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By David Bachelor, PhD
Pastor, Pearsall 1st Methodist Church
There is a story in the headlines this week that employs circular logic. According to Al Jazeera, Vice-President Kamala Harris is going to Vietnam to convince Vietnam that the U.S. will never do another pullout in Vietnam like it did the last time the U.S. was in Vietnam. The event that has both the Vietnamese and the Vice President thinking about how U.S. forces left Vietnam in 1975 is the way U.S. forces are currently evacuating Afghanistan. Yun Sun, co-director of the East Asia Program at the Stimson Center think tank told Reuters, “The concern is one day when the United States determines you are no longer as important, they can just pack up and leave and there is nothing you can do about it.” Vice-President Harris hopes to assure Vietnam (and the rest of Southeast Asia) the U.S. is a dependable ally.
CNN reports that China is presenting an abandonment scenario to Taiwan due to the American skedaddle: “The Global Times, a state-run nationalist tabloid, meanwhile, has repeatedly played up what it described as the ‘unreliability of US commitment to its allies,’ suggesting the self-governing island of Taiwan could face the same fate as Afghanistan in the event of conflict with China.” In the August 16 editorial in the Global Times the writer proposes “The U.S. would have to have a much greater determination than it had for Afghanistan, Syria, and Vietnam if it wants to interfere [in a Chinese invasion of Taiwan].”
The Bible says there is nothing new under the sun (Ecc 1:9). The charges levied by Chinese media against the U.S. were made by the Assyrians against the Egyptian empire over two thousand years ago. In this instance, the Assyrians wanted to sow doubt in the hearts of the Israelites. The Assyrian ambassador told the King of Israel, “Look, I know you are depending on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces the hand of anyone who leans on it! Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who depend on him” (2Ki 18:21). The Assyrian ambassador did not just disparage the commitment of the Egyptians, he also told the Israelites not to trust in their God for deliverance (2Ki 18:35). While the ambassador was correct concerning Egyptian support, he was wrong about God’s commitment to His people. God sent His angel into the Assyrian camp to destroy its army and God had the Assyrian king assassinated by his own sons (2Ki 19:35 & 37). God’s intervention kept the King of Israel from getting splinters in his hand.
Vice-President Harris has a much tougher job than the Assyrian ambassador. Not only are the events in Kabul reenforcing the arguments made by the Chinese government, but there are still many people living in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) who still have “splinters” in their hands from 1975. The Vietnamese may come to learn the only One who is totally dependable is God.