China, 1949. Cuba, 1958-59. Vietnam, 1975. Iraq, 2014? Sudden collapses are all surprises when they occur, yet in retrospect seem inevitable results of iniquity. They are surprises only because those in power take selfies and cover up their selfishness, for a time.
Today’s Wall Street Journal headline: “Iraqi Drama Catches U.S. Off Guard. The Quickly Unfolding Drama Prompted a White House Meeting Wednesday of Top Policy Makers and Military Leaders” (subscription required). Two key sentences in the article: “U.S. military leaders said they had thought that Iraqi security forces’ efforts would be enough to slow ISIS’s advance. But those assumptions were proven wrong when Iraqi troops largely abandoned their posts.”
U.S. leaders also made mistaken assumptions regarding China, Cuba, and Vietnam. We repeatedly exaggerate the role of material provision and underestimate the importance of will, which is related to worldview. And if we want to think more deeply about cause and effect, we should stop the current drive to stifle religious teaching within the military, and start studying the Bible.
After all, a prototypical sudden collapse came in 539 B.C. in Babylon, a little south of what is now Baghdad. Daniel, in chapter five of his book, knew the score and proclaimed it to Belshazzar: “[Y]ou have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. … [Y]ou have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath … you have not honored.”
That very night the government in Babylon fell. The Iraqi government may now face similar handwriting on the wall: “God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end … you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting … your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”