The Assyrians: Creepy Idol Worshipers!

I find Is. 10.1-19 to be one of the most fascinating passages of Scripture. In it YHWH speaks through the prophet Isaiah saying that he will be using Assyria to judge Israel for her rebellion. YHWH makes Assyria an unstoppable force, yet he is angered by her excessive destruction and brutality! YHWH refers to Assyria as his ax and his club (v. 15), yet he determines to punish them as well because they wrongly thought they did it through their own might. Assyria’s weird role before YHWH God is that the nation is his tool for judgment while also being the object of his wrath.

This raises two questions for me: (1) If Assyria is God’s tool in what sense does God have the right to judge them for doing his work? I have some thoughts here, but I’d like to hear your’s. (2) Does this give us any insight into why various nations win wars and overthrow other nations? Is there any sense in which we can say that God wanted the United States to defeat Iraq while at the same time realizing that doesn’t make the United States favored by God, but only his tool for some greater purpose in his plan?! How do you respond?