Can Military Aid Really Buy Friends and Lasting Peace?
Written by Mike Bennett
Egypt, Pakistan and many other countries have received billions of dollars’ worth of military aid from the U.S. But what happens when governments change or when mistakes push a relationship to the brink, like recent events between Pakistan and the U.S.? Will weapons given to cement a friendship eventually be turned against the giver?
Military aid rarely turns foreign alliances into true friendships.
For example, the United States has been giving more than a billion dollars in military aid to Egypt each year. But now the future direction of Egypt is uncertain. With the Muslim Brotherhood, which spawned the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza, likely to gain clout, leaders like “U.S. Senator John McCain have voiced concerns. McCain in March warned about the group’s rise leading to a ‘more extreme’ form of government” in Egypt, according to Reuters.
Who will control Egypt’s stockpile of weapons? Will they be used against U.S. interests?
The same questions can be asked about other countries that have received massive military aid from the U.S. This is especially serious when it comes to Pakistan, a nuclear-armed “frenemy” that is vital to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and in the global war on terror.
The current crisis in Pakistan
The U.S./Pakistan relationship has been a dysfunctional one for years, with mistrust and mistakes adding to a tense situation.
Last Saturday’s battle between NATO troops in Afghanistan and Pakistani troops just across the border left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead and the nation in an outrage. High-ranking officers claimed the NATO attack was deliberate, and Pakistan’s foreign minister called for a rethinking of Pakistan’s role in the war on terror. Supply lines to the NATO troops in Afghanistan were disrupted, and Americans were told to clear out of an airbase used to launch drones.
This incident comes on top of the crisis that erupted over the U.S. special forces raid that killed Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil in May. And in January, a CIA contractor killed two men in Lahore, Pakistan, provoking weeks of confrontation.
With so much at stake, will it be papered over?
The Economist magazine gave its opinion about the future of U.S./Pakistan relations:
“The spate of incidents may continue. Anti-Americanism in Pakistan is rising to intense levels, which could spur younger, religiously minded officers, especially those who have not been trained by America, to demand a snapping of ties.
“Yet policymakers both in Pakistan and America are likely to conclude that they still get enough from each other to make it too risky to break up just yet. America needs Pakistan to get the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network to talks, to do more on counter-terrorism, to allow drones to keep flying in its tribal areas and to keep its big nuclear arsenal safely locked up. In turn, Pakistan’s army, which to its neighbours looks isolated and paranoid, has no serious alternative to bidding for more lavish American aid. The result could be dismally cynical: each side using and attacking the other—and growing ever more bitter.”
And this may be the best-case scenario. We don’t want to consider the worst-case scenarios if the nuclear-armed Muslim nation of 187 million turned on its former benefactor.
God’s warnings about buying allies
The United States isn’t the only nation that has used its treasure to try to buy military and political allies. Sometimes it seems to work, for a time, when the countries’ strategic objectives are somewhat the same. But when the nations have little in common, no amount of money or military aid will turn strange bedfellows into real allies.
God warned Ephraim and the other tribes of ancient Israel about trying to buy “lovers,” showing the futility of trying to buy friends among enemies (Hosea 7:11; 8:9). Israel had forgotten God’s good and beneficial laws and treated them as if the laws didn’t apply to them (Hosea 8:12). God said, “Israel has forgotten his Maker” and instead relied on alliances and fortifications (Hosea 8:14). But this policy did not succeed.
By sinning against God and forgetting that “there is no savior besides” God, “they sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind” of punishment (Hosea 13:4; 8:7).
Could the same warnings apply today? The United States, Britain and other English-speaking countries have benefited from the blessing of having and distributing millions of copies of the Bible, yet today few really believe its laws and prophecies apply to them. Few trust in God to save their nations; most rely on military power and strategic alliances.
But will those alliances, purchased with military aid, truly last? Or will they be subject to every wind of circumstance, error and manipulation?
Will the worthless effort of sowing the wind lead to reaping the whirlwind of destruction?
No matter what our nations do, individual Christians can turn to God and remember and obey His laws. We can remember our faithful Savior and pray fervently for God’s Kingdom to come. Because the Kingdom of God—ruled according to the way of peace—is the only way real peace will come to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt and the whole world.
Read more about that wonderful Kingdom in our booklet The Mystery of the Kingdom.
Mike Bennett coordinates the blogs on the cogwa.org website. He and his wife, Becky, attend the Cincinnati/Dayton, Ohio, congregation of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association.