From the The Review of Faith and International Affairs
Winter 2006, I found an interesting perspective on foreign policy that is worth thinking about. It's from Scott M. Thomas
, an economist at the University of Bath and author of The Global Resurgence of Religion and the Transformation of International Relations
. He explores "Isaiah's vision of human security": "Isaiah's famous oracle (Isaiah 2:4-6) is embedded in a religious narrative that expresses Isaiah's theology of international relations. This theology shows how cultural and religious authenticity is related to peace, security, and economic development. Isaiah's narrative is about the decay of Israel's religious life, not the absence of a religious life as in a modern secular society. Isaiah is concerned about the decay, corruption, and distortion of genuine religion by a people who think they are being religious and fulfilling the demands of worship and Torah obedience (Isaiah 1:2-6; 2:6-22; 3:1--4:1; 5:1-7, 8-30). Yahweh's judgment of their disobedience through Isaiah's oracles focuses on the paradox of how an outwardly 'religious' nation in terms of ritual and public worship can be, from Yahweh's perspective, a godless nation. Dramatically, Isaiah asks, how can a people truly worship Yahweh when they have blood on their hands? They lack knowledge, discernment, or understanding of what is really going on in domestic and international politics because they are no longer trained by the Torah to interpret the world in this way (Isaiah 1:16; cf. 10:6; 29:13-14)."
For Thomas this then begs the question: "What is Judah or Israel (for)? This is the question underlying Isaiah's prophesying. By analogy today we might ask, what is the United States (for)? Or the European Union? Or any modern political entity that wields power? These are questions of identity and significance, and social constructivists have shown us that choices in foreign policy cannot be reduced to problems in quandary ethics. A state has to have a national self before it can have a national interest.
What kind of polity does a people seek for itself in the world, and what kind of world does it seek for its polity? Questions of meaning, identity, and foreign policy are inextricably bound up.
"Isaiah's criticism of Judah's foreign policy occurs because its rulers have a narrow conception of national security that underplays the importance of cultural authenticity for genuine human development. They sell out their birthright and abandon their responsibility to promote shalom, settling for the immediate gratification of idolatry, political stability, and material prosperity.
All this occurs in a society that while it claims to be living by the Torah and truly worshiping Yahweh, is really based on injustice and economic oppression. Does this sound familiar?"
“Isaiah’s Vision of Human Security.” is rumored to be published in Swords into Plowshares: The Prophet Isaiah and International Relations Theory
edited by Raymond Westbrook and Raymond Cohn, in 2007 from Palgrave Macmillan
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