Dr. James C. Denison
President, Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, TX
June 24, 2011

Leaving Afghanistan
“We have put al-Qaeda on a path to defeat, and we will not relent until the job is done.” With these words, President Obama announced Wednesday night that he is withdrawing 33,000 service members from Afghanistan by next summer, and the rest of our troops by 2014. Is this decision wise?

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is “happy about the announcement,” stating that the president’s decision is a sign that his country is ready to take control of its own security. However, many in his country have apparently reacted negatively, worrying that we will remove too many troops too soon and encourage the Taliban to renew their efforts.

Unnamed administration officials confirm that General David Petraeus, the commander of troops in Afghanistan, urged that fewer troops be withdrawn. Critics have called the move “isolationist” and a “transparent political calculation.” By contrast, Nancy Pelosi called the drawdown too slow, and some in Congress agree.

Who is right? Time will tell, of course. I would not claim military expertise on this issue, but would rather suggest a second, corollary question: should we have more troops engaged in the spiritual war which is the source of this conflict?

Ten years after Operation Enduring Freedom began, the Taliban remains our enemy. They do not want to storm Kabul or Washington. This is not a war machine bent on geographical conquest. Their aims are spiritual more than they are economic or political. Their vision of the future subjugates Afghanistan and then the larger Muslim world to militant Islam and the strictest legalism imaginable.

In such an ideological conflict, what is the role of Western Christians? Let’s think biblically about this question.

First, Scripture teaches us to support our leaders (Romans 13:1; 1 Peter 2:13-17), interceding daily for “all those in authority” (1 Timothy 2:2). How will you obey this command today?

Second, we are called to share our light with a dark culture, “that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). What does such cultural and political engagement mean for you?

Last, we are to pray daily for Muslims in Afghanistan and around the world to know the grace and love of God in Christ: “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:38). Will you take a moment now to pray for spiritual awakening in the Muslim world?

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