Monday, September 22, 2014

Map on Monday: America's Unified Combatant Commands

The map above (click to enlarge) explains how the United States military has arranged structures of command and authority for engaging in military conflict throughout the world. Historically forged out of the crucible of the Second World War, each Command is led by a four-star General or Admiral who is given command over the forces operating within his "Area of Responsibility" (AOR). The United States Central Command (USCENTCOM), for example, is currently headed by General Lloyd Austin, who effectively commands military units within the Mideast with the exception of Israel (which falls under the boundaries of the United States European Command).

The six regional or geographical Commands, along with some of their primary responsibilities, include:
  1. United States Africa Command (all Africa with the exception of Egypt)
  2. United States Central Command (Mideast, Afghanistan, central Asia)
  3. United States European Command (Europe, Russia, Turkey, Israel, Caucasus region)
  4. United States Northern Command (the United States, Canada, Mexico)
  5. United States Pacific Command (India, China, Japan, Australia, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Koreas) 
  6. United States Southern Command (Cuba, South America, Latin America)

In addition to the six geographically-structured Commands, there are three additional Commands described in functional terms: United States Special Operations Command (responsible for US Special Forces and Special Operations units); United States Strategic Command (responsible for operations in space, missile defense, nuclear weapons, and military intelligence); and United States Transportation Command (responsible for global defense transportation and military logistics).

In future Map on Monday posts, we will return to each of the six geographic Unified Combatant Commands for further examination and analysis.

President Bush meets with the Joint Chiefs and United Combatant Commanders

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, September 20

Religion and Geopolitics Review this week includes:
The Islamic State (IS) has a clear religious vision of their goals and enemies and future recruits. We must be clear as well. They propose erasing artificial borders dividing national entities of Syria, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon; and creating a seamless religious organization of communal life under the new caliph.  They are fighting to establish a foothold in the Levant (the L in ISIL as the President calls them). They will extend north into Turkey and reunite with the huge Muslim population ringing the southern borders of Russia. This return of the Ottoman caliphate poses a grievous threat to the Turkish nation-state, but it is not clear if the religiously awakened Sunnis of Turkey would weep over the loss. The strength of the Turkish state and the loyalties of the Turkish military will be key. The IS has many adherents across the globe who look to them as the most successful "strong man on a horse" in the Islamic world. They also have many natural enemies who we must engage in this war. They are the Christian Orthodox states (Greece, Serbia, and Russia); the Shia states (Iran, Iraq, and the Syrian remnant); the mixed Christian/Shiite/Sunni state of Lebanon; and the Sunni nations all over the world who have established themselves as Islamic nation-states.

It should trouble us that the coalition being organized by President Obama is to be centered in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis want us to join in their war against the Shia states of Iran and Syria. The Saudis are more responsible for the worldwide spread of the jihadist ideology than any state in the world today. Any coalition with them will pit us against the best organized armies willing  to fight the radical Salafist Sunnis.  How this crucial strategic alignment of allies and enemies will be formulated goes to the heart of the constitutional responsibility of Congress to declare war. It is now the duty of our statesmen to present arguments in the media, public assemblies, and the upcoming elections.

Here are some of the best arguments we have seen for a Christian/Shiite/Sunni nation-state alliance against the Sunni purification movement of the jihadists:
  1. Mr. Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, argues for a potential Iranian alliance in his recent piece on American strategy and alliances in the Middle East.
  2. Conservative journalist and author Pat Buchanan has made some of the most convincing geopolitical arguments for a different alignment.
  3. Finally, here is liberal world-affairs journalist Fareed Zakaria on rethinking our alliance with the Saudis.
 Anthropology of Accord  outlined a similar case a year ago:  A Christian Awakening on the Road to Damascus.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Map on Monday: The Communal Loyalties that Rule Most of the World

In our opening Map on Monday post, we presented the civilizational map of Samuel Huntington. This week we examine the map printed with Dr. David Pence's editorial in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The map (click to enlarge) is more focused than Huntington's. The multicolored key reveals the great religious identities underlying the conflicts between nations in current events. What is the gist of Professor Huntington's argument (that Dr. Pence further extends)? As the bi-polar world order of the Cold War came to an end, man's far deeper religious loyalties emerged to shape the geopolitical order in much of the world.

The most revealing combination of nations constitute the awakening Orthodox -- Russia, Greece, Serbia, Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria. In north Africa, the Mideast, and central Asia, Sunni Islam is dominant. Israel and Iran are displayed as two minority religious islands in a Sunni sea, the former Jewish and the latter Shia Muslim. Off the map to the southeast are the nations comprising  a third of the world's population: Hindu India and Confucian-Buddhist China.

Most nations of  Europe are colored as Catholics or Protestants. They are also outlined in red and described as "the secular West" by the Star Tribune. Dr. Pence actually refers to this area as the "atheist West." Secular is a designation of time differentiated from Eternal. Secular does not mean atheist. Every nation is secular insofar as it operates in a historical era (the Latin word saeculum refers to the length of a man's general lifespan). Nations are brotherhoods of men so they are spiritual realities, but some nations, like some men, conceive of  themselves as beings without God. They are  the atheist nations. They are defined not by men sharing military duty but by individuals navigating a boundless godless sea of time and space -- the Modern West.

There are Christian nations in Europe which we do not place within the atheist boundaries. These include the Catholic nations of Ireland, Hungary, and Poland. Although the Church hierarchy in Ireland has been deeply corrupted, Catholic communal roots still run deep. Her island status has kept Ireland distinct but not immune from the increasingly atheist zeitgeist of the continent. Poland, too, is tempted by the EU/NATO alliance but we attribute this more to Poland's historical memory of Russia than their grasping a modern Western identity. Hungary is much more robust in emerging as a Catholic nation. The land of Saint Stephen -- which also had been crushed by Soviet tanks -- has welcomed the awakening Orthodox Russia as a fellow Christian brother confronting the confusions of the West.

Understanding the religious loyalties that shape nations is no longer simply a religious matter. It is a geopolitical necessity.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, September 13

Religion and Geopolitics Review this week includes:
An article at the Washington Post's website describes what could be the unraveling of the United Kingdom, with Scotland voting on September 18 whether or not to seek independence. The article explains that the liberal-led Scottish independence movement under the Labour Party would take enough liberal representatives with them that it would leave Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party with a 37-seat majority. With this majority, Cameron could press forward with Great Britain's exit from the European Union.

As the United Kingdom distances itself from the European Union, the United States  presses ahead with plans to further integrate Ukraine into the European Union. This move by the US, however, is seen as the latest misstep in what Patrick Smith at the Fiscal Times ranks "among the worst of its numerous foreign-policy errors." In an article on Obama's foreign policy in Ukraine, Smith argues that President Obama's State Department, under Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, went forward with the coup in Ukraine despite the European-backed deal to hold a special Ukrainian presidential election last May.

Although tensions are on the rise between the United States and Russia, Hungarian-Russian relations have never been better. Hungary, whose new constitution explicitly speaks of the Christian faith in Hungary while rejecting the communist era and abortion, is beginning to reawaken as a Christian nation. As Hungary seeks to abandon the radical individualism of the liberal atheist West, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is now eyeing the illiberal political model used in "Singapore, China, India, Turkey, [and] Russia." Seeing Russia as its closest Christian ally, Hungary and Russia have begun deepening their ties.

Hungary and Russia are not the only ones looking at the "progressive" West with suspicion. Conservative  journalist and author Pat Buchanan has written on nationalism as a far greater ally than NATO (the armed wing of the atheist West). The rising tide of nationalism, Buchanan argues, will be a countervailing power on the European Union, Russia, and any imperial ambitions in China.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Map on Monday: Ten Most Populous Muslim Nations

The above map (click to enlarge) displays the ten most populous Muslim nations in the world. Surprisingly enough, there is only one Mideast Arab nation highlighted on this map - Egypt - and this nation is ranked only #6 on the list. In fact, the top five Muslim nations (Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nigeria) are not even located in the Mideast. While the vast majority of Muslim nations are Sunni Muslim, Iran (ranked #7) stands apart as the one Shiite nation on this map. Turkey (ranked #8) sits astride Europe and the Mideast -- but given its status as ethnically Turkic, Turkey stands apart from the ethnically Arab Sunni nations to its south.

Maps such as this should help us begin to dispel the myth of Islam as predominantly Arab and Mideastern.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Map on Monday: Invasion of Poland

Today marks the 75th anniversary of Nazi Germany's invasion of Catholic Poland in 1939 and the beginning of World War II. Not long after, the Marxist Soviet Union invaded from the east. Here is a map of the twin invasions and ultimate partition of Poland:

As the map shows, Poland was only the most recent nation conquered by the Nazis. They had already taken Austria in March 1938 and began seizing Czechoslovakia later that fall.

The partition of Poland between the Nazis and the Soviets was itself part of a larger non-aggression pact between Germany and Russia. This pact with the Soviets gave the Nazis the opportunity to turn its military westward for the conquest of France. By the autumn of 1940, the Nazis had done in one year what the Germans had failed to do in all the years of World War I.

As one article points out, Poland would suffer a harsh fate during the war and the later Communist occupation. Archbishop Fulton Sheen said: "Poland was crucified between two thieves: the Nazis and the Soviets."

Monday, August 25, 2014

Map on Monday: Religious Civilizations of Samuel Huntington

In his 1996 work entitled Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, the political scientist Samuel Huntington proposed the following world map structured primarily by religious loyalties:

Huntington argued that from the bi-polar world order of the Cold War, a civilizational world order would emerge built on the foundations of religion. One clear example of this may be seen in the Islamic civilization (spreading across north Africa, through the Mideast, and on to Indonesia). Others are found in the Hindu nation of India and the emerging Orthodox civilization binding together much of the old Soviet Union.

Civilizational fault lines  divide one civilization from another. Huntington uses the term fault line here because he argues that civilizational conflict will often occur geographically where one civilization meets another. It is precisely along such a boundary that one civilization clashes with another and where local conflict may easily widen to other parts of the same fault line. Huntington applied this concept to the conflict in Yugoslavia where Orthodox, Catholic, and Muslim civilizations met and the first post-Cold War European conflict broke out. We may also consider the current conflict in Ukraine in terms of Huntington's civilizational thesis.

Sometimes a civilizational fault line runs through a nation. In this case, one part of a country belongs to a civilization that the other part does not. This was exactly the situation with the nation of Sudan, which was divided into a Muslim north and a Christian south. Huntington's map above -- though made in the 1990s -- accurately predicted the 2011 emergence of South Sudan as a separate nation from the Muslim-dominated northern Sudan.

The late professor's map, however, is not without its issues. Perhaps the gravest problem is Huntington's insistence in defining western Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, etc. as the non-religious secular West. Thus after treating the world in largely religious terms, Huntington fails to apply the same treatment to western Europe and those nations who have deep colonial-immigrant ties to western Europe. This is certainly a comment on the world view linking Harvard Square to European bureaucrats.

We would paint most of Europe as atheist. We would link Britain, Australia, and Canada as English-speaking atheist. We would color America as Christian -- understanding that she can be tempted into the two atheist camps. Latin America is made up of Catholic nations who are less seduced now by the Marxist siren, but falling for the atheism of the sexual revolutionaries and globalized bureaucrats. Africa below the northern Muslim belt should be painted as Christian and ethnic. We would mark Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Croatia, and Ireland as Catholic nations. We will publish our variant of this map at a later date.

Despite its limitations, Samuel Huntington's conception of the world -- and that map inspired by it -- should be familiar to all those who look at the globe and seek to better understand the nations.