Tag Archives: Greece

COULD SEVENTY BE “IT” FOR THE US?

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Tuesday February 21st marks a special anniversary that will most probably be overlooked.

It happens to be the 70th anniversary of the United States replacing Great Britain as the world’s number one power.

After fighting two world wars, Britain was faced with three major international crises all at once.

The new British Labour government had already announced plans to give independence to India, after two centuries of British rule.   This led to turmoil on the sub-continent between Hindus and Muslims.   British troops tried to keep the peace.

At the same time Palestine exploded.   In 1946 Jewish nationalists blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, British military headquarters in the mandated territory, killing 91 people.

The first two problems occurred on British territories; the third was in Greece, where communists were trying to take over the country.

At the same time, Britain was broke, following the two major global conflicts of the first half of the twentieth century.   Early in 1947, economic problems at home meant that Britain could no longer allocate funds to the conflict in Greece.   They decided to inform Washington to see if America wanted to take over.

“On Friday, February 21st” the Secretary of State General George C. Marshall, left the State Department early to attend the bicentennial celebrations of Princeton University and receive an honorary degree.   Then the British Embassy telephoned to say it had two urgent notes.”   As these notes were urgent, Dean Acheson, the Under-Secretary of State, asked the Embassy’s first secretary to deliver them rather than wait until the Monday.   “Recalling this episode in later years, Acheson wrote, “They were shockers”.”

“It was not being asked to provide aid to Greece that was shocking. The State Department was already preparing a plan for aid.   It was the fact that Britain was pulling out and proposing to hand over responsibility.   After all, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff had advised the previous year:   ‘The defeat or disintegration of the British Empire would eliminate from Eurasia the last bulwark of resistance between the US and Soviet expansion . . .  Our present position as a world power is of necessity closely interwoven with that of       Britain , , ,

“This was a momentous change.   For two centuries Britain had been the dominant power in the eastern Mediterranean.   Now it seemed to be surrendering that role in two key countries.   It is often said that Americans lack a historical sense that Europeans have, but on this occasion it was the Americans who saw the historical significance of that moment.   To British ministers, battling from day to day to keep the country’s head above water, this seemed to be just a temporary retrenchment in one area.   None of them appeared to see any larger implications in the decision.   The American view was put in grandiloquent terms by Joseph M. Jones, who was in the State Department at the time:   ‘Reading the messages, Hickerson realized, as had Henderson before him, that Great Britain had within the hour handed the job of world leadership, with all its burdens and all its glory, to the United States.” (“Picking up the reins,” Norman Moss, 2008, page 64, italics mine).

The whole world did not recognize the change immediately,   It was to be another ten years before it became clear to all.   At the end of 1956 the Suez Canal crisis showed that London could not do anything without American support.   Soon afterward, the US was encouraging Britain to dismantle its empire and then to join the European Union (then the European Economic Community).

US vs EU

It’s ironic then that, over the weekend, at the Munich Security Conference, “leading German foreign policy experts” called “on the EU to reposition itself on the world stage, replacing the United States as the West’s ‘torchbearer.’   Since Washington’s change of government, the United States no longer ‘qualifies as the symbol of the West’s political and moral leadership, according to Wolfgang Ischinger, Chair of the Munich Security Conference.   It is therefore up to Europe ‘to make up for this loss.’”   (GermanForeignPolicy.com)

That’s easier said than done.   But the EU could be the world’s dominant military power for the simple reason that it is the world’s biggest trading power.   That’s the main reason why the US took over from Great Britain.   Economic power = military power.   The US is struggling economically which is one reason why President Trump is demanding the Europeans pay more for NATO.   Of course, the Europeans have their own financial problems, but they have an urgent need to protect themselves from both Russia and Islamic terrorism.   If they are going to have to pay more for defense, why not go-it-alone?   Especially when they no longer have confidence in American leadership.

One of the first superpowers, Babylon, was predicted to last “seventy years” (Jeremiah 25:12 & 29:10), illustrating how seventy is a significant number.   In Psalm 90:10, Moses was inspired to write that “our days may come to seventy years,” the lifespan of many human beings. Perhaps more significantly in the rise and fall of nations is the fact that, after seven decades, most people have forgotten everything. Few today remember World War II.   Few remember that Baron Ismay, Secretary General of NATO from 1952-55, described the alliance as intended to “keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down.”   In the current debate on the future of the alliance, this has been completely forgotten.

Dismantle the alliance and two things will happen:   1) the American president will no longer be “the Leader of the Free World;” and 2) Germany will become the undisputed Leader of Europe (she already is economically).   On the 70th anniversary of America’s ascendancy, the Munich conference saw nations actively discussing the end of America’s pre-eminence.

President Trump in Washington and Vice-President Mike Pence, who addressed the conference, may see themselves as being in the lead, calling the shots, insisting on changes within the alliance; but the other member nations have the choice of forming their own military alliance, which will not be led by the United States.

As with the change seventy years ago, it may take a while to fully emerge, but this is the direction we are heading in.   On Sunday, Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, announced she is seeking closer ties with Russia to bring about the defeat of ISIS.

It might be good for Washington’s new leaders to take a lesson from the great nineteenth century German Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, who once observed that a great power, to survive, must be “one of three” in a world governed by “five.”   Note the following:

“Of the five original great powers recognized at the Congress of Vienna, only France and the United Kingdom have maintained that status continuously to the present day, although France was defeated in the Franco-Prussian War and occupied during World War II.   After the Congress of Vienna, the British Empire emerged as the pre-eminent power, due to its navy and the extent of its territories, which signaled the beginning of the Pax Britannica and of the Great Game between the UK and Russia.   The balance of power between the Great Powers became a major influence in European politics, prompting Otto von Bismarck to say “All politics reduces itself to this formula:  try to be one of three, as long as the world is governed by the unstable equilibrium of five great powers.”   (“Great Power,” Wikipedia)

In 1914, the German and Austrian empires went to war with the British, French and Russian empires.   Germany was one of two in a world governed by five.   The Germans lost.  They repeated the same mistake in World War II, when Germany and Japan were the two, in a world still governed by five.   The three opposing powers were Britain, America and Russia.   Again, the Germans lost.

The five major powers right now are the EU, China, the United States, Japan and Russia (a great military power, but not so great economically).   The US remains in alliance with the countries of the EU and Japan, making it one of three in a world governed by five.   If the EU separates from the US, that will reduce America to being one of two.

This all may seem incredible with almost daily news of set-backs in the EU.   France and Holland may leave after elections early this year; Greece and Italy have serious financial problems, which may affect the euro.   But the fact remains that Germany dominates the continent and Germany is putting together a European military force to rival America’s.   The Munich security conference showed the will is there, boosted considerably by the change of administration in Washington.

Daniel 2:21 says that God is behind the rise and fall of nations.   “And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings.”   It could be, that after seventy years, the American Era is coming to an end. Munich this weekend showed that many want to see that happen.

Something to think about as the US passes its seventieth anniversary!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ALCOHOL, EUROPE AND THE ECONOMY

Hollande and Iranian Pres

The British and French governments seem to belatedly be realizing the threat from Islamization.

When the French president Francois Hollande entertained the visiting Iranian president last week, an official luncheon had been arranged to welcome the visitor and his entourage.  But then the Iranians objected to wine being served at the meal.  London or Washington would have simply switched to non-alcoholic grape juice, but not the French.  The very idea of a meal without wine was unthinkable, so they promptly cancelled the lunch.

Good for them!

Across the English Channel, the Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament, is in need of some urgent repair.  While the building is being renovated, parliament will meet in another hall. This hall is owned by a group with Islamic connections and will not allow alcohol in the building.   Parliamentarians are used to having ten bars to choose from in their own hall.  They will now have no alcohol for a few months!

Perhaps a dry spell might help them focus better on the threat from growing Islamic influence.

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Meanwhile, consumption of alcohol must be up across America as people follow (or don’t follow) the US presidential election.   It’s a means of escape.

Our bank manager dismisses all the candidates as being “useless.”   His point is that not one of them offers a solution to the problem of the $19 trillion national debt – which, of course, threatens the very existence of the country.

It’s a world record.  Never before in history has any country owed so much.   It cannot go on.

We are in unchartered territory, as no nation has ever been in this great a fiscal mess.

Since I wrote this segment, plans have been revealed for $4.1 trillion more to be spent, in a record budget by the Obama Administration. This will include a major allocation for cyber-security, seen as the single biggest threat to the United States.

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I’m writing this on Tuesday afternoon while watching “Dumbo,” the Disney classic about a flying elephant.

I should add that Diane and I are watching two of our grandchildren. This is their favorite movie.  They are both three years old.

When I finish, I could switch over to one of the news channels and see the latest from New Hampshire, where primaries are being held today.

But I think I will stick with escapism.

The grandchildren will be asking for “Little Einsteins” next.

It’s going to take an Einstein to make even a dent in the problems that confront us.

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We watched “The Big Short” on Saturday night.  The movie is a factual account of how the housing bubble burst a few years ago.   It’s engrossing on one level, unbelievable really.  However, I should warn you, it contains a great deal of bad language.

Sunday we were able to watch “Murder of a President,” a 2-hour PBS “American Experience” documentary, about the assassination of President John Garfield in 1881.  His assassin was, at least, delusional and may have been paranoid schizophrenic.  But it wasn’t the assassination as such that killed the president.  It was mistakes by his doctors and one doctor in particular.   Medical science has certainly come a long way since Garfield’s death.  Back then, they did not even know the importance of cleanliness!

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It turns out that $750 million in Obamacare subsidies went to illegal aliens last year.  That partly explains why the IRS has just presented me with a $6,500 tax bill, mostly for Obamacare.   I’m still reeling from the shock and may require medical care, but can’t afford it thanks to the bill for Obamacare!

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That’s not to say it’s better elsewhere.

The former Greek finance minister today warned that Europe is going through a depression.   Yanis Varoufakis warns in The Independent that Europe is sliding back into the 1930’s and a new political movement is needed.    He is launching the “Democracy in Europe Movement 2025” (DiEM25 for short).   He says that Europe is run by a cartel, not by its people, even though European countries are all democracies.

The self-described “erratic Marxist” says he wants to remove power from an unaccountable, authoritarian elite and distribute it fairly to the continent’s citizens.” (The Independent).

Americans will recognize this as similar to the arguments made by people like Bernie Sanders.  They have a point when they say that 1% owns 99% of all wealth.  From what Mr. Varoufakis is saying it’s no different in Europe.

It’s clearly time for a new economic system as the current one is increasingly failing people.  As things are predicted to deteriorate this year, calls for change are only going to increase.

Citizens of the US and UK should be thankful.   Mr. Varoufakis holds them up as a model of financial success compared to other western nations.

I’m not so sure about that.  We may be better off than most, but we certainly can’t be complacent.

Unfortunately, both Mr. Varoufakis and the prime minister he served under, Alexis Tsipras, are avowed atheists, influenced more by Karl Marx than anything in scripture.  But they should take a look at Leviticus, chapter 25, and specifically at the Year of Jubilee.  Only the cancellation of all debt will help revive the world economy.

Hopefully, all debts will be cancelled before I have to pay the IRS!

Back to “Dumbo” and some sanity……..   Maybe I should also have a beer, but it doesn’t seem right while watching “Dumbo.”  Come to think of it, Dumbo drank alcohol when he fell into a barrel of it – that’s why he saw all those pink elephants!  A beer it is!

 

 

 

 

 

 

RUSSIA’S INTERVENTION IN SYRIA

Putin Syria

A generation after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia is back in the Middle East.   It cannot be good for America!

Britain dominated the Middle East between the two world wars. After World War II, that domination continued for about a decade. Then, in 1956, the Egyptians seized the British and French owned Suez Canal. The two countries, together with Israel, invaded Egypt in an attempt to reclaim the Canal, but they were stopped by US President Dwight D. Eisenhower.     In hindsight, it marked the end of the British Empire. It also resulted in greater US involvement in the region.

The Book of Daniel is a prophetic book in the Old Testament, written during the sixth century before Christ.  It’s a remarkable book because the writer, Daniel, who served two kings of Babylon while Babylon was the greatest power in the world, then served two kings of Persia when it was the Persian turn to attain the status of super power.

His writings predicted the eventual replacement of Persia by Greece and then, in turn, Rome.   These were four of the greatest empires of the ancient world.   Each rose to greatness and each descended into oblivion.   Only their ruins remain.

Daniel put it well when he wrote the following:

“And He (God) changes the times and the seasons;
He removes kings and raises up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise
And knowledge to those who have understanding.” (Daniel 2:21)

God is behind the rise and fall of nations.   He also reveals His prophetic outline “to those who have understanding.”

Just as Great Britain’s period of pre-eminence came to an end, so will America’s.   But, as with Britain, the change took a while to be fully realized.

Russia’s intervention in the Middle East fundamentally changes the balance of power in the region.   Russia, in the form of the Soviet Union, was heavily involved in the area following the British withdrawal.   While the US supported Israel, Jordan and the other conservative monarchies, including the Shah of Iran, Moscow supported Egypt and Syria.   That changed with the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty of 1979.   Moscow has not had much clout since.

But now that’s changed.   Moscow is not only involved in Syria, propping up President Bashar al-Assad against ISIS and other groups, it is also involved in Iran and Iraq.   In effect, Russia is backing the Shi’ite arc that starts in Lebanon (Hezbollah) and swings through Syria, Iraq and Iran.   Bible students will remember that this is basically the territory of the old King of the North of Daniel, chapter 11, the Seleucid dynasty that had its origins in the conquests of Alexander the Great.   The rivalry with the Ptolemaic dynasty labeled the King of the South in the scriptures continued for two centuries and constantly threatened the Jews who were in the middle. The terms “King of the North” and “King of the South” refer to their geographical location in relation to Jerusalem and the threat they posed to the ancient capital of the Jews.

The same chapter prophesies that these two powers will be revived in different form prior to Christ’s return and will once again threaten the Jewish nation of Israel.

So it’s interesting to see Russia getting involved.

Vladimir Putin had this to say at the United Nations just a few days ago:

“An aggressive foreign interference has resulted in a brazen destruction of national institutions and the lifestyle itself.   Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress, we got violence, poverty, and social disaster.   Nobody cares a bit about human rights, including the right to life.   I cannot help asking those who have caused the situation, do you realize now what you have done?”

President Putin was talking about the United States and the consequences of American intervention in the Middle East.

Discussing this speech on PBS’ McLaughlin Group, conservative columnist Pat Buchanan had this to say:

“We are responsible for the disaster in the Middle East by our interventions.”

The mess the US and its allies created in the Middle East is affecting peoples around the world.   The Lansing State Journal carried the following front-page headline today:   “Eager for Syrians to arrive”, referring to Lansing, Michigan, welcoming Syrian refugees in the coming days and weeks.   Europe has been invaded by hundreds of thousands of people, some of whom are refugees, over the last few weeks. Australians are also seeing Syrian refugees arrive in their country.   This could pose a serious security threat to western nations.

President Obama said the following at the UN:   “The strongmen of today become the spark of revolution tomorrow.   You can jail your opponents, but you cannot imprison ideas.   You can control access to information, but you cannot turn a lie into truth.”

What the US president was saying was intended as a warning to President Putin and the Arab dictator he intends to keep in power, President Assad of Syria. The latter is a ruthless dictator (the former is simply a dictator who can be ruthless; there’s a difference). The US position on Syria is that Assad must go. That now seems highly unlikely.   When Mr Obama refers to “ideas” that cannot be suppressed, he is referring to democracy and the “moderate” resistance to Assad. However, recent history shows that democracy is not the winner when dictators in the Middle East are overthrown. Rather, Islamic extremism or chaos, and usually both, result.

Putin, unfettered by ideological constraints, instinctively knows that.

Russia is in Syria to stay.

This could pose a problem for Israel now that the Russian bear is on its border.

It could also weaken the Russians.   Mr. Putin must remember that it was Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979 that brought down the Soviet Union, which he has described as the greatest disaster of the twentieth century.

What it will mean for Russia is not clear at this time.   However, it is clear what it means for the United States.   Just as an American president’s decision in 1956 precipitated the fall of the British Empire, so an American president’s inaction over Syria and cozying up to Iran, with the resultant weakening of ties with traditional allies in the region, has directly led to America’s decline in the Middle East.

 

A LOOK BACK AT 9/11

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September 11th will long be remembered as the date of a major setback in the struggle between Islam and the West.

September 11th, 1683, that is.

The forces of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire had continued their expansion into Europe and had arrived at the very heart of Europe, Vienna, the capital of the Austrian Empire.

They were met by a combined force of Austrian, French, German and Polish troops, an alliance of Catholic emperors, princes and kings.

Together, they stopped the Islamic takeover of Europe.

Over the next two centuries, Muslim forces would be pushed back into modern day Turkey, which has a small foothold in Europe, but not much else.

Mindful of their defeat, Muslims significantly chose the same day to perpetrate 9/11 exactly fourteen years ago.   This time, they scored a victory and hope to go on to bring about the Islamization of the western world.

After 9/11, President George W. Bush launched an attack on Afghanistan, commencing the longest conflict in American history.   This was followed by a war in Iraq.   The negative consequences of these two wars remain with us and are likely to continue indefinitely.

Amazingly, after the terror attacks on 9/11, the first new president chosen by the American people was the first one with definite Muslim connections!   Refusing to allow members of the Administration to use terms like “Islamic extremism,” most Americans remain clueless as to the seriousness of the threat Islam is once again posing to the western world.   Multiculturalism is another factor that contributes to this blindness, as western nations welcome hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees into their countries.

Ancient Rome suffered many setbacks before it finally fell, but the last blow came from the new religion of Islam, which swept all before it.   We now see history repeating itself.

Michael Morrell, author of “The Great War of Our Time,” a book that helps us understand the very serious threat from militant Islam, was interviewed on CBS Thursday morning.   Mr. Morrell is a former Assistant Director of the CIA.   In his interview he was asked how the fight against extremism is going.   He replied that there are three battlefields.   One is a military battle in Iraq and Syria.   Here, he said, we have a “stalemate.”   The other two are the ideological battle to win the hearts and minds of young people in the West; and the battle against other militant organizations around the world linking up with ISIS.   These two, he said, we are losing.   In other words, we are not doing well against this very serious threat.  One reason for this is that intelligence reports are being doctored to make it look as if the US is winning against ISIS.   A report on this appeared in today’s Daily Beast.

He also discussed increasing Russian encroachment into Syria. Building an air base, with a view to making air attacks on behalf of Syria’s President Assad.   The flow of Russian arms over Bulgaria and Greece has now been stopped, but Russia can still send arms via Iran.   Moscow and Tehran are working together to keep Assad in power.

Although there are only 16 months left of the present Administration, there is no guarantee of any improvement under another.   Political correctness has made it very difficult for anybody to see clearly the threat from militant Islam.

9/11 in 2001 was just the start of the latest Islamic push against the West.

It may yet turn out to be the “push” the biblical Book of Daniel predicts will happen “at the time of the end.”

40 And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.” (Daniel 11:40).

This prophecy is about a powerful Islamic leader who “pushes” against the King of the North, a revived Roman Empire.

Interestingly, in the midst of the migrant crisis, where hundreds of thousands are fleeing Islamic lands and moving into Europe, there are increasing European calls for a united effort to deal with this crisis.   The root of the crisis is the Syrian civil war.   Russia is increasingly involved in the conflict, which means it will go on even longer.

It’s also possible that many of the refugees are being sent deliberately by ISIS into Europe, giving them a far greater advantage than they ever had in 1683.   In the last hour, Saudi Arabia, which has taken no refugees from Syria, announced it will help those fleeing to Germany – by building 200 mosques in which they can worship.   This will, of course, advance the cause of Islam even further.

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was in London this morning where he told British Prime Minister David Cameron that the “Middle East is disintegrating.”   The region remains the world’s most dangerous neighborhood.   Recent developments and increasing threats pose real dangers for the West in general and Israel in particular.

The Middle East and Europe are still at the center of world events, just as they were on September 11th, 1683.

 

REFUGEE CRISIS OR A HIJRAH?

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

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

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

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

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

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

But, will it last?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

OBSERVATIONS II

Puerto rican debt

President Obama has called for urgent action on climate change, to save the environment for our children and grandchildren.

We are not likely to hear him call for massive reductions in government spending so that our children and grandchildren do not have to pay back the $18 trillion debt the last two generations have accumulated.

This problem is arguably more urgent than climate change.

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We’ve been hearing a lot about Greece recently.  The country has some serious financial problems.  Now Puerto Rico is in default.

“Puerto Rico’s outstanding debt of $72 billion is far bigger than Detroit’s $20 billion bankruptcy two years ago but a fraction of Greece’s $350 billion in obligations.  But unlike Detroit, there’s no law allowing Puerto Rico to declare bankruptcy…..  ’There’s no big daddy to rescue Puerto Rico,’ says Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.”   (“Puerto Rico defaults on $72bn debt”, USA Today, Tuesday.)

As everyone with a credit card knows, eventually you have to pay the balance.

It’s no different with countries.

How are we, or our grandchildren going to pay off $18 trillion of national debt?   How long before it’s $20 trillion?   Will that be the psychological barrier that prompts the rest of the world to say “Enough!”?

What’s happening in Greece could also happen here.

In Athens, the Stock Market reopened yesterday after a five-week shutdown due to the financial crisis.   Shares fell dramatically, with some investors losing 25% in one day.   Shares of the Greek National Bank, once trading as high as $27.50, dropped to $0.09 Monday.

The general feeling is that the worst is yet to come.

It could also spread to other countries with a heavy debt load.

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Our economic woes are certainly increasing.  One reason is the drought, which is severely affecting some parts of the country and has been for four years.   This has led to many of the uncontrolled fires we are witnessing on the nightly news.

The drought stricken land reminds me of God’s warning to the ancient Israelites, that if they did not obey Him, there would be some serious consequences.

One of those consequences would be drought.   Note:  Deuteronomy 28:23 – “The skies above will be as unyielding as bronze, and the earth beneath will be as hard as iron.”  (New Living Translation)

Is God trying to tell us something?

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I haven’t been able to post any articles for a few days.  This is because all eight grandchildren were staying with us last week.  The four oldest, all girls, are aged 8 to 10; the four youngest, all boys, 2 & 3.   Needless to say, I spent the week pre-occupied with little time to think, let alone write.

But it was fun having them all and we’re looking forward to the next time — over the Labor Day weekend.   Family get-togethers are so very important!

 

 

 

UNCERTAIN DEALS

Map for deals

Two current international “deals” may yet amount to nothing.

The European Union’s latest deal with Greece, the third bailout of the country in the last five years, may yet fail.

The Greek government may not be able to get the agreement through parliament as it is only going to make austerity harder for the Greek people.

Four bills need to be passed in the next twenty-four hours.   Pensions must be cut; taxes increased; the defense budget slashed and steps taken toward privatizing ports and other government owned enterprises, which it is hoped will cut corruption and make things more efficient.   As the ruling party, Syriza, is very left-wing, there’s a good possibility the parliament will not approve everything.   The Greek population voted against further austerity less than a month ago.

There is concern, too, beyond Greece’s borders.   European creditor countries are fully aware that, even if the Greek parliament approves the agreement, they may not keep their word.   It’s happened before.   This would mean that, in a few months, Greece will be back, asking for a further bailout.

A further set-back occurred this morning when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced that Greece’s debt was “unsustainable” and that the country needs a much greater infusion of cash from the EU.   The EU bailout deal has, at least, united all concerned in the conviction that it won’t work!    The Greek problem is not about to go away.

Then there’s the deal between six western powers and Iran.

The British Guardian Weekly wasn’t sure which deal to put on its front page, Greece or Iran.   Right up to the last minute, Greece was going to be the leader, but then the deal with Iran came through.  The paper decided that the Iranian deal was the more important one, with far reaching implications.   But both deals could have both short-term and long-term negative consequences.

On Iran, the headline on the Fox News website was: “Win for Putin?” Putin has been supportive of Iran, Syria’s Assad and Shi’ites in general.

It’s certainly a win for Iran, which can look forward to the lifting of international sanctions.

The best the West can hope for is that this will buy time, that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons for at least the next ten years, by which time, democracies being as they are, none of those signing the agreement today, will still be in power.   They can, as with so many things, kick the can down the road.

However, even if this presupposes Iran will keep its side of the deal.   That’s no more likely than Greece abiding by the terms of the EU bailout deal.

Anyway, it doesn’t really matter what the West thinks about the Iranian deal.

Israel’s prime minister has described the deal as “a mistake of historic proportions,” that it endangers his country.   He added:  “the more you read it, the worse it gets.”   Iran has been screaming “Death to Israel.  Death to America,” for over 35 years.   A recent demonstration in Tehran showed mobs screaming the same again. Perhaps nobody in Washington has been watching!

But, even Israel is not the country most concerned about the agreement.   The Sunni Arab states are.   Almost certainly, they will see through this agreement and their fears of Shia Iran acquiring nuclear weapons will lead them to acquire the same.   It may take a few years, but they will be driven by a great sense of urgency.   Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt are the three countries most likely to pursue their own bomb, with immediate help from Pakistan, which already has the bomb.   Saudi Arabia certainly has the money for this.

The greatest threat to world peace remains the Sunni-Shia conflict, a struggle that has continued for over thirteen centuries.   Although an Obama Administration spokesman expressed the hope that the Iran deal would help bring a resolution to the ancient conflict, this is at best naïve.   Nothing will end the conflict until the Messiah comes and sorts out the religious mess that is today’s world. Meanwhile, the US will be seen as siding with the Shi’ites against the Sunnis.   Tehran and Damascus must be celebrating at this development.

The Iranian deal brings to mind I Thessalonians 5:3 :  “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail Upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (KJV).

Thankfully, Jesus Christ is returning to end the spiritual confusion. “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.”  (Matthew 24:22).