Tag Archives: Austria

CONTINUING UNCERTAINTY IN EUROPE

Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned from office December 7, 2016 (AFP Photo/Andreas Solaro)
Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned from office December 7, 2016                                     (AFP Photo/Andreas Solaro)

Italy has become the latest country to witness a rejection of the Establishment.   Prime Minister Mateo Renzi’s referendum to simplify government and, at the same time, make it stronger, was turned down by the electorate.   Many interpret this as a vote against Renzi himself.

However, the more interesting vote was in Austria on the same day, Sunday.   A second presidential election was held as the first, earlier this year, was too close to call.   Although the post of president is largely ceremonial, there was a great deal of interest in the vote.   The choice was between a left-of center Green Party candidate and a neo-Nazi.   The latter lost, but got over 46% of the vote.   This will now send shockwaves across the European continent – other countries are also likely to see a resurgence of Nazism (fascism); and it won’t be long before an extreme right-wing party wins at the polls.

Why is this happening, over seventy years after World War II and the defeat of the Nazis?

In an interview with Reuters after Donald Trump’s win, the right-wing Austrian Freedom Party’s candidate, Norbert Hofer made the following comment:

“Wherever the elites distance themselves from voters, those elites will be voted out of office.”  (November 16th)

What started with Brexit and continued in the US presidential election, continues now in Europe – a rejection of the Establishment, the elites that have governed since World War II.   This embraces a rejection of multiculturalism and political correctness.

Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, interviewed on PBS’ Newshour Monday (December 5h), could not understand the return of nationalism in western democracies, at times sounding totally bewildered.   He expressed particular incredulity and disbelief that Norbert Hofer, “a man with Nazi roots,” received over 46% of the vote.   Establishment politicians are clearly concerned about this.

Frankly, we should all be concerned.   The reaction against liberalism is understandable, but a return to the extremism of the 1930’s should also be of great concern.

Europe is important.   The EU is the world’s biggest single economy (see chart below, showing 2014 stats).   If (a BIG if) the 27 (28 minus the UK) countries of the EU unite militarily, the world will have a new super-power, at exactly the time the US seems to be pulling back, with its emphasis on “America First.”

cotd-eu-us-china-india-gdp-ppp

The Italian referendum has also, once again, highlighted Germany’s role as European leader, even dictating policy to other countries. Note the following from Germanforeignpolicy.com:

Newsletter 2016/12/06 – A Time Bomb

ROME/BERLIN (Own report) – Following Italian Prime Minster Matteo Renzi’s defeat in Sunday’s referendum, Berlin is urging Rome to quickly form a “capable government” and resume its adjustment to the German model of austerity.   “The economic problems have to be tackled at the roots,” said Jens Weidmann, head of Germany’s central bank, yesterday.   German financial experts are floating the idea of a cabinet of technocrats, modeled on the Mario Monti government.   Monti ruled for a year and a half beginning in November 2011, without having been democratically elected . . .   It cannot be ruled out that its bank crisis could soon spread to other Italian credit institutions and to German banks.”

It’s not just the government in Berlin that likes to dictate to others. The following shows that Germans themselves have taken a decidedly anti-British turn after the Brexit vote:

“Germans want Merkel to take tough line with UK over Brexit, Körber Foundation poll finds –  (The Guardian, Patrick Wintour, Diplomatic Editor) 

Tuesday 29 November 2016 

“According to the survey, 58% of the public think Berlin should not be open to compromise with Britain over its EU departure and instead think Merkel should take a firm negotiating position, the Körber Foundation poll found.

“There was particular backing for Germany to take a hardline approach with the UK among supporters of Merkel’s own CDU party.”(https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/nov/29/germans-want-merkel-to-take-tough-line-with-uk-over-brexit-poll-finds)

There is growing concern about Germany’s increasing power.

“German militarism is assuming ever more openly aggressive forms. Following the German parliament’s (Bundestag) decision on Friday to massively increase the military budget, a discussion has now been launched about providing the German army (Bundeswehr) with nuclear weapons.”  (World Socialist website, 11/30).

Germany is also likely to turn further to the right politically when a general election is held next year.   The following may seem like a minor concern, but it’s the kind of news that makes voters want somebody else in power:

“A Syrian refugee who claims social benefits in Germany with his four wives and 22 children has sparked debates on social media.”   (RT news)

Concerned about growing anti-Islamic feeling, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced yesterday a ban on the burqa in public places.

If Mrs. Merkel fails to deal with the growing Islamic immigration crisis, voters will turn to other parties.

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IT’S NEVER TOO LATE

Even historian Niall Ferguson has seen the light when it comes to the European Union.   Prior to the Brexit vote, he supported the “Remain” campaign, but has now apologized and said he is supportive of Brexit.  It takes a humble man to say he’s wrong, especially one as well-known as Mr. Ferguson, a Scot who now lives in the United States.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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IS DONALD TRUMP A FASCIST?

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I would be amused if it wasn’t so serious.

The venerable (!) New York Times carried a front-page news story on Sunday that had “Trump” and “fascism” in the title.

Fascism is defined as follows:  an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.

Donald Trump has many faults, but he can hardly be called a “fascist.”

Fascist countries in World War II included Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Croatia and Japan, all of which invaded other countries or practiced genocide, or both.   I can’t see that happening under Mr. Trump.

The US constitution has been in effect for over 200 years.  Except for a major hiccup known as the Civil War, it’s worked quite well.   The checks and balances in place have been quite effective.   It will be hard for a President Trump (or a second Clinton) to rule in an authoritarian manner, no matter how authoritarian the candidate might sound now.

The NYT should be careful what it writes (that would require a change in editorial policy in itself!) and not be frightening people.

Other media outlets in the last few days have chosen to use words like “Trump” and “violence” in the same sentence, when covering Trump rallies.   But, please note, the violence is caused by those opposed to Trump.   TV coverage shows most have been immigrants who fear he will send them all back to their country of origin.

Instead of throwing gasoline onto the fire, why can’t our TV news programs and the New York Times, show where the Republican presidential candidate is wrong.   They could actually do this in an intelligent debate.   Admittedly, less people would be inclined to watch, so ratings would suffer, which is what it’s all about.

But Mr. Trump needs to be pinned down on foreign policy, especially. His understanding of international relations could result in the US losing its allies, in which case the President of the United States would no longer be “the Leader of the Free World.”   His proposals on trade could actually make things a lot worse.   A history lesson on the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Act would be a good place to start.

There are some good reasons not to vote for Donald Trump; just as there are good reasons not to vote for Hillary Clinton.   The moniker (no pun intended):   “crooked Hillary” is not without merit.    Check out the book “Clinton Cash” by Peter Schweizer:   “The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich” (2015).

Neither candidate would have made it under a parliamentary system.

If there are good reasons not to vote for either Trump or Hillary, then perhaps it’s time not to vote at all!

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Alex Haley’s novel “Roots” was turned into a highly successful 1977 TV mini-series.   A new version is showing on The History Channel this week.

The original series did not improve race relations.

Supposedly, Haley traced his ancestry back to The Gambia.

Some years later, research by a historian proved that Haley could not have done that.   In fact, his book was not a novel based on fact, but, simply, just a novel.   Of course, when this was revealed it was on page 17 of the New York Times!

So far, we have not been told that the new series is also fiction and that Haley could not trace his genealogy back very far.

Whether it only makes racial tensions worse remains to be seen.

The slavery depicted in “Roots” was horrible.   So is the slavery of today.   According to UNESCO a few years ago, slavery is now back in every single African nation.   When will one of our television companies make a series on that?

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Race relations are set to deteriorate further in South Africa after the country’s parliament passed a Land Reform bill that will enable the president to effectively confiscate white-owned farmland to promote equality.

“South Africa has passed a bill criticized by some opposition parties and farming groups that allows the compulsory purchase of land in the public interest.

The bill, approved by parliament on Thursday, will enable the state to pay for land at a value determined by a government adjudicator and then expropriate it for the “public interest,” ending the willing-buyer/willing-seller approach to land reform.”  (Al-Jazeera, 27th May.)

This may seem progressive in western countries, but it’s actually a big regressive step backwards.

White South African farmers have been highly productive commercial farmers.   That is, they farm on a massive scale.   Black African farmers, by contrast, are subsistence farmers.   They just grow enough for their own families.   It’s a cultural difference.

When President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe confiscated white farmland almost twenty years ago, food production in the country plummeted and the nation’s economy was shattered.   Within a few years, the country was bankrupt and its money worthless.

It will take a while for South Africa to reach that point, but it will come.

The difference between Zimbabwe and South Africa is that the former was helped by South Africa’s agricultural produce during its man-made famine.   South Africa has no such neighbor.   Its people will starve.

A YEAR OF CHANGES

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has repeatedly warned the European Union to stick by a promise of visa free travel for Turks © AFP/File Adem Altan
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has repeatedly warned the European Union to stick by a promise of visa free travel for Turks.     © AFP/File Adem Altan

For centuries the Ottoman Empire posed a serious threat to Europe.   The powerful caliphate ruled from Istanbul was only halted at the gates of Vienna by Catholic forces that did not want to be conquered by Islam.

In the nineteenth century, the Europeans were able to push the Ottomans back, freeing countries in south-east Europe that had been ruled for centuries by the Ottoman Sultan. At the end of World War I, the Ottoman Empire, after more than six centuries, collapsed and was replaced by the Turkish Republic.

Now Europe is granting visa-free travel to the 80 million citizens of Turkey, meaning that the descendants of the Ottoman conquerors will be allowed into Europe whenever and wherever they want.

Another interesting development at the other end of Europe is the election of the first Muslim mayor of a major European capital.   In London, Sadiq Khan, the son of Pakistani immigrants, is taking over from conservative Boris Johnson, presiding over one of the world’s greatest financial centers.

By the looks of things, Europe is not going to put up a fight against the latest Muslim invasion.

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At the same time, the London Stock Exchange is coming under German control.   Even if the UK votes to leave the EU, that won’t change – the country will still lose a great deal of its independence.

David Cameron, the British prime minister, in calling for Britain to remain in the EU, expressed the opinion today that whenever Britain withdraws from Europe, it leads to war.   This is a perverse interpretation of British history.   As one commentator put it on the BBC World Service this morning, “He’s got it the wrong way round.”

Britain maintained its distance from Europe after the country broke away from the Roman Catholic Church in the sixteenth century.   The country chose the open sea over the neighboring continental land-mass and only got involved in European affairs when a dictator arose trying to conquer the continent.  Wars were fought against Louis XIV, Napoleon, the Kaiser and Hitler.

It wasn’t until 1973 that this policy changed, when the country entered what became the EU and turned its back on the Commonwealth it had built up over centuries.

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Meanwhile, on the mainland, changes are taking place.

The Austrian Chancellor (prime minister) resigned today, as he no longer enjoyed the support of his party, the Social Democrats.

His resignation follows on the partial victory of the right-wing Freedom Party’s candidate for the role of president, largely a ceremonial role.   There is to be a second round of voting which is expected to assure his assuming office.

Austria, like a number of European countries, is in a state of turmoil following the arrival of well over a million “refugees” from Syria and other countries.   There is a growing fear of Islamization.   Extremist parties are gaining momentum, promising to do something to stop the invasion and to ensure the preservation of their national way of life.

It’s definitely a year of change for Europe.

A Brexit (British exit from the EU) could trigger off changes across the continent.  The EU itself may fall apart;  the unity of the United Kingdom could be threatened; David Cameron would likely have to resign; other countries might want to vote on withdrawing from the European Union.

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A final amusing note comes from Australia. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has asked the Governor-General (Queen Elizabeth’s representative in the country) to disband parliament before an election in two months.   Two months of campaigning will be a record for Australia – and people are complaining.

They should take note that their American allies have been going through an election for almost a year now and still have six months to go.

Australia anybody?

 

LIES, FALSEHOODS AND MISTAKES

Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem
Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem claimed on Sunday that there was never a Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount.   He went so far as to claim that the “Al-Aqsa mosque was an Islamic mosque since the world was created . . . It was never anything other than a mosque.”

The Grand Mufti is the senior Islamic cleric in charge of Islamic holy places, including the al-Aqsa mosque.

A predecessor of his has also been in the news recently.   The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to blame Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti at the time of World War II, for the Holocaust.   Al-Husseini fled to Germany in 1941 and met with Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Joachim Von Ribbentrop and other Nazi leaders.   He wanted to persuade them to extend the Nazis’ anti-Jewish program to the Arab world.   The implication in what Netanyahu said is that Hitler simply wanted to expel the Jews (to Palestine), but the Grand Mufti said they should be destroyed.

However, the German government issued a statement claiming full responsibility for the Holocaust, although it’s good to remember that Adolf Hitler was an Austrian.

Anyway, over seventy years later, the Muslim leader of Jerusalem, having learned nothing from history, is claiming the Jews have no historical rights to Jerusalem or anything else in Palestine.

As it happens, I’ve been studying the Old Testament prophetic books of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.   These three men prophesied to the Jews in the post-exilic period.   The Jews, you will remember, were taken into captivity by Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar at the end of the seventh century BC and remained there for seventy years.

In 539 BC, Babylon fell to the Persians, who let those who wanted to, return to the Promised Land.   There, they helped rebuild the 500-year-old Temple of Solomon.

Haggai was very precise in his writings. In chapter 1, verse 1, he writes “In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month……”   Bible commentaries and marginal notes will tell you the exact day this was written, in our Roman calendar.   It was August 29th, 520 BC.

In the second chapter, again he was very exact.  ”In the seventh month, on the twenty-first of the month, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet…”   This equates to October 17th of the same year, 520 BC.   Haggai then asks the “remnant of the people” (those who had returned from captivity):   “Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory?”   It is thought that Haggai himself remembered the temple prior to its partial destruction by Nebuchandnezzar’s conquering army.   He now appealed to the people to help rebuild it.

None of the above is likely to convince the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem that there was a Jewish Temple centuries ago.

However, it should be pointed out to him that, amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls found shortly after World War II, were fragments of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.   All were dated from the second and first centuries Before Christ.

Islam did not come on the scene until the seventh century After Christ (A.D.)   Arabs took control of Jerusalem in 638 and built the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 705.

The claim that the Al-Aqsa mosque has been there since creation is ridiculous.   It’s also political – the real aim here is to “prove” the Jews have no historical claim to Jerusalem!

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It’s just been announced that Paul Ryan is to be the next Speaker of the House.   Except for one, all eight of the last speakers have been Catholics.   One, Newt Gingrich, converted to Catholicism after his period in office.   Mr. Ryan, aged 45 and the youngest speaker since 1869, takes his religion seriously – before accepting his new office, he wanted a commitment that his new responsibilities would not interfere with his family time.   He goes home every weekend to spend time with the family and to attend church.   He will be sworn in using his personal copy of the New American Standard Bible, which he reportedly uses at weekly Bible studies.   Others should follow his example! (see below)

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“If the public were paying attention, they probably wouldn’t care if Hillary Clinton lied about Benghazi or her emails.   The bar for honesty among politicians is so low that it is no longer news when politicians lie, only when they tell the truth.”  (“Clinton escapes again – with help of committee.”   Cal Thomas, Lansing State Journal, October 30th.)

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CNN International broadcasts “International Desk” every weekday from 10am Eastern time.   The program comes out of London.   Today’s anchorwoman twice referred to problems on the Slovenia-Australian border.   Who moved?  Slovenia or Australia?   The two mistakes were made either side of a commercial break.  You would think that somebody at CNN would have noticed the mistake and told her before she came back on air.   I can only conclude that nobody at CNN actually watches the channel.   This, of course, could be a very good thing!

Meanwhile, millions of people around the world are left unaware that there is a major problem involving refugees on the border of Slovenia and Austria!

REFUGEE CRISIS OR A HIJRAH?

Refugees arrive at the main station in Saalfeld, eastern Germany, on 5 September by train from Austria. Photo: AFP
Refugees arrive at the main station in Saalfeld, eastern Germany, on 5 September by train from Austria. Photo: AFP

In July 1683, troops of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire attacked Vienna.  The number of troops was estimated to be between 90,000 – 300,000.   Catholic forces from Austria, Poland and other countries fought them and kept Vienna a major city of Christendom. They had stopped the advance of Islam at the very heart of Europe.

Last week, roughly three times as many Muslims entered Austria and Germany, enthusiastically welcomed by the descendants of those Catholic forces over three centuries earlier.

This is the triumph of multiculturalism.   People in the West no longer differentiate between the peoples of different nations, religions or cultures.  We are all the same.  Every life must be saved, even when it means taxpayers feeding and clothing them, with the state providing education and medical care.

Germany is at the heart of this mission of mercy.   It’s ironic, but the last time this number of people was being transported by trains from one part of Europe to another was during the Holocaust, when Jews were shipped to extermination camps.   In taking in 800,000 migrants this year, adding 1% to its population of 80 million, Germany is redeeming itself. The country has gone from being a pariah seven decades ago, to being the perceived savior of much of mankind.

Closer to home, in Europe itself, just a few weeks ago Germany was seen as very harsh toward Greece and other debtor nations, but is now extolled for its generosity.   All thanks to Chancellor Angela Merkel!

But, will it last?

The Times of Israel today has a number of front-page articles on Jews being attacked in the UK, the Netherlands, Spain and elsewhere.   A special report highlights increased anti-semitism and Islamophobia in London.   A major article explains why Syrians flee to the West and not to other Arab countries where they are hated and treated very badly.

Ethnic conflict is a major problem everywhere.   History shows that Islam and Christianity are not going to peacefully co-exist.   The Syrians and others joyfully arriving in Munich and Berlin are not likely to assimilate, though they will give a boost to Germany’s economy and help fill the half a million job vacancies in the country. Germany has a low unemployment figure of 4.6% — that’s a real unemployment figure, not to be compared to the US figure, which is calculated very differently.

Already, there are signs of a negative reaction on the part of ethnic Germans.   There was another incident today, of accommodation intended for immigrants burned down by extremists.   According to CNN, “as the number of immigrants increases, so does the number of attacks.   There have been 340 so far this year.”  (“Quest on Business”, CNN International.)   CNN’s Richard Quest warned that the massive influx of new and younger workers could have a depressing effect on German wages.

In the euphoria of the past week’s events, no thought has been given to national security.   Is the migrant surge composed of genuine refugees or is this a hijrah, a mass migration of Muslims to spread Islam to other countries?   This has happened a number of times in history.

From World Net Daily (WND), comes the following:

“To emigrate in the cause of Allah – that is, to move to a new land in order to bring Islam there, is considered in Islam to be a highly meritorious act,” author Robert Spencer wrote.   He cited the following Quranic text:

“And whoever emigrates for the cause of Allah will find on the earth many locations and abundance,” says the Quran. “ And whoever leaves his home as an emigrant to Allah and His Messenger and then death overtakes him, his reward has already become incumbent upon Allah.   And Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful” (Quran 4:100).

And now, looking at Europe and America, a migration invasion of a much greater magnitude is underway.

Evidence of that invasion came in February when an ISIS operative confirmed what many already suspected – the Islamic State is using the refugee crisis to form a fifth column of Muslim fighters inside Western nations.”

The western world has reacted emotionally to the photographs of 3-year-old Alan Kurdi who drowned, along with his 5-year-old brother and mother when their small boat capsized while trying to flee to Europe from Syria.   Voters have put a lot of pressure on leaders to take in more Syrian refugees.   Little thought has been given to the implications of this.

ISIS stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.   The strength of this most extreme of all Islamic militants lies in Syria and Iraq.   Just a few months ago, ISIS said it would send 500,000 of their fighters to Western Europe.   It’s quite likely that many of those terrorists are in the midst of those now being resettled in Europe.   The security implications are dire.

Arabs believe that they are descended from Abraham through Ishmael, the son born of Sarah’s handmaid, Hagar.   The book of Genesis predicted that Ishmael’s descendants would live amongst other descendants of Abraham and pose a major security risk to them.   Note Genesis 16:12:

“He shall be a wild man;
His hand shall be against every man,
And every man’s hand against him.
And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.”

 

WHAT’S BEHIND THE MIGRANT CRISIS?

Immigrants

Hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens have either arrived in Europe in recent months, or will do soon.

There are daily reports of migrants dying in great numbers.  Just today, 71 deaths were reported after an abandoned truck was forced open in Austria.   This number included four children.  It is thought they all suffocated.  It is also thought they came from Syria. Also today, 200 are feared dead after their boats capsized off the coast of Libya.

There has always been a trade in human beings.   The end-time economic system called Babylon, prophesied in Revelation 18, lists the trade in the “bodies and souls of men” as one of the thriving businesses (v.13) that make up the final economic system.  One aspect of this trade is the millions that are being made from “helping” people escape war-zones and get into Western Europe illegally.   There are plenty of people willing to cash in, trading in human misery.

Under international agreements on refugees, people fleeing dangerous situations should go to the nearest country where they can seek help.   Instead, they are routinely going through a number of countries to reach the wealthy, welfare-generous nations of Western Europe.

Not all these arrivals are fleeing from war and upheaval.   Many interviewed on TV news programs are coming from democratic nations that have a free enterprise system.   There is no reason for them to migrate, except the desire to better themselves, by taking advantage of all the freebies available in their new country.

However, some are fleeing from war.   Their lives are at risk.

Although the US is not directly affected by this migrant surge, the wars can be blamed on America.   The refugees are escaping from the continuing carnage in Iraq and Syria, with lesser numbers from Afghanistan and Somalia.   All four of these countries are Islamic – there are plenty of Islamic countries they could migrate to, but instead they want to go to Europe or Australia.

The naïve assumption that American style democracy could be introduced into Islamic countries divided by religious hatreds that go back centuries and with no tradition of tolerance or freedom has bequeathed today’s migrant disaster upon the European continent.

But, naïveté  is not restricted to America.   Many Europeans seem to think they can take in all these refugees and assimilate them into their irreligious social democracies.   This is not going to happen.

What is more likely is that the post-World War II social order in Europe will start to unravel.   Xenophobic right-wing parties are gaining strength with the new arrivals.   Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel was booed when she went to speak at an arrival center for migrants, a center that was earlier burnt down by extremists opposed to their arrival.

European governments seem incapable of handling this crisis, due to the sclerotic administrative structures that comprise the European Union.   Added to which are human rights laws that make it almost impossible to turn anyone away.

But people are starting to demand change.   Anti-immigrant parties are seeing increased support.   The Sweden Democrats are now the largest party in Sweden, the country that has been the most generous in taking in Syrian migrants.   UKIP, the United Kingdom Independence Party, won over 13% of the vote in the recent British election.   France’s National Front is expected to do well in the next French election.

It should be noted that Donald Trump is capitalizing on similar anti-immigrant feeling in the US.   People in many western countries feel their way of life and culture are threatened with so many migrants.

When Jesus Christ said of the end-time that “nation will rise against nation” (Matthew 24:7), He was predicting increased ethnic conflict. The Greek word for “nation” is ethnos, a reference to ethnic groups rather than political entities.

The primary causes of migration are ethnic and religious conflict; in turn, the migrants are bringing ethnic and religious tensions into their new countries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOMAGE TO AUSTRALIA

 

Australian soldiers at Galipoli
Australian soldiers at Gallipoli

The Woman in Gold is a movie that’s showing in cinemas right now.   It tells the true story of an elderly American Jewish lady who takes the Austrian government to court to reclaim a family painting that was stolen by the Nazis during the 1938 Anschluss, when the vast majority of Austrians welcomed Adolf Hitler’s annexation of his home country.

The movie stars Helen Mirren as the elderly lady and Ryan Reynolds as her lawyer.

In one scene, Reynolds is sending a package to the Austrian government from somewhere in Los Angeles.   The man behind the desk commented on how he had always wanted to go to Austria.   His daughter, he added, loves kangaroos!

He’s not the only person who is ignorant of Australia.   Americans, in particular, have difficulty telling the difference between an Australian and a British accent.   I’ve often had people ask me which part of Australia I come from. Unlike many of my compatriots, this does not upset me – I consider it a great honor to be taken as an Aussie.   If I were 24, instead of 64, I would move there.   Australia has an American lifestyle without the frenetic pace that makes life in the US so stressful.

Tomorrow, April 25th, is Australia’s special day – ANZAC Day, a commemoration of Australia’s losses in the wars of the last century. ANZAC stands for the “Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.”

It’s exactly a hundred years since the great battle that was a defining moment for the new countries.   Australia became a Dominion of the British Empire in 1901; New Zealand in 1905. Dominion status meant they were independent but still a part of the Empire, which was transforming into a Commonwealth, united in a common loyalty to the Crown, fulfilling the biblical prophecy of “a multitude of nations” (Genesis 48:19), descended from the patriarch Joseph’s son, Ephraim.

When the British went to war in August 1914, these two dominions, together with the other dominions and colonies of the Empire, went to war as well.   The Australians quickly took over German territories in the Pacific.   But it’s the Battle of Gallipoli, which is remembered most and commemorated on this day, the day the conflict started.   It was to last over eight months.

Gallipoli is a peninsula in North West Turkey.   It’s sometimes called the Dardenelles.   At the time, Turkey was called the Ottoman Empire. In November, 1914, it made the fatal mistake of allying itself with the two central European empires, Germany and Austria-Hungary, against Great Britain and its allies.   Less than ten years later, the Ottoman Empire collapsed and was replaced by the Turkish Republic.   The founder of the republic was Kemal Ataturk, who was one of the military commanders on the Ottoman side at Gallipoli.

The battle was a military disaster for the Allies. Australians, New Zealanders, the British and French all fought there and lost a great number of men, many on the first day when soldiers were landed on a thin strip of beach, looking up cliffs at Ottoman positions, cannon fodder for the enemy.   They fought valiantly.   Ataturk afterwards talked of their bravery.   Turkey’s president is hosting a commemoration today, a gathering of world leaders including Prince Charles and Prince Harry.   Harry is currently serving with the Australian military.   Commonwealth ties remain, even though they have been weakened in recent decades.   The prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand laid wreaths.   The President of Ireland was also present, a reminder that Ireland was then a part of the United Kingdom and lost many of its native sons in this battle.

74,000 Anzac troops fought at Gallipoli. 10,000 died.   To understand the full impact of that loss, let’s remember these were troops from two new countries, that were thinly populated.   At the time, the United States had just over 100 million people, the UK 40 million. Australia’s population in 1915 was under five million.   New Zealand’s was a little over one million.   To compare the losses to the US, we need to multiply the figures by twenty.   The 10,000 dead was the equivalent of 200,000 American losses, or 80,000 British servicemen.

The British lost 25,000 at Gallipoli, out of a total of 350,000 men.   The French also suffered heavy losses, 10,000 out of 79,000 men.

On the other side, the Turks lost 86,000 out of 400,000 combatants.

The figures are staggering, far greater than losses suffered in recent conflicts.

And the sobering reality is that the war was so unnecessary.   Some wars were unavoidable – World War Two, for instance, when the Western powers had to defeat the evil of fascism.   Ironically, if World War One had not been fought, there would have been no World War Two.

If the Ottoman Empire had not been defeated, its constituent territories would not have been carved up, ultimately creating the modern Middle East.   The ripple effect of that first global conflict of the twentieth century continues to this day.   The wars we are fighting now all originated in World War One.

Australia, it should be noted, is the only country to have fought in all these conflicts from beginning to end.   Gallipoli was just the start (in fact, Australians had been fighting in the Empire’s wars even before independence).   Australia was always ready to fight alongside the British to preserve freedom in a dangerous world. After World War Two, when America became the pre-eminent power, Australians fought alongside Americans in all America’s wars.

The land down under is an under-appreciated country.   It’s time to publicly pay homage to a great nation that has done so much for the western world.

Let’s remember and give thanks for their many sacrifices on this ANZAC day.