World of Trouble
By Hal Lindsey
The U.S. attack on Syria's al-Shayrat airfield may turn out to be one of the most important moves by an American President in this century. To see its importance, we should start by looking a long way from Syria — at Pyongyang, North Korea.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea operates as a vast prison camp where every citizen-inmate is confined and monitored. They are born with a life-sentence to hard labor. Like all prisons, it is not self-sustaining, and must be subsidized by someone else — in this case, the People's Republic of China.
By economically and militarily propping up North Korea, communist China makes itself the enabler of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Those programs put the whole world at risk — not just because of North Korea’s belligerence, but because they sell both weapons and weapons technology to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Iran nuclear deal of 2015 ensures that country’s development of nuclear weapons. But just as important as the bombs, are the means to deliver them. North Korean ballistic missile technology undergirds Iran’s ongoing missile program. China enables North Korea which in turn enables Iran, and threatens the peace of the world.
Iran is a nation of Shiite Muslims, and the world’s number one terrorist state. Sunni and Shiite Muslims are in a centuries-long, pitched battle for dominance in the Middle East. In 2011, it looked like the Iranians might lose a key ally in their struggle. That year, the United States and others encouraged so-called “moderate Muslim rebels” to take down the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Probably without fully realizing it, the U.S. was encouraging a religious civil war. Assad is part of the Alawite branch of Islam. According to Reuters, “Sunni Muslims make up 74 percent of Syria’s 22 million population, Alawites 12 percent, Christians 10 percent and Druze 3 percent.”
In the religious civil war, Assad’s Alawite faith put him at a distinct disadvantage. But because Alawites revere the “Twelver school of Shia Islam,” Shia Iran sees him as an ally. So, when things turned against Assad early in the civil war, Iran stepped in to prop up him and his government.
On the other side, Sunnis also funneled money and fighters into Syria on behalf of the rebels. With all factions being sustained by outside forces, and no clear winner on the battlefield, the cruel war drags on with no end in sight. And finding a good guy in this fight is like finding a mountain in Florida. If there ever were moderate rebels, they have long since disappeared.
The ferocity of the war, along with its unending nature, has produced a humanitarian disaster. According to Mercy Corps, “Syria’s civil war has created the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. Half the country’s pre-war population — more than 11 million people — have been killed or forced to flee their homes.”
We’re talking about 470,000 dead Syrians and two million injured. Many fled into Europe, hastening a fundamental change in European society.
In 2012, then-U.S. President Barrack Obama, announced to the world that if the Assad regime in Syria used, or even looked like it might use, chemical weapons against the rebels, it would cross a “red line” forcing the U.S. to take action. In 2013, Assad used such weapons. Obama acted like he might use military force, then backed off.
Instead, he welcomed Vladimir Putin to Syria. The Russians promised to supervise the removal of “every single bit” of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal. The U.S. readily agreed, but warned Syria that “the threat of force is real” and could still happen if they did not comply with the removal of all such weapons.
Some chemical weapons were removed from Syria, but not all. They proved this by using those weapons several more times in the intervening years. Some of the attacks may have come from rebels who stole pieces of the Syrian stockpile, but others clearly came from Assad’s army.
The bigger issue was Russia’s new position as a leader in the search for peace in the Middle East. In 2015, Iran convinced Russia to further step into the situation by putting troops on the ground in Syria on behalf of Assad. For students of prophecy, it was an amazing moment. Magog and Persia of Ezekiel 38 had joined forces in a nation along Israel’s northern border.
In Assad’s recent chemical attack, the U.S. military monitored the planes carrying the weapons from the time they left the al-Shayrat airfield until they returned. This time, there’s no doubt. It was Assad’s men carrying out the chemical raid against civilian targets, including small children.
The U.S. responded with a cruise missile attack on a single Syrian airbase. Such an attack does not stop Assad, or even cause him lasting harm. The immediate purpose was as a warning against the use of chemical weapons, or any other form of WMD, anywhere in the world.
But there is another, deeper message — not just to Syria, but also to the Russia, North Korea, China, and Iran. The United States will no longer sit on the sidelines. Passivity in the face of danger only increases that danger, and is no longer America’s policy. It is this switch from passive to active that makes this a significant move at a key moment in history.
The attack on the Syrian base took place during a summit between President Trump and President Xi Jinping of China. The message seems obvious. If you do nothing about your renegade friends in North Korea, we will take care of the problem ourselves.
Of course, none of this is without risk. The world staggers like a drunk on the edge of a cliff. We need divine intervention and wisdom. Strikingly, in announcing the U.S. attack, Donald Trump acknowledged that point. He said, “We ask for God's wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world.”
That’s a prayer to which we can all say, “Amen.”