Tag Archives: Kiev

TWIN THREATS PROMPT CALLS FOR ACTION

Pope

One thousand years after the Crusades, the Pope is calling for force to be used to protect Christians in the Middle East.

The Catholic website “Crux” is currently leading with the headline:  “Vatican backs military force to stop ISIS ‘genocide’.”   The news story begins with the following two paragraphs:

“In an unusually blunt endorsement of military action, the Vatican’s top diplomat at the United Nations in Geneva has called for a coordinated international force to stop the “so-called Islamic State” in Syria and Iraq from further assaults on Christians and other minority groups.

“We have to stop this kind of genocide,” said Italian Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s representative in Geneva. “Otherwise we’ll be crying out in the future about why we didn’t do something, why we allowed such a terrible tragedy to happen.”

At the same time, the Fox News website’s top story is:  “Islamic State intensifies its efforts TO WIPE OUT CHRISTIANITY.”

Meanwhile, there has been another call for a European Army.

Presently, every single country in Europe has its own military.   However, many European nations are members of NATO and co-operate greatly on defense.  In spite of increasing threats to the peace and stability of Europe, some European countries have been cutting defense expenditure in order to balance their budgets in a time of austerity.   This has caused some resentment in the United States.  Many feel that Europeans are not pulling their weight.  A number of countries are spending less than the required 2% of their budgets on defense.

At the same time, Europeans are concerned that Americans seem intent on raising the stakes in Ukraine by sending more arms to Kiev.   This scares some European governments including Germany.  Additionally, the US is closing 15 military bases in Europe, as if to emphasize that the country’s priorities are changing.

Europeans see Russia as their greatest threat at this time.  So do many members of the US Congress.  However, differences remain on how best to handle Russia.

The President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, has called for an EU Army to make the Russians realize that Europe is serious about Russia’s threats (“Jean Claude Juncker calls for EU Army,” The Guardian, 8 March).

In the last twelve months, Russia has invaded and annexed Crimea, continues to occupy (supposedly through surrogates) eastern Ukraine and has increased intimidating military flights over the Baltic countries and the United Kingdom.

But Russia may not be the biggest military challenge Europeans face.   Islamic extremism could be an even bigger problem.

The Europeans have to contend with both ISIS and Al-Qaeda.  The latter was behind the attacks in Paris in January.  ISIS is now at Europe’s back door with a significant presence in Libya, Italy’s former colony, and not that far away from the Italian peninsula.   ISIS also now has an ally in Boko Haram, which pledged allegiance to the Islamic State a few weeks ago.   Boko Haram is causing a great deal of turmoil in Nigeria and neighboring countries, all of which have commercial and historical ties with European countries and the EU.

The Bible highlights the fact that the Middle East is at the center of Bible prophecy.  Many of the prophecies in scripture could not have been fulfilled until the collapse of the Ottoman Empire less than a hundred years ago.  The subsequent peace treaty created a number of new countries, many of which remain in varying degrees of conflict and instability.  Deeper tensions came with the establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948.   These events have made the final biblical scenario all the more credible.

Daniel 11:40-41 prophecies:  “At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through.  He shall also enter the Glorious Land (the Holy Land)….”

Earlier in chapter 11 we read a prophecy, written in the sixth century BC, of Alexander the Great.  His empire, a fulfilled prophecy, came about two centuries after the prophetic words of Daniel were written.  As predicted, his empire was eventually divided between his four generals.  Two of these generals founded biblically significant dynasties, one to the north of Jerusalem (the King of the North, or the Seleucid dynasty) and one to the south of Jerusalem (the King of the South, or the Ptolemaic dynasty).   These two dynasties were often in conflict.  As the Jews were in the middle, they suffered greatly because of them.

After the horrendous climactic events in the middle of the second century BC, the prophecy takes us down to the present time, where, once again, there’s a king of the North and a King of the South.   It should be noted that the prophecy has a gap of two thousand years because the Jews did not have a country of their own during that time.  Now, once again, they do.

The ancient King of the North was conquered by the Roman Empire in 60 A.D.   A new revived Roman Empire is going to emerge as the new King of the North, although it won’t be called by that name.  But it will fulfill the prophecy in Daniel 11.  It will send troops into the Middle East to deal with the growing threat of Islamic militancy, political turmoil and conflict.  A European Army is more likely to be used in this region than against Russia.

But, after intervening in the Middle East, that same army may have to deal with Russia.  “But news from the east and the north shall trouble him . . .” (v. 44).   It should be noted that Russia, Iran, Syria and a number of central Asian, former Soviet republics, co-operate militarily.  If Europe was embroiled in the Middle East, Russia would no doubt take advantage and annex other countries that were formerly in its empire.

This brings us back to the pope’s call for force to be used to save Christians in the Middle East.

In the latter part of the eleventh century, Muslim Turks massacred Christians and treated surviving Christians cruelly.  This led to Pope Urban II in 1095 calling for a Crusade against the Muslims, to free the Christians in the Holy Land.  The Crusades lasted two hundred years.

Today, it’s not the Turks who are persecuting Christians.  It’s ISIS and other extremis groups.   And, it’s not just Christians who need protecting.   Other minorities also need intervention on their behalf.   But, as with events a thousand years ago, it could be the pope who calls nations to arms.

Western civilization is once again seriously threatened.  Politicians, never able to see beyond the next election, seem blinded to this reality.   The papacy is, once again, more in tune with global reality.

The pope’s call, together with the call for an EU Army, show that the prophecies of your Bible are on track, leading ultimately to the second coming of Jesus Christ to establish His Kingdom.

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WHO WILL LOSE FACE OVER UKRAINE – RUSSIA OR AMERICA?

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You would think it was 1914, instead of 2014.  

A previously unknown group of nationalists strikes a blow against a brutal dictatorship.   The  Russians decide to intervene to protect fellow Slavs.  The EU makes threatening noises; and faraway America decides not to get involved militarily.   Substitute Austria for EU and you could be in a time warp.   All we are waiting for is an assassination to trigger off a much bigger conflict.  More likely this time is an over-reaction by a trigger-happy soldier to turn a minor conflict into a major war.

The Russians are copying their 2008 strategy in Georgia, seizing territory inhabited mostly by Russians.  They have already invaded Ukraine.  As with Georgia, don’t expect a hasty withdrawal.   They are still there.

Russia is taking care of its own national interests.  Just like always.  They struggled for centuries to gain access to a warm water port on the Black Sea, finally achieving their goal under Catherine the Great.  They are not going to risk losing it now.

Russians remember, too, that during World War II, Ukraine was divided between communists and fascists.  To the Russians, the nationalists who have taken over in Kiev are fascists.   They have certainly succeeded in opening up old wounds, ethnic, linguistic and religious divisions that go back centuries.

President Obama called President Putin on Friday warning him that there would be consequences if Russia invaded Ukraine.  Within 24 hours, Russian troops were all over the Crimea, an autonomous region of Ukraine.   58% of the people in this area are Russian speaking.  For strategic reasons, Russia needs it.  Russia will keep it.  The US will do nothing, except for giving Russia a symbolic slap on the wrist, perhaps leading a western boycott of the G8 summit to be held in Sochi in June.

As with Syria last year, the US will lose face.   Americans may still think they are the world’s number one power, but the country is increasingly an irrelevant power.   As it makes serious reductions to the size of its armed forces, it will become even less important.  The United States is where Great Britain was after World War II – having fought two major wars, the country is broke and lacks the resolve for further conflict.   A deliberate choice has been made by Washington to concentrate on domestic issues, including a costly government controlled medical system, again following London’s course seven decades ago.

This does not mean Ukraine will be completely abandoned by the West.    The European Union is very much involved in the Ukrainian conflict.  Indeed, in some respects it caused the present conflict, offering Ukraine a closer relationship with the EU and substantial financial incentives.  It is this financial clout that will likely win out at the end, helping western Ukraine at least to break away from Moscow.

Interestingly, in a CBS report on the Ukrainian crisis, Germany’s leader, Angela Merkel was labeled “Europe’s de facto leader.”

Germany and Russia have fought over Ukraine before.

Russia has reverted to the use of force to resolve conflict.   Germany and its EU associates are using economic power.   The US has neither when it comes to Ukraine.

 

A likely outcome will see Crimea back in Russia, perhaps with eastern Ukraine.   Western Ukraine will more likely associate with the EU.   Armed conflict is possible between Russia and Ukraine, but not a prolonged war, as Ukraine is very weak compared to Russia.

Invading the Crimea may cause Russia to lose face for a while but President Putin doesn’t care and it will soon be forgotten.

The US, however, will suffer greater damage.  It’s been five decades since the Chinese leader, Chairman Mao, ridiculed the US as a “paper tiger.”   Now it’s true.

 

BATTLE FOR THE UKRAINE HEATS UP

Ukraine map

It just doesn’t add up.

On the one hand, we see regular articles on how the EU is falling apart; on the other we see Ukrainians willing to die to join the organization.

The battle between the Ukrainian protestors and the pro-Russian government in Kiev gets worse by the day.

What will be the end result?

If the opposition succeeds and Ukraine joins the European Union, the country, at 233,062 square miles, will be its biggest member.  (If Turkey eventually joins, it will slide to second place.)  It would also change the center of gravity, moving the parameters of the EU further east.

The EU is protesting the treatment of the demonstrators, as is the US.  The EU does not have the military power to take on Ukraine, which is backed by a seemingly resurgent Russia.  But it does have economic power – and more of it than Moscow.  Sanctions imposed by the EU could have a profound effect on the Ukraine.

Russia is buying Ukrainian support with aid paid for from its oil revenues.  But the EU is the world’s biggest trading bloc and carries a lot of economic clout.

It’s going to be interesting to see who comes out on top.

The Ukraine itself is divided.  The western half of the country was a part of the Austrian Empire until World War I, so naturally leans toward the West.  The eastern part was ruled by Czarist Russia and leans east.  Russia has strong emotional and historical ties with the country going back to 988 AD when Kiev’s leader converted to Christianity and chose the Byzantine Eastern Christian rite over Roman Catholicism.  Russia continues to follow this religious system, still seeing itself as the Third Rome.

Germany and Russia fought over Ukraine in both world wars.  This time, there is no physical fighting except for the violent demonstrations in Kiev.  But the country could be headed for civil war, which won’t benefit anybody.  It is also possible that Russia will intervene militarily if President Putin fears losing Ukraine to the West.  An invasion from Russia, however, could backfire.

The reality of massive pro-EU demonstrations contrasts sharply with disillusionment directed toward the EU in western Europe.  Ukraine successfully joining the organization will give the others a boost – showing that the ideal of European unity is far from dead.