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“Blessed are the peacemakers.” That’s what the Man said. Notice He didn’t say “peace lovers” or “peaceniks”; he said “peacemakers.”
Everywhere you look, crises rage. Ukraine, Iraq, Ferguson, the border—it’s Escalation Summer. Is there a peacemaker in the house?
Earlier this year, President Obama met Vladimir Putin’s land grab in the Crimea with all the firmness of al dente linguine. The result? The Russian bear felt free to press his dream of empire and 298 innocent souls perished when Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was shot from the sky over Donetsk Oblast.
Was it Obama’s fault? Not directly. But a less-tepid response to Putin’s initial aggression could have nipped things in the bud. The people on that plane might still be alive. A little American backbone might have tempered Putin’s appetite for destruction.
On our southern border, another wave of underage illegal immigrants is expected shortly, the only thing holding it back being the late summer desert heat. A strong response from the president is long overdue, but Martha’s Vineyard beckons. It’s almost as if he wants them to come.
In Iraq, a murderous criminal gang is slaughtering innocents and reversing the gains made by brave American and Iraqi troops over the last 10 years. They say they are coming for us and that they won’t rest until their flag flies atop the White House. Obama responds by wagging a golf-gloved finger and warning that if these “folks” keep it up, they’ll face serious consequences.
ISIS knows what that means. Uncle Sam will drop a few bombs from a safe distance and declare victory. But this particular brand of murderous criminal gang is notoriously resilient. They respond to our bombing by decapitating an American journalist and posting the grisly video online. At the end of the video, a black-clad ISIS fighter threatens to kill another American journalist.
“The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision,” he taunts. In poker, that’s called “raising you one.” In war, that’s called escalation.
So what will Obama’s decision be? Drone strikes, probably. And another declaration of victory.
But you can’t rid a house of cockroaches by lobbing a few bait trips into the dark corners of your kitchen: you need an exterminator to get in behind the walls, find their nests, and destroy them. Otherwise they will keep coming and keep coming. Otherwise you will not be able to sleep. Otherwise you will have no peace.
In Ferguson, Obama appealed for “peace and calm.” But from the looks of it, not everybody in Ferguson wants peace and calm. A better approach would have been to use his moral authority as the first black president to shame those who are aggravating the situation instead of making it better. A better approach would have been a decisive statement against rioting in the streets.
There was a time Obama referred to himself as the “adult in the room.” But adults don’t stand by and let bullies run the neighborhood. Adults know that if you look the other way on the little things, the bad guys will try their luck at bigger things. Adults know that you have to do more than just talk the talk.
Adults also know that peace is often achieved through strength. Sometimes you have to make the peace. Sometimes the peacemakers need to show a little backbone.
Image Credit: Flickr user Anna.