Scaling Back in Middle East
The theme for U.S. military action abroad for 2006 seems firmly established: troop reduction.
Washington plans to hand control of southern Afghanistan over to an international force led by nato. The United States will withdraw 2,500 troops from the volatile southern region even though it is “not clear how aggressively nato troops will pursue insurgents, who have shown no sign of relenting” (Washington Post, January 3).
Funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, which has helped rebuild Afghanistan over the last four years, will also be reduced from its more than $1 billion level in 2005 to just over $600 million for 2006 unless Congress appropriates more funds.
Washington claims these reductions will parallel Afghan _istan’s development as a self-sustaining democracy. However, as U.S. officials give them space to make their own decisions, Afghans are apprehensive about the lack of U.S. support, fearing a repeat of the 1990s withdrawal, after which Afghanistan erupted in a civil war that opened the door for the Taliban to take power.
Similarly, Washington does not plan to seek new funds for Iraq’s reconstruction. Of the $18.4 billion allocated to the reconstruction effort, less than 20 percent remains. Billions of dollars’ worth of work still need to be done to restore reliable electricity and water, along with other fundamental services, to Iraq. When U.S. funds run out, it appears Washington is hoping someone else will pick up the tab.
2006 will also bring military reductions in Iraq. Exact numbers are not yet known, but the Pentagon says about 7,000 troops will leave.
Clearly Washington is beginning to shift its priorities, apparently in response to a basketful of increasing domestic pressures: costly disaster relief, political scandals, an unsteady job market.
What’s more, as the military has been occupying two foreign countries, its recruitment numbers continue to drop. In order to sustain operations, troops have been held beyond their contracted terms, testing their dedication and that of their families back home. Despite the fortitude American troops continue to display, it is likely that further drawdowns will be decided upon for reasons beyond their purely strategic value.
Bible prophecy tells us that the U.S. will have the pride of its power broken (Leviticus 26:19) and will spend its strength in vain (verse 20). Any military success the U.S. will experience will be limited to minor skirmishes or perhaps some major battles. But Washington hasn’t won a war—carried through to absolute victory—since World War ii; and victory in war will continue to elude the U.S. because America—not just the president, or the policy-makers or the Pentagon brass, but America as a nation and as a people—has abandoned its history with God.
It is true that reconstructing Iraq is a monumental job, made all the more daunting by a grisly insurgency. But the inevitable result of a U.S. pullout—as was clear even before the day Saddam Hussein’s famous statue fell in downtown Baghdad—is that a far more dangerous enemy of America will enjoy an enormous expansion of influence in the Middle East.
In removing Hussein, the U.S. removed the only leader that Iran truly feared. Now, with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad replacing Hussein as chief Middle East madman, the U.S. is in no position to confront him no matter how extreme his threats. The stage has been set for an Islamic group of nations, led by Iran, to coalesce.
To study this biblical prophecy in detail, read in its entirety Mr. Flurry’s article from the June 2003 Trumpet, “Is Iraq About to Fall to Iran?”
As we hear news of America beginning to turn over its responsibilities in the Middle East, we must ask why—and to whom? The answers reveal much about the condition of America today—and the state of the Middle East tomorrow.