Several weeks ago Thomas Friedman wrote an op-ed column for the New York Times entitled: Obama on the World.
Mr. Friedman had interviewed the president and shared many significant direct quotes from the president.
Several words or phrases dominated the president’s discourse which characterizes his mindset. He used the word ‘compromise’ five times in the interview; the word ‘maximalist’ four times; the phrase ‘no victor/no vanquished’ three times; and the personal pronoun ‘I’ more times than the others combined.
The major players/issues discussed focused on Middle Eastern nations; the Israeli/Palestinian conflict; and Russia and Ukraine.
Mr. Friedman gave his impression of president Obama’s wisdom of world players and events. “It’s clear that the president has a take on the world, born of many lessons over the last six years…” Mr. Friedman is implying that six years in office was sufficient to give the president an insightful worldview of geopolitical issues.
One word not used by the president in the interview was God. Either he doesn’t believe that God is involved in foreign policy issues, or he chooses to ignore God’s participation in, or sovereignty over, such issues.
The prophet Jeremiah, King Solomon, and King David were intimately aware of and addressed the issue of God’s omnipresence.
“‘Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?’ says the LORD. ‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’says the LORD.” Jeremiah 23:24
“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.” Proverbs 15:3
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there…” Psalm 139:7-8
The presence of God is everywhere at all times; therefore, to leave Him out of foreign policy issues would have to be done with conscious effort.
To attempt to devise foreign policy without God could be likened to navigating Times Square in a taxi without a driver.
President Obama’s overriding philosophy relative to foreign policy is that everyone should be able to co-exist and simply get along peacefully.
First of all he believes that all parties should compromise. Inasmuch as ‘compromise’ is not found in the Bible, we’ll need to consult Webster where compromise is defined as ‘to settle by mutual concession’.
The president used the term ‘maximalist’ in a negative sense as one who holds extreme political views and is not willing to compromise.
To support his philosophy the president injected the phrase ‘no victor/no vanquished’ several times. Webster defines vanquished as to be overcome in battle where there is an obvious victor. It means to be conquered; to be defeated; to be subdued; for one to gain mastery over another.
And while the president believes in no victor/no vanquished, the Bible repeatedly tells of the opposite, especially as relates to His chosen nation Israel. Consider the following example where King David extolled God as the victor.
“Blessed are You, LORD God of Israel…Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and You are exalted as head over all.” 1 Chronicles 29:10-11
Some might surmise that since David wrote a millennium before Christ was born, God’s sovereignty over the nations is no longer relevant.
Consider the Apostle Paul addressing Grecian philosophers during the early days of the church.
“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and had determined their pre-appointed (appointed) times and the boundaries of their dwellings.” Acts 17:26
The Greek for nation in the present context means the whole race of mankind.
The Greek for ‘determine’ means to ‘mark out definitely’. Synonyms include setting off by boundary, and/or apportioning.
Appointed means ‘to cause to do or be’ while boundaries means ‘a setting of bounds or a limit’.
In the coming weeks we’ll examine in more detail president Obama’s ‘take’ on foreign policy, especially as it relates to Israel and the Middle East and compare his thinking with Biblical wisdom.