by David Pence
IRAN, THE BOMB, AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Do sanctions and blockade lead to peace or human rights? Consider this article about an Iranian dissident who supports both Nuclear Deal and Human Rights. He reminds us what most Americans do not appreciate as deeply as Iranians. Iran has been at war with the US and Israel since the 1979 revolution. Slogans such as Death to America! and Death to Israel! do not state the theology of Iran, but their state of war. "Kill the Hun" and "Destroy the Japs" is how we said it in America when we were at war with those two countries. The religious revolution in Iran drastically altered the landscape of alliances for both Israel and the US in the Mideast. It has been hard to reconfigure these relations even though Sunni extremism has recast the region in the last decade.
SAUDI ARABIA BOMBS THE SHIA OF YEMEN
The New York Times reports the obvious displeasure of the Iraq government with the Saudi bombing of the Shia Houthis of Yemen. The military response of the Saudis to ISIL in Iraq and AQAP in Yemen is miniscule compared to the ferocity of the bombings and blockade against the Houthis. The real enemies of the Sauds are Shia insurgencies -- the target was not the nation state of Iran but the communal religious enemy of Wahhabis: the Shia. The greatest danger from various Salafi Sunni movements to the US homeland comes from Al Qaeda of the Arabian Pennisula. Why don't the Saudis bomb those enemies of ours instead of the Shia Houthis? The Saudi bombing in fact has greatly aided AQAP. The foreign minister of Iraq (the government that was elected after the US overthrow of the secularist dictatorship of Saddam Hussein) asks the same question. The bombs were dropped. Shia were killed. For a moment the bombing had stopped. Then bombing resumed. Food shortages and access to necessities brought in by sea are as pressing a problem for Yemen Houthis who have armed themselves to protect themselves in this war-torn land. Armed Shia are considered a threat to Wahhabi Muslims even if they are in their own land. The strangest scenario is the clueless American press asking about Iranian arms while watching in plain daylight Saudi airplanes (fueled and directed by American intelligence) bombing the cities of their religious foes battling AQAP in another country.
Pat Buchanan provides a good summary of the opposing forces in Yemen.
ON TO ROME ACROSS THE SEA
The death of a thousand migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy is another cruel reminder that the NATO bombing campaign against the Libyan state in 2011 didn't quite end the way NATO explains at their site on NATO and Libya. One video ends with pictures of women and children waving peace signs and a text declaring: "By the end of 2011, Libya was a free country." The reality of Libya is mindful of the 1970 era right after the 'peace and love summers' in San Francisco, when bikers and thugs took over the hippies' neighborhood. The lesson remains. Order is necessary for liberty; and the killing of a dictator must be followed by the construction of a state, or he will be replaced by a hundred pirates and a thousand petty tyrants.
Looking at a map of the Mediterranean we see the Roman target that Hannibal saw from Carthage (present day Tunis in Tunisia). We see the land across the sea that present-day migrants from the failed states of northern Africa pray for. Finally, we are reminded of the strategic role of Malta as a small island between warring empires. On to Rome! is an ISIL phrase that resonates -- may the Knights of Malta intervene again.
EAST AFRICA: SMALL MOVEMENTS IN FAILED SMALL ISLAMIC STATES TORMENT CHRISTIAN MEN FROM LARGE ENFEEBLED CHRISTIAN STATES
Ethiopia has been Christian since the first century. Christianity became a state religion in the same century as Constantine's Rome (330 AD). Ethiopia is 90 million strong (two-third Christian, the rest Muslim). On April 20, 2015, the nation watched an ISIL video of 30 Christian countrymen beheaded in Libya (6 million; 97% Sunni Islam) because they would not deny Christ. Every man killed could have saved his life by renouncing Our Lord. Two weeks earlier on Holy Thursday the Christian country of Kenya (45 million; 65% Christian) had a university border town attacked by four Islamic fighters of Somalian al Shabab. There were 150 Christian students killed on Holy Thursday -- some at a Holy Week prayer service, others separated from Muslim students in dormitories and classrooms. Somalia, the coastal country home of al Shabaab, is 99% Muslim with a population of 10 million. The fleeing Christians of Quaroqish needed armed Christian protection as ISIL advanced. A good summary of the last several weeks and a question for American Christians.
FIGHTING LIKE A GIRL
There is something about the new way of war: sanctions against whole populations; high flying unmanned drones killing a man in his home and village; an aversion to boots on the ground; a behind-the-glass theme that I will kill for my country but not die. War by regulations favors bureaucrats, not special forces; thus the ladies of the European Union have opened up yet another front against the Russians.
AS RELIGION DECLINES IN EUROPE, PAGAN NATIONALISM RISES AS THE NEW COMMUNAL IDENTITY. ATHEISTIC EUROPEAN BUREAUCRACY CAN DAMAGE ENEMIES, LESS ABLE TO FOSTER LOYALTY
'Ummah' is an important Arabic concept for nation or community. It is a missing word and concept in all too many "realist" schools of foreign policy. Here it applies to Scotland, and shows us that the loss of religion in Europe is going to be filled by some kind of Ummah -- most likely a hyper-nationalism undisciplined by the universal moderating tendencies of religion.This is what happend as atheistic Communism threatened Europe in the 1920's and 30's, and Adolph Hitler argued that only a return to a hardy racial pagan warrior past could save Germany from the revenge of the Western powers and the perfidy of the Bolsheviks. Today in every country in Europe, the banner of nationalism has been ceded to the irreligious. Is the political party SNP the new Church of Scotland?
FINDING THE RIGHT VOCABULARY IN RESTORING CHRISTIAN CULTURE IN AMERICA
Prophetic religion, not civil rights, is what ended Jim Crow in the American South. Only when the nature of the debate became biblically grounded (not rights-oriented) did a Spirit-led movement triumph. Our cultural dilemna today is that once again we need to reframe the debate to rekindle the Spirit. Jennifer Morse makes a compelling argument why religious liberty is not the right flag. Christianity vs the Sexual Revolution is a better hill to take. Austin Ruse aims his hammer at the same nail when he writes that men don't march for natural law.
WHAT WE COULD LEARN FROM CHINA IN FOREIGN POLICY
China has its own jihadist warriors coming from the Turkic Muslim Uighurs in the western province of Xinjiang. Controlling this area depends on making allies with the foreign neighbor who could shut down the rebels or be their refuge. The pivotal country is Sunni Pakistan with their nuclear weapons, and their own dilemma of Salafist agitation against the state. China supplied some military aid (as always, the type of aid which Pakistan can point against perennial rival India). The preponderance of China's aid, however, will build infrastucture helping Pakistan as a country and strengthening claims of the state to serve their population. The Chinese are contributing real wealth that underlies the stability of their allied states as they complete another Silk Road project -- this time Pakistan. When the Chinese think infrastucture, they think big at home as well as abroad.
DEATH OF CARDINAL GEORGE OF CHICAGO AND RESIGNATION OF ARCHBISHOP FINN OF KANSAS CITY
On April 17, 2015, Cardinal Francis George died. He was installed as eighth archbishop of Chicago in 1997 to fill a vacancy left by the death of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin (November 1996). He was the first native Chicagoan to assume the office. These two reflections on his life by Father Barron and George Weigel tell us many good things about him. This criticism documents a failure to rule and protect. Cardinal George had an authentic kind of humility and a desire to to restore a "simply Catholic" culture. Many pictures of him are in a reflective mode depicting him as great intellectual. He did not see himself that way. The much more consequential Chicago prelate was his predecessor, Cardinal Bernadin. Cardinal George was not a strong enough man to reform the deep-seated corruption and lavenderizing of the Chicago priesthood. In civic matters, he did not understand the most rudimentary of political institutions. He once said:
“Instead of a world living in peace because it is without religion, why not imagine a world without nation states?…
“Few there are, however, who would venture to ask if there might be a better way for humanity to organize itself for the sake of the common good. Few, that is, beyond a prophetic voice like that of Dorothy Day, speaking acerbically about ‘Holy Mother the State’..."Cardinal George was the poster man of the exhausted bishop. His intellectual orthodoxy remained in the realm of ideas. He never enacted the orthopraxy of the protective shepherd. He threw up his hands to the world of men, nations, and war. When he had hiring powers and unopposed leadership he improved institutions like Mundelein Seminary. Some of his writing and a few of his quotes were trenchant. But he was no ruler of men. When he faced a predator like Father Dan McCormack, he ran away like the hireling -- and the wolf devoured his black male sheep. That was his most publicized failure to protect, but it was not an exception. He has left Chicago Catholics, and particularly young males, in the care of one of the nation's most deeply compromised presbyterates. He goes now to face the Good Shepherd. It is not clear he will rest in peace.
Archbishop Robert Finn resigned on April 20 as archbishop of St Joseph/Kansas City . We had urged the same in 2012. This article from the National Catholic Reporter recalls a lot of painful details.