Tag Archives: Putin

IMMINENT MISSILE ATTACK ON SYRIA

“Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, And it will be a ruinous heap. (Isaiah 17:1) 

By an amazing coincidence, I have been reading a book on “Munich” while the current crisis in Syria has been building up.

At Munich in 1938, Hitler and Chamberlain met to discuss Hitler’s claims on German Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia.   Chamberlain famously gave in to his demands. The former British PM described Nazi Germany’s annexation of the area of German-speaking Czechoslovakia in 1938 as “a quarrel in a faraway country between people of which we know nothing.”

Similar words could be spoken today about Syria.

At the time of writing this article, President Trump is deciding on how to react to Syria’s use of chemical weapons on its own people. If the US does nothing, nobody else will.   In 1938 Neville Chamberlain, as British Prime Minister, was the leader of the western world; today it’s President Trump.   Less than a year after Chamberlain’s famous appeasement toward Hitler, Britain and Germany were at war.   It had become all too clear, even to Chamberlain, that Hitler was intent on global conquest.

There’s been plenty of evidence that Russia has similar territorial designs.   The Russians took control of part of Georgia a few years ago; this was followed by the conquest of Crimea and of eastern Ukraine.   Domination of Syria makes them the most powerful voice in the Middle East.  This role is growing – last month, Putin met with the leaders of Iran and Turkey in Ankara.  These three are now in a de facto alliance while Turkey remains officially in NATO.

Geoffrey Wawro, a professor at the University of North Texas, wrote a book called “Quicksand” (2010), on “America’s pursuit of power in the Middle East.”   Reviewer Rick Atkinson sums the book up well, writing that Wawro reveals “how an extraordinary tale of idealism, politics, force and miscalculation began and unfolded over the last century.”

The more the US got involved, the more the US was sucked in; hence the title “Quicksand.”   Why should we expect any other outcome following action in Syria?   Could US intervention lead to war with Russia?

“There was no reason for war in 1914, beyond the murder of an archduke in Bosnia.   As AJP Taylor said of 1914:   “Nowhere was there a conscious determination to provoke a war.   Statesmen miscalculated [and] became prisoners of their own weapons.   The great armies, accumulated to provide security and preserve the peace, carried the nations to war by their own weight.”   I wonder what Taylor would have said of Trump’s “Get ready, Russia” tweet.” (“Look at Syria and you can see all the elements that have led to world wars,” Simon Jenkins, The Guardian, April 12th.)

A miscalculation now could be fatal for the US, Russia and Syria.

SYRIAN COMPLEXITIES

Syria is a perfect illustration of the complexity of modern warfare and the geopolitics that complicate everything.

Syria was established after World War One and the fall of the Ottoman Empire.   After “the war to end all wars,” the Treaty of Paris carved out a number of new countries from the ruins of the Turkish ruled empire.   The treaty was aptly described as “the peace to end all peace” by a British general who saw a future of never-ending conflict in the region.   A century later nothing has improved.

Before World War One, Mesopotamia was a sleepy backwater of no interest to anyone.   The same could be said of Syria.   Bible students know that this had to change to fulfill apocalyptic prophecies about Israel (the Jews) and its neighbors.   The prophesied Jewish national homeland was established exactly seventy years ago, in May 1948.

Syria was a Mandated territory of the League of Nations.   France was given the mandate; Britain was given Iraq and Jordan to administer, again under a Mandate from the League.   Palestine was also a League of Nations mandated territory, given to the British.

After World War Two, the French left Syria.   It soon fell under the Soviet sphere of influence.   From 1970 Syria has been the home of a Russian naval base, the only one Russia has on the Mediterranean. The Russians are not going to give it up.   And they will support President Assad as long as it is in their interest to do so.

The US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 helped Russia to gain further influence in the region.   By removing Saddam Hussein from power and arranging an election in Iraq, the majority Shi’ites came to power, altering the balance of religious and political power in the Middle East.   Iran is the leading nation of Shia Islam.   An arc of Shia Islam now exists, from Iran through Iraq to Syria and Lebanon, roughly the same territory of the ancient biblical King of the North. Russia is heavily involved with the Iranians and Syria.   Turkey is now also with them, wanting to stop its Kurdish minority from breaking away.   The Turks are not Arabs, so this does not present a conflict for them.

Syria is not majority Shia.   Assad’s support comes mostly from his Alawite clan, a branch of Shia Islam, which amounts to only 11% of the population.   The Sunnis do not want to be ruled by Assad. Neither do the Sunnis in Iraq want a Shia government over them.  This is why ISIS formed, to “protect” Sunnis from Shi’ites.

It’s all very complicated.

No wonder the president is taking his time.

If he does nothing, he will be seen as weak against Syria and the Russians.  If he does something, innocent lives will be lost, but Assad will remain in power and Russia will continue as its benefactor.

A further complication came today when the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, announced that Moscow has “evidence” the video of the gas attack was performed by actors.   How does the West prove the film was real?

It seems like a no-win situation for the United States.

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European Immigration:   Nuns Out, Terrorists In                                                          by Douglas Murray, April 13, 2018 (Gatestone Institute)

  • When the same Home Office that forbade Sister Ban even to enter the country discovered that the young male Iraqi was in Britain, he explained clearly that he had been trained by ISIS.  He told the Home Office officials that the group had trained him to kill.   The Home Office promptly found him a place to live and study, and treated him as the minor he said he was but most likely was not.   He subsequently told a teacher that he had “a duty to hate Britain.”
  • Last year the Institute of St. Anselm (a Catholic training institute for priests and nuns, based in Kent) closed its doors because of problems it had getting the Home Office to grant visa applications for foreign students.   One nun last year was apparently denied entry to the UK because she did not have a personal bank account.
  • So, those who flee ISIS are turned away, while those who are trained by ISIS are welcome.

 

 

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EUROPE CHANGES WHILE US PRE-OCCUPIED

British Prime Minister Theresa May, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, U.S. President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet at the German Chancellery in Berlin, Germany November 18, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
British Prime Minister Theresa May,  Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, U.S. President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet at the German Chancellery in Berlin, Germany November 18, 2016.       REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

When newspapers around the world reported that the Archduke Franz Ferdinand had been assassinated in Sarajevo, nobody would have thought it would lead to the First World War, the worst war in history.  The subsequent war started in the Balkans, a part of Europe that frequently saw conflict; it didn’t seem anything to worry about.

25 years later, another world war followed on from the first, again started in Europe.

You would think that, consequently, the world would want to know what’s happening in Europe!   But the mention of Europe is likely to see wide-mouthed yawns in an audience – Europe is a continent of the past, not the future; a quaint place to visit but of no relevance.

However, Europe is a continent that is unraveling as old rivalries rise to the surface.   The end result could be a Europe that is very different from what we see now.

What we are witnessing is the return of nationalism, the root cause of both world wars.   Right now, we are in the dark, just as the world was the morning after the Archduke’s assassination.   Another seemingly insignificant event could lead directly to global conflict, just as the assassination did over a century ago.

After six decades of the European Union and its predecessor, Europeans are turning against the idea of “an ever closer union.” Now, they want to put their own country first.   It started in the United Kingdom with the Brexit vote.   Outside of Europe, the Americans voted earlier this month to put “America First.”   Austrians seem likely to elect their “far right” candidate to the presidency on December 4th.   If he wins, he has promised to dissolve parliament and to hold a vote on whether or not the country should stay in the EU.   A referendum in Italy on the same day could also have a profound effect on other countries in Europe.

However, the biggest two upcoming elections will be in France in May and Germany four months later.

France just had its primaries for the center-right party, resulting in the selection of Francois Fillon as their presidential candidate. He will run against the leader of the Socialist Party.   It’s not likely that their candidate will be the current socialist president, Francois Hollande, as his approval rating is down to only 4%.   A third party candidate, Marine LePen, of the National Front, could beat the two establishment figures.   Ms. LePen is against both the EU and immigration, two popular positions that could give her victory.

Elections next year in France and Germany may see a continuation of the trend toward nationalist parties.

Brexit has already led continental Europeans to move ahead with a European Army, independent of NATO.   This has been talked about for some time, amid growing concerns about Russia and Islamic terrorism.   Donald Trump’s victory in the US led, hours later, to a German call to quickly move forward – without Britain this is now possible.   It’s also the case that, until the UK actually exits the EU, it will have to help pay for the combined military force.

Europe and America differ on Russia, even more so now that Trump will be president.   Note the following from The Orange County Register, November 25th.

“Russian and American interests in Europe do not align.   Although both powers do share the general goal of preventing Islamic terror networks from spiraling out of control, Russia’s tacit support for some acts of terrorism, through its close relationship with state sponsors of militant jihad, is well known.   The truth is that Putin’s regime wants instability in Europe, by hook or by crook, so as to replace U.S. dominance on the continent.” (“High-stake Russian relations”)

The editorial continues:   “And the reality is that Putin is well on his way to getting it.   NATO allies like Turkey, Bulgaria and Hungary have joined in a clear pendulum swing away from Western liberalism.   At the same time, reactionary parties on the ascent aim to shake off the political bonds economically forged by the international institutions that give the US its influential stake in European affairs.   Few in Europe wish to become satellites of Moscow.   But few realize that, absent a robust American role in Europe, there is no European force powerful enough to keep its patchwork of small states from slipping into Russia’s shadow.

“Were the US capable of defending a persuasive liberal agenda abroad, friendlier European relations toward Russia wouldn’t necessarily be cause for such profound alarm.   But today, America’s leadership – like public opinion – is divided and unsure about just how much support free trade and international agreements deserve. Without clarity and confidence, even a little resurgence in traditionally pro-Russian sentiment in Europe could trigger a stampede away from the kind of American influence that has helped build and maintain security and order on the continent for generations.

“Is that a price America’s pro-Russian right and left are willing to bear?   Whatever Trump’s actual preference around Russian relations may be, he is well advised to take into account the answer to that question.   Nothing can ruin a presidential legacy like losing Europe.” (The last sentence was italicized by myself for emphasis.)

Five days earlier, another editorial in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette addressed European issues:

“President Obama spent Thursday and part of Friday in Germany, underlining the importance of the relationship with Chancellor Angela Merkel and, particularly, their personal rapport.   With Obama’s imminent disappearance from the world stage, the transition to a Donald Trump administration is creating international disquiet, as world leaders prepare for the unknown.   The German chancellor is arguably the most important figure of stability in international politics . . .   They met in Berlin, increasingly the capital of Europe, although Brussels still hosts the headquarters of both the European Union and NATO, British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Francois Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Maariano Rajoy all traveled to Berlin for their farewell-as-president meeting with Obama.”

Continuing:   “Germany is the economic and, thus, probably, the political center of Europe, an ironic epilogue to its loss of two major wars in the last century.”  (“Obama’s last key European stop.”  Italics mine)

Put these two articles together and what you have is this:

Europe is increasingly likely to break away from America; and Germany is the leader of Europe.

But . . . not yet!

The Economist magazine’s Charlemagne column adds that Germany and its Chancellor Angela Merkel “are still too hesitant to be able to lead the free world” (“Iron Waffler,” Charlemagne, November 19th):

“Now, after an election campaign in which Mr. Trump trashed immigrants, vowed to rewrite trade deals and threatened to withdraw America’s security guarantee, the West’s indispensable nation appears to have dispensed with itself.   Desperate for a candidate to accept the mantle of leader of the free world, some alighted on Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor.”

Yet Mrs. Merkel’s options are limited.   “We are protected by our terrible history,” says Joschka Fisher, a former foreign minister.   “You cannot say, ‘Make Germany Great Again’.”

Times are changing – and further changes are likely as a result of Donald Trump’s victory in the US.   “The Westbindung (Western integration), a staple of German foreign policy since Adenauer, is fraying as extremist parties on the left and right cozy up to Russia.”

Konrad Adenauer was Germany’s first chancellor after the formation of the Federal Republic in 1949, four years after Adolf Hitler.   Germany’s foreign policy since then has been firmly rooted in both NATO and the EU.   Extremist parties in the country threaten this and could destroy this policy after next year’s election.

“Germany’s stake in the global liberal order is immense.  Its export-led economic model relies on robust international trade; its political identity is inexorably linked to a strong EU; its westward orientation assumes a friendly and engaged America.   All of these things may now be in jeopardy, and Germany would suffer more than most from their demise.   But do not look to Mrs. Merkel to save them, for she cannot do so alone.”

A different chancellor, a stronger chancellor, perhaps with more extremist views of either left or right, could make a huge difference in the 2017 general election.

It’s very difficult to predict what will happen in the next twelve months in Germany or other European nations, but the continent is going through a peaceful turmoil that could see radical changes in the months ahead.

The biblical books of Daniel and Revelation both wrote of the Roman Empire and successive attempts to revive the empire down through the ages.  In 1922 Mussolini proclaimed a revived Roman Empire; in 1957, the Treaty of Rome was signed to lay the groundwork for another attempt at European Union.   A final group of European nations will soon come together, with Germany as its leader.   Bible students have expected this for years — now the world’s media sees Berlin as the new European capital and Germany as the driving force behind the world’s biggest single economic grouping.

 

Does any reader have 60,000 frequent flyer miles they are not likely to use?  I would like to go over to Europe to research and write on developments on the continent.

GERMAN CALL FOR EU ARMY MORNING AFTER TRUMP VICTORY

daniel-craig-and-queen-elizabeth

Fears that America is turning inward were often expressed during the election campaign that resulted in Donald Trump becoming the next president.

As if to prove the fears well-founded, US media has concentrated on domestic concerns for the new presidency.

But, overseas, there is also great concern, as evidenced by the following report from Europe.

“Donald Trump’s victory, as well as Brexit, ought to speed up plans for EU defense integration, Germany has said.

“Europe needs the common political will for more security policy relevance. The outcome of the election in America could provide an additional impetus,” German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen said in an opinion article in the Rheinische Post, a German newspaper, on Thursday (10 November.)

“The Brexit decision and the election in the United States have set a new course” for Europe, she added.

She said it was “difficult for Germany and Europe, on the day after the election, to assess what to expect from a Trump presidency.”

She predicted that the US would initially turn inward “to heal the tremendous internal turmoil in the country” that arose from Trump’s divisive campaign.

She said EU security would continue to depend on the US and on NATO, but she said Trump’s victory meant that Europe, and Germany as “a great nation in the centre of Europe”, would have to be “more self-reliant on security issues”.

Von der Leyen spoke of “building a common security and defense organization” that would concentrate on stabilizing African and Middle East countries in order to alleviate the flows of refugees coming to Europe.” (italics mine)

(Andrew Rettman, “Germany:  Trump victory to speed up EU military union,” EU Observer)

An army to rival Russia:  Germany calls for joint EU defense budget to take on Putin (Nick Gutteridge, Daily Express, October 19th)

Two weeks before the US election, Nick Gutteridge of the Daily Express (UK) wrote that Germany wants a European military force to rival Russia’s.  This would, of course, also mean that it would rival America’s.

The European Union has approximately 500 million people without Britain.  It is also the world’s biggest single market with a currency that is used more widely than any other.  It, therefore, has the potential to be the world’s greatest military power.

These articles are particularly significant in the light of President-elect Trump’s comments that NATO countries are not contributing enough to their own defense.  He is also on record as saying that NATO has outlived its usefulness.  However, on Monday he made it clear that he is committed to the military alliance.  The alliance was founded in 1949.  At the time it was said the organization was intended “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down”.  That cynical comment is effectively negated by Germany’s new dominant role on the European continent, the leader of the EU and the country set to dominate the EU’s military force.

The proposed military force was not possible until June’s Brexit vote in the United Kingdom. Britain has always opposed a European military union believing that it will undermine US-led NATO.   Some other countries in the EU are not in favor, either.   When the military union comes into existence, possibly as early as next year, it’s likely only a dozen countries will join.

Note the following from Der Spiegel, Germany’s leading news magazine:

“For 100 years, the United States was the leader of the free world.  With the election of Donald Trump, America has now abdicated that role.  It is time for Europe, and Angela Merkel, to step into the void.

The West was constituted in its modern form in January 1917. World War I was raging in Europe at the time and in Washington, D.C., President Woodrow Wilson told his country that it was time for Americans to take responsibility for “peace and justice.”  In April he said:  “The world must be made safe for democracy.”  He declared war on Germany and sent soldiers to Europe to secure victory for the Western democracies — and the United States assumed the leadership of the Western world. It was an early phase of political globalization.

One hundred years later:  Trump.”

While President Wilson did say the words quoted above, his enthusiasm was soon dampened by Congress and America did not really get involved in the world until 25 years later. It wasn’t until after World War II that the US rose to prominence, replacing Great Britain in it’s super power role.   February 1947 was the month when it was first realized that Britain was handing over its international policeman role to the Americans. You can read about this in “Picking up the reins” by Norman Moss.   So, when President Trump is sworn in, it will be just a few days before America’s leadership role turns 70.   Babylon, the world’s first super-power was at the top for only seventy years.   President-elect Trump wants to put “America First” – is it possible for the US to turn its back on the rest of the world? Mr. Trump says no.  But others are not so sure.

Today’s Wall Street Journal carried the headline:

“European Union Backs Plan to Expand Military Coordination”

Britain’s decision to leave the EU and the election of Donald Trump give fresh impetus to Europe to come up with new plans for security cooperation.”

While Donald Trump is reassuring the European NATO allies of America’s commitment, the continental Europeans are hedging their bets.

The next few years could see the alliance unraveling.

Bible students are well aware that the biblical book of Revelation, which describes events in our age, tells us that ten nations will come together in Europe to form a formidable political and military union.   These ten are the next prophesied super-power.  They are also the last, as their brief period of dominance ends with the Kingdom of God.

“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)

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POLLSTERS WRONG AGAIN

We used to get frequent annoying and intrusive calls from pollsters asking all kinds of questions to try to determine our views on different issues and what we thought of the candidates.  This year we got no such calls.

I suspect the reason is that we no longer have a landline.   Perhaps this goes part of the way to explaining how the polls got it so wrong.  Most young people only have a cell phone — that’s also the case with many older people who can no longer afford to have both a landline and a cell phone.

This may partly explain why the polls were wrong.   They were also wrong over Brexit, predicting the people would vote to “Remain” in the EU.   The “Leave” campaign used a company called “Cambridge Analytica” to help them win.  The UK company used data from over 5,000 people to determine the best way to get their message across.

Donald Trump hired the same company for his campaign.

In both campaigns they found that 3% of voters were “shy Tories.” This was the term they used to describe very conservative people who kept their views to themselves.   Many people felt intimidated in conversations with intellectuals who would try to bully or shame them into supporting “Remain.”   The same “shy Tories” in the US were secret Trump supporters — after Mr. Trump’s more outrageous comments it didn’t seem respectable to hold to pro-Trump views.

But support Trump they did.

These voters want change.

As with Brexit, a big issue was immigration and the perception that many new immigrants refuse to assimilate and even threaten national security.   They also want to “drain the swamp,” to reduce both the size and the cost of the federal government.

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Germany:  Government Carries Out Raids, Bans Religious Organization

Germany’s government has banned an Islamic organization known as True Religion, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said, the New York Times reported Nov. 15.  The announcement comes as German authorities carried out raids on nearly 200 properties associated with the group across the country.  De Maiziere said the group was a recruiting pool for potential militants, adding that 140 supporters of the group have traveled to Iraq or Syria to join the Islamic State.  Though police confiscated materials during the raids, no arrests were made.   A number of attacks in Germany over the past year have fueled fears of migrants.  (Stratfor, 11/15/16)

 

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.”

DAVOS, BYZANTIUM AND RUSSIA

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“Median income today is lower than it was a quarter century ago,” according to economist Joseph Stiglitz, interviewed by CNN’s Richard Quest at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.   The two men were discussing the charity Oxfam’s statement this week that said the top 1% now have as much wealth as all the rest of us put together. According to Mr. Stiglitz, this is due to government policies in the US and other western nations in the last 25 years.   His prediction for the coming year was quite gloomy.

John Defterios, CNN Emerging Markets Editor, reminded people that the global economy has 7-8 year “cycles.”  Whereas many are saying we just came out of a cycle following the 2008 collapse, we are in fact ending one cycle and moving into another.

The 7-year cycle will be a familiar concept to any Bible scholars who understand the Old Testament financial cycle, based around the seven-year land Sabbath.  Debt, both governmental and private, is now at an all time high and threatens the global economy, which is nothing more than a house of cards.   Increasingly needed is a biblical Jubilee Year, where all debts are cancelled and we start over.  God’s plan was for a Jubilee Year every fifty years, after seven land Sabbaths had been completed.

Leviticus, chapter 25, explains this financial plan.  The instruction was that all debts be cancelled and that people return to their ancestral land and start again.  We no longer live in an agricultural economy, but the principle can be applied.   The vast majority of people worldwide are now in debt to one degree or another, while the 1% gets richer and richer.  Eventually, there will be an explosion with revolutions everywhere, unless something is done to cancel the debt.

Don’t hold your breath — governments and banks are not likely to let that happen.   Until they have to, that is!

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Meanwhile, I found Leonardo DiCaprio’s statement that “oil should stay in the ground” rather intriguing.  If conservationists get their way, how will he fly his personal plane?  He may have money to burn but it’s not a good jet fuel!

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I’m finishing The End of Byzantium, the book by Jonathan Harris I mentioned in a previous post.   Constantinople, the capital of what had been the greatest power in Christendom, fell to the Muslim Turks in May, 1453.  The fall sent shock waves throughout Europe.  The next 250 years was to be dominated by the threat from the Ottoman Empire, which did not completely end until the collapse of the empire less than a century ago.   This was the last caliphate.

There are lessons to be learned from Byzantium.

There was great division at the top among the various leaders.   We have this today with the presidential candidates, each one looking for his or her own advantage, regardless of what damage may be done to the country.  That was the same in Byzantium amongst the ruling class.

Secondly, some of the wealthy elite did well from their connections with the Turks, mostly in trade, but also donations to co-operate with the Turks.  Reading this, I was mindful of the Clinton Foundation receiving donations from Middle Eastern leaders, a conflict of interest for sure.

Thirdly, Byzantium was weakened financially, losing its trading advantage to other nations.   The Republics of Venice and Genoa had become the banking centers by the time of the fall of Constaninople.

A fourth point of great interest was that once the capital fell, it wasn’t long before the rest followed.   Could this happen in the US?  Of course it could.  If terrorists could deliver crushing blows to both Washington DC (the political capital) and New York City (the financial capital), the rest of the country would follow.

I should add that although I would have preferred life under the Byzantine Emperor to life under the Ottoman Sultan, the former was hardly Christian and thoroughly deserved its fate.  That’s another lesson for us today – the West deserves its fate, which it has brought upon itself.

A further lesson from Byzantium is the truth of Daniel 2:21, that God is behind the rise and fall of nations.  “And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings.”  In this case, Constantine XI, the last Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, was overthrown by Mehmed II, the Sultan at the head of the Ottoman Empire.

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Talking of Washington DC, the news yesterday was dominated by the threat of a severe snow-storm bringing the city to its knees.  It still hasn’t started, at 10am Friday morning, but could come any time.  MSNBC stated that, every time there’s a severe snow-storm: “230,000 federal government workers sit idle.”

Since when did this have anything to do with snow???

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Back to Turkey and the Middle East.  Up to this point, Islamic terrorism has been perpetrated by Sunni Muslims.  With the end of sanctions on Iran and the release of hundreds of millions of dollars being held by western banks, Iran could also be in the terrorist business.  Shia Islam could be an even bigger threat than Sunni.

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Still in the Middle East, more German Jews are moving to Israel as a result of increased anti-semitism in Germany.   Headlines can be misleading.  The anti-semitism does not come from German Germans, but from Muslim immigrants.  But it still makes life in Germany worrying and unpleasant.

The influx of migrants has affected many European countries.  Sweden is now being called the “rape capital of the world.”  Swedish women have a 1 in 4 chance of being raped.   Reports say that gangs of young Middle Eastern men grope, sexually assault, and rape women.   Where are the women and children we were being shown on nightly television a few months ago?  It turns out that 80% of migrants were young men, who left their families behind in war-torn Syria and other countries.   The outcome is not surprising.

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An article by Boyd D. Cathey contains the following, in defense of President Putin:

In support of his goals, Putin has championed Russian laws that:  (1) have practically outlawed abortion in Russia (no abortions after the 12th week, and before that time in limited cases, and also the end of financial support for abortions, reversing a previous Soviet policy); (2) clamp down on homosexuality and homosexual propaganda –absolutely no homosexual propaganda in Russian schools, no public displays of homosexuality, with legal penalties imposed for violating these laws; (3) strongly support traditional marriage, especially religious marriage, with financial aid to married couples having more than two children; (4) have established compulsory religious instruction in all Russian schools (including instruction in different Christian confessions, in different regions of the country); (4) implement a policy instituting chaplaincy in Russian military regiments (and religious institutions now assist in helping military families); (5) have made religious holidays now official Russian state holidays; (6) have instituted a nationwide program of rebuilding churches that were destroyed by the Communists (the most notable being the historic Church of Christ the Saviour in Moscow); and (7) officially support the Russian film industry in producing conservative religious and patriotic movies— interestingly, the most popular film in Russia in 2009 was the movie “Admiral,” a very favorable biopic of the leader of the White Russian counter-revolutionary, Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak, who was executed by the Communists in 1920.  The film was supported by the Russian cultural ministry.”

Since the fall of the USSR in 1991, Russia has built 26,000 new Christian churches.   As the writer points out, Russians are returning to (traditional) Christianity at the same time that Americans are turning progressively against it, embracing secular and anti-Christian values.

Thirty years after Ronald Reagan, we see a Christian Russia opposed to a post-Christian America (President Obama’s description of the country).   No wonder people are confused – the world has been turned upside down in our lifetimes!

Further evidence follows below:

jobs

MORE NEWS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED

Latest news

More than 800 police conducted raids on suspected terrorists early Thursday morning in both Sydney and Brisbane, Australia. The raids followed a plot to randomly kidnap people and then videotape their execution by beheading. Clearly, it was intended to terrorize Australians. Australia a few days ago committed 600 troops to fighting ISIS.

I can still remember when Australia had a “white Australia” policy. This was prior to the Whitlam administration coming to power in 1972. Only Europeans were allowed into Australia.

If they had kept that policy, they wouldn’t be facing domestic terrorism now! (See next two paragraphs).

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“Fresh terror busts in Australia expose a common Achilles’ heel of the West: Indiscriminate refugee policies turn free countries into breeding grounds for jihad. It’s the same game in America. Soldiers of Islam have weaponized our blind generosity against us.

“In Sydney this week, authorities detained a half-dozen Muslim plotters and arrested a top collaborator in an alleged conspiracy to kidnap and behead a random Australian citizen. The accused mastermind? Afghan refugee turned Aussie Islamic State recruiter Mohammad Ali Baryalei. He and his aristocratic family were welcomed Down Under decades ago. Baryalei returned the favor by taking to the streets of Sydney to recruit and radicalize dozens of fellow Muslim immigrants or their children.”

(“Letting in the wrong refugees,” by Michelle Malkin, Townhall, September 19th.)

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The Scots have voted “no” to independence, preferring to remain in the United Kingdom.

That does not mean things will go back to the way they were.

David Cameron promised the Scots greater devolution if they stay in the UK. These devolved powers will also apply to Wales and Northern Ireland.

The United Kingdom will be further weakened by these changes.

At the same time, other ethnic groups across Europe are now demanding their own referendum. The Catalans and Basques in Spain, the people of Flanders in Belgium, the Venetians and others are all lining up.

And I haven’t mentioned the Russian-speaking minorities in Ukraine and the Baltic republics.

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One problem highlighted by the Scottish referendum is the feeling that so many have that government is far away and really doesn’t care about them. That’s true in Great Britain but is also the case in the United States.

This is dangerous and needs to be addressed.

Last week’s Economist magazine featured a small boxed item in the US section titled “Money and Power” (page 38, 9/13/14). The article begins with the following words:

“In some countries, the best way to get rich is to go into politics. In America it is the other way round: the best way to break into politics is to be rich.”

Of greater concern is the fact that “entrepreneurs are not very common in Congress . . . Lawyers dominate” (no surprise there!) “. . . most senators and a third of House members listed that as their occupation.”

The final paragraph is the most telling and helps us understand why Washington is increasingly alienated from the people. “The most troubling thing about the list is how narrow a range of experience lawmakers draw on. Many have spent their whole lives in politics. Only one, John Delaney of Maryland, has been the boss of a publicly traded company.”

Is there any wonder they don’t understand the rest of us?

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RUSSIAN VICTORY IN UKRAINE?

“In fact, Putin has a number of things now in his favor. He knows, that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko knows that Russia can do more harm to Ukraine than the West can do to help it, since Ukraine — largely because of geography — matters more to Russia than it matters to the West. Putin knows that while Europe has implemented sanctions against Russia, those sanctions are limited by Europe’s own requirement for Russian natural gas and the degree to which Europe and Russia are enmeshed in each other’s economies. This fact is further exacerbated by Europe’s financial crisis, which further inhibits Europe from enacting truly oppressive sanctions: for sanctions, remember, are a two-way street that, once implemented, can hurt Europe as well.”

“The Long game in Eastern Europe”, Stratfor, 9/17/14, by Robert D Kaplan.

 

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75 YEARS LATER

Merkel and Putin

75 years ago today Great Britain declared war on Germany.

Two days earlier, Germany had invaded Poland and Hitler’s geopolitical ambitions had become clear.

Within months, Germany conquered other countries in Europe. Eventually, Britain stood alone in Europe against the Third Reich.

It was to be almost two years before Hitler made his fatal mistake, invading Russia.   The month before the declaration of war, the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact between the two countries’ foreign ministers had pledged non-aggression and divided up Poland. Less than two years later, in June 1941, emboldened by success elsewhere, Hitler thought he could succeed where Napoleon failed and conquer Russia. Like Napoleon, he failed.

75 years ago Germany and Russia were the two greatest powers on the continent of Europe. That remains the case today.

This time, of course, it’s Russia’s leader that is the aggressor, invading the Crimea and now trying to take eastern Ukraine. The Europeans, led by Germany, are desperately trying to get Russia to back down, so far without success. Russia’s leader shows no remorse and certainly is not ready to do a strategic rethink. This could be 1939 all over again.

As Gerard Baker put it in yesterday’s Wall St Journal: “In a letter to the rebels, Mr. Putin has resurrected the term ‘Nororossiva,’ or New Russia, the czarist-era name for modern-day Ukraine’s Russian-speaking southeast, a telling indication of his expanding objectives.”

It’s not the first time Putin has shown czarist credentials. He is frequently shown on television walking vigorously down a long corridor and through an impressive eighteenth century doorway of a czarist palace, in true czarist style.

What will surprise many is that, like the last Czar, Nicholas II, Putin is a devoted Bible reader. He even has a Bible on his private plane, the Russian equivalent of Air Force One. (Accounts of the final captivity of the Romanovs show that the Imperial Family were reading through the minor prophets before they were all assassinated.) One day after the shooting down of the Malaysian Airlines plane, Putin was shown lighting candles in an Orthodox cathedral. Was this an example of executive penance?

However, first and foremost, Putin is a Russian nationalist who once described the fall of the Soviet Union as the greatest catastrophe of the twentieth century. His recent actions in Ukraine suggest he is trying to resurrect the old Soviet Union (without communism — Putin has done quite well out of Russia’s crony capitalism!).

The question is:  will anybody try to stop him?

Could the world once again be taken by surprise by another pact between Moscow and Berlin? Putin clearly wants Ukraine for his revived Russian Empire. He would also like to see the end of NATO, a very real possibility if he can do a private deal with Germany.