Tag Archives: Lithuania

TERROR ATTACK IN PARIS

BBC News photo
BBC News photo

Europe is the center of attention this week.

In Dresden, an 18,000 strong crowd demonstrated against the Islamization of Europe. PEGIDA (“Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West”) has been staging demonstrations in a number of cities. Counter-demonstrations are also being held by those in support of Muslims. How many of the participants are Muslims themselves has not been revealed.

PEGIDA has been condemned by the German Chancellor and President, along with many other prominent people, but the movement must be a serious worry to the establishment. A backlash against Islam has clearly started and is gaining momentum.

That momentum is likely to build with the terrorist attack in Paris today. Twelve people were killed and as many injured when the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were invaded by two or three gunmen. It’s of particular concern that the gunmen were asking for specific people who they named. The publication has satirized Islam in the past. It has just been revealed that the publication’s editor and two cartoonists were amongst those murdered.

This is a classic example of a clash of civilizations – whereas western countries appreciate satire, Islamists don’t. It remains to be seen what effect this attack will have on freedom of speech. This is the second attack on the publication’s offices – the first was in November 2011. One of the gunmen shouted, “The prophet has been avenged!” – clearly, any publication or writer who speaks out against Islam is in danger!

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the daily terror attacks that were taking place in France prior to the holidays. France may seem a long way away but the reality is that these attacks could happen anywhere. Ottawa and Sydney suffered terror attacks recently. In the US, one of the Boston Marathon bombers is about to go on trial.

Increasing concerns about the Islamization of Europe will also likely be boosted by a new best-selling novel in France, written by Michel Houellebecq, France’s most famous living writer. The novel’s title is Soumission (Submission), which is the meaning of the word “Islam.”   The book takes a look at France in 2022, not too many years from now, when the country is led by a Muslim who, amongst other things, orders women to stop working (thereby ending unemployment). The novel shows most French collaborating with the new regime, as most did in World War II when the country was invaded by Germany.

Attitudes toward Muslims may also be affected by Europe’s latest economic news. Today, it was revealed that the eurozone has entered a period of deflation, with prices dropping. Partly, this is due to the fall in the price of oil; but it also reflects other factors that show economies going down. There will no doubt be emergency measures taken to stop a deflationary spiral, which is one of the worst things that can happen to an economy. One likely solution to be tried will be quantitative easing, as applied in the US. Otherwise known as printing more money, this practice carries its own risks.

Rising unemployment and economies in disarray will only add to feelings of xenophobia.

Meanwhile, Greece may have a new left-wing government soon, which will increase the likelihood of the country withdrawing from the euro.   The majority of Greeks are angry that the country has gone through a period of severe austerity imposed from outside as the price of staying in the single currency.   The euro can’t be all bad – Lithuania has become the latest country to adopt the currency, which is now used by all three Baltic republics. The three countries, ruled by the Soviet Union before the collapse of communism, are anchoring themselves in the West.

Finally, staying in Europe, Germany’s Angela Merkel is visiting Britain’s David Cameron.   The UK wants to see some changes in the treaties that govern the EU, which Frau Merkel does not want. If those changes are not forthcoming, it’s likely that Britain will pull out of the Union. They will need the German Chancellor’s help whichever way things go, so the visit is timely and comes just before a British general election in May.

It’s going to be an interesting year in Europe, with a serious prospect of big changes.

Advertisements

WILL RUSSIA END NATO?

 

100415a-HQ28-010 NATO Headquarters Brussels.

Time Magazine has an interesting article on “Russia’s Fifth Column” in the latest issue, by Simon Shuster.

The article explains Russia’s modus operandi for re-acquiring its former empire.

The annexation of the Crimea earlier this year and the ongoing problems in eastern Ukraine help give insight.

The idea is to use Russian-speaking people left behind when the Soviet empire collapsed.  There are ten million of them in a number of eastern European countries.  Three notable ones are the Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.  These countries could see a repeat of Ukraine’s experience.

“… Russia’s military support for separatists in eastern Ukraine has sent the clearest message to Russians everywhere.  Moscow has your back.”

The methodology is similar to Hitler’s 75 years ago – get local German (now Russian speakers) to claim discrimination and provoke conflict.  Russia will do the rest, providing arms to local militias or even sending their own troops in, claiming they are locals protecting their own community.

The three Baltic republics are the most vulnerable.  They are all members of NATO so, if Russia invades, the US and other NATO members are obliged to intervene on their behalf.

“Under Article 5 of the treaty that binds NATO together, Washington and its 27 allies are obliged to come to the defense of any member attacked by a foreign power. Should Russia invade Estonia or Latvia, perhaps using the rationale that it is protecting the Russian minorities in those countries – just as it did in Crimea – the West would face a sobering choice: go to war with a nuclear-armed state or back down and accept that NATO is no more.”

Based on this rationale, which makes sense, Putin could bring about the end of NATO quite quickly. If a Russian invasion of a NATO country does not see Article 5 invoked, it would mean the end of the alliance.

My wife and I are going away for a week starting tomorrow. I will not be posting again until Thursday December 18th.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

NATO SUMMIT IN WALES

NATO summit Wales

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO or, in French, OTAN) was formed on the 4th April 1949.  It was said at the time that NATO’s purpose was to “keep the Americans in Europe, the Russians out and the Germans down.”  To the extent that this is true, NATO has been very successful.  The Americans still have a presence in Europe, the Russians have stayed out of NATO member countries, and the Germans work in cooperation with the other member states.

The alliance is now 65 years old. During the Cold War it had 16 member countries; now it has 28.  The greater number came about as the result of the fall of communism.  This, of course, is part of the problem. Russia still has not accepted the fact that many of its former constituent republics don’t want to be associated with their former bosses in Moscow.  This includes Ukraine and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

On the eve of the NATO summit in Newport, Wales, President Obama stopped over in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, to reassure the Baltic countries that America will stand by them, if they are attacked by Russia. Reportedly, there has been a great fear that Vladimir Putin will do to them what he has done in Ukraine – invading them and destabilizing them, using their Russian minorities as an excuse.  (Remember, Hitler did the same thing over 75 years ago, invading the Sudetenland to protect the German-speaking minority.)

Today, September 4th, NATO leaders met in Newport to discuss the two great crisis that now confront NATO – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and ISIS, or ISIL, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (or the Levant, which also includes Lebanon).

NATO was established specifically to protect countries from invasion by the communist Soviet Union.  Communism is now dead in Europe but Russia still poses an enormous threat, specifically to countries that were formerly ruled from Moscow.  Mr. Putin once said that the greatest disaster of the twentieth century was the fall of the USSR.  In his mind, countries like Ukraine and the Baltic nations belong to Russia.  It’s as if Great Britain was still claiming the American colonies or India and felt free to invade them at any time! It should be noted that Russia was an expansionist country long before communism – Catherine the Great first acquired the Crimea in the eighteenth century.

Originally, NATO did not project its military power beyond Europe.  However, in 2001, it first invoked Clause 5, which authorizes all member nations to come to the aid of a country that is attacked.  After 9/11, European countries helped the US, patrolling the skies to protect that country from further attacks.  It’s ironic that the organization that was set up to protect Europeans from Russia was instead used in protecting the US from terrorism.  In the following years, NATO troops were used in Afghanistan.  A coalition of some NATO members were also involved in Iraq.

NATO’s outgoing Secretary-General, the former Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, today said that NATO faces three serious threats, to the east, the south-east and the south.  These threats are Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, ISIL in Iraq, and Syria and Islamic extremists to the south in countries like Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Sudan and Somalia.

NATO’s solutions are: the formation of a rapid response force to deal with any Russian aggression and the bombing of ISIL insurgents in Iraq and Syria.  At the time of writing, nothing specific has been decided on the problems to the south.

The rapid response force idea has been suggested before but never got off the ground.  The problem is that it would be a multinational force and requires the cooperation of a number of countries.  In a crisis, it’s highly unlikely that there would be such cooperation.

As it is, NATO really is a 3-tier organization.  The US is the leader and has been the “indispensable nation” when it comes to action; Britain, France and Germany are the second tier, almost always ready to back the US and offer some military support; other member countries are too small to make an impact.  Interestingly, when meeting with the Ukrainian leader at the summit, the leaders of the four nations mentioned sat at a round table with him, while other leaders watched from the sidelines.

A serious military threat to all member countries could change things dramatically.

Such a threat could come from Russia or from ISIL.

The Bible shows a major threat from the Middle East, the south-east the NATO Secretary-General was talking about.  A leader of a powerful Mideast nation to the south of Jerusalem is going to attack a northern power – some, at least, of the NATO members.  This is prophesied in Daniel 11:40-44.  In verse 44, the conflict widens to include nations “from the east and the north,” which could include Russia.

A century ago, the European nations, the Russians and the Ottoman Turks were all involved in the First World War.  One hundred years later, the same disputes continue but manifest themselves differently.  NATO members can talk but there is no prospect of solutions in sight.