Tag Archives: Belgium

TRADE WAR AHEAD?

 

Brussels is preparing to retaliate against the US if Washington pushes ahead with far-reaching new sanctions on Russia that hit European companies.   The White House indicated on Sunday that President Donald Trump would accept legislation that would punish Russia for interfering in the 2016 election.   This is despite Mr. Trump questioning assertions about Moscow’s involvement for months — and as Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort were scheduled to appear before Senate committees this week  (FT, 7/24)

“The assessment is that the Bill responds primarily to the US domestic political situation and that its harmful consequences are probably unintentional yet serious,” says the note.  (Brussels Briefing, 7/24)

Brussels is examining all options in its arsenal to do battle with its supposed ally, as the US inches closer to ripping up friendships and partnerships with its unilateral action on Russia.  Anger has reverberated through the continent as the US looks poised to rubber stamp a deal on sanctions against their Cold War foe.

The EU and US look set to clash over the draft sanction laws, which target Russian energy, financial, railways, the shipping and mining sectors.

Republicans and Democrats thrashed out the deal over the weekend, and The House of Representatives will vote on the bill on Tuesday.   (Juncker “set to retaliate in days,” Daily Express, 7/24)

Honeymoon over Emmanuel Macron’s approval rating has fallen 10 percentage points to 54 per cent, the second-biggest decline for a French president so soon after election.   French voters were either confused by plans for the tax system, shocked by a dispute with the head of the army or unsettled by upcoming labour laws reform. (Bloomberg 7/24)

  • More than 60 Islamic leaders and imams — from France, Belgium, Britain, Tunisia, and of different Islamic faiths — in a move that may be unprecedented, are touring Europe to denounce Islamic terrorism and to pay homage to the victims of terror in Europe by visiting many of the sites of terror attacks.
  • The idea seems to have shaken extremists to the core.   They have been sending these imams death threats.
  • It is therefore high time, as mankind faces a crucial turning point, that people will pull together and support any voices of peace such as those of the marching imams, and restrain any hands that would try to sabotage their noble mission.   (“Hero Imams,” GT 7/24)

EUROPE UNDER ATTACK

Brussels attack
Daily Star

Today’s triple bombings in Brussels, Belgium, are the latest ISIS attacks.   They follow an attack in Istanbul only three days ago.

Shortly after the Brussels attacks, I watched President Obama, supposedly “the Leader of the free world,” speaking to the people of Cuba.   He began his speech with a brief reference to the Brussels bombings, extending his condolences to the families of those killed. He then continued with the pre-set program, including attending a baseball game.

Once again, I was struck by how the President of the United States is living in the past, rather than the more complex present.   He’s not the only one, of course.   Aspiring presidents are mostly just the same.

It’s a sixties generation thing.

Remember the sixties, when the western world was turning to the left, immediately prior to the birth of multiculturalism, which has been the official religion of western countries ever since?

Liberal thinking has created a very different world from what we had over 50 years ago. Both Republicans and Democrats, Conservatives and Labour, have all wanted the same things, working toward the same goals.

Now, it’s all falling apart and we’re seeing a return to some of the old values, including patriotism, ethnic identity, nationalism, Trump in America, AfD in Germany and UKIP in the UK. Other parties want the same things in Sweden, Finland, Poland, The Netherlands, Italy and elsewhere.

The world is, once again, on the cusp of significant change.

Note the following comment made on the Fox Business Network Monday, prior to the Brussels attack. Lt. Col. Ralph Peters (Retired), said:  “Not all cultures are equal . . . the Middle East and Islam as currently practiced is currently not compatible with western civilization.”

Following the comment, Englishman Stuart Varney wondered aloud what the implications would be of the EU’s new agreement with Turkey.  While the Middle Eastern country is willing to take back the migrants who do not qualify to stay in Europe, 78 million Turkish citizens will have the right of visa-free travel to all EU member countries.   Many are not likely to return home.

More Muslims = more terrorism!  That’s because a certain percentage will be extremists.  And, as Lt. Col. Ralph Peters observed, the religion as practiced is not compatible with western civilization.

Dealing with the problem requires a major change in immigration policies.  That’s not going to come from most western politicians, who are still influenced by liberal 1960’s thinking that says all peoples are the same and can all mix together peaceably.

Just a few days before the latest terror attacks in Brussels, the European Union signed the agreement with Turkey.  Again, like American politicians, the EU’s top leaders are still living in the sixties – they haven’t woken up yet to the threat from Islam nor have they even begun to figure out how to deal with it.

That will come.  Today’s attacks may be a turning point – the attackers were attacking the European Union ‘s capital, Brussels. One bomb hit the railway station close by the headquarters of the European Commission.  Europe itself was under attack – not just Brussels or Belgium.

Another interesting development today is how quickly the bombers were identified as ISIS by the Belgian authorities.  ISIS later claimed responsibility.  Normally, following an attack in the US or the UK, we are told not to blame Islamists, or that there is no evidence this was terrorism.   Some are still in denial, but others are waking up!   Speaking in Havana, Cuba, President Obama could not bring himself to use the term “Islamic terrorism”.

Daniel 11 is a prophecy about the Middle East, written more than five centuries before the time of Jesus Christ.  It’s amazingly detailed from Alexander the Great until Roman times.  Then it leaps 2,000 years until the present era.  The reason for the leap is that there was no Jewish nation in the Holy Land during that time period. Jerusalem is the epicenter of Bible prophecy, which focuses primarily on the Middle East and Europe.

The two play a central role in end-time events.

“The king of the south” is set to “push” against “the king of the north”, unleashing the military power and wrath of the latter, the prophesied Beast-power of Revelation 17, a revived Roman Empire.   What happened Tuesday in Brussels is likely part of this “push”, following on from Paris and other lesser attacks on Europe.

More attacks will follow.  It will take Europe some time to fully wake up.  But it will come.  It’s either that or we will witness the fall of western civilization!

 

 

FEAR BEHIND CHURCH ATTACK

Photo: EPA ; AP
Photo: EPA ; AP

The killing of nine people in a Charleston church last week and the election result in Denmark seemingly have little in common.   But at the root of both is fear.

The 21-year-old white male who shot dead nine African-Americans wore two badges on his jacket.   They were the Rhodesian flag and the South African flag of the old apartheid regime.   TV reporters were quick to say these flags represented racism and that Dylaan Roof identified with these countries because he, too, is racist.

As usual, there was very little depth shown by reporters.   It’s just not as simple as they made it out to be.

Rhodesia and South Africa were the last two nations on the African continent to be ruled by whites, people of European descent who had colonized Africa in previous generations.   During the late 1950’s and early 1960’s the European powers were rapidly dismantling their colonial empires.   The ruling whites of Southern Rhodesia, rather than have black majority rule forced upon them, declared themselves independent of Great Britain, something that had not happened since 1776.

Why did they do this?   Out of fear, fear of what would happen if the whites handed over to the majority African population.

This fear was not unfounded.   They had seen what happened when countries to the north of them got independence.

Tribalism, violent upheavals and economic collapse were quite normal in the years following independence.   In 1961, the whites of Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), at the time in a federation with Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, had been instrumental in saving thousands of people from the Congo who had fled the country after Belgium pulled out.   Chaos and confusion were commonplace in Africa at the time. The whites at the southern end of the continent did not want the same fate to befall them.

In neighboring South Africa, apartheid also had fear at its root.   The white minority imposed segregation to protect themselves from violent crime, murder, and rapes, all of which have increased dramatically since the end of apartheid and the introduction of majority rule.   There was a great deal wrong with apartheid, but post-apartheid South Africa also has serious problems with little hope for improvement.

Which brings us to last week’s Danish election.

Scandinavia has been the last bastion of social democracy, with widely admired societies that have inspired leftist parties around the world.

But these days, social democracy in Nordic countries is in crisis.   The defeat of Denmark’s ruling social democrat party, led by Helle Thorning-Schmidt, means that for the first time in seventy years, Sweden is the only Scandinavian country with a social democrat government in power.   Even there, it’s doubtful it will survive long.

Their decline has been accompanied by a surge in support for anti-immigration, eurosceptic parties.   “Should the Danish People’s party — which came second, nearly doubling its support from the previous vote in 2011 — join a centre-right government, three of the four large Nordic countries would have such a group in power (Finland and Norway being the others),” the Financial Times reports on its website.   After decades of rule by parties of the left, this is a dramatic change.

“There is a familiar progression in the way that the DPP, True Finns, Sweden Democrats and Norway’s Progress party have hollowed out the establishment parties.   As with the DPP, they have started by stealing voters from the centre-left — the working class, the elderly — before taking them from the centre-right.

“It’s a worry and it’s a wake-up call,” says Carl Bildt, former Swedish prime minister.”   (ft.com)

What’s behind the swing to the anti-immigrant, eurosceptic parties? Fear.   The same fear that motivated the whites of Rhodesia and South Africa.   And the same fear that was behind the church shooting in Charleston.   This is not to suggest that the Danes, the Rhodesians or the South Africans would have been in agreement with Dylaan Roof’s actions.   It is simply that there is a commonality here – and that common denominator is fear.

The Danes are afraid of being overwhelmed by people of different cultures, especially Muslims from North Africa and the Middle East.   A significant percentage of people in every European country share the same fear.   They do not want to see their way of life threatened. These fears are not taken seriously by mainstream political parties, so voters are looking elsewhere.

The same fear led to Rhodesians breaking away from Britain.   Their “rebellion” lasted fourteen years, seven of which were spent at war with homegrown terrorists who wanted to take over the country. When the terrorists took over, white fears were realized when their land, jobs and money were all taken by the post-independence government of Robert Mugabe, who has been in power for over 35 years.

In South Africa, twenty years after apartheid, the country’s biggest problems are corruption, violence and life-threatening crime.   The affluent society the whites created is under increasing threat, driven by African demands for more and more at the expense of the white taxpayer.

In America, too, many whites fear for the future as they head rapidly toward minority status.   A recent announcement by the Obama Administration that instructs government agencies to enforce greater “diversity” in affluent neighborhoods will only make matters worse.

I’m writing this while we are headed back to our home on a train.   We had to change trains in Chicago.   While lining up for the second train, a young white lady next to me complained to her friends that “the Mexicans are pushing in ahead of us.”   A minor incident like this can trigger off a racial confrontation.   This time it was avoided.

The mad, multicultural mayhem created by the ruling intellectual elites is increasingly being found wanting throughout the western world.

We should expect more incidents like the one in Charleston and more election results similar to Denmark.   It could be the start of a white backlash against enforced multiculturalism.   Politicians should take note on both sides of the Atlantic.

A century ago, the world was dominated by Europeans and people of European descent.   Since World War II this has changed dramatically.   Today, only a handful of countries are still run by Caucasians; and, based on demographic trends, all of those will have a majority non-white population within the lifetimes of those now living.

When the dominant culture of a country changes, great upheaval can take place.   Rhodesia is the best most recent example of this.

Dylaan Roof, at 21, was not even born when Rhodesia became Zimbabwe.   He may have worn the Rhodesian flag but was ignorant of Rhodesia’s realities.   Race relations were generally quite good in Rhodesia.   The “white” army was 82% black.  If Dylaan Roof had shot nine black Africans in Rhodesia, he would have been tried, sentenced and hanged within a few months.   I remember clearly a young white male who killed a black cab driver and was hanged, if I remember correctly, within 90 days of his sentencing.

The world’s media may have judged Rhodesia a racist society.   In the same way, it now judges South Carolina as seriously wanting in this regard.   But there has been an outpouring of love and support from different ethnic groups since the mass shooting in church.   The Governor of the state, Nikki Haley, has called for the old confederate flag to be taken down from the Capitol building in Columbia, the state capital.

Just as the world’s media stirred up feelings against Rhodesia and South Africa, it will do so against South Carolina.

Watching CNN on Monday morning, I was shocked at how much time was devoted to a one-sided discussion on the future of the “Stars and Bars,” the old Confederate flag.

What Dylaan Roof did was inexcusable and should be roundly condemned.   But he was just one man and a young man, at that.   His actions will not inspire the majority to replicate his act.   But the fears he expressed about the direction America is headed should be openly discussed.   The flag is not the issue.

BRITAIN DISARMING, GERMANY REARMING: SOUND FAMILIAR?

David Cameron and Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister address a press conference in Berlin on 7 June 2012.  Photograph: Carsten Koall/AFP/Getty Images
David Cameron and Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister address a press conference in Berlin on 7 June 2012. Photograph: Carsten Koall/AFP/Getty Images

Two hundred years ago, on June 18th, 1815, the British won the war against Napoleon.

Or so you thought.   As is generally the case with Europe, it’s not quite that simple.

British troops were only 36% of the allied troops that gained the victory.  Take away the Irishmen fighting in the British army, and the percentage of British troops was well below a third of those on the victorious side.

Other troops that fought in this allied cause, all wanting to end Napoleon’s domination of Europe, came from Prussia (eastern Germany) and what are today Belgium and the Netherlands. The battle took place on Belgian soil.

This is not to diminish the British contribution.   One result of the battle was that the United Kingdom became a global superpower and was unrivaled in Europe for almost one hundred years.

But it’s a classic example of how British relations with Europe are never that simple.   Also, of how the Brits can misread Europe, seeing their country as far more important than it really is.

Which brings us to the promised referendum on British relations with the EU, to take place in 2017.

There are 28 countries in the European Union, with more on the sidelines wanting to join the club. Britain is the third biggest economy in the Union.   It is, right now, the most successful economy, attracting hundreds of thousands of people to its shores every year.  These are mostly from Europe and, it is thought, attracted primarily by Britain’s generous social support system.   People from Eastern Europe can work in the UK and receive benefits for their progeny back home in Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.   These benefits enable them to provide quite comfortably for their families, even if they earn a very small income in London or whatever other city they reside in.

British people get angry at this as they are the ones paying for it in their taxes.   But, as a member of the EU, the British government can do nothing about it.  The EU guarantees the free movement of people within member nations.

London wants to change this.  Most of the other members do not. The Polish leader made it clear to British Prime Minister David Cameron this is something he cannot change.  And that is correct. If the UK stays in Europe, it won’t change.  Mr. Cameron may hope it does, but it won’t – unless Germany is willing to change it, and that’s not likely.

Many (maybe most) British people are fed up with the EU, which they also heavily subsidize in other ways.  They want to withdraw from the organization and go back to the way they were 50 years ago.

What they don’t realize is that they cannot go back to the 1960’s, to the pre-EU days.

It’s not an option.

Prior to entering the European Common Market (as the EU was then called), Britain had an extensive system of trade with nations farther afield.   “Imperial preferences” left over from the days of the Empire, ensured close trade ties with the dominions of the Commonwealth: Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.   These trade agreements were torn up by Britain when they joined Europe. It is unlikely that they can restore them more than 40 years later.

At the same time, in the 60’s, the British still had close trade ties with all their former colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific, the ACP countries.  These gave Britain cheap food, while the British were able to sell manufactured products to these countries without the hindrance of tariffs.

After Britain joined the European Community, it was a matter of urgency to help these less developed nations. The Lome Convention was signed in 1975, taking effect in April 1976.   It gave preferential access to Europe for member countries’ food and mineral exports.   This treaty, agreed to in the capital of the former French colony of Togo, effectively embraced all former British, French and Dutch colonies.   As this agreement was to help less developed countries, it did not extend to the British dominions, who were on their own.

Effectively, Great Britain, thirty years after World War II, handed over its former Empire to the European Union, now dominated by Germany.  What a supreme irony of history!

There is no turning back.

This is not to say that Britain will be entirely on its own if it separates from the EU.   Norway and Switzerland are two European countries that are not members of the EU.  Both have a per capita income that is higher than the EU average.

But it won’t be easy for Britain, certainly not as easy as the anti-Europeans are making it out to be.

The Treaty of Rome, signed in 1957 by the original six members of the European Community, pledged member countries to form “an ever closer union.”   The EU today is very different from the old European Common Market. It is far more intrusive and controlling than it was at the beginning.   And it is already talking about greater cooperation, with an EU Army not too far ahead.

Bible prophecy shows that another superpower is set to arise, a European power that will be a revival of the Roman Empire.   You can read about this new power in Revelation chapters 13 and 17.   Note the following words from chapter 17:

12 “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.  13 These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.  14 These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.” (Rev 17:12-14)   Clearly, this is not talking about the Roman Empire of two thousand years ago, as this superpower will be in existence when Christ returns.  The good news is that this “beast” power will not last long and will lead directly into the prophesied Kingdom of God.

Is Britain prepared for isolation, facing a German dominated European super-power on its doorstep, without any say in its composition and its purpose?

Interestingly, just four days ago, British defense chiefs warned that the country’s defenses had been so greatly diminished that the nation was now “feeble” on the world stage.   As Britain no longer has a deployable aircraft carrier, only one ship, HMS Ocean, is equipped to host US Marines and their MV 22 Osprey vertical take off aircraft, in the event of military action by Russia.   As Russia is rapidly increasing its military potential, warnings of a coming conflict between the West and Moscow are growing. The UK’s response is to go down the road of disarmament. The similarities with the 1930’s are quite blatant – Britain is once again disarming while Germany is rearming.

Berlin is spending an additional 8 billion euros (US 9 billion) on the new MEADS air defense system and the multi role combat ship 180.  3.9 billion euros ($4.37 billion) has also been set aside for four new battleships.

Germany is also working toward an EU Army, which will add to its military capacity.

Outside of the EU, Britain will have to fend for itself, something it seems ill-prepared for at this time.   Even a Conservative government is clearly more inclined to cut defense over higher health care costs, at a time of growing international tensions.

Individual Britons need to think carefully before the vote in the referendum.   There may be sound reasons to reject the EU, but there could also be serious consequences.   Britain’s relationship with Europe can be compared to a marriage.   It was certainly a mistake to marry in the first place, but divorce is not an easy option and needs to be considered carefully.

INTERESTING DEVELOPMENTS IN EUROPE THIS WEEK

German Chancellor Angela Merkel with US President Barack Obama outside the Elmau castle in Kruen near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on Monday.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel with US President Barack Obama outside the Elmau castle in Kruen near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on Monday. (Reuters)

The week began with the 41st G7 summit, held this year in the Bavarian town of Krun.

The former G8 is now down to 7 since Vladimir Putin started misbehaving himself and invaded Ukraine.   He never really belonged anyway.  The group is made up of the seven biggest industrial powers in the world – Russia was never the eighth.   Even the Belgian economy is bigger than Russia’s.   At the same time, Russia under Putin can hardly be described as a model democracy.

The leaders of the seven seem to have had the usual amicable two-day session, during which they discussed Russia and Ukraine, global warming and ISIS.   President Obama was more than candid when he said that the US does not have a “complete strategy” when it comes to dealing with the terror group.  One year after ISIS captured the city of Mosul, the Administration still doesn’t know what it’s doing!   It’s a good thing the president wasn’t in power at the time of Pearl Harbor – Hitler and Tojo would have won!

Fortunately, there are leaders out there who do know what they are doing and who seem to have a clear strategy.  Unfortunately, they live in Moscow and the Vatican.

Today, the leader of Russia, no doubt sore at being barred from the summit and all that Bavarian beer, met with the Pope in the Eternal City.   This was the second time the two men have met, the first since the Russian annexation of Crimea.   Note what Russia Today had to say:

“The two men champion similar conservative values in a rapidly changing world, as well as concerns for emerging threats to Christianity.  During their last meeting in 2013, Putin and the Pope discussed the danger Christians face in the Middle East at the hands of radical Islamists.

“The meeting is expected to touch upon Ukraine and the civil war in the east of the country.  Pope Francis has been rejecting calls from the Ukrainian Catholic Church to condemn Russia over allegations that it’s fueling aggression, and instead called on all parties involved to cease hostilities.”

Today’s meeting was a test of the pope’s diplomatic skills.  Fresh from a visit to Cuba, which was appreciated in both Washington and Havana, the pope was instrumental in breaking the ice between the US and the communist country.  Can he help break the logjam over Ukraine?

Perhaps more important to the pope is the state of Christians in the Middle East.  Extremists throughout the region are killing Christians at an alarming rate and in a most alarming manner.  Russia’s president has said that Russia will protect them.  The pope has called for world leaders to intervene and use force against those persecuting Christians.  The US president is on record as saying that the US is a “post-Christian” country – he will not be seen to favor Christians over Muslims, reminding people a few weeks ago that Christians did some terrible things to Muslims during the Crusades. At the same time, Christianity is a thing of the past to most western Europeans.

So, what next in Europe and particularly Germany, Rome and Moscow?

Bible prophecy shows that prior to Christ’s Second Coming, there will be a revival of the Roman Empire, in which Rome and Germany will play major roles.   You can read about the revived Roman Empire in Revelation, chapter 17.   History students will know that this union is not improbable.   In 1922, Mussolini proclaimed a revival of the Roman Empire.   After his plans failed, six European nations came together to sign the Treaty of Rome in 1957, pledging to form “an ever closer union”, in effect a nicer Roman Empire, not built by force.

For this revival of the Roman Empire to come into its final form, a German led Europe and America are set to go their separate ways. Clearly, there are already differences between Washington and Berlin, the only European capital that counts.   Germany is witnessing increasing anti-Americanism, which is likely to get worse with the publication of “Schindler’s List.”   Gerhard Schindler is the president of Germany’s BND, the equivalent of America’s National Security Agency (NSA).   He has in his possession a list of people in Germany that his BND has been spying on at the behest of the NSA.

“This list has become a potential time bomb both for Germany’s ruling coalition and for the transatlantic relationship.  It refers to the documentation of millions of “selectors”— search terms for phone numbers, e-mail addresses and so on — that America’s National Security Agency (NSA) has over the years fed into the computers of its German equivalent, the BND.   The Germans monitored these and passed the intelligence back to America.  Under a 2002 deal, the selectors may not point to German citizens, European firms or European Union governments.

“But for years the BND failed to check the selectors, according to parliamentary testimony by Gerhard Schindler, its president. It began doing so properly only after revelations of American mass surveillance by Edward Snowden in 2013.  The BND then rejected thousands of search terms as impermissible, apparently because they aimed at European firms and governments, including France’s. A big question is just how many problematic selectors had got through.   Mr. Schindler says he was informed of the situation only in March.  How much Chancellor Angela Merkel knew is unclear.” (“Germans are angry not only with America’s spies but also with their own,” The Economist, June 6th.)

There is likely to be considerable fallout when the list is revealed.   In turn, this could affect transatlantic relations.

Add to this a growing disillusionment with a do-nothing Washington that is no longer committed to Europe and seems averse to doing anything significant in the Middle East.   This leaves a vacuum in the Western world.   Europe is not ready to fill the vacuum yet, but if the West is to be saved, it must do so.   And do so soon.

Rome will also play a role here.   A revived Roman Empire is not possible without the papacy.   Note the following comment in Time Magazine one day before the pope met with President Putin.

“The Bishop of Rome may not represent the United States or Germany, but he is increasingly a superpower in his own right, and the Wednesday meeting is a diplomatic test of how Francis will use his influence.”

(“Vladimir Putin Tests the Limits of Pope Francis’ Powers,” Elizabeth Dias, Time Magazine, June 9th.)

Little attention is given to Berlin, Rome, or Moscow on American television news programs, but developments in these three cities could affect America’s future and very soon.

ISIS IS THE TRUE FACE OF ISLAM

Job cartoonGraeme 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?

 

IS CRIMEA EUROPE’S FUTURE?

crimea-map

It’s been exactly a hundred years since an assassin’s bullets opened up an ethnic can of worms across Europe, the Middle East, and eventually the rest of the world.

Prior to the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914, Europe was not exactly free of ethnic tensions or religious divides.  Irish Catholics had been campaigning for Home Rule for decades; Hungarians wanted to rule themselves but remain under the Hapsburg crown; Poles wanted to be free of Russia, Germany, and Austria, free to resurrect their own nation again; Zionists wanted their own state in what is now Israel.

But, prior to 1914, imperialism was in vogue.  Large empires composed of multiple nationalities were more the norm.  Globalization was all the rage.

It all came crashing down as the most significant assassination in history led, 37 days later, to “the war to end all wars.”  After the war, the peace treaty allowed a number of different ethnic groups to have their own independent nation state.   The Czechs and Slovaks were grouped together in Czechoslovakia; the Poles got their own country; the Finns, too; Hungarians were formally separated from Austria; the Serbs, who, arguably started the war in the first place, got their own country with the Croats in the new Yugoslavia;  even the Ukrainians had a brief period of independence.

They have just had another such period, this time for over twenty years.  It may be coming to an end again.  Maybe.  Maybe not.

The vote in the Crimea on Sunday is a foregone conclusion, with 58% of the people in the region Russian speaking.  It’s not that the vote will be rigged – there’s no need for that.   The majority will vote to switch allegiance from Kiev to Moscow.  If it wasn’t a certainty, Russia would not be holding a referendum.   This vote, it is hoped, will justify their invasion and put an end to the whole matter.

It won’t be that simple.

What about the Ukrainian minority inside Crimea?  What about the Russian speaking areas in the east of Ukraine?  Will Russia invade them?  What about the Tatars?

Ah yes, the Tatars.

They constitute 12% of the population of the Crimea.  They were the pre-Russian inhabitants of the peninsula, invaded by Catherine the Great in the late eighteenth century.   They are a Turkic people left over from the days of the Ottoman Empire.  They are Muslims.  More significantly, they got a raw deal, a real raw deal, from Russia under Josef Stalin, who had them all forcibly removed from their homes and transported to Siberia with only 15 minutes notice.  They dread a return to Russian rule.

It may be that they have little to fear.  After all, neither Stalin nor Catherine were actually Russian.  But Russia is having difficulties already with its Muslim minorities – it’s unlikely the Tatars will fare any better than the Chechens.

The ethnic complexities of the region are symbolic of the wider European ethnic quilt.

Spain doesn’t want Crimea to break away from Ukraine because they don’t want their own Catalans to break away from their country; the Scots are voting in September on possibly breaking away from the United Kingdom; Belgium has had serious ethnic divisions ever since the country was created almost two centuries ago; the Balkans always has further potential for ethnic conflict; Rumania has a significant Hungarian minority that would like to join Hungary; while Hungary has its own minorities.

The EU has actually made the problem worse.   It is possible now for every small ethnic group to have its own country and still be economically viable through the European Union.  If Scotland breaks away from the UK, it can seek membership of the EU and minimize the economic consequences of breaking away from the bigger whole.

In theory.

They would actually have to have approval of the other member countries, including England.   And none of them has a vested interest right now in approving Scottish membership.  It might encourage separatists in their own countries.   Additionally, the last thing the 28-member EU needs is yet another voting member, holding back further progress toward European unity.  They also don’t want more members needing a bail-out.

However, it’s also possible that the proliferation of smaller countries in the EU could lead to a resurrection of the medieval Holy Roman Empire, a motley assortment of political entities that all owed allegiance to a common German emperor.

Rather than Sunday’s vote bringing an end to the European crisis, it may turn out to just be the beginning!