Last July, hackers infiltrated the Democratic National Committee’s computer servers and released embarrassing emails that led to the resignation of the DNC’s chairwoman and her top staff. Weeks before the election, hacked emails from the computer of Hillary Clinton’s top campaign manager made public the inner workings of the campaign and speeches she had given to Wall Street banks.
Now some CIA analysts have apparently concluded that Russians were behind these leaks and intended to use them to help Mr. Trump get elected. The FBI is not as certain, telling lawmakers that Russian goals are “not clear” and calling the CIA’s evidence “fuzzy” and “ambiguous.”
Mr. Trump has dismissed these allegations, which his campaign manager calls “laughable and ridiculous.” Many of his supporters see these charges as attempts to undermine his election and legitimacy. According to this morning’s New York Times, “there is no evidence that hackers, from Russia or elsewhere, tampered with the vote tallies.”
My purpose this morning is not to offer a position on Russia’s alleged activities and motivations. Rather, it is to explain why such actions—and the response to them in Washington—are so unsurprising.
George Friedman’s The Next 100 Years has made popular a geopolitical interpretive tool known as the “metanarrative.” In simplified terms, this approach argues that nations have a broad, historic purpose, a “north on the compass” or cultural DNA that explains their past and motivates their present.
For instance, it can be argued that Iran’s metanarrative is to re-create the Persian Empire. If so, we should see its quest for nuclear power (and perhaps nuclear weapons) in this context. Turkey wants to rebuild the Ottoman Empire, which explains its expansionist actions in recent years. Saddam Hussein spoke openly of reconstituting the Babylonian Empire with himself as its Nebuchadnezzar (he even made coins with his image on one side and the fabled conqueror’s image on the other).
Russia’s metanarrative is to rebuild the Russian Empire, one of the most powerful the world has ever seen. Vladimir Putin has made clear his desire to reclaim Mother Russia’s position on the world stage. His inner circle even calls him “Tsar.” (For more, see my The life and faith of Vladimir Putin.)
If Russia’s goal is to enhance its global power, we should not be surprised that it would do what it can to weaken the geopolitical status of its greatest competitor, the United States. We should not be surprised that those who oppose President-elect Trump would use the CIA’s allegations to undermine his position. And we should not be surprised that his supporters would dismiss such charges. Each would be acting according to their metanarrative, their larger mission and purpose.
Just as each nation has a metanarrative, so does each person. As I noted yesterday, we each have a higher power, an “ultimate concern,” a mission we’re trying to fulfill in life.
Jesus’ metanarrative was clear. He launched his ministry with the proclamation, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). He called us to “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33) and to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
We advance God’s kingdom to the degree that we make God our King. We know that God is our King when we do what he says whether we want to or not. Otherwise, he may be our Father or our Counselor, but he is not our King.
Will God be your King today?
Publication date: December 13, 2016
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