by David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch
WHY MEN FIGHT AND WHY THEY DON'T
Men and nations fight wars to protect their homelands and their shipping lanes. Just as often they fight to protect allies and punish old foes. But men fight often to protect their honor as a people and the sacred goods around which they are congregated as a nation. For Sunni Muslims of the Mideast, it does matter how any set of fighters are aligned in the Sunni-Shia divide. For Turks who are Sunni Muslims, they are willing to fight for ancestral tombs, to keep the Kurds in their national borders, and to weaken any Shiite state in the neighborhood - particularly Assad of Syria. They are much less interested in taking on Sunni ISIS, though they are one force large enough to do so.
According to Global Firepower (GFP) Turkey with a population of 82 million and 41 million men of fighting age has 3,800 tanks, 7,500 Armed Field Vehicles, 500 helicopters and 410,000 men in active duty. The numbers for ISIS are hard to get at. Two estimates by the CIA put their forces at 20-30,000 in September 2014 and 11-18,000 more recently. In a Senate hearing with Secretary of State Kerry, the number 40,000 was stated by a senator and not contradicted by Kerry. This is an important assessment needed in the debate. Men fight for what is sacred to them. The non-Arab Turks have not spent many troops on the ISIS front, right on their western border, but they did send men and tanks to save the graves of their fathers. As America seems less and less united by shared sacred goods, it is good to remember what George Orwell said about Mein Kampf.
THE GAYS GET AN ENVOY. THE CHRISTIAN NATIONS RECEDE, AND THE CHRISTIAN ASSYRIANS ARE ABDUCTED
The State Department now has an envoy to defend and promote homosexuals. Meanwhile the notion that Christian America has some fraternal duty to fellow Christians is considered a deep breach of Church-State separation. While Israel debates defining itself as a Jewish State and multiple Muslim countries define themselves as such, the nations of Christendom can barely say there is a God in public civic actions. CNN sponsored the right debate between Alabama Judge Moore and CNN host Chris Cuomo (son of Mario, brother of Andrew - both baptized Catholics and New York governors). A nation of men or a nation under God.
ISIS is losing territory to the Kurds in the northeast part of Syria but that has not prevented them from an abduction of Christians. Christians will need states, militias and allies to defend them from the aggression of the jihadists as Christians and their art is meant to be effaced. The Lebanese Christians are watching. They are not part of the anti-Hezbollah lobby. Hezbollah is a fighting Shiite force despised by Israel and targeted by ISIS. But for the Maronite Christians of Lebanon, the fighting Shiites will be important allies against any move of ISIS to the west.
BACKGROUND OF US RUSSIAN ENMITY FOLLOWING THE COLLAPSE OF THE BERLIN WALL
One state that has acknowledged a special duty to defend Christians is Russia. Present polices agreed upon by both parties are driving us to war with one of our most natural allies in the religious-political theater which faces us. Here is a good review of the US dealing with Russia since the end of the Cold War by Professor Stephen Cohen on Russia-US relations.
The Jewish migration from Soviet Union in the 1970s followed the Soviet opposition to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. With the fall of Soviet ideology, there were fears of many secular Jews that Russian nationalism(especially grounded in a Christian Orthodox communal identity) might lead to a resurgence of anti-Semitism. This is not the case for President Putin. Putin is a certain kind of nationalist. Another author who has a strong dislike for Putin explains that even a "nice Putin" would defend policies of a Russian nationalist.
EUROPE, UKRAINE AND IRAN: AN OVERVIEW
IF ISIS IS ATTACKED AND FALLS WHO WOULD RULE?
THE CLAIM OF JORDAN
Any war against ISIS to remove all semblance of territorial authority from their control must answer the question: "Who will govern after?" The U.S. actually had a better answer for that in Iraq and Afghanistan than Libya. We would advocate a Sunni alliance led by Jordan with some kind of Sunni National Guard emerging as the local men who fought for the new state and thus won the soldier's right to governance. Jordan and Egypt are true alternatives to Saudi Arabian leadership. Turkey is an established Sunni state adjacent to the contested territory. However the Turks are not Arabs and their real goals are the fall of President Assad of Syria and blocking the emergence of a Kurdish republic which would make claims on the loyalty of their own Kurdish population. Egyptian military leaders have made a frontal assault on ISIS ideology within Islam but they still have a serious problem winning the loyalty of their own people after coming to power by overthrowing an elected government. The multiple executions of Muslim Brotherhood members leaves a legacy not resolved. Jordan has provided a different kind of leadership and may be the Sunni authority needed to organize a Sunni State after the demolition of ISIS. Their president and ministers have also been the clearest in declaring: "This is our war not the West's - we are the tip of the spear."
IRAN VS SAUDI ARABIA
Underlying all strategic considerations is the Iran-Saudi Arabia conflict. This is particularly true in Yemen.
RELIGIOUS ARGUMENTS WORTH NOTING
The January 2015 speech by President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi of Egypt calling for a very different revolution in Islamic thought is the beginning of the deeper level discussion needed in this crisis.
Here is Fr. Robert Barron's take on the atheist complaint against the suffering of the innocent .
For all those worried about the Pope's upcoming encyclical on "climate change" it might be helpful to consider that his underlying approach will be about creation and the ecology of man. Pope Benedict spoke of this as well. Pope Francis asserts there is an order in creation and human nature is a given within that deeper order. Speaking of Pope Francis, this is the best talk on his biography by the author Austen Ivereigh: The Great Reformer. The "best" written review of the book is to be found on AOA earlier this week.