by Joe Shea
June 14, 2014
REVENGE IS MINE
BRADENTON, Fla., June 14, 2014 -- I'm not an evangelical nor anything but an ordinary Christian, and Catholic (although my brother and I were barred from joining the YMCA in Marietta, Ga., in 1959 because we were Catholics - not considered Christians there).
Like everyone else, I've heard the phrase "Revenge is mine, sayeth the Lord," hundreds if not thousands of times. I'm just beginning to understand not only what it means, but what it foretells.
Even the authors of the Bible would probably agree that wars of retribution are justified by unprovoked attacks. "As you sow, so shall you reap," the Good Book says. Surely the events of Sept. 11, 2001, fall into that category.
Some 3,000 American office workers, firemen, policemen and other innocents - often good, wonderful people who bore no one any murderous ill will - died when a team of Saudi hijackers associated with al-Qaeda flew two passenger jets - full of more innocent people - into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center one crisp January morning.
Had it not been the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday that so many conservatives reviled, the toll might have been far higher - 25,000 to 50,000 people.
There was never an instant of doubt on any American's part that revenge would begin as quickly as the culprits could be identified and their camps located. It quickly turned out that they were members of a well-known radical jihadist movement called "The Base," (al-Qaeda in Arabic) and that they were protected by the Taliban ("students" in Arabic), whose upper echelons from 1996 to 2001 were the rulers of a place called "the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" based in Kandahar, which was recognized by just three countries.
It seemed like a matter of weeks, but it actually was almost two years, in the Spring of 2003, before the United States began exacting revenge in ways the world could witness, first against suspected al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and then against Iraq and Saddam Hussein, who had nothing to do with the Sept. 11 attacks.
This week (and I hadn't planned on saying this), it appears the Lord has begun to take his revenge on us for those attacks and the long, bloody wars that followed over the past decade.
As hundreds of thousands of veterans who had fought in one or both theaters watched with what must have been a faint sense of déjà vu and a deeper sense of irony, and much disgust, the successors of al-Qaida - now a dismal little group of pathetic losers who control nothing - are seizing the cities of Iraq our warriors once fought and bled to win.
Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, Tikrit, Fallujah, Rimadi, Diyali and other cities on the roads going south to Baghdad from Syria have already fallen to an army called ISIS - which is at least an intiguing name. It's better known as, variously, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which of course would be ISIL, not ISIS.
Whatever they call themselves, they are led by a stone-cold killer named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, 39, whose organization's crimes against the innocent have been so frequent and awful they have even been condemned by al-Qaeda, which has broken its ties with ISIS - talk about the pot calling the kettle black!
CNN went so far as to say al-Qaeda had "excommunicated" ISIS, as though al-Qaeda were some sort of ersatz Vatican and keeper of the holy strictures of Islam, such as "Love thy neighbor, rape his wife and then kill him and his children." Those kinds of deeds seem to be the principal occupation of ISIS.
So the sinners went forth and started seizing Iraqi cities, slowly at first, as the last of our U.S. troops, unable to win protection from the Iraqi parliament against prosecution for crimes - straggled out of the country, returning home or going off to bring more mayhem to Afghanistan.
It's been a long, long time - almost a generation now - since anyone believed our presence in Iraq was justified by the presence of "weapons of mass destruction" or Saddam's role in 9/11.
So revenge, justified spiritually or not, has taken us much further than we ever intended to go, and is in fact yielding up from the pit of Hell yet another horror: the takeover of the country we had taken over to save for democracy, by the ISIS people, to whom democracy is a dangerous and dirty word.
Who has had their revenge here?
Not the people of Iraq, where hundreds of thousands if not millions of innocents died as a result of the battles that raged around them.
Certainly not the Shiite government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the Mr. Maleficent of Baghdad, who has seen his cities fall to ISIS even as he tries to turn them over to his fellow Shiites and the ayatollahs of Iran.
Certainly not the United States, if only because there can be no such thing as revenge against people who have not committed a corresponding crime against us; you can't call it revenge when you attack someone who hasn't attacked you. On the streets and in the courts, they would call it an unprovoked and felonious assault.
No, as far as I can see, it is indeed the Lord who has had revenge. If you subscribe as I do to the idea of a moral God who cares about us and wants us to learn the successive lessons of history to avoid the successive horrors of history, then you will have no problem with this idea.
It is Christian doctrine, laid out for all to see. It is not the "eye for an eye" of the Old Testament, because our eye was never plucked out from our head, as the scriptures say.
Instead, the entire affair is a profound commentary on humanity's incompetence and ineptness when it comes to doing God's work. His work of revenge, it seems, has now been taken over by ISIS, which will probably do a hellishly good job of it.
It says this, in the King James version of Isaiah, Chapter 31:
It is virtually an article of the secular American faith of our politicians that revenge is the province of man, not God (just ask Chris Christie); they do not trust Him to reach out His hand to sweep away evil from the pages of history. They think He needs our help.
Politicians will not wait for God to do what He will do. They will ask you, "What if we waited for God when we fought Hitler? What if we waited for God when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor?"
There are no easy answers to those questions. But at least we have a living lesson today about God and His ways. He has brought forth ISIS, the "mother of war," and He will have His way.
Joe Shea is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of The American Reporter. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.