Shock and Awe

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This week the inventor of the most deadliest assault riffle died. This machine has been used in various ways for the past 60 years. The Kalashnikov-AK47 is a very powerful weapon. However, it is not the most powerful weapon that exists to impact the change one desires to create.

Throughout history various tactics aimed at shocking the opponent or enemy have been used. From the massive armies of great empires to tactics used by small rebel groups, having something that can leave a lasting impression of fear has managed to find its way into history books again and again.

Some of these examples can be found in biblical books. In the book of  Joshua we learn about the siege and concor of the city of Jericho. After marching around the city in silence for 7 days Joshua orders the horns to be blown. And as the story is told, the  walls came tumbling down.

However the biblical text devotes the greatest amount of verses and chapter to describe the campaign taking by God to bring attention to God’s will of taking the Israelite’s out of Egypt.

One can ask if God was able to bring down the rain to destroy all of creation in the days of Noah in just 2 chapters in the book of Genesis why does the biblical text devote 14 chapters in the book of Exodus? Further exploration of commentary on the Noah story informs us that building the ark lasted for over 100 years. In that case it seems that God was not using the quick 7 day approach used in Jericho.  However, in Exodus,  we follow a pretty quick progression of 10 plagues and one  major storm  by the Sea of Reeds to completely convince the Egyptians that things must change.

The question on why God hardens Pharaoh’s heart will not be answered here. In looking at the order of the plagues one can see direct military tactics used to overwhelm the Egyptians both mentally and physically. At first the water source is cut off. Next loud and frightening noises are introduced. Next fire balls from the sky, isolation of food resources, disease inflicted on humans and livestock and finally to top it all, death of a selected “privileged” (first born). Finally, by the sea, the final blow is made by washing on the shore the dead Egyptian soldiers who were in pursuit of the Israelites.

We know  that military tactics continue  to be used to this day. Back in 2003 the US and its allies used them in Iraq. In other conflicts in the Middle East we have been close to seeing stronger intervention. Yet, past military lessons may have been enough of a deterrent for Syria to decide and avoid a military campaign with US forces and decide to dismantle their chemical weapons.

It is sad that political war mongers in countries such as North Korea and Iran continue to cause us to look and reflect at the words of the Bob Dylan song- Masters of War.  Nelson Mandela said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Perhaps we can all help to educate the masters of war to change their tactics and eliminate the need for these war games.

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