James 4:1-2 – "What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel…."
Western and American Christians are often led to support wars purported to be for America’s strategic interests and American peace, safety, and freedom, not realizing that these wars often involve funding, supporting, arming, and excusing regional forces that mean persecution and death for other Christians.
Washington has long engaged in a strategy of allying with radical Islamists and local criminal elements to the detriment of Christians in the region. Washington has supported radical Islamic jihadists and local criminal elements at the expense of Christians in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, and other places in the Middle East for several years.
It seems like the only time the political-military-media complex cares about the persecution and death of Christians is when it can be utilized to continue Washington’s secular military empire abroad.
In other words, as long as the U.S. government and military are funding, training, and army groups dangerous to Christians allegedly for American peace, safety, freedom, it is acceptable. On the other hand, as soon as there is any suggestion or actual minimizing of the war state, we are gravely warned that it will lead to persecution and death for Christians. Basically, they only want you to care about Christians if doing so furthers the interests of the war state. The common factor is not protection of Christians globally, but rather whatever arguments can be used to perpetuate government’s biggest program – the war state. And, like all government programs, it allegedly never has enough time or money. But the interests of the US war state and global Christian safety and welfare are not one and the same.
For example, in Afghanistan for two decades and about $2 trillion ($300 million per day since 2001), the United States government has funded, armed, trained and empowered terrible criminal elements in Afghanistan in order to use them to provide security and fight against the Taliban. These included warlords, criminals, rapists, and child molesters who abused their American-provided power to further abuse their victims (including many Christians). Amidst these issues, American soldiers were put in the untenable ethical position to ignore or dismiss such abuses. Christians would not support such abuses, however, after a commitment to leave Afghanistan followed through by an actual withdrawal began to take place, the Taliban began to retake control. It was at this point when persecution and death of Christians in Afghanistan became relevant. The truth is Christians and others had long been endangered in Afghanistan at the expense of the American taxpayer, but the political-military-media complex focus only highlighted it when it involved continuing the justification for the war state.
Washington’s foreign interventions have been detrimental to Christians in the region as Iraq, Syria, and Libya will demonstrate.
The US invasion and overthrow of Saddam Hussein was a boon to Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and would later help facilitate the rise of the Islamic State or ISIS in the region in general and in Iraq in particular. In 2001, it was estimated that al-Qaeda had approximately 400 members worldwide and by 2019 the numbers had risen to approximately 20,000 worldwide. This is hardly an unqualified success.
The Christians were fairly tolerated in Iraq during the Saddam regime (as terrible and authoritarian as it was), but its removal created a power vacuum filled by those who sought to persecute and destroy the Iraqi Christians. Keep in mind that it had been the policy of the 1980s to fund and support Saddam Hussein’s regime in a war against Iran (1980-1988), which helped facilitate Saddam in his atrocities and maintain his power.
Conservative evangelicals were some of the most vocal proponents in support of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, not knowing the disaster this would unleash on Iraq, the region, and their fellow Christians. American Christians had no way of knowing the extent of the consequences and cannot be blamed for being misled by the propaganda of the government and their allies in the media, however, we should know better (especially now) than to accept the narrative of the state in favor of its own interventions in other countries.
But most American Christians are unaware of the results and consequences the invasion and occupation of Iraq had on their fellow Christians. Seemingly, the only time they hear about the negative impact on foreign Christians is when that information fits with the argument for continued foreign intervention. Justin Raimondo wrote in 2012,
"This has been a consistent pattern of US foreign policy since the Bush administration, which, after all, launched our disastrous invasion of Iraq and thus condemned its heretofore safe and relatively free Christian community to death."
The US government allied with, funded, and armed radical Islamicists in Syria in order to overthrow the Assad regime. Not only did this lead to destabilization that contributed to the rise of groups like ISIS – the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Not only is this a fact, but a declassified report confirmed it and, in fact, the Pentagon predicted this might be the outcome. This was so prevalent that Tulsi Gabbard sponsored a bill entitled the "Stop Arming Terrorists Act" in 2017.
Nevertheless, the settled policy goal was to remove Assad who is still in power today and was one of the major bulwarks against ISIS in the region. Whatever may legitimately be said about the Assad regime in Syria, it served as a block against the rise of radical Islamicists rather than giving them money and weapons. In the Syrian civil war, the policy of the US government was to support the "rebels" (often radical Islamic terrorist groups) against the forces of the Assad regime. Needless to say, this had a devastating impact on the Christians in the region. BBC reported in 2015,
"Nor has that war spared the Christian community. Thousands have been forced from their homes by the threat from hardline Islamist rebels and jihadist militants.
In areas seized by the jihadist group Islamic State (IS), Christians have been ordered to convert to Islam, pay jizya (a religious levy), or face death. In the Syrian province of Hassakeh in February 2015, hundreds of Christians are feared to have been kidnapped by the militants."
"This has led some Christians to express support for President Assad, particularly as sectarian violence has increased and jihadist militant groups calling for an Islamic state in Syria have grown in strength."
"Many fear that if President Assad is overthrown, Christians will be targeted and communities destroyed as many were in Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003."
The bombing of Libya, the funding of "moderate rebels [radical jihadists]," and the encouragement of the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime led to disaster in Libya and in the region, for everybody in general and for the Christians in particular. These arguably illegal actions (extension of military action past the provisions of the War Powers Resolution Act) furthered sectarian civil war in Libya, served to further destabilize the region and allowed for the rise of forces like the Islamic State, led to the reopening to the slave trade, and condemned many of the Christians there to persecution and death. For example, here is footage of NATO rebels destroying Christian symbols and graves at a cemetery in Libya.
International persecution of Christians is a terrible reality for many. It is important for Christians worldwide to pray for our brothers and sisters who are being subjected to religious persecution because of where they live. That being said, care for Christians internationally ought not to be confounded with whether or not the Washington war state is maximized or minimized. Unfortunately, many American Christians (and Americans in general) have accepted the self-justifying narrative of the state, based on liberal internationalism, regarding foreign intervention.
Traditionally, a foreign intervention directed by Washington in other countries have led to adverse outcomes for Christians, yet American Christians have been unaware, remained silent, or supported the intervention. On the other hand, when withdrawal threatens to slightly minimize the war state, like withdrawing from Afghanistan, has adverse outcomes for Christians, American Christians demand that the military remain, and the intervention continue. This is an inconsistency. The common factor is not care for foreign Christians but whatever benefits Washington’s war state.
It should also be mentioned that these interventions have led to disaster in the region and arguably made Americans less safe. These interventions have not achieved the promised results, they have wasted trillions of American taxpayer dollars, they have led to many deaths and countless injuries, they have destabilized the region and created future problems that will require further interventions, and Washington has allied with, funded, trained, supported, and empowered our next enemies.
Furthermore, we cannot have empire abroad through foreign intervention and occupation and liberty at home. America is supposed to be an example of peace and freedom to the whole world. It is not the troops, it is not the American people, it is the state. Christians should be wary of these arguments for foreign intervention, occupation, and war because the Washington war state establishment has shown itself willing both to endanger and to protect Christians through its actions, whatever forwards its interests and justifies its continued existence, money, and power.
Joshua Mawhorter is a high school teacher of government, economics, and American history and teaches the Bible, theology, apologetics, church history, and philosophy at his local church.