Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Strategic Dilemma for American Foreign Policy: Religious Nations or the Atheist West

[first published March 20, 2014]

by Dr. David Pence

Throughout the world there is an awakening of nations aligning themselves in terms of their religious and cultural heritages into communal bodies.

The Muslims have nations in Indonesia, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, and the "-stans" of central Asia. The Muslim Arabs have a nation in Egypt, but still flounder elsewhere as the impossible dream of a micro-state of Palestine obfuscates a strategy to form the larger Muslim Arabic State needed to function as a serious nation in the Levant.

Later this spring, India will likely elect a Hindu nationalist as its next Prime Minister.
[Ed note: May 2014 Narendra Modi won a landslide victory]  He is going to stand for parliamentary election in a holy city to show this is no longer the secular Left of the Gandhi clan. Mr Modi is also a strong supporter of Israel].
This cultural nationalist revival has already been experienced in Japan (especially under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe) as well as China. Religion, nations, ethnic ties and men who will fight for them have not been eliminated by entering some new time-zone called 'modernity' or the twentieth-first century.

Mr Abe, pictured in center, during his visit to India earlier this year
America is not, in her deepest soul, part of any atheist crusade for modernity. We are the continent of territorial religious nations. We are white, brown, black, and yellow; and our soldiers need not defend a European death cult whose men will not fight and whose women will not bear children. In the war of the atheist European superstate against the Christian governments of Nigeria and Uganda, should we support the white atheists in their economic threats against black Christian men who stigmatize rather than sacralize sodomy? We are tied much more deeply to our American brothers through the continent, and the Christians East and South, who fight the nagging hectoring godless Witch of the West. Americans must decide if we are trying to make the nations safe for public worship and private family life, or if we are strengthening international courts to diminish national authorities to elevate individual autonomy for abortion and sodomy. Each strategy would push a different "re-start" button in our relations with Orthodox Russia and Persian Shiite Iran.

Russia, Crimea, and Ukraine

The Russian nation has a Christian soul, baptized by water and confirmed in blood. Both the waters of baptism and the blood of martyrs have sacralized Crimea in the Russian motherland. Crimea is a different communal body than both eastern and western Ukraine. Crimea has returned to Russia. Most American news commentators and senators seem to have no sense of either the historical timelines, nor maps nor religious history, that belie the fable of Crimea and Ukraine as a national community. Liberal scholars who have studied Russian history (e.g., here and here) and conservative journalists (here and here) who respect ethnicity, religion, and nationalism are the voices of reason in this debate as Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly and Democratic Lady-in-Waiting Hillary Clinton emote from the shallow end of the strategic foreign policy pool.    

Crimean citizens overwhelmingly and freely voted to rejoin Russia and assume the older citizenship their grandparents knew. A Russian Christian military won the peninsula 250 years ago from the Crimean Khanate (Turkish-speaking Islamic Tatars who were military superiors to both Moscow and Kiev for several centuries). Sevastopol is a city rich in Russian history and drenched in the blood of Russian soldiers. It is a key port for their naval fleet and legally could house 25,000 Russian troops -- which is why the Russians said they never "invaded Crimea."

The Ukraine has much deeper fraternal ties to Russia than Poland or Hungary -- but unlike Crimea, it is known as a distinct nation. A common Slavic Orthodox Christianity, which was baptized in Kiev, ties the Ukraine and Russia together as fraternal nations.

Kiev's Monastery of the Caves, founded in the 11th century

Ukraine cannot become what it is meant to be unless both America and Russia play their roles in allowing this nation to live. It will be just as crucial that serious Christian thinkers in America develop a more mature and comprehensive narrative of the Church amidst the nations in contemporary international relations.

The religious split of the Latin Catholics and Kievan Orthodox (major religions of Western Ukraine) from the Moscow patriarchate Orthodox (religion of the East) could fracture the Ukraine. This would be a tragic failure for the nation whose destiny as a state is to bridge the rupture of Christian believers. That Great Schism led to the loss of Christian Mideast lands to Islam in the first millennium, and Christian Eurasia to the militarized atheist states at the end of the second. Re-joining the two lungs of Christianity animated the world historical visions of Pope John XXIII, John Paul II, and the Second Vatican Council. Ukraine is a pivotal natural meeting place for that union, but it could just as easily split East and West if a larger religious vision is not brought to bear on the crisis.

The Emergence of Russia

The Soviet Union and the USA split peoples all over the globe in the blood-drenched Cold War. That may have been necessary then; it is madness today. The Russian nation is not the new Soviet Union -- they are the Christian nation emerging from the atheist Gulag. Orthodox Russia is not the heir of the Soviets -- she was its bloodiest victim. She doesn't look pretty emerging from the rubble, but can't we rejoice that she still lives?

The Russians are our Christian brothers. What irony that the materialist atheism of "the West" now aligns the European Union and NATO against the Christian nations of Africa and the Eastern Orthodox nations of Eurasia. America's men must reclaim our national foreign policy from the "drone and bomb" sexual Left and the bellicose neo-con Right. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union we have lacked a strategic foreign policy driven by a deep understanding of geography, history, and a Biblical sense of the role our Christian country plays amidst all the earth's nations (the grandsons of Noah in our tradition).

It was the case, once, that to study the Soviet Union, we had to know Marx, Engels, and Lenin. Now we must know the Orthodox patriarchates, the Catholic Eastern Rite, Turko-Islamic traditions, and Eurasian relations of Russia, Japan, and China. The Russian patriarch Kirill has written: "What we are referring to is the Russian world, the great Russian civilization that came from the Kievan baptismal font and spread across the huge expanse of Eurasia."

The Russian president and the Orthodox patriarch see the Russian nation as having a religious destiny of securing states through Eurasia that respect Christians' ability to worship freely and live securely. They know they must also ensure the liberty of Islamic worship and the life of ethnic groups like the Tatars. (In President Putin’s address on the integration of Crimea he made sure to say that the languages of Crimea would include that of the Tatars, for they too were returning to their ancestral home.) Putin is acting as the leader of an armed Christian nation, but he understands he must govern in a region of many languages and religions. He is not of the West, for his largest emptiest land mass has borders with China and Japan -- and he needs a more capacious bridging identity to relate to them. He respects communal identities including his own; that is why he seems so foreign and frightening to television newscasters of the individualistic libertarian Right and the obsessed sexual Left.

The Orthodox have not reduced the political commentary of the Church to "War Never Again!" or "Stop Capital Punishment" or "Put away the Sword of the State." They see homosexuals and feminists as the deformed personalities of the comfortable atheists who speak of the "West" and the "twenty-first century," as if these abstractions can replace the bonds of history and place which link men to God and their fathers through the ages.The Orthodox have a realistic view of the necessity of the state's sword for the life of the church and nation. At times this has corrupted some of their churchmen. At other times it has lent sacral blessing to the sacrifice of patriots defending their homeland. Should not such heroic sacrifice be blessed? Christians had to be armed as a State to face Mongol horse warriors from the East, Islamic jihadists from the South, and German Nazis from the West. Mother Russia armed them. American Christians should not be too quick to dismiss the Orthodox tradition as "being chaplain for the Czars" given our own Catholic hierarchy’s current penchant for pacifism, and blindness toward the necessity of punishment to guarantee justice in exercising either civic or ecclesial authority. Maybe a subset of our theologians have been too obsessed with the sexual practices of intimacy while ignoring our deficient Christian public anthropology of the male fraternal relations needed to protect and baptize the nations.

Christian Realism as Foreign Policy                               

The abysmal ignorance of national senators and journalists (forget the man on the street) regarding the Crimean affair should  motivate Christian thinkers to fish deeper to grasp the fractured human and religious bonds behind the rumors of war.
American men -- especially our senators, soldiers, journalists, and scholars -- must be intellectually disciplined enough to bring as much historical knowledge and research to this unfolding of events as we do to bracket analysis for the NCAA basketball tourney.
The Christian nation strategy must first integrate our immigrants as fellow citizen-protectors and producers. It would model Catholic and Evangelical national statesmen for South America where the Marxist card has frayed, but the Christian leader card has not been played. It would seek fraternal relations among the Asian nations, and not play their border feuds off one another.
We need less venom about 'weak' Obama and 'bully' Putin. Maybe we could take time to read our forgotten hero Alexander Solzhenitsyn on the godless cowardly West as well as the Ukraine, Orthodoxy, and the Russian nation.

Thank God that President Obama has not led us into the wrong war. Let us arm our next national candidates with a pointer and a series of maps and timelines. Let us have one of the television debates as a short lecture format, with each candidate explaining the world and our particular role in it. A realistic foreign policy will be clear-eyed in assessing the present alignment of forces, and utterly Christian in proposing that nations can live together fraternally under God. We are condemned to fratricide without Him.

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