October 24, 2011
It’s official: we’ll be leaving Iraq by the end of the year. The war that started with broad support on March 20, 2003 will be officially over. In that time, it has gone from supported to scorned…
Wars usually have two distinct periods: an Expeditionary Phase, and an Occupational Phase. In the Expeditionary phase, troops are sent away from their country of origin to engage – and, displace – an enemy force. The measure of success is the moving of a geopolitical boundary: it’s always about real estate. Like a football game – played with bullets rather than balls – the goal is to move the line down the field, into the opponent’s protected space.
Once the territory has been acquired, the Expeditionary Phase gives way to the Occupational Phase. That was what George W. Bush was trying to communicate when he appeared on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003. In just over two months, the Expeditionary Phase had been won, but the IEDs kept exploding on the roadsides…
The “Mission Accomplished” banner that was placed behind the president during that speech quickly became a political liability, because the insurgents in Iraq had no intention of standing down. Despite the ongoing guerrilla activities, the Expeditionary warfare had given way to Occupation.
The Occupation Phase at the end of World War II lasted longer than the Expeditionary efforts. In Japan, the Allied Powers – including the US – stayed in place until May of 1952. In Germany, the occupation was divided among the Allies, with the US presence ending in May of 1955, though the Soviet Union’s extended control over East Germany continued until Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall!” challenge in 1987.
Occupation is the time when the enemy has become suppressed, but problematic. The victor’s forces shift their attention to rebuilding infrastructure destroyed by the combat activities, while being present to suppress insurgencies that are inevitable. Beaten enemies remain lethal, if allowed…
There is a spiritual war that has been in active status since before Eden, fought against the Kingdom of Heaven by the Rebellious Forces of Lucifer. It began before mankind was created, and continues today. The territory for the conflict seems to be centered on Planet Earth; progress is not measured in real estate captured, but – rather – in people rescued from the clutches of the Evil One.
When He left for Heaven, our Commander in Chief gave the strategic orders for the generals He had trained to succeed him on the front lines of the battle: their charge was to take the fight to the ends of the earth – beginning at “…Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth…” (Acts 1:8).
Culture by culture – the Greek word is ethnos, or tribe – the nature of the ongoing struggle between God and Satan – and, their forces – varies. In some places, the frontline hostilities have long since given way to an agenda of Occupation. That’s the world you and I know, from our mostly comfortable life in Western Civilization environments, founded on a Christian cultural code.
Most of us are cast as reservists in an Occupation Zone, rather than as active duty forces in an Expeditionary unit that is active in a setting where the Kingdom has not yet erected the “Mission Accomplished” banner.
How is the Kingdom advanced, strategically? Scripture, translated into their language. The Gospel, communicated to the masses. Disciples made, from the converts. Churches established, by and for the Disciples. Indigenous Leaders developed from the maturing believers.
We Americans spend a lot to acquire and defend real estate. Are we Christians as committed to acquire and defend people, who are even more valuable?