Tag Archives: Recep Tayyip Erdogan

WHO CAN TRUST TRUMP’S AMERICA?

Gary Newman is a good friend of mine who attends the Milwaukee congregations of the United Church of God. Photography is his hobby, particularly taking pictures of birds in Wisconsin. The above picture is taken from his latest book of wildlife, a collection of his photographs.
Gary struggles with Parkinson’s and would appreciate your prayers.

“The pithiest summary of Donald Trump’s foreign policy comes from the president himself.   Referring to the mayhem he has uncorked in Syria, he tweeted:  “I hope they all do great, we are 7,000 miles away!”   Mr. Trump imagines he can abandon an ally in a dangerous region without serious consequences for the United States.   He is wrong.   The betrayal of the Kurds will lead friends and foes to doubt Mr. Trump’s America.   That is something both America and the world should lament . . .

“Mr. Trump campaigned on bringing troops home.   He has argued that America must rid itself of ‘endless wars.’   When he says Russia, Iran and Turkey can deal with the mess in Syria, many of his voters will agree.   After almost two decades at war, they have tired of America’s acting as the world’s policeman.   Some Democrats would like to pull troops out of the Middle East, too, including Elizabeth Warren, a leading contender to replace Mr. Trump.”   (“Who can trust Trump’s America?” – The Economist, 10/19)

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TURKEY MAY GO THE WAY OF VENEZUELA

Turkish citizens are wildly optimistic about the invasion of Syria that began Oct. 9.   President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s decision finds broad support within Turkey, including from all the major opposition parties except the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party.   The incursion is understood domestically not only as a measure to protect the country from the Kurdish forces Mr. Erdoğan calls “terrorists,” but also to affirm Turkey’s status as a power; Ankara no longer must bow to the wishes of Washington, Berlin or Moscow.

Then there’s the pessimistic view, the one I share.   The invasion damages Turkey internationally:    Western and Arab governments have condemned the military operation, as have the Russian, Iranian, Indian and Chinese governments.   Volkswagen paused a planned investment in Turkey, and other companies may follow suit. Congress is weighing economic sanctions.   Italy, France and Germany have suspended arms sales.   Tensions are heightening between Turks and Kurds in Germany, and will likely rise within Turkey as well.   (“Turkey may go the way of Venezuela,” Daniel Pipes from the Wall Sreet Journal, 10/24)

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CANADIAN ELECTION

The Canadian election has been held and leaves Justin Trudeau in charge, albeit with a minority government.   He will now have to negotiate with other parties to keep himself in power.   The following is an item from before the election.

In a Friday, October 11, 2019, sermon that was uploaded to the Muslim Youth Victoria YouTube channel, Canadian Sheikh Younus Kathrada reminded his audience that who they vote for in the upcoming Canadian elections, if they decide to vote, will be recorded by the two angels on their shoulders and that Allah will ask them on Judgment Day why they voted for “filthy non-Muslims” who approve of homosexuality.   Sheikh Kathrada said that all of the candidates are “evil and filthy” people who support the Zionists against Islam and who do not have Muslims’ best interests in mind. He added that this is consistent with the Quranic statement that the Jews and the Christians will never be pleased with the Muslims. (MEMRI 10/16)

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DRAGHI BOWS OUT AT ECB WITH WARNING ON EUROZONE WEAKNESS
Mario Draghi blames slowing global economy, Brexit uncertainty and recession fears in Germany

Speaking in Frankfurt after his final ECB policy meeting before stepping down, Draghi said the ECB was concerned that the economy of the 19-member currency bloc, which has slowed this year along with much of the global economy, faced “protracted weakness” going into 2020.

With consumer and business confidence low and trade with the US hit by Donald Trump’s latest raft of import tariffs, risks were all “to the downside,” said the Italian economist, who will be succeeded on 1 November by former International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde.

German companies were the worst affected, with employment in Europe’s largest economy falling for the first time in six years according to a closely watched business survey.   After 14 months of falling new orders from abroad and a steep drop in sales across the manufacturing sector in October, the German economy’s slide to the brink of recession appeared to be continuing unabated.   (Guardian * 24 Oct 2019)

(https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/oct/24/germany-eurozone-stagnation-economy-output-recession)

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TO THE POINT

  • The search for the perfect impeachable offense against President Trump is reminiscent of overzealous prosecutors who target the defendant first and then search for the crime with which to charge him.   Or to paraphrase the former head of the Soviet secret police to Stalin:   show me the man and I will find you the crime.   (“Impeachers searching for new crimes,” Adam Dershowitz, Gatestone, 10/24)
  • If, according to Hamas, Turkey has the right to protect its border, why does Israel not have the same right?   (“Why Hamas supports Erdogan’s War,” Gatestone, 10/22)
  • With only a few days to go until Brexit, scheduled for October 31st, it seems doubtful it can go ahead.   The British parliament has made it virtually impossible for Boris Johnson to leave.   The EU, however, is clearly growing tired of this and has granted an extension of undetermined length (to be decided next week). Clearly, this is the last extension they will grant.   EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker described the whole Brexit process as “a waste of time and energy.”   What has become clear through the whole Brexit process is that the EU is in charge and Britain plays the subservient role.   This is Britain’s national humiliation.   It is also clear that it is impossible to negotiate a deal with the EU, as the former Greek finance minister warned, as they won’t budge an inch.   Donald Trump should remember this when negotiations begin for a new trade deal with Europe – it’s their way or no way!
  • The deaths of 39 people in a lorry (truck) just outside of London shows that people traffickers are still very active.   The people found inside were Orientals.   Only one has been identified, a young lady from Vietnam who was a human rights activist.   She had texted her mother from inside the truck saying she was finding it hard to breathe.   The Chinese government is blaming the British for this.   In one way, this is correct.   If Britain’s welfare system was not so generous, many people would be less inclined to go there.   An immediate solution that would improve the situation would be to deny welfare and healthcare to immigrants unless they have worked there for five years.     It’s an unlikely solution as neither branch of government (healthcare is government controlled) is set up to manage such a system.   So expect more people smugglers.   And, realize, for every truck found, there’s probably 20 or 30 get through and unload their passengers with no problems.   Revelation 18:13 warned that the end-time economic system would see a great trade in human beings:    “The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thy wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men.” (NKJV)
  • Human trafficking is now the world’s biggest trade, and is far more profitable than drugs.   People pay approximately 30,000 pounds ($39,000) to be “smuggled” from China through Belgium to England.   One other thing needs to be said:   these people cross at least a dozen countries to get to England.   Anti-Brexit propaganda says the British economy will collapse when the UK exits the EU.   Obviously, these people have far more confidence in the future of the British economy that the Remainers have!

Had a great time in the Dells.   My wife has a pain in her right leg (which has just been diagnosed as a Baker’s cyst), making it very difficult to walk.   And I’ve had the flu since we got back.

KURDS ‘STABBED IN BACK’ BY US

The SDF was Washington’s main ally in Syria in the fight against ISIL [File: Maya Alleruzzo/AP Photo]
The US President Donald Trump has announced that an ally of the United States, Turkey, may attack and invade another ally, the Kurds, who fought with the US against ISIS.

Kurds warn Turkish offensive will bring ‘chaos once again’

Several of Donald Trump’s most loyal Republican allies have turned on him over his decision to pull US troops out of north-eastern Syria. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said the withdrawal would benefit Russia and Iran, while Senator Lindsey Graham – usually an outspoken defender of the president – warned that abandoning the Kurds in the region to allow a Turkish military offensive would be “a stain on America’s honor.”

War zone — Turkish forces are already massing near the border with north-eastern Syria as US troops withdraw.  A spokesperson for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said the area would soon “turn into a war zone.”

Civilian suffering — Trump’s rash decision opens the way for a vicious struggle between the Kurds and Turkey’s military, says Simon Tisdall, who warns of war crimes and fresh civilian suffering ahead.   (The Guardian, 10/8)

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PARIS POLICE KILLED BY ISLAMIST

The knife attacker who killed four of his colleagues at Paris police headquarters this week showed signs of radicalization and appears to have planned his assault, French authorities said on Saturday. France’s anti-terror prosecutor said several witnesses had said the attacker — a 45-year-old IT professional who had been working at the Intelligence Directorate of the Paris Police Headquarters since 2003 — had adhered to “a radical vision of Islam.”   He had converted to the religion about 10 years ago.   On Thursday he killed four of his colleagues in an attack that lasted less than 10 minutes in the centre of Paris near Notre-Dame cathedral before being shot dead by an armed officer.

The anti-terror prosecutor took over the investigation on Friday after police examined the attacker’s mobile phone and questioned his associates, including his wife.   On the morning of the attack, said the prosecutor at a press conference, the perpetrator had exchanged 33 text messages with his wife and all of a religious nature, ending with the phrase “Allahu akbar [God is great]”.   He sent the messages 30 minutes before he bought the knives used in the attack.

The prosecutor said that the attacker had probably had contacts with members of the Salafist movement, a radical form of Islam, adding that the investigations had revealed his “approval for certain atrocities committed in the name of that religion,” including the deadly assault in 2015 against satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and that he had changed his manner of dress over the past few months.

According to French media the attacker’s wife has described how he had begun hearing voices the night before the attack.   Over the past four years Paris has been hit by numerous large-scale and deadly attacks, including at the Bataclan theatre in November 2015 when extremists killed 130 people in the deadliest Islamist terror attack to strike France.  (Paris police attacker showed signs of radicalization, David Keohane, Financial Times, 10/5).

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Israel and Gulf states working on ‘historic pact’ to end conflict between them (Times of Israel * 5 Oct 2019)

Israel is reportedly negotiating with several Gulf states on a “non-aggression pact” between them as they face off against an increasingly emboldened Iran.   The deal, which Channel 12 news described as potentially “historic,” aims to put an end to the state of conflict between the Gulf states and Israel, and reportedly provides for friendly relations, cooperation in a variety of fields, and no war or incitement against each other.

Advancing the Israeli initiative, Foreign Minister Israel Katz met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last month with several foreign ministers from Arab Gulf states, Channel 12 news reported Saturday night.   There was no immediate comment from the Foreign Ministry..   (https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-and-gulf-states-said-working-on-non-aggression-pact-as-they-face-iran/)

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Former MidEast envoy:   ‘anti-Iran alliance crumbling’
Times of Israel * 5 Oct 2019

Sensing US reluctance to respond forcefully to Iranian aggression in the region, and following the devastating September attack on its oil facilities blamed on Tehran, Saudi Arabia is quietly moving toward possible rapprochement with the Islamic Republic, according to multiple media reports.    The New York Times reported Friday that the Trump administration’s failure to react militarily to the September 14 missile and drone attack on Saudi oil facilities, which jolted global oil prices and temporarily knocked out nearly 6 percent of the world’s daily crude production, had led Riyadh to recalculate.

“The worst outcome for the Saudis is to move to a confrontation with Iran expecting the US to support them and find out they won’t,” Philip Gordon, a former White House Middle East coordinator, told the Times.   “This administration has shown it’s not really ready to take on Iran.”   . . . Saudi Arabia gave a “positive” response Friday to a truce offer from the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen and called for its implementation.   Saeed Shariati, a political analyst in Tehran, told the New York Times:   “We have reached the peak of Saudi-Iran tensions and both sides have concluded this balance of fear is detrimental to their interests.” (https://www.timesofisrael.com/saudis-said-moving-toward-detente-with-iran-amid-us-reluctance-to-act-militarily/)

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CHINESE LOANS TO FINANCE NEW ZIMBABWE CAPITAL IN POVERTY STRICKEN NATION

China has sunk her dragon claws deeper into Zimbabwe’s social, political and economic bone marrow by reportedly acquiring vast tracks of land in Mount Hampden, the new capital city of the country, thus effectively buying and owning it for a song, well before construction is even completed, Spotlight Zimbabwe, has been told.

Diplomatic and high level government sources at the ministry of lands, agriculture, and rural resettlement this week said Beijing had also struck a deal to provide the more than US$20 billion needed by government to develop the city, which is expected to house a new reserve bank, parliament building, international airport, government departments, presidential palace, shopping malls, five new opulent residential suburbs, and industrial sites.

Other features of the new city include a university, technology centre, schools, churches, hospitals, and official residences for the speaker of parliament and senate president. (Cynthia Goba, Zimbabwe News, 10/4)

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ISRAELI MAJORITY WANT MORE SECULAR STATE

A new survey by Hiddush, an Israeli organization that supports religious pluralism, shows that 57 percent of the Jewish Israeli electorate does not want the incoming governing coalition to include or depend on parties that are Charedi Orthodox, commonly referred to as ultra-Orthodox in the United States.  That 57 percent majority also wants the coalition to support religious freedom in Israel.

Thirty-four percent of Israeli Jews disagree:   They want the Orthodox parties in the coalition and are happy with current government policy, which gives Orthodox Judaism significant influence over Israeli law.   Charedi parties have been part of the Israeli government since 2015 and have sat in a series of coalitions throughout Israel’s history.

The survey’s finding is significant because some of the harshest rhetoric ahead of the election centered on religious issues.   Secular parties accused Orthodox parties of wanting to establish a theocracy in Israel.   Orthodox parties claimed that secular parties wanted to deprive Israel of its religious character.   The only reason for the election last week — Israel’s second in a year — was an intractable conflict between Orthodox and secular parties after the previous election in April.

Nearly all of those who voted for Blue and White, the centrist party led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid opposing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, want a secular governing coalition.   Most voters for Netanyahu’s Likud Party (56 percent) support a coalition with Orthodox parties, while 44 percent favor a secular coalition. (https://jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/israelis-want-a-more-secular-ruling-coalition/)

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IRAN MOVES NEARER TO ISRAEL

Israel is fighting off Iranian expansion across the Middle East, but danger for the Jewish state lurks near its own borders.   Painstaking work by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and their loyal proxies has succeeded in laying the groundwork for a second Iranian front with Israel in the Golan Heights.

The first front is to Israel’s north in South Lebanon.   The Golan, which Israel won from Syria in 1967, lies further east.   Though Israel rules the skies, the Syrian land adjoining Israel’s border appears increasingly to belong to Iran.  (Jonathan Spyer, Wall Street Journal, 10/2)

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THREE MUSLIM LEADERS TO START TV NEWS CHANNEL

A leader of a country that has the death penalty for “blasphemy,” a leader who says he is a proud antisemite and a leader who threatens to invade foreign countries have united to push for a TV channel that will “fight Islamophobia.”   Pakistan’s Imran Khan, Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad, and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan met to propose a “BBC type English language TV Channel” that will “highlight Muslim issues,” Imran Khan said.

Khan tweeted that he met with his two counterparts on September 25 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.   The three decided to “jointly start an English language channel dedicated to confronting the challenges posed by Islamophobia and setting the record strait on our great religion.”   It’s unclear when he says “our” great religion if he means including other Muslim groups, such as Shi’ites or Ahmadis, both of which are routinely the victims of attacks in Pakistan.   Khan again tweeted about his meeting on September 30, claiming that this channel would be a “BBC type.” (Seth Frantzmann, MEF, 10/1)

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Israeli Security Cabinet to meet for first time in months, amid warnings of Iran threat.                                                                                    Security cabinet to convene Sunday as Liberman urges PM, Gantz to agree on unity, citing ‘national emergency’ and evoking Yom Kippur War; Islamic Jihad holds Gaza rally   (Times of Israel * 5 Oct 2019)

Members of the top forum will meet at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem in the afternoon.   In recent days Hebrew media has on several occasions quoted unnamed security officials as warning of the rising threat of an attack orchestrated by Iran.   The Blue and White party’s Gabi Ashkenazi, newly appointed head of the Knesset’s powerful Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, also spoke Thursday of “many challenges in the security realm, some known to all and some that are only discussed behind closed doors.” Liberman noted in a Facebook post that the country on Sunday will mark 46 years since the Yom Kippur War, the most traumatic conflict in the nation’s history and one in which the country was caught off guard by its enemies, and said it was imperative to remember its legacy “of leadership and love of country.”

Meanwhile, the Islamic Jihad terror group on Saturday marked 32 years since its establishment, holding a rally in the Gaza Strip in which it showed off what it said was a new type of rocket. (https://www.timesofisrael.com/security-cabinet-to-meet-for-first-time-in-months-amid-warnings-of-iran-threat/)

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CATHOLIC CHURCH TO ORDAIN MARIED PRIESTS?

VATICAN CITY— Pope Francis formally opened a meeting of bishops that will debate whether the Catholic Church should loosen its 1,000-year-old requirement of celibacy for priests.

The potentially momentous debate pits those who say ordaining married men could relieve the church’s clergy shortage against those who warn that doing so would undermine the distinctive character of the priesthood.

In his homily on Sunday, at Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope didn’t refer specifically to the celibacy debate, but called generally for innovation in the church’s ministry:   “If everything continues as it was, if we spend our days content that ‘this is the way things have always been done,’ then the gift vanishes, smothered by the ashes of fear and concern for defending the status quo.”   (“Pope opens debate on celibacy requirement for Catholic priests,” Francis X. Rocca, Wall Street Journal, 10/6)

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SCANDINAVIAN CRIME BOOSTED BY IMMIGRANTS

  • “Most immigrants are not criminals, but when the immigrant population is overrepresented in almost every crime category, then there is a problem that we must dare to talk about.” — Jon Helgheim, immigration policy spokesman for the Norwegian party Fremskrittspartiet (FrP).
  • “In the more than thirty years that the surveys cover, one tendency is clearer than all others, namely that the proportion of the total amount of crimes committed by persons with a foreign background is steadily increasing….” — Det Goda Samhället (“The Good Society”), Invandring och brottslighet – ett trettioårsperspektiv (“Immigration and crime – a thirty-year perspective”).   All statistics for the report were supplied by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention.
  • Unless Scandinavian political leaders begin actively to engage with the facts that these statistics describe, the problems are only going to become more intractable — to the point where they may be entirely unsolvable.   (Judith Bergman, Gatestone, 10/4)

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Why some Albertans want to separate from Canada                              by Robin Levinson-King,  BBC News, Calgary, Alberta, 4 Oct 2019

Today, Albertans’ common concerns can be summarized with three words: representation, equalization and oil.    Peter Downing, “a right-wing political muckraker” is hoping to spin this feeling of economic betrayal into a viable political movement, with the creation of Wexit Alberta.

The group is campaigning for the western province to separate from Canada and form its own nation (possibly alongside another western province).   It’s an old idea that has gained momentum as relations between Alberta and the rest of the country have deteriorated.

Many Albertans blame Mr. Trudeau’s policies for this turn of events, and Mr. Cooper, the Albertan political scientist who is also a separatist, says he is certain that if Mr. Trudeau is re-elected, Albertan separation will soon follow.       (Extracts from:  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49899113)

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TO THE POINT

  • “The China of Xi Jinping boasts land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers that provide a strategic deterrent against the United States.   Beijing’s conventional forces on land, sea, and in air and space rival any on earth.”   (Pat Buchanan, 10/4)
  • Nasr Al-Din Mufreh, Sudan’s Minister of Religious Affairs, said in a September 7, 2019 interview on Al-Arabiya Network (Saudi Arabia) that Sudan is pluralistic in its views, values, cultures, ideologies, Islamic schools of thought, and religions, and he called upon Jewish minorities that may have left Sudan to reclaim their Sudanese citizenship and return to the country, which he pointed out is now ruled by secular law.   On a same-day interview on Sudania 24 TV, Sudanese writer Haidar Al-Mukashafi said that the Jewish presence in Sudan dates back over a century, and he said that this may be evidenced by a rumor in the Sudanese city of Merow that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was born and raised in Sudan.   Al-Mukashafi said that Jews and other minorities may return to Sudan if reforms take place and if there are incentives to do so.   (MEMRI, 9/19)
  • Fatemeh Azad, a 58-year-old Muslim woman who had converted to Christianity against her Muslim husband’s will and fled to Germany, was denied asylum there and deported back to Iran. There she was immediately arrested by authorities waiting for her plane to land . . .   “When Fatemeh made her asylum appeal, her lawyers argued that apostasy (conversion away from Islam) is punishable by the death penalty in Iran.”   This, however, was insufficient for Germany . . . — Persecution.org; July 25, 2019. (Gatestone 9/22)
  • Prince Harry’s decision to take British newspapers to court may backfire on him.   The British Royal family has always maintained a policy of “no comment” on newspaper articles about them. After all, if you deny some, you are, effectively, admitting that others are true.   At the same time, royals have a symbiotic relationship with the press – they can’t live without all the publicity and the press can’t live without the royals, who provide lots of news that people are interested in.   Suing the papers may end that relationship.   If the papers back away from the royals, that could mean no publicity, life-blood of the monarchy.
  • SWEDISH KING KICKS GRANDCHILDREN OUT OF ROYAL HOUSE . . . AND CHARLES WANTS THE SAME (headline in Daily Express, 10/7).   “The five children lose the status of royal highness and are not expected to perform official duties.”  (BBC)
  • The death of a 19-year-old British man, killed on his motorbike by a lady driving on the wrong side of the road, is clear cut.   It was an accident, but some appropriate punishment must be found. However, the motorist, a 42-year-old mother, fled to the US to avoid a court case.   This was made possible by the fact that she has diplomatic immunity.   We understand that there must be laws on diplomatic immunity, but for traffic accidents like this? She will hardly face the death penalty if she goes back for a trial.   And the family needs some sort of closure after losing a son to an American lady who got confused and drove on the right (wrong) side of the road!   (Diplomatic immunity even helps diplomats avoid traffic fines and cost the UK taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds per year.)
  • The deaths of six elephants in Thailand was a tragic accident.   A baby in the herd fell down a waterfall.   The other five died trying to rescue her.   This kind of behavior is typical of elephants who are very caring of each other.
  • I will not be posting a blog next week.

 

 

 

BRITAIN’S NATIONAL HUMILIATION

Prime Minister Theresa May arrived outside the chancellery earlier than scheduled with the German chancellor nowhere to be seen to welcome her.
Prime Minister Theresa May arrived outside the chancellery earlier than scheduled with the German chancellor nowhere to be seen to welcome her.

As if to emphasize her growing isolation, Mrs. Theresa May stood at the Berlin chancellory alone.   Her flight arrived early and Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, was a little late.

She started her week with a visit to Berlin and Paris, to meet German and French leaders.   Her purpose was to ask for a second extension to Brexit, due on Friday, April 12th.    The French president seemed reluctant to support her request, but is now supportive.   Her biggest problem is going to be back home.

It’s not just the Queen who must be frustrated with parliament (see picture above), Mrs. May is presiding over the most divided parliament in living memory.

A friend of mine wrote from the UK:   “What a shambles!  The worst Prime Minister since Chamberlain, the most dysfunctional Parliament since Cromwell, the worst leader of the Labour Party ever, plus a rogue Commons Speaker.   A recipe for a ‘perfect storm’.”

“Britain’s new departure date was set for October 31 in what was the EU’s second approval of an extension in less than a month.   The UK will be able to leave earlier if it is able to ratify the withdrawal agreement reached between Mrs. May and the EU.   The humiliating decision for Mrs. May leaves Britain facing elections within six weeks to the European Parliament.   It will heap pressure on the prime minister from Eurosceptic Conservative MPs furious with her leadership and the postponement of Brexit.”  (“EU leaders agree to six month Brexit delay.” Financial Times, 4.11)

A scripture that comes to mind through all this is:   “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.”   (Matthew 12:25).

The country has never been so divided.

It seems as if Britain is incapable of standing up for herself.

The Daily Telegraph reports today that the fixation on a deal is not so much Mrs. May, but senior non-elected advisers in the government, who cannot imagine laving the EU without an agreement that binds the UK to it.   The “deep state” in the UK is just as dangerous as it is in the US.

“Groveling Britain has officially surrendered to a triumphant EU,” wrote Andrew Lilico, in today’s Daily Telegraph (4/11).

“Theresa May will soon learn the terms of her latest Brexit extension, which Emmanuel Macron wants to make as punishing as possible.   Why so?   He’s in deep trouble at home, says Jonathan Miller, and thinks a bit of Brit-bashing will help.”   (Fraser Nelson, The Spectator, 4/11/19).

“Brexit rolls on for another six months.   Just after the stroke of midnight, EU27 leaders gave the UK a new Brexit fright night: October 31 (Halloween).“   (Mehreen Khan, Financial Times 4/11)

President Trump has warned the “brutal” EU that “it will all come back to bite you.”    Mr. Trump has his own problems with the EU and is threatening $11 billion in tariffs on EU products.   He may be surprised at how hard the EU can hit back!

LEGACY OF EU MEMBERSHIP

When Britain entered the EU in January 1973 (at the time it was the EEC – the European Economic Community), there were only six members (Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Luxemburg). Today there are 28 (27 without Britain).   It is doubtful many of the others would have joined if the UK had not signed up.

Additionally, Britain has been a net contributor, helping new (and poorer) members to grow economically.   Britain has been at the forefront of creating an economic superpower.   She is leaving at a time when the EU is strengthening ties, with the creation of a military union.  In effect, Britain has created a (potentially) European military and political superpower, right on her doorstep.

At the same time, Britain handed over many of her former colonies, who signed up to the ACP Lome Convention. African, Caribbean and Pacific nations, tied themselves to the EU.

It’s difficult to see how Britain can recover from her EU membership, but the sooner she is out, the sooner she can make a start.

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BREXIT’S IMPACT ON GERMANY

(Own report) – Germany’s Minister of the Economy, Peter Altmaier, warns of the consequences a “hard” Brexit would have on Germany, and sees the danger of the loss of “thousands of jobs.”   Brussels and London must absolutely “prevent the big crash at the last moment,” declared Altmaier yesterday.   The Federation of German Industries (BDI) had already warned that a hard Brexit could cost Germany a half-percentage point in growth – €17 billion this year alone.   For months, think tanks have been pointing out that Germany would be the country most affected on the continent, if the United Kingdom makes an unregulated exit.   Germany possibly may have to expect double-digit billions in annual losses.   Most recently, the Bertelsmann Foundation assumed that the losses could be broken down to €115 per inhabitant of Germany.   Those losses are looming at a time, when the German economy is in danger of slipping into a recession.   Berlin and Brussels could prevent a hard Brexit by setting a time limit on the “backstop,” however, they are still hoping for a second referendum – and upping the ante.  (German Foreign Policy, 4/4)

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TRUMP ON THE EU

“Europe’s leaders have never felt more alone.   Across the ocean, President Donald Trump has called the E.U. “a foe” of America, stalled a transatlantic trade deal while repeatedly threatening tariffs on European goods, and lashed out at NATO, the West’s cherished postwar project.”   (Time)

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MIDEAST CONFLICT WIDENS

  • “The Yemeni revolution will not be confined to Yemen alone.   It will extend, following its success, into Saudi territories.” — Iranian Lawmaker Ali Reza Zakani, trusted adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
  • “If the Shia rebels gain control of the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, Iran can attain a foothold in this sensitive region giving access to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, a cause of concern not only for its sworn rivals Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf states, but also for Israel and European countries along the Mediterranean.” — IDF Lt.-Col. (Ret.) Michael Segall

(“Is Iran winning in Yemen?” – Soeren Kern, Gatestone Institute, 4/11/19)

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NETANYAHU VICTORY – LONGEST SERVING ISRAEL PM

Prime Minister Benjamin Ntanyahu has won a record fifth term as Israel’s prime minister, in spite of corruption charges laid against him.

Victory for the conservative prime minister is another sign that the “left” in Israel has effectively ceased to exist.   His primary opponent, Benny Gantz, was also conservative and hawkish on defense.   He came in a close second.

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HAGIA SOPHIA TO BE CONVERTED INTO A MOSQUE

Addressing a rally ahead of the March 31 municipal elections in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced plans to convert the Hagia Sophia museum, originally a Byzantine cathedral, into a mosque.

Erdogan repeated this statement the following day during a televised interview.   “Hagia Sophia will no longer be called a museum,” he declared.   “Its status will change.   We will call it a mosque.”   (Gatestone, 4/7)

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THE POPE AND WALLS

“I appeal not to create walls but to build bridges” has long been Pope Francis’s mantra.

Most recently, when asked last Sunday “a question about migration in general and about U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to shut down the southern border with Mexico,” the pope pontificated in platitudes:   “Builders of walls,” he said, “be they made of razor wire or bricks, will end up becoming prisoners of the walls they build . . . With fear, we will not move forward, with walls, we will remain closed within these walls.”

Less than a week earlier, Pope Francis lectured the mayor of Rome about the need to be more welcoming to Muslim migrants.   “Rome,” he declared, “a hospitable city, is called to face this epochal challenge [Muslim migrants demanding entry] in the wake of its noble history; to use its energies to welcome and integrate, to transform tensions and problems into opportunities for meeting and growth.”

“Rome,” he exulted, “city of bridges, never walls!”

The grand irony of all this is that Pope Francis lives in the only state to be surrounded by walls—Vatican City—and most of these bastions were erected to ward off centuries of Islamic invasions.”   (“A lesson for Pope Francis on walls and Muslims,” by Raymond Ibrahim, Middle East Forum, 4/2).

 

 

 

 

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

NEW EUROPEAN ORDER TAKING SHAPE

Getty

The French election on Sunday went as expected, with a victory for Emmanuel Macron, a centrist with no real political experience.

A few days before the election, his opponent, the very conservative Marine LePen, said that one week later France would have a female leader, either Ms. LePen or Germany’s Angela Merkel.   As if to prove the point, Mr. Macron’s first promise, to issue joint Eurobonds, was quickly over-ruled by Germany’s leader.   Germans are far more frugal than most other nations – the idea of issuing joint bonds with France is not going to come to fruition.

Macron is a very successful investment banker, with considerable personal wealth.   He is likely to be successful in moving France’s economy forward.   He will certainly be an improvement over his socialist predecessor who is leaving office with a 4% approval rating. But he is not likely to solve France’s immigration problem or the connected problem of domestic terrorism. In fact, he doesn’t even seem to see these two problems.

The movement that brought him to power (En Marche – “On the move”) is only now starting to form a political party, with only a few days before the elections for the French parliament.   It is quite conceivable that Ms. LePen’s National Front could dominate parliament and give M. Macron a hard time.   M. Macron hasn’t started yet, while Ms. LePen certainly isn’t finished.

Macron has also been speaking out against Brexit, describing it as a “crime.”   That shows little respect for British democracy.   A French lawyer is also trying to get Brexit cancelled on the grounds that the referendum was “illegal” – in effect, both men are saying that no matter how bad Europe is, you have to stay in it!   The EU’s dictatorial nature is becoming more and more apparent.

It is also increasingly clear that every nation in Europe has to bow to Berlin.   Note the following:

Macron to hold talks with Merkel in Berlin on first day of new job  Oliver Gee * oliver.gee@thelocal.com , 12 May 2017,  The Local

Emmanuel Macron will head to Berlin on Monday – the day after he is inaugurated as the new president of France – to hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The German leader had welcomed Macron’s win in France, saying he “carries the hopes of millions of French people and also many in Germany and across Europe.”

The 39-year-old had stressed his “common ground” with the German chancellor on economic reform, fiscal discipline and Europe’s future.   The former economy minister had also wanted to strengthen ties with Germany.   The symbolism of Macron meeting Merkel on his first full day as president won’t be lost on the far right Marine Le Pen who had criticized Macron for being pro-EU and said if he won then France will remain under Merkel’s rule.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Thursday underlined common ground with Macron in Germany and France’s bid to bolster the European Union, which has been buffeted by Britain’s decision to quit the bloc.

Schaeuble said both he and Macron are in favor of creating a parliament for the 19-country eurozone.   “A eurozone parliament could be set up, made up of European parliamentarians, which would have consultative powers” for moving forward the European Stability Mechanism (ESM),” Schaeuble said.  (https://www.thelocal.de/20170512/macron-to-meet-merkel-in-berlin-on-first-day-of-new-job)

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Germany’s growing ties to Turkey are highlighted below.   It brings back memories of the alliance between Germany and Turkey forged immediately prior to World War One.   Germany seems to be replacing the US as Turkey’s chief ally – a situation that will receive a further boost now that the US is supplying arms to the Kurds in the war against ISIS.   Turkey has its own problem with the Kurds and does not want them to receive arms.

Germany is negotiating new arms deals with Turkey                    German-Foreign-Policy.com newsletter , 11 May 2017

BERLIN / ANKARA (Own report) – The German government is negotiating new German-Turkish arms deals, as was confirmed by the German Ministry of Economics.   Brigitte Zypries (SPD), Minister of the Economy, spoke with the CEO of Rheinmetall weapons manufacturer about upgrading the Turkish Leopard battle tank.  “In principle,” such deals with NATO partners “can not to be restricted,” according to Berlin.   The German government is also seeking to re-invigorate German-Turkish economic cooperation, to strengthen bilateral relations.  Germany does not want to lose Turkey as a “bridge” connecting Germany and the EU to the Middle East.   Under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Ankara is not only strengthening the country’s economy and, in the long run, making it one of the world’s top ten economies (“Vision 2023”), he is also planning to transform the country into an independent regional power, forming alliances as it chooses – no longer dependent on the western states.

The reorientation of its foreign policy is accompanied by the country’s transformation into a presidential dictatorship.

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AUSTRIAN ELECTION LIKELY

Following the resignation of the OVP party leader from the governing coalition, another election in Austria is likely.   This time, the right wing People’s Party is doing well in the polls, which show they have more than 30% of the population behind them.   The party, like other right-wing parties in Europe, is against Islamization and the arrival of millions of Muslim immigrants.

With the French and Dutch elections, we saw that European countries are out of line with the US and Britain.

We also see the remaining 27 countries of the EU sticking together – it’s increasingly unlikely that any other nations will break away, especially as the EU seems determined to punish the UK for leaving the organization.

Thirdly, a clearer picture is emerging of Berlin’s role as the leader in Europe.

Europe now is a German led super power, with a greater economic role than the US and with the potential to play a much bigger military role.

 

 

 

 

“BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH”

One hundred years ago, on this day, March 15th, the “ides of March,” Czar Nicholas II of Russia, under pressure, abdicated, ending the dynasty that had ruled Russia since 1613.   The end result was not the liberal democracy that many hoped for, but, rather, seventy years of communism, a period far worse than anything under the czars. When the czar abdicated, nobody could have foreseen the ultimate outcome. The czar himself brought attention to the fact that the day was the “ides of March,” the day Julius Caesar was assassinated, changing the course of Roman history, ending the Roman Republic, replacing it with the Roman Empire.   The term became popular through Shakespeare’s famous play, “Julius Cesar.”

Today, March 15th, The Netherlands is voting for a new government. It’s the first time ever that Holland has received this much media attention.   Once again, an uncertain future awaits the country and the European Union; that is, if Geert Wilder’s ‘Party for Freedom’ makes significant gains and goes on to form a government.   Mr. Wilders has been labeled Holland’s Donald Trump.   He’s a populist, who wants to restore his country to what it was, ending the multiculturalism that has fundamentally changed the country.   In addition, he wants to leave the EU.   He also wants to ban the Koran and Islamic schools and has called for the closure of all mosques; and end the wearing of burqas and hijabs, requiring people to wear western style clothing.

The election result is likely to have a profound effect on France and Germany who hold elections later this year.   If a populist government comes to power in the Netherlands, then, maybe populism will see gains in the two biggest European countries, France and Germany.   This could make 2017 as significant a year as 1989 and 1848 in European history.   Change is in the air.   But, as with Russia a century ago, the future of change is unpredictable.   Sweeping populism may sweep away the European Union, but what will replace it?   Will liberal social democracy be replaced by more nationalistic forms of government?   Could a swing to the right in the Netherlands lead to similar swings elsewhere on the continent?   The European Union, which turns 60 in ten days, may have to go back to the drawing board.

It’s not just the election that is making news in Holland.   For over four centuries the Dutch, once a great maritime power, have had a peace treaty with Turkey.   But now, the two NATO members are going through a verbal conflict that could easily get out of hand.   The basic problem is immigration.   Millions of Turks live in Holland, Germany and other EU countries.   The Turkish president wants to send members of his government to speak to these Turkish citizens, so that they will vote for Mr, Erdogan in a referendum that will grant the president more powers.   Naturally, Holland does not want the Turkish election to be conducted in Holland.   Allowing Ankara to do so would expose the lie that Muslims are assimilated and are, in fact, Dutch.   They are not, identifying primarily with their own religion and culture, not with that of the host country.

A Turkish government minister was not allowed to address a rally in Holland.   Consequently, relations have been negatively affected.

The Netherlands isn’t the only European country that’s hitting the headlines internationally.   The United Kingdom is also in the news.

It’s taken nine months for the groundwork to be laid for Britain to activate Article 50 and apply to leave the European Union.   It’s been a rocky road, with members of Britain’s ruling elite doing everything possible to undermine the will of the people, expressed in June’s Brexit vote.    The unelected House of Lords was the final hurdle.

As if invoking Article 50 is not difficult enough, Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party picked the same time to demand another referendum.

This time, she believes the Scots will vote to leave the United Kingdom as the majority of Scots voted to remain in the European Union.

In effect, what Ms. Sturgeon wants is to replace English domination with German domination.   Ignorant of history (except possibly watching “Braveheart” over and over again!), Ms. Sturgeon has no problem replacing London with Berlin.

When the UK completes its negotiations with the EU settling Brexit terms, Ms. Sturgeon’s Scotland will have to act quickly and apply to use the euro.  It will also need massive amounts of aid as Scotland has needed English financial support ever since it voted to join the union with England, over three centuries ago.

Scottish loyalists will have to get used to shopping with a new currency  – and won’t even be able to stay home and watch the BBC!

 

 

POPE’S VISIT TO ISTANBUL

Pope in Turkey

What’s behind the Pope’s visit to Istanbul?

It should always be remembered that the Vatican is a country, with its own king, the Pope.   Historically, Vatican meddling in secular affairs has contributed greatly to human conflict. This is particularly true when it comes to the historic struggle between Islam and Christendom.   Popes have been instrumental in leading the West against Islam.

Pope Francis’ visit to Istanbul can hardly be described as pastoral, as there are only 35,000 Catholics in Turkey.   It’s therefore safe to assume the visit was political. What did the pope have in mind?

This visit was the fourth time a pope has visited Turkey. The first was Pope Paul VI in 1967. He caused quite an upset when he prayed in the Hagia Sophia, the sixth century church built by the Emperor Justinian. When Istanbul (then called Constantinople) fell to the Muslim Turks in 1453, the church was turned into a mosque. Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Repubic, turned it into a secular museum 80 years ago.   Pope Francis was careful not to pray in the 1,500-year-old building, not wishing to provoke Muslim sensibilities.

The visit was intended to improve relations, firstly between the primary leader of Christendom and his equal, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, the 270th person to hold the title. Both churches go back a long way.   The historic schism between the two occurred almost a thousand years ago, in 1054.   Threatened by secularism and Islamic extremism, both leaders talk about unity, but, after a millennium, it’s not likely to happen.   This does not, however, mean they cannot work together.

The pope is also interested in establishing closer relationships with the Islamic world. Unlike the Orthodox Church, there is no primary leader in Islam, but the pope is concerned about the worsening situation in the Middle East. A century ago, most of the countries that are in turmoil today were ruled from Istanbul as regions of the Ottoman Empire, the same Turkish Empire that conquered Constantinople in the fifteenth century. Istanbul was, therefore, a good place to start to reach some sort of rapprochement with Islam.

The pope called on Islamic countries to roundly condemn ISIS and to protect religious minorities in their midst. The whole region has witnessed a great deal of persecution of Christians in recent decades, after centuries of fairly peaceful relations between the two major religions.

With the persecutions in mind, the pope should have asked the religiously conservative leader of Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, what happened to the Christians after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. The official answer is that their conqueror, Mehmed I, generously gave them the freedom to practice their religion, as evidenced by the presence of a small community today. Only 1% of the country now is Christian. One thousand years ago, almost all the people were Christians. I asked this question a number of times during a visit to Turkey but never got a truthful answer.   History shows that while some fled to Italy (and contributed to the Renaissance), most were killed, sold into slavery or forced to convert.

It’s what we can all expect if ISIS defeats the West.

Is the papacy once again going to lead the West against resurgent Islam?