by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch
THE WEEKLY BRIEF
The natural enemies of the resurgence of religious and national loyalties are the metropolitan elites who staff the globalist institutions and propagate the atheistic modernist worldview. In America that elite continues their frenzied resistance against President Trump. They are aided by "conservative intellectuals" who are champions of global free trade in the name of democracy and human rights. But democracy is turning up nationalists or religious movements as the winners of elections while Western human rights has morphed into what Pope Francis calls the new "colonization of gender ideology." A consistent theme of the conservative "never Trumpers" is their deep antipathy toward Russia. Thus the cosmopolitan elites can safely rely on John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Charles Krauthammer to continue to undermine the President, especially in his most important foreign policy initiative of trying to bring an end to the cold war between Orthodox Russia and Protestant America.
South Korea under their new president is refusing a sophisticated US warning and air shield. China was against this deployment as well. They saw this technology as part of US encirclement more likely to be used against them than North Koreans. South Koreans understand that American bases are more likely targets than South Korean cities of a North Korean military initiative. The North Koreans are not stupid or crazy. They know the presence of western troops and dominance is a 200-year-old grievance that all Asian nations share. Are they aiming at the cities of their countrymen or the military bases of the imperialists? The South Koreans understand they may not need to protect their cities as much as we need to protect our bases. Our troops serve in Korea, as in so many places around the world, much more as a trip-wire than an effective deterrent. If our goal is Korean unification and true peace with China, we need a major rethinking of eastern theater strategy and military deployment for the United States.
The isolation of Qatar by the Saudi-led coalition of Sunni Arabs and the condemnation of them by the 200 living male descendants of ibn Wahhabi splits the Sunni coalition aligned by President Trump and King Salman against Iran. It is Qatar's refusal to join an all-out war against Shiites and Iran that has earned them the Saudi expulsion. Qatar has always had an English side and an Arabic side. Qatar (pop. 300,000 -- but over a million foreign workers) is home to the bilingual media powerhouse Al Jazeera. They house CENTCOM's major airstrip in the Mideast and thousands of US troops. They are an Islamist Sunni voice without being as radically Wahhabi as the Saudi religious establishment. They have reported about repression of Shiites in the eastern provinces of Saudi Arabia and by the Sunni king of Shiite Bahrain. They have supported a more populist form of the Islamic revival and with their media voice presented a challenge to the Saudi ruling family. They supported Hamas in the Gaza Strip and earned Israel's enmity. ( Qatar has expelled leading Hamas figures from their country in the last week as a concession.) Qatar supported the Muslim Brotherhood against the military coup of President al Sisi. They have many friends in Egypt but few in the ruling government. Here is a good comparative map and profile of the Gulf states. Turkey has assigned troops in Qatar to act as a tripwire against the Saudis. The Persian/Ottoman/ Arabic triangle is back with a deep Sunni-Shia divide in the background. But the deepest divide should be the Salafist jihadist Sunnis against other Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Qatar's openess to Shiites especially Iran does not make them worse than the Saudis. Quite the contrary--they could possibly stop the intra Islamic war against Shiites being waged in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. The opposition to Russia from our foreign policy elite, our crippling association with Saudi Arabia, and the 38-year-old Israeli/Iran war are preventing us from forming the right coalition to isolate the real enemy and consolidate as allies the civilized nations against the jihadists.
The ISIS attack on Iran reminds us of the allies (Christian nations, Shiite nations and non-Wahhabi Sunni states) we think make most sense in this religious war. Our president and Defense Department don't see it that way. At least they are clear about how they see it. Here is a Brit who thinks it is time to stop demonizing Iran and build a coalition.
I. POPE FRANCIS AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
THE SUPERIOR GENERAL OF THE JESUITS - FR. ARTURO SOSA ASCOBAL - ON THE DEVIL: Before we discuss homosexuality, abortion, contraception, or communion rules let us correctly present the cast of characters in the Divine drama. The disbelief in the reality of the Devil is a much more fundamental error than disputes over the "ISSUES". Is the Devil a real being or a symbolic construct? Before people call for this man's removal as head of the Jesuits, let's get a show of hands (please take names) amidst the Jesuits how many of them agree with their superior. Get the big stuff out in the open so we understand how deep the reform must go. Right now there are a lot of priests and nuns who think the reality of Satan, as well as our single set of human parents, are issues already settled against Church teaching by modernist and scientific consensus. Many conservative intellectuals were shocked when Pope Francis said we cannot reduce the message of the Gospel to debates about homosexuality and abortion. But he never has failed to remind us that there is a much deeper dividing line that exists between the mercy of God and the perfidy of Satan. Pope Francis wants the Church to be the sign of God's mercy to humanity. This clarifies for the Church and mankind our common perpetual enemy. There are a lot of clergy including the head of the Jesuits who don't see this fundamental struggle because they cannot see the fundamental foe. If we could agree as a Church on this basic reality, a lot of other "issues" might be clarified as well.
II. ISLAM AND THE MIDDLE EAST
A PLEA TO CONSERVATIVES TO IMPROVE DISCOURSE ABOUT ISLAM: David Rahimi of Texas at Witherspoon - an excellent lament naming the limited sources that are constricting Catholic internet discourse on Islam.
AN ARAB NATO: Friends of Israel never like the sound of that.
AFTER TRUMP VISIT - THE SUNNIS ARE SPLITTING, NOT UNIFYING: Qatar and Pakistan do not want an anti-Shiite alliance. The Wahhabi clerics speak as one and blast Qatar.
ARE WAHHABIS DISOWNING QATAR? The family which represents the clerical establishment in Saudi Arabia takes a stand against the home of Al Jazeera.
A DAY AFTER WE ASKED THAT QUESTION, AN ANSWER CAME AS 5 SUNNI COUNTRIES BROKE RELATIONS WITH QATAR: Qatar doesn't buy the SAUDI - USA - ISRAEL VS IRAN war plan. What will China do?
SHIITES IN BAHRAIN: IRANIAN PROXIES, GLOBAL TERRORISTS, OR AN OPPRESSED PEOPLE? Trump administration seems to have picked a side in the Saudi war against Shiites.
JORDAN, RUSSIA, AND US - EVENTUALLY FAR BETTER ALLIES THAN THE SAUDIS: Jordan and Russia in Syria.
IN THE SINAI - BEDOUIN TRIBES VS. ISIS: Largest tribe fights back.
IRAN - A GOOD RECAP: by Christopher Hill.
THE MANCHESTER BOMBER AND THE LIBYA CONNECTION: A very good discussion.
SENSELESS VIOLENCE OR SHIITE EXTERMINATION BY SALAFIST JIHADISTS? An ice cream shop with women and children blown up in Baghdad. Sounds like just more violence in the "endless cycle of violence." Not really. We must wake up. There is no Shia cry, "Kill all the Sunnis!" Most of the Sunni traditions do not cry, "Kill all the Shiites." But ISIS, Al Qaeda and the Wahhabi Salafists of Saudi Arabia advocate a purification of Islamic lands by ridding them of Shia Muslims, then Jews, and then Christians. This is the religious dimension of the war. This is the Sunni group that both Sunnis and Shia must defeat. This is who we must urge them to DRIVE OUT.
Can we blame Shia from Iran for helping the Shia of Iraq in defending their government from sabotage and their people from genocide? Can we blame the Shia anywhere for trying to stop the Wahhabi Saudi type of Islam from ruling their fellow Muslims? For all the welcome honest talk by the Trump administration, there are still things to be said that will make this conflict much more understandable and winnable. We are not with the Sunni against the Shia. We are with the Shia and the civilized Sunni against the Salafist jihadists - those evil losers are mostly Sunni from the Hanbali tradition taught in Saudi Arabia. Why are we killing Shia? The American left (especially the Nation magazine) has understood the brutality and nature of the Saudi religious cleansing in Yemen better than most conservatives. It is embarrassing that conservative Christians who honestly believe in religious liberty cannot learn enough about Islam to see the asymmetry in the Wahhabi vs Shia fight. It feels a lot like black on black violence in the inner city -- no time or effort to make crucial distinctions needed to side with the victims against the criminals.
III. CULTURE OF LIFE, CULTURE OF PROTECTION
MALE PROTECTORS KILLED WHILE DEFENDING WOMEN FROM PREDATOR: A Catholic military man and a good-hearted peacenik from Reed College: both did their duty. They are dead. The women are safe. This instinctual male readiness to protect, and the virtuous habit of overcoming fear. is the basic military bond that makes us a nation from sea to shining sea in every hamlet and village, on a transit train in Oregon and on an airplane in the skies of Pennsylvania.
TWO MALE EX-WHITE HOUSE STAFFERS WED BY JOE BIDEN: Another picture of male agreement blessed by the highest ranking Catholic official since John Kennedy. What was the cultural goal of the Obama administration? How deep is the acceptance of male homosexuality in that strange mix of Catholic urban culture mixing Democratic politicians, Chancery officials, Catholic Charities and social justice agencies?
IV. RUSSIA R&G ROUND UP
RUSSIA AND INDIA: Short recap on their relations in terms of geopolitics of South Asia. A joint statement on nuclear power sharing.
ON RUSSIA: An outstanding essay by Eugene Vodolazkin at First Things. A few excerpts:
"He argues that men in the Middle Ages, compared to men in the modern age, were less individualistic, yet had much stronger and more stable personalities. In fact there is no contradiction. The modern age has promoted the development of distinct personal qualities and encouraged us to see ourselves as individuals rather than roles, but has isolated us from the truths that supply us with energy and rivet the mind. These were of course religious truths—they represent vertical connections."Finally on the article's theme of concentration:
"Celebrity marks an important instance. It is a status won by horizontal acclaim. The Middle Ages, by contrast, exalted sanctity, which flows from the vertical connection to God, not horizontal connections to others."
"The important point for our purposes is the following: A national leader, any national leader, does not appear accidentally, and when he does, he is called on to solve specific problems. At the same time, it is obvious that the problems, say, Charles de Gaulle faced were very different from those François Hollande faced. The example of Hollande testifies to the fact that the generation of faceless leaders is on the way out. The majority of those who are in leadership today serve as the final paladins of a departing historical cycle. What is coming will require a leader who is a reformer or even a revolutionary. As an epoch ends and a new one begins, such a leader is unlikely to exhibit the expected attributes of a responsible political actor. He comes to prominence because he manifests in the most vivid fashion the changes the majority has been waiting for. Perhaps this explains Donald Trump."
"But as often happens with phenomena that are not sufficiently grounded in reality, the ideas associated with globalism—peace through trade, world citizenship, an “international community”—took on a life of their own.
Where the Marxist utopia in Russia gave birth to terror, the globalist utopia in the West inspired “democratizing” wars and so-called “color revolutions.” This has been the subject of a great deal of discussion that I will not repeat. Leaving aside the damage inflicted on the countries subjected to “democratization”—a large number of direct and indirect victims, the replacement of traditional social structures by chaos—we can see the problems the globalist utopia creates in the West."
"Western Europe, Russia, and the United States represent various branches of a single tree. The basic systemic feature of this civilization is Christianity, both as a religious practice and as a specific kind of culture. If European civilization is fated to survive, it will require a rediscovery of Christianity. And that will take place both on the level of nation-states and at a pan-European level."
"This age of concentration will also have a social dimension and expression. It will consist of the restoration of nation-states as the form for the existence of peoples. In comparison to the global frame of reference that was emphasized in the last half century, the national level will have priority.
One of the manifestations of the age of concentration will be the final rejection of any attempts to realize utopias such as communism in Russia and globalism in the West."