Saturday, April 30, 2016

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, April 30

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


OUR TRUE ENEMY - THE SAUDIS: Jeb Bush never heard of the 28 pages. It cannot be in our national interest nor soothing to our better angels that we are implicated so deeply in the starving of  Yemen. To fight terrorism, start with the Saudis.

ISRAEL’S COLD ALLIANCE WITH ARABS AGAINST IRAN: This is a good explanation of the thinking behind the Israel-Saudi truce. Whether it still applies is a major question. It was Israel’s view that Iran would unite their fellow Muslims  around the common objective of destroying Israel. The Persian Shiites knew they had many differences with the Sunni Arabs. Thus hatred of the common enemy would be their strategy for regional dominance.

ON SAUDI ARABIA - EXCELLENT TALK BY BRUCE REIDEL, A TRUE MIDEAST EXPERTMr. Reidel of the Brookings institute is as blinded by feminism as most Beltway experts but he is also very observant and articulate. He can describe complicated political situations in a way that all can learn from him. This speech is the best public description of the succession players in Saudi Arabia. The new King Salman (over 80), the Crown Prince bin Nayef (in his 50’s, competent anti-terrorist fighter, and pro-American), and the Deputy Crown Prince - King Salmon's favorite son in his 30’s. Muhammed bin Salman is not his oldest son, but his favorite, and he is culturally a Wahhabi enforcer. The bombing campaign against Yemen’s Shiites is his signature claim to warrior status. Reidel also outlines the Saudi relationship to nuclear weapons - they have in place delivery missiles, and the alliance with Pakistan who makes the warheads. Those missiles came from China.

Mr. Reidel places the momentary alliance with Israel in perspective by reminding us of the Dome of the Rock and Jerusalem. It is interesting that the best book on Saudi Aarbia (Hatred’s Kingdom by Dore Gold) was followed by the same author’s The Fight for Jerusalem. Mr. Reidel was quite accurate in ascribing the brutal war against Yemen’s Shiites to the Deputy Crown Prince. He was quite accurate in saying the war could not be fought for a single extra day without the United States and United Kingdom’s technical aid. But he is utterly remiss in never mentioning that the "rebels" who are being killed are Shiites, and that is why they and not ISIS or Al Qaeda Sunnis in Yemen are being slaughtered from the air (video at 1 hour, 25 minute mark). A short article on main actors.


EUROPE AND ISLAM: HOW SPLITTING THE CHRISTENDOM OF THE MEDITERRANEAN LED TO NORTHERN EUROPE: Robert Kaplan at his geographic best reminding us how the Christendom which once surrounded the Mediterranean was cut in half in the seventh century and led to the Europe of differing states and increasing individual rights. Mr. Kaplan cannot even imagine that it is the reemergence of Christianity which will be the basis of the European nations capable of both integrating and converting immigrant Muslims. It is instructive to have someone  like Mr. Kaplan who is so blatantly anti-religion and nation to formulate the case for the West. It shows the paucity of the argument.  He properly identifies the central value of his godless West-"Individual Rights and Agency." Here is his conclusion about the dilemma of building the West without those retrograde nations.
Europe has responded by artificially reconstructing national-cultural identities on the extreme right and left, to counter the threat from the civilization it once dominated.

Although the idea of an end to history—with all its ethnic and territorial disputes—turns out to have been a fantasy, this realization is no excuse for a retreat into nationalism. The cultural purity that Europe craves in the face of the Muslim-refugee influx is simply impossible in a world of increasing human interactions.

“The West,” if it does have a meaning beyond geography, manifests a spirit of ever more inclusive liberalism. Just as in the 19th century there was no going back to feudalism, there is no going back now to nationalism, not without courting disaster. As the great Russian intellectual Alexander Herzen observed, “History does not turn back … All reinstatements, all restorations have always been masquerades.”

The question is thus posed: What, in a civilizational sense, will replace Rome? For while empire, as Said documented, certainly had its evils, its very ability to govern vast multiethnic spaces around the Mediterranean provided a solution of sorts that no longer exists.

Europe must now find some other way to dynamically incorporate the world of Islam without diluting its devotion to the rule-of-law-based system that arose in Europe’s north, a system in which individual rights and agency are uppermost in a hierarchy of needs. If it cannot evolve in the direction of universal values, there will be only the dementia of ideologies and coarse nationalisms to fill the void. This would signal the end of “the West” in Europe.
AUSTRIA: A PROTECTOR NATIONALIST SHOCKS THE REIGNING PARTIES: The first round doesn’t determine the presidency but a message is being sent.

RUSSIA, CHINA, AND THE SOUTH CHINA SEA: The Russians take a hands-off approach which China appreciates.

CALL US CZECHIA: (If you think there is still a country called Czechoslovakia, catch up here). A good historical and geo-political look at the world from the vantage of Prague.

IRISH EASTER RISING 100-YEAR ANNIVERSARY - A REFLECTION: The Easter Rising in 1916 was suppressed. The Anglo-Irish war (1919-1921) ended with an Irish Free State still inside the British Empire. There was a different settlement for the Protestant counties of Ulster-Northern Ireland. An even more bloody Irish civil war followed between Catholics who opposed and those who favored the treaty creating the free state. A good review and reflection on blood sacrifice and the nation.

GEOGRAPHY AND CURRENT EVENTS - KNOW YOUR CHOKE POINTS: This week at AOA our Map on Monday showed seven geostrategic choke points. In the last several weeks, we have linked to stories about China building small islands to control the South China sea; Russia defending their naval port in Crimea and their air dominance of the Baltic Sea; Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt agreeing to an island sale near the Gulf of Aqaba - all are current events built on choke points. "Teach your sons geography, and they will never be prisoners of ideology."


ANDREW JACKSON: The opponent of the Bank gets dissed by the Treasury. But never fear. Pat Buchanan and James Webb use the opportunity to remind us of a crucial time in the formation of the American republic, and the role Jackson played in that movement. Harriet Tubman is a great lady - a gun-toting evangelical Christian who risked her life that others may be free. But to set her against Jackson who also risked his life to set us free is like trying to fight Sunni Salafists by aiming pistols at Shia Iran and Christian Russia. Consolidate your friends and isolate your enemies - that must be our cry. At home that means linking fighting protective America with our drive for interracial brotherhood. What sick wily mind would set these two warriors against each other?


GENDER POLICE AND SPORTS: ESPN Fires Schelling for a manly defense of the girl's bathroom. The network should receive the JERRY SANDUSKY NOTHING HAPPENING HERE award for moral obtuseness.

PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS: Hillary Clinton: How she became a hawk. Mrs. Clinton cultivated certain military men to buttress her once and future claim to become their leader. There is no talk here of an overall strategic goal or vision of our nation among the nations, but a lot of concern over developing relationships and contacts for the next step up the career ladder.

Donald Trump - culture warrior. I do not quite understand the full import of this article but there is something very serious here. The author is arguing that the breakup of the politically correct leftist culture of death will not first be accomplished by saints. To establish sanctity and sanity we may have to welcome some very  unfamiliar  allies like right wing video games and bombastic nationalists. It is mindful of the crude fighting Irishmen who came to the aid of the Scottish warrior in Braveheart.
An excellent example of this is an article titled “A Counterproductive Alliance,” discusing the increasing friendliness to right-wing ideas among video game fans after the #Gamergate controversy. The gist of the article can be summed up as: “How will we maintain our air of moral superiority if people show up to CPAC in costumes instead of blazers and bowties?” Never mind that #Gamergate and movements like it were the most successful backlash against political correctness: for some “conservatives,” saying yes to potential allies was too much to bear if it meant hobnobbing with the sorts of people who’ve never read a Bible or owned a varsity jacket.

Beat Dominant Culture at Its Own Game

This leaves the Right in a vulnerable and very unenviable spot: the most anachronistic elements of right-wing politics have rendered us too unimaginative to create a counterculture of our own, and too snobbish to appropriate the elements of the dominant culture that could serve as building blocks.

What’s a conservative who wants to stop culture, and thus politics, from being dragged to the far Left do? Answer: He or she has to hope that some part of mainstream culture co-opts the Right. Pray, in other words, that some Prometheus comes along who’s willing to steal fire from his fellow cultural elites to give to the Right’s forgotten constituencies, even if it annoys their more refined leaders.

Oh look, it’s Donald Trump. Trump, alone among the 2016 Republican candidates, has been willing to seize the banner of the Right in the current culture war, and plant it straight in the backs of his fallen leftist antagonists. Trump did this the way countercultural warriors are supposed to win fights: he beat the dominant culture at its own game by rejecting their assumptions about what was allowed.

He does not play by the rules, and that makes him less predictable and more dangerous. What Ronald Reagan and Trump have in common is obvious: an incredible capacity to use the media to captivate the American people. One learned this in Hollywood, the other in reality TV, but both deployed this skill to great effect.

There is, of course, a big difference, as well: everyone knows Reagan cast himself as a sunny, heroic figure. Trump, on the other hand, is taking his cues from his time as a pro-wrestling heel personality, i.e., a comically larger-than-life villain. But there’s a neat thing about villains, or at least well-done ones: they get to show where people’s ideas of good and evil fall flat. Trump does this brilliantly to the Left. He has taken the humiliating mockery that the media has trained so effectively on “hicks,” Christians, and Republicans, and turned it round to expose the smug, mostly leftist Babbits and young fogies of the Acela Corridor as no less ridiculous.

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