Demonizing the Enemy?

One my sources for analysis of world events is The Belmont Club blog by Wretchard. I’m not sure what to do with today’s post on the will for victory. Discussing the point that the West (including Israel) have the technology and means to beat Al Qaeda, Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, etc., many times over, yet frequently find ourselves defeated (or at least stimied) by their sheer will to prevail no matter what the cost, the rhetorical subtext seems to be that if we don’t match their will we will be doomed.

As an illustration of Hezbollah’s will to victory, he points to a story from a German news source:

Die Welt relates the experience of an Israeli officer who fought Hezbollah during the early 1980s. Israel had artillery, tanks, airplanes to Hezbollahs guns and knives. But Israel was a liberal democracy and Hezbollah a ruthless criminal organization. The overmatch in will made knives were more powerful than tanks because Hezbollah was willing to use them unhesitatingly. “Hezbollah’s barbarism is legendary. Gen. Effe Eytam, an Israeli veteran of that first Lebanon war, tells of how–after Israel had helped bring “Doctors without Borders” into a village in the 1980s to treat children–local villagers lined up 50 kids the next day to show Eytam the price they pay for cooperating with the West. Each of the children had had their pinky finger cut off.”

When you read that you can understand how Hezbollah can start a war with Israel, invite the devastation of their own people, have at least half their fighting force killed, gain no territory, and still think of themselves as the victor. As they play the newsmedia like puppets, its easy to imagine that they will stage operations against their own people, as long as Israel or the West gets blamed.

I don’t know about anyone else, but when I read stories like this I find it very easy to think of Hezbollah as demonic – as an evil so great the only possible response is extermination. With them its either kill or be killed. So we kill.

But that is neither the only nor the strongest inclination I feel. I feel a deep sadness for the people of Lebanon, that they are ruled by such merciless thugs. I feel a deep sadness for the Hezbollah people themselves that they have been deceived into thinking what they are doing is good. I also feel a deep sadness for the enemies of Hezbollah who think their only alternative is to become like them.

Over and over again in the Old Testament, Israel thought it had to learn from its neighbors. “All the other nations have a king, we want one too!” “All the other nations have statues and images of their gods. We’re visual people, we need idols also!” “The other nations rely on their armies and alliances. It’s nice to say, ‘In God we trust,’ But god gave us a brain and our brain says we need more weapons and a bigger army than they do. Our god-made brain tells us we can’t trust in god alone.”

Wretchard’s right. Compared to a fair number of the Islamists, the West is weak willed. We’re ruled by a morality that constrains our actions of retribution. At least in the short term, it costs us more. But if Jesus is right, it’s only in the short term.

We do need stronger wills, but not stronger wills bent on killing or enforcing our vision of rightness. We – and I speak here of Christians – need a stronger will to adhere to Jesus. We need to remember 2 Timothy 3:12 and not be surprised when people don’t like us. At the same time we need to face up to the fact that there are people out there who are sold out to evil. GWB didn’t make that up.

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