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Inside Washington

What happens in the halls of national government – for better or for worse – can dictate the future course of America. Along with your fellow Prayer Team members, you are to be constantly and fervently interceding for all the men and women who serve in Congress, for your military leaders in the Pentagon, and for the President of the United States, his cabinet and administration.

“Inside Washington” will equip you to do just that … with reports on the nation’s leaders and the decisions they’re considering … or have already made. We’ll examine the implications for the nation, and call you to specific prayer for those needs.

The Adventure of the Final Problem

Inside Washington

The recent chapter in Russia and America's worrisome story

By Louie Christensen

Can you imagine Sherlock Holmes without Professor Moriarty? You may be able to extract pieces of Sherlock’s brilliance from what remains, but without his nemesis’s criminal ring Sherlock would be stuck searching for lost pets and purse snatchers. That’s what makes the relationship so intriguing.

It may seem trivial to compare a geo-political struggle to a literary duel, but the chess game between the United States and Russia often feels like something out of an international political thriller. The two seem destined to clash.

To see how the rise and fall of Al Qaeda and the recent surge of ISIS has overshadowed America’s long standing history with Russia, you need look no further than Hollywood. In the 80s or 90s if you read the movie tagline "militant group holds business tower hostage," the villain would have undoubtedly been Russian (i.e., Diehard). The same tagline today would obviously conjure images of a terrorist extremist group (i.e. London Has Fallen). This shift is bigger than the silver screen; it has made it very difficult for Americans to correctly grasp the real problem with Syria.

For the Pentagon, the solution for a foreign leader who has proven to be unable or unwilling to control a rising militia that threatens national security writes itself: invade country, overthrow leader, stabilize country, install new leadership. You’d think the Pentagon is avoiding that plan since it failed in Iraq, but the bigger issue keeping Washington from executing its go-to move is that Syria’s leader, President Bashar al-Assad, is backed by Russia. That factor has left Washington with its hands tied, as boots on the ground could be easily conveyed by Russia as direct threat to the Syrian government. U.S. leaders have declared that their patience is at an end with Moscow, meaning the chance of a Syrian ceasefire backed by two world powers has seemingly come and gone.

If Washington weren’t nervous enough, last week Russian President Vladimir Putin made two rather large moves. First, Putin signed a decree suspending an agreement with the United States to dispose of weapons-grade plutonium—thirty-four tons of weapons-grade plutonium. Putin cited recent U.S. led sanctions of Moscow (in the wake of Russia’s actions in Ukraine) as cause enough. Putin’s second action was striking a pipeline deal with Turkey. It may seem like a small move, but considering Turkey’s neighbors are Syria and Ukraine, a relationship with Turkey may prove to be Russia’s most valuable asset as it vies to control the region.

On top of all this, Russia has chosen to make waves in the U.S. election. This is first time in American history that Russia has been blamed for directly meddling with a presidential election. Russian hackers seem remarkably interested in the DNC, and a few scandals have already been uncovered by cyber attacks. Democratic leaders were quick to point out Trump and Putin’s buddy-buddy relationship, but it is far more likely that Putin is exacting a bit of revenge on Hillary, whom Putin blames for fueling the post-election protests in Moscow in 2011 that accused Putin of rigging the system.

President Obama has announced his cabinet is planning a proportional retaliation against Russia for the hacks. The word "retaliation" is a rather frightening word for those who remember what the term alluded to at the peak of the Cold War, and anyone who grew up with siblings knows that a retaliatory push always welcomes an even harder push back. But, considering the strong moves Russia has been making in the geo-political world, maybe some retaliation is exactly what is needed.

It has been said that true nemeses only exist in literature; Russia proves that is far from reality. A great nemesis falls somewhere between enemy and necessity. Their actions may be repulsive, they may be unquestionably dangerous, but their existence is annoyingly required. For now, these two world powers will continue to exchange strategic moves in this global game of chess: and until Russia and the United States meet atop Reichenbach Falls, the two will be forced to figure out how to co-exist.

As you come before the Lord in prayer this week, meditate on the many "golden" verses found in Proverbs 21, and, particularly, the concluding verse: The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord."

This week pray for America’s geo-political relations. While the relationships with old enemies are becoming stronger than ever, and new enemies pop up every day, it is going to be the relationships with old allies that will decide the fate of the world. Pray against overreaction, and "alpha-dog" territorial inclinations. Pray that the right leaders are elected this fall, and that the Cabinet and Congress are filled with the right men and women for the job.

Louie Christensen has been writing articles, short stories and travel essays for several years. He is a guest teacher for honors English classes at a high school in Tucson and a frequent contributor to the Presidential Prayer Team. Louie currently lives and works in Phoenix as an Account Executive for a major tech company.


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