Nov 17, 2008

From Russia With(out) Love

By Jim Fletcher

One of the (many) intriguing aspects of the Gog-Magog scenario in Ezekiel 38-39 is that Gog — whoever he is — does not plan this invasion of Israel for a long time. The Bible tells us that God puts this idea in his mind. That truth would mitigate against some of the theories that Russian/Soviet leaders have long planned to take over Israel, ostensibly to secure a warm-weather seaport in the Mediterranean.

This flitted across my mind the week of the presidential election, as some wise commentators wrote that we should also be watching what Russia is up to. Most were preoccupied with the “messiah” being elected as U.S. president. However, the sinister Vladmir Putin of Russia evidently has designs on retaining absolute power for the rest of his life.

We should be cautious, though, when speculating too much that Putin is Gog. In the last decade, Alexander Lebed seemed to fit the bill, seemingly next-in-line to the alcoholic Boris Yeltsin. And then Lebed was killed in a helicopter crash. This is the great danger of too-much speculation.

Still, it is clear that the Russians are up to mischief. We can wonder why they help the Iranians arm themselves, but the Russian perspective is different. The people who survived the siege of Stalingrad are hard people. They live and die in a brutal environment and have since their ancestors first breathed the north air. Russia, one can presume, feels that if Iran decides one day to attack it, the winner will stagger and slump over the vanquished. They simply look on war and their soldiers who fight them as cannon fodder.

So it is that Putin is making plans for another superpower in Moscow. He obviously doesn’t much care for Western alliances or even Western diplomacy. It is interesting to note that Georgetown University’s Charles King has recently written that China, Venezuela, Iran, and Syria share Moscow’s view of “the global order.” He also notes that others, such as India and Turkey, are sympathetic to it.

This then is at least the broad outlines of a coalition that will invade Israel at some point. America will be unwilling or unable to help.

Soon after the U.S. presidential election, Israel’s Tzipi Livni phoned Vice-President-Elect Joe Biden, and urged him to continue being “tough” on Iran. Hard to believe that a former Mossad agent and hard-boiled Israeli politician would actually believe that Biden is tough on anything, but there it is. Biden and his boss haven’t the courage to be tough on a sewer rat.

As I have said before, because Barack Obama supports even the most extreme views on abortion, he cannot have empathy with anyone. It isn’t there. If he won’t fight for the unborn, for whom will he fight? America? Allies? His family? Biden is cut from the same cloth, and we will see a widening gap in official American support for Israel.

Rahm Emanuel, tapped by Obama to be chief-of-staff, is an old-style political knuckle-breaker from Chicago. Ironically, he volunteered for duty with the Israel Defense Forces at one time, but also helped along the disastrous Oslo Accords. As Jan Markell has pointed out, Emanuel, if he tries at all, will be a lone voice of support for Israel in an Obama Administration. Many of the Israel-haters from the Carter, Bush, and Clinton years are lining up for jobs with the new president.

The Russians correctly see that with the Americans so preoccupied with Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran, the Kremlin can do as it likes regionally. Obama’s taste for diplomacy will give Putin and his lackeys even more time to meddle in the Arab-Israeli conflict. For many years, Russia has sought to be included in peace talks and diplomacy where the Arabs and Israelis are concerned.

And the Russian foray into Georgia this past summer has raised another interesting reality: the Russian people themselves seem to like their country’s muscular responses. A poll taken indicates that 80 percent of the Russian people approved of the show of force in Georgia, and King’s essay ends with a chilling warning, concerning this and possibly future engagements: “The deeper worry is that the Kremlin and average Russians can now imagine a world in which they do not have to care.”

This attitude, and forming alliances with regional players, make the Gog-Magog conflict not so far-fetched, even in the minds of secularists.

Today’s geopolitics reflect biblical scenarios, perhaps even more clearly than many of want to accept.