The Best Defense

Were the Israelites a 'Melian'-like group on whose world view our culture stands?

One of my side projects this year has been reading the entire Bible cover-to-cover for the first time. Starting at the beginning and staying with it throughout, I find, makes the whole thing more coherent. (It also sometimes feels surprisingly current: "Damascus is waxed feeble, and turneth herself to flee, and fear hath seized on her." -- Jeremiah 49:24.) I mean, ripped from today's headlines.

The other day I was struck by Jeremiah 46:13, which offers an aside about the Lord telling the prophet that the "king of Babylon should come and smite the land of Egypt." That passage reflects the larger fact that a big chunk of the Old Testament is about the Jews being squeezed between the Persians, the Babylonians, the Assyrians, and the Egyptians. In other words, about a small, endangered people facing the predations of empires.

This made me think about the revenge of the Melians, another small people who were caught between greater powers, and who also got squashed. What does it mean that the Old Testament, the bulk of the central book of our culture, is written from the point of view not of one of the great powers, but of a small nation that is eventually destroyed by them? Is this why we instinctively side with the rebels and against Darth Vader? If so, how does that unconsciously shape our strategic thinking? Are we inherently more likely to succeed when aiding rebels than we are when fighting them?   

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The Best Defense

Missouri National Guards looted a Wal-Mart while searching for tornado survivors

A general once told me that a small but significant percentage of soldiers in any unit are criminals at heart, and that one job of small unit leaders is to prevent them from spreading the rot to other members of the unit.

I thought of that when I read this article revealing that a sergeant and three other members of the National Guard pocketed some electronic gear at Wal-Mart in Joplin, Missouri, when sent there to provide aid after part of the town was smashed by a huge tornado May in 2011.  

Speaking of criminal activity, the former command master chief of the USS Fort McHenry was sentenced to 60 days in the brig for assaulting crew members. He also supposedly has some issues with pawing the buttocks of female sailors.

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