Tag Archives: US

RUSSIA’S INTERVENTION IN SYRIA

Putin Syria

A generation after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia is back in the Middle East.   It cannot be good for America!

Britain dominated the Middle East between the two world wars. After World War II, that domination continued for about a decade. Then, in 1956, the Egyptians seized the British and French owned Suez Canal. The two countries, together with Israel, invaded Egypt in an attempt to reclaim the Canal, but they were stopped by US President Dwight D. Eisenhower.     In hindsight, it marked the end of the British Empire. It also resulted in greater US involvement in the region.

The Book of Daniel is a prophetic book in the Old Testament, written during the sixth century before Christ.  It’s a remarkable book because the writer, Daniel, who served two kings of Babylon while Babylon was the greatest power in the world, then served two kings of Persia when it was the Persian turn to attain the status of super power.

His writings predicted the eventual replacement of Persia by Greece and then, in turn, Rome.   These were four of the greatest empires of the ancient world.   Each rose to greatness and each descended into oblivion.   Only their ruins remain.

Daniel put it well when he wrote the following:

“And He (God) 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.” (Daniel 2:21)

God is behind the rise and fall of nations.   He also reveals His prophetic outline “to those who have understanding.”

Just as Great Britain’s period of pre-eminence came to an end, so will America’s.   But, as with Britain, the change took a while to be fully realized.

Russia’s intervention in the Middle East fundamentally changes the balance of power in the region.   Russia, in the form of the Soviet Union, was heavily involved in the area following the British withdrawal.   While the US supported Israel, Jordan and the other conservative monarchies, including the Shah of Iran, Moscow supported Egypt and Syria.   That changed with the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty of 1979.   Moscow has not had much clout since.

But now that’s changed.   Moscow is not only involved in Syria, propping up President Bashar al-Assad against ISIS and other groups, it is also involved in Iran and Iraq.   In effect, Russia is backing the Shi’ite arc that starts in Lebanon (Hezbollah) and swings through Syria, Iraq and Iran.   Bible students will remember that this is basically the territory of the old King of the North of Daniel, chapter 11, the Seleucid dynasty that had its origins in the conquests of Alexander the Great.   The rivalry with the Ptolemaic dynasty labeled the King of the South in the scriptures continued for two centuries and constantly threatened the Jews who were in the middle. The terms “King of the North” and “King of the South” refer to their geographical location in relation to Jerusalem and the threat they posed to the ancient capital of the Jews.

The same chapter prophesies that these two powers will be revived in different form prior to Christ’s return and will once again threaten the Jewish nation of Israel.

So it’s interesting to see Russia getting involved.

Vladimir Putin had this to say at the United Nations just a few days ago:

“An aggressive foreign interference has resulted in a brazen destruction of national institutions and the lifestyle itself.   Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress, we got violence, poverty, and social disaster.   Nobody cares a bit about human rights, including the right to life.   I cannot help asking those who have caused the situation, do you realize now what you have done?”

President Putin was talking about the United States and the consequences of American intervention in the Middle East.

Discussing this speech on PBS’ McLaughlin Group, conservative columnist Pat Buchanan had this to say:

“We are responsible for the disaster in the Middle East by our interventions.”

The mess the US and its allies created in the Middle East is affecting peoples around the world.   The Lansing State Journal carried the following front-page headline today:   “Eager for Syrians to arrive”, referring to Lansing, Michigan, welcoming Syrian refugees in the coming days and weeks.   Europe has been invaded by hundreds of thousands of people, some of whom are refugees, over the last few weeks. Australians are also seeing Syrian refugees arrive in their country.   This could pose a serious security threat to western nations.

President Obama said the following at the UN:   “The strongmen of today become the spark of revolution tomorrow.   You can jail your opponents, but you cannot imprison ideas.   You can control access to information, but you cannot turn a lie into truth.”

What the US president was saying was intended as a warning to President Putin and the Arab dictator he intends to keep in power, President Assad of Syria. The latter is a ruthless dictator (the former is simply a dictator who can be ruthless; there’s a difference). The US position on Syria is that Assad must go. That now seems highly unlikely.   When Mr Obama refers to “ideas” that cannot be suppressed, he is referring to democracy and the “moderate” resistance to Assad. However, recent history shows that democracy is not the winner when dictators in the Middle East are overthrown. Rather, Islamic extremism or chaos, and usually both, result.

Putin, unfettered by ideological constraints, instinctively knows that.

Russia is in Syria to stay.

This could pose a problem for Israel now that the Russian bear is on its border.

It could also weaken the Russians.   Mr. Putin must remember that it was Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979 that brought down the Soviet Union, which he has described as the greatest disaster of the twentieth century.

What it will mean for Russia is not clear at this time.   However, it is clear what it means for the United States.   Just as an American president’s decision in 1956 precipitated the fall of the British Empire, so an American president’s inaction over Syria and cozying up to Iran, with the resultant weakening of ties with traditional allies in the region, has directly led to America’s decline in the Middle East.

 

THE POPE AND THE PRESIDENT

U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Pope Francis (R) during their meeting at the Vatican March 27, 2014. Obama's first meeting on Thursday with Pope Francis was expected to focus on the fight against poverty and skirt moral controversies over abortion and gay rights.
U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Pope Francis (R) during their meeting at the Vatican March 27, 2014. Obama’s first meeting on Thursday with Pope Francis was expected to focus on the fight against poverty and skirt moral controversies over abortion and gay rights.

The Founding Fathers of the United States could not have imagined such a scene ever taking place in this country.

The scene was played out this morning on the White House lawn. The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, together with a US president of African heritage with a Muslim father and other definite Muslim connections.

Whereas the US was 98% Protestant at its founding, today there are arguably only two faiths that matter – Catholicism and Islam.

Certainly, these are the only two that dominate news headlines.

Just a few days ago, the leading Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump was asked a question by a man who believed that President Obama is a Muslim.   Because he did not correct the man, it is assumed he believes the same way and he has been greatly criticized for it.   Of course, if there’s nothing wrong with Islam, why should anybody get upset if described as being Muslim!

A day or two later, Ben Carson, another Republican candidate, a quiet, reserved and respectful man who is a double minority, both black and a Seventh Day Adventist Christian, was asked what he thought of having a Muslim president.   He was not in favor of it and has since been accused of racism!

Fifty years ago, when Senator Edward Kennedy sponsored the bill, which became the new immigration law, he said Americans would not see any noticeable change in the fabric of the country.   Here we are five decades later in a very different religious landscape thanks to that immigration act.

It doesn’t take a Donald Trump or a Ben Carson for Islam to make the news every day.   Migrants moving into Europe from the Middle East and Africa underline the dysfunctionality of Islamic countries, racked with ethnic, ideological and religious strife.   Under international law, when people flee one country they should register for refugee status in the first country they come to; but international laws are being broken every day as people push their way through borders and barriers toward their number one goal, Germany or Sweden.   None seems to want to go to any oil rich Arab country, which speaks the same language.   One migrant made it clear when he said: “Europeans have more compassion!”

That compassion stems from Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant.   For centuries, monks and nuns provided the only hospital care available for travelers and locals alike.   They also provided food and drink to the poor.

Yes, Christianity and Islam are very different.   Only the Hungarian leader, Viktor Orban, seems to be pointing that out, saying his country does not want the migrants.   Hungary suffered for almost two centuries under Islamic rule, so it’s not surprising that they don’t want Muslims back.  Mr. Orban has said that the massive movement of migrants into the country threatens the nation’s Christian heritage.   For this realistic comment, he is being condemned by the emotional majority more influenced by television images of people pushing further into Europe.

It is doubtful the enthusiasm for Muslim immigrants will last long. Then what?

Catholicism and Islam have clashed repeatedly throughout history – and could do so again.   People in the West have largely forgotten this past history or don’t care.   But that’s not the case in the Islamic world where the term “crusaders” is often used to describe westerners, a reference to the Crusades between Catholic Europe and the forces of Islam that began in 1095 and lasted for two centuries.

There were other less famous clashes between the two.   In the eighth century Muslims invaded Spain and France, until they were defeated in 732 by Charles Martel. His grandson Charlemagne was still fighting the North African invaders decades later.   After the Crusades ended, there were other clashes as the Ottoman Turks advanced westward, conquering islands in the Mediterranean and moving fairly rapidly into the heart of Europe.

The historic rivalry between Rome and the Islamic world will likely be a part of the prophesied clash between the King of the North and King of the South in the last verses of the Book of Daniel, chapter 11.   Earlier this year the leaders of ISIS threatened to invade Rome and kill the pope.

Islam has certainly succeeded in dividing the West in the early years of this century, as both Americans and Europeans hold different opinions on how best to deal with the migrant crisis.   Some are fearful about security while others just want to help, not realizing there are a number of rich Arab countries, which could take the Syrians in.   Not all the migrants are Syrians – a British newspaper revealed last Saturday that only 1 in 5 migrants is a Syrian refugee.   The others are economic migrants and could be sent home under international law.

Is this the end of western civilization, as Mr. Orban fears?   That’s not likely.   What is more likely is that westerners will change their thinking when they experience the reality of greater numbers of Muslims.   Anti-immigrant parties are likely to come to power, promising to do something to restore their countries to what they were.

Islam means “submission,”   In spite of denials by national news presenters, this makes the religion incompatible with the US Constitution, which is based on freedom.   And just as Islam is incompatible with freedom, so is Roman Catholicism, a religion that dominated Western Europe for over a thousand years, until the Protestant Reformation introduced an element of religious freedom.   It was English Protestants who founded James Town and Protestants of mostly British descent who founded the United States.   Today’s Protestants seem to have very little influence in the country, a fact that increasingly threatens religious freedom.

What we saw today on the White House lawn was, in a sense, a profile of three religions – Catholicism, represented by the Pope; Islam, represented by the American son of a Muslim Kenyan father; and Protestantism, represented by the White House itself, the US Constitution, and the soldiers in early American uniforms.

The first two are on the rise – the Church of Rome and Islam!

A LOOK BACK AT 9/11

9-116

September 11th will long be remembered as the date of a major setback in the struggle between Islam and the West.

September 11th, 1683, that is.

The forces of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire had continued their expansion into Europe and had arrived at the very heart of Europe, Vienna, the capital of the Austrian Empire.

They were met by a combined force of Austrian, French, German and Polish troops, an alliance of Catholic emperors, princes and kings.

Together, they stopped the Islamic takeover of Europe.

Over the next two centuries, Muslim forces would be pushed back into modern day Turkey, which has a small foothold in Europe, but not much else.

Mindful of their defeat, Muslims significantly chose the same day to perpetrate 9/11 exactly fourteen years ago.   This time, they scored a victory and hope to go on to bring about the Islamization of the western world.

After 9/11, President George W. Bush launched an attack on Afghanistan, commencing the longest conflict in American history.   This was followed by a war in Iraq.   The negative consequences of these two wars remain with us and are likely to continue indefinitely.

Amazingly, after the terror attacks on 9/11, the first new president chosen by the American people was the first one with definite Muslim connections!   Refusing to allow members of the Administration to use terms like “Islamic extremism,” most Americans remain clueless as to the seriousness of the threat Islam is once again posing to the western world.   Multiculturalism is another factor that contributes to this blindness, as western nations welcome hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees into their countries.

Ancient Rome suffered many setbacks before it finally fell, but the last blow came from the new religion of Islam, which swept all before it.   We now see history repeating itself.

Michael Morrell, author of “The Great War of Our Time,” a book that helps us understand the very serious threat from militant Islam, was interviewed on CBS Thursday morning.   Mr. Morrell is a former Assistant Director of the CIA.   In his interview he was asked how the fight against extremism is going.   He replied that there are three battlefields.   One is a military battle in Iraq and Syria.   Here, he said, we have a “stalemate.”   The other two are the ideological battle to win the hearts and minds of young people in the West; and the battle against other militant organizations around the world linking up with ISIS.   These two, he said, we are losing.   In other words, we are not doing well against this very serious threat.  One reason for this is that intelligence reports are being doctored to make it look as if the US is winning against ISIS.   A report on this appeared in today’s Daily Beast.

He also discussed increasing Russian encroachment into Syria. Building an air base, with a view to making air attacks on behalf of Syria’s President Assad.   The flow of Russian arms over Bulgaria and Greece has now been stopped, but Russia can still send arms via Iran.   Moscow and Tehran are working together to keep Assad in power.

Although there are only 16 months left of the present Administration, there is no guarantee of any improvement under another.   Political correctness has made it very difficult for anybody to see clearly the threat from militant Islam.

9/11 in 2001 was just the start of the latest Islamic push against the West.

It may yet turn out to be the “push” the biblical Book of Daniel predicts will happen “at the time of the end.”

40 And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.” (Daniel 11:40).

This prophecy is about a powerful Islamic leader who “pushes” against the King of the North, a revived Roman Empire.

Interestingly, in the midst of the migrant crisis, where hundreds of thousands are fleeing Islamic lands and moving into Europe, there are increasing European calls for a united effort to deal with this crisis.   The root of the crisis is the Syrian civil war.   Russia is increasingly involved in the conflict, which means it will go on even longer.

It’s also possible that many of the refugees are being sent deliberately by ISIS into Europe, giving them a far greater advantage than they ever had in 1683.   In the last hour, Saudi Arabia, which has taken no refugees from Syria, announced it will help those fleeing to Germany – by building 200 mosques in which they can worship.   This will, of course, advance the cause of Islam even further.

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was in London this morning where he told British Prime Minister David Cameron that the “Middle East is disintegrating.”   The region remains the world’s most dangerous neighborhood.   Recent developments and increasing threats pose real dangers for the West in general and Israel in particular.

The Middle East and Europe are still at the center of world events, just as they were on September 11th, 1683.

 

WHAT’S BEHIND THE MIGRANT CRISIS?

Immigrants

Hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens have either arrived in Europe in recent months, or will do soon.

There are daily reports of migrants dying in great numbers.  Just today, 71 deaths were reported after an abandoned truck was forced open in Austria.   This number included four children.  It is thought they all suffocated.  It is also thought they came from Syria. Also today, 200 are feared dead after their boats capsized off the coast of Libya.

There has always been a trade in human beings.   The end-time economic system called Babylon, prophesied in Revelation 18, lists the trade in the “bodies and souls of men” as one of the thriving businesses (v.13) that make up the final economic system.  One aspect of this trade is the millions that are being made from “helping” people escape war-zones and get into Western Europe illegally.   There are plenty of people willing to cash in, trading in human misery.

Under international agreements on refugees, people fleeing dangerous situations should go to the nearest country where they can seek help.   Instead, they are routinely going through a number of countries to reach the wealthy, welfare-generous nations of Western Europe.

Not all these arrivals are fleeing from war and upheaval.   Many interviewed on TV news programs are coming from democratic nations that have a free enterprise system.   There is no reason for them to migrate, except the desire to better themselves, by taking advantage of all the freebies available in their new country.

However, some are fleeing from war.   Their lives are at risk.

Although the US is not directly affected by this migrant surge, the wars can be blamed on America.   The refugees are escaping from the continuing carnage in Iraq and Syria, with lesser numbers from Afghanistan and Somalia.   All four of these countries are Islamic – there are plenty of Islamic countries they could migrate to, but instead they want to go to Europe or Australia.

The naïve assumption that American style democracy could be introduced into Islamic countries divided by religious hatreds that go back centuries and with no tradition of tolerance or freedom has bequeathed today’s migrant disaster upon the European continent.

But, naïveté  is not restricted to America.   Many Europeans seem to think they can take in all these refugees and assimilate them into their irreligious social democracies.   This is not going to happen.

What is more likely is that the post-World War II social order in Europe will start to unravel.   Xenophobic right-wing parties are gaining strength with the new arrivals.   Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel was booed when she went to speak at an arrival center for migrants, a center that was earlier burnt down by extremists opposed to their arrival.

European governments seem incapable of handling this crisis, due to the sclerotic administrative structures that comprise the European Union.   Added to which are human rights laws that make it almost impossible to turn anyone away.

But people are starting to demand change.   Anti-immigrant parties are seeing increased support.   The Sweden Democrats are now the largest party in Sweden, the country that has been the most generous in taking in Syrian migrants.   UKIP, the United Kingdom Independence Party, won over 13% of the vote in the recent British election.   France’s National Front is expected to do well in the next French election.

It should be noted that Donald Trump is capitalizing on similar anti-immigrant feeling in the US.   People in many western countries feel their way of life and culture are threatened with so many migrants.

When Jesus Christ said of the end-time that “nation will rise against nation” (Matthew 24:7), He was predicting increased ethnic conflict. The Greek word for “nation” is ethnos, a reference to ethnic groups rather than political entities.

The primary causes of migration are ethnic and religious conflict; in turn, the migrants are bringing ethnic and religious tensions into their new countries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHERE HAVE ALL THE CHILDREN GONE?

Children

On Friday afternoon, I took two of my granddaughters to the fair.   The St. Johns Mint Festival, to be exact.   St. Johns is a small town north of Lansing, Michigan.

Their father (my son) came along, too.

We got there a little early and the only thing running was the pony rides.   At previous fairs, the girls were given a very short, once round the circle, ride for $5.  This time, they went round at least ten times for the same price.

It was hot and humid so I sat down on one of two plastic chairs.   The owner came and sat down next to me.

He told me that when he started taking his ponies to county fairs, there were hundreds of children enthusiastically wanting a ride. Now, the numbers are down to a mere handful.  He said kids would rather spend time on electronic gadgets, but then made a comment on how many millions of children have been aborted, depriving us all of the joy of seeing happy children enjoying themselves at fairs and in the streets.

The man told me he was 81.   From what he said he clearly felt I was about the same age, asking me how many GREAT grandchildren I have.   I responded by saying that all my grandchildren are great.  I added that I am “only” 64!

Later, while the girls went on other rides, I sat down at a table with a rather uncomfortable bench.   Another man, looking a bit like he might be 81, sat down next to me and ate a meal he had just bought. I asked him if he was with his grandchildren. His sad response was: “No, I’m all alone.   My family is dying out!”

Diane and I are privileged to have eight grandchildren whom we love dearly, but the Rhodes name is still dying out.   Only two of the eight have the name “Rhodes” and, when they marry, they won’t have it, so the name will go with them.   Fortunately, I have five nephews in England who will ensure the family continues, at least on that side of the Atlantic.

In a restaurant a few months ago, we met an elderly couple in their eighties, who told us they had 40 grandchildren and were awaiting the birth of their 25th great grandchild.   Can you believe that?   Yet, their familial situation would not have been unusual in previous generations.   It has become unusual in this generation; I should add “in the western world.”   It’s not unusual in many other parts of the world.   For four centuries the Bible believing Protestants, who dominated the West, took seriously God’s command to “go forth and multiply” (Gen 1:28).   That era has gone and birth control has made it possible.

It helps explain why the dynamics are changing in the United States and elsewhere.   Nations are changing hands, as they pass from one dominant ethnic group to others.  You can see this very clearly in Western Europe.   Because America is a much bigger country with a lower population density, we don’t see it as much, but demographic trends show it is still happening.

President Theodore Roosevelt warned, when the first Planned Parenthood clinic opened in 1916, that it would lead to the death of the race.   And that was before abortion. It’s not just abortion that has led to this dramatic change.   All forms of birth control have contributed to it.

But we can’t blame birth control, either.   Birth control was simply the means.   But we, the people, made it happen by choosing a higher standard of living over the responsibility of more children.

Let’s face it, we didn’t give it much thought.   It was a no-brainer.

But the result is exactly what TR said a century ago – we are now facing the death of the race.  In every country where Europeans and their descendants have dominated for centuries, significant changes are taking place.  Not one of those countries will still have a dominant western culture by the end of this century.

It’s a sobering reality and perhaps the most significant one happening right now.

A few months ago, NPR reported that Ann Arbor, one of the most affluent areas in Michigan, had seen a 40% drop in school enrollments in ten years.   Just pause for a moment and think of the effect this is going to have on the local economy.   The figure will be roughly the same across the US, except in areas with a high population of Hispanics, Muslims and others, who all have a much higher birthrate.   They may fill the gap in terms of numbers, but how much will that change the country?   Additionally, will they volunteer to defend us against our enemies, to whom many of them will feel a closer cultural connection?

Interestingly, when we visited Ann Arbor last month for medical appointments, we stopped at Costco, which now has an halal meat section occupying a significant part of the freezer area.   Headless sheep hung there, covered in burlap so that sensitive Anglo eyes would not freak out!   This is illustrative of how things are changing.

The St. Johns Mint Festival is highly unlikely to make the national news, but the declining numbers of children wanting pony rides illustrates the most significant trend in America, the fact that many couples no longer want children.

A nation that does not make the raising of children a priority is doomed to failure.   Worse . . . to extinction.

CLUELESS CANADIANS . . . AND EVERYBODY ELSE

Canadian election day

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s an election going on – in Canada!

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the election a couple of weeks ago, allowing 78 days of campaigning before the general election.   Many Canadians are not happy about the grueling eleven weeks of electioneering.  Normally, an election is held 35 days after being called.  They should try living in America – here, 78 days would seem merciful!

As with all elections, there are many issues to be discussed.   But one is national security and here the three main parties are very different.  Canada has already been attacked by al-Qaeda operatives and those inspired by ISIS – there was a threat to behead Mr. Harper himself, then last year an attack on parliament in Ottawa.   A Canadian soldier at the War Memorial in Ottawa was killed.   A few days earlier, two members of the Canadian Armed Forces were deliberately hit by a vehicle in Quebec, causing the death of one.

So, it’s not unsurprising that Mr. Harper takes national security seriously.  Even without these incidents, he might have done anyway, as he had already boosted the armed forces and committed Canada to further involvement in the wars on terror.

Sadly, the other two party leaders are clueless on this issue.

Tarek Fatah of the Middle East Forum wrote an article in the Toronto Sun August 11th, titled “Why Canada’s Left has lost my vote.”   Accompanying the article was a photo of New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair.   His socialist party is now the main opposition party to the currently ruling Conservative party.   Mr. Mulcair believes that the war against ISIS “is not our fight.”

“This political cowardice within the Left, camouflaged in a burka of anti-war rhetoric, is visible right here in Canada.   Both New Democratic Party (NDP) Leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau have demonstrated the symptoms of appeasement,” writes Mr. Fatah, who is a Muslim.

In a televised debate, Mr. Mulcair also remarked that:  “(W)e know that a lot of the horrors that we are seeing are the direct result of the last misguided war (U.S invasion of Iraq).”

Fatah adds:  “Mr. Mulcair thinks it is America’s fault that ISIS beheads fellow Muslims, pushes homosexuals off roofs and enslaves women.”

In rejecting the idea that everything going on is America’s fault, Mr. Fatah’s most telling comment is follows:  “Nonsense, jihadis have been doing this since the dawn of Islam.”

The Liberals, in recent decades the dominant party in Canada, are also clearly out of touch with contemporary reality.   “As for that other man seeking to replace Stephen Harper, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s positions on Canada’s and the West’s national security reflect his fear of offending Islamofascists.

“When CBC’s Terry Milewski asked Trudeau, “If you don’t want to bomb a group as ghastly as ISIS, when would you ever support real military action?” Trudeau’s response was shocking. “That’s a nonsensical question,” he retorted.”

It seems that only Mr. Harper lives in the real world.

However, this does not mean his party will win the election.  The electorate throughout the western world is just as clueless as most Canadians.   It seems unlikely to change.

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In the neighboring land of never-ending elections, the term “War on Women” is not being applied to ISIS, but rather to the Republicans, whose leading candidate Donald Trump has made some very unwise and tactless comments on the female sex.   Conservative columnist Cal Thomas had this to say in today’s Lansing State Journal:

“The real war on women is an economy that has left a record 93 million people out of the labor force; 56 million of these non-workers are women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The war on women is also about the 56 million aborted babies who will never have a chance at life thanks to the lies Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers tell women about their babies.”

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The war on women continues to be vigorously pursued by ISIS.   Rape has become a recruiting tool.   It’s not surprising that ISIS keeps growing.

Meanwhile, from the UK comes the following report, sent to me by one of my brothers:

“Religious sectarianism is on the rise in Britain’s Muslim community and threatens to spill over into violent crime and terrorism, leading clerics warned yesterday.   An investigation by The Times has found a sharp but largely hidden rise in sectarian tensions between the minority Shia community and the dominant Sunni groups, driven by the long, bitter war in Syria.  Ill-feeling is being stoked by vitriolic preachers on both sides of the divide — including some who lecture at British universities — and incidents such as assaults, attacks on buildings and intimidation online.   Sayed Ammar Nakshwani, one of the world’s leading Shia clerics, revealed that he recently left Britain for the United States after enduring years of intimidation from hardline Sunnis who allegedly threatened his life, followed his parents and vandalised his car.”

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USA Today disclosed yesterday that there are 12,800 transgendered people serving in the US military.   Their treatment costs $5.6 million a year.   The number really surprised me.

This is clearly the age of sexual confusion, most probably the result of the breakdown of the family.

It brings to mind the last words in the Old Testament:

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
And he will turn
The hearts of the fathers to the children,
And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”  (Malachi 4:5-6)

A father’s role is so important in the raising of children. Yet so many are not involved in the lives of their boys and girls.

I would like to think that we are close to the return of Jesus Christ. Certainly, world conditions, particularly in the Middle East, indicate this is the case.   However, I do not believe these two verses have been fulfilled yet – and that must come first.

Any thoughts?

(A big thank-you to those who have contributed to the costs of my blog in recent weeks. I really appreciate the support.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MORE OBSERVATIONS

Hiroshima

It seems as if our ancestors did nothing right.

The latest example is the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima seventy years ago August 6th.

70,000 people were killed instantly while another 70, 000 died of severe burns within weeks.

The BBC World Service (radio) led with a longer than usual report from Hiroshima.  One of their veteran correspondents concluded his report by asking when the United States is going to apologize for what it did seven decades ago.

Particularly disturbing was that a group of university students from Princeton were in Hiroshima for the commemorations yesterday.   Those that were interviewed all thought the US should apologize. One even went so far as to say that the US, as the world’s leader, should set everybody an example by dismantling its nuclear weapons, then the others would follow!   Fortunately, he is too young to run for president!

If you had any doubts, it’s clear what young people are being taught in schools – the slant is always anti-American.   The US is always to blame.   Well, not just the US – we will come to that later.

For the record, the dropping of the bombs (a second one was dropped on Nagasaki three days later) ended World War II in the Pacific.   Before the atomic bombs there was no hint that the Japanese would surrender.   The US would have lost a further 100,000 men, an estimate of how many would die fighting their way to Japan through the jungles of the Philippines and other islands.   In addition, thousands of sailors would have died.   The USS Indianapolis was sunk just a few days before Hiroshima, with the loss of almost a thousand men.

A second benefit of the bomb is that, seventy years later, no country has used an atomic or nuclear device since.   What happened in Japan seventy years ago has made world leaders hesitate before starting something that would lead to massive retaliation on them.

This is likely to change as Mideast nations, starting with Iran, get the bomb.   India and Pakistan could also use theirs against each other.

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Which brings us to the other nation everybody likes to bash, including Generation Y.

At the time the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the British were still ruling India, which included Pakistan and Bangladesh.   After two centuries, they were about to withdraw from the sub-continent.   Now, there are increasing calls for reparations. The Oxford Union (Oxford is one of Britain’s two most famous universities) debated the issue last month and voted in favor of reparations. The Indian prime minister has added his own view, demanding the British pay up.

What is interesting here is that the leaders of India’s independence movement did not call for financial reparations – and they were in a much better position to know if reparations were called for.

But they were also aware that the British were responsible for laying a solid foundation throughout India – including one of the best railway systems in the world, a solid infrastructure, parliamentary government, the rule of law, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, the English language, which India’s first prime minister described as “India’s window to the world” and a first-class military, which had served the British Empire well.   In addition, the British kept the peace on the North-West Frontier, where the Taliban, al-Qaeda and, now, ISIS, are active.

Those early leaders were content to build on these strengths.   They did not demand reparations, though they did ask for aid.   That aid is still coming from Britain and other western nations, even though India itself is quite wealthy.

The current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, should be thankful for British rule.   Without it, India’s democratic system would not exist and he would not be in power!

India has the potential to become the greatest economic power in the world.   The country is only diminished by calls for reparations, as if they can’t take care of themselves.   To use an analogy, all of Britain’s offspring have been independent adults for fifty plus years – isn’t it a little embarrassing to go back home and ask for money?

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Talking of the sub-continent, a fourth blogger has been murdered in Bangladesh for his comments on Islam.   The religion of peace clearly is not big enough to handle criticism!

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Little attention has been given to President Obama’s decision to alter the Oath of Allegiance, taking into account Islamic beliefs.

According to the Middle East Forum: “On July 21, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced some “modifications” to the Oath of Allegiance that immigrants must take before becoming naturalized. The original oath required incoming citizens to declare that they will “bear arms on behalf of the United States” and “perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States” when required by the law. Now the USCIS says that “a candidate [to U.S. citizenship] may be eligible to exclude these two clauses based on religious training and belief or a conscientious objection.”

Why is this “necessary”?

Because, although Islam allows Muslims to fight for a non-Muslim country, it does not allow believers to fight other believers.   In other words, American Muslims are not going to be helping in the fight against radical Islamic extremism. In effect, they will be helping the other side!

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What does it say about us when more attention is given to the hunting death of a lion in Zimbabwe than to the selling of baby body parts in restaurants?

Richard Weikart’s “From Darwin to Hitler”, shows the progression from the Theory of Evolution down to all the sins that plague the western world today.   Abortion, the murder of innocent children unable to defend themselves, is a sin before God.   We can dress it up as “a woman’s right to choose”, or a “female health issue”, but murder is murder and should be called such.

The prophet Isaiah put it well when he said that “The whole head is sick, And the whole heart faints. From the sole of the foot even to the head, There is no soundness in it” (Isa 1:5b-6a).

We can’t think straight any more.

If King David were alive today, he would no doubt be languishing in a prison somewhere for killing lions in his earlier role as a shepherd! (I Samuel 17:34-36).

From now on, I shall refer to him as ‘David, the lion killer.”   It’s just another way of showing how ridiculous political correctness is.

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BW Reunion Group
Back row standing: Simone (Carol Johnson) Albert, Carol (Wooten) Boyer, Alan Boyer, Susan and Colin Lauchlan, Phil Shields, Mark and Donna (Pattemore) Rhodes, Steve and Denise (Branham) Acerra, Richard and Annette (Weatherley) Forkun. Sitting on chairs/couch: Anita Wickham-Becker, Melvin and Diane (Hoot) Rhodes, Patricia (Kingsmore) Hayward, Carole (Beeston) Shields, Suzy Blackwell, Carl Hayward. Sitting on floor: Leo and Jane (Patterson) Van Pelt, Lowell Blackwell.

On a more uplifting note, Diane and I spent last weekend with old (and I mean old) friends from Bricket Wood, the English campus of Ambassador College, that closed down in 1974.

Apart from a few spouses, everybody present attended BW in the early seventies.

Although we are all now in different churches or no church at all, it did not detract one bit from the spirit of unity, friendliness and love that we all felt.

All people who profess to follow Jesus Christ should remember what He said was the identifying sign of real Christians:  “By this shall all men know you are my disciples, that you love one another.” (John 13:35)

We hope to do this again sometime!  (No pressure, Tricia!)

OBAMA’S AFRICAN VISIT

Barack-Obama-Kenya

Only an African-American president could say it and get away with it!

President Obama on his visit to Kenya and Ethiopia was able to pointedly criticize African leaders for their corruption, human rights abuses, abuse of power and unwillingness to ever relinquish office.

Nobody could accuse him of racism.

Mr. Obama said things that have long needed to be said.

In contrast to his speeches on the Middle East, which are always filled with controversy and generally seem to make things worse, his speeches in Nairobi and Addis Ababa could only upset Africa’s corrupt leaders.   Ethiopian primary school teacher, Hikma Lemma had just one regret:  “He took too long to come.”   (“In Ethiopia, a cry for basic freedoms,” USA Today, July 28th.)

Things will not change quickly.  Indeed, they may not change at all, but it was still good to hear the president address these basic issues.

“Ethiopia jails the most journalists in Africa after Eritrea, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.   Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned the country’s human rights record.   And in May, the State Department expressed concern over how the elections that month could result in all seats being won by the ruling party and its partners.   The department noted lingering ‘restrictions on civil society, media, opposition parties, and independent voices and views.” (ibid, USA Today).

At the start of his African trip, Mr. Obama spoke candidly to Kenyans, warning them against the twin evils of corruption and tribalism.  He could have addressed both issues in any of Africa’s 54 countries and his listeners would generally have applauded him. Only the leaders would have sat stone-faced and emotionless, probably wishing they had invited the Chinese leader to visit instead of the American president.   China, much more involved in Africa, does not comment on human rights abuses or corruption.

Boldly, Mr. Obama even addressed the persecution of gays in Africa. Most African governments deny that homosexuality even exists in their countries.   Certainly, all governments are guilty of a double standard in this regard.   At least one country has a prominently displayed sign in its airport warning “perverts and sexual deviants” to stay away, but saying nothing about the many prostitutes offering themselves in all the hotels.

In Addis Ababa, Mr. Obama addressed delegates of the African Union, whose headquarters are in Addis Ababa.   Introducing him was the Chairwoman of the AU, who did not always tell the truth. She criticized the United Nations because Africa is the only continent that does not have a permanent representative on the Security Council.   In actual fact, neither South America nor Australia are represented, either.

The US president expressed incredulity that any president would want to serve indefinitely.  He said he is looking forward to retirement and being able to go places without a massive security detail.  He said it was particularly difficult to understand when so many African presidents have so much money, another reference to corruption, enabling leaders to amass great wealth while their people go hungry.   Unwillingness to leave office is also linked to corruption – African presidents fear being investigated for corruption when they stand down.

Underscoring his points was the absence of the current AU Chairman Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, one of the richest men on earth.   Mr. Mugabe has been president of his country since independence in 1980, presiding over a number of rigged elections.

Mr. Obama mentioned, too, that Americans don’t want to keep on sending Africa free food, but would rather teach Africans how to farm more efficiently.   He could have added that the continent would do well to encourage western (white) farmers to remain in Africa, as their farming skills produce greater crop yields.   Zimbabwe was once the grain basket of Africa – it’s people now go hungry because Mr. Mugabe evicted the white farmers.

Western reporters were also guilty of not telling the whole truth. Much was said during coverage of the African visit about what America is doing for Africa, with some focus on a program to help those with AIDS, a disease that, in Africa, is transmitted almost exclusively by heterosexuals.   Not once did I hear mention of the fact that the program was the initiative of George W. Bush, Mr. Obama’s predecessor.   With this one single program, he did more for Africa than any other president.

It would be nice to think that, with this one single visit to Africa, President Obama might accomplish something else on a grand scale – the end of corruption, together with real progress toward greater democracy.   The two together would boost the living standards of the entire continent.

It remains to be seen whether his visit will make a difference.   But his candid comments were certainly a good start!

 

PEACE IN OUR TIME

obama+chamberlain

President Obama’s peace deal with Iran brings to mind Neville Chamberlain’s visit to Munich in 1938.   That was when he met with “Herr Hitler” and came back waving a piece of paper, proudly proclaiming “peace in our time.”   One year later he had to declare war on Hitler.   A broken man, he died a few months after that.

When hearing assurances of peace in our time, I am not only reminded of Neville Chamberlain.  I also remember the words of the Apostle Paul in I Thessalonians 5:3.  “For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman.   And they shall not escape.”

Whether or not this verse is applicable specifically to the Iran peace treaty remains to be seen.  The Middle East is a very volatile region and the West seems unable to keep its collective nose out of it, so further conflicts are inevitable.

However, involvement by the West is not an essential component of any Mideast conflict.  Regional powers are quite capable of warring amongst themselves.

A root cause of conflict in the region is the Sunni-Shia divide within Islam.  Iran is the leader of the Shi’ite camp, fighting ISIS in Iraq, which is now ruled by Shia Muslims, thanks to western intervention in the country.   Syria’s Assad is another proxy of Iran. Tehran is also supporting Houthi rebels in Yemen against the Saudi backed Sunni Muslims.

The fear of Iran amongst the Sunnis is palpable.   Fear of an Iranian nuclear bomb is inevitably going to lead to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey trying to acquire the same.   Turning to al-Qaeda for help against ISIS is another.  Yes, that’s right – these three countries, allies of the US, are now backing al-Qaeda against the Islamic State! The British  Spectator  magazine has a really good article on this latest development in the current issue.   (“The enemy’s enemy:  how Arab states have turned to al-Qa’eda” by Ahmed Rashid, 18th July).

The other major conflict in the Middle East is the more familiar one between the Jews and the Palestinians.   In modern history this predates Israel’s independence in May, 1948.   The never-ending conflict saw its latest flare up last year when Hamas (supported by Iran) lobbed thousands of missiles at Israeli settlements.   When Israel retaliated to defend itself, world opinion inevitably turned against Israel.

The dispute is not over.  It will flare up again.   As will problems with Lebanese based Hizbollah (also Iranian backed) and the Palestinians on the West Bank.

This can also escalate into a religious dispute.   According to the Israeli Video Network, the Israeli Minister of Housing and Construction, Uri Ariel, called on Friday for the construction of a Third Temple in place of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which sits on the Temple Mount.

“The first Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE, the second Temple in 70 CE, and ever since the Jewish People have been mourning its loss.”

“‘He then went on to say “Al-Aqsa Mosque is currently in place of the temple, despite the temple being much holier than it.   Al-Aqsa Mosque is only the third most holy mosque in Islam.”   “Now that Israel has once again become a Jewish sovereign state, the desire to rebuild the Temple is growing stronger and stronger”, he added.”

Excavations under the Al-Aqsa led to violent demonstrations by Palestinians a few years ago.  Any attempt to replace the Al-Aqsa with a new Temple building would likely provoke World War III!

This does not mean to say that nothing will happen.   As Mr. Ariel said, “the desire to rebuild the Temple is growing stronger and stronger.”

Jerusalem has been fought over more than any other city.   It’s not over yet.   ”When you shall see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that it’s desolation is near” (Luke 21:20).   Jesus said this in response to His disciples asking about future events that would precede His second coming.

These two disputes go back centuries.  Nothing we do today is going to resolve them.   Between them, they daily threaten Mideast peace. If both flare-up at the same time, the whole world could be engulfed in a never-ending conflagration.

A further potential conflict, made more likely by the peace deal with Iran, is a war between Israel and Iran.  Israel’s prime minister has reacted very negatively to the peace treaty.  He is now working on the US Congress to try to get that body to reject the peace treaty.  If that fails, his last option will be to bomb Iran.  An alternative to that is to wait until Iran actually has the bomb and can then attack Israel.

In addition to the three major conflicts that can quickly escalate, there are “minor” conflicts like the civil war in Syria, continuing anarchy in Libya and the possibility of war between Turks and Kurds.

World leaders should be careful proclaiming “peace and safety” (“peace in our time”), lest “sudden destruction “ should come upon them.

UNCERTAIN DEALS

Map for deals

Two current international “deals” may yet amount to nothing.

The European Union’s latest deal with Greece, the third bailout of the country in the last five years, may yet fail.

The Greek government may not be able to get the agreement through parliament as it is only going to make austerity harder for the Greek people.

Four bills need to be passed in the next twenty-four hours.   Pensions must be cut; taxes increased; the defense budget slashed and steps taken toward privatizing ports and other government owned enterprises, which it is hoped will cut corruption and make things more efficient.   As the ruling party, Syriza, is very left-wing, there’s a good possibility the parliament will not approve everything.   The Greek population voted against further austerity less than a month ago.

There is concern, too, beyond Greece’s borders.   European creditor countries are fully aware that, even if the Greek parliament approves the agreement, they may not keep their word.   It’s happened before.   This would mean that, in a few months, Greece will be back, asking for a further bailout.

A further set-back occurred this morning when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced that Greece’s debt was “unsustainable” and that the country needs a much greater infusion of cash from the EU.   The EU bailout deal has, at least, united all concerned in the conviction that it won’t work!    The Greek problem is not about to go away.

Then there’s the deal between six western powers and Iran.

The British Guardian Weekly wasn’t sure which deal to put on its front page, Greece or Iran.   Right up to the last minute, Greece was going to be the leader, but then the deal with Iran came through.  The paper decided that the Iranian deal was the more important one, with far reaching implications.   But both deals could have both short-term and long-term negative consequences.

On Iran, the headline on the Fox News website was: “Win for Putin?” Putin has been supportive of Iran, Syria’s Assad and Shi’ites in general.

It’s certainly a win for Iran, which can look forward to the lifting of international sanctions.

The best the West can hope for is that this will buy time, that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons for at least the next ten years, by which time, democracies being as they are, none of those signing the agreement today, will still be in power.   They can, as with so many things, kick the can down the road.

However, even if this presupposes Iran will keep its side of the deal.   That’s no more likely than Greece abiding by the terms of the EU bailout deal.

Anyway, it doesn’t really matter what the West thinks about the Iranian deal.

Israel’s prime minister has described the deal as “a mistake of historic proportions,” that it endangers his country.   He added:  “the more you read it, the worse it gets.”   Iran has been screaming “Death to Israel.  Death to America,” for over 35 years.   A recent demonstration in Tehran showed mobs screaming the same again. Perhaps nobody in Washington has been watching!

But, even Israel is not the country most concerned about the agreement.   The Sunni Arab states are.   Almost certainly, they will see through this agreement and their fears of Shia Iran acquiring nuclear weapons will lead them to acquire the same.   It may take a few years, but they will be driven by a great sense of urgency.   Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt are the three countries most likely to pursue their own bomb, with immediate help from Pakistan, which already has the bomb.   Saudi Arabia certainly has the money for this.

The greatest threat to world peace remains the Sunni-Shia conflict, a struggle that has continued for over thirteen centuries.   Although an Obama Administration spokesman expressed the hope that the Iran deal would help bring a resolution to the ancient conflict, this is at best naïve.   Nothing will end the conflict until the Messiah comes and sorts out the religious mess that is today’s world. Meanwhile, the US will be seen as siding with the Shi’ites against the Sunnis.   Tehran and Damascus must be celebrating at this development.

The Iranian deal brings to mind I Thessalonians 5:3 :  “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail Upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (KJV).

Thankfully, Jesus Christ is returning to end the spiritual confusion. “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.”  (Matthew 24:22).