Tag Archives: Commonwealth

DOMESTIC TURMOIL

It’s getting personal!

Our grandchildren have a weakness for Cadbury’s chocolate fingers.   Not wanting them to develop any addictions, they have only been an occasional treat.

A few months ago, I bought them for less than $3.   When I looked for them again a few days ago, they had gone up to $6.75.

The only reason I can think of to explain that jump is an increased tariff on imported chocolate (they are produced in the United Kingdom).   The dispute is between the US and the EU, of which the UK remains a member for another seven months. Hopefully, after Brexit the price will come down.

Yesterday, I checked at WalMart, where I got them for less than $3 earlier this year.   They are no longer selling them.   They have also stopped selling Tim Tams from Australia.

Armageddon must be close – that’s all I can say!

Request: if anybody lives in the Cincinnati area, could they please check availability and price next time they visit Jungle Jim’s?

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207 DAYS LEFT UNTIL BREXIT

Talking of Brexit (and food), you would think the British didn’t eat before they joined the European Union.

Those opposed to leaving the 27-nation EU are attempting to scare the general population, saying that there will be food shortages and their prescriptions may no longer be available.

For the record, the United Kingdom was the world’s most successful trading nation in Victorian times.   They continued as a major trader right up until they entered the EU in 1973.

Prior to that ill-informed decision, major trading partners included the Commonwealth (former British territories), the United States and EFTA (European countries that were not a part of the EU).   Food was a lot cheaper than it is now.   The UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa had a preferential trading agreement, which ensured cheap food for the mother country and gave preference for British exports.   Withdrawing from this agreement was one of the biggest mistakes Britain ever made.

The UK cannot sign any new trading agreements until after leaving the EU. When they do, expect food prices to drop.     It is, of course, possible that the cost of French cheeses and German wines may rise, but, believe it or not, you can live without them! (My grandchildren, deprived of Cadbury’s fingers, are surviving!)

From the WSJ yesterday:

WSJ Brexit Beyond

Britain Ramps Up Preparations for No-Deal Brexit:    The U.K. government on Thursday published advice for British businesses on how to prepare for an abrupt and messy break with the European Union, a move aimed at underscoring to Brussels that it is serious about walking away from talks if it doesn’t get a satisfactory deal.

Of note:   The Wall Street Journal has a regular “Brexit and Beyond” column.  They have now added a sub-title:  “Europe in Flux.”

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POLITICAL TURMOIL AFFLICTS ANGLO COUNTRIES

Thanks to Brexit, there’s a great deal of political instability in the UK right now.   Theresa May seems unlikely to be able to deliver a “deal” with the EU, while satisfying those who want to leave.   Attempting to do so is really a contradiction!

According to one paper earlier this week, over 100 Conservative MPs are ready to rebel over this.   That could mean a coup against Mrs. May, replacing her with somebody more to their liking.   Boris Johnson is still the favorite.   Mr. Johnson is more conservative than Mrs. May and does not want to compromise with the EU.

Don’t assume this won’t happen.   I woke up this morning to find a similar “coup” took place in Australia on Friday (the day is already over in the Antipodes).    Malcolm Turnbull, leader of the governing Liberal Party (the Conservative Party of Australia) has been ousted and replaced with Scott Morrison.   The latter is more conservative than the former.

Canada is also going through some political turmoil, as Maxime Bernier is quitting the Conservative Party and forming his own party dedicated to “more freedom, less government.”   In recent weeks, he has launched Twitter attacks against PM Justin Trudeau’s “extreme multiculturalism” and immigration policy, according to the BBC’s website this morning.

Mr. Trudeau, the country’s prime minister, is a Liberal who has welcomed thousands of Muslim refugees from the Middle East.   The Conservatives remain in opposition, with an election expected late next year.

The UK, Canada and Australia all share a common heritage and remain members of the Commonwealth.   With a very different political system, the United States is also going through a great deal of internal turmoil after two of President Trump’s former political associates were found to be breaking the law.   The implication is that the president did likewise.   Calls for his impeachment are growing. I don’t think this will happen as the Republicans control both houses in Congress and President Trump has a very loyal support base.

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GERMANY’S CONTINUED RISE TO WORLD PROMINENCE

“The Lord says:   I am furious!  And I will use the King of Assyria as a club.”  (Isa. 10:5; Contemporary English Version).

From Time magazine:

Europe should scale up military spending in order to act as a counterpoint to an unpredictable and unreliable United States, the German foreign minister said in an op-ed Wednesday, an unusually forthright criticism of U.S. foreign policy by a senior political figure in Europe.

In the German newspaper Handelsblatt entitled “A New World Order,” Heiko Maas said that Europe and the U.S. have been drifting apart for years.   Instead of waiting for Trump’s presidency to end, he argued, Europe should take an “equal share of responsibility” globally.

Yet Maas joined in agreement with Trump in demanding NATO members increase their defense spending.   “It is in our own interest to strengthen the European part of the North Atlantic Alliance,” he wrote.   However, he continued, this was “not because Donald Trump is always setting new percentage targets, but because we can no longer rely on Washington to the same extent.”   (Germany’s Foreign Minister: when the US ‘crosses the line,” Europe must act,” by Billy Perrigo.)

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From Deutsche Welle:

Germany on track for world’s largest trade surplus for third consecutive year.    Deutsche Welle * 21 Aug 2018

The country’s $299 billion surplus is poised to attract criticism, however, both at home and internationally.

Germany is expected to set a €264 billion ($299 billion) trade surplus this year, far more than its closest export rivals Japan and the Netherlands, according to research published Monday by Munich-based economic research institute Ifo.

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GERMANY BLAMES TRUMP TARIFFS FOR DESTROYING ECONOMY — MINISTER IN FURIOUS RANT                                (headline in Daily Express; article by Paul Withers, 8/20)

“The US President has triggered a bitter trade war with the likes of Europe, China and Canada by imposing huge import tariffs on a number of goods, including steel and aluminum.

Trade war

He has accused them of unfair trade practices and insists the tariffs are aimed at protecting American jobs.

“Speaking to German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier took aim at the US President, claiming consumers were taking the brunt of his import tariffs because they are driving up prices.

He said:   “This trade war is slowing down and destroying economic growth – and it creates new uncertainties.”

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A NUCLEAR GERMANY?

German bomb debate goes nuclear

The security community has become unnerved in the face of Donald Trump’s threats, and some are thinking the unthinkable.

“It’s crucial for Germany and Europe that we have a strategic debate”   — Ulrike Franke, analyst with the European Council on Foreign Relations

BERLIN — Imagine a nuclear-armed Germany (first line of article – (Matthew Karnitschnig, 8/6, Politico)

Headline in the Singapore Straits Times:  “Can Germany and Japan replace the United States?”

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ROYAL WEDDING EUPHORIA HIDES GRIM REALITY

Prince Harry’s wedding to actress Meghan Markle, was a great success, watched by approximately one billion people around the world.   Everything to do with the wedding went smoothly, as we have come to expect from royal events in Britain.

Various estimates were given as to the cost of the wedding. Fox News said it was $34 million.   A British source said 32 million pounds (one pound = $1.34).   The cost was higher than seven years ago, when Prince William got married.   According to Fox, security alone was more than $30 million, considerably higher than at William’s.   Harry had a greater need for security, a sign of the times, together with terrorist threats made against him for his military role in Afghanistan.

The Queen paid for the wedding; the tax-payer covers security.   When President Trump visits London in a few weeks, security will also be expensive.     At least with the royal wedding, the financial outlay will be more than covered by increased tourism, television rights, sales of merchandise made for the occasion, and all those celebratory drinks and meals.

The cost of the monarchy is covered by entrance fees to the royal palaces.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The Economist’s first editor, Walter Bagehot (pronounced “Badge It”), wrote a classic book on the English Constitution, in which he explained the function of the two branches of government.   The monarchy, he said, represented the “dignified” branch of government; while parliament was the “efficient” branch.

The Economist has a weekly column on British politics, called “Bagehot,” in memory of its founder, who edited the publication from 1860-77.    “A royal wedding is as good a time as any to conduct an audit of the British constitution,” is the opening line of this week’s offering.

In the past, the weekly newsmagazine has called for the abolition of the monarchy.   “An Idea whose time has gone,” was one such cover story about twenty years ago.

But this week’s publication points out that the monarchy and parliament have changed roles – “The efficient branch is in its worst state since the 1970s.   The two main parties have been captured by their extremes.   The prime minister lacks authority.   Westminster has been rocked by scandals about sexual harassment and bullying. The Home Office is in turmoil.   The government is preparing for Brexit, its most complicated task since the second world war, without a majority in the Commons or a consensus in its own ranks.” (“Something old, something new”, Economist, 5/19).

Most Members of Parliament do not support Brexit, but the people did in a referendum two years ago.   “The efficient branch now has an agonizing choice: implement a policy that it believes to be foolish, or frustrate the “will of the people.”

“The dignified branch (the Crown), by contrast, is thriving.   The Queen represents stability in an unstable world, as well as unity in a polarized one.   She has spent 66 of her 92 years on the throne and has survived twelve prime ministers and innumerable political crises.”   Last week’s wedding has boosted the popularity of the monarchy around the world; Prince Charles was chosen last month as the new Head of the 53-nation Commonwealth, to succeed his mother; Prince Harry was appointed as an Ambassador to Commonwealth youth; Zimbabwe has asked to return to the organization after leaving fifteen years ago over human rights abuses and failure to uphold the rule of law and democratic norms.

It remains the case, however, that twenty years ago, the monarchy wasn’t doing so well; a reality that could return at any time.

This is the age of populism and no politician is more popular than Queen Elizabeth II, whose approval rating in Britain is always above 70%, more than double the highest rated politician.   Even in her overseas dominions, her popularity surpasses the politicians, so much so that many of them would like to say goodbye to her and the institution of constitutional monarchy. It is the ordinary people who feel differently and from whom she gets her greatest support.

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GERMANY TO REPLACE US AS HONEST BROKER IN MIDEAST Handelsblatt Global, 18 May 2018

“Iran, Gaza, Jerusalem: If ever the time was right for EU countries to unite in their foreign policy as in their trade policy, it is now . . .    May 2018 could one day enter history books as the moment when the EU countries including Germany at last embarked on a common foreign policy.   The catalyst, as long expected, will have been an external power.   Not, however, a common foe, but an ostensible ally: America’s Donald Trump.

“. . . the US and Europe can no longer pretend to be aligned.   The US has forfeited its role of honest broker [in the Middle East] . . .   If there is today an honest broker, it may ironically be Germany…

“Angela Merkel and her EU peers have certainly grasped the urgency of the moment . . .   For Germany to play a diplomatic role . . .   it would need to boost military spending far beyond its paltry 1.2% of GDP…”

(Handelsblatt is an influential German business paper; the German equivalent of the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times.)

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EUROPEAN NEWS

Macron to Silicon Valley: Embrace Europe’s Regulations:   French President Emmanuel Macron ratcheted up tensions with U.S. tech giants Thursday calling on them to embrace Europe’s regulation of topics ranging from taxation to privacy to artificial intelligence, because Washington is failing to do so.

Europe Seeks Russia’s Help on Saving Iran Deal, Despite Chill:  U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran has added fresh impetus to a European outreach to Russia—although European officials say existing tensions make it far from a thaw.

Britain Takes Stab at Wrangling Dirty Money:   The publication this week of a U.K. parliamentary report calling for tougher action to stop the flow of dirty Russian money into Britain is a landmark moment for the City of London, writes Simon Nixon.

ECB Warns Against Trade Spats, Urges Patience in Easing:   European Central Bank officials warned at their April rate-setting meeting that international trade conflicts could hurt the eurozone economy and called for patience in phasing out the bank’s easy-money policies.                                                                                                        (Brexit and Beyond, WSJ, 5/23

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IN FACE OF A GLOBAL TRADE WAR

The EU announced its first defensive measures against US plans to penalize European companies’ business engagements with Iran, by reactivating the 1996 “Blocking Statute.” That law prohibits companies from terminating their business engagements with Iran, to avoid severe penalties in the United States.   Some companies from Germany and other EU countries have already announced that they will cancel their contracts with Tehran to avoid endangering their business ventures in the US. German companies, involved in profitable ventures with Russia, could be facing a similar situation.   Washington threatens to demand that businesses from Germany and the EU comply also with the April 6 sanctions announced by US President Donald Trump, against some Russian oligarchs and their companies.   According to government advisors, German Russia-oriented businesses are “virtually panicking” because of the escalation of a global trade war.
(https://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/news/detail/7612/)

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Newsletter – How to Become a World Power

Berlin is seeking to use Washington’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal to increase its pressure on Tehran. In their joint statement published Wednesday, the governments of Germany, France and the United Kingdom declared their continued commitment to the agreement, while demanding that the Iranian government limit its ballistic missile program and its efforts to obtain influence in the region.   The reintroduction of US sanctions offers Berlin a chance to disguise its continued pressure on Tehran as a war preventive measure.   At the same time, US sanctions against Iran continue to fuel the power struggle between the EU and the USA.   The Airbus Company alone could lose €16 billion in commercial deals due to the sanctions imposed by the US government.   Commentators recommend resistance:   “You don’t become a world power in a conference room.”   At the same time, Israel is exacerbating the escalating tensions with its aggressions against Syria.

more…
(https://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/news/detail/7606/)

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Der Spiegel comment on EU / US relations

“With his decision to blow up the Iran deal, U.S. President Donald Trump has thrown Europe into uncertainty and anxiety — and raised the specter of a new war in the Middle East. One thing is certain: the
trans-Atlantic relationship has been seriously damaged.”

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Zimbabwe Formally Applies to Re-Join Commonwealth

To re-join, Zimbabwe must demonstrate that it complies with the fundamental values set out in the Commonwealth Charter, including democracy and rule of law plus protection of human rights such as freedom of expression.   The membership process requires an informal assessment to be undertaken by representatives of the Secretary-General, followed by consultations with other Commonwealth countries.   Zimbabwe has also invited the Commonwealth to observe its forthcoming elections in July.

Zimbabwe was suspended in 2002 for breaching the Harare Declaration.  In 2003, when the Commonwealth refused to lift the suspension, Zimbabwe withdrew from the Commonwealth.   Since then, the Commonwealth has played a major part in trying to end the political impasse and return Zimbabwe to a state of normality.(http://allafrica.com/stories/201805210678.html)

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ISLAM INCOMPATIBLE WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

  • The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) itself has become a prime motivator and enforcer of the rejection of human rights.
  • The other charters of human rights are to be found exclusively in the Muslim world.   Anything that falls within Islamic shari’a law is a human right; anything that does not fall within shari’a is not a human right.
  • “For us the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is nothing but a collection of mumbo-jumbo by disciples of Satan”. — ‘Ali Khamene’i, Iran’s current Supreme Leader.
  • “The underlying thesis in all the Islamic human rights schemes is that the rights afforded in international law are too generous and only become acceptable when they are subjected to Islamic restrictions.” — Ann Elizabeth Mayer, Islam and Human Rights: Tradition and Politics.

IS MACRON NOW “THE LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD”?

“Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might and the beginning of my strength.   The excellency of dignity and the excellency of power.  Unstable as water, you shall not excel.”  (Gen 49:3-4 NKJV)

President Emmanuel Macron of France has just visited the United States.   He and President Trump certainly have a good rapport with a great deal of mutual back-slapping, hugs and kisses (French-style).   The first state visit of the Trump presidency included a lavish dinner at the White House.   Everything went extremely well.

Well, almost everything . . .

The day after the dinner, M. Macron addressed Congress.   In perfect English, he went on to criticize the Trump Administration for various policies, including climate change, Iran and trade.   The Democrats and many Republicans were greatly pleased and gave him a standing ovation.

His charm offensive has raised the question – is Macron now the leader of the free world?   This is an epithet that has often been used to describe American presidents.  But, clearly, now that the US is out of step with most western democracies, with Macron clearly preferred by many leaders, is it not time to all get behind the French president?

France is, as Mr. Macron pointed out, “America’s oldest ally.”  Well, sort of.   It is true that France and the new United States formed an alliance in 1778, an alliance that eventually gave victory to the Patriots.   But that was under the Bourbon monarchy.   France is now a republic – the Fifth Republic, to be exact.   This fact illustrates that France historically has been quite unstable.

After the fall of the monarchy in 1789 and the establishment of the First Republic, there followed a period of great upheaval and terror. Eventually, Napoleon came to power and set about conquering the whole of Europe.   After his fall, the monarchy was restored but didn’t last long.  There followed another monarchy, then another republic, then a revival of the Napoleonic Empire.   Another attempt at a republic (the Third Republic) was made from 1870 to 1940.   This fell when Germany invaded and imposed the collaborationist Vichy France on parts of the country.

After World War II, the Fourth Republic came into being and lasted just twelve years.   It had some serious economic problems and faced uprisings in Indo-China and Algeria.   In 1958, wartime leader General Charles de Gaulle was instrumental in establishing the Fifth Republic, which is now sixty years old.

DeGaulle himself was not overly-confident that the Fifth Republic would last.   He was brought down by internal chaos and street rioting after ten years in power.   At one point, he was discussing the restoration of the Orleanist monarchy with the Comte de Paris.

The above summary should remind American presidents that France is not always the most reliable ally.   More recently, France was not supportive of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.  A few weeks ago, the country took the initiative on attacking Syria with the UK and the US.

So, could Macron lead the free world?   Not only is the US president impressed with him; Germany’s Angela Merkel has also developed a good friendship with the French president.

But note the following, from the UK’s Financial Times:

“There is no Franco-German friendship  (according to ) Ashoka Mody, a former IMF bailout chief in Ireland:

“However daring and appealing Macron’s European vision may be, France has fallen so far behind Germany that any partnership between the two countries is unrealistic.”  (Brussels Briefing, 4/26)

The United States is still the dominant power in the West. Economically, Japan and Germany are the second and third greatest economic powers  in the West.  Japan is not western in the same sense that Europeans are.   So, if the US withdraws from its leadership role for whatever reason, the mantle of leadership would fall on Germany, which has the next biggest economy, made much bigger by its domineering role in the European Union.

Angela Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor, arrived in Washington today for talks with President Trump.  She was not invited for a state visit and will not have a lavish dinner with the Trumps.

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THE KOREAN TALKS

North Korea’s leader crossed into South Korea today, for talks between the two leaders.

The world looks upon all of this favorably.   President Trump has achieved something no other US president has been able to do.

But North Korea’s track record is not good when it comes to keeping promises.

It should also be remembered that the belligerents already have different interpretations of current developments.  Whereas the US and South Korea think sanctions have put pressure on the North to come to the conference table, North Korea believes its nuclear weapons program is forcing the two allies to talk.

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ROYAL NEWS

The British Royal Family is having a very good year!

The 53 Heads of Government of the Commonwealth have all agreed that Prince Charles will succeed his mother as head of the organization.

Prince Charles opened the Commonwealth Games in Australia and drew crowds that politicians can only envy.

Earlier, Prince Harry was appointed by his grandmother to be a Commonwealth Ambassador to Youth.

Next month Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle.

And a new baby arrived earlier this week, fifth in line to the throne. His name is Prince Louis Arthur George.

His mother presented the baby on the steps of the hospital only seven hours after delivery.

Prince William was seen dozing off the day after the birth.  All parents can identify!  The prince will soon have a break from the bay — he and his wife are heading to Israel on the first official visit by a member of the royal family since the country became independent (from Britain) seventy years ago.  This reflects changing attitudes in the British Foreign Office, which has always been pro-Arab.

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GRISLY FIND IN PERU

Ancient Mass Child Sacrifice May Be World’s Largest

More than 140 children were ritually killed in a single event in Peru more than 500 years ago.  What could possibly have been the reason?   ​National Geographic​ * 4/ 26, 2018

Evidence for the largest single incident of mass child sacrifice in the Americas — and likely in world history – has been discovered on Peru’s northern coast, archaeologists tell National Geographic.

More than 140 children and 200 young llamas appear to have been ritually sacrificed in an event that took place some 550 years ago on a wind-swept bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, in the shadow of what was then the sprawling capital of the Chimú Empire.

While incidents of human sacrifice among the Aztec, Maya, and Inca have been recorded in colonial-era Spanish chronicles and documented in modern scientific excavations, the discovery of a large-scale child sacrifice event in the little-known pre-Columbian Chimú civilization is unprecedented in the Americas—if not in the entire world.

COMMENT:   It’s interesting to note that those reporting this are shocked at the news.  Over 140 children sacrificed at one time?   More than 140 children a day are sacrificed in the US – but we call it abortion.  It’s perfectly legal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AUSTRIAN COALITION ANNOUNCED AT KAHLENBERG MOUNTAIN

Austrian Foreign Minister and the leader of the Austrian Peoples Party (OeVP) Sebastian Kurz attend a news conference at the Kahlenberg mountain in Vienna, Austria, Dec. 16, 2017. EPA-EFE/CHRISTIAN BRUNA

Whereas Germany is having difficulty putting together a coalition government, Austria’s youthful Chancellor, the youngest head of government in the world, has been successful.   Sebastian Kurz, 31, leads the Austrian People’s Party.   His party is now in coalition with the “extreme right” Freedom Party, led by Heinz-Christian Strache. The latter party is often compared to the Nazis, whose leader, Adolf Hitler, was from Austria.   This is an exaggeration, to say the least.

Both leaders and their supporters, are concerned about the invasion of their country by Muslims and encroaching Islamization. They announced the formation of their government on Kahlenberg Mountain outside of Vienna, the same hill where Islamic Turks were defeated on 9-11 (& 12), 1683, ending the Muslim threat to western Europe.   The new government joins Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia in turning against the tide of immigrants welcomed by Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel.   Interestingly, all five of these countries were parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which collapsed after World War One.

One thing is certain – Austria has become the first western nation with a genuine conservative government. 

“The new coalition was agreed on Friday (15th December) by the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) and the Freedom Party (FPÖ), pledging to stop illegal immigration, cut taxes and resist EU centralization.

It will be led by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who took over the ÖVP in May and yanked it to the right, securing his party first place in October elections.  At 31, Kurz will be the world’s youngest leader.

At his side for the investiture by Austria’s (figurehead) president in the Hapsburg dynasty’s imperial palace in Vienna was FPÖ chief Heinz-Christian Strache, 48, now vice-chancellor, and FPÖ general secretary Herbert Kickl, the new interior minister.

“Strache has said Islam “has no place in Europe” and last year called German Chancellor Angela Merkel “the most dangerous woman in Europe” for her open-door refugee policy.

On Sunday, Strache trumpeted to his 750,000 followers on Facebook that the new government would slash social benefits for asylum-seekers.

“It will no longer happen that migrants who have never worked here a single day or paid anything into the social system will get thousands of euros in welfare!” he said in a post that has gained 9,000 “likes.”

(“European far-right jubilant as Austria’s new government is sworn in.” The Local, December 18th)

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HAPSBURG MEMORIES

Empress Elizabeth of Austria, wife of Emperor Franz-Josef.

Coincidentally, at the same time the Austrian government was agreeing a coalition, my wife and I were watching the “Sisi” trilogy on Turner Classic Movies.  These three films, made over 50 years ago in Austria (with English sub-titles), portrayed the Austrian Empress Elizabeth, wife of the Emperor Franz Josef, who reigned from 1848-1916. Elizabeth came from Bavaria.  She was sympathetic to the aspirations of Hungarian nationalists and was influential in the historic agreement that united Austria and Hungary in the Austro-Hungarian Empire (in 1867).   Her life was rather tragic – her only son, the Crown Prince Rudolf, committed suicide and she herself was assassinated a few years later, while visiting Geneva.

It was an interesting time in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.   A great deal of liberalization took place under Franz Josef as Austrians tried to keep their multiethnic empire together.   Often overlooked is the fact that this major empire gave a home to eleven different nationalities, all united under the Hapsburgs.  Today, each ethnic group has its own sovereign state, each one weaker than the old empire.

“The great Czech historian Frantisek Palacky once said that if the Hapsburg Empire had not existed, it would have been necessary to invent it” (The Emperors, by Gareth Russell, 2014, pages 40-41).   The European Union is no replacement as it is German dominated.

Some of the former Austrian nationalities are again marching together.   Austria, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are all opposed to further Muslim immigration, wanting to protect and preserve Catholic Europe.   These five countries are set to form the Eastern leg of the biblically prophesied revived Roman Empire.

Following the fall of the Roman Empire in the West in the fifth century, there have been a number of attempts to revive it – most recently, in 1922 Mussolini announced a revival of the Roman Empire; in 1957 European leaders signed the Treaty of Rome, forming what is now the European Union, another attempt at uniting Europe.   Perhaps out of the rubble of the EU will come the final European Union, led by Germany.

Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay.  And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile.  As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.  And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” (Daniel 2:41-44)

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ANNUAL MESSAGES FROM HEADS OF STATE

Every year, the British monarch speaks to the Commonwealth on Christmas Day.  This is a tradition that began with her grandfather, King George V, in 1932.   At the time Britain was a global superpower, ruling over a quarter of the world’s people.   With the introduction of radio in the previous decade, the king could now address all his subjects around the world.

In 1957 the annual radio broadcast began to be televised. By this time, the empire was fundamentally changing.   Indeed, in 1957’s broadcast, the Queen welcomed Ghana and Malaysia into the Commonwealth, as both nations had become independent that year. The 52-nation Commonwealth continues to this day, with the Queen as its Head.

For some years now, the queen’s message has embraced multiculturalism.   The Commonwealth is multicultural in itself, composed of nations that have different religions and a great deal of ethnic diversity.   This year, she took a different approach to her speech. Instead of emphasizing multiculturalism, she praised the citizens of London and Manchester who suffered terrorist attacks last year; and the heroism of Emergency Responders who helped save lives.

Sadly, it is, of course, multiculturalism which has led directly to terrorism, not just in the United Kingdom but in other countries in Europe.

The queen is a deeply religious woman, never more so than at Christmas.   In her speech this year she talked of how Jesus Christ “suffered rejection, hardship and persecution.”   Having experienced all three in recent years, I was encouraged by her words, which prompted a Bible Study from this angle.

Queen Elizabeth is not the only Head of State who gives an annual Christmas speech.   President Steinmeier of Germany addressed the German people on the same day.   The German president, like the British monarch, is a figurehead, playing an important role in unifying the nation at a difficult time.   The German president devoted his speech to reassuring the German people, who still do not have a government over three months after the election.   This is the longest period in the Federal Republic’s history and, for some, brings back memories of the rather unstable Weimar Republic.   Today’s German republic is more resilient and Germany should soon have a new coalition government, made up of two or more parties.

The Pope also gave a Christmas speech.   Whereas the British monarch and the German president were careful not to advocate more immigrants, the pope called upon nations to open their doors wider to receive more refugees.   Ironically, on the same day, ISIS in Somalia called for the assassination of the pope and for attacks on more western cities, like Manchester and London.

And so it goes on.  The West has lost its way and does not know how to respond to radical Islam’s assault upon it.   It won’t, until its religious roots are revived.   Most people in the West still give lip-service to Christianity, but few think deeply about their traditional religions, both Catholic and Protestant.

Acts 4:12 says of Jesus Christ:  “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”   Muslims deny Jesus Christ is the Son of God.   Therefore, to equate Islam with Christianity, makes no sense and endangers Christians, who are ill-prepared for the assault that is taking place upon them today.

The British monarch is the titular Head of the Anglican Community. The Pope is the Head of the Catholic Church.

They need to wake up to what is happening and to see clearly the threat to traditional Christianity.

The Pope, in his annual speech, focused on Jerusalem, calling for an independent Palestinian state, the “two state solution” that has been official policy of most countries in recent years.   What the pope is calling for pits him (and the Church) against the US Administration, which is recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“Pope Francis has used his traditional Christmas Day message to call for “peace for Jerusalem” and dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. Acknowledging “growing tensions” between them, he urged a “negotiated solution . . . .  that would allow the peaceful co-existence of two states.”   US President Donald Trump recently announced that America recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.   The hugely controversial move drew condemnation across the Muslim world.   The Roman Catholic leader gave his Urbi et Orbi speech, which in Latin means “To the city and world,” in Saint Peter’s Square.”    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-42477274

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REVISIONIST HISTORY – CHECK THE FACTS!

I’ve taken to looking up just about everything depicted in historical movies and television programs.   As we watch a series, I keep my laptop on my lap and google the “facts” depicted by Hollywood and others who make movies.   The “facts” are rarely factual. Note the following:

1) The new “History” channel series “Knightfall” depicts the Knights Templar around the year 1300.   In the first episode of the series, the Catholic soldiers saved the Jews who were expelled from Paris by King Philip the Fair in 1306.   According to the series, the Jews were saved by the Knights Templar.

This is a total fabrication.   Note the following from the BBC’s Religion section:

“During the first half of the 13th century the attitude of the Church towards Jews hardened from disapproval to loathing. On 22 July, 1306 King Philip IV of France expelled all Jews from his kingdom.”

2) The second season of “The Crown” (Netflix) implies that Prince Philip cheated on his wife in the 1950’s and early 60’s.   There is no evidence for this.  It may be true – it may not be true.  But people watching the otherwise excellent series will no doubt believe everything they see.

3)   “A United Kingdom” was an otherwise good movie, telling the story of Seretse Khama and his wife Ruth Williams.   Sir Seretse led Botswana to independence in 1966.   He met his wife while studying in London.   They were a bi-racial couple in southern Africa, not very common in those days and forbidden in neighboring South Africa, the regional powerhouse.   In 1947 the movie referred to the presidents of four neighboring countries, not one of which had a president at the time, as they were all a part of the British Commonwealth.

4) This is the worst one!   ‘The Viceroy’s House” is a recent movie set in India at the time of independence and partition, in 1947.

Everything in the movie was good until somebody opened a drawer and pulled out a two-year-old highly secretive British government paper advocating partition of the country into India and (Muslim) Pakistan.   So what, you may ask?

Well, this file changed history.   Instead of Earl Mountbatten being responsible for partition, the file “revealed” it was war-time leader Winston Churchill.   As the anti-colonial Guardian reviewer put it – it was the equivalent of somebody in Germany opening a drawer and finding that the Holocaust was first proposed, not by Hitler, but by Mussolini.

Why can’t the entertainment industry ever get it right?   As far more people will watch the movie than read any book on the subject, Churchill will now be blamed for one of the greatest disasters of the twentieth century.

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One very good series we’ve seen was on the National Geographic Channel.  It was a biography of Albert Einstein.   One of the most brilliant minds in history, he was absolutely hopeless at personal relationships.

I thought you might appreciate the following quote from the great physicist himself:   “The universe is so extraordinary that only God could have created it.  My job is to figure out how He did it.”  (Einstein)

The two greatest scientists of all time were Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein.     Many people today see science and religion as opposites — these men did not.  They both believed in God.    Be sure to share that fact with others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GRANDCHILDREN, THE DEBATE AND THE CANADIAN CROWN

Evan very upset he couldn't have that "juice."
Evan very upset he couldn’t have that juice.

We’re visiting our daughter, Alix, her husband, Mike, and their family in Indianapolis.   Seven of our grandchildren are with us in the house. Our son’s two girls had to stay behind for basketball try-outs on Sunday.

The 5-hour drive south was stressful, to put it mildly.   Not only did we have to contend with road construction that seriously impacted our speed but we had three young children in the van, one of whom hates traveling and kept asking to go home.   Even after we arrived, he still wanted to go home, asking Grandpa if we could leave late at night just to get away from it all. He must have sensed my stress!

It’s now Friday lunchtime.   Just as I sat down to write, Evan, one of Alix’s twins, rode in a laundry basket down the steep stairs and crashed into the front door.   He’s ok – I’m not sure about the door and the laundry basket has definitely seen better days!  (Not to mention Alix’s heart failure!)

A few moments earlier, our autistic grandson who has a tendency to run away and get lost, knocked on the front door.   We’ve no idea how he got out but at least he came back.   He’s 4.   He’s a late developer – I ran away when I was 3.

Evan is clearly a troublemaker.   I have been sipping whisky in an attempt to kill a sore throat, though it doubles as a coping mechanism with all the activity around me.   I just looked up to find Evan took my whisky bottle over to his mom and asked her to pour him some “juice.”

In spite of the occasional stress of sheer numbers, I still think that the opportunity to have time with grandchildren is a tremendous blessing and we truly enjoy every minute of it.

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We are, of course, in Mike Pence territory. He’s been Governor of Indiana for four years and is highly spoken of by, seemingly, everybody.   He’s done a good job governing the state, which has a financial surplus.

I thought he was treated badly on Monday by his opponent Tim Kaine in the Vice Presidential debate.   Mr. Kaine kept on interrupting Mr. Pence so that he could not get his points across.   Kaine was rude while Pence responded like a gentleman.

Another difference between them was over the issue of abortion. Kaine squirmed and waffled while trying to explain how he supports abortion when his own church, the Church of Rome, is against it.   He said he felt it would be wrong of him to force his own view on women who want abortions.   Mr. Pence, a Protestant and regular church-goer, reaffirmed his total opposition to abortion and said that, as Governor of Indiana, he has been promoting adoption as a means of encouraging women to give birth, rather than have their unborn child murdered.   He reminded viewers that Mrs. Clinton supports partial-birth abortions, allowing women to abort babies when they are close to delivery.   He even quoted Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.”

Mrs. Clinton supposedly takes her Christianity seriously – she’s a Methodist, a church now opposed to abortion.

Kaine and Clinton can only be described as hypocrites, supporting the murder of innocent children, while claiming to both be people of faith.

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This year’s US presidential election cannot be encouraging any country to adopt the American system of government.   Comments heard overseas are along the lines of:   “Out of 330 million people, this is the best you can come up with?”

The ignorance of the rest of the world shown by Gary (“What’s Aleppo?”) Johnson, who is now claiming that knowledge of world affairs is “over-rated,” must be another influencing factor.

So, it’s not surprising that Canadians welcomed Prince William, his wife and two children, to British Columbia and Yukon.   The future King and Queen of Canada, with their son, Prince George, who will succeed his father on the throne 40 or 50 years from now, ensure that Canada’s current system of government will endure for the rest of this century.

Canada is a constitutional monarchy, just like the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.   There are also 13 other Commonwealth Realms over which the Queen reigns.   In addition, she is Head of the 53-nation Commonwealth of former British colonies.   The British government has no authority over any of these countries.

Although many people think the 90-year-old Queen doesn’t do anything, the left-wing Independent newspaper in Britain wrote the following on her responsibilities:

“Her schedule is incredibly regimented, with multiple formal proceedings, events and processes she has to adhere to every day.

Meetings with ministers and officials take up a large portion of her day and, like most of us, she spends a big chunk of her time at work.

Morning

The Queen’s working day begins at her desk scanning the daily newspapers.   She then proceeds to go through some of the 300 letters she receives from the general public every day.   Some of these letters the Queen reads and replies to herself, while with others she tells members of her staff how she would like them to be answered.

Her Majesty will then see two of her private secretaries with the daily quota of official papers and documents.   She receives a huge number of correspondences from Government ministers and her representatives in the Commonwealth and foreign countries.   All of these have to be read and, where necessary, approved and signed.

A series of official meetings or ‘audiences’ will often follow.   Each meeting usually lasting 10 to 20 minutes.

If there is an Investiture, a ceremony for the presentation of honors and decorations, it begins at 11.00am and lasts just over an hour.

The Queen will then lunch privately although every couple of months, she and The Duke of Edinburgh will invite a dozen guests from a wide variety of backgrounds to an informal lunch.

If Her Majesty is spending the morning on engagements away from her desk and other commitments, she will visit up to three venues before lunch, either alone or jointly with The Duke of Edinburgh.

Afternoon

In the afternoons, the Queen often goes out on public engagements and prepares for each visit by briefing herself on who she will be meeting and what she will be seeing and doing.   Her Majesty carries out around 430 engagements (including audiences) a year and will regularly go out for the whole day to a particular region or city.

The afternoon draws to an end with a meeting of the Privy Council with several government ministers.

Evening

Early evening can involve the weekly meeting with the Prime Minister, which usually takes place on Wednesdays at 6.30pm.” (Independent, 9/9/15)

She is also available to all Commonwealth leaders.

Prince Charles will inherit the same responsibilities, as will Prince William, then George, in turn.

In contrast to the US, where party politics has seriously damaged the unity of the country, the Queen brings people together in a non-political way.

Western democracies, in the main, have one of three distinctly different forms of democracy.

The US presidential system is one.

The “Westminster” (British system) is another.   This is just as democratic.   People elect their representatives to parliament.   The dominant party’s leader becomes the prime minister.   The Queen remains outside of politics, but contributes greatly to political stability and national unity.

The third option is a mix of the two, with a parliamentary form of government and a prime minister but, instead of a monarch, there is an appointed figurehead president, with similar powers to the British monarch.   The Germans, Italians and Irish have this form of government.   A serious weakness was shown with this system in 1934, when the German president died suddenly and the new Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, simply abolished the office and had himself proclaimed “Fuhrer.”   This could not happen in a constitutional monarchy – when the Queen dies, automatically Charles becomes King.

Although some people in Canada would like to see the tie with the Crown abolished when the Queen dies, Canadian John Fraser summed up their arguments this way:   “Queen Elizabeth has done a great job for Canada; therefore let’s make sure there is no monarchy when she dies.”  (“The Secret of the Crown,” John Fraser, 2012)   The reasoning really doesn’t make sense.

Fraser points out that Canada is one of the most successful countries in the world, thanks partly to its political system, which includes a major role for the Crown.   The country’s birth owes its origin to the Crown and the people’s allegiance to it. Even the current Liberal Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is committed to maintaining the tie with the Crown – indeed, he invited William and Kate to Canada, along with their two children.   Next year, Prince Charles and his wife will be in Canada to join in celebrations for the 150th anniversary of confederation.

 

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?

 

ACROSS THE POND

Queen's 2016 birthday

I’ve not been able to write much recently.   This is due to the fact that we moved house on Sunday.   Or, rather, I should say we moved the big, heavy items with the help of younger men from our church. For a month before that, we were moving small items ourselves.   Now, we still have to clear out our old house.  We have a few more days to do that and then things should get back to normal.  (Why is my wife laughing hysterically . . . ?)

Moving house later in life is more difficult.   Not only is lifting harder, especially after two major back surgeries and my wife’s cancer surgery.   But also we have accumulated more.   So this has been an opportunity to get rid of some things.   We still have a long way to go, though.   We must keep working on it.

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President Obama is in England as I write.  He’s upset a lot of people by urging the British to stay in the EU.   A referendum on the issue is due in two months.

The US president stated that fighting terrorism is more effective within the European Union.   This is debatable – the EU allows freedom of movement within the 28-member organization.   In itself, this encourages terrorism.

It should be noted that Switzerland is surrounded by the EU, but not a member and has not had one single terrorist incident.

It’s also true that the EU is not a security organization – NATO is.   There is no suggestion that Britain leave NATO.

Thirdly, it has always been the case that foreign leaders do not interfere in elections in other countries.   Is a new precedent being set here?   Can Mr. Cameron now come over to Washington and tell Americans not to vote for Trump?

Having said that, President Kennedy over 50 years ago, encouraged the United Kingdom to join what is now the European Union.   The reason is simple – Washington wants a reliable pro-American voice in the world’s biggest single market.

But how would Americans feel if they were part of an Americas Union, bringing all the nations of North and South America together in one bloc?   Would they willingly take orders from Havana and Caracas?   That’s exactly what the Brits are having to do as members of the EU.   Some member countries have lost considerable financial independence, as they have to wait for orders from Berlin.   Germany is the dominant power in the EU.   The Union is a socialist bloc that tries to control every aspect of daily life.   No wonder so many Brits want out.   The president should stay out of the debate and leave it to the British people, who have to subsidize the organization from their taxes each and every day.

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The Obamas arrived in London on the Queen’s 90th birthday.   They will be having lunch with her on Friday.   The official reason for their visit is to honor the Queen.   Mrs. Obama has expressed a desire to see the monarch’s grandchildren and great grandchildren.   A family photo was released this week showing four generations of monarchs sitting together – Queen Elizabeth and future monarchs Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George.   A similar picture was taken in the 1890’s of Queen Victoria with her oldest son, grandson and great-grandson (the future Edward VII, George V and Edward VIII).

No other British monarch has ever lived to be 90.   Nor has any other monarch reigned as long as the Queen.   The Queen’s marriage is also the longest ever royal marriage in history.   It’s interesting to note that out of 40 monarchs, the three most prominent ones have all been women, Elizabeth I, Victoria and Elizabeth II.

Commentators on BBC World yesterday expressed the opinion that the Queen’s longevity and famous devotion to duty owes a great deal to three things – good health, strong faith and Prince Philip, who turns 95 in June.   For the first time, a book on her faith is available for people to read.   It’s title is The Servant Queen and the King She Serves.   Hopefully, it will influence more of her subjects to reject the secular humanism that has brought so many evils into British society and look to Jesus Christ for solutions to their problems.   This is equally true for Commonwealth countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

In contrast to most world leaders the Queen sees herself as a servant.   She is no doubt familiar with the words of Jesus Christ who taught His disciples to be different to the leaders they saw around them.

”But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.   Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.   And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  (Matthew 20: 25-28).

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Pat Buchanan has just written a column on “America’s Imperial Overstretch,” comparing the country’s present state to the last days of the British Empire.   Most people today are unaware that when the British monarch was born, the British Empire was the greatest power in the world.   At the start of her reign, Britain was still a very powerful country.   One of its greatest strengths was the Royal Navy. Now, there are so few ships, there are none available to protect the Falkland Islands from Argentina.   Nor are there any to defend Gibraltar.   The governments of the two colonies took the unusual step earlier this month of issuing a joint statement reminding potential aggressors (Argentina and Spain) that the United Nations charter calls for the “self-determination of peoples.”   The populations of both colonies want to remain British but Britain can’t or won’t defend them.

This is the future Americans have to look forward to – imperial decline on a massive scale.

Note Pat Buchanan’s comments:

“Since the end of the Cold War in 1991, this country has been steadily bled and slowly bankrupted. We are now as overextended as was the British Empire in the 1940s.

“And like that empire, we, too, are being challenged by nations that seek to enlarge their place in the sun — a resurrected Russia, China, Iran.   And we are being bedeviled by fanatics who want us out of their part of the world, which they wish to remake according to the visions of their own faiths and ideologies.  (“America’s Imperial Overstretch,” 4/14)

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President and Mrs. Obama arrived in England after visiting Saudi Arabia.  It was clear the Saudis are upset with the United States.   For decades the alliance between the two has been a cornerstone of US foreign policy.   Now that the US is cuddling up to Shi’ite Iran, the Saudis feel betrayed.   As one commentator put it – they don’t like playing the role of a rejected wife as the husband turns his attention to his new mistress, Tehran!   Divorce, however, is not considered an option. It is also the case that many Saudis (maybe most) are more enamored with IS than the US!