web analytics
February 1, 2015 / 12 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Biblical Lessons on Foreign Policy and Statism

You can learn from the Bible that people understood four thousand years ago about things that America's current leaders have forgotten today.
king-david

Photo Credit: Yori Yanover

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

Whatever your view of religion, the Bible is a terrific source for history and political analysis, often in the passages least quoted today. Here are two examples.

1. Statism

When the Israelites asked to have a king, the prophet Samuel (Chapter 8) told them, at divine direction, that a king would make their sons:

“Plow his fields, reap his harvest, and make his weapons and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters as perfumers, cooks, and bakers. He will seize your choice fields, vineyards, and olive groves, and give them to his courtiers [crony capitalism!]. He will take a tenth part of your grain and vintage [far lower taxes than today!] and give it to his eunuchs and courtiers [entitlements? Crony capitalism?].” In short, he would make the people

“work for him…and you shall become his slaves. The day will come when you cry out because of the king whom you yourselves have chosen [elections!]; and the Lord will not answer you on that day.” Was that day November 6, 2012? Seriously, though, the idea that excessive statism is extremely dangerous is hardly a new one, especially in a country that was born by rebelling against a king against whom similar complaints were lodged. Of course, the end of the Book of Judges has some remarkable stories that tell of the dire effects of anarchy with the repeated phrase, there was no king in those days so everyone did what they wanted to do. Finding a balance between too much anarchy and too much statism has been the challenge ever since.

2. Foreign Policy

The basic principles of statecraft aren’t new. You can learn from the Bible that people understood four thousand years ago about things that America’s current leaders have forgotten today.

When the two Israelite spies sent to assess Jericho’s defenses, spoke to their informant, Rahab, she told them how Israelite strength, determination, and thus credibility–the people of Jericho had heard how God favored the Israelites–had already determined the outcome of the battle. I know you shall win, she explained, “Because dread of you has fallen upon us, and all the inhabitants of the land are quaking before you” (Joshua 2).

But after the great Israelite victory at Jericho, Joshua became over-confident and so accepted bad intelligence that only a small force would be needed to take the city of Ai. He sent just one-tenth of his troops. But as a result the Israelites lost that battle. Even though our casualties were only 36 men out of 3000, the troops panicked and ran. It was a self-inflicted defeat.

Joshua understood the danger in this event:

“O Lord, what can I say after Israel has turned tail before its enemies? When the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land hear of this, they will turn upon us and wipe out our very name from the earth.” (Joshua 7:8-9). But rather than take responsibility for his error, Joshua or others in the leadership concluded that a man had stolen three items from the looting of Jericho that were supposed to be consecrated for God. That was the equivalent in that time of making a video that insulted a religion. The thief and all of his family were stoned to death.

Well about four thousand years later what do Americans expect is going to happen with incidents like Benghazi, not to mention enthroning America’s enemies in Egypt, Tunisia, and perhaps Syria? As everyone in the Middle East understands, shows of weakness—and even worse of self-flagellation, of apology and the loss of self-confidence—only persuade your enemies to hit you harder.

In the Biblical case, the war went much better after the scapegoat was purged. Perhaps having found an explanation for the defeat restored morale. And renewed victories—starting with the conquest of Ai by the entire Israelite army—rebuilt credibility with the enemy and demoralized them.

The United States faces the problem of credibility but it isn’t going to solve the issue by stoning a video-maker but by having a leader who understands the nature of the enemy, that leadership trumps apology, and that America’s enemies may be quaking but mainly with laughter.

About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Biblical Lessons on Foreign Policy and Statism”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
The United States condemned Iran for honoring Hezbollah terrorist Imad Mughniyeh but is not so bothered when Abbas honors PA terrorists.
CIA, Mossad Collaborated on Killing Hezbollah No. 2 Leader in Damascus
Latest Indepth Stories
Eli Weiss

Shepherding in the Shomron isn’t your usual kind of shepherding – despite his business-minded beginnings, Eli has discovered that a strong ideological impetus powers the job.

Resnick-013015-Pilot

I said to myself, “This story has got to be told. We’re losing this generation of World War II and if we don’t listen to them now, we’ve lost it.”

Eller-013015

His entire existence was about spreading simcha and glorifying G-d’s name on a daily basis.

IRAN-US-POLITICS-MILITARY

An Israeli strike could theoretically damage Iran’s nuclear program; only US can terminate program

At some point we need to stop simply defending and promoting Israel and start living in Israel

“We Jews are the only people who when we drop a book on the floor pick it up and kiss it.”

Though Zaide was the publisher of The Jewish Press, a big newspaper,I always remember him learning

Speaker Silver has been an extraordinary public servant since his election to the Assembly in 1975 and has been an exemplary leader of that body since 1994.

He spent the first leg of his daylong visit to the French capital at Hyper Cacher.

Drawing Congress into the Iran nuclear debate is the last thing the White House wants.

Great leaders like Miriam and like Sarah Schenirer possess the capacity to challenge the status quo that confronts them.

Obama’s foreign policy is viewed by both liberals and conservatives as deeply flawed

Many journalists are covertly blaming the Charlie Hebdo writers themselves through self-censorship.

Why does the Times relay different motivations and narratives for jihadists in Europe and Israel?

More Articles from Barry Rubin
Youssef Ziedan

The interviewer responds, “There was also Balfour.”

peace_clowns

If the Obama/Kerry peace deal does go through, what would the risks be?

Let me make it plain. There will be mass murder, even genocide in Syria.

A large number of pro-Obama and radical or even anti-Israel cadre are Jews.

Does anyone think the Palestinian Authority will resist daily attacks from Hamas and Fatah radicals?

Secret Service security arrangements were overruled.

The Obama Administration plan is very simple, assuming that everything goes smoothly–which of course it will not.

The less you know about Islam, the better. Ignorance is strength.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/biblical-lessons-on-foreign-policy-and-statism/2012/12/31/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: