Tag Archives: Theodore Roosevelt

GUAM IN THE HEADLIGHTS

Guam isn’t in the news very often.   But right now it is.   The reason? North Korea has threatened to “nuke” it first.   It seems to have the technology to do it. But will it?   That is the question.

A North Korean attack on the US Pacific island would likely kill most of the 160,000 Americans who live there; but, within minutes, most of North Korea’s population would also be dead in a US retaliatory strike.  That figure would include North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un. Even if he has a bunker to retire to through the attack, he would no longer have a kingdom to rule over.   Kim would lose everything in minutes.   The three-generation Kim dynasty would be history!

Logic and common sense say he won’t do it.   But logic and common sense are sadly lacking in North Korea.

The world awaits developments and hopes for a good outcome.

Back to Guam.

The world was much simpler when the US took possession of the island in 1898.   It was one of four territories acquired by the United States as a result of the Spanish-American War.   The others were Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Guam had been a Spanish territory for 230 years, since 1668.

When the USS Charleston arrived in Guam to capture the territory, the ship fired its cannons in the direction of the Spanish fort on the island.   The Spanish garrison took some time to respond.   Eventually, they sent a delegation to apologize to the Americans. They had thought the cannons were a salute and they had no means of reciprocating – they hadn’t realized this was an invasion.   It had been a while since they had received any communication from Spain.

So Guam fell into American hands.

Not without some opposition – at home.   The United States was terribly divided on the issue of foreign adventures.   Pro-interventionists included President McKinley, the future Vice President Theodore Roosevelt and newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst, a man of great influence at the time.   All three felt that America needed overseas possessions, like European nations. Against the acquisition of colonies were Mark Twain, Dale Carnegie and William Jennings Bryan.   These two were often referred to as the “pro-imperialists” and the “anti-imperialists.”   Imperialism was very much in vogue at the end of the nineteenth century.

The great debate around the birth of the American Empire is the subject of a new history book, entitled “The True Flag” by Stephen Kinzer, a foreign correspondent who now writes for the Boston Globe.   The Spanish-American War was a major turning point in American history and, indeed, in world history. It launched the US as a global power.

“Various forces united to push McKinley toward his decision to seize the Philippines.   Navy commanders recognized Manila Bay as a magnificent platform from which to project American strategic power into East Asia.   Business leaders saw millions of new customers for American goods, the prospect of rich resources, and a springboard to the potentially immense China market.   Missionaries and religious groups swooned at the prospect of saving millions of lost souls for Christ.   McKinley himself recognized above all the political value of annexation – and the furor he feared would engulf him if he turned away from empire at this crucial moment.” (“The True Flag,” page 87.)

Later, McKinley, a deeply religious man, recounted a vision he had at this time.

“When McKinley emerged from his trance, he found himself believing that the United States could not grant independence to the Philippines because its people were ‘unfit for self-government,’ and that ‘there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them and by God’s grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellow men for whom Christ also died.” (ibid.)

The following paragraph adds:  “McKinley was deeply religious, and his account of this vision was no doubt sincere.  Nevertheless he must have recognized the happy coincidence: what God wanted him to do would also be popular with voters.  This time, God sounded remarkably like Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge.”

These paragraphs show just how much American thinking has changed in the last century.   America’s track record in international affairs has been mixed, at best.   The Spanish-American War was won by the US.   World Wars One and Two, were also won, with allies, but there were many problems after the fighting was over.   Wars since World War Two have largely not been won and the country is now caught up in never ending conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan.   The resultant turmoil has created an unprecedented refugee problem and untold suffering.

Americans are often woefully ignorant of these wars and the mess that is left behind.   President McKinley did not know where the Philippines and Guam were when he ordered US forces to take both.   Somebody once said that “wars are nature’s way of teaching Americans geography” — there is a great deal of truth to that.

History, too.   A review of a new book on President James Buchanan, who was in office immediately before Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, described him as one of the worst ever leaders of the free world.   This remark fails to appreciate that Americans presidents did not lead the Free World until after World War Two.

“The first time the phrase ‘Leader of the free world’ appeared in The New York Times was in a November 1948 essay by the British economist Barbara Ward, which urged Western unity against the communist threat. With its unchallenged economic might, the United States was ‘potentially the political leader of the free world.’“ (‘What does it mean that Trump is “Leader of the Free World,” by Dominic Tierney, The Atlantic, January 2017.)

Dozens of nations have been truly and deeply thankful for the American umbrella, especially the nuclear umbrella, which protected them from communism during the Cold War.   However, the Cold War ended over a quarter of a century ago.   Now, there are other threats and the US is not doing so well.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell speech in 1961 warned:

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.  The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

A powerful military-industrial complex will constantly be pushing the country toward war to justify its existence and its cost to the tax-payer.   Each of these wars divides the country as assuredly as the first overseas military adventures in 1898.   The wars in the Islamic world have cost the US billions, in addition to thousands of lives.   The result has been described by historian Geoffrey Wawro (University of North Texas) as “Quicksand,” the title of his 2010 book – the more we struggle to get out, the more we get sucked in!

WILL AMERICAN HEGEMONY BE A CONSTANT?

President Trump has vowed to maintain American hegemony, while at the same time promising to put “America First.”   Ultimately, these two are opposites.   America already suffers from a bad case of “imperial over-reach,” with too many commitments around the globe.  Can the US handle a major conflict on the Korean peninsula, together with unfinished wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan? Can the US afford another major conflict, with a $20 trillion overdraft?   Will American voters support more wars?   President Trump has added another possible military intervention, saying that the US may have to intervene militarily in Venezuela.

History shows that every great power eventually burns out.  Before the US, the British Empire was the world’s number one superpower. After World War Two, the British had to deal with three major international problems all at the same time – in India, Palestine and Greece.   Imperial over-reach led to a withdrawal from Greece and the US was well on the way to replacing the United Kingdom as the world’s policeman.   Americans should not fall into the trap of thinking the same cannot happen to them.   The country has a bad case of imperial hubris, just as Britain did before the US.

History shows the inevitability of America’s demise.

So does the Bible.

Bible scholars have long known that the US plays no role in the final prophesied events, which center on Europe and the Middle East.

This implies that something big is going to happen to America, which returns the country to its pre-1898 status, isolated from the rest of the world.   However, it won’t be the same as pre-1898 – then, the US was secure in its isolation; now, there’s too much bitterness and resentment around the world toward the United States.   Additionally, the United States is more divided now than it was then.

Daniel 2:21 reminds us 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;
He gives wisdom to the wise
And knowledge to those who have understanding.”

In the sixth century BC, while living in the Babylonian Empire, Daniel had a vision that revealed to him that Babylon would soon fall and be replaced by Persia; in turn, Persia would give way to Greece and Greece to Rome.   This is exactly what happened over the next few centuries.   Each of those superpowers, in turn, thought it was invincible; yet, each one fell.   Both history and the Bible show the inevitability of this continuing.

Already, there are voices declaring the 21st century China’s century, just as the twentieth was America’s and the nineteenth Great Britain’s. Certainly,   China is a rising power.   It’s the main reason North Korea can threaten the US at this time and seemingly get away with it.

But the Bible shows that the final superpower is a power that has not yet formed; that ten nations will come together and threaten the peace and security of the world.

Revelation 17:12-13 says the following:

“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.”

The term “for one hour” means that this superpower will not last very long.   America’s supremacy has lasted 70 years, Britain’s was much longer; the next one will be a lot shorter.

Which brings us back to Guam.

When the USS Charleston took possession of Guam en route to the Philippines, America became a major power in Asia.   A successful attack on Guam from North Korea would signal the end of the American Empire.   It happened once before in 1942 when the Japanese took the island, but the US returned after defeating Japan.     A nuclear attack on the island would mean there’s nothing to return to.

It’s likely that something will be worked out and we will return to peace – this time.   But at some point American hegemony will end and it could end on an island thousands of miles away or somewhere closer to home.   It’s worth remembering that the British Empire suffered two major defeats, in Singapore (1942) and Suez (1956).

Stephen Kinzer, who wrote “The True Flag,” has an accompanying article in the latest issue of American History magazine.   He ends with an observation by Mark Twain, who opposed America’s international expansion.

The last two paragraphs make for sobering reading:  “Despondent, Twain wrote a bitter lament. His observations, trenchant then, sound eerily appropriate today.  (italics mine)

“It was impossible to save the Great Republic,”  Twain wrote.  “She was rotten to the heart.   Lust of conquest had long ago done it’s work.   Trampling upon the helpless abroad had taught her, by natural process, to endure with apathy the like at home; multitudes who had applauded the crushing of other people’s liberties, lived to suffer for their mistake in their own persons.   The government was irrevocably in the hands of the prodigiously rich and their hangers-on, the suffrage was become a mere machine, which they used as they chose.   There was no principle but commercialism, no patriotism but of the pocket.”

(This blog is a fully independent blog that has no connection to any church or secular organization. It was started to keep people informed on international affairs in light of the scriptures.   Financial support comes from myself and readers who generously donate to help cover costs.)

ENOUGH WITH TEDDY BEARS!

 

Easter Sunday Bombing in Lahore, Pakistan
Easter Sunday Bombing in Lahore, Pakistan

There’s an incredible disconnect in the western world right now.

A few days ago, we witnessed the Brussels bombings that killed 35 and sent hundreds to area hospitals.   Many are maimed for life.

Then, on Easter Sunday, the world witnessed a deliberate bombing of Christian families in Lahore, Pakistan, that killed more than twice as many people as the bombs in Brussels.  Many of the victims were children.   Muslims were killed as well as Christians, but the target was a Christian gathering, with the intent to kill as many as possible, especially children.   Less than 48 hours later, Sky News in England revealed that ISIS has plans to attack Jewish kindergartens in Turkey.   Children have clearly become prime targets for Islamic militants.

Faced with the prospect of more terrorism in the years to come, each attack ratcheting up the intensity and the carnage, an anti-immigrant rally was held in Brussels on Sunday.   The rally was quickly condemned as being made up of “hooligans,” “right wing thugs,” “racists” and “neo-Nazis.”   None of their concerns was addressed.

Older people know that the West as it is now is the direct result of more than five decades of liberal and leftist thinking that has created the multicultural, mixed race, mixed religions, environment we are now living in.  It’s a disaster.  Yet the creators of this mess insist on more of the same.

The BBC World Service (radio) Monday broadcast an interview with Dominic Grieve, a British Conservative politician and Member of the Privy Council, therefore very much a member of the British Establishment.   He was asked a number of questions relating to security in light of the Belgian attacks, in the series “HardTalk.”  His position was predictable, that the vast majority of Muslims, including Syrian immigrants, are appreciative of living in the West and don’t want to cause trouble.

The news then followed with an update on the Pakistani bombing.

It is clear that there is a very anti-Christian element in Islam.  The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has promised to defend British Christians against all such threats, but this will be difficult to do when over three million Muslims live in the country.

It’s glaringly obvious to a growing number of people that these two religions cannot mix.   But Mr. Grieve implied there is a need for greater efforts to achieve “assimilation.”  Somehow, as with everything else, the West is at fault.

The incident in Brussels inspired an article by Raheem Kassam, which appeared in the Middle East Forum.  It was originally written for Breitbart, a conservative publication.  The title of the article was: “Enough with Teddy Bears and Tears:  It’s time to take our civilization back.”

Mr. Kassam writes:  “Teddy bears, tears, candles, cartoons, murals, mosaics, flowers, flags, projections, hashtags, balloons, wreaths, lights, vigils, scarves, and more.  These are the best solutions the Western world seems to come up with every few months when we are slammed by another Islamist terrorist attack.  We are our own sickness.”

This is so true – because we don’t know what to do, or rather because we are afraid to take the necessary steps, we hold all-night vigils, pile up the flowers and the teddy bears, sing “We shall overcome” and promise to tell Muslims that we love them, thinking that will change everything.   Even the Pope, for many the leader of the Christian West, prayed for western countries to embrace more refugees on Easter Sunday, rather than clearly condemning the persecution of Christians in Islamic countries.   One day later came news that a Catholic priest was crucified on Good Friday by Islamic State.

In 1095, Pope Urban II called for a “crusade” to the Holy Land to end the persecution of Christians.  Pope Urban’s reaction to reports of massacres was more understandable than Pope Francis’ reaction a thousand years later.

People in the West today, after seven decades of cultural appeasement, will do anything except fight.

I’m not talking about fighting a war, necessarily.  But there’s no fight to even stand up for our ideals, our history, our values, our culture. Instead, we simply wait for the next attack.

Mr. Kassam’s article also said:  “Our security services and our police, hamstrung by political correctness, are just as interested (or more?) in rounding up Twitter “hate speech” offenders than criminal, rapist, or terrorist migrants. Our borders are as porous as our brains. We refuse to realize that there are now literally millions of people amongst us who hate us.  Who hate our way of life, and who will, one day, dominate our public life.”

The teddy bears that are being left at memorials to suicide bombers owe their origin to President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, whose foreign policy was summed up in the expression “speak softly and carry a big stick!”   Diplomacy, in other words, must be backed up by force.   Western leaders today seem only capable of speaking softly, if at all.

Breaking news, as I write, has Hillary Clinton criticizing Donald Trump over his wanting to end Muslim immigration.  She then asked: “What would that mean for a nation founded on religious freedom?” Mrs. Clinton must know that religious freedom was not extended to Muslims until 1965.  Before that, immigration was strictly restricted mostly to people of European descent.  It was the Clinton’s friend, Senator Edward Kennedy, who sponsored the bill that liberalized immigration in 1965.

We are building up to a major clash between the Islamic world and the post-Christian West.   Today’s Western leader, seems content to do little or nothing. It’s up to the Europeans to save western civilization.

At the weekend, the McLaughlin Group on PBS discussed the Brussels attacks and the responses of US presidential candidates, who seem disillusioned with NATO (whose headquarters are in Brussels) and feel the Europeans need to do more to defend themselves.   Germany specifically was mentioned as a wealthy nation that can do more.  Note the following:

“On Wednesday, the German cabinet adopted a four year budget plan that would dramatically increase spending on the military, police, and intelligence services.

“German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble (Christian Democrats, CDU) did not mince words at a press conference Wednesday, declaring,  “The central points of this budget and finance plan are of course the internal and external security of our country.” (World Socialist Web)

Bible prophecy shows that the reaction to the rising threat from radical Islam is going to come from a union of ten nations in Europe, a union only Germany can lead.

“At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through.” (Daniel 11:40)

Revelation 17 is a chapter about the historical revivals of the Roman Empire.  One still lies ahead.  “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.” (verses 12 & 13).   The “beast” is the supreme European leader of the revived Roman Empire, a European centered union of ten nations with great military power.  This power is destined to fill the vacuum left by the United States.

I don’t normally agree with anything Eleanor Clift says on the McLaughlin Group, but this week I did.  She told the much younger British regular, Tom Rogan, there was a very good reason why we don’t want to rearm Germany.  He was the first one to suggest it.   As the post-World War II generation dies off, few will think of World War II and the dire threat Germany and Japan posed to the world. Instead, they will simply say America can’t do it all, rich countries like Germany and Japan should spend more.  The result is not likely to be a good one.

REMEMBER THE SABBATH

Keep calm sabbath

A few Sundays ago, I had to go to Kroger, a grocery store that’s about two miles from our house.   I chose to go at lunchtime.

When I arrived, there were no shopping carts available (trolleys, for those who live in a Commonwealth country).   I had to wait for somebody to return one.

This had never happened to me before.

After purchasing a few items, I went to the check-out to pay.   I asked the man there if it was always this full on Sunday at lunch time.   He said yes, that most of their customers at this particular time of day had just gone to church and were now doing their shopping.

I remarked on how, when I was growing up, nothing was open on a Sunday.   He looked at me as if I was really old!

It wasn’t until 1994 that stores in the United Kingdom could open on Sundays.   Before that, newspaper shops were open on Sunday mornings, so that people could buy their trashy tabloids and keep up on all the sin politicians and others were committing; but the general populace was expected to observe “the Lord’s Day.”   In the sixties television did not commence programming until sometime in the afternoon and there was a mandatory evening break for religious programming.

When South Africa first got television in 1976, no entertainment was allowed on television on Sundays.   I remember watching the South African Defense Force Choir singing hymns followed by a documentary from Alistair Cooke on the Mormons.  No advertisements were permitted, either.   It was also forbidden to buy alcohol, unless you were resident in a hotel and could use their bar.

Back in 1895, when Theodore Roosevelt was appointed President of New York City’s 4-man Board of Police Commissioners, he chose to strictly enforce the “Blue Laws” that prohibited Sunday drinking.   This was not appreciated, especially by German immigrants who liked to down a stein of beer with their comrades on Sundays.   The once popular TR quickly turned into the most reviled man in America.   Fortunately for him (and the German beer drinkers), President William McKinley appointed him to the position of Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1897.   Four years later, when McKinley was assassinated, Roosevelt became President.

I remember my mother telling me that during World War II, the local town council had allowed cinemas to open after 4pm on Sundays, to cater for the American GI’s based close by.   Clark Gable, then the most popular male actor in Hollywood, had been seen on the steps one Sunday afternoon.

In 1947, Compton MacKenzie wrote his classic novel “Whisky Galore,” which told the story of a small Scottish island during World War II that ran out of whisky.   The islanders were uplifted when a merchant vessel carrying Scotch ran aground off their coast.   But, sadly, this happened late on a Saturday evening and there was nothing they could do to rescue the desired liquid until the “Sabbath” was over.   After church Sunday morning, the men all gathered on the cliff top and simply watched the wrecked ship longingly!   But Sunday night, immediately after the stroke of midnight, the men were all there on the rocks salvaging what they could to enjoy the drink, perhaps also on the rocks!   The book was turned into a movie the following year.   For some reason the title was changed in the US to “Tight Little Island.”

A popular story in the 60’s was about the sky-diver in Northern Ireland who had fallen to his death when his chute failed to open.   The comment was made that “he should have known that nothing opens on a Sunday in Belfast!”   (I’m sure things have changed since.)

We’ve come a long way in the last fifty years.   Now church-goers routinely do their weekly grocery shopping on the way home from church, something that would have been unthinkable two generations ago.

An article by a syndicated US columnist some years ago showed that the same church-goers then went home and watched football followed by “Desperate Housewives” which was based on everybody breaking the Ten Commandments.

One hour of church followed by two hours of shopping, then a family meal, football and a trashy, unchristian TV show.   One has to question the priorities Christians have.

I’m sure God does.   When people, even Christians, have so little time for Him, why should He have time for them?

The root word for Sabbath means “to rest, to cease from labor.”   Jesus Christ said:   “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).   In other words, a 24-hour period of rest from work and from “doing our own pleasure” (Isaiah 58:13) is for our own good.

Today, most people are stressed out, most of the time.   The need for a day of rest has never been greater, yet many don’t have one.    And, if they do, other members of their family may not, so it’s become very difficult to get families together to build the bonds necessary for any society to thrive.

Instead, people are constantly working in one way or another, always trying to make a few dollars more or to have more fun.

We live in a society where God is not taken seriously.   One hour a week in church, followed by the pursuit of secular pleasures is not what He intended.

Jesus Christ kept the Sabbath and attended the synagogue every Saturday (Luke 4:16).   Christians are to be like Him.   We should do the same.   It’s one of the Ten Commandments.   “Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8).

Previous generations in North America, Britain, Australia and elsewhere were very strict about Sabbath observance.   The irony is that the biblical Sabbath commanded here in the Ten Commandments was not Sunday.   Rather, it was the seventh day, to be exact, Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.

People need a day of rest, the Sabbath.   Instead, we have a society where everybody is worn out, with consequent serious damage to family life and relationships.   It’s never too late to change and to start keeping the Sabbath as God intended.