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.
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.
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.
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.
There’s an incredible disconnect in the western world right now.
A few days ago, we witnessed the Brussels bombings that killed 35 and sent hundreds to area hospitals. Many are maimed for life.
Then, on Easter Sunday, the world witnessed a deliberate bombing of Christian families in Lahore, Pakistan, that killed more than twice as many people as the bombs in Brussels. Many of the victims were children. Muslims were killed as well as Christians, but the target was a Christian gathering, with the intent to kill as many as possible, especially children. Less than 48 hours later, Sky News in England revealed that ISIS has plans to attack Jewish kindergartens in Turkey. Children have clearly become prime targets for Islamic militants.
Faced with the prospect of more terrorism in the years to come, each attack ratcheting up the intensity and the carnage, an anti-immigrant rally was held in Brussels on Sunday. The rally was quickly condemned as being made up of “hooligans,” “right wing thugs,” “racists” and “neo-Nazis.” None of their concerns was addressed.
Older people know that the West as it is now is the direct result of more than five decades of liberal and leftist thinking that has created the multicultural, mixed race, mixed religions, environment we are now living in. It’s a disaster. Yet the creators of this mess insist on more of the same.
The BBC World Service (radio) Monday broadcast an interview with Dominic Grieve, a British Conservative politician and Member of the Privy Council, therefore very much a member of the British Establishment. He was asked a number of questions relating to security in light of the Belgian attacks, in the series “HardTalk.” His position was predictable, that the vast majority of Muslims, including Syrian immigrants, are appreciative of living in the West and don’t want to cause trouble.
The news then followed with an update on the Pakistani bombing.
It is clear that there is a very anti-Christian element in Islam. The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has promised to defend British Christians against all such threats, but this will be difficult to do when over three million Muslims live in the country.
It’s glaringly obvious to a growing number of people that these two religions cannot mix. But Mr. Grieve implied there is a need for greater efforts to achieve “assimilation.” Somehow, as with everything else, the West is at fault.
The incident in Brussels inspired an article by Raheem Kassam, which appeared in the Middle East Forum. It was originally written for Breitbart, a conservative publication. The title of the article was: “Enough with Teddy Bears and Tears: It’s time to take our civilization back.”
Mr. Kassam writes: “Teddy bears, tears, candles, cartoons, murals, mosaics, flowers, flags, projections, hashtags, balloons, wreaths, lights, vigils, scarves, and more. These are the best solutions the Western world seems to come up with every few months when we are slammed by another Islamist terrorist attack. We are our own sickness.”
This is so true – because we don’t know what to do, or rather because we are afraid to take the necessary steps, we hold all-night vigils, pile up the flowers and the teddy bears, sing “We shall overcome” and promise to tell Muslims that we love them, thinking that will change everything. Even the Pope, for many the leader of the Christian West, prayed for western countries to embrace more refugees on Easter Sunday, rather than clearly condemning the persecution of Christians in Islamic countries. One day later came news that a Catholic priest was crucified on Good Friday by Islamic State.
In 1095, Pope Urban II called for a “crusade” to the Holy Land to end the persecution of Christians. Pope Urban’s reaction to reports of massacres was more understandable than Pope Francis’ reaction a thousand years later.
People in the West today, after seven decades of cultural appeasement, will do anything except fight.
I’m not talking about fighting a war, necessarily. But there’s no fight to even stand up for our ideals, our history, our values, our culture. Instead, we simply wait for the next attack.
Mr. Kassam’s article also said: “Our security services and our police, hamstrung by political correctness, are just as interested (or more?) in rounding up Twitter “hate speech” offenders than criminal, rapist, or terrorist migrants. Our borders are as porous as our brains. We refuse to realize that there are now literally millions of people amongst us who hate us. Who hate our way of life, and who will, one day, dominate our public life.”
The teddy bears that are being left at memorials to suicide bombers owe their origin to President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, whose foreign policy was summed up in the expression “speak softly and carry a big stick!” Diplomacy, in other words, must be backed up by force. Western leaders today seem only capable of speaking softly, if at all.
Breaking news, as I write, has Hillary Clinton criticizing Donald Trump over his wanting to end Muslim immigration. She then asked: “What would that mean for a nation founded on religious freedom?” Mrs. Clinton must know that religious freedom was not extended to Muslims until 1965. Before that, immigration was strictly restricted mostly to people of European descent. It was the Clinton’s friend, Senator Edward Kennedy, who sponsored the bill that liberalized immigration in 1965.
We are building up to a major clash between the Islamic world and the post-Christian West. Today’s Western leader, seems content to do little or nothing. It’s up to the Europeans to save western civilization.
At the weekend, the McLaughlin Group on PBS discussed the Brussels attacks and the responses of US presidential candidates, who seem disillusioned with NATO (whose headquarters are in Brussels) and feel the Europeans need to do more to defend themselves. Germany specifically was mentioned as a wealthy nation that can do more. Note the following:
“On Wednesday, the German cabinet adopted a four year budget plan that would dramatically increase spending on the military, police, and intelligence services.
“German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble (Christian Democrats, CDU) did not mince words at a press conference Wednesday, declaring, “The central points of this budget and finance plan are of course the internal and external security of our country.” (World Socialist Web)
Bible prophecy shows that the reaction to the rising threat from radical Islam is going to come from a union of ten nations in Europe, a union only Germany can lead.
“At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through.” (Daniel 11:40)
Revelation 17 is a chapter about the historical revivals of the Roman Empire. One still lies ahead. “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.” (verses 12 & 13). The “beast” is the supreme European leader of the revived Roman Empire, a European centered union of ten nations with great military power. This power is destined to fill the vacuum left by the United States.
I don’t normally agree with anything Eleanor Clift says on the McLaughlin Group, but this week I did. She told the much younger British regular, Tom Rogan, there was a very good reason why we don’t want to rearm Germany. He was the first one to suggest it. As the post-World War II generation dies off, few will think of World War II and the dire threat Germany and Japan posed to the world. Instead, they will simply say America can’t do it all, rich countries like Germany and Japan should spend more. The result is not likely to be a good one.
Today at 5.30pm British Summer Time, Queen Elizabeth II became the longest reigning monarch in British history, overtaking the record set by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria.
She still has some way to go to pass the longest reigning European monarchs, Austrian Emperor Franz Josef (1848-1916) and France’s Louis XIV (1643-1715). However, the latter doesn’t really count as he was only five when he became “king,” meaning that his mother and Cardinal Mazarin ruled in his place.
Thailand’s current king was crowned in May 1950 so he’s been around even longer than the British monarch.
A PBS documentary on the queen aired last week. The one-hour documentary is available on DVD. It’s part of the “In their own words” occasional series. There was one mistake in the program when a BBC broadcast announcing that “the king’s life draws peacefully to a close” was applied to her father, King George VI, who died in 1952. The recording dates to January 1936 when his father, George V, was dying. The queen’s father was found dead in bed on February 6th, 1952. He had been out hunting the previous day. Elizabeth and her husband were in Kenya, on a tour of the empire, when he died.
The monarchy goes back over one thousand years. It has evolved through the centuries into today’s constitutional monarchy. The system has worked very well, giving Britain and the other Commonwealth realms (which include Canada, Australia and New Zealand) an unparalleled period of political stability, without which economic progress is difficult to achieve.
The very complimentary documentary highlighted Elizabeth’s role as constitutional monarch, using her influence rather than authority in chaperoning the country for over sixty years. It’s been a time of unprecedented change, as was Victoria’s in the nineteenth century.
The program began with then Princess Elizabeth’s 21st birthday broadcast from Cape Town, South Africa. In her own words she pledged herself to serve “the great imperial family to which we all belong,” a reference to the Empire and Commonwealth, which included South Africa.
Immediately after these words were shown on the documentary, a royal expert then added a comment about her lifelong service to Britain.
There’s a blind spot here, which obscures Britain’s incredible decline during her reign. As she is a constitutional monarch, the blame for this decline rests with the politicians, especially the twelve British prime ministers who have served under her. Her Canadian, Australian and New Zealand prime ministers can also share some of that responsibility.
The fact is that the British Empire has gone and its successor, the Commonwealth (the “British” was dropped 50 years ago) is no more than a shadow of what it was. It may not even survive the queen’s passing. The queen remains Head of State of 16 countries and has 138 million subjects. She is also titular Head of the Commonwealth, an organization of 54 former colonies. It remains to be seen if Prince Charles will be able to hold it all together after he succeeds his mother.
Sir John Major, her ninth British prime minister, said in the documentary that throughout all the changes of the last six decades, the queen has been the one “constant” in the country, giving a sense of continuity and stability during monumental and significant changes. This is true, but it hides some painful realities.
The loss of empire saw a rapid decline in global power. The country’s military capability is about one-twelfth of what it was at the beginning of her reign – and continues to decline even under a Conservative administration. The queen’s international role remains at the core of British “soft power,” along with the BBC World Service and British aid. This soft power has replaced the strong military power it used to have.
With the empire gone, Britain entered the European Common Market (now the European Union), which has progressively taken away the UK’s independence. Under the EU’s freedom of movement rules, millions of people from other European countries have been able to move to Britain, changing the composition of the nation’s population.
Added to this has been mass immigration from Commonwealth countries like India and Pakistan.
The changes are so significant, it’s fair to say that the Great Britain she inherited in 1952 and the Great Britain of today are two very different countries. It’s amusing to remember that in 1949, when she was Princess Elizabeth, she spoke out against the evils of divorce. The nation would not take kindly to such comments today and the queen would not be qualified to speak on the subject anyway as her own family has seen a few divorces.
None of this detracts from the great accomplishments of Elizabeth II. She has set an incredible example of service. Her sense of duty is unsurpassed by anybody in any field. In her own personal private life she has set a fine example, never putting a foot wrong.
In many ways, the world was a better place when the Queen ascended the throne on February 6th, 1952 (the Coronation was in June the following year). At that time, she presided over the greatest empire in history. As countries were given independence, all too often they were taken over by self-serving bad leaders who destroyed much of what Britain had accomplished, enriching themselves by stealing from their own people. They were often from the lowest echelons of society, suddenly receiving absolute power, which they abused in every way.
I remember an incident 35 years ago at a time when Ghana, in West Africa, was going through a long period of political instability and economic chaos, I stopped to buy some food at the side of the road. When I opened my wallet, the lady who was selling me the items, saw a British bank note with the portrait of the queen on it. The lady sighed and said: “Ah, Queen Elizabeth. She used to be our queen. Now we have so many presidents, we cannot count them all. And we are in such a mess. And England still has the queen.” Stability is so important.
Two verses in the Book of Ecclesiastes illustrate this so well:
“Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child,
And your princes feast in the morning! “Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles,
And your princes feast at the proper time —
For strength and not for drunkenness!” (Eccl. 10:16-17.)
Britain has been greatly blessed with Elizabeth II as Queen.
The latest example is the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima seventy years ago August 6th.
70,000 people were killed instantly while another 70, 000 died of severe burns within weeks.
The BBC World Service (radio) led with a longer than usual report from Hiroshima. One of their veteran correspondents concluded his report by asking when the United States is going to apologize for what it did seven decades ago.
Particularly disturbing was that a group of university students from Princeton were in Hiroshima for the commemorations yesterday. Those that were interviewed all thought the US should apologize. One even went so far as to say that the US, as the world’s leader, should set everybody an example by dismantling its nuclear weapons, then the others would follow! Fortunately, he is too young to run for president!
If you had any doubts, it’s clear what young people are being taught in schools – the slant is always anti-American. The US is always to blame. Well, not just the US – we will come to that later.
For the record, the dropping of the bombs (a second one was dropped on Nagasaki three days later) ended World War II in the Pacific. Before the atomic bombs there was no hint that the Japanese would surrender. The US would have lost a further 100,000 men, an estimate of how many would die fighting their way to Japan through the jungles of the Philippines and other islands. In addition, thousands of sailors would have died. The USS Indianapolis was sunk just a few days before Hiroshima, with the loss of almost a thousand men.
A second benefit of the bomb is that, seventy years later, no country has used an atomic or nuclear device since. What happened in Japan seventy years ago has made world leaders hesitate before starting something that would lead to massive retaliation on them.
This is likely to change as Mideast nations, starting with Iran, get the bomb. India and Pakistan could also use theirs against each other.
Which brings us to the other nation everybody likes to bash, including Generation Y.
At the time the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the British were still ruling India, which included Pakistan and Bangladesh. After two centuries, they were about to withdraw from the sub-continent. Now, there are increasing calls for reparations. The Oxford Union (Oxford is one of Britain’s two most famous universities) debated the issue last month and voted in favor of reparations. The Indian prime minister has added his own view, demanding the British pay up.
What is interesting here is that the leaders of India’s independence movement did not call for financial reparations – and they were in a much better position to know if reparations were called for.
But they were also aware that the British were responsible for laying a solid foundation throughout India – including one of the best railway systems in the world, a solid infrastructure, parliamentary government, the rule of law, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, the English language, which India’s first prime minister described as “India’s window to the world” and a first-class military, which had served the British Empire well. In addition, the British kept the peace on the North-West Frontier, where the Taliban, al-Qaeda and, now, ISIS, are active.
Those early leaders were content to build on these strengths. They did not demand reparations, though they did ask for aid. That aid is still coming from Britain and other western nations, even though India itself is quite wealthy.
The current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, should be thankful for British rule. Without it, India’s democratic system would not exist and he would not be in power!
India has the potential to become the greatest economic power in the world. The country is only diminished by calls for reparations, as if they can’t take care of themselves. To use an analogy, all of Britain’s offspring have been independent adults for fifty plus years – isn’t it a little embarrassing to go back home and ask for money?
Talking of the sub-continent, a fourth blogger has been murdered in Bangladesh for his comments on Islam. The religion of peace clearly is not big enough to handle criticism!
Little attention has been given to President Obama’s decision to alter the Oath of Allegiance, taking into account Islamic beliefs.
According to the Middle East Forum: “On July 21, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced some “modifications” to the Oath of Allegiance that immigrants must take before becoming naturalized. The original oath required incoming citizens to declare that they will “bear arms on behalf of the United States” and “perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States” when required by the law. Now the USCIS says that “a candidate [to U.S. citizenship] may be eligible to exclude these two clauses based on religious training and belief or a conscientious objection.”
Why is this “necessary”?
Because, although Islam allows Muslims to fight for a non-Muslim country, it does not allow believers to fight other believers. In other words, American Muslims are not going to be helping in the fight against radical Islamic extremism. In effect, they will be helping the other side!
What does it say about us when more attention is given to the hunting death of a lion in Zimbabwe than to the selling of baby body parts in restaurants?
Richard Weikart’s “From Darwin to Hitler”, shows the progression from the Theory of Evolution down to all the sins that plague the western world today. Abortion, the murder of innocent children unable to defend themselves, is a sin before God. We can dress it up as “a woman’s right to choose”, or a “female health issue”, but murder is murder and should be called such.
The prophet Isaiah put it well when he said that “The whole head is sick, And the whole heart faints. 6 From the sole of the foot even to the head, There is no soundness in it” (Isa 1:5b-6a).
We can’t think straight any more.
If King David were alive today, he would no doubt be languishing in a prison somewhere for killing lions in his earlier role as a shepherd! (I Samuel 17:34-36).
From now on, I shall refer to him as ‘David, the lion killer.” It’s just another way of showing how ridiculous political correctness is.
On a more uplifting note, Diane and I spent last weekend with old (and I mean old) friends from Bricket Wood, the English campus of Ambassador College, that closed down in 1974.
Apart from a few spouses, everybody present attended BW in the early seventies.
Although we are all now in different churches or no church at all, it did not detract one bit from the spirit of unity, friendliness and love that we all felt.
All people who profess to follow Jesus Christ should remember what He said was the identifying sign of real Christians: “By this shall all men know you are my disciples, that you love one another.” (John 13:35)
We hope to do this again sometime! (No pressure, Tricia!)
(If you would like to help defray the costs involved in producing this blog, please note the Paypal donation box on the Home page.)
After the gruesome murders of over thirty British tourists on a Tunisian beach Friday, the British Prime Minister David Cameron was quick to condemn the atrocity. But he was also quick to remind those listening that Islam is a religion of peace and that terrorists have seized and perverted Islam.
He is now calling on the national media to stop referring to “Islamic State,” the name that ISIS calls itself.
“Methinks he protests too much!”
For years now, we’ve been hearing of terrorist acts committed by Muslims in many different countries. Yes, occasionally, we hear of a terrorist act committed by Hindus and individual acts of violence by supposed Christians, like the one in Charleston two weeks ago. But most terrorism is committed by Muslims, both Shia and Sunni.
Sometimes, it’s hard for politicians to come out and tell the truth, but one day somebody will have to, if we are to ever win “the Great War of our time,” as Michael Morell calls it. Mr. Morell was the former deputy director of the CIA.
Mr. Cameron’s call to end the use of the term “Islamic State” led to a discussion on the BBC World Service (radio) this morning. It amazes me with so much going on, with terrorist attacks threatening us all and with IS constantly expanding its territory, that we can indulge ourselves in discussions of semantics on worldwide radio.
At one point, the term “Islamic State” was being discussed. One contributor said we should not use it as ISIS is not Islamic and not a State. What is it then?
I googled a definition of “state.” The following definition came back: “a nation or territory considered as an organized political community under one government.” Based on this definition, IS is certainly a state, or country. It’s not a “state” as in the US, which is a federation of 50 states. But it is as much a state as Germany, Italy, France, Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc.
It has territory. In fact, it has more of it every week. It now controls most of Libya and has clearly expanded its influence into Tunisia, with two major terrorist attacks in three months.
It’s also an “organized political community under one government.” It’s certainly not organized like other countries, but in its own way it’s organized and has a central authority that lords it over the people, just like other governments.
So why can’t it call itself “Islamic State?”
The problem is that it gives Islam a bad name.
But, that’s nothing new. Islam has had a bad name for 1400 years, ever since its founder, the prophet Muhammed, told his followers to go out and kill all infidels, to conquer the world.
Our ancestors knew that this was reality. On a number of occasions during this long time period Europeans were in a state of armed conflict trying to stop Muslims from conquering Europe or the Middle East. Yes, President Obama was correct when he reminded listeners that Christians did some terrible things, but now is now. It’s not Christians that are threatening to shoot or behead us en masse, it’s Muslims in general, al-Qaeda, al-Shahaab and ISIS in particular.
And it doesn’t help when Messrs Cameron and Obama keep repeating that Islam is a religion of peace.
In fact, it shows them up as being ignorant of history.
It also shows that they haven’t read Graeme Wood’s groundbreaking article on ISIS in the March issue of The Atlantic, the most read article in the magazine’s long history. Wood’s long article showed that ISIS represents true Islam, that the organization’s roots can be found in the seventh century and that they see themselves fulfilling eschatological prophecies before the advent of the Messiah.
Refusing to recognize this is irresponsible. People cannot defend themselves if they cannot clearly identify the enemy. ISIS is the real Islam and it has territory, so it has every right to call itself “Islamic State.” In fact, it’s the perfect name for this political entity.
One of Mr. Cameron’s predecessors as prime minister, a fellow Conservative leader, Winston Churchill, did not come on the radio after every Nazi attack to remind the British people that it wasn’t the Germans who were doing this, it was only the Nazis who represented hardly anybody. If he had, it’s doubtful that victory would have been achieved.
Mr. Cameron’s England is more reminiscent of a book written shortly after World War II. In George Orwell’s “1984,” the Ministry of Truth told nothing but lies, even going so far as to rewrite history for the newspapers. It was almost impossible to think for yourself. If you did, it wouldn’t be long until the Thought Police caught up with you. Today’s “thought police”, employees of the Ministry of Truth, are the multiculturalists who keep telling us that Islam is a religion of peace and threaten us with prison if we say otherwise.
Meanwhile, the “proles,” the proletariat, the ordinary people of Orwell’s England, were fobbed off with endless entertainment, so they wouldn’t think too much. It’s a good thing he died in 1950 – an evening with cable television would have finished him off, anyway.
Mr. Cameron should remember Hans Christian Anderson’s tale of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” the story of a gullible king who was sold a miracle new fabric that only his loyal subjects could see. Then, one day while riding in a parade, a little boy, who was not privy to the secret of the new fabric, shouted out before all, that the king had no clothes on. As Danny Kaye sang it in song: “Look at the king, the king, the king…..the king is in the all-together, the all-together, as naked as can be.”
One day, with increased acts of terrorism in our own countries, it will become impossible to keep repeating the mantra that Islam is a religion of peace.
Graeme Wood graduated from Harvard University in 2001 and speaks fluent Russian and some Arabic. He is a Canadian journalist.
Mr. Wood has written an in-depth, thought-provoking article in the March issue of The Atlantic, on “What ISIS really wants.”
It’s likely to be the most discussed article on the subject for some time.
The article stands in complete contrast to statements made by western leaders, who claim that ISIS does not represent Islam and that terrorism is not Islamic.
Mr. Wood delves deep into Islamic history and shows that, in fact, the opposite is the case, that ISIS is the real face of Islam and represents the true face of the religion. He makes such a convincing case to support his argument that I doubt anybody will sit down and argue with him. The facts fit. The question is: what are we going to do about it?
Today, the BBC World Service revealed that the number of Christians abducted by ISIS fighters on Monday from villages in North-East Syria is between 370 – 500, not the 70 originally thought to have been kidnapped. To say that fears are growing for their safety is an understatement. They may be used as hostages and traded for ISIS fighters taken as prisoners. According to Mr. Wood: “Exempted from automatic execution, it appears, are Christians who do not resist their new government. Baghdadi permits them to live, as long as they pay a special tax, known as the jizya, and acknowledge their subjugation. The Koranic authority for this practice is not in dispute.”
It has also been confirmed that three teenage girls who left England last week for Turkey crossed the border into Syria to join ISIS. The fact that they all went to an exclusive private school is further proof that joblessness and poverty do not cause terrorism, as the US Administration claims.
Earlier today, three Americans were charged with trying to leave the country to join ISIS. One of them even promised to kill the President of the United States if asked to do so.
Others, in both countries, have already gone to Syria to join the organization. ISIS is said to be attracting hundreds of new fighters each day.
“Tens of thousands of foreign Muslims are thought to have immigrated to the Islamic State. Recruits hail from France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Australia, Indonesia, the United States, and many other places. Many have come to fight, and many intend to die.” (Wood, What ISIS Really Wants)
Meanwhile, as the threat from ISIS increases, the US and UK are continuing to reduce the size of their militaries, according to reports on today’s Fox News website and in last week’s Economist. The report on Fox News was based on the Heritage Foundation’s “2015 Index of US Military Strength,” which concluded that, for the first time in decades, the US can no longer fight and win two wars at the same time. During the last decade, the country and its allies fought two simultaneous wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, arguably losing both wars. There is a very real possibility that wars against ISIS, al-Qaeda and Boko Haram may have to be fought in three different regions while, at the same time, there is also a very real prospect of a proxy war with Russia in Ukraine or maybe even the Baltic states.
A few days ago, I posted an article to my blog, titled “What If The President Is Wrong?” This was just after his claim that terrorism is caused by joblessness.
A few days later, I read Mr. Wood’s article in The Atlantic. Joblessness is not the problem. Rather, we have here a fundamentalist movement that is returning Islam to its 1400-year-old roots and copying Muhammed in the way he dealt with infidels and those in conquered lands.
Monday’s Chicago Tribune put it well: “What motivates these people? Why do so many of them, Westerners included, eagerly come to the desert to fight and die?
“The best examination we’ve seen appears in the current issue of the The Atlantic. “What ISIS Really Wants,” by Graeme Wood, argues that Islamic State is not a death cult that distorts Islam in a bid to gain political power. Rather, it is a fanatically rigid religious movement based on specific teachings and traditions of seventh century Islam, which it implements to a dangerously literal degree . . .”
“In the view of Islamic State leaders, there is only one extremely narrow belief path to follow – its own puritanical Salafist branch of Sunni Islam. The rest of us, even practicing Muslims, are infidels to be subjugated or killed . . . ” (Knowing Islamic State and Its Vision)
What is particularly interesting in Graeme Wood’s article is the conviction that ISIS has, that they are to play a significant role in world history leading up to the apocalypse. Christians will see in part a distortion of their own beliefs regarding end-time events.
“These include the belief that there will be only 12 legitimate caliphs, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the eighth; that the armies of Rome will mass to meet the armies of Islam in northern Syria; and that Islam’s final showdown with an anti-Messiah will occur in Jerusalem after a period of renewed Islamic conquest.”
This paragraph alone should tell us one thing – that ISIS is here to stay and will remain with us until the end-time events that Christians believe will see the return of Jesus Christ.
“What ISIS Really Wants” gives us a clear understanding of the beliefs and goals of ISIS. The question now is how is the West going to react?
Syriza was described on the BBC World Service this morning as a “very left-wing party.” It looks as if it will come to power in Greece this Sunday, January 25th.
The big issue, as is common in western democracies, is the economy. In the case of Greece, this means austerity, which, in turn, means the euro.
In May, 2010, faced with imminent national bankruptcy, the European Central Bank, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (the so called troika) bailed out the small Mediterranean country, while imposing strict austerity on the Greeks. Austerity measures were increased in 2011 resulting in very high unemployment, especially amongst the young. The measures were extremely unpopular. Much of the blame was given to the euro, Germany and Angela Merkel.
Today, Syriza is threatening to unilaterally halve the debt, to end Greece’s national “humiliation” and if necessary, to leave the euro. Angela Merkel has indicated she is ok with a Grexit, the term being used for a Greek exit.
One concern is that, if one country withdraws, others will follow. The eurozone could unravel. Although not a member of the eurozone, Great Britain could pull out of the EU, which, again, might influence others.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died yesterday, automatically succeeded by his half-brother King Salman. Little change is likely in the kingdom in the immediate future. The two kings come from a total of 45 brothers and half-brothers. However, King Salman, aged 79, is likely the last of the present generation.
King Abdullah’s passing is ill-timed. He has been king since 2005 and before that was de facto monarch for ten years as the previous king had suffered a serious stroke. So, for twenty years, he has been the most powerful man in Saudi Arabia and a major figure in the Middle East. His knowledge and experience will be sorely missed.
This is a challenging time for the Arabian peninsula, home of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), perpetrators of the Paris terror attack. Yemen’s pro-American government resigned this week as rebels seized the capital. At the same time, another neighbor, Oman, will soon lose its leader, the pro-western Sultan Qaboos, who is now 74 and has been suffering from an undisclosed medical condition, which has resulted in him being rarely seen in public.
King Abdullah has been involved in bringing down the price of oil. If the king had wanted to, he could have reversed the falling price simply by cutting Saudi production, but he didn’t.
He has also played a major role in supporting western efforts at fighting IS (Islamic State) and supporting Sunni rebels against Syria’s leader, who is allied to Saudi Arabia’s enemy, Shia Iran. It should be noted here that Iran’s leader will attend a memorial for King Abdullah tomorrow. Under Islamic custom, the king was buried today.
Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the death of Sir Winston Churchill. He died on 24th January 1965.
His official biographer is Sir Martin Gilbert. Sir Martin spends two months every year at conservative Hillsdale College in Michigan, where he lectures on Churchill. He has willed his extensive Churchill library to the college.
A few years ago, a student invited me to go with him to one of the lectures.
I asked Sir Martin to sign my copy of his one volume book on Churchill, which he gladly did. I also took the opportunity to ask him a question: “If Churchill had never lived, what would have happened in World War Two?” His response was: “We wouldn’t have gotten very far.” His lecture that evening illustrated his point.
That evening’s talk was on the sinking of the French fleet after the fall of France.
Churchill ordered that the fleet should be sunk so that it would not fall into the hands of the Germans. Hundreds of French naval personnel died in the British attack on the fleet. The incident remains controversial to this day. Not only did it deny the Germans the use of the fleet, it had the added side benefit of convincing US President Franklin Roosevelt to back Churchill. He was now convinced that the British war-time leader would stop at nothing to win the war.
The western world desperately needs a Churchill now.
"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