When it’s time to support or oppose an overseas war that’s not based on any conventional ideas of self-defense, you start hearing some exotic theories that sort of manufacture self-defense. There is famously the “flypaper” theory popular during the original Afghan and Iraq wars whereby potential terrorists are “pinned down” by American military action when they might otherwise be plotting to blow up buildings and people right here in the USA. There’s the “Aiyeee!” theory, which can be credited to Sen. Lindsey Graham, that holds we are DOOMED OH MY GOD WE’RE DOOMED to be struck down by terrorists unless we kill every one of them where they live.

Last weekend we had a nice articulation of a very different kind of theory from once and possibly future presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, at a Stand For Israel Rally being sponsored, oddly enough, by the Concerned Women for America, the Christian Right group founded by Beverly LeHaye (wife of Left Behind co-author Tim) that’s mainly focused on battling feminists. Here’s Huck (as quoted at Christian Right journalist David Brody’s site):

If Israel falls, if we stand back and allow them to be attacked, to be destroyed, and by the way I don’t really worry that that is going to happen because I do believe that before that were to happen, God’s hand would intervene and the world will see that God will keep His promise to Israel, but if America doesn’t stand with Israel when those who seek to attack it get close to destroying it, then I do believe this: God will remove His hand from us.

In case you don’t follow the reasoning here, U.S. support for Israel up to and including a potential war won’t actually protect the Jewish State, because God’s already taken care of that. But if America fails to do its divinely appointed duty in “standing up” for Israel, then God will “remove his hand [of protection] from us,” exposing us to terrorist wrath.

Now put aside the theology here and ask yourself a question: if you’re Bibi Netanyahu and Mike Huckabee is President of the United States and you know he’s said things like this, what incentive do you have to be the least bit prudent with respect to your relations with your neighbors? There’s nothing you can do that will risk maximum American support, because POTUS thinks his country’s ability to hold off terrorists is strictly a function of how avidly he supports you! God’s literally told him you can do no wrong!

If Huck does run for president again, he really needs to be called out on this sort of thing. I think a lot of reporters either bought his genial bass-playing jokester persona in 2008, or did’t take religion seriously enough to understand what he was talking about.

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Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.