Tag Archives: Niall Ferguson

CONTINUING UNCERTAINTY IN EUROPE

Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned from office December 7, 2016 (AFP Photo/Andreas Solaro)
Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned from office December 7, 2016                                     (AFP Photo/Andreas Solaro)

Italy has become the latest country to witness a rejection of the Establishment.   Prime Minister Mateo Renzi’s referendum to simplify government and, at the same time, make it stronger, was turned down by the electorate.   Many interpret this as a vote against Renzi himself.

However, the more interesting vote was in Austria on the same day, Sunday.   A second presidential election was held as the first, earlier this year, was too close to call.   Although the post of president is largely ceremonial, there was a great deal of interest in the vote.   The choice was between a left-of center Green Party candidate and a neo-Nazi.   The latter lost, but got over 46% of the vote.   This will now send shockwaves across the European continent – other countries are also likely to see a resurgence of Nazism (fascism); and it won’t be long before an extreme right-wing party wins at the polls.

Why is this happening, over seventy years after World War II and the defeat of the Nazis?

In an interview with Reuters after Donald Trump’s win, the right-wing Austrian Freedom Party’s candidate, Norbert Hofer made the following comment:

“Wherever the elites distance themselves from voters, those elites will be voted out of office.”  (November 16th)

What started with Brexit and continued in the US presidential election, continues now in Europe – a rejection of the Establishment, the elites that have governed since World War II.   This embraces a rejection of multiculturalism and political correctness.

Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, interviewed on PBS’ Newshour Monday (December 5h), could not understand the return of nationalism in western democracies, at times sounding totally bewildered.   He expressed particular incredulity and disbelief that Norbert Hofer, “a man with Nazi roots,” received over 46% of the vote.   Establishment politicians are clearly concerned about this.

Frankly, we should all be concerned.   The reaction against liberalism is understandable, but a return to the extremism of the 1930’s should also be of great concern.

Europe is important.   The EU is the world’s biggest single economy (see chart below, showing 2014 stats).   If (a BIG if) the 27 (28 minus the UK) countries of the EU unite militarily, the world will have a new super-power, at exactly the time the US seems to be pulling back, with its emphasis on “America First.”

cotd-eu-us-china-india-gdp-ppp

The Italian referendum has also, once again, highlighted Germany’s role as European leader, even dictating policy to other countries. Note the following from Germanforeignpolicy.com:

Newsletter 2016/12/06 – A Time Bomb

ROME/BERLIN (Own report) – Following Italian Prime Minster Matteo Renzi’s defeat in Sunday’s referendum, Berlin is urging Rome to quickly form a “capable government” and resume its adjustment to the German model of austerity.   “The economic problems have to be tackled at the roots,” said Jens Weidmann, head of Germany’s central bank, yesterday.   German financial experts are floating the idea of a cabinet of technocrats, modeled on the Mario Monti government.   Monti ruled for a year and a half beginning in November 2011, without having been democratically elected . . .   It cannot be ruled out that its bank crisis could soon spread to other Italian credit institutions and to German banks.”

It’s not just the government in Berlin that likes to dictate to others. The following shows that Germans themselves have taken a decidedly anti-British turn after the Brexit vote:

“Germans want Merkel to take tough line with UK over Brexit, Körber Foundation poll finds –  (The Guardian, Patrick Wintour, Diplomatic Editor) 

Tuesday 29 November 2016 

“According to the survey, 58% of the public think Berlin should not be open to compromise with Britain over its EU departure and instead think Merkel should take a firm negotiating position, the Körber Foundation poll found.

“There was particular backing for Germany to take a hardline approach with the UK among supporters of Merkel’s own CDU party.”(https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/nov/29/germans-want-merkel-to-take-tough-line-with-uk-over-brexit-poll-finds)

There is growing concern about Germany’s increasing power.

“German militarism is assuming ever more openly aggressive forms. Following the German parliament’s (Bundestag) decision on Friday to massively increase the military budget, a discussion has now been launched about providing the German army (Bundeswehr) with nuclear weapons.”  (World Socialist website, 11/30).

Germany is also likely to turn further to the right politically when a general election is held next year.   The following may seem like a minor concern, but it’s the kind of news that makes voters want somebody else in power:

“A Syrian refugee who claims social benefits in Germany with his four wives and 22 children has sparked debates on social media.”   (RT news)

Concerned about growing anti-Islamic feeling, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced yesterday a ban on the burqa in public places.

If Mrs. Merkel fails to deal with the growing Islamic immigration crisis, voters will turn to other parties.

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IT’S NEVER TOO LATE

Even historian Niall Ferguson has seen the light when it comes to the European Union.   Prior to the Brexit vote, he supported the “Remain” campaign, but has now apologized and said he is supportive of Brexit.  It takes a humble man to say he’s wrong, especially one as well-known as Mr. Ferguson, a Scot who now lives in the United States.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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TERROR IN EUROPE

 

Rouen priest

We’re back from our family visit to England.   We had a great time with my brothers and their families.   It would be wonderful to do it more often.

It was an interesting time to be there.   Just over a week after we arrived, the Daily Mail newspaper carried the banner headline: “Another day, yet another terror attack.”  A number of attacks on French and German targets took place while we were on the other side of the Atlantic.

An attack on foreign tourists in London on Wednesday evening resulted in the death of a 64-year-old American lady.   As with some of the incidents in France and Germany, terrorism was not blamed. Rather, the perpetrator, a Norwegian of Somali ancestry, had some “mental issues.”   The majority of British people do not accept this, pointing out that the attacker is a Muslim.   It turns out that he has “recommended jihad terror books,” according to one source quoted on the Fox News website this afternoon.

Governments have no idea what to do.   At the same time, the media does not understand what is happening – every tragic event is either excused or seen through the prism of political correctness.  There remains no comprehension that the West is under attack from Islam, as it has been a number of times in history.

The goal is the conquest of the West – the security situation can only get worse.

Speaking on Thursday July 28th, Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, clearly does not see any connection between her open door policy toward refugees and the recent terror attacks, at least two of which were perpetrated by new arrivals into the country.   Such blindness defies all logic.   It’s the same in France. And in the United States, for that matter, where the Obama Administration has repeated its plan to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees into the country, in spite of fears of terrorism.   Perhaps the president is trying to atone for letting Syria down in the first place!

My favorite historian, Niall Ferguson, a Scot who has lived in the US for some years, tweeted the following yesterday:  “The next POTUS needs a Council of Historical Advisers to help the United States of Amnesia learn from the past.”   He added the famous quote:  “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”   The United States of Amnesia is a good one and totally appropriate.   Mr. Ferguson is not likely to be aware that many believe America’s biblical name to be “Manasseh,” which means “causing to forget.”

ISIS has been behind 141 terror attacks in the last 30 days, yet the President and Secretary of State say we have them on the run.   In addition, there have been other non-ISIS attacks, like the young man in Munich who killed 9 people, including seven teenagers, at a MacDonald’s in a Mall in the German city.   He was German born but of Iranian descent. A shi’ite Muslim, he’s not likely to have been influenced by ISIS, but he was still a Muslim.

It has become apparent that French security services are lacking when it comes to preventing attacks.  How could a large truck enter a vacation area in Nice and mow down 84 people, including ten children?   A few well-placed concrete blocks would have prevented the attack.   Apparently, there are six security agencies operating in France and they don’t tend to co-operate.   The country urgently needs an MI6 or a Department of Homeland Security, to bring all the agencies under one security umbrella.

So now all four major western powers have been attacked – the US, UK, France and Germany.   The last two have elections next year. Fear of further attacks could bring more right-wing parties to power. In turn, this could lead to a change of policy.   Instead of allowing in unlimited numbers of migrants, some of whom are inclined toward terrorism, borders may close and countries start hitting back.

Professor Samuel Huntington predicted over twenty years ago a “coming clash of civilizations” between Islam and the post-Christian West.  This is what we see developing now.

The biblical book of Daniel prophesied the same development 2,500 years ago.   In chapter 11 we read of the King of the North and the King of the South.   These were two dynasties that succeeded Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC.   These two powers frequently warred against each other.   Each time they did so, the Jews were caught in the middle.

The prophecy is that today’s modern successors, Europe and the Islamic world, (North and South), will clash.  You can read about this beginning in verse 40:   “At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through.”

An attack on July 25th was of particular interest.   It was the first time the Church was attacked.   An elderly Catholic priest in a village near Rouen had his throat slit while officiating at mass.   His two killers got up and preached a sermon in Arabic.   They were later shot by the police.

The pope did not respond with any threats.  He did say “we are at war,” but the war he was referring to was a vague war on poverty and deprivation.   Calling on Europe to open its borders further, the pontiff seemed as clueless as many politicians in his response, referring to Islam and Christianity as “religions of peace.”

These two “religions of peace” have warred against each other on and off throughout history.   In 1095, also in northern France, Pope Urban II called on European leaders to launch “a crusade” against Islam, in defense of Christians in the Holy Land.   The Crusades lasted two centuries.   Their legacy remains with us to this day. Further conflict came in the 16th and 17th centuries.  Renewed conflict between the two religions could erupt again if Islamists keep provoking the Church.

It’s not just the “United States of Amnesia” that needs some historical advisors.   Every government in western Europe, every president and prime minister and even the pope could all do with some history lessons.  They need to see Islam in its historical setting to learn that the religion is expansionist – imperialist, in fact, and that the West is now at war with Islam, even though few seem to realize it.

TWO SIGNIFICANT ELECTIONS

Candidates

I thought readers might appreciate the following from a friend in Australia:

“Your presidential race is fascinating yet depressing.  Away from America, nobody, and I mean just about no one, can believe that Americans would support such a demagogue as Trump and all he stands for.   To say they like him because he speaks his mind and refuses to be PC is just inane.  Look at the type of person he is.  I would really fear for America, and more so the world, with a clown like him in charge.   It is positively sickening.

Bernie Sanders sounds like maybe a nice guy but a bit out of touch. I don’t think America could work his way. So Hilary . . .  there are skeletons in the closet so to speak but at least she has experience and did quite a reasonable job of it.  I think much of America still lives in the Teddy Roosevelt era in outlook . . . with little knowledge of the outside world and sort of contempt for it.”

Similar comments are also being made in newspapers in other parts of the world.

It’s difficult to imagine the Atlantic alliance holding together if Trump wins the election; having said that, the Democrats have not done any better.   Bret Stephens in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal wrote an article titled:   “Barack Obama checks out.”   With 311 days left until he hands over to his successor, the president seems to be insulting America’s friends while embracing her enemies (visits to Vietnam and Cuba are going to follow last year’s treaty with Iran).

Mr. Stephens’ article follows on from one in The Atlantic by Jeffrey Goldberg.   Mr. Goldberg interviewed President Obama, who seemed to forget he is still president and spent quite some time criticizing US allies, including Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron and former President Sarkozy of France who may be re-elected. He even made it clear that if Russia invades Moldova, the US will do nothing, giving the Russian president the go-ahead to annex another neighbor.   Even Israel is set to suffer another blow from the US president, who is treating Saudi Arabia equally in arms sales.

Historian Niall Ferguson also commented on the Goldberg article in today’s Boston Globe:

“At the top of the list of scapegoats are America’s traditional allies: not only Britain and France (Libya’s descent in chaos was all their fault) but also Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.   Then comes the Washington “foreign policy establishment” and the US military, who are always trying to “jam” him into going to war.   Next in line are the members of his own cabinet — among them former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — who urged him to intervene in Syria in 2012.

“The president says he is “very proud” of his decision in 2013 not to follow through on his earlier threat to take military action if the Assad regime used chemical weapons in Syria.   He seems not to understand that by asking President Putin to “force Assad to get rid of the chemical weapons,” he opened the door to Russian intervention in the Middle East, a region the Kremlin was effectively shut out of by Henry Kissinger in the early 1970s.   Wondering why the death toll in Syria has leapt upwards in recent months?   Step forward President Putin, whose air campaign against every anti-Assad force except ISIS has been a horror show.

“The Mosul dam symbolizes the critical state of an entire region. Like a huge wall of water, barely held in check by a crumbling dam, the combined forces of Islamic extremism, vicious sectarianism, networked terrorism, and Arab-Iranian rivalry have yet to wreak all the havoc of which they are capable.  But why worry?  The president has stuck to his foreign policy doctrine:   “Don’t do stupid sh–.”   As for ISIS, according to Goldberg, the president likens them to the Joker in the Batman movies.” (“A Catastrophe of Epic Proportions,” Niall Ferguson, Boston Globe).

As a President, Hillary Clinton seems likely to continue Mr. Obama’s policies and Europe is apprehensive of a Trump presidency, the Atlantic alliance could have some serious problems a few months from now.

Former Secretary of State Dean Acheson once observed: “it is true that, in America, any boy can grow up to become president.   This is something we are going to have to learn to live with!”   That was said over sixty years ago.   The problem has since doubled as every girl can now also aspire to be president.

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The United States isn’t the only country experiencing an interesting and potentially nation-changing election.   Germany had one, too. Last Sunday three of Germany’s states voted.  The result was significant gains for the AfD, the Alternative for Germany, an anti-immigrant party.   Trump is not the only western politician who wants to do something about immigration.

As Reuters put it:   “Voters punished Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives in three German regional elections on Sunday, giving a thumbs-down to her open-door refugee policy and turning in droves to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD).

“The result is a big setback for Merkel, who has led Europe’s biggest economy for a decade, and could narrow her room for manoeuvre as she tries to convince her European Union partners to seal a deal with Turkey to stem the tide of migrants.

“Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) lost ground in all three states – Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate in the west and Saxony-Anhalt in the east – which were together widely seen as offering a verdict on Merkel’s liberal migrant policy.”

Following the election we see this report from the New York Times today:

BERLIN — German authorities banned a neo-Nazi group known as the White Wolves Terror Crew after the police conducted early morning raids on Wednesday in 10 of the country’s 16 states, confiscating weapons but making no arrests, the Interior Ministry said.

Far-right parties have gained strength as Germany struggles to integrate more than one million migrants, and the ban is intended to demonstrate that the authorities will not tolerate agitation against foreigners and migrants “and certainly no violence,” Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said.

“This group is an association of neo-Nazis who openly and aggressively agitate against our state, against our society, against people who think differently, against migrants and against the police,” he said.

Mr. de Maizière said that the group wanted to build a dictatorship, and that its aim “is supposed to be realized with all means available,” including violence. He added that the core of the group was made up of approximately 25 people, with the leaders coming from Hamburg.

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Staying in Europe, the Prime Minister of Iceland, a European country that is not a member of the EU, has warned the United Kingdom to recognize a European reality.   The Daily Telegraph carried the following headline on March 9th:

“Britain warned it wields no power in German dominated EU.”

It’s even losing control of its own stock market. Deutsche Bourse and the London Stock Exchange are to merge, with Deutsche Bourse holding a 54.4% stake in the London Stock Exchange, giving it effective control of one of the most important stock markets in the world.

Whether the British vote to leave the EU or remain a member on June 23rd may not make much difference. They will still be under the dominance of Berlin, whatever the outcome.

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Another March 9th headline from the UK’s Daily Mail:

London is more Islamic than most cities in Muslim countries, says Pakistan-born Islamic scholar.”

IS THIS TO BE THE FATE OF THE WESTERN WORLD?

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Michigan winters can be depressing, a real downer.   Add to that, the state of the world as 2016 begins and it’s amazing anyone can function.

A cartoon in yesterday’s paper showed half a dozen people nervously peeking into a dark room labeled “2016” – clearly, nobody wanted to go in.

Who knows what the year will bring?

Adding to my sense of foreboding has been a couple of books I’ve been reading.   Perhaps I should stop reading!   Then I could stop thinking and become like lots of other people.   It’s difficult, though, to watch hours of mindless drivel on television or at movie theaters when there are so many good books to read.

The books I’ve been reading are “The End of Byzantium” by Jonathan Harris  and “Isabella” by Kirstin Downey.   The latter is about the famous queen of Spain, but includes a long section on the fall of Byzantium and what followed.

Byzantium was the name of the Eastern Roman Empire, founded by Constantine the Great in the fourth century.   It survived the fall of the (western) Roman Empire by a thousand years.   Byzantium was the greatest power in Christendom during that period. Constantinople, its capital, was known as “the Queen of Cities.”

Yet it fell.

It fell to the Muslim Turks in 1453.   It’s fall was as dramatic and interesting as the fall of Babylon to Persia in 539 BC.   The consequences for both were dramatic.

Residents of both had considered their capitals impregnable.   Most Americans and Britons today would describe their own countries similarly.   After all, they have nuclear weapons.   The US has the greatest military on earth.

But, as the falls of Babylon and Constantinople show, it doesn’t mean a thing!  And, just as the “handwriting was on the wall” for Babylon (Daniel 5), so it is today for the West.

I went to see my primary doctor recently, shortly after San Bernardino.   He couldn’t understand why so many people brought up in the United States could become “radicalized.”   I know that Britons, Australians, Canadians and people in other western countries don’t understand this, either.

An article in yesterday’s Lansing State Journal called for more Muslim immigration into the US.   The reasoning was simple – the more people from the Middle East who come here, the better, because they either go back enthused about the American way of life, or they stay here committed to America.

This is naïve thinking at best.   At its worst, it’s downright dangerous.

Both my doctor and this writer represent 1960’s liberal thinking.   They believe that our western way of life is superior and that anybody who moves to the West will naturally see things that way given a short period of time to adjust.   And their children, naturally, will be just as committed to the American (or British) way of life as anybody else born here, embracing our liberal values.

This reasoning fails to understand that there is a major difference between Islam and the West – one means “submission” (or “surrender”), while the other believes in freedom.   These two cannot be reconciled.   Any child brought up in the former, while living in the latter, is inevitably going to be confused.

Why can’t people see that?

If they cannot grasp what is written above, then they can at least read some history and learn lessons from the past.

Note the following from “Isabella,” describing the fall of Christian Constantinople to the Muslim Turks.  Don’t think this can’t happen again – it’s happening right now in the Middle East as Christians are being driven out by Muslims.   After the fall of Byzantium, it happened to other European nations as the Muslims moved into the heart of Europe.   Again, hundreds of thousands have moved into central Europe in the last few months.

(When I was on a tour of Turkey a few years ago, I asked our tour guide three times what happened to all the Christians when Constantinople fell to the Muslims.   Three times, I failed to get an answer.)

“On the last day, a crowd of men, women, children, nuns and monks, “sought refuge” in Hagia Sophia . . . (the sixth century cathedral built by Justinian) . . . the Turks broke down the doors of the church with axes and dragged the congregants off to slavery.   The statues of the saints were smashed; church vessels were seized.   “Scenes of unimaginable horror ensued,” historian Franz Babinger writes.”

“The Turkish soldiers killed four thousand in the siege and enslaved almost the entire population of the city.   They plundered the churches, the imperial palace, and the homes of the rich, and they did considerable damage to much of the city’s fabled architecture . . . unique and rare classical manuscripts were torn apart for the value of their bindings and thrown into the garbage.” (“Isabella”, page 172, 2014)

“By the end of 1459, all of Serbia had fallen under their control.   About 200,000 Serbs were enslaved by the Turks…..Soon, he (Mehmed, the sultan) attacked the city of Gardiki, in Thessaly, killing all 6,000 inhabitants, including women and children.   He had accepted the surrender without struggle of the Genoese colony of Amasra, on the Black Sea coast, where he enslaved two-thirds of the population.” (p. 175)

ISIS continues to treat Christians the same way.   There was, and is, no respect for other religions.

In the fifth century, the Roman Empire was invaded by barbarians (non-Romans).   This is a reason they no longer exist.   Spain itself was overrun by Muslims in the eighth century, a reason why Isabella took the stand she did centuries later.   When the Holy Land fell to the Muslims, it was necessary for the West to intervene to enable pilgrims to travel there safely.   After Constantinople fell, the West was in shock, rather as it would be if the United States fell.

The historian Niall Ferguson wrote after Paris that the West has the feel of Rome about it, that we are in danger of falling the same way; conservative columnist Mark Steyn wrote that “the barbarians are at the gate, and there is no gate!” – a reference to the fact that Angela Merkel and others are welcoming the invaders.

There clearly are genuine and justified concerns about allowing more Muslims into western countries.  Just yesterday, the BBC has reported that Germany has been shocked by how many German women were sexually assaulted and even raped over New Years, a direct result of the recent surge in immigration from the Middle East and North Africa.

TV reporters and those who write for newspapers advocating more immigrants are clearly ignorant of history.   They endanger all of our lives.

Reporting right now is focused on the growing Saudi-Iranian conflict, a continuation of the 1400-year-old struggle between Sunni and Shia Islam.   Neither can respect the other.   They just want to kill those who believe differently from themselves.  We can see it clearly when looking at the two branches of Islam – why do the same reporters find it so difficult to see the threat Islam poses to Christians and secularists in the West?

Christians for centuries have prayed “Thy Kingdom Come” (Matt 6:10) as Jesus Christ taught us to do in His model prayer.   Never has the need for that kingdom been greater.  Only He can put an end to false religion and the religious confusion that threatens the end of our civilization.

HUBRIS WILL NOT DEFEAT THE ENEMY

Bill de Blasio                             Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio

Yesterday (Monday) I read an article, which stated with great certainty that the US has been better at assimilating Muslims than European countries.   I also read a separate article in USA Today, which quoted the Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, claiming that “New York City has the strongest, most agile, best-trained first responders in the world.   They’re ready to protect us.”

These are just the latest examples of hubris, which is defined as “excessive pride, or self-confidence, arrogance.”

When it comes to assimilation, I am reminded of a conversation I witnessed on British television one Sunday morning a few years ago. People of African descent who had lived in both the United Kingdom and the United States were discussing this very issue.   All the participants said they felt more comfortable and more assimilated in the UK than the US.

This may or may not be true of Muslims.   My concern here is that Americans should be very careful in making such assumptions, that we cannot say for sure and that, really, it doesn’t make any difference.   We are just as threatened by Islamic terrorism as the Europeans.   Whether the US responders do a better job remains to be seen.   FWIW, France (and Canada) are the two countries that top the World Health Organization’s list of best medical systems.   The US ranks at #37.   When it comes to saving lives, Paris is one of the best places to be.

When it comes to fighting ISIS, there’s a great deal of hubris right now.   Once again, the entertainment industry is partly to blame – it’s not just James Bond that defeats the world’s greatest evils; Americans have been doing it for decades.

Or, have we?

More than fourteen years after 9-11, Al-Qaeda is still killing people.   The hotel attack in Bamako was perpetrated by an al-Qaeda affiliate.

The US has been in Afghanistan for the same length of time (longer than the Russians were there) and there is no end in sight.   In fact, the situation is worse in that ISIS now operates there, along with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Iraq continues with daily conflict.   The immediate goal of overthrowing Saddam Hussein  was achieved by the western coalition, but the resultant mess just goes on and on.   The Iraqi conflict gave birth to ISIS, another problem that seems likely to go on and on.   And, if they are ever defeated, there will be other Islamic extremists to replace them.

Proverbs 16:18 says that:   “Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.”

I quoted Niall Ferguson a few days ago.   He showed the similarities between what is happening now and what happened to the Roman Empire in its last days – the barbarians are at the gates.   Indeed, they are within the gates thanks to the West having the most myopic immigration policies in the history of mankind.

The West has lived through a period that might be called the Pax Americana, a peace guaranteed by the United States since the end of World War II.

But the US has not had a decisive victory since World War II, when the global conflict was won by the three great powers, the British Empire (which fought the war from 1939-1945), the Soviet Union (which was forced into war six months before the US) and the United States.   The US could not have done it alone.

Korea ended up a stalemate, a burden still carried on the backs of the US tax-payer.   Vietnam was lost.   At the time, there was plenty of hubris.   Who would have thought, in 1965, that the US could lose to North Vietnam?

The next major conflict was the Persian Gulf War in 1990-91.   The immediate goal of driving Iraq out of Kuwait was achieved, but Saddam lived to fight another day, literally.   And, as I said, the mess goes on and on.

Americans are fond of saying that the US military is the best in the world and that the country spends ten times as much on its military as the next biggest spender.   That may be true, but it’s misleading.   In World War II, for every US soldier actually fighting, there were 60 people employed in support roles; for the British it was 45 to 1; for the Germans, 20 to 1.   Efficiency varies.

Additionally, US military personnel are paid more than those of other countries, so the dollar amount spent is not saying much.

Besides, the greatest threat now is Islamic terrorism, not a professional national army.   The “armies” that brought down Rome were barbaric, wild tribes, the Huns, the Vandals and, ultimately, the Arabs.   We’re faced with a similar enemy, but making it worse, our enemy is also “within.”   Let’s remember, the Babylonian Empire fell because two men betrayed it!   It only took two men to bring down the greatest empire in the world at that time.

The analogy with Babylon is apt in another way, too.   Babylon’s period of ascendancy lasted a little over seventy years, from the defeat of Assyria in 612 BC to its own defeat at the hands of the Persians in 539.   Super powers have great difficulty maintaining dominance over a longer period.   The Romans and the British were two exceptions, but countries simply burn out after 70 years.   The US is burning out, showing great reluctance to take on the growing threats to its own dominance.

It’s predecessor as global superpower number one was Great Britain.   Britain simply went broke.   The US is similarly broke, with a national debt of roughly 20 trillion dollars.   How much longer can the country lead the fight against anything?  ISIS is the wealthiest terror group ever, while the US is now penny pinching.

There’s a third lesson, too, from ancient Assyria and Babylon.   The former invaded the ten tribes of Israel, taking the people away as slaves.   The latter, Babylon, more than a century later, conquered the Jews and took them as slaves to Babylon.   The Old Testament prophets show that these nations were conquered because of their sins.

In a statement after the Paris terror attacks, ISIS said it attacked Paris because it’s a “sinful city, full of perversions.”   This does not mean that ISIS is made up of righteous people, any more than ancient Assyria or Babylon were.   But it does mean that many Muslims, appalled at the liberal values of the West, will naturally flock to ISIS.

In this sense, our own permissiveness works against us and is contributing to the violent acts being perpetrated by the terrorists.

But people in the West have hardened their hearts when it comes to God.   When the Church of England prepared a cinema ad promoting the Lord’s prayer, cinemas refused to show it; when the hashtag “#pray for Paris” appeared on Twitter following the Paris attacks, one French publication told people supporting the sentiment that their prayers were not welcome; that France doesn’t want religion!

Some asked where was God when Paris was attacked?   The answer can be found in Isaiah 59:2.   “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”  Isaiah was preaching to a nation that had known God, but rejected Him.

There are similarities with the western world of today.   We should avoid hubris, clean up our act, and turn to the true God if we are to have any hope of defeating Islamic extremism.

 

VICTORY OVER ISIS WILL NOT END ISLAMIC TERRORISM

Daniel Craig Spectre

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conservative columnist Mark Steyn wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But, perhaps that’s the problem.

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

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

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

Which brings us back to James Bond.

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

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