Tag Archives: NATO

FAMILY REUNIONS

We had all nine grandchildren in the house last week, Monday through Friday.   Hence, the lack of a blog post a week ago.   Visits to the grocery store were frequent, as was taking them places.   There was no time to write, or even watch the news.

After our mini-family reunion, I really hope they will want to see each other after my wife and I are no longer around to host the gathering.   I’m sure they will!

I was struck (again) by how much louder the five younger ones, all boys, were, than their four older female sisters and cousins.   Noise, noise, noise!   Can’t boys do anything quietly?   Clearly not.

I found myself walking through the daily debris silently reminding myself that “children are a blessing!”  They certainly are and I’m already looking forward to when we can all be together again.

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THEN AND NOW

When everybody was gone, I started reading Boris Johnson’s “The Churchill Factor:   How one man made history.”

You may have heard of Boris Johnson.   He’s sometimes been described as “Britain’s Donald Trump.”   On his recent visit to England, Trump expressed the opinion that Boris would make “a great prime minister.”   A poll earlier this week showed him to be the favorite to succeed Theresa May.   Donald Trump and Boris Johnson have known each other for some time and are good friends.

Boris served two terms as a very successful Mayor of London.   More recently, he was Britain’s Foreign Secretary, the equivalent of Secretary of State.

He resigned a few weeks ago over Brexit.   His objection, supported by many, is that Mrs. May, the Prime Minister, seems to want to compromise with the European Union.   This would not deliver the Brexit (total independence) from the EU that was promised after the referendum over two years ago.   There is still no agreement between the UK and the EU over future trade.   Boris Johnson’s point is that the United Kingdom doesn’t need one – that new trade deals can be signed after breaking away from Brussels.   Have faith – it will all work out.

I must admit to sympathy with his stance.   Get out quick.   Don’t hesitate.

His book on Churchill was written a few years ago and published in 2014.   I’m now reading chapter 17 (there are 23 chapters).   The chapter is titled “The Wooing of America” and details Churchill’s relationship with Franklin Roosevelt.   His single-minded mission was to bring the United States into the war against Hitler.   At their first wartime meeting, the two leaders were concerned that Hitler had recently invaded Russia.   But Churchill knew that after Russia, he would come after Britain; and that if Britain fell and Hitler sank the Royal Navy, America would be next.   The whole world would very quickly descend into the barbarism of fascism.

A lot was at stake when they met in Newfoundland on August 10th, 1941.   This was the handshake that was to change the history of the twentieth century.

“As he stretches out that elegant white hand he knows he is reaching for his only lifeline; and yet there is nothing about him to convey the gloom of his position.   On the contrary, his face is suddenly wreathed in smiles, babyish, irresistible.

“Roosevelt smiles back; they grip hands, for ages, each reluctant to be the first to let go, and for the next two days Churchill maintains his schmoozathon.   We don’t know exactly what they say to each other at the first such Atlantic conference — the direct ancestor of NATO; but we know that Churchill lays it on thick.   His mission is to build up a sense of common destiny; to work with the grain of Roosevelt’s natural instincts, and to turn the USA from distant sympathizers into full-blown allies in bloodshed.” (page 235)

This was a family reunion, only the second time a President of the United States had shaken the hand of a British prime minister in office.   160 years after Yorktown.   160 years after the United States had separated itself from the rest of the English speaking world.   Now the two branches of the Anglo-Saxon world (the two sons of Joseph) were to be united in a common purpose.  They met in Canada, the oldest Dominion of the  British Empire, a nation founded by Loyalists at the end of the Revolutionary War.  The alliance that was forming  has remained the foundation of global peace and order for 77 years.

As I read Johnson’s book, I could see parallels with today.   There’s no fighting this time (not yet, anyway), but once again Britain is trying to free itself from European despotism, as it has so often in history.   There are those, like the current prime minister, who want to compromise; but others, like Boris Johnson, who are in a Churchillian mood, wanting to raise two fingers to the German-dominated EU (the two fingers were “V for Victory” in WWII, but, reversed, they have another meaning in England, which you will have to Google!)

History may repeat itself.

Confidence in Mrs. May is waning.  The Opposition Labour Party is scandalizing Britain with its anti-semitism.   The smaller parties are not credible.   An internal coup in the Conservative Party could replace Mrs. May with Boris Johnson, just as Chamberlain was replaced with Winston Churchill.

There’s another analogy.

Mr. Trump repeated a commitment to Mrs. May that the US will offer a free trade deal to the United Kingdom when Britain leaves the EU.   (EU rules mean that no deal can be signed until D-Day on 29th March next year; D for Departure!)    American farmers, losing markets in the current trade dispute with the EU, will benefit from a new trade deal with the UK; Britain will benefit with plentiful supplies of cheap food.

Once again, the New World may come to the aid of the Old.

Once again, a family reunion could make a big difference in the world.

There’s another lesson from Churchill’s meeting with FDR.   After the historic meeting of president and prime minister, there was a “divine service” on the Sunday morning.   Sailors of the two nations sang hymns together – “chosen by Churchill – that express that single heritage:   two broadly Protestant nations bound together against a vile and above all a pagan regime.”   (pages 235-6)

This was just a few weeks after the National Day of Prayer called by King George VI during Dunkirk.

At such a critical time, today’s leaders should follow the example of their predecessors and ask God for divine help through a very challenging time.

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BEWARE OF CHINESE TIES

Britain is keen for a sweet deal with China after Brexit – but watch out for Beijing’s ‘debt-trap diplomacy’, says Michael Auslin.   For decades we’ve heard dire warnings about China’s growing military power, but these doom-mongers have missed the point.   China isn’t on the war path.   Where old empires would start by invading, it starts by trading.   Only when an economy has become dependent on trade does Beijing begin to demand more, with the aim of creating an ever-expanding ‘Greater China’ in its near abroad.   (Freddy Gray, The Spectator, 8/2)

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FARMERS IN CRISIS

There’s increasing talk of land redistribution in South Africa, the wealthiest nation on the African continent.   It’s been almost a quarter of a century since the end of apartheid, a period in which few black South Africans have seen any benefits.   A wealthy elite has been created through corruption at the highest level, but little has been done to help the average person.

Neighboring Zimbabwe confiscated land from white farmers at the turn of this century.   The result was mass starvation, the collapse of the currency and economic chaos.

The European farmers who colonized southern Africa in the nineteenth century brought a great deal of development to the region.   Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) was the ‘breadbasket of Africa;” now, after almost forty years of independence, it’s the “basket case of Africa.”   The white farmers who once dominated Rhodesia were “commercial farmers,” similar to their American and Canadian counter-parts. African farmers are “subsistence” farmers, who just grow enough food for their own families.   This is a major cultural difference the world does not understand.   Confiscating white farmland can only have one consequence – a dramatic drop in food production (Zimbabwe saw a 90% drop, with a consequent famine).

Farmers in South Africa are being murdered at an alarming rate.   Many have chosen to leave the country.   Western Australia is one area that is attracting them.   Other parts of Africa are offering the farmers 99-year leases to boost their own agricultural production. Even Russia is encouraging them to relocate.

Other farmers from Europe moved to North America, Australia and New Zealand in the nineteenth century.   These commercial farmers produce a disproportionate percentage of the world’s food.   Higher tariffs on agricultural produce could affect this, along with changes in the weather and massive fires that seem to be a permanent fixture of our landscape.   All of these threaten today’s farmers.

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AFRICAN ELECTION

Zimbabwe’s woes never seem to end.   The “first free election” held at the weekend, has been followed by riots and violence as the losing party claims to have won.   It’s not possible to determine who really won, but after 38 years, ZANU-PF is still in power.   Most people will not be surprised.

Prior to Zimbabwe, Rhodesia had elections for decades without any violence.   Zimbabwe has not been able to achieve that.   As is the case elsewhere in Africa, tribalism and corruption have led to democracy being compromised.   Zimbabwe’s first leader, Robert Mugabe, was in power for almost 38 years, leading a very corrupt regime.

It’s doubtful there will be any significant change.

 

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GOVERNMENTS IN CRISIS

First came Brexit; followed by Donald Trump four months later.

Both showed that voters wanted significant change.   Both are considered populist.   Two years later, Britain and America, once the most stable nations in the world, are now in turmoil.   Their friends and allies are in confusion.

Mrs. May’s Conservative government could fall at any time.   She survived this week and things are likely to quiet down with the summer recess, but with only a few months until the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, there’s going to be more turmoil ahead.

There is little reporting on Brexit in the United States.   Americans don’t realize how important it is.   The best analogy is this:  California has voted to leave the United States, effective March 29th 2019.  The vote was over two years ago, but there’s still no agreement on trade between California and the other 49 states and time is running out.   What about passports?   Residence rights – can Californians remain in the other states after 3/29?   Can people from Michigan remain in California if they own a home and work there?

It’s almost unthinkable.   So is Brexit, except that it’s less than fifty years since the UK was a fully independent country outside of the EU (then the EEC, the European Economic Community).

It gets more complicated.

BREXIT VOTE

The referendum of June 2016 was a free vote.   Many Conservative MPs (Members of Parliament) voted to “Leave,” but many voted to “Remain.”   Members of the other political parties mostly voted to “Remain” in the EU.

73% of all MP’s support continued membership of the EU, including 56% of Conservatives.   But they are bound by the referendum result when 51.9% of the electorate voted to Leave, 48.1% Remain. Voter turnout was 72.21%, meaning that just over one third of British voters wanted to stay in the EU.   Parliament is clearly not in step with the people.   British democracy is at risk here.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister who presided over the vote, resigned.   He voted to “Remain;” as did Theresa May, his successor, who is now trying to deliver Brexit.   Although she is committed to honoring the will of the people and intends for Britain to leave Europe, she is clearly “hugging the coast” and wants as close a relationship as possible.   She made things more difficult for herself last year when she called for a General Election, resulting in a minority government, which is propped up by a party from Northern Ireland.

On Friday, 6th July, the Cabinet met at the Prime Minister’s country home of Chequers to discuss the way forward.   They drew up plans for further negotiations with the EU.    Since then, a number of party leaders have resigned, including the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, and the chief Brexit negotiator, David Davis.   Both men accused Mrs. May of wanting a compromise.   Mrs May has had twelve frontbenchers  resign since the election last year.

Visiting US President Donald Trump was in the UK a week later and got involved by stating that if the UK does not break away from Europe completely, the US may not be able to give the country a trade deal.   If Britain were bound in some way to EU trade regulations, it would complicate a trade deal with America.   Mr. Trump also said that he thought that Mr. Johnson, a close personal friend, would make a great prime minister.

Boris Johnson gave a Churchillian speech in parliament on Wednesday on why he resigned, criticizing Mrs. May and claiming that Brexit can be saved.   Mr. Johnson has made a point of saying that the British have lost the confidence needed to go it alone.   He claims that May’s proposals would lead to Britain becoming a “colony” of the German led EU.   A poll yesterday by “Westmonster” showed that, given a choice between Johnson or May, 93% of voters would support Mr. Johnson.   (“Westmonster” is similar to Breitbart.)

It’s reminiscent of the late 1930’s, with a weak, compromising Prime Minister (Chamberlain / May) and one voice defying Europe (Winston Churchill/ Boris Johnson).   Churchill is Mr. Johnson’s hero – he wrote a book on him a few years ago:  “The Churchill Factor: How one man made history.”   He may yet succeed May and lead Britain to a full Brexit.

US PRESIDENT TURNING THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN

Mr. Trump was criticized for getting involved in British domestic affairs.  In an interview after his visit to the UK, he was asked who is America’s biggest “foe.”   He replied that the EU is the biggest foe of the US at this time.

This followed his attendance in Brussels at the NATO conference, at which he threatened to pull America out of NATO if European countries do not contribute more to the military organization.

Not all EU countries are members of NATO.   The EU is a major trading organization, whereas NATO is a military alliance.   Within the space of a few days, Mr. Trump criticized the two organizations that have been pillars of the Western Alliance for many decades.   An immediate consequence was the EU signing a trade agreement with Japan.   The EU is already China’s largest trading partner, and China is the EU’s second largest trade partner after the US.   The EU, China and Japan are busy building closer ties as the US turns away.

Mr. Trump ended his European trip with a visit to Helsinki to meet with Russia’s President Putin.   This was the most shocking meeting of all with the US president seeming to support Mr. Putin against his own intelligence services, Putin denying that Russia interfered in the US election.   Mr. Trump has backtracked on his claim, now supporting his intelligence services; but has followed all this by inviting Putin to Washington in the autumn.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the President of the United States, in just a few days, turned the world upside down.

The late Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, wrote a memoir of his years in the diplomatic service after World War II when America built the present world order.   He gave the book the title:   “Present at the Creation”, published in 1969.   It would be appropriate now for somebody involved in current events, to write a sequel:   “Present at the Destruction.”

The seventy-year global world order put together mostly by America and Britain is ending.   It may take a year or two to see clearly what will replace it.

 

 

TRUMP’S EUROPEAN UPHEAVAL

Students of Bible prophecy have long speculated on the identities of the ten kings (or leaders) who come together to form a revived Roman Empire immediately prior to Christ’s Second Coming.

“The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast.   These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.   These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.” (Revelation 17:12-14 NKJV)

There has often been speculation on what exactly will bring them all together.   Daniel 11:40-44 suggests it will be a threat from the Middle East.

Likely, nobody thought it would be the President of the United States!

He has been pushing the European members of NATO to increase their contributions to the defense of NATO.   It was agreed a few years ago that all would spend at least 2% of their GDP.   This is certainly the fairest way to finance the military alliance.   But it can be misleading.   The British and the Greeks have always spent more than 2% on defense.    Why the Greeks? – because of the very serious threat from neighboring Turkey, also a NATO member.   They are not spending more on the military to boost NATO.

Now, Mr. Trump is demanding everybody contribute 4% of their GDP.   This would more than double the military strength of the European members of NATO.   What if they later decided to leave NATO and go it alone?   They could equal America’s military power.

President Trump claimed that NATO is financed 90% by the US.   This is not true.   The highest figure I could find on the internet was 70.1 %, but usually it was a few points lower than that.

There are problems with what might be termed “NATO bashing.”

Firstly, NATO was formed in 1949 following World War II.   The idea was to keep the Russians out, the Germans down and the Americans in.   The United States, having learned after World War One that isolationism is not a good idea, wanted to make sure it had a permanent presence in Europe.   America may be the dominant member of NATO, but it is only one member in a 29-member alliance, arguably the most successful multinational alliance in history.

If NATO falls apart, Americans don’t just go home and carry on American business as usual.   An end to NATO will mean the US ceasing to be the world’s dominant power.   No longer could the president be labeled   as “the leader of the free world,” as the US would not be leading anything.

It should also be remembered that only once in NATO’s seventy-year history has the famous Clause 5 been invoked.   This is the clause that says an attack on one country is an attack on all.  The only occasion in which all the members came to the aid of one member under attack was on 9/11 when the US itself was under attack.   This clause is at the heart of the Washington Treaty, signed by President Truman seven decades ago.

President Trump’s two days in Brussels has had the effect of uniting the Europeans against Washington; and also will, in time ,boost Europe’s defenses.

He gave special attention to Germany, which only spends 1.24% of GDP on defense.   Overlooked is the fact that, in the past, nobody wanted Germany to spend more.   It has a history of aggressive militarism.   Does the West really want to rearm Germany?

UK VISIT

After leaving Brussels, Mr. Trump flew across the Channel to visit Prime Minister Theresa May, have tea with Queen Elizabeth and spend the weekend in Scotland.

As I write, I am watching Sky News.   It is showing the start of what is expected to be a large anti-Trump demonstration in London.   A twenty-foot balloon (costing over $20,000), showing a bloated Trump as a baby in diapers, is flying over London, approved by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, a Muslim of Pakistani origin.   Most demonstrators seem to be upset at US immigration policies and specifically at the separation of families at the border.   This policy has now been ended.   As European countries are finally doing something about illegal immigration, perhaps these demonstrators could turn their attention elsewhere!

It’s rather hypocritical for demonstrators to criticize Trump’s comments on Brexit, when he is not British; while they are condemning his immigration policies when they do not live in the US. The demonstration is not as big as expected – a Sky News poll this morning showed most British people in agreement with the US president on key issues.

It is certainly not in the UK’s interest to upset Mr. Trump at this point in time.

President Trump’s visit is colliding with a domestic crisis over Brexit.   A week ago today Mrs. May met with her Cabinet to discuss a united approach to negotiations with the EU.   Britain is set to leave the organization in March of next year, less than nine months away.

Although the majority of people in the UK voted to leave the EU, Mrs. May did not.   Her proposals would tie the United Kingdom to the European Union, even though it would not be a voting member, making it the worst of both worlds.   The Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, resigned along with some others.   Mr. Johnson said that the UK would become a “colony” under May’s proposals.   Mrs. May’s government could fall at any time, as she does not have a majority in parliament and this issue is the most contentious issue the country has faced for a long time.

Enter Mr. Trump.

In an interview in one of Britain’s trashiest newspapers (the Sun), Mr. Trump criticizes May for not following his advice in negotiations with the EU.   He even went so far as to say that his friend, Boris Johnson, would make a great prime minister!   Mr. Trump is also friends with Nigel Farage, who led the Brexit campaign.   The US president does not hide the fact that he supports Brexit, but interference in another country’s internal affairs is unprecedented and could backfire, with British voters turning against Brexit following the president’s comments.

But Trump’s visit could also be timely – if he offers London a generous trading agreement.

He has, however, made it clear that it will only be possible if the UK completely breaks away from the EU.

Are we seeing the continental countries grouping around Germany while the US and UK go their own way?   Again, long time Bible students have known this is part of the final global scenario.   It’s taking time to get there, but world events are moving in that direction.

Footnote:   Mrs. May has just spoken with President Trump beside her and announced that, after leaving the EU in March, the US and UK “will pursue an ambitious UK-US free trade agreement.”     They were speaking at Chequers, the prime minister’s country home.

On Thursday evening, the president was entertained at a black tie dinner at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, at the request of the president.

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HISTORICAL NOTE

Monday, July 16th, marks the 100th anniversary of the assassinations of the Romanov family, Czar Nicholas II, his wife and children, plus their servants.

 

 

NATO SUMMIT COULD BE DECISIVE

The new NATO Headquarters on Boulevard Leopold III, 1110 Brussels.

A few weeks ago, I said I gave up on television news when my grandson, aged 5, made a remark about how nasty everybody is.  Today, I’m back to watching while I write this blog.   There are two reasons for this – Sky News (from the UK) and the young soccer team trapped in a cave in Thailand.   As we no longer have cable, Sky is a real treat – a free 24/7 news channel with no sensationalism, no shouting and few commercials. It has more international content than US TV channels, though not as much as the BBC, which has more foreign correspondents than any other source.   I recommend it to those of you who have also “cut the cord.”

There’s a great deal going on in the world right now.   The implications are quite profound for almost all countries.

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NATO SUMMIT

Next week, President Trump will be attending the NATO summit in Brussels.   The 70th anniversary of the alliance is coming up.   After seven decades of working together to maintain the peace of the western world, the 29-nation military grouping is facing its biggest challenge yet:   President Trump.

The US president is adamant that European countries need to contribute more, a justifiable demand on the part of the US Administration.   But, perhaps a greater challenge is growing indifference to the alliance in the US as increasing numbers of people turn isolationist.   Americans are focused primarily on their own problems.

Today’s Economist led with the following words:   “The Western alliance is breaking apart.”

The collapse of NATO will quickly lead to radical change and realignments in Europe; ultimately leading to the fulfillment of Revelation 17.

President Trump will be visiting the UK after the NATO summit.  His “working” visit will include meetings with Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth.

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EU SECURITY TIES

No country can replace the US in the short term, but European countries are certainly moving in the direction of closer security ties. NATO was formed to keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down!   Russia is no longer the greatest threat to European security.   Note the following comment:

‘Europe today is not afraid of Vladimir Putin reaching the Rhine. Europe is afraid of Africa and the Middle East reaching the Danube.”  (“The Never-Trumpers are never coming back,” Pat Buchanan, 7/6).

Attitudes are certainly changing on the continent:   “In Italy, rising popular sentiment against immigration has found a forceful spokesman and leader in (Deputy PM Matteo) Salvini, who has refused entry to Italian ports to migrant rescue ships, saying NGO rescue ships will only see Italy on postcards.”   

Nations are increasingly working together to keep the Muslims out.   Others are still letting them in.

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TRADE WAR BEGINS

“The U.S. and China slapped levies on $34 billion of each other’s exports, the first tangible shots in a trade battle that both sides are bracing to fight for months – if not years.” (WSJ  7/6).

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NHS @ 70

The British are proud of their National Health Service (NHS). Everybody in the country, at least in theory, has equal access to free health care, which costs 9.8% of GDP.   Conservatives, Liberals and Socialists in the UK all support the NHS, competing with each other to promise increased funding.

“In 2014, Britain spent 9.8 per cent of its GDP on healthcare, compared to the average for the EU . . . of 9.7 per cent.”  (ft.com).

In contrast, the US spent 17.9 % of its GDP on healthcare last year, almost twice as much per person and with no better results.

Over the last 70 years, the NHS has provided free health care for all British citizens.   But it has some serious problems:

  • A shortfall of 100,000 doctors and nurses, who can often earn more in other countries.
  • After 70 years of the NHS, people were asked in a recent poll if they thought it would last another 70 years.  Over two-thirds said “No.”
  • “The NHS is drowning in bureaucracy”, a report noted in 2015.
  • Rising costs are due to: recent medical developments that are very costly;  an increasing number of elderly.   55% of all the money allocated to the NHS is spent on people over 85;  foreign nationals taking advantage of the system.   Can no way be found to make them pay up BEFORE receiving treatment?   They can’t buy petrol at the pump without paying in advance – perhaps the petrol companies can help the NHS here?

Each year, the cost of the NHS increases by 8%; but the economy only grows at a 2%  rate.   This means that the NHS is unsustainable.

Mrs. May is promising the medical service an additional 20 billion pounds ($26.6 billion), out of the savings the country will make as a result of Brexit.

This will not solve the problem long-term.

  • REALITY CHECK:   The same government that introduced the NHS started dismantling the British Empire and reducing the UK’s military power.   There IS a connection.   Military cuts have combined with increased medical bills over the last 70 years.  If the country cannot defend itself, there will be no NHS!

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BREXIT

As I write, Theresa May, UK Prime Minister, is trying to keep her Cabinet together as she draws up Britain’s final Brexit offer.   They are all meeting at Chequers, the Prime Minister’s country home not far from London.   The country is due to leave the European Union in March of next year.   Many members of the Cabinet are concerned she will give too much away and tie Britain to the EU for decades to come.   The worst-case scenario is that Britain will become a European vassal state, constantly having to follow orders from Berlin.   Can’t the country find another Winston Churchill?

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CANADA:    “Canada’s Supreme Court has banned Christian schools and colleges from teaching Biblical values because the Bible does not support the Trudeau government’s vision of “diversity” and is therefore “harmful” to LGBT and Muslim students.

“Instead, Canada’s schools have been encouraged to adopt Common Core values such as ordering children as young as six to question their sexual orientation and gender identity, while teaching them how to use a range of vegetables as sex toys, and promoting anal sex as “normal.”

“Christian colleges and universities will be stripped of their accreditation if they continue to promote Biblical standards and values.   In other words, the highest Canadian court has ruled that Christianity and education are incompatible. ”  (“Canada Bans Christianity from the classroom”, Ray Pennings, 6/15, National Post)

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ROYALS

Rumors have long persisted that Queen Elizabeth was not as involved as she perhaps should have been in her children’s lives, especially when they were young.

In his controversial 1994 authorized biography of Prince Charles, Jonathan Dimbleby quotes the Prince of Wales saying it was “inevitably the nursery staff” who taught him to play, witnessed his first steps, and punished and rewarded him, as they are who took care of him.

But Princess Anne has publicly refuted any claim that her mother was an absent parent.   “I simply don’t believe there is any evidence whatsoever to suggest that she wasn’t caring.   It just beggars belief,” the Princess Royal said.

Indeed, Elizabeth II, who has four children, eight grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren (including newborns Lena Tindall and little Prince Louis) once described motherhood as “the only job which matters.”   (The Royal News from Town and Country, 7/6).

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GAY CONVERSION THERAPY TO BE BANNED IN  UK

“Gay conversion “therapies” are based on the premise that being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is a mental illness that can be “cured.”   But there is no evidence that they work, and the techniques are largely discredited.   Members of UK professional bodies for counseling and psychotherapy are prohibited from using such techniques.” (CNN)   The government believes that the therapies are harmful and have driven some to suicide.

THREE SUMMITS COULD LEAD TO SIGNIFICANT CHANGES

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.

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QUEBEC SUMMIT

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.

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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?

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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.

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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 . . . 

(http://www.dw.com/en/opinion-the-us-is-fueling-european-divisions/a-44071929)

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IS ISLAM INHERENTLY VIOLENT?

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.)

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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.

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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.

(https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/crocodile-kills-pastor-ethiopia-baptism-lake-abaya-docho-eshete-arba-minch-fatal-croc-attack-nile-a8384531.html)

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Please note: Recently, a comment posted on my blog questioned the president’s mental state, by using a derogatory and offensive term.

Please remember this is a Christian blog.   Intelligent comments and debate are always welcome, but we should keep in mind the following scriptures:

I Peter 2:17 “Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”

Additionally, II Peter 2:10 speaks of those who “despise government” and “are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries.”  

FLORIDA SCHOOL SHOOTING

(Photo: John McCall, AP)

After yet another school shooting in the United States, the 19th this year, Pat Buchanan wrote a brilliant analysis.   The following is a quote from his article, posted this morning.

“Another factor helps to explain what happened Wednesday: We are a formerly Christian society in an advanced state of decomposition.

“Nikolas Cruz was a product of broken families.  He was adopted. Both adoptive parents had died.  Where did he get his ideas of right and wrong, good and evil?   Before the Death of God and repeal of the Ten Commandments, in those dark old days, the 1950s, atrocities common now were almost nonexistent.    (“The Motives behind the massacre,” Pat Buchanan, 2/16)

Deuteronomy 28 is the classic Bible chapter that should help us all think.   In summary, what it says is that the more we obey God, the greater our society will be; the more we turn away from God, the worse it will become.   As Mr. Buchanan points out, “before the death of God and repeal of the Ten Commandments, in those dark old days, the 1950s, atrocities common now were almost nonexistent.”

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RIPPLE EFFECT OF SCHOOL SHOOTINGS

It’s not just that US schools are unsafe, it’s clear to the rest of the world that America is a very violent country, with a governmental system that doesn’t work any more.   As one writer put it, the US has an eighteenth century constitution in a twenty first century world.

Most countries already have a bad impression of the current US president.   But, when Mr. Trump spoke following the shootings and talked about mental illness, that impression only worsened.   Mental illness was (and usually is) a major factor, but what differentiates America from other western countries is easy access to weapons. Even the mentally ill can walk into a gun dealer and buy an assault rifle!

Parkland will not be the last school mass shooting.

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ISLAM AND THE WEST

Sheikh “Abu Qusay” delivered a Friday sermon in Jerusalem, in which he said:

“Oh dweller of the White House, let me tell you, from the pulpit of the Prophet Muhammad, that this is the promise of Allah and His Messenger:   Jerusalem is the heart of the land of Islam.   We will storm your White House, stomp on your head, kill your soldiers, and capture your land.   This is the promise of the Prophet Muhammad.” The sermon was posted to the internet on December 22nd.   (MEMRI)

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Nervous Rex?  Tillerson in Turkey

The war in Syria has already tested and destroyed many alliances. Turkey’s relationship with America may be next.   Having launched one army offensive against Kurdish insurgents in north-west Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government says it will soon order another, this time in the north-east.   There, the militants are flanked by American troops, who are supporting them in their fight against Islamic State.   It will be up to America’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, who arrives in Turkey today, to calm nerves and prevent the diplomatic row between the two NATO allies from exploding into an armed one.   That will not be easy.   After an American general warned that his forces would retaliate against any attack on their positions inside the Kurdish strongholds, Mr Erdogan said the United States “had clearly never received an Ottoman slap.” Slap or no slap, Mr. Tillerson’s ears will be ringing by the time he gets back to Washington. (Economist, 2/15)

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German government plans massive military expansion in Iraq        By Johannes Stern, 13 February 2018

The new grand coalition in Germany is planning a massive expansion of the German army (Bundeswehr) mission in Iraq. 

This was announced by Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen (Christian Democratic Union, CDU) in the course of her trip to the Middle East last weekend.  Von der Leyen praised Germany’s cooperation with the Peshmerga [Kurdish military forces] during her visit to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region in northern Iraq.   The Bundeswehr has been arming and militarily supporting the Kurdish force for three and a half years.   It was “impressive to see the great success of the Peshmerga training mission,” she said, thanking “Bundeswehr soldiers” on the spot.  Von der Leyen then announced that in future the Bundeswehr would be deployed throughout Iraq.

There will be “another mandate,” she said, “a mandate with a new balance … between Baghdad and Erbil on equal terms on both sides.” The defense minister made no concrete statements about the planned operation, but left no doubt she envisaged a long-term military engagement throughout Iraq.   “Both in Kurdistan, as well as in the central government in Baghdad,” there is “a request above all to help in the implementation of reforms, in the construction of ministry structures,” the minister said.   In Erbil, for example, “the construction of an entire sanitary unit is necessary,” but this also involved “of course the entire planning, organisation, recruitment and training.”   There is also “considerable demand” for logistics. Germany wanted to “make its contribution” to provide Iraq with “independent, loyal operational forces for the long term.”

The Socialist Equality Party rejects the coalition pact, which focuses on the return of Germany to an aggressive foreign and great power policy, and calls for the disclosure of all the talks.   Under conditions of escalating warfare in Syria and Iraq, and US preparations for war against North Korea, which threaten to provoke a Third World War, this demand, along with the demand for new elections, is becoming increasingly urgent.

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Special Dispatch No. 7339

Hamas, Palestinian Factions In Response To Israel’s Airstrikes In Syria:   ‘Any Israeli Attack, On Any Front, Will Be Answered With A Comprehensive War On All Fronts’ (MEMRI 2/15)

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Macron Vows to Reform Islam in France
“It is time to bring in a new generation”

by Soeren Kern, February 13, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • The overall objective of President Macron’s plan is to ensure that French law takes precedence over Islamic law for Muslims living in the country.
  • The plan, as currently conceived, is vague and short on details, but appears to involve three broad pillars: determining who will represent Muslims in France; delineating how Islam in France will be financed; and defining how imams in France will be trained.
  • “It is time to bring in a new generation.   We have seen fifteen years of debate to defend the interests of foreign states.” — Hakim el-Karoui, a French-Tunisian expert on Islam who is advising Macron on the reforms. (Gatestone)

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EUROPEAN UNITY

A New Élysée Treaty – Berlin and Paris are seeking a “new Élysée Treaty.”   On the 55th anniversary of the original 1963 Élysée Treaty, in which the Federal Republic of Germany and France committed themselves to hold “consultations” on major political issues, Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron announced the drafting of a new treaty aimed at “deepening” cooperation between the two countries and “strengthening” the EU.   In a declaration, the parliaments of both countries called for harmonizing almost the “complete range of policy issues.”   This would amount to massively enhancing the “German-French axis.”

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US/EU

Transatlantic Rivals

(Own report) – In Washington serious warnings are being raised against an independent German-European military policy aimed at weakening NATO.   The militarization of the EU is being supported as long as “it is complimentary to NATO,” a senior Pentagon official was quoted.   However, Washington would intervene if Berlin and the EU were to pull military resources away from NATO and use them for their own wars.   This statement was made in light of the NATO defense ministers’ meeting that begins today, which will include a decision on the establishment of two new NATO headquarters.   One will be established in the United States, to secure the military supply routes from North America over the Atlantic to Europe.   A second will be established in Germany, to optimize rapid redeployments of West European troops eastwards across the continent.   At the current stage of planning, this will be under German sovereignty and available also for use outside of the NATO framework.

More… https://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/news/detail/7531/

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TRADE WAR

Despite its loss in U.S. trade court against Bombardier, Boeing believes 2018 will be a turning point in its lengthy WTO challenge to Airbus over government subsidies.   The threat of hefty tariffs could redraw the playing field — or trigger a trade war among traditional allies.   (Dominic Gates,The Seattle Times 2/10)

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday rejected the sale of the Chicago Stock Exchange to a group that would have included Chinese investors, capping a two-year battle over a deal that sparked political opposition in Congress, reports the WSJ’s Dave Michaels. (2/16)

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US ECONOMY

Some like it hot:   America’s economy

The White House will announce its infrastructure plan today.   It is expected to call for $200bn more in government spending to encourage private investment, hoping for a total of $1.5trn towards spending on roads, bridges, ports and more.   Were Congress to pass such a plan without cutting spending elsewhere, it would be the third recent salvo of fiscal stimulus.   Last week lawmakers passed a budget that will raise spending by $143bn (0.7% of GDP) this year; in December President Donald Trump signed into law tax cuts worth about $280bn in 2019.   America’s budget deficit will probably reach $1trn (5% of GDP) that year.   All this will stimulate an already hot economy.   Unemployment is just 4.1%, and real-time estimates of GDP growth in the first quarter of 2018 are as high as 4%.   The natural question is:   when will inflation take off?   This strangely timed fiscal experiment will reveal the answer.   (Economist Espresso, 2/12)

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 ASIA

China, Maldives: Beijing’s Boats Send a Message to India — China’s increased military presence in the Indian Ocean gives the country more options to respond to the crisis in the Maldives, in addition to challenging New Delhi’s influence in the region.   (Stratfor, 2/16)

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AFRICA

Finally, Mo Ibrahim has found an African president worthy of the $5 million prize the Sudanese billionaire offered to any leader who would step down after losing an election.   The prize goes to Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.   It’s been eleven years since the prize was established.   “Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took the helm of Liberia when it was completely destroyed by civil war and led a process of reconciliation that focused on building a nation and its democratic institution,” said the head of the prize committee.

Liberia’s gross domestic product was only $550 million when Mrs. Sirleaf became president in 2005.   At the end of her tenure in office it had increased to $2.1 billion.   (Wall Street Journal, 2/14)

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COMMENT ON OXFAM CHARITY SCANDAL

Can charities be truly bad?   It seems perverse to say that they are, but the Oxfam abuse scandal has revealed a sinister side to international aid — and about time, too.   In our cover package this week, Harriet Sergeant argues that, in Africa and elsewhere, NGOs often do more harm than good.   Mary Wakefield, meanwhile, who wrote about rapist aid workers in the magazine a fortnight ago, well before the Oxfam story broke, asks why polite society prefers to ignore scandals which relate to organisations that people want to believe are good.   (The Spectator, UK, 2/15)

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THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils — Berlioz

WHEN A CROCODILE EATS THE SUN

“When a Crocodile Eats The Sun” is one of the best books I’ve ever read.   I read it some years ago when I was making regular visits to Zimbabwe, the subject of the book by Peter Godwin.   Mr. Godwin was born and raised in Rhodesia as it was before 1980.   At the time of writing the book he was living in New York City and visiting Zimbabwe twice a year to see his elderly parents.  During this time his father was dying and eventually did die.

The title of the book comes from an old Shona proverb.   The Shona are the dominant tribe in Zimbabwe.  They believe that an eclipse of the sun is actually a crocodile eating the sun.  It is a warning of a coming calamity.

The eclipse was on June 21st, 2001.   In the following years, Zimbabwe’s economy collapsed, millions of people starved to death and the country was plunged into chaos.  This all followed President Robert Mugabe’s decision to confiscate white-owned farms.   Food production fell by an estimated 90%.

In Rhodesian days, the country was the breadbasket of Africa; it now became an economic basket-case.   In one chapter his mother and a group of friends shared one tomato between them.  In a later chapter, he related the challenges he faced to cremate his father – the famine, together with AIDS, had overwhelmed the country’s funeral systems.

Those in the West who still think it makes no difference which ethnic group dominates a country, should study what happened to Rhodesia-Zimbabwe.

This does not mean that every nation that witnesses an eclipse of the sun will go through something similar.   But the eclipse seen by Americans last week reminded me of the book – and the consequences that followed the eclipse of the sun.

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DISASTER IN TEXAS

Just as some saw the eclipse as a sign of impending doom, so others feel the same way about the disaster in Texas.

If any problems follow the heavy rainfall in Texas, they are likely to be economic.   The US is already over $20 trillion in debt, money which has to be paid back at some point.   The Federal Government is offering Texas billions of dollars in assistance.   Private debt in the country is at an all-time high.   Student debt is a bubble waiting to burst.   And the only way to rebuild Texas is by borrowing more money.

You would think the world’s richest country would have “a rainy day fund” (no pun intended) but, in fact, we have so much debt, more disasters could easily break us.

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RECOMMITMENT TO AFGHANISTAN

A further financial burden that could break the United States is the war in Afghanistan.   After promising to pull the US out of America’s longest ever war, President Trump is now recommitting to the fight.   His military advisers think the US can win, where no previous foreign presence ever has.   We should remember that it was Afghanistan that broke the Soviet Union, both financially and militarily.   The US has a bad case of “imperial hubris” if we think it can’t happen here.   Afghanistan is not known as “the graveyard of empires” for nothing.

A few months ago I wrote that President Trump had made his biggest mistake, calling for Germany to spend billions more on its military.   History shows that decision could be fatal for Germany’s neighbors and others.   The decision to increase the military in Afghanistan could turn out to be Trump’s second biggest mistake.

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INTERNATIONAL COMPLICATION

KABUL/BERLIN/WASHINGTON  – In light of the new buildup of US troops in Afghanistan, experts are warning of a new proxy war between NATO and Russia at the Hindu Kush.   As observers unanimously explain, Russia has been able to expand its influence in Afghanistan significantly over the past few years. Moreover, the dismal results of NATO’s nearly 16 years of war have seriously damaged the West’s reputation in that country.   Moscow can now take advantage of this situation and enhance its prestige, according to reports.   A former top US intelligence official considers that Russian President Vladimir Putin sees Afghanistan as “one more hot spot, to exercise his influence” and depict Moscow “as the problem solver and peacemaker.”

If NATO and Russia ally with divergent forces at the Hindu Kush, it
could develop into another proxy war, as in Syria.   (German Foreign Policy 8/24)

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THE ENEMY WITHIN

August 24, 2017National

The Muslim Brotherhood has penetrated every one of our national security agencies, including our intelligence agencies, according to retired Navy admiral James “Ace” Lyons, former commander of the U.S. Pacific fleet…

Meanwhile, Judicial Watch recently obtained documents revealing that the FBI under director Robert Mueller purged hundreds of pages of training curricula related to Islamic terrorism at the behest of Muslim Brotherhood front groups who were unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation case….

(http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/08/national_security_coverups_missteps_and_miscalculations.html)

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MORE ENEMIES WITHIN

“Antifa” is a contraction of the words “anti” and “fascist.”   It’s a new word that will soon enter our dictionary.   It’s very misleading. People who identify with “Antifa” are not fighting fascism – they are, rather, trying to stop conservatives expressing any opinion different from their own.   Their opposition to freedom of speech shows that they are the fascists!

Note the following headline from the liberal-fascist New York Times: “Antifa grows as left wing faction set to literally fight the far right.” (8/17)   Just as you will never see a conservative editorial in the NYT, their readers will not allow conservative opinions to be expressed by anybody anywhere.

SKYFALL

Sky News in the UK is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also owns Fox News in the US.   Sky has just decided not to relay segments from Fox, described variously as “right wing” and “extreme.”

Does anybody ever describe CNN as “left wing” and “extreme?”  It most assuredly is!

Reminds me of Isaiah 5:20:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!