President Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May have just made their biggest mistake.
The American president received Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House last week. At a press conference, he clearly made the German chancellor uncomfortable when he publicly called for Germany to bring its military budget up to the full 2% of GNP agreed on by NATO. This would raise military spending from 37 billion euros a year to 60 billion. It would also restore German military might.
Across the ocean, Mrs. May is seeking closer military ties to Germany at the same time as pursuing Brexit. The idea is to keep Germany close. It would also contribute to restoring German military might.
British war time leader Sir Winston Churchill promised at the end of World War II that Germany would never rise again; 45 years later British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher opposed German reunification following the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Attitudes change. It’s now over seventy years since the fall of the Third Reich. Today’s leaders see Germany as a model democracy and think it will always be that way.
Mrs. May has other things on her mind right now. A terrorist attack on Westminster Bridge on Wednesday afternoon left 5 dead, including the terrorist and an unarmed policeman; also 29 hospitalised, seven of them critically. The terrorist was known to the police as a “radical Islamist.” No surprise, there.
As the terrorist was “British born,” the implication is that somehow it’s Britain’s fault and that more can be done (costing more, of course) to avoid such incidents in the future.
What will not be considered is this – Islam means “submit;” it’s the exact opposite of “freedom” which is what Britain is all about. Muslim children raised in Britain will inevitably struggle with internal conflict, unable to reconcile the two opposing ideals.
A few weeks ago the BBC interviewed Somalis on the streets of Minneapolis, asking them how they felt about life in America and related issues. Clearly better off than they were in Somalia, nevertheless every single one of them said they would rather live in a Muslim country and that America would be a better country if it embraced sharia law!
I first heard the news of the terror attack when I was having lunch with a friend. A man sitting alone at the next table was checking his mail on his phone and suddenly exclaimed “there’s been a terrorist attack in London.” He had no idea I was from the UK. When I told him, his first question was “why don’t they arm the police? How can a policeman defend himself when attacked like this?”
I explained that one third of all the police are now armed and you see a lot of them in London, protecting the main tourist sights. But Wednesday’s murder shows that every policeman needs to be able to defend himself, even if it’s only with a stun gun.
BREXIT MOVING AHEAD
Mrs. May has also announced that she will invoke Article 50 of the Treaty of Rome on March 29th. This will formally begin Britain’s exit from the European Union. Failure to reach agreement on terms within a two-year period will automatically mean a “hard Brexit,” with Britain simply leaving the EU and signing trade deals around the world with other countries. There would be no trade deal with the 27 remaining EU countries.
Such a failure would likely impact any military agreement between Germany and the UK. It would be hard for the two countries to maintain a good friendship when they cannot even reach an agreement on future trade.
The formal triggering of Article 50 will put a dampener on celebrations in Rome, for the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome. All 27 leaders of the EU will be there – Mrs. May will not be attending. Interestingly, all 27 leaders will also be meeting with the pope.
SCOTTISH REFERENDUM #2
The Scottish leader, Nicola Sturgeon, continues to mimic a “Rottweiler.” With her teeth firmly latched onto Mrs. May’s pants, she will not let go of her demand for a second referendum on Scotland’s independence. (If the vote goes against her, she will ask for a third and a fourth, until she gets what she wants!)
Scotland depends heavily on subsidies from England. Ms. Sturgeon should concentrate first on improving the nation’s finances, showing that Scotland can go it alone. Then she could go back to the Scottish electorate and claim an independent Scotland would do better on its own.
But that’s not what’s happening. Rather, Scotland is hoping Germany will come to its rescue. Edinburgh has even opened a trade mission in Berlin (whisky for cars?).
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to make light of a serious situation. The United Kingdom is better with Scotland. It would be a real shame if England’s northern neighbor pulled out after more than 300 years of unity within one nation.
It would also present a potentially serous security issue if Germany replaced England as Scotland’s benefactor. Scotland’s independence would be compromised — the Irish parliament already finds it cannot agree on a budget without Berlin’s agreement.
1400 YEARS OF SECTARIAN CONFLICT
There’s a big battle going on in Mosul between ISIS and government forces. Optimism has been expressed on the imminent defeat of the terror organization.
Overlooked is the fact that Shia militias are operating in Iraq, without restraint. The government is majority Shia. Many Sunnis identify with ISIS. If the terrorists are defeated, another organization (perhaps worse than ISIS) will arise to protect the Sunnis from the Shia.
Western countries, led by the US, have been sucked into the ancient Sunni-Shia conflict in the Middle East. Whereas the West sees things ideologically, Middle Easterners see the situation from a sectarian viewpoint. To us, ISIS is bad because it’s a violent terrorist organization; to Sunni Muslims living in a majority Shia country, ISIS is their protector. To the Sunnis, this is also America’s fault – until the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the country was dominated by Sunnis. They lost out when America came in!
There’s two lessons here for the West – 1) Get out of the Middle East and stay out! 2) Stop importing the region’s sectarian conflicts through immigration policies that do not take into account national security.
In other words, let’s get back to the pre-1914 Middle East, before the war that brought down the Ottoman Empire and led to the fragmentation we now see in the region. The war led to increased British dominance of the region, and now American domination. It’s a mess. It’s time to get out.
On another note – why is the US getting involved in Yemen, another territory witnessing increased fighting between Sunni and Shia? A US Navy Seal was killed there last month in a raid by American forces.
The Sunni-Shia conflict has gone on since the 7th century, almost seven times as long as the United States has existed as a nation. Do we really think that our involvement is going to end the conflict between the two major branches of Islam? Do we really think that moving Shia and Sunni from the Middle East to the US (and Europe) will suddenly make them love each other? After the London attack on Wednesday, one security expert interviewed mentioned that the UK knows of 850 British passport holders, fighting with ISIS in Iraq and Syria. If they are British raised, why are they still identifying with Sunni Islam and anxious to fight Shia Muslims? It’s a question that needs to be addressed.
It’s just been announced that the perpetrator of the London attack was Kent-born and raised Khalid Masood, aged 52. He was the son of immigrants and a convert to Islam.
It should also be noted that the perpetrator was unusually old for a terrorist.
If you can find it on pbs.org, this week’s Frontline examined the rise of the Shia militias in Iraq and the (Shia) government’s failure to address the problem.
ANOTHER BLESSING OF BRITISH RULE
“Among some contemporary Israelis the British Mandate has come to be viewed nostalgically. Although Palestine did not have the elephants, maharajahs and tigers of the Indian Raj, the same culture of Highland reels, polo and pink gins in the King David Hotel flourished. So did an incorruptible civil service, possibly a novelty in the region.” (‘Blood and Rage”, by Michael Burleigh, 2009, page 89)
THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS
A few days ago a friend gave me a copy of the Seventh Day Adventist magazine, “Amazing Facts.” The cover story was titled: “The Power of Forgiveness.” Forgiveness is sadly lacking, even amongst Christians. Church organizations often find it hard to forgive, so how can they teach their members to forgive others?
Yet our eternal life depends on it.
When the Apostle Peter asked Jesus Christ how often should he forgive his brother, Peter suggested that seven times would be enough; the Messiah’s response was “seventy times seven”, meaning an unlimited number of times (Matthew 18:21-22).
Jesus expounded on one of the points in His model prayer, adding:
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
If Christians always practiced forgiveness, we would no doubt have more Christians.
Perhaps, given time, even the Muslims would follow and learn to forgive a 1400-year-old schism.