Tag Archives: Mali

VICTORY OVER ISIS WILL NOT END ISLAMIC TERRORISM

Daniel Craig Spectre

In the latest James Bond movie, “Spectre,” an evil organization is trying to take over the world, but 007, once again, stops them.

It’s the most successful movie at the box office right now.

Millions around the world have already seen it; millions more will in the weeks to come.

The question is:  why do people believe this is credible, but won’t accept an evil organization really IS trying to take over the world and, at present, well on the way to success?

I’m referring, of course, to ISIS. Also Al-Qaeda, which, through an affiliate in Mali, has staged the latest terrorist attack today in Bamako.   An ISIS affiliate, Boko Haram, attacked a market yesterday in northern Nigeria, killing almost 50. These terrorist attacks are now a daily occurrence.   It seems likely that Al-Qaeda and ISIS are competing with each other, to see who can kill the most people.  Whoever wins will get the most recruits – people will want to join the one who is winning!

Both organizations believe that Islam shall rule the world.   They also have an eschatological interpretation of their religion, which is telling them to stir things up at this time, which they, like many Christians, believe is the end-time.   (Be sure to read Graeme Wood’s article “What ISIS really wants” in the March 2015 issue of The Atlantic Monthly.   It’s available online.   I quoted from it in a blogpost at the time.)

It’s not just religious people who write articles warning about ISIS and others.   Niall Ferguson, my favorite historian and a non-believer, wrote a very good article this week for The Australian newspaper, likening what is happening now to the fall of Rome.   Commenting on the Paris attacks, he observed:  “this is exactly how civilizations fall.”   (“Paris attacks:   fall of Rome should be a warning to the West.” The Australian, November 16th).  Ferguson had this to say about Muslims in Europe:

It is doubtless true to say that the overwhelming majority of Muslims in Europe are not violent.   But it is also true the majority hold views not easily reconciled with the principles of our liberal democracies, including our novel notions about sexual equality and tolerance not merely of religious diversity but of nearly all sexual proclivities.   And it is thus remarkably easy for a violent minority to acquire their weapons and prepare their assaults on civilization within these avowedly peace-loving ­communities.

Conservative columnist Mark Steyn wrote:

“Among his other coy evasions, President Obama described (last week’s) events as “an attack not just on Paris, it’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share.”

“But that’s not true, is it?   He’s right that it’s an attack not just on Paris or France.   What it is is an attack on  the west, on the civilization that built the modern world – an attack on one portion of “humanity” by those who claim to speak for another portion of “humanity.”   And these are not “universal values” but values that spring from a relatively narrow segment of humanity.   They were kinda sorta “universal” when the great powers were willing to enforce them around the world and the colonial subjects of ramshackle backwaters such as Aden, Sudan and the North-West Frontier Province were at least obliged to pay lip service to them. But the European empires retreated from the world, and those “universal values” are utterly alien to large parts of the map today.

“And then Europe decided to invite millions of Muslims to settle in their countries.   Most of those people don’t want to participate actively in bringing about the death of diners and concertgoers and soccer fans, but at a certain level most of them either wish or are indifferent to the death of the societies in which they live – modern, pluralist, western societies and those “universal values” of which Barack Obama bleats.   So, if you are either an active ISIS recruit or just a guy who’s been fired up by social media, you have a very large comfort zone in which to swim, and which the authorities find almost impossible to penetrate.”   (“The Barbarians are inside – and there are no gates!”   Steynonline, Friday November 13th)

Nothing has yet been done to change immigration rules.   President Obama was on the defensive when the issue came up – he said it was un-American to discriminate against Muslims, though that’s exactly what was done from the founding of James Town (in 1607) until the 1965 Immigration Act that was sponsored by Senator Edward Kennedy.   In the 1952 Immigration bill that became law, members of any organization that called for the overthrow of the US government and constitution, was forbidden to enter the country.   At the time, communism was the threat.   Today, it’s radical Islam. Both the religion and the Koran threaten the US.

Islam means “submission” – all members of the faith must submit to Allah and Sharia Law.   According to a recent poll of Muslims in the United States, 51% of American Muslims believe Sharia should be the law of the US.   In the same poll, 25% felt it justified to use violence against Americans.   In other words, their faith comes before America, intolerance before tolerance.

It was clear from what the President said that his agenda is to get as many into the country as possible, while bending over backwards to stay out of any conflict with radical Islam.   Obama is not the only one.   President Hollande of France declared war on ISIS after last week’s terror attacks, but his government remains committed to taking in 30,000 more Syrian refugees in the weeks to come.   Multiply that by 5 to get a US equivalent of 150,000.   The US is taking 10,000.

France is interesting.   The country has arguably been more successful assimilating Muslims than any other.   10% of the French population is Muslim, immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa and their offspring.   Only 10% of these Muslims go to the mosque every week.  Muslims seem to be more secularized than in other countries.

But, perhaps that’s the problem.

When a devout Muslim moves to the West, rather than appreciating his newfound freedom, he will see the West as totally degenerate. Whereas Muslims are in submission to Allah, the West is in submission to the god of materialism and the pursuit of licentiousness.   They are two diametrically opposed ways of life.

The surprise is that so few, comparatively speaking, resort to extremism.

Although attitudes are hardening throughout the West and right-wing movements are gaining support, a lot of people are still clueless at the threat from radical Islam.   More than one victim in Paris remarked on how they still believe in the basic goodness of people.   They would do well to heed the words of the prophet Jeremiah who wrote:   “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” (Jeremiah 17:9).   We are likely to see far more evil acts perpetrated by ISIS in the near future.

Which brings us back to James Bond.

We must not confuse real life with movies.   If and when ISIS is defeated, it does not mean the end of violent Islamic extremism. Other organizations will arise that will likewise threaten the peace and security of the West.   Radical Islam is here to stay.   It’s an idea whose time has come!

The final words are from Niall Ferguson, who quotes Bryan Ward-Perkins, who wrote “The Fall of Rome” in 2005:   “The end of civilization came within a single generation.”   The West could fall much quicker than that faced with the serious threat of radical Islam.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

REPUBLICS DIVIDED

democrat-and-republican-symbols-of-a-donkey-and-elephant-facing-off

The Royalist Party of America (yes, there is one) is on to something.

They want the United States of America to rejoin the Commonwealth and recognize Queen Elizabeth as Head of State.  Something like Canada.  Canada is a democracy but its Head of State is not elected.  The Queen is a unifying figure above politics.

But that’s not what they are on to.

If you look at their Face Book page, you will see that they are worried about the state of this republic.  They point out that, historically, republics do not last very long.  Eventually, republics become terribly divided between two factions.  Using an analogy with marriage, eventually the two sides exhibit “irreconcilable differences” and divorce is inevitable.  When that happens, democracy is in danger and dictatorship looms.

Witness Rome 2,000 years ago; more recently, the Weimar Republic in the 1920’s.  Or any African republic in the last 50 years.

(For clarity, it should be pointed out that, outside of the United States, a republic is simply a country with a president rather than a king.)

The United States is very divided between what you might call the traditionalists and those who wish to take the country on a different, more secular, path.  In other words, Republicans and Democrats.

But it’s not just America.

Ukraine is a republic that seems on the verge of civil war.  Again, there are two factions.

Roughly half the country wants to strengthen ties with Russia, the country that ruled them for two centuries.  The Russians, led by Vladimir Putin, are certainly in favor of this, willing to spend billions propping up the Ukrainian economy.  There’s a sentimental attachment with Ukraine, as Russia owes its origins to the Kievan Rus who embraced Christianity in the latter years of the tenth century.

But the people in the western half of the country want links with the European Union, which has done so much to develop other former communist countries and to strengthen their democratic institutions.  Russian democracy is an oxymoron.

The latter have been demonstrating for over two months now.  The pro-Russian police force has been too heavy handed, killing some protesters, Russian style.

In a sense, this is part of the ongoing historical struggle between Germany and Russia.

The two countries have fought over Ukraine a number of times in the last hundred years, notably in both world wars.  This time, they are not using tanks or planes.  The battle this time is economic.  The EU is the world’s biggest trading bloc and can offer Ukraine a great deal.  It’s also a champion of human rights and basic freedoms, which new members are required to embrace.  This is in stark contrast to Russia’s shortcomings in these areas.

It’s going to be interesting to see the outcome of this struggle.

France is another republic in danger of falling apart, rather like the new president’s marriage (or, rather, non-marriage as the couple never actually tied the knot).

News sources have revealed that France is the latest subject of concern for the British and German leaders, who are concerned the Fifth Republic may collapse.  As this is the “fifth” Republic, it should be remembered that the country has tried a number of different constitutions since the overthrow of the ancien regime in 1789.  Not only have they tried five republics, there were brief periods of monarchy, dictatorship and foreign control in between.  France has, arguably, been the most unstable country in western Europe during the last two centuries.

President Hollande is not helping, with economic policies that are only making austerity worse.  A 75% tax on the wealthy is only going to drive money away (easy when France shares the euro with all its neighbors!).  Other socialist measures will also make things worse but Hollande is a socialist and has to answer to pressure from his support base, so change is not likely.  Without change, collapse is increasingly likely.  Germany may have bailed out Greece and other smaller members of the eurozone, but cannot bail out France, the fifth biggest economy in the world.

And, if France falls, chaos in Africa will only increase.

Last year, M. Hollande, to his credit, sent French troops into two African republics, both violently divided between Muslims and Christians.  The two nations, Mali and Central African Republic, are both former French colonies.  While things have stabilized for now, a French withdrawal could easily lead to fighting flaring up again.  Terrible acts of depravity have taken place, including cannibalism.  France’s colonial role was often described as a “mission to civilize” – hopefully they can restore a veneer of civilization to these two nations whose people have suffered so much.

Sadly, France’s military missions cost money, which only exacerbates the problems at home.  Reuters reported today that Germany wants to help support France’s military missions in Africa.  In contrast to the 1920’s, Germany today seems a model republic – the two main parties of left and right are cooperating and have formed a coalition government.  It’s hard to imagine such a development in the United States.

Back to the new Royalist Party of America.  Their Face Book page quotes from “Democracy Watch,” an international organization that monitors developments around the world.  A recent report showed that the seven most democratic countries in the world are all constitutional monarchies, including Canada, Australia, and Norway.

The Economist magazine has long described the US as a “corporate democracy,” with a government that is unduly influenced by corporations and where the people have little or no say.  It hasn’t always been that way but it has become so.

That’s certainly something to think about.

But lest those in the constitutional monarchies get too smug, it is clear that they also have their divisions.  And, if the American republic falls, it’s unlikely they would survive!