President Trump’s visit to the United Kingdom was very successful and has given the British people a much needed boost in the midst of Brexit.
The British would probably have been ok even without the US, but Trump’s promise of a trade deal couldn’t have come at a better time. Mrs. May ceases to be prime minister at the end of the week, having failed in her bid to do a “deal” with Europe. (She will continue in a caretaker role until a new leader of the Conservative Party is chosen.)
Mr. Trump made the effort to talk to Boris Johnson and to meet with both Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove, the three most likely men to replace Mrs. May. He already knew the first two. He also spent some time with Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit party. Mr. Trump is firmly on the side of Brexit, which will put a dent in the European Union, arguably America’s greatest trade rival.
Some voices were raised against Trump. PBS said the “streets were flooded” with demonstrators. 250,000 were expected; 75,000 turned up, according to organizers. Others felt the number was considerably less. Hardly a flood! An opinion poll found that 46% of the British people supported the visit; only 40% were against. Those numbers were a lot better than on his previous visit. People have seemingly become aware that he is in favor of a strong, individual nation state, and against globalization.
He was well received by the royal family, in spite of the revelation of a negative comment made by Meghan Markle prior to her marriage to Prince Harry.
Criticism from London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, continues but it did not influence anybody else. Mr. Khan, a Muslim, began his spat with Trump when the president introduced curbs on immigrants from Muslim countries. His negativity only strengthens how actor John Cleese described London a few days ago as a non-English city – it’s unlikely to be in step with the rest of the country from now on. Jeremy Corbyn was another critical voice. The leader of the Labor Party seems happy to meet with terrorist leaders but not with the US president.
President Trump extolled the virtues of the Anglo-American alliance, two nations that have been the greatest alliance in history. It took Robert Tuttle, a former US Ambassador to the UK on Sky TV, to add another three countries: “Canada, Australia and New Zealand.” The Australian prime minister sat behind the Queen and President for the celebrations commemorating D-Day. The Canadian prime minister was also present. All three countries contributed to the D-Day landings.
There are now two clearly defined ideas when it comes to the future of the western world. Angela Merkel gave the commencement speech at Harvard University. Her priority is still globalization. While Trump’s speeches in England were all about the nation state. Comments posted to websites talked about role reversal – that Merkel believes in freedom while Trump is for fascism. Such comments show people’s ignorance. Nationalism is a far cry from fascism. And fascism is more likely to come out of the EU than the US. Too many people on the left are too quick to label a conservative “fascist.”
Other challenges lie ahead. Britain is in the midst of a constitutional crisis; the US seems headed for one.
Britain’s is all to do with Brexit. And the referendum on the subject was won three years ago by supporters of the country leaving the EU. Parliament will not support the British people’s vote and, instead, is split between those who support Brexit with a deal and those who wish to remain members of the EU. Those supporting Brexit with a deal are not facing reality as the EU will not give them a deal it could accept. The uncertainty has gone on for three years, eroding any respect for Britain that the EU might have had. If they upset the EU any more, they may find themselves kicked out of the organization.
On the anniversary of D-Day today, June 6th, the Daily Express Head of News, Paul Baldwin, mused on the anniversary of the landings: “It’s interesting and quite moving to think that 75 years ago today one of the biggest armadas ever assembled was about to set off and head for northern France and liberate Europe from the yoke of Nazism. And we’re now seeing 75 years later that Britain is, at best, tolerated by our European neighbors and at worst, possibly despised.” (Daily Express 6/6)
Not only is there uncertainty over Brexit. There is also uncertainty over who will replace Mrs. May as PM. The choice is most undemocratic.
“At some point in June or July roughly 124,000 people in Britain can expect to receive a ballot paper in the post. It will offer them the names of two Conservative MPs (members of parliament). The one they select will, shortly thereafter, enter 10 Downing Street as prime minister. The rest of Britain’s 66 million inhabitants will have no say whatsoever.” (“The Referendums and the damage done,” The Economist, 6/1).
The new leader will serve out the term of this government. Then he will have to stand for election with everyone else and may be defeated. More uncertainty.
The US has a constitutional crisis pending, as most Democrats want President Trump to be impeached, claiming his behavior warrants this. More likely, it’s because they know there is no prospect of winning the 2020 election and want to find some way to get rid of him so that a Democrat is more likely to win. In other words, it’s all politics.
But, the process of impeachment would damage the US considerably. Financial markets hate instability. Trump has been good for business; any attempt to remove him would likely have a negative effect on the economy.
So, both countries may have constitutional crises’ at the same time.
This would make ineffective the famed Anglo-American alliance, upon which the free world has been largely built.
One of my earliest memories is of a trip with a friend and his father to the shore of the River Humber in England. It was twilight and, along with thousands of other people, we tried to position ourselves comfortably on the rocks so that we could watch the famous yacht go by.
The yacht was the Royal Yacht Britannia. On board were the Queen and Prince Philip who were returning from a royal tour. Those tours were frequent back then – often to faraway places like Australia and New Zealand or one of the islands in the South Pacific. I don’t remember where they were returning from on this evening, or why they were sailing up the River Humber. I remember having a brief look through binoculars, but the yacht was just too far away.
There’s been hundreds of royal tours since then. The latest in the news is actually the first tour of the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex, formerly known as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, before their marriage five months ago. They are now on an 18-day tour of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga, during which they have 76 engagements.
The tour comes at an interesting time. In five months time, the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. Almost fifty years ago, the country turned its back on the Commonwealth of former British territories; now, it hopes to revive the commercial and other ties it once had with these nations.
At the same time as the British are focused on Brexit, Australians are preparing for a plebiscite on the future of the monarchy in their country. With an election next year, the Labor (socialist) party is planning an immediate vote on whether to turn the country into a republic, not a republic American style but one where the titular head of state will no longer be a monarch who lives 10,000 miles away, but an Australian figurehead likely chosen by parliament. The American model is not likely to be adopted as it’s too expensive and politicians don’t like it as it’s too weak. One member of the Australian parliament warned against adopting the US system lest they, too, have a President Trump!
Even republicans admit the change will lead to some confusion and political instability as 63 laws have to be changed, if the people vote for a republic. Any change will also be more expensive.
Immediately prior to the arrival of the prince and duchess, the new Australian prime minister, Liberal (in Australia, that’s conservative) Scott Morrison, declared he is a monarchist and had the monarch’s portrait returned to the PM’s official office. His expressed view is that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Australia’s founders chose to remain loyal to the Crown after achieving independence at the turn of the twentieth century.
Australia’s constitutional monarchy and parliamentary system has been the envy of the world. It has attracted immigrants from all over the world, mostly, in recent decades, from failed states that happen to be republics; it’s likely that most of these immigrants, not knowing the past, will vote for a republic, setting Australia on the path to yet another dysfunctional state run by politicians for politicians.
Before casting their vote, they would do well to watch the Australian documentary, “When the Queen came to town,” a record of the monarch’s first royal tour of Australia in 1954, with many interviews of those who remember the tour, in which 75% of Australians saw the monarch at least once. She was the first reigning monarch to set foot in the country. It was a highly successful visit.
After the queen returned to England, Robert Menzies, Prime Minister of Australia, wrote an article that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, in which he wrote:
“It is a basic truth that for our Queen we have within us, sometimes unrealized until the moment of expression, the most profound and passionate feelings of loyalty and devotion. It does not require much imagination to realize that when eight million people spontaneously pour out this feeling they are engaging in a great act of common allegiance and common joy which brings them closer together and is one of the most powerful elements converting them from a mass of individuals to a great cohesive nation. In brief, the common devotion to the Throne is a part of the very cement of the whole social structure.”
WHAT DAMPENED THE ENTHUSIASM?
Britain’s entry into the EU, then the Common Market, on January 1st, 1973, contributed to the republican movement, as many Australians felt betrayed by the mother country, formerly their biggest trading partner. In November of 1975, more people turned against the monarchy when the queen’s representative, the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, dismissed the socialist government of Gough Whitlam for financial improprieties. As this dismissal was “in the name of the Queen,” it boosted republican feeling.
Australians gave the monarchy “the walkabout,” where members of the royal family walk amongst the people. This was named after an aboriginal practice. The term has caught on in the other constitutional monarchies, as well. It’s a great way for the people to meet their sovereign and other members of her family; and for them to show that they care about local issues. Politicians only show up at election time; Harry and Meghan are in Australia for the Invictus games and to promote growing concerns about mental health.
Wikipedia has this to say about the Games, which are now being held in Sydney:
“The Invictus Games is an international adaptive multi-sport event, created by Prince Harry, in which wounded, injured or sick war veterans take part in sports including wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, and indoor rowing.”
Even with binoculars, we didn’t get to see the Queen or Prince Philip sixty years ago, but I do remember the crowds and the excitement. One other memory from about the same time was of the Queen’s visit to my hometown of Grimsby, a town on the estuary of the Humber. Again, crowds lined the street. I couldn’t see anything, but a man standing next to me offered to lift me up on his shoulders and my mother consented. From that vantage point, I remember a couple of people across the road fainted and the Red Cross was called to revive them. They were suffering from heat stroke (yes, even in England)!
I remember, too, that my father, a republican (not to be confused with Republicans in the US), complained that he could not drive his car through the center of town, where all the crowds were. Ironically, he got the best view of the monarch as she passed by. It did not lead to his changing his mind on Britain’s constitutional arrangements. Perhaps Prince Harry and Meghan’s visit will help change the minds of those Australians who are tempted to step into the unknown with a questionable and uncertain republic.
Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, together with a number of small islands in the Caribbean and South Pacific, share a cultural heritage. A significant part of that heritage is the monarchy, which has provided each nation with a solid foundation and continuous, peaceful political and economic development. A change in the political system will mean a diversion from that heritage. First, abolish the monarchy, then change the flag, then something else until Australia becomes just another Asian republic – the kind of republic that new Australians have recently fled from!
Note the following from this week’s Spectator:
“Whether it was intended so or not, the decision by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to choose Australia as the place to announce that they are expecting their first child was a public relations triumph. For years the royal family was criticised for having a tin ear when it came to reading and dealing with the public, but no one could say this now. The tone of the younger royals’ tour to the southern hemisphere has been one of approachability, without compromising the dignity of the positions which Harry and Meghan hold.
“Their visit also runs counter to the conventional wisdom of some republicans — in Britain as well as Australia — that support for the monarchy is dependent on personal affection for the Queen and that the institution will be doomed upon her death. Now that Elizabeth II is, for reasons of age, no longer able to conduct long-haul tours, her grandchildren have achieved what her children never quite managed: to show that they have the ability to follow on and capture the support of the public where she leaves off.” (The Spectator, 19th October).
As the prime minister recently said: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
DEATH OF JAMAL KHASHOGGI
The famous Washington Post columnist was brutally tortured and murdered in the Embassy of Saudi Arabia on October 2nd. What happened to him was reprehensible. It‘s not the first time that an Arab government has killed a critic. At the same time, we should also remember that Mr. Khashoggi was no friend of the West. His support of the Muslim Brotherhood and his close friendship with Osama bin Laden both illustrate this.
“Khashoggi was a political Islamist to the end. He did not believe in secularism. He wanted an alliance of Islamic democratic states. There’s nothing wrong with that, necessarily. But it is relevant and worth saying, as it helps explain the dynamic by which he found himself on the wrong side of the Saudi regime.” (Freddie Gray, The Spectator, 19th October)
700, 000 PROTEST OVER BREXIT
A huge demonstration took place in London on Saturday, calling for a second referendum on Brexit. They oppose the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, scheduled for March 29th, five months from now.
Referenda in the EU has often followed this path. A vote is taken on an issue, and when the result is not to the liking of the EU, a second referendum will be called for. Whereas the demand sounds reasonable, it could lead to further division in the United Kingdom, already seriously divided as it is.
Those who want to Remain in the EU have concerns about leaving the world’s biggest trading bloc.
WHAT MULTICULTURALISM HIDES
If we bring in highly qualified immigrants to our workforce, we would be taking away from poorer countries the best they have to offer, and the situation in those countries will further deteriorate. The result will be an even greater flow of unskilled migrants escaping those countries.
The proponents of the new multiculturalism want to share their welfare states with masses of refugees who — through no fault of their own — will be unable to participate in financing themselves for a long time to come.
(Jan Keller, a Czech, writing for Gatestone Institute, 16th October)
RESPONSE ON MULTICULTURALISM
Following a comment to my last blog this morning, here is my response:
Multiculturalism was a term first coined by a Royal Commission in Canada in 1971. It was an attempt to show Canadians a way forward following a significant number of immigrants arriving from Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Asia, peoples of different cultures from the dominant culture of Canada. The policy was adopted by Canada and then other western nations. It has not worked well and will lead to further problems ahead.
Jesus Christ prophesied that, at the time of the end, “Nation will rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:7). The word “nation” comes from the Greek word “ethnos,” from which we get the word “ethnic.” Ethnic conflict will be common at the end time. Indeed, it is already, arguably, the biggest cause of conflict around the world.
While we sing “O God of every nation,” and all nations are descended from Noah’s sons, we should also remember the following words spoken by the Apostle Paul, from Acts 17:26:
“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.” God set the boundaries; man (mainly western man) is behind mixing, which is the opposite.
We see many problems with multiculturalism. Tolerance is required for it to work, but this is sadly lacking in some groups. Rising conflict in many nations is leading to the rise of populist movements that want to preserve one culture over others. None of this means that any race is superior to another. People simply want to preserve their own cultural heritage. Some cultures are just not compatible. Comments I have made on the threats from immigration are based on this reality — that the mixing is going to lead to negative consequences. It is not meant to imply that any race is superior.
The Apostle Peter said that: “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34)
CARAVAN PUTS IMMIGRATION BACK IN THE SPOTLIGHT, IN TIME FOR MIDTERMS
“As 4,000 Honduran migrants push north toward the US, President Trump sees an opportunity to help Republicans hang on to the House in the midterm elections.” (Axios, 20th October).
IN RETROSPECT — OF INTEREST TO THE WCG DIASPORA
“Throughout this study two related concepts have been mentioned repeatedly: authority and government/governance. We have seen Herbert W. Armstrong imposing his authority, diminishing his son’s authority. Having his authority challenged, using his authority to change long-held doctrines, and being accused of authoritarianism. We have seen Joseph W. Tkach and Joe Jr. making use of the strong ethos of obedience to top-down authority in the Worldwide Church of God to revolutionize its teachings, thus precipitating the three major schismatic moves of 1989, 1992-3, and 1995. We have seen various attitudes to authority in the offshoot churches, from the hardline position of Philadelphia, Restored, and others to the more liberal attitudes found in United and its smaller offshoots and in the GTA group of churches.
“As for church government or governance, for some churches in the Worldwide family this is a crucial part of their beliefs; differing attitudes to governance are a major distinguishing factor between the hardline and the more liberal churches.” (“Authority in the Churches of God,” chapter 7 of “The Fragmentation of a Sect,” by David V Barrett, 2013, Oxford University Press.)
Philippians 2:12 – “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
The G7 met today in Quebec; on Tuesday Mr. Trump meets with the North Korean leader; a month from now, the NATO summit will be held in Brussels. Lots of frequent flyer miles and hotel rewards points for members of the Trump Administration. But significant changes could also result from all three. The following are thoughts on each of the summits.
It’s only a month until the next NATO summit in Brussels. President Trump will be there along with Canadian and European leaders. Mr. Trump has fired the first shots in a trade war with American allies. It’s going to be a big test for the alliance, which turns 70 next year.
Many Americans feel that the US has not had a fair deal on trade. They also feel that European countries have sponged off America by letting the US pick up the tab for the defense of Europe.
What is often not appreciated is that it is the alliances with 53 countries around the globe that makes the US the world’s number one superpower. If all the countries the US is allied to suddenly ended their alliance, the United States would be greatly diminished as a global power. The escalating trade war could easily take the world in this direction. It’s also forgotten that NATO members came to America’s aid after 9-11, the only time Clause IV of the NATO treaty has been invoked. The US needs Europe just as much as Europe needs America.
If Mr. Trump goes to NATO headquarters lecturing the Europeans, the alliance could suffer irreparable damage.
It’s true that not every European country contributes the required 2% of GNP to defense costs. It is also true that some countries have huge trade imbalances with the US. These need to be dealt with, but for the US to remain the #1 superpower at the head of alliances with 53 nations, disputes need to be handled carefully.
While the US is focused on Tuesday’s summit between President Trump and the North Korean leader, both the NATO summit and today’s G7 summit in Quebec, are of potentially greater significance.
For 44 years, this annual meeting of the seven most powerful democracies in the world, has helped keep the planet on an even keel. Clearly, President Trump doesn’t have much time for the group, both literally (he’s leaving early) and figuratively. The US leader will not be present for the discussion on trade.
The US has made it clear it wants Russia back in the group, though its economy does not warrant it and it’s hardly a democracy; also, it’s still occupying parts of the Ukraine, the reason it was thrown out of the G8 a few years ago.
Coming up, in a month, is the NATO summit in Brussels. The trade dispute could affect the future of the 70-year-old alliance, which has arguably kept the peace for the western world since 1949.
If NATO should fall apart, a major realignment of nations will take place. The end result could see the United States greatly diminished as a global power.
SINGAPORE SUMMIT — THE MOUSE THAT ROARED
One month before the NATO summit, there’s another summit in Singapore, between the US and North Korea.
North Korea is not a major player on the world stage. It’s economy is infinitesimally small.
The only reason to take any notice of the country is that it may have nuclear weapons.
A secondary reason is that the US has 28,000 troops based in South Korea. An end to hostilities with the North could free up most of these troops to return home or be sent elsewhere.
The whole scenario reminds me of an old Peter Sellers movie, “The Mouse that roared,” The movie is 60 years old, but well worth watching it if you get the opportunity.
It tells the fictional story of the fictional Duchy of Grand Fenwick. The “country” is broke, but the prime minister comes up with a solution to their financial problems. Declare war on the United States! Every country that has done so in recent times ends up receiving a great deal of US financial aid and private investment, solving all its financial problems.
Things did not go according to plan. Grand Fenwick’s soldiers captured a nuclear device, forcing the US to surrender to avoid its own destruction.
I wonder if the North Korean dictator saw the movie recently on TCM?
UK CUT OFF FROM EUROPEAN DEFENSE
“BRITAIN may have saved Europe from herself in two world wars in the 20th century but today Brussels politicians effectively said the UK had no place in the future defense of the continent and prepared to KICK OUT key military staff. EU chiefs have told UK military staff that they will not have their secondments to Brussels automatically renewed after Brexit – effectively sticking two fingers up to British overtures towards a common and collaborative military and defense solution for Europe.” So began an article in today’s British Daily Express.
With Britain leaving the European Union a few months from now, it’s becoming clear that other countries in the 27- member Union do not want Britain involved in European defense. The British had hoped that defense ties would continue, and that the UK would play an important role in the new European Defense Force.
We can see clearly the possibility that the two main Anglo-Saxon powers (the US and the UK) could soon be separated from the rest of the western world.
It’s also the case that, right now, they are not getting along very well with each other. Mrs. May is dismayed that President Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal; and also at Trump’s tariff’s on the Europeans.
It’s also the case that the separation of the Anglo-Saxon nations fits very well into prophesied end-time events.
From Deutsche Welle
Opinion: The US is fueling European divisions
The new US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, has jumped directly into European politics and ignited a scandal. Outrage at this unprecedented behavior is the wrong answer, writes Deutsche Welle Editor-in-Chief, Ines Pohl. / 4 June 2018
Germany is outraged. Only hours after right-wing media outlet Breitbart released an interview with the new US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, some are calling for his expulsion. In it, the Donald Trump appointee expressed his desire to empower conservative, anti-establishment movements in Europe. Many of his talking points would have roused applause from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party: the passages referencing a silent majority, the welfare of the average worker, as well as those criticizing Germany’s current refugee policies and describing an out of touch political elite. It isn’t the first time that Grenell has so explicitly waded into internal German affairs. Shortly following his appointment, he demanded that German businesses halt trade with Tehran in reaction to the trans-Atlantic dispute over the Iran nuclear deal.
. . . Grenell, like his boss, is exploiting fears to advance his agenda. He is putting pressure on the weaknesses of the European system to advance a new order — one that weakens European unity primarily to benefit the United States.
It is unheard of that an ambassador would so explicitly interfere with the internal affairs of his host country . . .
Does Islam’s canon foment jihadi violence? Yes. Islam is premised on (1) the superiority of Islam, (2) the need to spread its message, and (3) the legitimacy of force to do so. These fundamentals of faith have been apparent from Muhammad’s time to the present, though not everywhere and not at all times.
(Islamism’s war on the West, Daniel Pipes interview, 6/5) (Mr. Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum, an historian, writer and commentator.)
ROYAL WEDDING PROMPTS QUESTION
The following comment was posted on my blog after the recent royal wedding.
“I keep waiting for some minister to condemn Prince Harry’s wedding as adultery. Isn’t that what Jesus would call it, based on Matthew 5:32?”
“whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. … and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
My response: In 1936 King Edward VIII chose to give up the throne so that he could marry an American divorcee. He could not marry her and remain as King. Over eighty years later, Prince Harry was allowed to marry Meghan Markle. The reason for the different decision is that the Church of England, of which the Queen is titular head, changed its position on divorce 15 years ago. The change also enabled Prince Charles to marry Camilla Parker-Bowles, who was a divorcee. The position of the Church of England is not dissimilar to the CoGs’ – basically, you can repent of (almost) anything, including a bad marriage.
Ethiopia–5 June 2018
Crocodile kills pastor as he baptizes followers on lake in Ethiopia
Reptile reportedly leapt from the water and grabbed Pastor Docho Eshete as he moved on to the second person in a mass baptism of 80 followers.
“He baptized the first person and he passed on to another one,” local resident Ketema Kairo told the BBC.
“All of a sudden, a crocodile jumped out of the lake and grabbed the pastor.”
The crocodile is understood to have escaped. Lake Abaya, Ethiopia’s second largest lake, is said to be beautiful, but the Lonely Planet travel guide warns: “It has a large population of crocodiles, which are said to be aggressive towards people and animals because the lake has few fish, their preferred food.”
It is likely that the reptile that killed Pastor Docho was a Nile crocodile. Some Nile crocodiles can grow to be up to six meters (20ft) long while weighing as much as 1,000kg (1 ton), and some estimates suggest the species is responsible for more than 300 attacks on humans in Africa every year.
Prince Harry’s wedding to actress Meghan Markle, was a great success, watched by approximately one billion people around the world. Everything to do with the wedding went smoothly, as we have come to expect from royal events in Britain.
Various estimates were given as to the cost of the wedding. Fox News said it was $34 million. A British source said 32 million pounds (one pound = $1.34). The cost was higher than seven years ago, when Prince William got married. According to Fox, security alone was more than $30 million, considerably higher than at William’s. Harry had a greater need for security, a sign of the times, together with terrorist threats made against him for his military role in Afghanistan.
The Queen paid for the wedding; the tax-payer covers security. When President Trump visits London in a few weeks, security will also be expensive. At least with the royal wedding, the financial outlay will be more than covered by increased tourism, television rights, sales of merchandise made for the occasion, and all those celebratory drinks and meals.
The cost of the monarchy is covered by entrance fees to the royal palaces.
The Economist’s first editor, Walter Bagehot (pronounced “Badge It”), wrote a classic book on the English Constitution, in which he explained the function of the two branches of government. The monarchy, he said, represented the “dignified” branch of government; while parliament was the “efficient” branch.
The Economist has a weekly column on British politics, called “Bagehot,” in memory of its founder, who edited the publication from 1860-77. “A royal wedding is as good a time as any to conduct an audit of the British constitution,” is the opening line of this week’s offering.
In the past, the weekly newsmagazine has called for the abolition of the monarchy. “An Idea whose time has gone,” was one such cover story about twenty years ago.
But this week’s publication points out that the monarchy and parliament have changed roles – “The efficient branch is in its worst state since the 1970s. The two main parties have been captured by their extremes. The prime minister lacks authority. Westminster has been rocked by scandals about sexual harassment and bullying. The Home Office is in turmoil. The government is preparing for Brexit, its most complicated task since the second world war, without a majority in the Commons or a consensus in its own ranks.” (“Something old, something new”, Economist, 5/19).
Most Members of Parliament do not support Brexit, but the people did in a referendum two years ago. “The efficient branch now has an agonizing choice: implement a policy that it believes to be foolish, or frustrate the “will of the people.”
“The dignified branch (the Crown), by contrast, is thriving. The Queen represents stability in an unstable world, as well as unity in a polarized one. She has spent 66 of her 92 years on the throne and has survived twelve prime ministers and innumerable political crises.” Last week’s wedding has boosted the popularity of the monarchy around the world; Prince Charles was chosen last month as the new Head of the 53-nation Commonwealth, to succeed his mother; Prince Harry was appointed as an Ambassador to Commonwealth youth; Zimbabwe has asked to return to the organization after leaving fifteen years ago over human rights abuses and failure to uphold the rule of law and democratic norms.
It remains the case, however, that twenty years ago, the monarchy wasn’t doing so well; a reality that could return at any time.
This is the age of populism and no politician is more popular than Queen Elizabeth II, whose approval rating in Britain is always above 70%, more than double the highest rated politician. Even in her overseas dominions, her popularity surpasses the politicians, so much so that many of them would like to say goodbye to her and the institution of constitutional monarchy. It is the ordinary people who feel differently and from whom she gets her greatest support.
GERMANY TO REPLACE US AS HONEST BROKER IN MIDEAST Handelsblatt Global, 18 May 2018
“Iran, Gaza, Jerusalem: If ever the time was right for EU countries to unite in their foreign policy as in their trade policy, it is now . . . May 2018 could one day enter history books as the moment when the EU countries including Germany at last embarked on a common foreign policy. The catalyst, as long expected, will have been an external power. Not, however, a common foe, but an ostensible ally: America’s Donald Trump.
“. . . the US and Europe can no longer pretend to be aligned. The US has forfeited its role of honest broker [in the Middle East] . . . If there is today an honest broker, it may ironically be Germany…
“Angela Merkel and her EU peers have certainly grasped the urgency of the moment . . . For Germany to play a diplomatic role . . . it would need to boost military spending far beyond its paltry 1.2% of GDP…”
(Handelsblatt is an influential German business paper; the German equivalent of the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times.)
Macron to Silicon Valley: Embrace Europe’s Regulations: French President Emmanuel Macron ratcheted up tensions with U.S. tech giants Thursday calling on them to embrace Europe’s regulation of topics ranging from taxation to privacy to artificial intelligence, because Washington is failing to do so.
Europe Seeks Russia’s Help on Saving Iran Deal, Despite Chill: U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran has added fresh impetus to a European outreach to Russia—although European officials say existing tensions make it far from a thaw.
Britain Takes Stab at Wrangling Dirty Money: The publication this week of a U.K. parliamentary report calling for tougher action to stop the flow of dirty Russian money into Britain is a landmark moment for the City of London, writes Simon Nixon.
ECB Warns Against Trade Spats, Urges Patience in Easing: European Central Bank officials warned at their April rate-setting meeting that international trade conflicts could hurt the eurozone economy and called for patience in phasing out the bank’s easy-money policies. (Brexit and Beyond, WSJ, 5/23
IN FACE OF A GLOBAL TRADE WAR
The EU announced its first defensive measures against US plans to penalize European companies’ business engagements with Iran, by reactivating the 1996 “Blocking Statute.” That law prohibits companies from terminating their business engagements with Iran, to avoid severe penalties in the United States. Some companies from Germany and other EU countries have already announced that they will cancel their contracts with Tehran to avoid endangering their business ventures in the US. German companies, involved in profitable ventures with Russia, could be facing a similar situation. Washington threatens to demand that businesses from Germany and the EU comply also with the April 6 sanctions announced by US President Donald Trump, against some Russian oligarchs and their companies. According to government advisors, German Russia-oriented businesses are “virtually panicking” because of the escalation of a global trade war.
Newsletter – How to Become a World Power
Berlin is seeking to use Washington’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal to increase its pressure on Tehran. In their joint statement published Wednesday, the governments of Germany, France and the United Kingdom declared their continued commitment to the agreement, while demanding that the Iranian government limit its ballistic missile program and its efforts to obtain influence in the region. The reintroduction of US sanctions offers Berlin a chance to disguise its continued pressure on Tehran as a war preventive measure. At the same time, US sanctions against Iran continue to fuel the power struggle between the EU and the USA. The Airbus Company alone could lose €16 billion in commercial deals due to the sanctions imposed by the US government. Commentators recommend resistance: “You don’t become a world power in a conference room.” At the same time, Israel is exacerbating the escalating tensions with its aggressions against Syria.
“With his decision to blow up the Iran deal, U.S. President Donald Trump has thrown Europe into uncertainty and anxiety — and raised the specter of a new war in the Middle East. One thing is certain: the
trans-Atlantic relationship has been seriously damaged.”
Zimbabwe Formally Applies to Re-Join Commonwealth
To re-join, Zimbabwe must demonstrate that it complies with the fundamental values set out in the Commonwealth Charter, including democracy and rule of law plus protection of human rights such as freedom of expression. The membership process requires an informal assessment to be undertaken by representatives of the Secretary-General, followed by consultations with other Commonwealth countries. Zimbabwe has also invited the Commonwealth to observe its forthcoming elections in July.
Zimbabwe was suspended in 2002 for breaching the Harare Declaration. In 2003, when the Commonwealth refused to lift the suspension, Zimbabwe withdrew from the Commonwealth. Since then, the Commonwealth has played a major part in trying to end the political impasse and return Zimbabwe to a state of normality.(http://allafrica.com/stories/201805210678.html)
ISLAM INCOMPATIBLE WITH HUMAN RIGHTS
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) itself has become a prime motivator and enforcer of the rejection of human rights.
The other charters of human rights are to be found exclusively in the Muslim world. Anything that falls within Islamic shari’a law is a human right; anything that does not fall within shari’a is not a human right.
“For us the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is nothing but a collection of mumbo-jumbo by disciples of Satan”. — ‘Ali Khamene’i, Iran’s current Supreme Leader.
“The underlying thesis in all the Islamic human rights schemes is that the rights afforded in international law are too generous and only become acceptable when they are subjected to Islamic restrictions.” — Ann Elizabeth Mayer, Islam and Human Rights: Tradition and Politics.
“Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might and the beginning of my strength. The excellency of dignity and the excellency of power. Unstable as water, you shall not excel.” (Gen 49:3-4 NKJV)
President Emmanuel Macron of France has just visited the United States. He and President Trump certainly have a good rapport with a great deal of mutual back-slapping, hugs and kisses (French-style). The first state visit of the Trump presidency included a lavish dinner at the White House. Everything went extremely well.
Well, almost everything . . .
The day after the dinner, M. Macron addressed Congress. In perfect English, he went on to criticize the Trump Administration for various policies, including climate change, Iran and trade. The Democrats and many Republicans were greatly pleased and gave him a standing ovation.
His charm offensive has raised the question – is Macron now the leader of the free world? This is an epithet that has often been used to describe American presidents. But, clearly, now that the US is out of step with most western democracies, with Macron clearly preferred by many leaders, is it not time to all get behind the French president?
France is, as Mr. Macron pointed out, “America’s oldest ally.” Well, sort of. It is true that France and the new United States formed an alliance in 1778, an alliance that eventually gave victory to the Patriots. But that was under the Bourbon monarchy. France is now a republic – the Fifth Republic, to be exact. This fact illustrates that France historically has been quite unstable.
After the fall of the monarchy in 1789 and the establishment of the First Republic, there followed a period of great upheaval and terror. Eventually, Napoleon came to power and set about conquering the whole of Europe. After his fall, the monarchy was restored but didn’t last long. There followed another monarchy, then another republic, then a revival of the Napoleonic Empire. Another attempt at a republic (the Third Republic) was made from 1870 to 1940. This fell when Germany invaded and imposed the collaborationist Vichy France on parts of the country.
After World War II, the Fourth Republic came into being and lasted just twelve years. It had some serious economic problems and faced uprisings in Indo-China and Algeria. In 1958, wartime leader General Charles de Gaulle was instrumental in establishing the Fifth Republic, which is now sixty years old.
DeGaulle himself was not overly-confident that the Fifth Republic would last. He was brought down by internal chaos and street rioting after ten years in power. At one point, he was discussing the restoration of the Orleanist monarchy with the Comte de Paris.
The above summary should remind American presidents that France is not always the most reliable ally. More recently, France was not supportive of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. A few weeks ago, the country took the initiative on attacking Syria with the UK and the US.
So, could Macron lead the free world? Not only is the US president impressed with him; Germany’s Angela Merkel has also developed a good friendship with the French president.
But note the following, from the UK’s Financial Times:
“There is no Franco-German friendship (according to ) Ashoka Mody, a former IMF bailout chief in Ireland:
“However daring and appealing Macron’s European vision may be, France has fallen so far behind Germany that any partnership between the two countries is unrealistic.” (Brussels Briefing, 4/26)
The United States is still the dominant power in the West. Economically, Japan and Germany are the second and third greatest economic powers in the West. Japan is not western in the same sense that Europeans are. So, if the US withdraws from its leadership role for whatever reason, the mantle of leadership would fall on Germany, which has the next biggest economy, made much bigger by its domineering role in the European Union.
Angela Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor, arrived in Washington today for talks with President Trump. She was not invited for a state visit and will not have a lavish dinner with the Trumps.
THE KOREAN TALKS
North Korea’s leader crossed into South Korea today, for talks between the two leaders.
The world looks upon all of this favorably. President Trump has achieved something no other US president has been able to do.
But North Korea’s track record is not good when it comes to keeping promises.
It should also be remembered that the belligerents already have different interpretations of current developments. Whereas the US and South Korea think sanctions have put pressure on the North to come to the conference table, North Korea believes its nuclear weapons program is forcing the two allies to talk.
The British Royal Family is having a very good year!
The 53 Heads of Government of the Commonwealth have all agreed that Prince Charles will succeed his mother as head of the organization.
Prince Charles opened the Commonwealth Games in Australia and drew crowds that politicians can only envy.
Earlier, Prince Harry was appointed by his grandmother to be a Commonwealth Ambassador to Youth.
Next month Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle.
And a new baby arrived earlier this week, fifth in line to the throne. His name is Prince Louis Arthur George.
His mother presented the baby on the steps of the hospital only seven hours after delivery.
Prince William was seen dozing off the day after the birth. All parents can identify! The prince will soon have a break from the bay — he and his wife are heading to Israel on the first official visit by a member of the royal family since the country became independent (from Britain) seventy years ago. This reflects changing attitudes in the British Foreign Office, which has always been pro-Arab.
GRISLY FIND IN PERU
Ancient Mass Child Sacrifice May Be World’s Largest
More than 140 children were ritually killed in a single event in Peru more than 500 years ago. What could possibly have been the reason? National Geographic * 4/ 26, 2018
Evidence for the largest single incident of mass child sacrifice in the Americas — and likely in world history – has been discovered on Peru’s northern coast, archaeologists tell National Geographic.
More than 140 children and 200 young llamas appear to have been ritually sacrificed in an event that took place some 550 years ago on a wind-swept bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, in the shadow of what was then the sprawling capital of the Chimú Empire.
While incidents of human sacrifice among the Aztec, Maya, and Inca have been recorded in colonial-era Spanish chronicles and documented in modern scientific excavations, the discovery of a large-scale child sacrifice event in the little-known pre-Columbian Chimú civilization is unprecedented in the Americas—if not in the entire world.
COMMENT: It’s interesting to note that those reporting this are shocked at the news. Over 140 children sacrificed at one time? More than 140 children a day are sacrificed in the US – but we call it abortion. It’s perfectly legal.
"Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened." — Sir Winston Churchill