Saturday, March 18, 2017

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, March 18

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


The purpose of this week's review is to step back from hyper-partisanship and learn from the previous president and his advisers. Only presidents have to face the whole of the international landscape. As President Trump considers bolstering the traditional US-Saudi-Israel alliance against Iran, there is much to learn from perceptive journalists and reflective statesmen.


GETTING ALLIES AND ENEMIES STRAIGHT IN THE MIDEAST: On the battlefield it is Iran, not Saudi Arabia, who has helped our ally Iraq sustain their government against the same Salafist jihadist violence that struck the US on 9-11-2001. The great contribution of the Obama administration was to NOT widen the war with Syria, and to open negotiations with Iran who are also the sworn enemies of the salafist jihadists. It is informative to listen to President Obama and his chief foreign policy spokesman Ben Rhodes about how they came to reject "the Washington playbook" on Mideast alliances. The "Washington playbook" is written by the interests of other countries, particularly Saudi Arabia and Israel. It is advocated by John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and George Bush, along with Bill and Hillary Clinton. Two men who have not totally bought the playbook are Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Interviews with President Obama and his alter ego speechwriter Ben Rhodes proved much more revealing than the reflections of their immediate predecessors. We must learn from the men who had to deal with all the players in this confusing drama. Here are some excerpts and comments on Obama's interviews with Jeff Goldberg:

What follows below is from an excellent long article by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic. The author has tried to "enter into his mind."

The President's decision to back off from the use of force against Syria's Assad came after the use of chemical weapons seemed to cross a previous presidential "line in the sand." Obama was heavily criticized inside and outside of his administration for not militarily striking Assad.
Obama also shared with McDonough a long-standing resentment: He was tired of watching Washington unthinkingly drift toward war in Muslim countries. Four years earlier, the president believed, the Pentagon had “jammed” him on a troop surge for Afghanistan. Now, on Syria, he was beginning to feel jammed again.

When the two men came back to the Oval Office, the president told his national-security aides that he planned to stand down. There would be no attack the next day; he wanted to refer the matter to Congress for a vote. Aides in the room were shocked.

The president asked Congress to authorize the use of force—the irrepressible Kerry served as chief lobbyist—and it quickly became apparent in the White House that Congress had little interest in a strike. “I’m very proud of this moment,” he told me. “The overwhelming weight of conventional wisdom and the machinery of our national-security apparatus had gone fairly far. The perception was that my credibility was at stake, that America’s credibility was at stake. And so for me to press the pause button at that moment, I knew, would cost me politically. And the fact that I was able to pull back from the immediate pressures and think through in my own mind what was in America’s interest, not only with respect to Syria but also with respect to our democracy, was as tough a decision as I’ve made—and I believe ultimately it was the right decision to make.”

This was the moment the president believes he finally broke with what he calls, derisively, the “Washington playbook.”

“Where am I controversial? When it comes to the use of military power,” he said. “That is the source of the controversy. There’s a playbook in Washington that presidents are supposed to follow. It’s a playbook that comes out of the foreign-policy establishment. And the playbook prescribes responses to different events, and these responses tend to be militarized responses. Where America is directly threatened, the playbook works. But the playbook can also be a trap that can lead to bad decisions. In the midst of an international challenge like Syria, you get judged harshly if you don’t follow the playbook, even if there are good reasons why it does not apply.”
The Syria decision showed Obama's judgment was more reality-based than the "foreign policy establishment" (the same group who have come out so unanimously against Donald Trump):
I have come to believe that, in Obama’s mind, August 30, 2013, was his liberation day, the day he defied not only the foreign-policy establishment and its cruise-missile playbook, but also the demands of America’s frustrating, high-maintenance allies in the Middle East—countries, he complains privately to friends and advisers, that seek to exploit American “muscle” for their own narrow and sectarian ends. By 2013, Obama’s resentments were well developed. He resented military leaders who believed they could fix any problem if the commander in chief would simply give them what they wanted, and he resented the foreign-policy think-tank complex. A widely held sentiment inside the White House is that many of the most prominent foreign-policy think tanks in Washington are doing the bidding of their Arab and pro-Israel funders. I’ve heard one administration official refer to Massachusetts Avenue, the home of many of these think tanks, as “Arab-occupied territory.”
President Obama's 'Long Game': tilt toward Asia (the new geopolitical center of gravity), pay attention to Africa and South America, don't get caught in the Mideast; climate change is real.
I’ve spent several hours talking with him about the broadest themes of his "long game" foreign policy, including the themes he is most eager to discuss—namely, the ones that have nothing to do with the Middle East.

“ISIS is not an existential threat to the United States,” he told me in one of these conversations. “Climate change is a potential existential threat to the entire world if we don’t do something about it.”

He started by describing for me a four-box grid representing the main schools of American foreign-policy thought. One box he called isolationism, which he dismissed out of hand. “The world is ever-shrinking,” he said. “Withdrawal is untenable.” The other boxes he labeled realism, liberal interventionism, and internationalism. “I suppose you could call me a realist in believing we can’t, at any given moment, relieve all the world’s misery,” he said. “We have to choose where we can make a real impact.” He also noted that he was quite obviously an internationalist, devoted as he is to strengthening multilateral organizations and international norms.

I asked Obama about retrenchment. “Almost every great world power has succumbed” to over-extension, he said. “What I think is not smart is the idea that every time there is a problem, we send in our military to impose order. We just can’t do that.”

“He applies different standards to direct threats to the U.S.,” Ben Rhodes says. “For instance, despite his misgivings about Syria, he has not had a second thought about drones.” Some critics argue he should have had a few second thoughts about what they see as the overuse of drones. But John Brennan, Obama’s CIA director, told me recently that he and the president “have similar views. One of them is that sometimes you have to take a life to save even more lives. We have a similar view of just-war theory. The president requires near-certainty of no collateral damage. But if he believes it is necessary to act, he doesn’t hesitate.”

President Obama did not come into office preoccupied by the Middle East. He is the first child of the Pacific to become president—born in Hawaii, raised there and, for four years, in Indonesia—and he is fixated on turning America’s attention to Asia. For Obama, Asia represents the future. Africa and Latin America, in his view, deserve far more U.S. attention than they receive. Europe, about which he is unromantic, is a source of global stability that requires, to his occasional annoyance, American hand-holding. And the Middle East is a region to be avoided—one that, thanks to America’s energy revolution, will soon be of negligible relevance to the U.S. economy.

Advisers recall that Obama would cite a pivotal moment in 'The Dark Knight,' the 2008 Batman movie, to help explain not only how he understood the role of ISIS, but how he understood the larger ecosystem in which it grew. “There’s a scene in the beginning in which the gang leaders of Gotham are meeting,” the president would say. “These are men who had the city divided up. They were thugs, but there was a kind of order. Everyone had his turf. And then the Joker comes in and lights the whole city on fire. ISIL is the Joker. It has the capacity to set the whole region on fire. That’s why we have to fight it.” The rise of the Islamic State deepened Obama’s conviction that the Middle East could not be fixed—not on his watch, and not for a generation to come.

But he has never believed that terrorism poses a threat to America commensurate with the fear it generates. Even during the period in 2014 when ISIS was executing its American captives in Syria, his emotions were in check. Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s closest adviser, told him people were worried that the group would soon take its beheading campaign to the U.S. “They’re not coming here to chop our heads off,” he reassured her. Obama frequently reminds his staff that terrorism takes far fewer lives in America than handguns, car accidents, and falls in bathtubs do.

The president also gets frustrated that terrorism keeps swamping his larger agenda, particularly as it relates to rebalancing America’s global priorities. For years, the “pivot to Asia” has been a paramount priority of his. America’s economic future lies in Asia, he believes, and the challenge posed by China’s rise requires constant attention. From his earliest days in office, Obama has been focused on rebuilding the sometimes-threadbare ties between the U.S. and its Asian treaty partners, and he is perpetually on the hunt for opportunities to draw other Asian nations into the U.S. orbit. His dramatic opening to Burma was one such opportunity; Vietnam and the entire constellation of Southeast Asian countries fearful of Chinese domination presented others.

In Manila, at APEC, Obama was determined to keep the conversation focused on this agenda, and not on what he viewed as the containable challenge presented by ISIS. Obama’s secretary of defense, Ashton Carter, told me not long ago that Obama has maintained his focus on Asia even as Syria and other Middle Eastern conflicts continue to flare. Obama believes, Carter said, that Asia “is the part of the world of greatest consequence to the American future, and that no president can take his eye off of this.”

“Right now, I don’t think that anybody can be feeling good about the situation in the Middle East,” he said. “You have countries that are failing to provide prosperity and opportunity for their people. You’ve got a violent, extremist ideology, or ideologies, that are turbocharged through social media. You’ve got countries that have very few civic traditions, so that as autocratic regimes start fraying, the only organizing principles are sectarian.”

He went on, “Contrast that with Southeast Asia, which still has huge problems—enormous poverty, corruption—but is filled with striving, ambitious, energetic people who are every single day scratching and clawing to build businesses and get education and find jobs and build infrastructure. The contrast is pretty stark.”

In Asia, as well as in Latin America and Africa, Obama says, he sees young people yearning for self-improvement, modernity, education, and material wealth.

“They are not thinking about how to kill Americans,” he says. “What they’re thinking about is How do I get a better education? How do I create something of value?”

He then made an observation that I came to realize was representative of his bleakest, most visceral understanding of the Middle East today—not the sort of understanding that a White House still oriented around themes of hope and change might choose to advertise. “If we’re not talking to them,” he said, referring to young Asians and Africans and Latin Americans, “because the only thing we’re doing is figuring out how to destroy or cordon off or control the malicious, nihilistic, violent parts of humanity, then we’re missing the boat.”
Rethinking friends and foes: the treaty with Iran, the narrow enemy in Islam, Saudi allies as enablers of terrorism.
To a remarkable degree, he is willing to question why America’s enemies are its enemies, or why some of its friends are its friends. He overthrew half a century of bipartisan consensus in order to reestablish ties with Cuba. He questioned why the U.S. should avoid sending its forces into Pakistan to kill al-Qaeda leaders, and he privately questions why Pakistan, which he believes is a disastrously dysfunctional country, should be considered an ally of the U.S. at all. According to Leon Panetta, he has questioned why the U.S. should maintain Israel’s so-called qualitative military edge, which grants it access to more sophisticated weapons systems than America’s Arab allies receive; but he has also questioned, often harshly, the role that America’s Sunni Arab allies play in fomenting anti-American terrorism. He is clearly irritated that foreign-policy orthodoxy compels him to treat Saudi Arabia as an ally. And of course he decided early on, in the face of great criticism, that he wanted to reach out to America’s most ardent Middle Eastern foe, Iran. The nuclear deal he struck with Iran proves, if nothing else, that Obama is not risk-averse.

“It is very clear what I mean,” he told me, “which is that there is a violent, radical, fanatical, nihilistic interpretation of Islam by a faction—a tiny faction—within the Muslim community that is our enemy, and that has to be defeated.”

He then offered a critique that sounded more in line with the rhetoric of Cameron and Hollande. “There is also the need for Islam as a whole to challenge that interpretation of Islam, to isolate it, and to undergo a vigorous discussion within their community about how Islam works as part of a peaceful, modern society,” he said. But he added, “I do not persuade peaceful, tolerant Muslims to engage in that debate if I’m not sensitive to their concern that they are being tagged with a broad brush.”

He also believes that the intensified Muslim fury of recent years was encouraged by countries considered friends of the U.S. In a meeting with Malcolm Turnbull, the new prime minister of Australia, Obama described how he has watched Indonesia gradually move from a relaxed, syncretistic Islam to a more fundamentalist, unforgiving interpretation; large numbers of Indonesian women, he observed, have now adopted the hijab, the Muslim head covering.

Why, Turnbull asked, was this happening?

Because, Obama answered, the Saudis and other Gulf Arabs have funneled money, and large numbers of imams and teachers, into the country. In the 1990s, the Saudis heavily funded Wahhabist madrassas, seminaries that teach the fundamentalist version of Islam favored by the Saudi ruling family, Obama told Turnbull. Today, Islam in Indonesia is much more Arab in orientation than it was when he lived there, he said.

“Aren’t the Saudis your friends?,” Turnbull asked.

Obama smiled. “It’s complicated,” he said.

Obama’s patience with Saudi Arabia has always been limited. In his first foreign-policy commentary of note, that 2002 speech at the antiwar rally in Chicago, he said, “You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East—the Saudis and the Egyptians—stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality.” In the White House these days, one occasionally hears Obama’s National Security Council officials pointedly reminding visitors that the large majority of 9/11 hijackers were not Iranian, but Saudi—and Obama himself rails against Saudi Arabia’s state-sanctioned misogyny, arguing in private that “a country cannot function in the modern world when it is repressing half of its population.” In meetings with foreign leaders, Obama has said, “You can gauge the success of a society by how it treats its women.”

His frustration with the Saudis informs his analysis of Middle Eastern power politics. At one point I observed to him that he is less likely than previous presidents to axiomatically side with Saudi Arabia in its dispute with its archrival, Iran. He didn’t disagree.

“Iran, since 1979, has been an enemy of the United States, and has engaged in state-sponsored terrorism, is a genuine threat to Israel and many of our allies, and engages in all kinds of destructive behavior,” the president said. “And my view has never been that we should throw our traditional allies”—the Saudis—“overboard in favor of Iran.”

But he went on to say that the Saudis need to “share” the Middle East with their Iranian foes. “The competition between the Saudis and the Iranians—which has helped to feed proxy wars and chaos in Syria and Iraq and Yemen—requires us to say to our friends as well as to the Iranians that they need to find an effective way to share the neighborhood and institute some sort of cold peace,” he said. “An approach that said to our friends ‘You are right, Iran is the source of all problems, and we will support you in dealing with Iran’ would essentially mean that as these sectarian conflicts continue to rage and our Gulf partners, our traditional friends, do not have the ability to put out the flames on their own or decisively win on their own, and would mean that we have to start coming in and using our military power to settle scores. And that would be in the interest neither of the United States nor of the Middle East.”
His lesson from Libya -- and the great paradox of integrating women in war planning was that most feminist advisers were hawkish advisers.
But what sealed Obama’s fatalistic view was the failure of his administration’s intervention in Libya, in 2011. That intervention was meant to prevent the country’s then-dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, from slaughtering the people of Benghazi, as he was threatening to do. Obama did not want to join the fight; he was counseled by Joe Biden and his first-term secretary of defense Robert Gates, among others, to steer clear. But a strong faction within the national-security team—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice, who was then the ambassador to the United Nations, along with Samantha Power, Ben Rhodes, and Antony Blinken, who was then Biden’s national-security adviser—lobbied hard to protect Benghazi, and prevailed. (Biden, who is acerbic about Clinton’s foreign-policy judgment, has said privately, "Hillary just wants to be Golda Meir.") American bombs fell, the people of Benghazi were spared from what may or may not have been a massacre, and Qaddafi was captured and executed.

But Obama says today of the intervention, “It didn’t work.” The U.S., he believes, planned the Libya operation carefully—and yet the country is still a disaster.
Obama on Latin America: don't inflate the adversary -- moving beyond the Cold War paradigm.
Obama then cited America’s increased influence in Latin America—increased, he said, in part by his removal of a region-wide stumbling block when he reestablished ties with Cuba—as proof that his deliberate, nonthreatening, diplomacy-centered approach to foreign relations is working. The ALBA movement, a group of Latin American governments oriented around anti-Americanism, has significantly weakened during his time as president. “When I came into office, at the first Summit of the Americas that I attended, Hugo Chávez”—the late anti-American Venezuelan dictator—“was still the dominant figure in the conversation,” he said. “We made a very strategic decision early on, which was, rather than blow him up as this 10-foot giant adversary, to right-size the problem and say, ‘We don’t like what’s going on in Venezuela, but it’s not a threat to the United States.’ ”

Obama said that to achieve this rebalancing, the U.S. had to absorb the diatribes and insults of superannuated Castro manqués. “When I saw Chávez, I shook his hand and he handed me a Marxist critique of the U.S.–Latin America relationship,” Obama recalled. “And I had to sit there and listen to Ortega”—Daniel Ortega, the radical leftist president of Nicaragua—“make an hour-long rant against the United States. But us being there, not taking all that stuff seriously—because it really wasn’t a threat to us”—helped neutralize the region’s anti-Americanism.
On Russia: the interviewer surprised by Obama's measured portrayal of Putin:
The president’s unwillingness to counter the baiting by American adversaries can feel emotionally unsatisfying, I said, and I told him that every so often, I’d like to see him give Vladimir Putin the finger. It’s atavistic, I said, understanding my audience.

“It is,” the president responded coolly. “This is what they’re looking for.”

He described a relationship with Putin that doesn’t quite conform to common perceptions. I had been under the impression that Obama viewed Putin as nasty, brutish, and short. But, Obama told me, Putin is not particularly nasty.

“The truth is, actually, Putin, in all of our meetings, is scrupulously polite, very frank. Our meetings are very businesslike. He never keeps me waiting two hours like he does a bunch of these other folks.” Obama said that Putin believes his relationship with the U.S. is more important than Americans tend to think. “He’s constantly interested in being seen as our peer and as working with us, because he’s not completely stupid.
Back to Asia: A peaceful rise of China is his approach, but he strangely does not see Chinese nationalism as the positive force which will replace atheistic communism. Mrs.Clinton's had a much more conventional 'yellow peril' view of China than Obama ("the child of the Pacific").
What country does he consider the greatest challenge to America in the coming decades? “In terms of traditional great-state relations, I do believe that the relationship between the United States and China is going to be the most critical,” he said. “If we get that right and China continues on a peaceful rise, then we have a partner that is growing in capability and sharing with us the burdens and responsibilities of maintaining an international order. If China fails; if it is not able to maintain a trajectory that satisfies its population and has to resort to nationalism as an organizing principle; if it feels so overwhelmed that it never takes on the responsibilities of a country its size in maintaining the international order; if it views the world only in terms of regional spheres of influence—then not only do we see the potential for conflict with China, but we will find ourselves having more difficulty dealing with these other challenges that are going to come.”

Many people, I noted, want the president to be more forceful in confronting China, especially in the South China Sea. Hillary Clinton, for one, has been heard to say in private settings, “I don’t want my grandchildren to live in a world dominated by the Chinese.”

“I’ve been very explicit in saying that we have more to fear from a weakened, threatened China than a successful, rising China,” Obama said. “I think we have to be firm where China’s actions are undermining international interests, and if you look at how we’ve operated in the South China Sea, we have been able to mobilize most of Asia to isolate China in ways that have surprised China, frankly, and have very much served our interest in strengthening our alliances.”
Finally, Obama on the destructiveness of tribalism. Again. this journey "inside his mind" applied across a wide range of historical events shows his thoroughly western cosmopolitan paradigm of religion, male-female relations, and social structure.
One of the most destructive forces in the Middle East, Obama believes, is tribalism—a force no president can neutralize. Tribalism, made manifest in the reversion to sect, creed, clan, and village by the desperate citizens of failing states, is the source of much of the Muslim Middle East’s problems, and it is another source of his fatalism. Obama has deep respect for the destructive resilience of tribalism—part of his memoir, Dreams From My Father, concerns the way in which tribalism in post-colonial Kenya helped ruin his father’s life—which goes some distance in explaining why he is so fastidious about avoiding entanglements in tribal conflicts.

“It is literally in my DNA to be suspicious of tribalism,” he told me. “I understand the tribal impulse, and acknowledge the power of tribal division. I’ve been navigating tribal divisions my whole life. In the end, it’s the source of a lot of destructive acts.”
BEN RHODES INTERVIEW AND OBAMA VS. FOREIGN POLICY ESTABLISHMENTGood dissection of the interviewer and reactions by Fred Kaplan. A response from the author - David Samuels. From Jewish magazine FORWARD - a peek into the Byzantine world of Jewish journalists. The long narrative interviews with President Obama by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic and Ben Rhodes by David Samuels in the NYTimes magazine show a daring move by the President, Secretary of State Kerry, and his communications aide to realign the Mideast and pull America from the Saudi/Pakistan-Sunni embrace that has made our foreign policy incoherent. They never articulated this major alternative in public, so they too seem incoherent. These two articles are remarkable works of investigative and interpretive journalism. What seems very clear is that Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta, and Robert Gates had roles in all of these machinations but they were not the drivers of policy and may have been figureheads inadvertently covering a policy not made by them. Those old establishment fronts played a similar fig leaf role in the Obama administration that Secretary of State Colin Powell was unfortunately forced into at the Bush White House. These articles also show that while Obama filled high positions with females, his soul mates in international decision making were white men of his own generation or younger.


RUSSIA AND ISRAEL - A FORCE TO HELP ISRAEL AND PERSIA: Putin tries to focus Netanyahu on a new world.

SAUDI LOBBY -REAL NEWS ABOUT A FOREIGN POWER TAMPERING WITH US POLICY : This is an entry from September 2016 two months before the US election. Once the search for Russians stealing our election subsides, we might turn our eyes to the Saudis buying our public officials and foreign policy establishment. Lots of alligators in that swamp!
FROM AOA SEPT 2016   "The kingdom added another three lobbying contracts to its roster, retaining the services of former Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi and former Democratic Sen. John Breaux of Louisiana as part of a $100,000 monthly contract with Squire Patton Boggs [law firm], according to documents filed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act." Anthony Podesta, a major financial bundler for Hillary Clinton, is a paid lobbyist for the Saudis. Podesta’s brother, John, is HC campaign chairman, and previous chief of staff for President Bill Clinton. Norm Coleman, the former Republican Senator from Minnesota, is also a paid lobbyist for the Saudis. He helps head up the Congressional Leadership Fund - a super PAC to influence Republican House races. The Saudis were a significant source of money for ads opposing the Iran nuclear deal.

IS MECCA FOR ISLAM OR WAHHABIS?  A city of Saudi constructions and Salafist constrictions.

A BOMBING IN DAMASCUS AT A RELIGIOUS SITE: The rest of the story: "The Levant Liberation Committee, an al-Qaeda-linked group, claimed responsibility Sunday for twin suicide blasts near holy shrines frequented by Shiites in the Syrian capital Damascus that killed at least 40 people and wounded over a hundred on Saturday. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the death toll had reached 74. The Levant Liberation Committee, dominated by Fatah al-Sham, said the blasts were a message to 'Iran and its militias.'" (AP-Washington Post)

THE DRONE WAR AGAINST MALE GROUPS: WHAT IS A "SIGNATURE STRIKE"?: From FP journal: "While the Obama administration imposed rules on the drone program, it still held on to some controversial -- and very deadly -- programs, including the 'signature strike' effort that allowed strikes on groups of unidentified men thought to be terrorists. FP’s Dan De Luce and Paul McLeary reported that “the tactic had sparked fierce criticism from human rights groups and some lawmakers, who said it effectively gave the CIA carte blanche to bomb groups of men in countries ranging from Yemen to Pakistan simply because of where they lived and whether they showed any behavior commonly associated with militants.” In 2013, Obama suggested he wanted to curb the program, but by 2016 the administration had "abandoned any pretense of reining in its use of signature strikes," and was dispatching drones to strike at targets in Yemen and Somalia.


THE GRAND BARGAIN OF US FOREIGN POLICY DRIVEN BY GENDER EQUALITY: From Christopher Caldwell First Things review of Walter McDougal's book on The Tragedy of American Foreign Policy:
"McDougall describes the “millennial” American civil religion of the Obama years as a “grand bargain, according to which big business agreed to support radical social equality, in exchange for which cultural authorities agreed to tolerate radical economic inequality.” He is right. He does not even touch on what the political scientists Valerie Hudson and Patricia Leidl have called the “Hillary Doctrine,” promulgated through the Office of Global Women’s Issues established by Mrs. Clinton at the State Department, and according to which any denial of gender equality anywhere in the world is a threat to American order. As this new doctrine has been elaborated, it has meant delivering a series of shocks to traditional sexual morality in the remotest places. There have been attempts to create an international right to “reproductive health services” and family planning, starting with the Cairo population and development conference of 1994. There have been admonitory communiqués to the Russian government about its high school sex-ed curriculum. Czechs have complained that the top priority of the U.S. embassy in recent years has been Prague’s gay pride parade. Meanwhile, the wealthiest percentile, in the U.S. and elsewhere, has prospered to an unprecedented degree."
LADY DAY: What a beautiful article by a beautiful woman.

THE UNDERSIDE OF AN ABOMINATION: Austin Ruse has a way of telling the truth.

ORTHODOXY AS A COVER FOR PERVERSION: More often than we think, the traditional conservative in the Catholic hierarchy (Burke, Nienstedt, Spellman) is someone very different. The traditional face of homosexuality in Catholic clergy in the 1950's was the super rigid. The 70's face was the sensitive liberal. The most recent manifestation is a return to the past led by the "Daughters of Trent" variety. The split in the Catholic clergy is not over orthodox teaching on communion for the divorced, any more than contraception was the issue in the 70's and 80's. The great crisis in the Catholic priesthood is the substantial homosexual subculture of bishops and priests corrupting the protective culture of Fatherhood. If it takes married priests and a return of the SSPX (which is much cleaner from homosexuality than most chanceries), then let us do what must be done to get a critical mass of priests who will expel the Judas priests who betray with a kiss. Do Catholics really believe that practicing homosexuals are saying valid masses? Pope Francis calls the masses of predators "Black Masses." It isn't Donatism to question the validity of Baal's priests. That may be the only question that will drive priestly reform to the top of the Church agenda.The Donatist heresy was about the validity of masses said by priests who had sinned and reformed, not priests who brazenly used the collar as a cover for CONTINUED sexual perversion and monetary gain. It does not protect the faithful to treat the unrepentant corruption of priests as a matter not affecting our sacramental life. It protects the masquerade priest.

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