Tag Archives: Ukraine

LESSONS ON WAR

 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED LONE PINE PHOTO                  (306) 683-0889
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
LONE PINE PHOTO (306) 683-0889

“What was the true lesson of the war in Vietnam?   Or the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?   No matter how powerful you are, it’s hard to defeat an enemy that cares much more about the outcome than you do.   Don’t escalate the fight with Russia over Ukraine, a nation that will always matter much more to Moscow than to Washington. Instead of boosting Vladimir Putin’s popularity by feeding anti-American fury in his country, let Europe lead.   This is not a new Cold War.   The American people don’t care.   Why continue this fight?

“Independents know the US shouldn’t try to push Israelis and Palestinians toward a peace deal that neither side really wants.  It shouldn’t defend Middle East dictators while claiming to defend freedom and human rights.   Let those most threatened by ISIS, in the Middle East and Europe, take the lead.   Let Germany and Japan finally accept responsibility for their own security.   Accept that decisions made in Beijing, not in Washington, will decide whether China sinks or swims.”

Ian Bremmer, “What does America stand for?”  Time Magazine, June 1st.  (Author of “Superpower:  Three choices for America’s role in the world,” published by Portfolio/Penguin.)

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TWIN THREATS PROMPT CALLS FOR ACTION

Pope

One thousand years after the Crusades, the Pope is calling for force to be used to protect Christians in the Middle East.

The Catholic website “Crux” is currently leading with the headline:  “Vatican backs military force to stop ISIS ‘genocide’.”   The news story begins with the following two paragraphs:

“In an unusually blunt endorsement of military action, the Vatican’s top diplomat at the United Nations in Geneva has called for a coordinated international force to stop the “so-called Islamic State” in Syria and Iraq from further assaults on Christians and other minority groups.

“We have to stop this kind of genocide,” said Italian Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s representative in Geneva. “Otherwise we’ll be crying out in the future about why we didn’t do something, why we allowed such a terrible tragedy to happen.”

At the same time, the Fox News website’s top story is:  “Islamic State intensifies its efforts TO WIPE OUT CHRISTIANITY.”

Meanwhile, there has been another call for a European Army.

Presently, every single country in Europe has its own military.   However, many European nations are members of NATO and co-operate greatly on defense.  In spite of increasing threats to the peace and stability of Europe, some European countries have been cutting defense expenditure in order to balance their budgets in a time of austerity.   This has caused some resentment in the United States.  Many feel that Europeans are not pulling their weight.  A number of countries are spending less than the required 2% of their budgets on defense.

At the same time, Europeans are concerned that Americans seem intent on raising the stakes in Ukraine by sending more arms to Kiev.   This scares some European governments including Germany.  Additionally, the US is closing 15 military bases in Europe, as if to emphasize that the country’s priorities are changing.

Europeans see Russia as their greatest threat at this time.  So do many members of the US Congress.  However, differences remain on how best to handle Russia.

The President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, has called for an EU Army to make the Russians realize that Europe is serious about Russia’s threats (“Jean Claude Juncker calls for EU Army,” The Guardian, 8 March).

In the last twelve months, Russia has invaded and annexed Crimea, continues to occupy (supposedly through surrogates) eastern Ukraine and has increased intimidating military flights over the Baltic countries and the United Kingdom.

But Russia may not be the biggest military challenge Europeans face.   Islamic extremism could be an even bigger problem.

The Europeans have to contend with both ISIS and Al-Qaeda.  The latter was behind the attacks in Paris in January.  ISIS is now at Europe’s back door with a significant presence in Libya, Italy’s former colony, and not that far away from the Italian peninsula.   ISIS also now has an ally in Boko Haram, which pledged allegiance to the Islamic State a few weeks ago.   Boko Haram is causing a great deal of turmoil in Nigeria and neighboring countries, all of which have commercial and historical ties with European countries and the EU.

The Bible highlights the fact that the Middle East is at the center of Bible prophecy.  Many of the prophecies in scripture could not have been fulfilled until the collapse of the Ottoman Empire less than a hundred years ago.  The subsequent peace treaty created a number of new countries, many of which remain in varying degrees of conflict and instability.  Deeper tensions came with the establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948.   These events have made the final biblical scenario all the more credible.

Daniel 11:40-41 prophecies:  “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.  He shall also enter the Glorious Land (the Holy Land)….”

Earlier in chapter 11 we read a prophecy, written in the sixth century BC, of Alexander the Great.  His empire, a fulfilled prophecy, came about two centuries after the prophetic words of Daniel were written.  As predicted, his empire was eventually divided between his four generals.  Two of these generals founded biblically significant dynasties, one to the north of Jerusalem (the King of the North, or the Seleucid dynasty) and one to the south of Jerusalem (the King of the South, or the Ptolemaic dynasty).   These two dynasties were often in conflict.  As the Jews were in the middle, they suffered greatly because of them.

After the horrendous climactic events in the middle of the second century BC, the prophecy takes us down to the present time, where, once again, there’s a king of the North and a King of the South.   It should be noted that the prophecy has a gap of two thousand years because the Jews did not have a country of their own during that time.  Now, once again, they do.

The ancient King of the North was conquered by the Roman Empire in 60 A.D.   A new revived Roman Empire is going to emerge as the new King of the North, although it won’t be called by that name.  But it will fulfill the prophecy in Daniel 11.  It will send troops into the Middle East to deal with the growing threat of Islamic militancy, political turmoil and conflict.  A European Army is more likely to be used in this region than against Russia.

But, after intervening in the Middle East, that same army may have to deal with Russia.  “But news from the east and the north shall trouble him . . .” (v. 44).   It should be noted that Russia, Iran, Syria and a number of central Asian, former Soviet republics, co-operate militarily.  If Europe was embroiled in the Middle East, Russia would no doubt take advantage and annex other countries that were formerly in its empire.

This brings us back to the pope’s call for force to be used to save Christians in the Middle East.

In the latter part of the eleventh century, Muslim Turks massacred Christians and treated surviving Christians cruelly.  This led to Pope Urban II in 1095 calling for a Crusade against the Muslims, to free the Christians in the Holy Land.  The Crusades lasted two hundred years.

Today, it’s not the Turks who are persecuting Christians.  It’s ISIS and other extremis groups.   And, it’s not just Christians who need protecting.   Other minorities also need intervention on their behalf.   But, as with events a thousand years ago, it could be the pope who calls nations to arms.

Western civilization is once again seriously threatened.  Politicians, never able to see beyond the next election, seem blinded to this reality.   The papacy is, once again, more in tune with global reality.

The pope’s call, together with the call for an EU Army, show that the prophecies of your Bible are on track, leading ultimately to the second coming of Jesus Christ to establish His Kingdom.

GERMANY OVERHAULING DEFENSE STRATEGY TO COUNTER RUSSIAN THREATS

GDM von der Leyen

The Ukrainian situation is having a profound effect on Europe.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen is promising to overhaul defense strategy in response to Russian aggression against the government and people of Ukraine.   The Russians have been using “power politics and military force,” to get their own way.

The latest deal, Minsk 2, brokered by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with the aid of French President Francois Hollande, failed to end the fighting.   It’s clear who is the major problem – yesterday, Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, was warning Ukraine to pull its forces out of yet another of the country’s cities, so that Russian rebels can take over.   There’s ample proof these rebels include Russian professional soldiers.   This is a blatant attack by Russia on the sovereignty of one of its neighbors.

Not content with being the biggest country in the world, the Russians clearly want more territory.   It may even be that Moscow is intent on taking back all the territories of the former Soviet Union. The fall of the USSR in 1991 was once described by Mr. Putin as the greatest disaster of the twentieth century.

It’s less than seven years since Russian troops invaded Georgia in support of ethnic Russians living there.   Less than a year ago, the Crimea was annexed.   Now eastern Ukraine is seriously threatened. Other countries on Russia’s borders now face the same prospect, as the western alliance is proven impotent in the face of Moscow’s aggression.

Watch for dramatic changes ahead in Europe.   As the US shuts down military bases in Europe to focus on needs elsewhere in the world, only one western European country has the capacity to fill America’s shoes.   That country is Germany.   The German Defense Minister sees clearly the need for Germany to reassert itself in the face of Russian threats from the east.

 

 

WILL RUSSIA END NATO?

 

100415a-HQ28-010 NATO Headquarters Brussels.

Time Magazine has an interesting article on “Russia’s Fifth Column” in the latest issue, by Simon Shuster.

The article explains Russia’s modus operandi for re-acquiring its former empire.

The annexation of the Crimea earlier this year and the ongoing problems in eastern Ukraine help give insight.

The idea is to use Russian-speaking people left behind when the Soviet empire collapsed.  There are ten million of them in a number of eastern European countries.  Three notable ones are the Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.  These countries could see a repeat of Ukraine’s experience.

“… Russia’s military support for separatists in eastern Ukraine has sent the clearest message to Russians everywhere.  Moscow has your back.”

The methodology is similar to Hitler’s 75 years ago – get local German (now Russian speakers) to claim discrimination and provoke conflict.  Russia will do the rest, providing arms to local militias or even sending their own troops in, claiming they are locals protecting their own community.

The three Baltic republics are the most vulnerable.  They are all members of NATO so, if Russia invades, the US and other NATO members are obliged to intervene on their behalf.

“Under Article 5 of the treaty that binds NATO together, Washington and its 27 allies are obliged to come to the defense of any member attacked by a foreign power. Should Russia invade Estonia or Latvia, perhaps using the rationale that it is protecting the Russian minorities in those countries – just as it did in Crimea – the West would face a sobering choice: go to war with a nuclear-armed state or back down and accept that NATO is no more.”

Based on this rationale, which makes sense, Putin could bring about the end of NATO quite quickly. If a Russian invasion of a NATO country does not see Article 5 invoked, it would mean the end of the alliance.

My wife and I are going away for a week starting tomorrow. I will not be posting again until Thursday December 18th.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

MORE NEWS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED

Latest news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The United Kingdom will be further weakened by these changes.

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

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

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

This is dangerous and needs to be addressed.

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

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

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

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

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

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RUSSIAN VICTORY IN UKRAINE?

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

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

 

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NATO SUMMIT IN WALES

NATO summit Wales

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO or, in French, OTAN) was formed on the 4th April 1949.  It was said at the time that NATO’s purpose was to “keep the Americans in Europe, the Russians out and the Germans down.”  To the extent that this is true, NATO has been very successful.  The Americans still have a presence in Europe, the Russians have stayed out of NATO member countries, and the Germans work in cooperation with the other member states.

The alliance is now 65 years old. During the Cold War it had 16 member countries; now it has 28.  The greater number came about as the result of the fall of communism.  This, of course, is part of the problem. Russia still has not accepted the fact that many of its former constituent republics don’t want to be associated with their former bosses in Moscow.  This includes Ukraine and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

On the eve of the NATO summit in Newport, Wales, President Obama stopped over in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, to reassure the Baltic countries that America will stand by them, if they are attacked by Russia. Reportedly, there has been a great fear that Vladimir Putin will do to them what he has done in Ukraine – invading them and destabilizing them, using their Russian minorities as an excuse.  (Remember, Hitler did the same thing over 75 years ago, invading the Sudetenland to protect the German-speaking minority.)

Today, September 4th, NATO leaders met in Newport to discuss the two great crisis that now confront NATO – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and ISIS, or ISIL, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (or the Levant, which also includes Lebanon).

NATO was established specifically to protect countries from invasion by the communist Soviet Union.  Communism is now dead in Europe but Russia still poses an enormous threat, specifically to countries that were formerly ruled from Moscow.  Mr. Putin once said that the greatest disaster of the twentieth century was the fall of the USSR.  In his mind, countries like Ukraine and the Baltic nations belong to Russia.  It’s as if Great Britain was still claiming the American colonies or India and felt free to invade them at any time! It should be noted that Russia was an expansionist country long before communism – Catherine the Great first acquired the Crimea in the eighteenth century.

Originally, NATO did not project its military power beyond Europe.  However, in 2001, it first invoked Clause 5, which authorizes all member nations to come to the aid of a country that is attacked.  After 9/11, European countries helped the US, patrolling the skies to protect that country from further attacks.  It’s ironic that the organization that was set up to protect Europeans from Russia was instead used in protecting the US from terrorism.  In the following years, NATO troops were used in Afghanistan.  A coalition of some NATO members were also involved in Iraq.

NATO’s outgoing Secretary-General, the former Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, today said that NATO faces three serious threats, to the east, the south-east and the south.  These threats are Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, ISIL in Iraq, and Syria and Islamic extremists to the south in countries like Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Sudan and Somalia.

NATO’s solutions are: the formation of a rapid response force to deal with any Russian aggression and the bombing of ISIL insurgents in Iraq and Syria.  At the time of writing, nothing specific has been decided on the problems to the south.

The rapid response force idea has been suggested before but never got off the ground.  The problem is that it would be a multinational force and requires the cooperation of a number of countries.  In a crisis, it’s highly unlikely that there would be such cooperation.

As it is, NATO really is a 3-tier organization.  The US is the leader and has been the “indispensable nation” when it comes to action; Britain, France and Germany are the second tier, almost always ready to back the US and offer some military support; other member countries are too small to make an impact.  Interestingly, when meeting with the Ukrainian leader at the summit, the leaders of the four nations mentioned sat at a round table with him, while other leaders watched from the sidelines.

A serious military threat to all member countries could change things dramatically.

Such a threat could come from Russia or from ISIL.

The Bible shows a major threat from the Middle East, the south-east the NATO Secretary-General was talking about.  A leader of a powerful Mideast nation to the south of Jerusalem is going to attack a northern power – some, at least, of the NATO members.  This is prophesied in Daniel 11:40-44.  In verse 44, the conflict widens to include nations “from the east and the north,” which could include Russia.

A century ago, the European nations, the Russians and the Ottoman Turks were all involved in the First World War.  One hundred years later, the same disputes continue but manifest themselves differently.  NATO members can talk but there is no prospect of solutions in sight.

75 YEARS LATER

Merkel and Putin

75 years ago today Great Britain declared war on Germany.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The question is:  will anybody try to stop him?

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