“Go, behold the acts of the LORD, Who made desolations on earth, caused wars to cease to the end of the earth. The bow He has broken and splintered the spear, and chariots burned in fire” (The Book of Psalms 46:9,10 according to the Alter translation1).
On October 15, 1999, The United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1267, which designated Al-Qaeda and the Taliban as terrorist groups. Sanctions were imposed against cooperating governments. Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who had moved his operations between Pakistan and Sudan, was now operating out of Afghanistan. The Taliban, a group that had risen to power following the Afghan-Soviet War, had granted bin-Laden sanctuary.
Afghan resistance to the Taliban had rested on the shoulders of Northern Alliance commander Ahmad Shah Massoud. When he was assassinated on September 9, 2011 by al-Qaeda operatives, it gave bin Laden a solid base and a central location from where he could plan and launch attacks against the U.S. unhindered. Peter Bergen’s award-winning book, The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda, pinpoints the assassination of Massoud as “the curtain raiser for the attacks on New York City and Washington, DC.”
Following the September 11, 2001, attacks, then U.S. President George Bush vowed to “win the war against terrorism,” He called on the Taliban regime to “deliver to the United States authorities all the leaders of al-Qaeda who hide in your land” or suffer the consequences. On October 7, following a joint resolution of Congress, the U.S. launched military action in what was called Operation Enduring Freedom (this author remembers the announcement of the attack while dining in a pizza store in Pennsylvania). The Taliban regime collapsed in two months, but Osama bin Laden escaped on horseback into Pakistan and Al-Qaeda dispersed into hiding. With the belief that terrorism was now centered in Iraq, President Bush proposed rebuilding Afghanistan. Congress appropriated $38 billion in humanitarian and reconstruction assistance for Afghanistan over nearly eight years. The threat from Afghanistan was over — or so it was thought.
Bin Laden Resurfaces
On October 29, 2004, one week before the U.S. Presidential election, Osama bin Laden resurfaced (it was no coincidence, as bin Laden hoped to unseat George Bush, who was seeking a second term) in a videotape claiming responsibility for the attacks of September 11, 2001. “We want to restore freedom to our nation, just as you lay waste to our nation,” bin Laden said in a translated message which was determined to be current, eradicating rumors that bin Laden had died. Within two years violence and war returned to Afghanistan. Following his election to the Presidency in 2008, Barack Obama recommitted to the war on terror, escalating it with a new strategy that now included efforts in Pakistan. He was determined to hunt down and eliminate the threat of Al-Qaeda. He would only partially succeed.
On May 1, 2011, President Obama announced to the nation that Osama bin Laden had been located and killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan, his body dumped at sea. However, it did not end ten years of fighting. Afghanistan’s stability remained tenuous along with Pakistan’s. One thousand eight hundred U.S. casualties and $444 billion in restoration spending could not reverse the devastation of the country. Fighting and negotiation would go on for another decade, but the decision to finally withdraw brought on a quick collapse of the Afghan government under yet another U.S. President.
With the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the horizon, newly-elected President Joe Biden announced full withdrawal of American troops, saying, “It’s time to end America’s longest war.” When the final plane carrying U.S. personnel left in August, and Afghan President Ghani fled the country, Taliban fighters overran the capital. After twenty years of fighting, the Taliban were once again in charge. While the two-decades-long war perhaps prevented another attack on America, it accomplished little else other than the death of a once-feared terrorist leader.
Admiral James G. Stavridis (Ret.) was the 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO and is now Operating Executive at The Carlyle Group. He was in his Pentagon office, just 150 feet from where the Boeing 757 struck the Pentagon on 9/11/2001. He summed it up this way when publishing 2034: A Novel of the Next World War: “Every war is a tragic waste of time, treasure and, most importantly, blood.”
Wars to Cease
Throughout world history, nations, alliances and empires have battled one another. Mankind has practiced warfare as a way of life. Historians Will and Ariel Durant concluded: “In the last 3,421 years of recorded history only 268 have seen no war” (The Lessons of History, page 81).
Our theme text assures us that at some point, Jehovah will intervene in the affairs of man to bring violence, killing and war to an end. “And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains (at the head of the mountains), and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many peoples shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law (instruction), and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem. And he will judge between (among) the nations, and will decide concerning many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:3, 4).
As long as he is motivated by selfishness, man will not voluntarily give up the spoils of war. Jehovah’s ruling over the nations and the powerful, his defense of the weak and poor, and the supplying of all mankind’s legitimate needs will be supplemented by the teaching of true love for one another in Christ’s kingdom. This will change man’s heart and his desire to rule over one another. Cooperation will be the order and will be rewarded.: “Come, behold the works of Jehovah, What desolations he hath made in the earth (or, who has made desolations in the earth). He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; He burneth the chariots in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalms 46:8-10).
While God will cause wars to cease by his superior power, man will actively “beat his swords into plowshares” (Isaiah 2:4). During the reign of Christ, love will replace selfishness as the motivating power that has often resulted in human conflicts. Under the administration of his kingdom of righteousness, all mankind will find satisfaction and joy. All those who died in wars, and all others who experienced death, will be raised to a world where war will no longer be permitted nor necessary (John 5:28, 29). Jesus, accompanied by his faithful followers of this Gospel Age, will give all an opportunity to enjoy everlasting life in peace and happiness, and in a world without war.
The experiences of the past 6,000 years, including the dying process, (Genesis 2:16, 17) have tried man almost to the limit. Today, there is much worldwide distress (Luke 21:25). But the lessons learned now will be of inestimable value. They will greatly increase appreciation of the blessing of life which will be given to the people during the thousand years of Christ’s reign. Let us pray earnestly for that time.