworks. Carcasses, of both machine and humans, litter this radioactive wasteland.

It’s thirty years after all the governments blew each other up and the atmosphere with it. As can be expected, anarchy prevails. We hear about (but don’t see) cannibalism as human is one of the few meats left. Woman are raped (off camera, thankfully), and cusses are flung each direction.

While this is show, none of it is condoned, which is why I think the movie has the same redeeming value as the warfare of the Judges or the conquest of Canaan in Exodus.

Now, if you haven’t seen the movie, and this doesn’t scare you off, then stop reading this review and go see it. Please, bELIeve me, you want to be surprised by the twists in this amazing plot.

If you have already seen it…

There are some amazing themes woven through this film. Perhaps the deepest and one deserving of most attention:

1) The Word of God vs. The Book of God. Carnegie (yes, that’s the bad guy’s name) thinks the book can be used as a weapon to control those who can’t think for themselves. It has power.The only reason Carnegie values the Bible is because it’s the big Book. Eli knows this, too. But he has a different perspective.

A Book or the Truth?

A Book or the Truth? from: ba1969, stock.xchng

Eli is no Indian Jones. He doesn’t protect this book as an artifact. It has power not because it’s a big book, but because it’s the Truth. When Eli finally looses it, hope is not lost, because he doesn’t need the book; he already has the Word in his heart. (literally, the whole thing memorized)

What I left the theater, I had one big question: was Eli blind all along? Had he been miraculously healed so that he could complete this specific mission? Or had he simply learned braille… maybe because a family member was blind? Maybe the coloring using in the movie actually reflected that he was color blind? I’m not sure, but regardless, there’s still this lesson:

2) In Eli’s weakness, He is strong. Eli could see things that no one else could. Great lesson: God doesn’t just gives you challenges just so you can overcome them, but also so that you can use them.

We find out at the end that Eli is one of the few people that can actually use his Bible.

Two of the greatest lessons come straight from Eli’s mouth:

3) Priorities. “I’ve concentrated so much on protecting the book, I forgot to live by what I learned from it.” Too often we get so caught up in our mission, whether it be going to church or ministering in a foreign counter. The greatest commandment is to love the Lord with everything and then, as Eli puts it, put others before yourself. If we complete the mission, and don’t have love, we are nothing. (1 Cor 13)

4) Thankfulness. Eli’s companion, Solara, asks what the old world was like, before humans decided to blast each other to pieces and destroy the atmosphere. “People had more than they needed.” He says, “we threw away things people kill each other for now.”

It’s just been 30 years since the World’s climate completely changed. At one point, Eli needs to pay to get his gadgets charged. He pays with KFC Towelettes.

That was one of the big impressions my Dad got from the movie. A peak into our future helped me realize just how much I take for granted.

5) Finally… Memorization. Psalms tells us that David, the great warrior of the Bible, the Word to heart.

Psalm 119:11 (ESV)

“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

Not to spoil it for you, (which is why I told you not to read this if you haven’t seen the movie) but Eli looses the book. He never lost the Word, though. Eli had memorized the entire thing over his 30 years of wandering, and writes the entire thing down. The copy he had, it turns out, was written in braille.

This was quite a challenge to me. If I all of my possessions were suddenly wiped out in some kind of Armageddon, would I still have the most important thing? Is God’s word still inside of me, and to what lengths would I go to protect it?

The Final Word

And my final word is… awesome.

This story is a jaw-dropping combination of King David, Fahrenheit 451, and the Matrix. I absolutely loved it. A sentimental action movie with a plot that keeps you on your toes and, while brutal, was realistic. And a great discussion starter on top of that…

That said, I want to let you have the final word. Seen the movie and have other things to add? Is there anyone that you maybe didn’t appreciate? Let me know with a comment!

Links

Iraq

For my government class, I posted regarding the Iraq war. What I said is below.

My problem with the war is not so much the costs v. benefits, but it is that fundamental principles that are violated by the war. Our military ought to be used to enforce US treaties and defend America against those who directly attack us; not to maintain an empire.

This war “…started off as a humanitarian mission then changed into a nation-building mission and that’s where the mission went wrong. The mission was changed. And as a result, our nation paid a price, and so I don’t think our troops ought to be used for what’s called nation building. I think our troops ought to be used to fight and win war.

Guess who said that? Believe it or not, George W. Bush started his campaign as an advocate of what he called a “humble” foreign policy. What Bush said above regarding Somalia in 2000 is true about Iraq in 2008: we have changed our mission, and paid the price. No nation in history has been able to maintain an imperial foreign policy, yet America thinks she can be the exception.

I personally side with the founders when it comes to our foreign policy. As supreme court justice John Jay wrote in the federalist papers, “The JUST causes of war, for the most part, arise either from violation of treaties or from direct violence.” (Federalist No. 3) I think America shouldn’t go “…in search of monsters to destroy” as John Quincy Adams said.

The reasons for occupying Iraq stand in stark contrast to this philosophy. Originally, we where penalizing Hussein for violating a treaty that probably shouldn’t have been there in the first place. In the end, the war turned into a nation-building fiasco.

What are we supposed to do about it now that we’re in the middle of this war? Quite honestly, I’m not sure about what specific policy steps we need to take, but I’m sure that we need to get some people into Washington who actually have guts; people who are willing to vote yes if war is justified, and vote against it if not. What congress did in regard to Iraq is no less than taking a wimp vote. They gave the power to declare war to the President when the constitution clearly gives it to them (Art I, Sec 8, Cl 11). If the war had been justified in their minds, then they should have voted for it, if it wasn’t, then they should have voted it down. Instead, they cast the wimp’s vote so they could blame Bush for whatever happened.

The major problem I see is that no one in Washington has developed concrete principles on when we go to war and when we don’t.

Random Resources on Foreign Intervention:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Expeditionary_Force_Siberia

Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James W. Loewen (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995, p 23-24)

Federalist 69 on Declaring War: http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa69.htm