Saturday, October 28, 2017

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, October 28

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (32yo) of Saudi Arabia says Saudi Arabia will be returning to the "moderate form of Islam" it practiced before thirty years of confusion caused by the desire of many countries to imitate "the 1979 revolution in Iran". For the guardians of Wahhabi Islam since its inception this is a stunning claim. The young Crown Prince is jumping over numerous more competent elder relatives to receive control of the Kingdom from his father. He knows he needs the Wahhabi religious establishment to back his claims to the throne and he has courted them with an aggressive anti Shiite campaign against the Houthis of Yemen(clearly his war since 2015) to the Shiite Persians of Iran to the Sunni collaborators of Qatar (he initiated the isolation policies against Qatar for their open relations with Shiite Iran and their support of less monarchical forms of political Islam). This man is certainly trying to consolidate power. He has a clear strategy of allying with clerics inside the Kingdom and with the US and Israel outside. That hardly makes him a reformer of Islam.  If the Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina  were to be governed moderately "again" the Saudis would have to return their care to the Hashemites(who ruled until they were expelled by Abdulaziz ibn Saud  and his Ikwan military brotherhood in 1924). If not the Hashemites(the present King of Jordan) then some more inclusive body in Islam might safeguard the pilgrimage sites without imposing the rules of the Salafists on the pilgrims. There is a spiritual blindness among Americans in understanding the Saudis. For different reasons, the Bushes, McCains, and Clintons have been played for decades by the desert monarchs who are much stronger personalities, much more substantial men, in bending policies toward their own interests. The situation is quite different for Israel. The Israelis under the Likkud party are neither as weak nor ahistorical as the paper tiger American elite. The Israelis want to overthrow the Iranian government and keep the Syrians too weak to contest the Golan Heights. With eyes wide open, they see Saudi Arabia's ideological enmity to all Shiite forms of authority( including Israel's enemies the states of Iran and  Syria) as a useful ally. The Israelis as personalities are also much stronger characters than the Democrat and Republican officials who have done their bidding for decades.
President Trump has significantly improved American governance by replacing feminist careerist Hillary Clinton with American patriot and international executive Rex Tillerson at the State Department. Trump discusses America's place in the world with General McMaster at NSA in place of Susan Rice. He has a Marine General James Mattis at Defense instead of a Democratic party operative Leon Pancetta. President Trump is a strong man and he has surrounded himself with strong men. But at the heart of out Mideast policy, even with this band of patriots, there is a spiritual blindness to the nature of the war we are fighting. Journalists, academics, patriots and senators are needed to debate and deepen the public understanding of our present dilemma. That can only help our good willed leaders.  


THE CHURCH AND THE REPUBLICAn excellent essay on Orestes Brownson - the American religious-political thinker who ended up Catholic. Like the American bishops at the first Baltimore Council, he argues that the Protestant anti Catholic American founders built a republic most hospitable to the one, true, and holy Catholic Church. No-one articulated the deep bonds of  American patriotism and the Christian religion better than the great Catholic patriarch-Archbishop John Ireland of Minnesota. Our argument at AOA is that the greatest fruits of the Protestant Reformation are the Christian nations most notably the USA.

REALITY MEANS TO FIRST LOVE GOD. SPEAKING OF REALITY, YOU NEED THE ANGELS TO FIGHT SATAN: The Pope puts our loves in order and in the spirit of the mission to the nations beatifies more Spanish martyrs who died in the scientific revolution of atheistic communism against God, church and nation. We need the angels to fight Satan. A good interview on the martyrs of the Spanish Civil War. On the liturgy front, the Pope corrects his Liturgy chief reiterating that translations really are a local function.

THE AGE OF SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY RESTED ON EXPLORING A UNIVERSE: ...with a personal Creator who had a plan, a design, and operated by the laws He had made. Regis Nichol makes a most succinct argument about the real relationship of religion and the sciences.

FATIMA: The miracle of the Sun - what we have been told to do. A Living God who acts in History.

RUSSIAN CATHOLICS RECALL THE GULAG: From National Catholic Reporter:
"The preachers of materialism and atheism, who proclaim man's self-sufficiency, are preparing indescribable darkness and horror for mankind under the guise of renovation and resurrection," Dostoevsky had written prophetically.

"They conceive of arranging things justly. But having repudiated Christ, they will end by flooding the world with blood."

The revolution's mastermind, Vladimir Lenin, had sworn to emasculate Russia's Orthodox clergy — those "agents in cassocks" who had been used by the Tsar to "sweeten and embellish the lot of the oppressed with empty promises of a heavenly kingdom."

But he was contemptuous of religion as a whole.

To call it the "opium of the people" was too kind, Lenin had written in 1909, paraphrasing Karl Marx. It was rather "a kind of spiritual rotgut, by which the slaves of capital blacken their human figure and their aspirations for a more dignified human life."

The very word God had become an "object of mockery," Mandelstam recalled, while the new possessors of "scientific truth" claimed god-like authority.


SHIITE MILITIAS - THEY ARE IRAQIS NOT IRANIAN: A review. The news is often full of pejorative remarks about the "Shiite militias" in Iraq. The reportage makes it sound like they are hit squads from Iran. In fact they are Iraqis who want to fight with coreligionists.

WHY WOULDN'T SHIA MILITIAS IN IRAQ FORMED TO FIGHT ISIS ALLY WITH IRANIANS?  A REMINDER FROM MIDDLE EAST FORUM: "The Shi'a militias of the PMU were raised in June 2014, following a fatwa from renowned Iraqi Shi'a cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. At that time, ISIS was heading for Baghdad, hence the need for the rapid mobilization of auxiliary fighters. The PMU's forces now consist of about120,000 fighters in total. And while dozens of militias are associated with it, a handful of larger formations form its central pillars. The three most important groups are all pro-Iranian and directly connected to the Revolutionary Guards. These are Ktaeb Hizballah, headed by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis; Asaib Ahl al-Haq, headed by Qais al-Khazali; and the Badr Organization, commanded by Hadi al-Ameri. All three of these leaders are closely linked to Qods Force Commander General Qassem Suleimani."

It has been a bloody week in Afghanistan. A string of suicide bombings killed nearly 200 people— and still more attacks were foiled before they could cause even more deaths. Taliban suicide bombers broke through security checkpoints at several police and military compounds, allowing fighters to storm the gates in commando-style raids. In one case, an attack nearly wiped out all 60 Afghan National Army soldiers at a post in Kandahar province; 43 soldiers died, and nine more were wounded. Other attacks included the bombing of a Shiite mosque in Kabul that killed 54 people and injured 55, and a rocket attack on the NATO compound inside the city’s fortified “Green Zone” that caused no injuries.
TURKEY AND IRAN: Together against independent Kurds.

REGIME CHANGE IN IRAN: How President Trump became a believer. Whaled Phares was a Trump advisor. His argument for regime change in Iran. This line of argument preceded the Iraq incursion and there are many who say the real strategy of neocons had always been regime change in Iraq, then Syria, then Iran.

ISIS IS BEING DRIVEN OUT OF IRAQ AND SYRIA: This astonishing strategic success of the Trump administration in devising an effective anti-ISIS victory has escaped much of the US press. Looking for a good summary article of what has been done and the new status of all concerned countries has been hard to find. In Iraq the problem will be the proper relations between the Iraq government and the Kurds. Iran is Iraq's ally. They fought and died together. It is good when one's neighbor is one's ally. The US fought to free Iraq from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. They are now free. They have ended the salafist nightmare of ISIS. They are a Shia majority with a significant Sunni minority. They make their own alliances. In Syria as ISIS is being driven out, the Syrian civil war resumes. The Syrian government is going to assert its right to govern. The Russians and Iranians and Lebanese Shiite allies (read Hezbollah) will all support Assad's claim. The Israelis will add Syria to their list of countries "taken over by Iran" and may engage in more aggressive military strikes. As a candidate President Trump believed if the US would stop fighting Russia and Syria, then the fall of ISIS would be eminent. He stopped fighting them and all the momentum is with the anti ISIS forces. But now his desire to placate Israel and his antipathy to Iran places the US in danger of fighting Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon at the behest of our allies. President Trump needs to modulate his world view by seeing the Russian perspective. The continued Russian investigation is hindering the US by depriving us of the natural benefits of diplomacy. A bipartisan victory and a multinational victory ousts ISIS.

THE BOMBING OF YEMEN AND THE CHOLERA EPIDEMIC CONTINUE: Frontline reports the consequences of Saudi bombing. The war against Shiites in the name of fighting Iran has a very ugly face in Yemen. Both President Obama and President Trump have acquiesced in this policy.

ISRAEL'S THREE ENEMIES: HEZBOLLAH IN LEBANON, THE SYRIAN GOVERNMENT TO ITS NORTH, AND, MOST OF ALL, IRAN: All are Shiites and thus they are also the enemies of the salafist Sunni movement to unify Muslims led by the Wahhabi clerics of Saudi Arabia. The US in the Mideast has become embroiled in a war against the enemies of our allies. But is the war against Shiites who arm themselves effectively by governing states really our war? This is certainly not the war of Mideast Christians who are protected by Assad's Syria and allied with Lebanon's Hezbollah.


BILL CLINTON AND STROBE TALBOT - HOW THE BABY BOOMERS LOST THE PEACE: The incompetence of Bill and friends in the aftermath of the Cold War is outlined in several books. The authors don't use such biting language. The expansion of NATO and the false flag of the liberal democratic West against the rest is the great error of the baby boomers inheriting a victory in the Cold War and then "losing the peace."

CHINA AND XI JINPINGEstablishing his rule. Whether the "Chinese Dream" will be Marxian, Confucian or Christian is a question. That the Chinese nation is alive and well is not in doubt. The Communist Party if it can reform itself will provide the means of governance. It may survive as an administrative mechanism long after the ideology. A new era and two geopolitical imperatives for the Chinese from the Xi Jinping speech. The East China Sea and South China Sea: How China thinks about its maritime border. Excellent short review with maps of Chinese maritime choke points.

INDIA AND DIWALIHindus celebrate the lights.

RUSSIA, TRUMP, CLINTON: The Trump dossier was given to the FBI by John McCain. It certainly was an attempt to influence the election by smearing the candidate that neither Republicans nor Democrats favored. Will the mainstream press hunt this fox?
One way to reducing CO2 in producing energy is to use uranium. Uranium is considered a strategic asset. Here is another kind of Russian story featuring ownership of Uranium, a very big paycheck for Bill Clinton, and the third female secretary of state. The story has not fully matured.


IS LIBERALISM DYING? Christians should stop moaning that we are living in a post-Christian era. Christianity is booming. It is the secular modern west that is dying. Why any Catholic man would weep for the death of a direction (the "west") that gave us Darwin, Marx, Freud and Betty Friedan is not apparent. Christianity and the nations are emerging. The sexual religious confusion of the modern West is as much in eclipse in America and Europe as Marxism was in Russia in the 1990's. Let us rejoice and be glad.

THOUGHTFULS VS. ROUGHNECKS: Austin Ruse is getting at something very fundamental about the Catholic debate about Fr. James Martin and homosexuality in the Catholic priesthood. A fundamental category distinction in all religious thought is the sacred, the profane, and the abominations. When dealing with abominations, a "respectful dialogue" may not be the right approach. When a man emerges defending the homosexual predators who sustained the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, it might be time to make an ad hominem argument. James Martin is that man.

MASCULINITY IN HOLLYWOOD: The trouble with Harvey Weinstein is not that he is hyper-male.

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