by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch
I. THE WEEKLY BRIEF
ONE STATE; TWO STATES: The visit of Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu to President Trump allowed two nationalists a time to look at the Mideast and the world together. It is essential that there be trust because there is a significant divergence of strategies between the two countries that must be resolved. The anti-Trump hysteria is blocking both US senators and American journalists from articulating these differences for public discussion. Israel has never seen ISIS as a major threat. In fact, they welcome the concentration of Wahhabi jihadists on the destruction of the Shiite state of Iran. Israel has been at war with Iran since the overthrow of the shah in 1979, and has seen them as the one country in the region with the most capacity to destroy their state.They have been de facto allies with the Saudis now for years. Mr Trump has his eyes on destroying the ISIS caliphate and is willing to make an alliance with Syria and Russia to do so. The Russians and Syrians understand the Christian-Shiite-Sunni coalition is necessary to isolate and defeat the Salafist jihadists whose true spiritual base is in the Wahhabi clerics who now control the holy sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina. The Syrians are deeply allied with Iran and a Lebanon coalition which prominently includes the Shiite fighting force of Hezbollah -- another sworn enemy to Israel. This is the real dilemma which our senators and journalists could focus on to help our countrymen figure out as candidate Trump said, "what the hell is going on."
Their meeting also exposed another public fantasy in need of light. In this age in which the global elite is adamantly against the nation-state, there is one imagined community whose national flag they venerate. They meet and pass resolutions imagining a separate Palestinian nation which deserves a state carved out of the West Bank of Israel. Israel won her borders the old-fashioned way: by repelling invaders and establishing a border of defensible geographic barriers. Read thirty years of Prime Minister Netanyahu's speeches or writings. When he says he is all for "two states" he assures us that the territory of the "State of Palestine" would be under the protection of the military and national defense needs of Israel. That is not a separate state. If you have no borders, you don’t have a country. If you don’t make your own national defense in terms of your own needs, you are not a nation. The policy of allowing a true independent state of Palestine, spanning the strategic highlands of Judea and Samaria, narrowing to 9 miles from the Mediterranean, owning a third of Israel’s fresh water sources -- that policy has been dead for a decade. Mr. Trump didn’t cause that. He just has a knack for bringing up the obvious.
II. POPE FRANCIS, THE CHURCH, CULTURE OF LIFE AND PROTECTION
POPE FRANCIS AND SSPX - COULD HE BRING THEM BACK? The Pope’s traditionalists and how he covered them in Argentina. Our take on the Pope, Trump, and Peron. By far the best article we have seen about Argentina theological political history - Pope Francis, Peron and God’s People by Claudio Remeseira.
BOY SCOUTS AND GIRLS: Paul Kengor on the Boy Scouts new policy of admitting transgender. He is very hard and very right but we must understand until we get a base from which to protect these groups, their treasuries will be opened to lawsuits. Sometimes you circle the wagons in a humiliating posture of submission to keep your core to fight another day.
III. PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS
NEW YORK TIMES AND NPR FANTASY WORLD ABOUT BANNON AND VATICAN FAR RIGHT: Their "reporting" of a far right alliance against Pope Francis. President Trump is not far right in any sense of the word. Robert Moynihan of Inside Vatican skewers NYT "fake news”. Our take on President Trump and Pope Francis: they have very different civilizational roles but there are striking similarities.
POLISH PHILOSOPHER BY A KENTUCKY PHILOSOPHER: A terrific review of The Demon in Democracy.
IV. ISLAM AND THE MIDDLE EAST
YEMEN AND AQAP: The civil war against Shia Houthis has brought AQAP into coalition with mainline Sunni groups and will enhance their abilities to target the West in 2017. This is from the military information service: Janes analysis on Yemen risk. This situation is directly analogous to the "jihadification of the Sunni coalition" against Assad in Syria. A good review - the Houthis are not the Iranians and we are not the Saudis. Why put “Iran on notice” for the Houthis defending themselves against the Saudis?
ONE LESS IRAN HAWK IN TRUMP WHITE HOUSE: A troublesome fact. General Michael Flynn is very much like Rudy Giuliani. He was a necessary and important part of the war that was the Trump campaign. But he is not suited for the kind of coalition building necessary to replace our bellicose foreign policy with a consort of great powers. His press briefing "Putting Iran on notice" was a much worse offense than talking sanctions in December with the Russians. His not coming clean with Vice President Pence was inexcusable. President Trump is a good judge of character and competence. He knows when someone doesn’t quite fit. Flynn was unjustly framed but his own character faults led to his departure. The good patriot was properly let go after being improperly accused. Flynn, Giuliani, Palin, Gingrich - good campaign warriors but no longer good for governance. The problem remains with the so called deep state (those elements of government that do not change with elections but often make policy through their own long term relationships). This was not a moral whistleblower but an act to subterfuge the ability of the elected executive to conduct foreign relations.
WHY AREN’T THE SAUDIS ON THE REFUGEE BAN: The Trump administration started with countries with the least control of their own populations and borders. That does not describe Saudi Arabia. Possibly they have bought the Saudi line about Iran being the biggest source of terrorism. Maybe they are supporting the Israel emphasis. They continually depict Iran as the leading state sponsor of terrorism. The US is deeply tied to the Saudis-from think tanks to university chairs to high finance. It could also be the more than 60,000 Saudi students here.
PAKISTAN: A US GENERAL IN AFGHANISTAN SUGGESTS A REEVALUATION: Is Pakistan our ally? Our book review series to put this in more perspective.
PAKISTAN: A US GENERAL IN AFGHANISTAN SUGGESTS A REEVALUATION: Is Pakistan our ally? Our book review series to put this in more perspective.
THE SUNNI ALLIANCE IS FRACTURING - FROM MIDEAST FORUM: Mideast Forum is a commentator on US policy always from the perspective of an uncritical Israel support group. They are perceptive though in their assessments of Mideast countries. Here is the best description of the very important rift between the Saudis and the Egyptians in the so-called “moderate alliance”. This was taken from Jerusalem Post article by Jonathan Speyr, Feb 4, 2017:
Observe: Saudi Arabia was the first country to express support for the military coup in Egypt on July 3, 2013. The friendship between Cairo and Riyadh looked set to form a Sunni Arab bulwark against both the Iranian advance and the ambitions of Sunni radical political Islam. That is not the way it has turned out. On a number of key regional files, the two are now on opposite sides.
In Syria, Saudi Arabia was and remains among the key supporters of the rebellion. The Assad regime, as a client of Iran, was a natural enemy for the Saudis. The Egyptians, however, saw and see the Syrian war entirely differently – as a battle between a strong, military regime (like themselves) and a rebellion based on Sunni political Islam. In November 2016, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said that Assad's forces were "best positioned to combat terrorism and restore stability" in the country. Sisi identified this stance as part of a broader strategy, according to which "our priority is to support national armies... and deal with extremist elements. The same with Syria and Iraq."
This places Egypt and Saudi Arabia, supposedly the twin anchors of the "moderate" bloc, at loggerheads in two key areas.
In Libya, in line with this orientation, too, Egypt, along with the UAE, fully supports Gen. Khalifa Haftar and his forces in the east of the country. Saudi Arabia, by contrast, is largely indifferent to events in that area. In Yemen, meanwhile, the Egyptians have offered only halfhearted support to Saudi Arabia's war against the Houthis. This, in turn, relates to a further key difference between the two – regarding relations with Iran.
While the Saudis see the Iran-led regional bloc as the key regional threat to their interests, the Egyptians are drawing closer to Tehran. The two countries have not had full diplomatic relations since 1980. But the Iranians acknowledged their common stance on Syria, when Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif specifically requested of John Kerry to invite Egypt to send a delegation to talks on Syria in the Swiss city of Lausanne on October 15, 2016. In the same month, to the Saudis' fury, Cairo voted for a Russian-backed UN Security Council resolution allowing the continuation of the bombing of rebel-held eastern Aleppo.
In turn, when Saudi oil giant Aramco announced the cessation of fuel transfers to Egypt, Sisi declared that "Egypt would not bow to anyone but God," and the government of Iraq agreed to step in to make good the shortfall, at the request of Iran and Russia. So the core Egyptian-Saudi alliance is fraying.
Israel views its chief concerns as Iranian expansionism and Sunni political Islam; Egypt is concerned only with the latter of these. Saudi Arabia meanwhile, is increasingly concerned only with the former. Representatives of King Salman met late last year with officials of the Muslim Brotherhood in Istanbul, London and Riyadh. On the agenda was the possible removal of the Brotherhood – Egypt's key enemy – from Saudi Arabia's list of terrorist organizations. Salman has taken a view of Sunni political Islam far more forgiving than that of his predecessor, King Abdullah. This, in turn, has led to Saudi rapprochement with Turkey, whose leader despises the Egyptian president for overthrowing his fellow Muslim Brothers. Thus, the three main corners of the "moderate" alliance are drifting in different directions – Riyadh appears headed toward rapprochement with political Islam, while maintaining opposition to Iran. Egypt is moving toward Russia, Syria, Iraq and a stance of support for strong states.
V. AROUND THE WORLD - CHINA, RUSSIA, "THE WEST" AND GEOSTRATEGY
CHINA'S FOREIGN POLICY AND AFRICAN RAILROADS: Their strategy of development-not-confrontation is something we can learn from. It is particularly embarrassing when we compare the arms shipments of US foreign trade and the infrastructure emphasis of the Chinese. Public Works is the English translation of LITURGY - a work done for the sake of a people.
JAMES KURTH - RELIGIOUS GEOSTRATEGIST: Splitting Islam - written in 2005 beating AOA by five years in figuring out the Shia/Sunni faultline. The Protestant Deformation - a brilliant analysis of how American foreign policy has suffered from our own internal corruption as a nation. Kurth's Lecture on Huntington. He was Huntington’s student. Great analysis of one of the fundamental paradigms we respond to at Christian Realism. The Real Clash - the greatest war he says is not between the West and Islam but within the West: multiculturalism vs. American Idea. Franco, Spain, Catholic - Catholic Integralism, and the failure of godless democracy.
A FOUNDING INITIATIVE DEFINING THE POST COLD WAR WEST: New Atlantic Initiative Margaret Thatcher speech in 1996. She reminds us covenants without swords are just words and proposes that the West act as an Atlantic alliance of nations not a European superstate. She is in favor of drawing all of eastern European nations into EU and NATO. She has no sense of the Islamic religious contribution to defeating the Soviet Union. She has little sympathy for Russia which she sees as culturally crippled by years of Soviet rule. Her speech is one event that helped forge the coalition that animated the baby boomer worldview of the white West as a universal civilization of law and human rights. Lady Thatcher was a charming principled woman who was important personally in building the relationship of cooperation between US President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. She was a catalyst if not a principal in fostering the relationship that ended the Cold War. She opposed German reunification and never really appreciated the male national leaders and fighters in the darker more southern countries like Afghanistan and Argentina.
WASHINGTON POST BEGINS TO SEE THE REAL CULTURE WAR - THE TIE TO PUTIN IS NOT BUSINESS. IT IS CIVILIZATIONAL. AT LEAST NOW THEY KNOW WHY THEY ARE SO ANTI-PUTIN: Christian Right and Liberals switch sides on Russia.
AMERICA FIRST IS OUR NEW POLICY BUT AMERICA EVERYWHERE IS STILL OUR REALITY. TALK ABOUT BOOTS ON THE GROUND! There are 150,500 American troops stationed in 70 countries that cost the American taxpayer an annual $85-100 billion, according to David Vine, a professor at American University and author of Base Nation: How US Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World. The largest aid recipient is Japan, where 48,828 U.S. military personnel are stationed at a cost of $27 billion. Germany, with 37,704 U.S. troops, receives aid equivalent to $21 billion; South Korea, with 27,553 U.S. troops, receives $15 billion; and Italy receives at least $6 billion. Kuwait and Bahrain, whose American bases are home to over 5,000 U.S. military personnel apiece, receive military aid almost equal to what Israel receives. U.S. air and naval forces constantly patrol the Northern, Baltic, and China Seas to protect American allies in Europe and in the Pacific - at American expense. For more, watch this short video on America's global military presence.
THE AMERICAS AND AMERICA: Spanish element in our national character by Walt Whitman.
"The seething materialistic and business vortices of the United States, in their present devouring relations, controlling and belittling everything else, are, in my opinion, but a vast and indispensable stage in the new world’s development, and are certainly to be follow’d by something entirely different—at least by immense modifications. Character, literature, a society worthy the name, are yet to be establish’d, through a nationality of noblest spiritual, heroic and democratic attributes—not one of which at present definitely exists—entirely different from the past, though unerringly founded on it, and to justify it. To that composite American identity of the future, Spanish character will supply some of the most needed parts. No stock shows a grander historic retrospect—grander in religiousness and loyalty, or for patriotism, courage, decorum, gravity and honor."The Americas are the continents of where two Christian missionary movements and a settlement mission have merged. None of these nations can understand their relations with their neighbors if they reject the Christian brotherhood at our base. No one can understand the public missionary nature of Christianity if they do not appreciate the civilized territorial communities - the nations - which are its fruit. Brotherly love among Christians leads to a desire for law in the territory where Christians worship and raise families.