Cruise Out-Of-Control

Genesis 2 introduces the seventh day of Creation with a brief lull in the relationship between God and the world.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

[NIV Gen. 2:2-3]

Having rested, God – who is Unconditional Love – then picks up his work in the Garden of Eden, demonstrating to Adam and Eve the virtues of love. In that context, there is peace between the animals. That peace is shattered when Adam and Eve choose to eat of the fruit of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” They chose no longer to submit to the guidance of love. They chose to figure out how to do it on their own.

Jesus is the hope of the world because he had the strength to demonstrate the power that stands behind those that chose to love unconditionally. In the years both before and after that demonstration, however, we see that the Darwinian practices of brutal confrontation are often strong in the human relationships and politics. Many people still live like animals.

This is the context for my reaction to the decision by the Trump Administration to launch missile strikes against the regime of Syria’s dictator, Bashar Assad. The immediate response of Russia has been to claim the diplomatic high ground, asserting that the US action was illegal.

Assad has survived in Syria for one reason, and one reason only: Putin’s support. Russia has used its veto power in the UN security council to prevent coordinated global action against the Syrian tyrant. When the rebels were poised to oust Assad, Russia then intervened militarily, and along with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, have now put the rebels on the defensive.

In a series of votes in the UN Security Council, the Obama Administration had established Russian complicity in the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Our NATO ally, Turkey, has suffered greatly as the destination of opportunity for 3 million Syrians fleeing the war. Both of those institutions – the United Nations and NATO – were therefore poised to demand Russia’s removal from the UN security council, allowing unified international action to suppress Russian and Chinese military adventurism around the globe.

Russia was the guarantor the Syria had no chemical weapons. By resorting to force before the international community had established that indeed a chemical weapons attack had occurred using sarin gas, Trump has made the conflict one of brute force between two parties. By acting without consultation with our allies, Trump has undermined the institutions that could have acted to discipline Putin across the globe.

It’s all very satisfying to punch a bully in the nose, but it just adds confusion to a situation that should be managed by institutions of law enforcement. Trump has undermined US authority in those institutions – NATO and the United Nations. His action will have long-term consequences that will be to the advantage of those that seek to sow chaos across the globe – principally for the purpose of preventing humanity from grasping the enormous power that arises when we adopt peace and love as the guides to our conduct in all spheres of life.

A far better course would have been to mount a campaign to expel Russia from the UN security council.

Russia and the United Nations

The cease-fire in Syria was shattered today when Russia mounted a massive bombing assault on the city of Aleppo. Included in the targeting were two supply centers for Syria’s non-partisan White Helmets, the rescuers that rush in to neighborhoods after an assault to attempt to save civilians trapped in the rubble.

This turn of events is being interpreted as a failure of foresight by John Kerry, US Secretary of State, but it was forecast as early as last week when the alliance led by the Russians bombed a UN relief convoy attempting to reach Aleppo, where nearly a quarter of a million people are attempting to survive a government siege.

The Syrian rebellion was triggered by a drought that forced rural settlers to the cities. The government of Bashar al-Assad ignored their plight, leading to protests that were met with government violence. Seeing parallels with recent events in Georgia and the Ukraine, the UN attempted to issue a proclamation rebuking al-Assad and demanding a negotiated end to hostilities, but the resolution was vetoed by Russia and China in the Security Council.

Despite this, the Syrian war was almost over last year with rebel forces ready to mount an assault on the capital, Damascus. Russia joined a government alliance including Iranian forces and Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon. The three foreign governments are all united by a common purpose: erode US, Israeli and Saudi influence in the region.

But Putin’s Russia is not just thumbing its nose at the US, it’s also challenging the legitimacy and authority of the United Nations. Throughout, it has used its position on the Security Council to advance its own aims in the world, against the consensus of the body as a whole. So I think that our next step is obvious: the Security Council was recently expanded by adding additional states on a temporary basis. I think that now the US needs to work to establish procedures to remove members from the Security Council. Russia would be first on my list, and the recent assault on the relief convoy is sufficiently egregious that if established as a criterion for ejection, no other state should ever qualify.

As for Syria, al-Assad is obviously nothing more now than a Russian toadie. With the exception of Damascus, the nation is in a ruin. Even if, as he claims, the government manages to reclaim control of the land shown on the map as ‘Syria,’ the people of the nation will burn with hatred of him. He will never again be able to claim legitimately that he serves as their “president.”