Tag Archives: fascism

FAMILY REUNIONS

We had all nine grandchildren in the house last week, Monday through Friday.   Hence, the lack of a blog post a week ago.   Visits to the grocery store were frequent, as was taking them places.   There was no time to write, or even watch the news.

After our mini-family reunion, I really hope they will want to see each other after my wife and I are no longer around to host the gathering.   I’m sure they will!

I was struck (again) by how much louder the five younger ones, all boys, were, than their four older female sisters and cousins.   Noise, noise, noise!   Can’t boys do anything quietly?   Clearly not.

I found myself walking through the daily debris silently reminding myself that “children are a blessing!”  They certainly are and I’m already looking forward to when we can all be together again.

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THEN AND NOW

When everybody was gone, I started reading Boris Johnson’s “The Churchill Factor:   How one man made history.”

You may have heard of Boris Johnson.   He’s sometimes been described as “Britain’s Donald Trump.”   On his recent visit to England, Trump expressed the opinion that Boris would make “a great prime minister.”   A poll earlier this week showed him to be the favorite to succeed Theresa May.   Donald Trump and Boris Johnson have known each other for some time and are good friends.

Boris served two terms as a very successful Mayor of London.   More recently, he was Britain’s Foreign Secretary, the equivalent of Secretary of State.

He resigned a few weeks ago over Brexit.   His objection, supported by many, is that Mrs. May, the Prime Minister, seems to want to compromise with the European Union.   This would not deliver the Brexit (total independence) from the EU that was promised after the referendum over two years ago.   There is still no agreement between the UK and the EU over future trade.   Boris Johnson’s point is that the United Kingdom doesn’t need one – that new trade deals can be signed after breaking away from Brussels.   Have faith – it will all work out.

I must admit to sympathy with his stance.   Get out quick.   Don’t hesitate.

His book on Churchill was written a few years ago and published in 2014.   I’m now reading chapter 17 (there are 23 chapters).   The chapter is titled “The Wooing of America” and details Churchill’s relationship with Franklin Roosevelt.   His single-minded mission was to bring the United States into the war against Hitler.   At their first wartime meeting, the two leaders were concerned that Hitler had recently invaded Russia.   But Churchill knew that after Russia, he would come after Britain; and that if Britain fell and Hitler sank the Royal Navy, America would be next.   The whole world would very quickly descend into the barbarism of fascism.

A lot was at stake when they met in Newfoundland on August 10th, 1941.   This was the handshake that was to change the history of the twentieth century.

“As he stretches out that elegant white hand he knows he is reaching for his only lifeline; and yet there is nothing about him to convey the gloom of his position.   On the contrary, his face is suddenly wreathed in smiles, babyish, irresistible.

“Roosevelt smiles back; they grip hands, for ages, each reluctant to be the first to let go, and for the next two days Churchill maintains his schmoozathon.   We don’t know exactly what they say to each other at the first such Atlantic conference — the direct ancestor of NATO; but we know that Churchill lays it on thick.   His mission is to build up a sense of common destiny; to work with the grain of Roosevelt’s natural instincts, and to turn the USA from distant sympathizers into full-blown allies in bloodshed.” (page 235)

This was a family reunion, only the second time a President of the United States had shaken the hand of a British prime minister in office.   160 years after Yorktown.   160 years after the United States had separated itself from the rest of the English speaking world.   Now the two branches of the Anglo-Saxon world (the two sons of Joseph) were to be united in a common purpose.  They met in Canada, the oldest Dominion of the  British Empire, a nation founded by Loyalists at the end of the Revolutionary War.  The alliance that was forming  has remained the foundation of global peace and order for 77 years.

As I read Johnson’s book, I could see parallels with today.   There’s no fighting this time (not yet, anyway), but once again Britain is trying to free itself from European despotism, as it has so often in history.   There are those, like the current prime minister, who want to compromise; but others, like Boris Johnson, who are in a Churchillian mood, wanting to raise two fingers to the German-dominated EU (the two fingers were “V for Victory” in WWII, but, reversed, they have another meaning in England, which you will have to Google!)

History may repeat itself.

Confidence in Mrs. May is waning.  The Opposition Labour Party is scandalizing Britain with its anti-semitism.   The smaller parties are not credible.   An internal coup in the Conservative Party could replace Mrs. May with Boris Johnson, just as Chamberlain was replaced with Winston Churchill.

There’s another analogy.

Mr. Trump repeated a commitment to Mrs. May that the US will offer a free trade deal to the United Kingdom when Britain leaves the EU.   (EU rules mean that no deal can be signed until D-Day on 29th March next year; D for Departure!)    American farmers, losing markets in the current trade dispute with the EU, will benefit from a new trade deal with the UK; Britain will benefit with plentiful supplies of cheap food.

Once again, the New World may come to the aid of the Old.

Once again, a family reunion could make a big difference in the world.

There’s another lesson from Churchill’s meeting with FDR.   After the historic meeting of president and prime minister, there was a “divine service” on the Sunday morning.   Sailors of the two nations sang hymns together – “chosen by Churchill – that express that single heritage:   two broadly Protestant nations bound together against a vile and above all a pagan regime.”   (pages 235-6)

This was just a few weeks after the National Day of Prayer called by King George VI during Dunkirk.

At such a critical time, today’s leaders should follow the example of their predecessors and ask God for divine help through a very challenging time.

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BEWARE OF CHINESE TIES

Britain is keen for a sweet deal with China after Brexit – but watch out for Beijing’s ‘debt-trap diplomacy’, says Michael Auslin.   For decades we’ve heard dire warnings about China’s growing military power, but these doom-mongers have missed the point.   China isn’t on the war path.   Where old empires would start by invading, it starts by trading.   Only when an economy has become dependent on trade does Beijing begin to demand more, with the aim of creating an ever-expanding ‘Greater China’ in its near abroad.   (Freddy Gray, The Spectator, 8/2)

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FARMERS IN CRISIS

There’s increasing talk of land redistribution in South Africa, the wealthiest nation on the African continent.   It’s been almost a quarter of a century since the end of apartheid, a period in which few black South Africans have seen any benefits.   A wealthy elite has been created through corruption at the highest level, but little has been done to help the average person.

Neighboring Zimbabwe confiscated land from white farmers at the turn of this century.   The result was mass starvation, the collapse of the currency and economic chaos.

The European farmers who colonized southern Africa in the nineteenth century brought a great deal of development to the region.   Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) was the ‘breadbasket of Africa;” now, after almost forty years of independence, it’s the “basket case of Africa.”   The white farmers who once dominated Rhodesia were “commercial farmers,” similar to their American and Canadian counter-parts. African farmers are “subsistence” farmers, who just grow enough food for their own families.   This is a major cultural difference the world does not understand.   Confiscating white farmland can only have one consequence – a dramatic drop in food production (Zimbabwe saw a 90% drop, with a consequent famine).

Farmers in South Africa are being murdered at an alarming rate.   Many have chosen to leave the country.   Western Australia is one area that is attracting them.   Other parts of Africa are offering the farmers 99-year leases to boost their own agricultural production. Even Russia is encouraging them to relocate.

Other farmers from Europe moved to North America, Australia and New Zealand in the nineteenth century.   These commercial farmers produce a disproportionate percentage of the world’s food.   Higher tariffs on agricultural produce could affect this, along with changes in the weather and massive fires that seem to be a permanent fixture of our landscape.   All of these threaten today’s farmers.

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AFRICAN ELECTION

Zimbabwe’s woes never seem to end.   The “first free election” held at the weekend, has been followed by riots and violence as the losing party claims to have won.   It’s not possible to determine who really won, but after 38 years, ZANU-PF is still in power.   Most people will not be surprised.

Prior to Zimbabwe, Rhodesia had elections for decades without any violence.   Zimbabwe has not been able to achieve that.   As is the case elsewhere in Africa, tribalism and corruption have led to democracy being compromised.   Zimbabwe’s first leader, Robert Mugabe, was in power for almost 38 years, leading a very corrupt regime.

It’s doubtful there will be any significant change.

 

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REPEATING THE 1930’s

Chamberlain (right) shakes hands with Mussolini after signing the Munich Agreement while Hitler and other European leaders look on, 30 September 1938. Photograph: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS

It’s DEJA VU all over again!

The world is starting to resemble the 1930’s, which ended in WWII.

1) ITALY may not seem important.  But In 1922 the fascists came to power and Mussolini proclaimed a revival of the Roman Empire.   That was the beginning of World War II in Europe.   Fascism was a major force in a number of European countries in the thirties.

The country had an election last Sunday.  The result stunned Europe — two populist parties got most of the votes.   The two parties are widely seen as the equivalent of the fascist party that ruled Italy up to and during WWII.

This follows an election a few months ago that had a similar outcome in Germany.  The AfD there is now the main opposition party.   These parties in Germany, Italy and elsewhere in Europe are often labeled “far-right.”   They are all “populist” parties that have gained support at the expense of mainstream political parties.   They are anti-EU and anti-immigrant, as well as very nationalistic.

2)  There is increasing talk of a TRADE WAR on both sides of the Atlantic.   What started out as retaliation against unfair Chinese trade policies is spreading into a full-scale trade war between the US and the EU.   The Smoot-Hawley Act of 1930 followed the stock market crash and put high tariffs on US imports.   It is considered a major development on the road to the GREAT DEPRESSION, which led in turn to WW2.  It is difficult to see how the western alliance can hold together with increasing conflict over trade.

Historically, trade wars increase unemployment;   while unemployment leads voters to turn to the right, becoming more nationalistic.   A trade war will strengthen populist parties everywhere.

3) GERMANY REARMING  — President Trump has been pushing  for this to force Germany to contribute more to western defense.   Germany now has a military presence in the Sahel,  Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf and Baghdad.  Germany is also at the forefront of calling for a united European military force.

4)  UK & GERMANY AT LOGGERHEADS — In 1938 the British government was seeking to appease Germany; it still is, though this time there’s no talk of war. Just TALK, TALK, TALK over trade following Brexit. It does not look good for Britain as I write.

5)   GROWING ANTI-SEMITISM.    There have been a number of attacks on Jews in France, so many, in fact, that French Jews are leaving in record numbers for Israel; the Polish parliament has passed a law that forbids people from claiming Polish involvement in the Holocaust, even though it’s known that 200,000 Poles helped the Nazis round up Jews during World War II and assisted in the extermination camps; thirdly, Iceland has just banned male circumcision, while other countries are considering it.   This action will affect Muslims as well as Jews.

6)  RUSSIA IS MAKING THREATENING NOISES UNDER PUTIN, just as it did under Stalin.   Could Russia and Germany repeat the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact?    Both China and Russia now have dictators for life.   A prominent spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church is calling for the restoration of the monarchy in Russia.  He seems to have Putin in mind as Czar.  Whatever happens domestically in each country, the US will likely be in confrontation with both in the future.  In the 1930’s Stalin’s threats were ideological;  now the threats are just plain old-fashioned nationalism.

7)  AMERICA FIRST – in the 1930’s it was AMERICAN ISOLATIONISM, now it’s called AMERICA FIRST. And it’s not just Trump – America is focused on itself.   There is little foreign news on TV and most people just aren’t interested in what’s happening overseas.  It took Pearl Harbor to wake Americans up.   What will it take this time?

CONCLUSION

History repeats itself.  But it does not repeat itself exactly.   It remains to be seen how future events play out.  But the similarities with the 1930’s are definitely there.

There are, however, two big differences.

During the 1930’s the world’s only superpower was the British Empire.    This no longer exists.   There is also no Winston Churchill warning of the dangers ahead.   Without a warning message it is doubtful nations will make the changes needed to change course and avoid the mistakes of eight decades ago.

The above is a speech I’ve prepared for Men’s Speech Club  tomorrow.   I decided to post it to my blog.

 

 

 

 

 

CONTINUING UNCERTAINTY IN EUROPE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Newsletter 2016/12/06 – A Time Bomb

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

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

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

Tuesday 29 November 2016 

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

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

There is growing concern about Germany’s increasing power.

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

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

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

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

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

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IT’S NEVER TOO LATE

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE MISSING SPIRITUAL DIMENSION

Blessing, Curse Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Blue Sky and Clouds.

Yesterday, I quoted Daniel P. Bolger, a retired Lieutenant-General, who has just written a book on the two major conflicts of the first decade of this century. The book’s title is “Why We Lost.”

I haven’t read the book yet. It only came out on Veterans Day. I’ve requested it from our local library and will write a review when it becomes available.

Meanwhile, I would like to add a dimension that I doubt the retired Lt-General includes in his book. It’s a lesson from ancient Israel.

Deuteronomy chapter 28 is often called the Blessings and Cursings chapter. In it, God promises Israel all kinds of blessings that will come upon the nation if it chooses to obey God. Then, He lists all the bad things that will befall them if they disobey God.

This chapter is applicable to us today. Not just in the United States, but in the UK, Canada, Australia and other western nations. One example lies in the widespread rejection of the traditional biblical family that began in the sixties. The consequences are now upon us and seem to worsen by the day. Nations cannot disobey God without negative repercussions.

The chapter specifically mentions war, with a promise of easy victory if Israel obeys. “The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways” (verse 7). I can still remember a time when Americans could boast that they had never lost a war. At a time in the country’s history when religious convictions were far greater, victory was assured. This all changed after World War Two.

Note what the same chapter says about disobedience. “The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them; and you shall become troublesome to all the kingdoms of the earth” (verse 25).   Add to those words the following: “The Lord will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, because of the wickedness of your doings in which you have forsaken Me” (v.20).

It’s distressing to think about it but this is precisely what is happening. We did not win the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and we are not winning against ISIS now.

There clearly is a spiritual element here.

Part of the problem is that there is confusion over who the enemy is. Our ancestors believed Islam was a pagan religion. There were no Muslims in the United States before the American Civil War.  Our generation embraces Islam as an equally valid faith. This change in thinking is a direct result of the rejection of a fundamental truth of Christianity, that salvation is only possible through 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” (Acts 4:12).

But this confusion means that we fight wars half-heartedly. How far would we have got in World War Two if we had thought that fascism was an equally valid way of life? Or, later, that communism really did offer a utopia?

According to the BBC this morning, the UK is going to fast-track legislation to strip terrorists of citizenship. This was announced as a tough response. In contrast, Denmark is going to try rehabilitation of terrorists who return from fighting with ISIS. Rehabilitation?!? Are they seriously expecting people who beheaded men and raped women to commit to doing good works with the Salvation Army?

Such weak responses are not likely to win this conflict. How will we react when ISIS reaches our own shores?

We haven’t even got the sense to reverse the liberal reforms of the last fifty years, changes that led directly to recruiting for ISIS. Second generation Muslims cannot reconcile the permissiveness of our society with Islam, which means “submission.”

It should be remembered that both ancient Israel and ancient Judah fell to enemy nations as a direct consequence of their disobedience. Our national sins are an abomination to God – could we go the same way as Israel and Judah?