OBAMA’S AFRICAN VISIT

Barack-Obama-Kenya

Only an African-American president could say it and get away with it!

President Obama on his visit to Kenya and Ethiopia was able to pointedly criticize African leaders for their corruption, human rights abuses, abuse of power and unwillingness to ever relinquish office.

Nobody could accuse him of racism.

Mr. Obama said things that have long needed to be said.

In contrast to his speeches on the Middle East, which are always filled with controversy and generally seem to make things worse, his speeches in Nairobi and Addis Ababa could only upset Africa’s corrupt leaders.   Ethiopian primary school teacher, Hikma Lemma had just one regret:  “He took too long to come.”   (“In Ethiopia, a cry for basic freedoms,” USA Today, July 28th.)

Things will not change quickly.  Indeed, they may not change at all, but it was still good to hear the president address these basic issues.

“Ethiopia jails the most journalists in Africa after Eritrea, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.   Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned the country’s human rights record.   And in May, the State Department expressed concern over how the elections that month could result in all seats being won by the ruling party and its partners.   The department noted lingering ‘restrictions on civil society, media, opposition parties, and independent voices and views.” (ibid, USA Today).

At the start of his African trip, Mr. Obama spoke candidly to Kenyans, warning them against the twin evils of corruption and tribalism.  He could have addressed both issues in any of Africa’s 54 countries and his listeners would generally have applauded him. Only the leaders would have sat stone-faced and emotionless, probably wishing they had invited the Chinese leader to visit instead of the American president.   China, much more involved in Africa, does not comment on human rights abuses or corruption.

Boldly, Mr. Obama even addressed the persecution of gays in Africa. Most African governments deny that homosexuality even exists in their countries.   Certainly, all governments are guilty of a double standard in this regard.   At least one country has a prominently displayed sign in its airport warning “perverts and sexual deviants” to stay away, but saying nothing about the many prostitutes offering themselves in all the hotels.

In Addis Ababa, Mr. Obama addressed delegates of the African Union, whose headquarters are in Addis Ababa.   Introducing him was the Chairwoman of the AU, who did not always tell the truth. She criticized the United Nations because Africa is the only continent that does not have a permanent representative on the Security Council.   In actual fact, neither South America nor Australia are represented, either.

The US president expressed incredulity that any president would want to serve indefinitely.  He said he is looking forward to retirement and being able to go places without a massive security detail.  He said it was particularly difficult to understand when so many African presidents have so much money, another reference to corruption, enabling leaders to amass great wealth while their people go hungry.   Unwillingness to leave office is also linked to corruption – African presidents fear being investigated for corruption when they stand down.

Underscoring his points was the absence of the current AU Chairman Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, one of the richest men on earth.   Mr. Mugabe has been president of his country since independence in 1980, presiding over a number of rigged elections.

Mr. Obama mentioned, too, that Americans don’t want to keep on sending Africa free food, but would rather teach Africans how to farm more efficiently.   He could have added that the continent would do well to encourage western (white) farmers to remain in Africa, as their farming skills produce greater crop yields.   Zimbabwe was once the grain basket of Africa – it’s people now go hungry because Mr. Mugabe evicted the white farmers.

Western reporters were also guilty of not telling the whole truth. Much was said during coverage of the African visit about what America is doing for Africa, with some focus on a program to help those with AIDS, a disease that, in Africa, is transmitted almost exclusively by heterosexuals.   Not once did I hear mention of the fact that the program was the initiative of George W. Bush, Mr. Obama’s predecessor.   With this one single program, he did more for Africa than any other president.

It would be nice to think that, with this one single visit to Africa, President Obama might accomplish something else on a grand scale – the end of corruption, together with real progress toward greater democracy.   The two together would boost the living standards of the entire continent.

It remains to be seen whether his visit will make a difference.   But his candid comments were certainly a good start!

 

TRUMP ON IMMIGRANTS

trump1-061615

Donald Trump has hit a nerve!

What he said was decidedly politically incorrect, but many people clearly feel the same way.   Mr. Trump is now leading the Republican pack in the opinion polls.

His comment on the need to do something about illegal immigrants following the murder of a 32-year-old woman in San Francisco by an illegal who has been deported five times was roundly condemned in the liberal media and by the other candidates.

Hillary Clinton was one of those condemning the comment.   She needs to think more deeply.   She is in favor of granting citizenship to the eleven million illegal aliens in the United States.   At the same time, she is trying to sell herself as the leading candidate to represent the working-man, the very people most threatened by immigrants.

Some immigration is needed.  America’s education system does not produce enough people with the skills to serve the country.   But millions have arrived on these shores who end up at the bottom of society, competing for low wage jobs with the working poor.   This includes many African Americans, another group Mrs. Clinton, a multi-millionaire, likes to think she represents.

The best thing she could do to raise their standard of living, to create jobs and boost incomes, is to advocate curbs on immigration.   If that’s what people want, they would be better dumping Hillary for the Donald.

It’s not just illegals that are the problem.

Five men are dead and others critically injured, leaving a number of children without a father, following shooting incidents in Chattanooga by a legal immigrant from Kuwait.  To put it simply – if this man’s family had not been allowed into the country, five American families would not be going through bereavement right now.   And about a dozen children could still play with Daddy.

The perpetrator of the Chattanooga murders was a Muslim, likely influenced by ISIS, which is calling on supporters to go out and kill men in uniform.

Another Muslim immigrant from Jordan, murdered thirteen Americans in an attack at Fort Hood in November, 2009.

Of course, the biggest attack by Muslim immigrants was on September 11th fourteen years ago when 3,000 were killed.

It’s not just Muslims who do these things.  A young immigrant from South Korea killed 38 Americans, mostly students, at Virginia Tech in 2007.   Again, if he had not been allowed into the country, 38 families could still look forward to their sons and daughters coming home for the holidays.

Of course, it’s not just immigrants that commit murder.   That’s not the point.  A responsibility of government is to do everything possible to guarantee the safety of the people, within the confines of our laws and traditions.  Most people do not want to lose their freedoms to accomplish this.

Our lax immigration laws do not add to our safety.   Rather, they do the opposite, endangering all Americans every single day –we do not know where the next attack is coming from.

It’s widely believed that immigration built this country.   This overlooks the fact that there have been periods in US history when immigration was restricted.   In theory, it still is.  But today’s “restriction” is very generous – well over a million a year, mostly legal immigrants.

Clearly, a national debate is needed on this subject.   This is unlikely to come from any of the presidential candidates, other than Mr. Trump.

Any debate must include a study of just how many murders have been committed by immigrants as well as a study of the economic benefits and losses (losses include the cost of educating immigrant children and providing healthcare to families).

Mr. Trump has been greatly criticized for saying Mexican illegals are “rapists.”   Again, reliable facts and figures are needed here.  The United Kingdom has witnessed recent scandals where Pakistani men, all Muslims, have been grooming young white girls for sex. These sexual grooming gangs have operated in a lot of UK towns, most famously Rochdale and Rotherham, targeting 12-year-olds and above.  Local authorities were afraid to say anything for fear of accusations of “racism.”   Cambridge and Sheffield are two other cities affected by this.

There are differences in cultures.   Mr. Trump’s remark may not be so outrageous after all.   Americans should at least be thankful to him for raising the subject.

PEACE IN OUR TIME

obama+chamberlain

President Obama’s peace deal with Iran brings to mind Neville Chamberlain’s visit to Munich in 1938.   That was when he met with “Herr Hitler” and came back waving a piece of paper, proudly proclaiming “peace in our time.”   One year later he had to declare war on Hitler.   A broken man, he died a few months after that.

When hearing assurances of peace in our time, I am not only reminded of Neville Chamberlain.  I also remember the words of the Apostle Paul in I Thessalonians 5:3.  “For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman.   And they shall not escape.”

Whether or not this verse is applicable specifically to the Iran peace treaty remains to be seen.  The Middle East is a very volatile region and the West seems unable to keep its collective nose out of it, so further conflicts are inevitable.

However, involvement by the West is not an essential component of any Mideast conflict.  Regional powers are quite capable of warring amongst themselves.

A root cause of conflict in the region is the Sunni-Shia divide within Islam.  Iran is the leader of the Shi’ite camp, fighting ISIS in Iraq, which is now ruled by Shia Muslims, thanks to western intervention in the country.   Syria’s Assad is another proxy of Iran. Tehran is also supporting Houthi rebels in Yemen against the Saudi backed Sunni Muslims.

The fear of Iran amongst the Sunnis is palpable.   Fear of an Iranian nuclear bomb is inevitably going to lead to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey trying to acquire the same.   Turning to al-Qaeda for help against ISIS is another.  Yes, that’s right – these three countries, allies of the US, are now backing al-Qaeda against the Islamic State! The British  Spectator  magazine has a really good article on this latest development in the current issue.   (“The enemy’s enemy:  how Arab states have turned to al-Qa’eda” by Ahmed Rashid, 18th July).

The other major conflict in the Middle East is the more familiar one between the Jews and the Palestinians.   In modern history this predates Israel’s independence in May, 1948.   The never-ending conflict saw its latest flare up last year when Hamas (supported by Iran) lobbed thousands of missiles at Israeli settlements.   When Israel retaliated to defend itself, world opinion inevitably turned against Israel.

The dispute is not over.  It will flare up again.   As will problems with Lebanese based Hizbollah (also Iranian backed) and the Palestinians on the West Bank.

This can also escalate into a religious dispute.   According to the Israeli Video Network, the Israeli Minister of Housing and Construction, Uri Ariel, called on Friday for the construction of a Third Temple in place of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which sits on the Temple Mount.

“The first Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE, the second Temple in 70 CE, and ever since the Jewish People have been mourning its loss.”

“‘He then went on to say “Al-Aqsa Mosque is currently in place of the temple, despite the temple being much holier than it.   Al-Aqsa Mosque is only the third most holy mosque in Islam.”   “Now that Israel has once again become a Jewish sovereign state, the desire to rebuild the Temple is growing stronger and stronger”, he added.”

Excavations under the Al-Aqsa led to violent demonstrations by Palestinians a few years ago.  Any attempt to replace the Al-Aqsa with a new Temple building would likely provoke World War III!

This does not mean to say that nothing will happen.   As Mr. Ariel said, “the desire to rebuild the Temple is growing stronger and stronger.”

Jerusalem has been fought over more than any other city.   It’s not over yet.   ”When you shall see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that it’s desolation is near” (Luke 21:20).   Jesus said this in response to His disciples asking about future events that would precede His second coming.

These two disputes go back centuries.  Nothing we do today is going to resolve them.   Between them, they daily threaten Mideast peace. If both flare-up at the same time, the whole world could be engulfed in a never-ending conflagration.

A further potential conflict, made more likely by the peace deal with Iran, is a war between Israel and Iran.  Israel’s prime minister has reacted very negatively to the peace treaty.  He is now working on the US Congress to try to get that body to reject the peace treaty.  If that fails, his last option will be to bomb Iran.  An alternative to that is to wait until Iran actually has the bomb and can then attack Israel.

In addition to the three major conflicts that can quickly escalate, there are “minor” conflicts like the civil war in Syria, continuing anarchy in Libya and the possibility of war between Turks and Kurds.

World leaders should be careful proclaiming “peace and safety” (“peace in our time”), lest “sudden destruction “ should come upon them.

WHAT’S BEHIND THE CHATTANOOGA SHOOTINGS?

chattanooga-shooting-suspect-identified-by-police-after-deadly-rampage-1437077801

The deaths of four marines yesterday in Chattanooga, Tennessee, are being described as “an act of domestic violence.”

This is misleading.

IS (Islamic State) has been calling on its supporters to stage random acts of violence against uniformed personnel for months.   Last year, the terrorist organization posted 40,000 posts online every single day; this year, the figure has increased by 500%.   This constant propaganda urging violent acts means we are going to see increasing numbers of incidents like the two we saw yesterday.

Last year, 19 terrorist acts in the West were due to ISIS and ISIS inspired individuals.   This year, the number has jumped to 24 in just six months.

The FBI is trying to determine a motive. Again, this misleads the public.   The motive is always the same – to undermine the West and ultimately to destroy it. ISIS cannot achieve its goal of an Islamic Caliphate unless it brings down the United States and its western allies.

American media, understandably, is focused on what happens in the United States.   But ISIS sponsored or inspired attacks are now occurring regularly in a number of countries.   The town of Gombe in Nigeria was hit yesterday with dozens killed in a suicide bombing. This morning another town suffered an attack, with a smaller number killed.

The Chatanooga attack is the third attack with a link to ISIS, assuming such a link is proven.   The hatchet attack a few weeks ago in New York was the first; the Garland, Texas, attack the second. The third one, in Chatanooga, is the biggest so far.   Nowhere is safe.

This is the new normal.

UNCERTAIN DEALS

Map for deals

Two current international “deals” may yet amount to nothing.

The European Union’s latest deal with Greece, the third bailout of the country in the last five years, may yet fail.

The Greek government may not be able to get the agreement through parliament as it is only going to make austerity harder for the Greek people.

Four bills need to be passed in the next twenty-four hours.   Pensions must be cut; taxes increased; the defense budget slashed and steps taken toward privatizing ports and other government owned enterprises, which it is hoped will cut corruption and make things more efficient.   As the ruling party, Syriza, is very left-wing, there’s a good possibility the parliament will not approve everything.   The Greek population voted against further austerity less than a month ago.

There is concern, too, beyond Greece’s borders.   European creditor countries are fully aware that, even if the Greek parliament approves the agreement, they may not keep their word.   It’s happened before.   This would mean that, in a few months, Greece will be back, asking for a further bailout.

A further set-back occurred this morning when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced that Greece’s debt was “unsustainable” and that the country needs a much greater infusion of cash from the EU.   The EU bailout deal has, at least, united all concerned in the conviction that it won’t work!    The Greek problem is not about to go away.

Then there’s the deal between six western powers and Iran.

The British Guardian Weekly wasn’t sure which deal to put on its front page, Greece or Iran.   Right up to the last minute, Greece was going to be the leader, but then the deal with Iran came through.  The paper decided that the Iranian deal was the more important one, with far reaching implications.   But both deals could have both short-term and long-term negative consequences.

On Iran, the headline on the Fox News website was: “Win for Putin?” Putin has been supportive of Iran, Syria’s Assad and Shi’ites in general.

It’s certainly a win for Iran, which can look forward to the lifting of international sanctions.

The best the West can hope for is that this will buy time, that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons for at least the next ten years, by which time, democracies being as they are, none of those signing the agreement today, will still be in power.   They can, as with so many things, kick the can down the road.

However, even if this presupposes Iran will keep its side of the deal.   That’s no more likely than Greece abiding by the terms of the EU bailout deal.

Anyway, it doesn’t really matter what the West thinks about the Iranian deal.

Israel’s prime minister has described the deal as “a mistake of historic proportions,” that it endangers his country.   He added:  “the more you read it, the worse it gets.”   Iran has been screaming “Death to Israel.  Death to America,” for over 35 years.   A recent demonstration in Tehran showed mobs screaming the same again. Perhaps nobody in Washington has been watching!

But, even Israel is not the country most concerned about the agreement.   The Sunni Arab states are.   Almost certainly, they will see through this agreement and their fears of Shia Iran acquiring nuclear weapons will lead them to acquire the same.   It may take a few years, but they will be driven by a great sense of urgency.   Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt are the three countries most likely to pursue their own bomb, with immediate help from Pakistan, which already has the bomb.   Saudi Arabia certainly has the money for this.

The greatest threat to world peace remains the Sunni-Shia conflict, a struggle that has continued for over thirteen centuries.   Although an Obama Administration spokesman expressed the hope that the Iran deal would help bring a resolution to the ancient conflict, this is at best naïve.   Nothing will end the conflict until the Messiah comes and sorts out the religious mess that is today’s world. Meanwhile, the US will be seen as siding with the Shi’ites against the Sunnis.   Tehran and Damascus must be celebrating at this development.

The Iranian deal brings to mind I Thessalonians 5:3 :  “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail Upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (KJV).

Thankfully, Jesus Christ is returning to end the spiritual confusion. “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.”  (Matthew 24:22).

FINANCIAL CHAOS AROUND THE WORLD

Euro crisis

Wednesday was quite a day on financial markets around the globe.

China’s stock market continued to lose considerable value, down about a third in three weeks.   Uncertainty over the future of Greece within the euro rocked European stock exchanges. And a technical glitch caused problems on the New York Stork Exchange, the world’s biggest.

The latter was resolved before the closing bell.   Greece should be resolved by the weekend.   China, the number two economic power, poses the greatest threat to the world’s economy.   There are increasing fears that the Chinese stock markets are one big giant ponzi scheme, with nothing tangible to support them.

Late Thursday Greece handed over proposals to its European partners that will, hopefully, end the crisis affecting the beleaguered country.

Greece was a member of the euro from the very beginning, using the new European banknotes and coinage from day one on January 1st, 2002.   Today, the euro is used by nineteen European countries. Euro notes are used daily by more people than the US dollar.  The two currencies are the two most important currencies in the world and are used as payment for most international trading.

When Greece joined the euro, it was suddenly able to borrow vast amounts of money, which it did. It was not all used wisely.   Following the crash of 2008, the country soon found itself unable to repay its loans. The dream currency had become a nightmare for the Greek people. Austerity was forced on the country by European bankers, making life very difficult for the average citizen.   Austerity led the country into a downward spiral, which has recently been speeding up.

In January, the left-wing Syriza party won the election, promising an end to austerity.    However, European bankers, anxious to get their money back, want to impose greater austerity as a condition for offering Greece more help.   Without help, Greece will not be able to stay in the euro.

Without a doubt, Greek governments have been reckless.   Government employees can retire at 48 on generous pensions. Corruption is rife, as also is tax avoidance.

Germany is owed 68 billion euros by Greece, France 65 billion (add 10% to get the US dollar equivalent).   Other countries have loaned lesser amounts.   Total Greek debt amounts to 323 billion euros.   Greece is asking for a further bailout of 53.5 billion.

Although there is much talk of the Greek crisis, in a sense this is not about Greece, so much as Germany.   Germany’s conservative government is taking a hard line, refusing to cancel debt or extend further loans.   The Germans want their money back, on time.   Germany’s stance is setting a precedent that will no doubt be repeated if any other country in the eurozone gets into trouble.   Many have pointed out that when Germany was suffering economically after World War II, European finance ministers, including the Greek finance minister, generously cut Germany’s debt by 50%.   If Germany would reciprocate now, Greece would be fine.

The Greek people voted in a referendum a few days ago, rejecting the austerity demands placed on them by Germany and others. However, they still want to remain in the eurozone, which is an apparent contradiction.   If they leave the eurozone, they could restore their former currency, the drachma, but this would cut them off from many of the benefits of the eurozone.   Business loans and mortgages in euros would have to be paid back in ever depreciating drachmas, leading to many foreclosures.  Importers would have to pay upfront in euros, which may be hard to get if Greece leaves the eurozone.

Nobody wants a “Grexit” (a Greek exit from the euro), but it may not be possible to avoid it if the Greeks are unwilling to make the necessary structural changes to keep them in the euro.

This crisis is not the only crisis facing Europe at this time.   The continent is having to work through a number of challenges all at once.

The migrant crisis is the second biggest issue confronting the European Union.   So many people are fleeing from the Middle East and Africa into Europe that social cohesion is becoming a serious issue.   One consequence of this massive movement of people is the rise of right-wing parties opposed to immigration.

Ukraine is a third challenge for Europe.   Russia’s invasion of parts of Ukraine threatens the peace of Europe.

The possibility of Britain leaving the EU comes in at number four.

There’s even a fifth challenge, and that’s the relationship between European countries and the United States.   France and Germany are both upset over the American NSA spying on them and their leaders, even though it’s quite likely they are doing the same to America.

Depending on how each of these issues is resolved, Europe could be very different in the near future.

"Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened." — Sir Winston Churchill

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,421 other followers