Tag Archives: Mali

MEMORIES OF WATERGATE

President Richard M. Nixon gives an emotional farewell address to his staff prior to his leaving the White House, Aug. 9, 1974. His situation is being compared to Donald Trump’s. (AP Photo)

In 1973 or ’74, I was living in England where I was the Student Editor of The Portfolio, a Student newspaper. I remember then writing an editorial on Watergate and how the continual, never-ending saga of America’s domestic issues, was damaging America’s international relations.   The article was censored and was not published.

In ’73-’74 America suffered a number  of international set-backs.   The biggest challenge was the October War, when three Arab nations tried to destroy Israel.   At the same time, the oil producing nations of OPEC raised the price of oil by 400%, causing a major international recession.

I now have a sense of Déjà vu, all over again!

New Year’s saw crowds try to seize control of the US Embassy in Iraq.   A country Americans like to think they helped restore democracy has now turned against us.   In Afghanistan, where the US desperately wants peace as a prelude to withdrawal, the Taliban has made it clear that all American troops must leave before they will sit down and talk.

Iraq and Afghanistan – two recent wars that we have lost!

In addition, North Korea is making strong and possibly serious threats of action against the US.

German leaders will no doubt now go ahead with a deal with Russia, making the country more dependent on Russia for energy and giving Russia a major financial boost for further defense spending.

The rest of the world does not understand impeachment (do Americans?).   Their sense is that the US president is greatly weakened and will soon be out of office.   This will not end until the election, ten months away.   By that time, the world could very well be a very different place!

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Germany could make big EU impact in 2020

So far, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has not been particularly ambitious with regard to EU affairs.  But next year provides ample opportunity to make real progress.

 2020 will be a big year for Germany when it comes to European affairs.   Berlin will take over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union in July, but even before then German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has come out to push for a “strong and sovereign Europe.”

To make Europe a bigger player on the world stage, Maas called for a European Security Council to tackle foreign affairs and security issues — such a council could even include the post-Brexit United Kingdom.

*During Germany’s presidency of the Council of the European Union, it will host an EU-Africa summit.   It will be about bringing both continents closer together.   According to Krichbaum, the bloc for many decades woefully neglected its ties with Africa.

(https://www.dw.com/en/germany-could-make-big-eu-impact-in-2020/a-51774449)

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Germany ponders bigger troop mandate in Africa’s Sahel

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said she supports sending more troops to Africa’s Sahel.   Although France already has a strong deployment, they’ve asked for support and Germany cannot “duck away” from the region, she said.

The Sahel spans numerous countries, including parts of Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Mauritania.  Kramp-Karrenbauer noted that the Sahel region has become a “major hub for terrorism, organized crime, migration and human trafficking.”

Germany cannot allow itself to “duck away” from responsibility in the region”, she said.   “In the end, we would have to put up walls and barbed wire all around Europe.”

(https://www.dw.com/en/germany-ponders-bigger-troop-mandate-in-africas-sahel/a-51828723  Map attached)

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Merkel’s ‘grand coalition’ faces array of new challenges                         A poll has found that one-third of Germans want new elections.  Right-wing populists are most eager to clear the decks, and the new SPD leadership has fueled concern about the stability of Germany’s grand coalition.

Divisive issue of speed:  The topic of speed limits is to Germans what gun rights are to many in the US.   Overall, the poll found that 34% of voters want to be rid of the current coalition government, as opposed to 39% who say it should continue to serve until regular elections are held in the fall of 2021.

(https://www.dw.com/en/germany-merkels-grand-coalition-faces-array-of-new-challenges/a-51827518)

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Germans think Trump is more dangerous than Kim Jong Un and Putin
When asked who posed the greatest threat to world peace, Germans in a recent poll overwhelmingly pointed to one person — Donald Trump.  

The US president beat out the leaders of North Korea, Russia, China and Iran   (Deutsche Welle * 26 Dec, 2019)

Although Washington is one of Germany’s closest allies, public trust in the US has significantly eroded under President Donald Trump, a new YouGov survey showed.   Germans were asked who was more dangerous:   North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Russian President Vladimir Putin or US President Donald Trump.   Some 41% of Germans said they thought Trump was the most dangerous out of the five world leaders.  In second place was Kim with 17%, followed by Putin and Khamenei with 8%.   Coming in last was China’s Xi Jinping with 7%.   Over 2,000 people in Germany took part in the survey, which was commissioned by news agency dpa.   A similar YouGov poll was carried out in July last year, in which 48% of Germans surveyed said Trump was more dangerous than Kim and Putin.  That poll, however, did not include the leaders of Iran or China.

(MORE:  https://www.dw.com/en/germans-think-trump-is-more-dangerous-than-kim-jong-un-and-putin/a-51802332)

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GERMANS UNWILLING TO DEFEND US                                              Germans are more unwilling than willing to defend NATO ally the United States should she be attacked by Russia, according to a YouGov survey.

The poll was conducted amongst key members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the defence bloc which was formed during the Cold War to protect allies from Soviet aggression.

Out of the U.S. France, the UK, and Germany, Americans showed the most willingness to “use military force if Russia attacks” NATO allies and partner countries.

Britons were almost equal in the urge to protect as Americans, but opinion was an “even split” on whether to defend Turkey, while the French were more willing to defend the U.S. and others apart from the Ukraine, Turkey, and Romania.

…. “It is very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia, where we’re supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes and pays out billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia.   We’re protecting Germany, we’re protecting France, we’re protecting all of these countries,” President Trump said.

Currently, only the United States, Greece, Estonia, the United Kingdom, Romania, Poland, and Latvia are meeting their NATO spending obligations, which require members to spend at least two per cent of GDP on defense spending.

Germany is only spending 1.36 per cent of its GDP on defense, well below its NATO obligations, despite having the largest economy in Europe.

Germany was the only country out of these major powers to say they were more unwilling than willing to defend the U.S., 43 per cent to 32 per cent; by contrast, 54 per cent of Americans think they should defend Germany should she find herself attacked by Russia (Breitbart, 12/29/19)

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Expect a tumultuous 2020 in the Middle East                                              by Marc Lynch, The Washington Post, Wednesday, January 1, 2020

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that the Middle East’s 2020 will be tumultuous.   Libya’s civil war has taken a dangerous turn, with Russian mercenaries and Turkish forces joining the fray as Gen. Khalifa Hifter’s forces push into the capital.   Yemen’s still ravaged by economic blockade and war, despite recent efforts on all sides to de-escalate the conflict.   Syria’s civil war continues to metastasize, with a massive new wave of refugees fleeing violence in Idlib.   Large-scale popular protests are challenging Iraq’s government, which is bracing for fallout from the growing confrontation between the United States and Iran.   Israel and the Palestinian territories could dramatically change their relationship, as the prospects of a two-state solution dissolve.   And protest movements throughout the region could shake up half a dozen regimes.

Here are three trends to watch in the Middle East over the coming year.   Expect these three trends to bring numerous crises during this U.S. election year, shaping the challenges that will await the next administration.

  1. Every government is on edge about the U.S. 2020 election: Usually, when the U.S. government changes hands, U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East remains steady and consistent.  No more.
  2. Conflicts in the gulf region are getting harder to control:   The Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran has inflicted economic pain while accomplishing few or none of its strategic objectives.
  3. Protests and more protests.   2019’s wave of protests across the Middle East rivaled those of the Arab Spring in 2011 – and in some ways were more impressive.   Protests challenged regimes in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon; forced political change in Algeria; and overthrew the Sudanese regime.   More will come.
    (https://www.thehour.com/news/article/Expect-a-tumultuous-2020-in-the-Middle-East-14943308.php)

(Marc Lynch is a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, where he is the director of the Project on Middle East Political Science.  He is also a non-resident senior fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Program and the co-director of the Blogs and Bullets project at the United States Institute of Peace.  Lynch is the editor of “The Arab Uprisings Explained:   New Contentious Politics in the Middle East” and the author of “The Arab Uprising: The Unfinished Revolutions of the New Middle East.

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UK SEX GROOMING GANGS VICTIMIZE 19,000 CHILDREN IN 2019

Despite the publicity given to UK’s Pakistani sex grooming gangs since 2012, close to 19,000 children have been victimized by UK sex grooming gangs in 2019.   The number represents a 3,300 increase from five years ago.

In a report by the Independent, activists say the true number is much higher, as many of these crimes go unreported.   After underage girls are groomed using drugs and alcohol, many are reluctant to go to the authorities as their groomers convince them that due to the illegality of the substances, the victims themselves will be punished.

The exploitation has been widely known to local government officials, social workers and law enforcement officials for over a decade.   However, for fear of being called racists, authorities took no steps to prevent the horrific abuse of young, white British girls.

Sarah Champion is a Labor MP from Rotherham where the story broke in 2012 and a tireless campaigner for the victims of these gangs.   In 2017, Champion was forced to resign from her position as shadow (opposition) secretary for women and equalities after writing an article in The Sun telling the facts about the sex grooming gangs:

Frustrated that years after recommendations were made to endless government commissions with no measures taken to support victims and prevent such abuse in the future, Champion wrote, “Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls … There. I said it.  Does that make me a racist?  Or am I just prepared to call out this horrifying problem for what it is?”

Champion continued:   “The irony of all of this is that, by not dealing with the ethnicity of the abusers as a fact, political correctness has actually made the situation about race.”

“The perpetrators are criminals and we need to deal with them as such, not shy away from doing the right thing by fearing being called a racist.”

In a scathing talk in which he excoriated authorities for not protecting Britain’s young girls, Muslim activist Majid Nawaz said, “They were men like me from my community and in all but three, the victims were white teenage girls.   That is the truth, and what I’m saying is so uncomfortable that we’ve been ignoring it for years.   As a result of ignoring it, this problem has been growing and growing to a point where it now has led to racial tensions.” (Clarion Project, 12/31/2019)

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TO THE POINT

  • French president Emmanuel Macron awarded Britain the Legion of Honor, in recognition of the fact that Britain gave Charles de Gaulle and the “Free French” army refuge during World War II.   Many Frenchmen were opposed, claiming that Britain is France’s traditional enemy.
  • EUROPE:  ANTI-CHRISTIAN ATTACKS REACH ALL TIME HIGH.  The issue of anti-Christian vandalism was rarely reported by the European media until February 2019, when vandals attacked nine churches within the space of two weeks.   The issue made headlines again in April 2019, when a suspicious fire gutted the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.   Since then, however, the European media are once again shrouding facts in silence. (Soeren Kern, Gatestone, 1/1/2020)
  • “Statistics on homelessness are patchy, but dispiriting.   In 2010-18 the French government doubled the spaces in emergency accommodation to 146,000, yet cannot meet demand.   In Spain the number in shelters rose by 2-.5% between 2014 and 2016.   In the Netherlands homelessness has doubled in the past decade.  In Ireland, the number in shelters has tripled.   The German government estimates homelessness rose by 4% in 2018, to a record 678,000, most of them migrants.   All this has thrown a spanner into government’s plans.  For years, they have been trying to shift from providing beds for the night to housing first strategies like Finland’s.   Instead they are struggling to keep people off the streets.”   (“Oh give me a home,  Europe,” The Economist, 12/21/2019).
  • Political instability in Germany, coupled with ongoing economic uncertainty, could mean that the disruption seen in the U.K. during its Brexit crisis could shift across the continent to Europe’s largest economy, according to economists and market watchers. (CNBC 12/30/2019)
  • On December 24, Vladimir Putin took part in the Defense Ministry Board meeting held at the National Defense Control Centre.   During the Defense Ministry Board meeting, Putin discussed the role of European countries in contributing to the outbreak of WWII.   Commenting on Poland, Putin used strong words to criticize the Polish ambassador to Nazi Germany, Josef Lipski, who backed Hitler in 1938.   “That bastard! That antisemitic pig – I have no other words,” Putin said referring to Lipski.   This video aired on Rossiya-24 TV (Russia) and was translated into English by Vesti. (MEMRI 12/30)
  • Biblical Archaeology Report listed a finding at the biblical site of Shiloh as the second-most important biblical archeological discovery during 2019 out of a total of ten discoveries.
    What was the number one find in biblical archaeology? A bulla (clay stamp) found in the ancient City of David, with the inscription “[belonging] to nathan-melech, servant of the king,” not far from the Jewish Temple.   First-century artifacts and a Byzantine church in Bethsaida, evidence of Jerusalem’s destruction in the Babylonian period and a monumental staircase at Hazor, also made the cut.
    (https://www.israelhayom.com/2020/01/01/the-most-important-biblical-discovery-of-2019-not-what-you-think/)
  • Please remember to pray for Australia, which is experiencing the most horrendous fires in its history.  Watching them and the skies over New Zealand made me think of the prophecy in Deut. 28:23:   “And your heavens which are over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you shall be iron.”

GERMANY BACKS BREAK-UP OF UNITED KINGDOM

BERLIN/LONDON/EDINBURGH – Berlin’s foreign policy is in support of Scottish nationalists, preparing to hold a second referendum to secede from the United Kingdom.   Last week, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of the Scottish regional government and chairperson of the Scottish National Party (SNP), was received in the German capital for confidential talks with representatives of the German foreign policy establishment, including with Michael Roth (SPD), Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.   Officially, the meetings were focused on the Brexit, bitterly opposed by Sturgeon and the Scottish nationalists.   However, Sturgeon was, in fact, also pleading for support for her secessionist project and to bring Scotland, as an independent country into the EU.

About three years ago, German government representatives had already been in support of this plan.

However, a reliable Scottish majority, needed for this project, is nowhere in sight.

A Second Secession Referendum

Scotland’s regional government under First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is relentlessly pursuing its campaign for a second secession referendum.   Prior to the referendum on September 18, 2014, Scottish nationalists, including Sturgeon, had repeatedly that the population’s decision at the ballot box should be valid for one generation.   However, when a clear majority of 55.3 percent voted in favor of remaining in the UK, Sturgeon immediately declared that, by no means, would she content herself with that outcome, and would eventually seek a new vote.   The occasion presented itself with the Brexit referendum on June 23, 2016, when a majority of 51.9 percent in the UK voted to leave the EU, while a clear majority of 62 percent in Scotland voted to remain.   This discrepancy was an opportunity for Sturgeon – whose regional government has so far only rudimentarily implemented its election promises concerning the social and health sectors – to not only reiterate her idea of a second referendum, but to directly link the perspective of Scotland’s secession with that of remaining in the EU.

Inducement Applause

Representatives of Germany’s governing parties and ministries took this occasion to openly applaud the Scottish nationalists’ secessionist efforts and thus promote the disintegration of an officially allied country.   Already on June 26, 2016, Gunther Krichbaum (CDU), Chairman of the Bundestag’s Committee for the Affairs of the European Union declared that he expected that a new referendum on Scotland’s secession would be “successful” and that the country would remain within the EU.   (German Foreign Policy, 9/23)

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GERMANY SUPPORTS MORE INTERVENTIONS

The German government seeks to expand civilian-military interventions abroad, to obtain a more favorable position in the global struggle for spheres of influence.   To meet the challenge in the context of the “great-power rivalry between the United States, Russia and China,” the EU military missions must be combined with “civilian assistance,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) declared recently.   This “networked approach” should become “a hub” for EU-policy and lead to the creation of a “crisis prevention center” in Berlin.   The plan is particularly to train police officers and other “rule-of-law experts” to be deployed in countries, where “German interests” appear threatened by “outside influence.” “Legitimate partners,” such as the governments of Mali or Afghanistan or opposition forces, as in Syria, could be “strengthened,” explains the German Foreign Ministry.  (German Foreign Policy, 9/21)

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GERMANY LEADS MULTINATIONAL NAVAL EXERCISE

ROSTOCK/COPENHAGEN – Under German command, numerous NATO member countries and close allies are participating in a naval exercise – that ends on Thursday – for the control of Baltic maritime routes.

The Bundeswehr provides, by far, the largest contingent in this year’s “Northern Coasts” naval exercise (September 3 to 19), taking place in the context of the escalating conflict between western countries and Russia.   Due to this conflict, not only Eastern Europe, but the Baltic Sea, as well, has been gaining strategic importance. This is comparable to the Baltic Sea’s importance during the Cold War.   Germany is participating in NATO’s remilitarization of the Baltic Sea, seeking to assume a regional leadership role and enhance its standing within NATO.   The new Maritime Forces Staff, DEU MARFOR, based in the naval headquarters being set up in Rostock, also serves this purpose. In the future, it will be able to provide command for NATO, as well as EU wars.

Northern Coasts 2019

Around 3,000 troops from 18 nations are currently participating in the “Northern Coasts 2019” naval exercise lasting more than two weeks and extending from the straits connecting the Baltic Sea to the North Sea between the Danish and Swedish coasts up to the Bornholm island.   It, thus, includes the narrowest and shallowest sections of the Baltic Sea’s maritime routes.  It is already a challenge for larger ships to maneuver in the Baltic Sea.   In this environment, the multinational forces are training joint operations with 47 vessels, a submarine, seven aircraft and five helicopters.   With 1,300 troops, the Bundeswehr, alone, accounts for nearly half of the soldiers and thus the largest proportion of personnel in the exercise. German forces provide seven ships, the submarine and one of the seven aircraft.   In addition, mine clearance divers from the Naval Force Protection Battalion in Eckernförde are deployed and play a leading role in mine-warfare.   Ashore, German soldiers are active in the logistics command and provide specialists for electronic warfare operations.    This year, the multinational personnel and equipment are under the command of German Rear Admiral Stephan Haisch.(German Foreign Policy, 9/16)

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BANKING AFTER BREXIT

Brexit will reduce by one third the EU’s share of global capital markets and will shift relations within the EU in France’s favor, as was revealed in a recent study on the impact the UK’s departure will have on the Union’s financial sector.   Brexit will therefore reduce the EU’s share of global capital market activities to 14 percent – around one third the size of the US and roughly the same as China. France will become number one among the EU-27 – a bit ahead of Germany.   The shrinkage can also be attributed to the fact that the EU was unable to induce major banks and other financial institutions, on a large scale, to relocate from London onto the continent. Brussels has tried to use strict regulations, stipulating that financial transactions within the EU may only be conducted by legally independent entities within an EU country. However, the financial sector has limited its relocation onto the continent to only the bare essentials. The anticipated banking boom, for example, in Frankfurt, is not materializing.  (German Foreign Policy, 9/19)

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MIDEAST SLIDING INTO MAJOR WAR

The Middle East appears to be sliding into a war and it may even have already started. It is a new kind of war, a 21st century conflict for which there is no formal declaration of war, no clear fronts and a wide variety of battlefields.   There are attacks the provenance of which may never be known, and while some of the fighting is conventional in nature, much of it is not and involves drones in the air and viruses in cyberspace.

More than anything, it is a confusing war, in which nobody really has control, not even those who are ostensibly leading it .

(https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/usa-saudia-arabia-iran-a-new-conflict-in-the-middle-east-a-1287811.html)

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AMERICA WILL NEVER TOLERATE IRAN’S ANTI-SEMITIC HATE – TRUMP

At UN, Trump calls on Mideast nations to fully normalize ties with Israel.  Addressing world leaders, US president says sanctions against Iran will be tightened, not lifted, until it changes behavior and ends ‘fanatical quest’ for nukes.

Speaking before the United Nations General Assembly, the US president accused Tehran of trafficking in “monstrous anti-Semitism” and engaging in a “fanatical quest” to obtain nuclear weapons.   Trump said the rogue regime’s aggression had created newfound regional alliances to counter the Iranian threat. “Thankfully, there is a growing recognition in the wider Middle East that the countries of the region share common interest in battling extremism and unleashing economic opportunity,” Trump said.   “That is why it’s so important to have full normalized relations between Israel and its neighbors.”

In a highly anticipated address before the international community — as tensions with Iran intensified after it allegedly attacked two Saudi oil facilities — Trump insisted that he would maintain his “maximum pressure campaign” against Tehran.    . . . Iran, he said, was on a “fanatical quest for nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.”   The world, Trump continued, “must never allow this to happen.”

. . . “For 40 years, the world has listened to Iran’s rulers as they lash out on everyone else for the problems they alone have created,” he said.   (https://www.timesofisrael.com/at-un-trump-calls-on-mideast-nations-to-fully-normalize-ties-with-)

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HOW HAMAS LEADERS FOOL PALESTINIANS

“Frustrated Palestinian youths are committing suicide because of poverty, while the sons of the leaders are holding birthday parties!” — Hussein Qatoush, on Facebook

The problem . . . is when your father is a senior terrorist leader who devotes himself to inciting against Israel and Jews and encouraging other young Palestinians to sacrifice their lives in the war against Israel.   Hamad, like the rest of the Hamas leaders, would never send his own son to attack soldiers at the border with Israel.

It is time for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to revolt against the leaders who are keeping them chained in poverty and sending them to their deaths.

It is also time for the international community to wake up to the fact that it is wealthy Hamas leaders, and not Israel, who are responsible for the humanitarian and economic disaster that is known as the Gaza Strip.   (Bassam Tawil, Gatestone, 9/25)

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THE GREAT WAR OF OUR TIME

“So how did our initial victory in Afghanistan – in only months – turn into the longest war in American history?   It happened because at some point our goal shifted from ensuring that al Qai’da would not again be able to use Afghanistan as a launching pad for attacks against the homeland to something else.   The mission changed to trying to permanently alter Afghan politics and society.   It was an impossible task to turn Afghanistan’s tribal society and culture into a liberal democracy.   It was an impossible task to convince the Taliban that it should operate inside the Afghan political system rather than outside of it.   Perhaps we should have walked away from Afghanistan after forcing al-Qa’ida from the country, and we would have told all Afghans, including the Taliban, ‘If you let al-Qa’ida return, so will we.”   (“The Great War of our time”, by Michael Morell, former Deputy CIA Director, 2015, page 74).

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TO THE POINT

  • If you’re tired of the usual entertainment provided by TV and even streaming, check out the continuing saga of Brexit, courtesy of Sky News (on “Watch Free” or on the web).  The parliamentary debates are entertaining, to say the least.
  • Surely, the investigation of Donald Trump over his Ukrainian call should be focused on Joe Biden.   His son is now being paid $50,000 a MONTH by a Ukrainian gas company in a job for which he’s not qualified.   When an investigation began looking into this by a Ukrainian prosecutor Biden brought pressure to bear to stop it, threatening an end to US aid.   Corruption, anyone?   (It’s even worse when you consider that the Democrats are supposed to be the party of the working man.)
  • Former French President Jacques Chirac died today.   He was the French leader who finally admitted French complicity in the Holocaust, that the French themselves put French Jews on trains taking them to concentration camps.
  • New South Wales has become the latest Australian state to liberalize abortion laws.   It doesn’t make any sense.   Australia needs more people.   Refugees and other immigrants threaten the Australian way of life.   Australians need to reproduce more.
  • Somebody has stolen the “Amigo” from our local Aldi.   An amigo is a self-driving vehicle with a shopping cart attached.   They can hardly drive it down the street.   What possible use can the thief have for this?   Meanwhile, customers with disabilities are struggling to get around as best they can.   Apparently, a replacement amigo costs about $2,000.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!