Tag Archives: Margaret Thatcher

A CALL FROM SINGAPORE

Nestled in the heart of Southeast Asia and just at the tip of the Malaysian peninsula, the island country of Singapore is a melting pot of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Western cultures. The Lion City is one of the world’s most dynamic, vibrant and prosperous nations.

A friend from Singapore called me at the weekend.   Amongst other things we discussed President Trump’s visit to the region, which is now taking place.   He told me that Singaporeans (mostly ethnic Chinese) believe that America is on the way down and China is on the way up.   In other words, the most powerful nation in Asia and the Pacific is now NOT the US, but China.   Every nation in the region is having to come to terms with Chinese domination.

My friend, who is over 80, remembered the events of 1942 that led Singaporeans to realize the British Empire was on its way down.   One of the greatest military defeats in British history was the fall of Singapore on the 15th of February in 1942.   The story is told of Lee Kwan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore.   While he was a student, the British blew up the causeway that linked the city to the mainland, to delay Japanese forces.   The sound of the explosion could be heard across the island.   When Mr. Lee’s British headmaster came out of the school building and asked him what the noise was, Mr. Lee responded: “It is the sound of the British Empire falling.”

Effectively, it was.   The fall of the British built and developed city started a series of events that led to American domination of Asia and the Pacific.   Now, China’s economic success means Beijing has greater clout in the area than Washington — many nations are looking to Beijing rather than Washington, to secure their future.

I posted an article to my blog in February to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the first time anybody realized that the US had overtaken the United Kingdom as the world’s pre-eminent nation.   It’s all recounted in the book “Picking up the Reins,” by Norman Moss.   It wasn’t until the following year that the term “Leader of the Free World” was applied to the US.   Seventy years later, we find people openly talking about China overtaking the United States. Chinese resentment at US domination is illustrated by an item on today’s BBC World News website.   Apparently, the Chinese use the term “Boss of the World” to describe America.

China isn’t the only power center trying to take over from America. The European Union is also determined to provide an alternative to American hegemony, with Germany’s Angela Merkel now often labeled “the Leader of the Free World.”   Bible students will not be surprised at these developments.

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IRAN – SAUDI STRUGGLE

Keep an eye on the growing Sunni-Shia struggle in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia leads the former and Iran the latter.   The two countries are fighting a proxy war in Yemen.   The latest development was a missile attack on the Saudi capital, fired by Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran.

Iran also supports Hizbollah in Lebanon, whose prime minister resigned on Friday out of fear that he, like his father, will be assassinated.

From Monday’s Jerusalem Post:  “Saudi Arabia said on Monday that Lebanon had declared war against it because of attacks against the Kingdom by the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah.”

Syria is also caught up in the Sunni-Shia conflict.   Iran supports the Syrian president, Bashir Assad.

The West is solely focused on ISIS, a Sunni Islam group which is fighting Iranian backed forces in Iraq and Syria.   ISIS is re-grouping in a number of countries, claiming to represent and defend Sunnis from the Shi’ite heretics.

It’s all very complicated.   Not at all as simple as TV news depicts.

A new area of conflict is in the Sahara, where the US lost four military personnel last month.   Most attention was focused on President Trump’s call to the young wife of one of the men who died. Little attention has been given to the wider problem of a growing conflict right across the Sahel.

The West seems to think ISIS has been defeated; the reality is that the organization has dispersed and formed new radical terrorist groups in a number of different countries.  ISIS fighters have also been returning home to western nations – we should expect more terrorist attacks following the “defeat” of ISIS.

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WALL STREET’S BREXIT WARNING

Big banks are worried about Brexit.   A group of large financial institutions with big London operations, including JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and HSBC, has told US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross that Britain’s unstable government and slow progress in Brexit planning may force them to start moving thousands of jobs out of  the City in the near future.   The lack of clarity over a transition deal is making them nervous.

Their concerns are unlikely to be assuaged by the latest chaos in Theresa May’s cabinet.   Mrs. May is under pressure to strip two more cabinet ministers of their jobs following separate fiascos involving Priti Patel and Boris Johnson.   And the EU has warned that the UK has less than a month to make concessions on a divorce settlement.   The FT’s editorial outlines how the British government’s flailing at home is translating into weakness abroad: “Allies are increasingly wondering whether Mrs. May’s government has the focus or ability to play Britain’s traditional global position — let alone the enhanced role pledged by Brexit.”   (Financial Times, 11/8)

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TEXAS CHURCH ATTACK

26 people were shot dead in church Sunday, following a man’s argument with his mother-in-law.   Twenty others were injured, some very seriously.

This was the 307th incident of mass murder in the US this year. Today is the 310th days of the year, so, in effect, the US is experiencing an average of one mass attack per day.   A mass murder incident is defined as the murder of four or more people.

No other nation in the world sees so much violence.   Yemen, in a civil war between Shia and Sunni Muslims (see segment above), has the second highest incident rate.   Statistically, you would be safer living in Yemen, than in the United States.

I’ve always believed that people have a right to defend themselves, a right that goes back at least to the time of Henry II in the 12th century and perhaps goes back to the ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom prior to the Norman ascendancy.  The second amendment of the US constitution guarantees that right.   After an attack in London a few weeks ago, I pointed out that if one member of the public, just one, had been carrying a weapon, the terror attack might have been thwarted.

President Trump raised the issue of mental health in the context of mass shootings at a press conference in Tokyo.   Mental health is certainly a major issue.   But easy access to guns, especially by the mentally ill, is also a factor and needs to be addressed.   It’s time for that presidential commission of inquiry into mass gun violence.   Let the public have their say.   They are the ones that are dying, even in church.

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100-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF RUSSIAN REVOLUTION

November 7th is the anniversary of the Russian Revolution that brought the communists to power.   Not surprisingly, Russians are not enthused about the anniversary.   They rejected communism over 25 years ago.

There is still talk of a restoration of the monarchy, though most people do not seem to be in favor and do not expect it to happen.

There are lessons here from both France and Spain, two countries that were once dominated by their respective leaders, Charles de Gaulle and General Franco.   Both were strong men, who were vain enough to think that nobody could possibly replace them after their deaths.   Both men thought that the best way to preserve their nations in the future was through the restoration of their national monarchies.

De Gaulle was a close friend of the Comte de Paris, the descendant of the Orleanist monarch, Louis Phillipe, who ruled France from 1830-1848.   The Comte was aware of de Gaulle’s desire to restore the monarchy.

In 1968, France was rocked by student riots and violence across the country.   DeGaulle presented constitutional reforms (not including a restoration) that were rejected, leading to his resignation as President of France in April, 1969.   He died one year later.   De Gaulle, the inspiration behind the Fifth Republic in 1958, need not have worried  — the Fifth Republic remains to this day.

General Franco of Spain, a fascist dictator, had more time to think about the Spanish succession, proclaiming that his heir and successor was to be Juan Carlos, of the Bourbon line of monarchs. As soon as Franco died in 1975, Juan Carlos was proclaimed king.   Rather than continuing Franco’s conservative ideology, the new King dedicated himself to protecting Spanish democracy, thereby at the same time preserving the monarchy.   He even had the respect and support of Spanish communists.

Vladimir Putin may be thinking along the same lines.   He’s been a very strong leader, with a 90% approval rating at times.   He must be fearful of Russia’s future after he leaves the scene.

The restoration of the Romanov dynasty along Spanish lines, may be just what he’s thinking.   He’s already reviving Russian culture, and has helped the church take center stage.

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SYRIA SIGNS UP TO PARIS ACCORD

The US is now the only country in the world that has not signed up to the Paris climate treaty.   Syria was the only other holdout, but has now signed.

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PARADISE PAPERS SCANDAL

The Anglo-Saxon world loves its scandals, especially when its leaders are exposed.   In this regard, the Paradise Papers did not disappoint.

While TV audiences are focused on who has what and why, it should be emphasized that absolutely no one “exposed” broke the law.  They simply took advantage of legal tax loopholes, just as most people do, only theirs is on a much bigger scale than the average citizen.

The only law-breaking going on here was by the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, which somehow gained access to private financial information.   The paper’s partners in this enterprise included the British Guardian newspaper and the New York Times.  No surprises there.

Another concern is this:   the revelations are the latest “scandal” to undermine our institutions.   As if the Harvey Weinstein and other sexual revelations are not enough, we now have nightly reports that Queen Elizabeth II (and others) have been protecting their assets by moving them beyond the control of national governments.

Times have certainly changed.   Fifty years ago, royal tour-guides would proudly announce that the British monarch was the richest woman in the world.   Now, she’s not even in the top 500 wealthiest people in Britain (J.K. Rowling heads the female list), and people are getting riled about it.

The amount involved was only 10 million pounds ($13 million).

Exactly 100 years after the class warfare of the Russian Revolution, people have learned nothing.   All socialism brought was “equal shares of misery for all” (Margaret Thatcher’s definition).   Do we really want to embrace it again, naively thinking it will improve all our lives?

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GOVERNMENT FOR THE PEOPLE

Margaret Thatcher defined socialism as “equal shares of misery for all,” the best definition I’ve ever read of the economic theory and subsequent reality.

The following is a more matter-of-fact explanation that I got when I googled “socialism,” looking for the exact definition.

“a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole;……

  • (in Marxist theory) a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism  and the realization of communism.”

Basically, what it’s saying is that government controls everything and it’s a stepping-stone to communism.  Keep in mind that Marxists believe that, when communism is achieved, everybody lives in paradise – although, of course, they don’t actually believe in paradise, heaven or any other nirvana.

The reality, of course, is that people actually live in hell.

The best example of communism today is North Korea, where everything is controlled by the government, even thoughts.

Another example is Cuba, where almost everything is controlled by the government.

China is not a very good example.  Not any more.  Whereas the government still controls every thought, the economy is more of a free for all.   So long as you keep your mouth shut, you can be a millionaire!

Until the latest British election, many people thought socialism was dead.   Mrs. Thatcher herself had rolled back socialism in the UK and helped the nations of Eastern Europe send the communists packing. But the latest election in the United Kingdom showed that socialism is alive and kicking – and may even be the next government.

Why the appeal?  Because when people feel the inequities of capitalism, they naturally favor the opposite, thinking everything will be put right by the firm hand of government.

Somebody once said that “conservatives believe in the exploitation of man by man; while socialists believe the exact opposite!” Think about it before moving on!

Venezuela has been in the news a great deal over the last few days. There, an incompetent socialist government has destroyed the nation’s economy.  An attempt was made by a member of the country’s military to overthrow the government.  The sight of the helicopter flying over the capital city of Caracas brought back memories of a similar situation in Ghana almost 40 years ago.

Ghana is a case study in the failings of socialism, well-meant but a disaster.

Ghana got its independence from Great Britain in 1957.  It was the first black African country to receive independence, first because it was the most promising, with the greatest number of highly educated citizens and the most money in the bank.   Within four years, it was bankrupt and a dictatorship.   Eventually, the military had to take over to save the country.

A second attempt was made at democracy, which also failed; the military then took over again.   Whereas the politicians were generally well educated, military men were not well-versed in running an economy.   Soon, there was a high rate of inflation and serious shortages.   These led to a coup on June 4th, 1979, a coup my wife and I experienced first-hand.

The helicopter flying overhead, filmed by somebody on a balcony, reminded me of how Diane watched a similar scene during Ghana’s coup.   In Ghana, the helicopter opened fire and she quickly went indoors.   At the time, I was trying to get back to the house using side roads to avoid the fighting.   At one point, I was held up at gunpoint by rebel soldiers who wanted to take my car.

The coup was successful.   A new government came to power led by Flight Lt. J.J. Rawlings, an avowed socialist who was enamored by the way things were done in Eastern Europe.   The people said the “J.J.” stood for “Junior Jesus.”

He immediately started setting things right, freezing the price of eggs at 8 cedis a dozen and controlling the price of beer, two priorities!   The problem was that farmers could not produce eggs to sell at that price as chicken feed was too expensive; with beer, there was a shortage of hops.   I thought that a national shortage of beer would lead to revolution fairly quickly, but I was wrong.   Ghana remains the only African nation I know of that did not experience civil unrest when the beer ran out!

Serious shortages became a major problem.   Supermarkets had next to nothing on their shelves.   Basic commodities could only be obtained through barter – I remember bartering shirts for gasoline and toilet paper for rice!

As the economy went into freefall, so the government was made more oppressive.   Foreigners were blamed for just about everything – in August, we were told to leave the country.

Elections had been scheduled before Rawlings took over.   Under pressure, he allowed them to go ahead and a new, still socialist, government came to power, led by a nice man who was also an alcoholic.   At least beer was now available!

Eventually, he was overthrown and J.J. was back, followed by even greater economic disaster.   It wasn’t until Rawlings started to reverse socialism and encourage free enterprise that things started to improve.

Government control of the economy = disaster.   Mrs. T got it right!

So why is socialism “in vogue” again?   The rising gap between rich and poor is one answer; another is the youth vote – most young people have no memory of when Europe was largely socialist.   As Winston Churchill once said:   “If you’re not a socialist at 20, you’ve got no heart; if you’re still a socialist at 30, you’ve got no head”.

In I Samuel 8 we read an account of how Israel wanted a human leader like all the other nations around them.   God warned the people that it would mean greater financial hardship, as government would constantly expand and the people would have to pay for it.  The warning was of 10% taxation.  Today, taxes run much higher.

10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who asked him for a king. 11 And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. 12 He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. 14 And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. 16 And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men,[a] and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. 18 And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.”

Don’t just assume that this only applies to kings and kingdoms.   In the last century, new nations have come into existence, most of them with a president rather than a king.   It turns out the kings were cheaper.   Note the following from Ecclesiastes 10:16-17:

“Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child,
And your princes feast in the morning!
17 Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles,
And your princes feast at the proper time—
For strength and not for drunkenness!”

Elected politicians think they have an automatic right to take everybody else’s money and spend it how they want.   Again, Margaret Thatcher put it well when she observed:  “the trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money!”

That’s exactly what Jeremy Corbyn of Britain’s Labour (socialist) party is promising the people – more taxes to help government expand.

That’s what Venezuela got with Hugo Chavez, the socialist president who presided over the collapse of the country’s economy.   His successor, Nicolas Maduro, has not been able to improve things.

The great lesson here is: there’s a lot of evils in capitalism, but don’t think government will make things better!

Just ask the Venezuelans….!

 

 

 

TRUMP AND MAY’S BIGGEST MISTAKE

President Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May have just made their biggest mistake.

The American president received Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House last week.   At a press conference, he clearly made the German chancellor uncomfortable when he publicly called for Germany to bring its military budget up to the full 2% of GNP agreed on by NATO.   This would raise military spending from 37 billion euros a year to 60 billion.   It would also restore German military might.

Across the ocean, Mrs. May is seeking closer military ties to Germany at the same time as pursuing Brexit.   The idea is to keep Germany close.   It would also contribute to restoring German military might.

British war time leader Sir Winston Churchill promised at the end of World War II that Germany would never rise again; 45 years later British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher opposed German reunification following the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Attitudes change.   It’s now over seventy years since the fall of the Third Reich.   Today’s leaders see Germany as a model democracy and think it will always be that way.

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LONDON TERROR

Mrs. May has other things on her mind right now.   A terrorist attack on Westminster Bridge on Wednesday afternoon left 5 dead, including the terrorist and an unarmed policeman; also 29 hospitalised, seven of them critically.   The terrorist was known to the police as a “radical Islamist.”   No surprise, there.

As the terrorist was “British born,” the implication is that somehow it’s Britain’s fault and that more can be done (costing more, of course) to avoid such incidents in the future.

What will not be considered is this – Islam means “submit;” it’s the exact opposite of “freedom” which is what Britain is all about.   Muslim children raised in Britain will inevitably struggle with internal conflict, unable to reconcile the two opposing ideals.

A few weeks ago the BBC interviewed Somalis on the streets of Minneapolis, asking them how they felt about life in America and related issues.   Clearly better off than they were in Somalia, nevertheless every single one of them said they would rather live in a Muslim country and that America would be a better country if it embraced sharia law!

I first heard the news of the terror attack when I was having lunch with a friend.   A man sitting alone at the next table was checking his mail on his phone and suddenly exclaimed “there’s been a terrorist attack in London.”   He had no idea I was from the UK.   When I told him, his first question was “why don’t they arm the police?   How can a policeman defend himself when attacked like this?”

I explained that one third of all the police are now armed and you see a lot of them in London, protecting the main tourist sights.   But Wednesday’s murder shows that every policeman needs to be able to defend himself, even if it’s only with a stun gun.

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BREXIT MOVING AHEAD

Mrs. May has also announced that she will invoke Article 50 of the Treaty of Rome on March 29th.   This will formally begin Britain’s exit from the European Union.   Failure to reach agreement on terms within a two-year period will automatically mean a “hard Brexit,” with Britain simply leaving the EU and signing trade deals around the world with other countries.   There would be no trade deal with the 27 remaining EU countries.

Such a failure would likely impact any military agreement between Germany and the UK.   It would be hard for the two countries to maintain a good friendship when they cannot even reach an agreement on future trade.

The formal triggering of Article 50 will put a dampener on celebrations in Rome, for the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome.   All 27 leaders of the EU will be there – Mrs. May will not be attending.   Interestingly, all 27 leaders will also be meeting with the pope.

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SCOTTISH REFERENDUM #2

The Scottish leader, Nicola Sturgeon, continues to mimic a “Rottweiler.”   With her teeth firmly latched onto Mrs. May’s pants, she will not let go of her demand for a second referendum on Scotland’s independence.   (If the vote goes against her, she will ask for a third and a fourth, until she gets what she wants!)

Scotland depends heavily on subsidies from England.   Ms. Sturgeon should concentrate first on improving the nation’s finances, showing that Scotland can go it alone.   Then she could go back to the Scottish electorate and claim an independent Scotland would do better on its own.

But that’s not what’s happening.   Rather, Scotland is hoping Germany will come to its rescue.   Edinburgh has even opened a trade mission in Berlin (whisky for cars?).

Don’t get me wrong.   I’m not trying to make light of a serious situation.   The United Kingdom is better with Scotland.   It would be a real shame if England’s northern neighbor pulled out after more than 300 years of unity within one nation.

It would also present a potentially serous security issue if Germany replaced England as Scotland’s benefactor.   Scotland’s independence would be compromised — the Irish parliament already finds it cannot agree on a budget without Berlin’s agreement.

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1400 YEARS OF SECTARIAN CONFLICT

There’s a big battle going on in Mosul between ISIS and government forces.   Optimism has been expressed on the imminent defeat of the terror organization.

Overlooked is the fact that Shia militias are operating in Iraq, without restraint.   The government is majority Shia.   Many Sunnis identify with ISIS.   If the terrorists are defeated, another organization (perhaps worse than ISIS) will arise to protect the Sunnis from the Shia.

Western countries, led by the US, have been sucked into the ancient Sunni-Shia conflict in the Middle East.   Whereas the West sees things ideologically, Middle Easterners see the situation from a sectarian viewpoint.   To us, ISIS is bad because it’s a violent terrorist organization; to Sunni Muslims living in a majority Shia country, ISIS is their protector.   To the Sunnis, this is also America’s fault – until the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the country was dominated by Sunnis. They lost out when America came in!

There’s two lessons here for the West – 1) Get out of the Middle East and stay out!   2) Stop importing the region’s sectarian conflicts through immigration policies that do not take into account national security.

In other words, let’s get back to the pre-1914 Middle East, before the war that brought down the Ottoman Empire and led to the fragmentation we now see in the region.   The war led to increased British dominance of the region, and now American domination.   It’s a mess.   It’s time to get out.

On another note – why is the US getting involved in Yemen, another territory witnessing increased fighting between Sunni and Shia?  A US Navy Seal was killed there last month in a raid by American forces.

The Sunni-Shia conflict has gone on since the 7th century, almost seven times as long as the United States has existed as a nation.   Do we really think that our involvement is going to end the conflict between the two major branches of Islam?   Do we really think that moving Shia and Sunni from the Middle East to the US (and Europe) will suddenly make them love each other?   After the London attack on Wednesday, one security expert interviewed mentioned that the UK knows of 850 British passport holders, fighting with ISIS in Iraq and Syria. If they are British raised, why are they still identifying with Sunni Islam and anxious to fight Shia Muslims?   It’s a question that needs to be addressed.

It’s just been announced that the perpetrator of the London attack was Kent-born and raised Khalid Masood, aged 52.   He was the son of immigrants and  a convert to Islam.

It should also be noted that the perpetrator was unusually old for a terrorist.

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If you can find it on pbs.org, this week’s Frontline examined the rise of the Shia militias in Iraq and the (Shia) government’s failure to address the problem.

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ANOTHER BLESSING OF BRITISH RULE

“Among some contemporary Israelis the British Mandate has come to be viewed nostalgically.  Although Palestine did not have the elephants, maharajahs and tigers of the Indian Raj, the same culture of Highland reels, polo and pink gins in the King David Hotel flourished.  So did an incorruptible civil service, possibly a novelty in the region.”  (‘Blood and Rage”, by Michael Burleigh, 2009, page 89)

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THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS

A few days ago a friend gave me a copy of the Seventh Day Adventist magazine, “Amazing Facts.”   The cover story was titled:  “The Power of Forgiveness.”   Forgiveness is sadly lacking, even amongst Christians.   Church organizations often find it hard to forgive, so how can they teach their members to forgive others?

Yet our eternal life depends on it.

When the Apostle Peter asked Jesus Christ how often should he forgive his brother, Peter suggested that seven times would be enough; the Messiah’s response was “seventy times seven”, meaning an unlimited number of times (Matthew 18:21-22).

Jesus expounded on one of the points in His model prayer, adding:

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”   (Matthew 6:14-15)

If Christians always practiced forgiveness, we would no doubt have more Christians.

Perhaps, given time, even the Muslims would follow and learn to forgive a 1400-year-old schism.

 

 

 

 

 

A VERY BRITISH REVOLUTION

Sun headlines BREXIT

“See EU Later!” – front page headline in The Sun.

“No one was hurt. But still a revolution that will lead to profound change.” (BBC Assistant Political Editor, Norman Smith).

The most important election this year has already taken place.  No, I haven’t forgotten the one in November that has still to take place here in the United States.   Nor am I overlooking the election in Australia next week.

The referendum in the United Kingdom on membership of the European Union was a once in a lifetime vote that will actually lead to significant change, something that normally doesn’t follow a general election.

The British people voted yesterday to leave the European Union.  Or, rather, 52% of those who voted, opted to “Leave;” 48% voted to “Remain.” Even that does not reveal the whole story – London and Scotland voted to “Remain.” The English voted overwhelmingly to leave. London, a city which, at best, is only 50% ethnic English, voted to remain.

The pace of change that is taking place right now is staggering.   Britain is OUT; so is David Cameron, who resigned this morning; it’s only a year since he led the Conservative Party to a surprise win in the last election.  It’s less than two years since the Union with Scotland was secured in the Scottish referendum.  Scotland voted yesterday to stay in the EU.  The First Minister of Scotland is now insisting that Scots be given another opportunity to vote on leaving the UK.  What a change in just a few months!

Even the Leader of the Opposition Labor Party may choose to resign – while he supported continued membership of the EU, the party’s supporters did not.

London’s first Muslim Mayor is even talking of the capital city somehow maintaining a special relationship with Europe.

The prospect of the United Kingdom breaking up is a serious one.  Only England (outside of London) and Wales voted to “Leave.”   Even Gibraltar, the first British territory to vote, voted overwhelmingly to “Remain” – the Spanish Prime Minister, seizing an opportunity, is now calling for joint British and Spanish control of the peninsula.

Meanwhile, there is turmoil on the international financial markets, which will likely continue until some sort of an agreement is reached between the UK and EU, reassuring markets.

It’s a big mess all round!

POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES

  1. Changes could come to the EU.  Other nations may withdraw, forcing change on those that remain.   Financially, the European Union received a lot of money from the UK. This spigot will be cut off.  To paraphrase Margaret Thatcher, the EU has finally run out of other peoples’ money!
  2. The future of the European Union itself is also uncertain.   One thing is absolutely clear – the bureaucrats who control the Union are out of touch with the common people.   Demands from the people of other countries for their own referendum will increase.   Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, is calling for a quick resolution of uncertainty, hoping to stop any contagion.   Anti-Establishment revolutions, even non-violent ones, have a habit of spreading from one country to another – 1989 is a recent example; 1918 and 1848 are two others.
  3. Scotland is more likely to leave the United Kingdom, taking England and Wales back to the seventeenth century.  Northern Ireland’s future is also uncertain.
  4. Germany will emerge from this as a more powerful force in Europe. This was one concern some British people had. Ironically, by voting to leave, they will have helped strengthen Germany as the dominant power in Europe. As the EU progresses, fulfilling its goal of an “ever closer union”, it will inevitably mean a greater role for Berlin.
  5. The referendum was an anti-Establishment vote.  For 43 years the British people have lived under the growing authority of the bureaucratic socialist super-state that is the EU, having to comply with thousands of dictates they did not want.  Some people have done very well out of the EU.  Prominent Brits have jumped aboard the European gravy train and done very well out of it, with high salaries and an even higher expense account.  There has been little or no accountability.
  6. The vote was a vote against globalization.   The driving force in western thinking, since World War II, has been globalization. Multiculturalism, free trade deals, massive numbers of immigrants, have all profoundly changed the western world; yesterday’s vote was the first big sign that the people are hitting back. Half the people (actually a little over half) feel that they are missing out and don’t like the way things are going. That’s true in other countries as well as the UK.
  7. Migration was a major issue.   People don’t like the sheer numbers of Syrians, Iraqis, Poles, Bulgarians, Rumanians, Pakistanis, etc that now live in Britain.   The new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, a Muslim whose family migrated from Pakistan, sensing this significant change in national thinking, campaigned against a Brexit and now wants London to continue an association with Europe.

In this context, it’s interesting to note the prophet Daniel’s observation about the interracial condition of the ancient Roman Empire and of its modern-day successor founded by the Treaty of Rome:

“42 And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. 43 As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.” (Daniel 2:42-43).   Whereas America was a melting pot, the European Union was a union of 28 different nations and cultures, each with its own languages and customs.   Mixing was never going to be as successful as in the United States.

  1. Yesterday’s vote could start a populist movement – even the US may follow in November.   Presidential candidate Donald Trump, on a private visit to Scotland, said this morning that Brexit is a good thing: “the British have gotten their country back.”   Brexiters have a lot in common with Trump, who may capture the mood of Americans in the same way. Hillary Clinton supported the “Remain’ campaign but was out of touch with the people.  (There was no reason for her to get involved in the first place.)   President Obama warned on a recent visit to the UK that if the country left the EU it would go to the “back of the queue” (a British term) to wait for a new trade deal with the US.   Trump today said that will not happen if he becomes president, that the UK has been a close ally of the US for decades and deserves better than that.

Note the following comment on Twitter from Michael Moore, leftist documentary filmmaker who lives in Flint, Michigan:   “Hail Trumptannia!   Fear wins out in UK.   Britain votes to “build a ‘wall’” by leaving EU.  Hatred of immigrants, xenophobia, nationalism reign.  Fellow Americans – we’re up next!”  This is a typical comment from the not-so-intellectual elite, who insult the voters when they lose!  Expect more of the same from the EU as well as the US.

  1. However, financial concerns are justified.  The pound dropped 10% in hours, even before the final tally was realized (trading continued in the Far East due to the time difference) and stock markets are in freefall.  But this was to be expected.   It should soon calm down.   The Emperor Napoleon once dismissed the English as “a nation of shopkeepers”, a quote from Adam Smith in “The Wealth of Nations.”   But this will only help Britain – Germany sells 20% of its cars to the UK, they will not want to lose that market.
  2. The vote for Brexit will have an international effect as well as a domestic one.   Relations between the EU and Russia may change.  The Mayor of Moscow today said that without Britain, the EU will be less likely to continue economic sanctions on the country.

Today we are witnessing a seismic shift in world history.   We don’t see those every day. What we are seeing is England waking up to the consequences of globalism.   Others will follow.   But, the world has changed in the last 43 years.   Whereas the UK was a constant in the pre-EU world, it no longer is.   The EU offers Scotland and Ireland a viable alternative.   The Brexit could mean the end of the United Kingdom.  British historian Paul Johnson wrote in his 1972 book “The Offshore Islanders,” written between Britain’s application to join Europe and its actual membership, that disunity has always been fatal to the offshore islanders (the British).   The country has not been this divided in centuries and will likely see further division ahead.

Europe has already meant the end of David Cameron, who joins his two Conservative predecessors, John Major and Margaret Thatcher, in being brought down by divisions over Europe.   Whoever replaces him as prime minister will have to try and unite the party and the country at a very difficult time in history.

At the same time, there is going to be a lot of lingering bad feelings, in both British major parties and between the UK and the rest of Europe.  Mr. Juncker has just announced an emergency meeting of the other 27 leaders of the EU, to take place on Wednesday. We will soon see what the EU has in mind for a Europe without the UK.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS THIS WEEK

Putin and Syria

Here’s an interesting paragraph from German-Foreign-Policy.com, February 15th:

“German military personnel are beginning to consider Russia’s intervention in Syria as having prevented IS/Daesh from taking power in Damascus and carrying out offensives against other countries – including Israel.”

While the western media concentrates on exposing Russian air attacks as potential “war crimes,” it may be that, overall, Russia’s intervention has been a good thing, stopping the spread of ISIS and thwarting a greater threat to Israel.

The key words are “may be.”  We may never know.

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Russia’s intervention in Syria may have, inadvertently, helped Israel.  President Obama’s occupancy of the White House certainly has not.   US unreliability has led Israel to seek alliances elsewhere. Bret Stevens wrote yesterday in the Wall Street Journal:

“On Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon publicly shook hands with former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal at the Munich Security Conference. In January, Israeli cabinet member Yuval Steinitz made a trip to Abu Dhabi, where Israel is opening an office at a renewable-energy association. Turkey is patching up ties with Israel. In June, Jerusalem and Riyadh went public with the strategic talks between them. In March, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi told the Washington Post that he speaks to Mr. Netanyahu “a lot.”

“This de facto Sunni-Jewish alliance amounts to what might be called the coalition of the disenchanted; states that have lost faith in America’s promises.  Israel is also reinventing its ties to the aspiring Startup Nations, countries that want to develop their own innovation cultures.” (“Israel looks beyond America, WSJ)”

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February 15th was an important date historically.   On that day, in 1942, the British surrendered Singapore to the Japanese.   It was a major turning point for the British Empire. It wasn’t until almost fifteen years later that the world could clearly see the Empire was no longer the major power it had been, but Britain’s defeat at the hands of the Japanese was disastrous.   Note the following from Stratfor:

The Beginning of the End of the British Empire — The humiliating surrender of Singapore on Feb. 15, 1942, was the first sign of decline for the British regional order.

“On Jan. 31, 1942, Allied engineers blew a hole in the causeway linking the island city of Singapore to the Malay Peninsula, hoping to slow the advance of Japanese Imperial troops down the coastline. The blast resounded throughout the city. As the story goes, 19-year-old university student and future prime minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew was walking across campus at that moment. When his British headmaster, passing by, asked what the sound was, Lee responded, “That is the end of the British Empire.”

Lee Kuan Yew was to lead Singapore for over three decades, presiding over one of the world’s greatest success stories.

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The US election has taken a worrying turn, again.   The two Democratic candidates are busy criticizing the police in order to get the African-American vote. They need to tread carefully.   The police are all that stand between the general population and anarchy. One day, one of these candidates may need a policeman or two to protect them. Undermining the police is not in anybody’s interests.

Christopher Marquez, an Hispanic decorated US Marine, was attacked and left unconscious by a gang of young African-American teenagers at a McDonald’s in Washington, DC, last week.   They had been taunting him along racial lines asking him if “Black Lives Matter,” the popular slogan started last year following the deaths of a number of young black men at the hands of white police.

“I believe this was a hate crime and I was targeted because of my skin color,” Marquez, who is Hispanic, told The Daily Caller. “Too many of these types of attacks have been happening against white people by members of the black community and the majority of the main stream media refuses to report on it.”

Of course black lives matter.  But white ones should, too.   No attention was given to this story of the white Marine until Fox News” put it on its website this morning.  No attention has been given either to the death of a 17-year-old white male a few miles from our home – shot by a white policeman who, some think, over reacted.  “Justice for Devon Guilford” is written on signs all over our neighborhood as investigations continue.   The issue has seriously divided Eaton County.

There is definitely a double standard in the media, where “black lives matter,” but white lives don’t!

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President Obama was shown on television this morning assuring people that Donald Trump will never be president.  Meanwhile, there’s increasing talk that Joe Biden will jump into the race if Hillary Clinton slips any further against fellow Democrat Bernie Sanders.

 

The Establishment clearly does not want outsiders like Trump or Sanders to lead the country!   Whatever happened to democracy?

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It’s not that different overseas.

In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister David Cameron has promised a referendum on Britain’s future in the European Union.   Referenda are easily manipulated.

If the majority votes against Europe, a second question could be asked phrased differently to try to get a ‘yes’ vote.   Even if both votes result in a resounding ‘No,’ other nations in Europe will retaliate making it difficult, if not impossible for Britain to break away. German leaders are already threatening a trade war at a time when global trade is already going through a rough period.

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Mr. Sanders claims that he wants “democratic socialism” and cites Denmark as his model.   He has wisely avoided any mention of Venezuela where socialism has brought the country to near-starvation.  Stratfor reported yesterday that the socialist President Nicolas Maduro may be around for some time:

“Maduro could maintain a political impasse with the legislature for a long time. He could also deal with a slowly mounting economic crisis, as former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez did during the latter years of his presidency. But the Venezuelan crisis is rapidly becoming a social crisis. Maduro’s economic adjustments have focused on sharply cutting imports across the board, spurring rampant inflation that effectively places even basic food items out of the poor’s reach.  The situation is potentially explosive. With rapid consumer price increases on the black market, endemic shortages of food in public stores, failing public utilities and an intransigent president, the stage is set for a major wave of social unrest that could rival the 1989 Caracazo riots that killed hundreds of people.”

Margaret Thatcher got it right when she defined socialism as “equal shares of misery for all!”   Government is inherently incompetent.  That will never change.

 

PROBLEMS FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT

Bill and Hillary

Former President Clinton looked bewildered a couple of nights ago, when trying to refute accusations that his wife is part of the “Establishment.”

He asked how can she be when she’s a woman running for an office no woman has ever held.

The former president misses the point.

The Establishment generally denotes a dominant group or elite that holds power or authority in a nation or organization . . .  In fact, any relatively small class or group of people having control can be referred to as The Establishment . . . ”  (Wikipedia:  “The Establishment”)

Based on this definition, the Clintons are a part of the Establishment.  They have spent years promoting their liberal ideals, from abortion and same-sex marriage to big government programs, multiculturalism and political correctness.

I was amused a few days ago when a prominent female supporter of Hillary Clinton enthusiastically talked of her candidacy.  She said that if Mrs. Clinton doesn’t make it, then former Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, will run.   This would mean that Americans would have two billionaires to choose from, Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg.   What would the rest of the world think of American democracy if two billionaires were running for office?   She did not mention that Mrs. Clinton is a multi-millionaire.  Nor did she express any concern about donations made to Mrs. Clinton that are clearly a conflict of interest.

This is turning out to be the most interesting US presidential election since 1968.   At that time, I was a teenager living in England.   Britain had its own radical government at the time, the second post-war Labour government led by Harold Wilson.

It seemed like everything was changing.   Abortion and homosexuality were both legalized, while the death penalty was abolished.  There were also radical financial decisions taken, including nationalization of some industries (others had already been nationalized).  The left-wing financial decisions were reversed under Margaret Thatcher over a decade later; but the other reforms stayed the same.

Other countries were going through the same radical changes.

Fifty years later, like it or not, the liberal-leftists who have dominated the western world are now the establishment, an establishment that has clearly failed the country.

What we saw in New Hampshire was a political earthquake.  The headlines were dramatic — fittingly so:  “Sanders, Trump Stun America,” CNN declared on its website.  The American Prospect summed it up with a tidy statement:  “The Establishment Sinks.”   The look on Bill Clinton’s face took me back to 1989 when Rumania’s President Nicolai Caucescu first realized the people were rising up against him.   There was shock and horror together with bewilderment – how could the people reject me was written all over his face.

This is not an American phenomenon.  We see the same thing happening in other western countries.   “Extremists” (as far as the media is concerned) of both right and left are challenging the established center.

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Meanwhile, the following report appeared on the BBC’s website yesterday, one day after Janet Yellin’s testimony before Congress warning of the worsening international financial environment:

“Analysts said US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen’s gloomy economic assessment on Wednesday had added to investors’ worries. In testimony to Congress, she said that financial conditions in the US had become “less supportive” of growth and warned of the “increased volatility” in global financial markets.  Rabobank European strategist Emile Cardon said the worst could still lie ahead:  “The bad news in now coming from everywhere – China, Portugal, the US, the commodity sector, the banking sector.  It’s like several smaller crises could combine into one big crisis.”

It’s not just the global economy that’s a worry.

German Foreign Policy reports that we are going to see more wars this year.

BERLIN – In an article published by the leading German foreign policy journal, an influential diplomat predicts that worldwide, there will be a further increase in the number of wars and their victims, this year.  “The number of conflicts, their victims, and their refugees” has been increasing worldwide, for the past five years and this development will “most likely continue this year.”   The
journal, Internationale Politik, substantiates this assumption by presenting an overview of the current wars.  Today’s deadliest wars (are) in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, and South Sudan.

When Jesus Christ was asked by His disciples what would be the sign of His Second Coming, He replied:

“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.”   (Matt 24:6)

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Thursday evening, less than 24 hours ago, an individual attacked customers in a restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, with a machete, injuring four, one of whom is critical.   First reports assured people this was not terrorism; then they announced the name of the man responsible, Mohammad Barry.

Meanwhile, the Pope, on a visit to Mexico, will stand with migrants at the US border, symbolically demanding the US let more migrants in.   It’s not just the politicians who don’t get it!

 

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UK TV ELECTION DEBATE

British election candidates

In case you haven’t noticed, the United Kingdom is in the middle of a general election campaign.   The election itself takes place on May 7th, which does not leave much time for campaigning.

On Thursday, the seven leaders of the seven major parties held a televised debate on national television.   The debate was two hours long.   I watched it on “BBC World News” where it was shown live. There was only one brief commercial break in the middle.

The parties clearly divide into right and left.   The three parties that are supportive of austerity are the ruling Conservatives led by David Cameron, the Liberal Democrats led by Nick Clegg, and UKIP (the United Kingdom Independence Party) whose leader is Nigel Farage.   The Liberals are more in the center, but when it comes to spending, they believe in a balanced budget.

The ruling coalition since the last election in 2010 imposed austerity measures on the country, but has found it difficult not to overspend.

The other four parties represented are all to the left of the political spectrum.   All leaders were in favor of more spending on this or that and seemed to have no concept that all government spending is dependent on the success of the private sector, which they are inclined to want to clobber with more and more punitive taxes.   A favorite in the debate was a “mansion tax” on homes worth over two million British pounds ($3 million).   They do not realize that wealthy people have the option of moving to other EU member countries and can take their money with them.   They would also enjoy a better climate!

The four leftist parties are the Labour Party, led by Ed Miliband. To his left are Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP), Leanne Wood, leader of Plaid Cymru (the Party of Wales) and Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party.   All four kept demanding more money for their pet projects.   Apart from the suggestion of a tax on mansions, the three ladies also insisted on defense cuts, notably that Britain not modernize Trident, its nuclear weapons system.

No commentator pointed out that the ladies’ demands would cost the English taxpayer more money.   Already, the English bankroll the Scots and the Welsh – and, together with Germany, the EU.   As Mr. Farage pointed out, the subsidy to the EU amounts to ten billion pounds per day ($15 bn).

This is one reason why Nigel Farage wants Britain to pull out of the EU.   He constantly focused on this one issue when answering questions.   The EU does not allow Britain to govern itself.   On immigration, for example, a major issue in the UK, London cannot do anything because of treaty obligations with the rest of Europe, which allow for the free movement of people.   The Germans are insistent that this remains the case, even though it costs the UK tax-payer a great deal of money.   Immigrants from the rest of the EU can claim British welfare benefits upon arrival in the country and can use the free health service.   They can even claim family allowances (a weekly child benefit) for children they left behind.

When Mr. Farage pointed out that last year 7,000 people were diagnosed as HIV positive and that 60% of these are foreigners, he added that each one will cost the taxpayer 25,000 pounds a year ($37,500).   Nicola Sturgeon came right back accusing him of being “heartless,” saying that his comment was “shameful.”   For this she received loud applause.   Yet the liberal “Independent” newspaper reveals in a poll that half the British people support him on this issue.

Ms. Sturgeon seems adept at spending other peoples’ money.   She reminded me of Margaret Thatcher’s famous dictum:  “The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other peoples’ money.”   If any of these three ladies has a major role in the next coalition government, the country could follow Greece toward financial ruin.

Polls after the debate said that Nicola Sturgeon did best.   If her party wins a lot of parliamentary seats in Scotland, they could enter a coalition with Labour and spend to their heart’s content – or, at least, until they run out of other people’s money!

It’s difficult to imagine a right of center coalition that includes the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and UKIP.   It may happen.   But if David Cameron needs UKIP to get the 318 seats necessary to form a government, he will have to give Nigel Farage what he wants, which is a referendum on EU membership by the end of the year.

Everything is up for grabs – anything could happen at this point in time.   But the most likely outcome will be a return of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, which has ruled the country for the last five years.   Noticeable during the debate is that the two leaders of these parties did not seriously attack each other, allowing for a continued marriage of convenience after the election.

With this election, it can truly be said that Britain is at a crossroads.   Everything achieved over the last few years of austerity could easily be lost, throwing the economy into a downward spiral; relations with Europe are also at stake at a time when the continental nations that comprise the EU are drawing closer together, with Germany very much in the driving seat.