Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Of Maps and Men

Pence writes:

"It would be very helpful in choosing both Senators and Presidents to establish a prepared debate format in which each candidate was given time for a ten to fifteen minute presentation showing a world map -- and how he understands our place in the sphere of nations. Only the candidates could question each other and then do a wrap-up.

"There would be no newscaster intrusions with 'gotcha' questions such as spelling the name of Pakistan’s leader.

"How a man draws the map in his head -- and where his emphasis would be in explaining it -- would be great civic education. After a few trials, a good format would emerge and the nature of debate might be elevated significantly."

This post originally appeared on Anthropology of Accord on January 27, 2012.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Map on Monday: PAKISTAN

The Physical Ecology, Communal Loyalties, and Geopolitics of Pakistan

by David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch

Physical Ecology: Natural Resources and Physical Geography

Hidden underneath Pakistan's diverse physical geography lies the fault line which divides the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates. The physical area of Pakistan makes it more than twice the size of California and slightly larger than Texas. Pakistan can be divided into three zones: the highlands in the far north, the Baluchistan plateau in the west, and the Indus River plain in Pakistan's east.

The northern highlands include the second highest mountain in the world, K2, and is comprised of several mountain chains (like the Hindu Kush - or "Hindu Killer" - and the Himalayas). The mountains provide the flow of waters that not only form the Indus River but also the many river systems of the Indo-Gangetic Plain (the etymology of "Indus" is derived from the Sanskrit word Sindu. Sindu, which means ocean, is also the root from which the modern words Hindu and India are derived).  The Indus River water flow is 80% to Pakistan and 20% to India settled by a 1960 treaty which India threatens at times to renegotiate.  The area around Baluchistan makes up over 40% of Pakistan, yet is underpopulated due to water scarcity and the mountainous areas along Afghanistan (an area also prone to earthquakes). This area is physically part of the Iranian plateau and on the Eurasian side of the fault line.

The 'CIA World Factbook' lists arable land, extensive natural gas reserves, limited petroleum, poor quality coal, iron ore, copper, salt, and limestone as some of Pakistan's natural resources. The river system of the Indus also provides Pakistan with hydro-power as a renewable energy source, and access to the ocean brings with it fishing resources. Pakistan's agriculture is diverse, producing cotton, wheat, rice, sugar-cane, maize, sorghum, millet, pulses, oil seeds, barley, fruits and vegetables. Although only 4% of Pakistan is forested, Pakistan has an array of mineral resources (collecting 52 in all) ranging from gypsum, limestone, chromites, iron ore, rock salt, silver, gold, precious stones, gems, marbles, tiles, copper, sulfur, fire clay and silica sand. Most of Pakistan's minerals are collected in Baluchistan while precious stones and gems are found in the north. Pakistan receives over $200 million annually from exports of gemstones alone.

Communal Loyalties: Ethnicity, Language, and Religion

Ethnic groups of Pakistan (click to enlarge or here for full size.)
Not only does Pakistan act as the meeting place of the Indian and Eurasian plates, it also sits astride a pivotal civilizational fault line between the Islamic Middle East, Hindu India, and Confucian China.

Pakistan is inhabited by over 200 million people (making it the 6th most populous nation in the world) and is comprised of a diverse range of ethnic groups.

Ethnic (Pashtu and Baluch) Iranians and languages are most prevalent in western Pakistan and account for about 20% of the overall population. The Pashtuns are also in Afghanistan and were deliberately bifurcated by the 1893 Durand Line. The Pashtuns make up a good deal of the Taliban in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. When Pakistan was created at the time of partition, Afghan Pashtuns were opposed to the state and sought an independent Pashtunistan. Pakistan from its inception tried to establish among Pashtuns a "supra ethnic" Islamic identity which would ally this important tribe with their larger Islamic military project.

The eastern, Indus River half of Pakistan is dominated by Indo-Aryan peoples of the Indian Subcontinent and their languages. The two largest Indo-Aryan ethnic groups are the Sindhis in Pakistan's southeast and the Punjabis in eastern and northern Pakistan. While the Sindhis account for 14% of the population, Punjabis comprise 42% and stand as the largest, single ethnic group in the country (the region of the Punjab crosses national borders and extends into India). The Punjabis have controlled the military and intelligence services since its inception. The Punjabi sense of ethnic superiority and their alliance with Pashtuns in the salafist Sunni project provides  the key explanatory theme in the riddle of Pakistan. 40% of the population speaks Punjab but a different language(Urdu or English) is advocated for unity and official business. Today Bengali is the official language of Bangladesh and Urdu of Pakistan. English has a role in law and governance in both countries. The father of the Pakistan bomb A.G. Kahn has said even though he armed Pakistan, he has never really been considered a "son of the soil" and tongue because he is not a Punjab. President Musharraf (2001-2008) has said the same.Other ethnic groups in Pakistan include Sino-Tibetan peoples in the north and the Brahui-Dravidians in the southwest (Dravidian peoples are found primarily in southern India where Indian Christianity is most prominent).

Pakistan is second only to Indonesia as the world's most populous Muslim nation, with Sunni Islam making up somewhere around 85% of Pakistan's 200+ million population. Shiite Muslims are the next largest religious group in Pakistan (with 30-40  million Shiites, only Iran has a higher Shiite population), followed by Hindus (2%) and Christians (1.5%). The political founder and "Father of Pakistan" was Muhammad Ali Jinnah, a secularized Shiite from the Sindh area. While he was the primary organizer of an independent Pakistan, the country's military governing class was dominated by ethnic and religious loyalties he never shared.

Geopolitics: Political Geography and Foreign Policy

Pakistan borders the Arabian Sea to the south, Iran to the west, Afghanistan in the northwest, China in the northeast, and India to the east. Its capital of Islamabad lies in the north within the Punjabi lands of the Indus River plain. Gwadar on the Arabian Sea is being built up as a major port city with ties connecting Pakistan to China.

Pakistan is a very young nation. In 1947, the British partitioned Islamic Pakistan (then "West Pakistan") and Bangladesh (then "East Pakistan") from Hindu India. Kashmir and Jammu was a Muslim majority princely state with a Hindu prince who sided with India at the time of partition. There were a million deaths and 10 million refugees in the communal violence that accompanied the "sorting out".  Pakistan has been to war with India no less than three times since 1947 over Kashmir (located in the far north of both India and Pakistan). Today, control of Kashmir is divided between India, Pakistan, and China - bringing the three into constant low level conflict.  Pakistan's most costly war with India took place in 1971. The ethnic Bengalis of East Pakistan resented the governmental dominance by ethnic Punjabs of the West. Laws made “Urdu and only Urdu” the official language of the new Pakistani State in 1947 at the time of partition. In a December 1970 election the Bengali east, and two non-Punjab areas of Balochistan and the mostly Pashtun Northwest Provinces won enough seats to control the National Assembly. Yahya Khan, the military dictator who had allowed the elections announced in March 1971 the indefinite postponement of the National Assembly. A bloody attack on East Pakistan led to Bengali resistance and Indian intervention. East Pakistan declared itself as the new nation of Bangladesh in Dec 1971. The war would leave hundreds of thousands of Bengalis dead and 10 million more seeking refuge in India - but Pakistan lost a third of its army, half of its navy, and a quarter of its air force along with control over Bangladesh.
 In May 1998 both India and Pakistan successfully tested nuclear weapons. India had already tested in 1974. The story of "Islam’s first bomb”, the extensive stockpiles of Pakistan,  and the father of the nuclear program in Pakistan  have strangely never received the bad US press that surrounds the centrifuges of Iran.

Pakistan's relationship with Afghanistan was contested long before September 11, 2001. The line dividing the two nations - the so-called "Durand Line" named after the English Sir Mortimer Durand - was made between the British and the Afghans to demarcate Great Britain's sphere of influence into Afghanistan. The line cuts through the lands of ethnic Pashtuns who live on either side of the line. Afghanistan does not recognize the line, leaving both nations perpetually at odds. See, also, this previous AoA post on the region.

China and Iran both have working relations with Pakistan. Pakistan holds a much more favorable view of Iran than the Arab Sunni Gulf States do.  In 1999, both countries entered into a free trade agreement. The Chinese and Iranian relationships could be a source of stability which might allow a ruling group to move beyond the present salafist leanings of the military and intelligence agencies.

China sees in Pakistan an ally against India. China also believes good relations with Pakistan will cut them off as a base for Islamic rebellion in their own western province of Xinjiang. Half of Xinjiang's population are Muslim Uyghars.  During the Cold War, U.S.-Pakistan relations were particularly strong, with Pakistan playing a key role in aiding the U.S. against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Pakistan has put itself forward as a key U.S. ally in the fight against the Afghan Taliban. This is now highly contested.(see our four book review on Pakistan).  Since the bin Laden raid of 2011, the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan has worsened. Pakistan looks to become a key partner not only with China, but with Russia as well. Meanwhile, China plans to invest $46 billion in a "New Silk Road" with Pakistan (compare that to the $31 billion in military aid  the US has given the Pakistanis in the years since 9/11).  Pakistan's Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif,  has said: "Friendship with China is the cornerstone of Pakistan's foreign policy."

Located at a geostrategic position on the Arabian Sea and acting as the civilizational bridge between the Islamic middle east, Confucian China, and Hindu India, Pakistan will have a significant role to play in the future of southern Asia. At this time they are a nuclear armed Islamic state that has provided a strategic base for salafist Sunnis in Kashmir and Afghanistan, as well as an ongoing base for terrorist attacks against India: all of this while receiving significant funding as a major US ally.

November 2016 Update: Stratfor Video on the Geographic Challenges for Pakistan

Stratfor - short for Strategic Forecasting, Inc. - is a private global intelligence company that offers geopolitical insight into the interplay of nations. Stratfor has developed an excellent series of short (~2-4 minute) videos which provide the viewer with a specific nation, along with its basic history, geography, culture, and geopolitical allies and adversaries. In the following video, they present the geographic challenges facing Pakistan.

For more information on Pakistan, visit its page on the CIA World Factbook.

See also this excellent talk given on the topic of Pakistan's history tied to the U.S.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, September 26

by David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


POPE IN AMERICA:  Laura Goldstein is the religion reporter for the 'NYTimes.' For a decade the gist of her reporting has been progressive modern Catholics working against the entrenched and corrupt old-guard patriarchy. But in this description of the Church at the time of Pope Francis' visit, she properly shows the huge thriving parishes of the West, an immigrant church going to confession,  and the empty but still beautiful churches of old urban Catholics. No solutions, but not a bad drawing of the Catholic Church in the USA. On the other hand, a more penetrating analysis of the deep divide affecting both Church and nation is Catholics and Americans in cultural crisis by Patrick Buchanan.

GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER: A strange guest list that the Obama Administration constructs for the Pope's Dinner at the White House.

THE POPE'S SPEECH - THE REAL ONE: The Pope's speech to Congress began with a high view of politics and the common life of a nation. When you read about the politcized Pope, actually read what he says about politics. He says a lot and his categories are much more helpful than the partisanship of parties. Why are Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorna doing so well? People hunger for politics - men of the city and country. We are tired by careerists of the parties.

Here is Pope Francis speaking to Congress on politics:
You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses. On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolizes the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation. On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.

Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life.
He then employed the Catholic practice of teaching by biography: "Four representatives of the American people."

Three sons and a daughter of this land, four individuals and four dreams: Lincoln, liberty; Martin Luther King, liberty in plurality and non-exclusion; Dorothy Day, social justice and the rights of persons; and Thomas Merton, the capacity for dialogue and openness to God.

When he introduced Lincoln in this 150th year from his assassination he emphasized:
President Abraham Lincoln, the guardian of liberty, who labored tirelessly that “this nation, under God, [might] have a new birth of freedom”.
Finally, before he closed with "God bless America," he outlined his understanding of national greatness:
A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.
As the pope visits America in the context of the world conference on the family and coming synod on the family, he expressed his "concern for the family" in his speech:
Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family.
Francis' speech was hard to listen to. The Pope is much more natural and colloquial in his speeches in Spanish and Italian. However, it is best to read his speech to learn from it. Do not trust the headlines, such as "Pope Priorities: Poverty and Climate Change."

We suggest the best way to understand this pope is to read the biography by Austin Ivereigh. Here is our review of The Great Reformer


THREE "PEOPLE" ON A PARIS TRAIN: The President met with three American men who saved a Paris train from a heavily armed hijacker. The President lauded them and they relished the visit. He thanked them "for making America look so good." Well done. He said here "are the kind of young people that make me optimistic about America…" If they had been three women do you think he would have left their gender out in speaking of them? Does it matter in his praise? Did it matter in their action?

THE MILITARY AND MEN - ALL ABOUT THE MALE GROUP: Gregory Newbold has written a short trenchant: What tempers the steel of an infantry unit?

Lieutenant General Gregory Newbold (U.S. Marine Corps, ret.) is a former infantryman, having commanded units from the platoon through the 1st Marine Division. His last assignment was as Director of Operations, the Joint Staff.

When your allies are homosexual predators and your President appoints gay Army leaders, it is hard to develop the moral high ground from which men fight.


SAVING SYRIA: OLD COLD WARRIOR SEES AN ALLY IN RUSSIA: Pat Buchanan has had this right for several years.

SAUDIS AGAINST THE SHIA OF YEMEN, MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN: As human rights groups complain, the Saudis wage a PR campaign.

STONING THE DEVIL - 700 DEAD MUSLIMS: The Saudis are in charge of the holy sites and keeping pilgrims safe. This disaster happened during the last day of ritual of stoning the devil. It is a dramatic liturgical act which keeps the Liar's presence before us.


KASICH AND RUBIO ON POLICY: John Kasich on marriage and abortion. Rubio on opposing Russia.


FROM THE WEST CAME THE MAN FROM THE EAST: Xi Jingping landed in America days after the pope; he came from the west, for Seattle has a significance of Chinese coming to America. He brings his Dream of China - the post-Communist attempt to articulate the spiritual nature of the Chinese nation with a special bow to Confucius. Liberty and Order - a lesson from China for us all.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday BookReview -- The Great Reformer: Pope Francis

[First published on February 27, 2015.]

by David Pence


Ignatius, Peter, and Peron: Untying the Knot of Pope Francis

In every papacy, a man and an office meet in the cultural environments shaped by the interplay of Church and nations in that era of human history. Great papal narratives set man and office in their moment of history. George Weigel’s Witness to Hope situated the philosophically personalist Pope John Paul II on the bi-polar historical world stage where the Polish world actor took the side of Church, nation, and man against the depersonalized tyranny of Communist atheism. Vittorio Messori’s Ratzinger Report pitted an intellectually and liturgically formed scholar cardinal, in the conversational tone of biblical personalism, against the turbulent confusion following the holy ferment of Vatican II. 

Austen Ivereigh’s The Great Reformer is the story of a man called from a nation at “the ends of the earth” to put on the shoes of the fisherman and lead the Church out into the periphery where she might be mother as well as teacher in showing the mercy of God to the sobrantes (the left-over people) at the margins. Mr. Ivereigh wrote his Oxford thesis on the "Church and Politics in Argentina" and his account is rich in history—of Argentina, of the Latin American Church after Vatican II, and of the Jesuits after the Council. But he discovers an even more radical historical formulation presented by the distinctively Latin American Church. The Church is being drawn from a decaying monarchical form to bypass the modernism of libertine atheism (the decayed form of the Enlightenment) and return to the collegial fraternity of apostles. Only this true fruit of the worldwide Second Vatican Council can counter the delusion of self-reliance afflicting modern man and the spiritual worldiness weighing down the self-referential Curia and careerist clergy.

Moving the encounter of the Church and the world to the margins seemed for many faithful Catholics an abandonment of the intellectual battle lines they had so carefully constructed and suffered for in conscious allegiance to the popes before Francis. And just when many Catholic businessmen and economists rejoiced that free markets as creators of wealth were finally being recognized by chastened Communists and modern pontiffs, the new pope predicted only ruin if we trust the organization of society to “the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation.” They condescended, “What could one expect from a son of Latin America and a grandson of old Europe? What could he know of the Oikos nomos -- the economy -- the ordering of the household? A Jesuit from Latin America stuck in the quasi-Marxism of liberation theology -- didn’t this movie come and go two decades ago?”

But as they looked across the old ideological lines expecting to find a pope against them instead of their ally, he was nowhere to be found. This, too, was not his hill for battle. Communism and Capitalism tug at one another and the rope is knotted. Abortion and Homosexuality are obsessions of their advocates; and those who speak too often in opposition find themselves talking about evils which most of humanity shuns by not mentioning the taboo. The sacrament of humanity -- the Church -- cannot define herself by obsessions or opposition to obsessions.
In rhetoric the locus of an argument is called the line of stasis. The contested issues of the European Church and the international demarcations of the bipolar Cold War are being left behind for a new line of stasis pitting the Spirit of Mercy against the Evil One. The pope is wildly popular, said a bishop, because he seems new by reminding people of someone they heard about long ago. He, too, was cheered and greeted with psalms and hosannas. 

The first pope from the New World is returning to be bishop of the capital of his grandfather’s country and his father’s birthplace. Rome cannot consider him a stranger. His papacy, as well, is not so confusing nor is he “running from the issues.” He seeks, with both John Paul II and Benedict XVI, a return to a deeper encounter between man and God. He arranges that encounter not with the huge crowd or in intellectual disputations. His strategies are different from the popes before him, but he is a loyal son of the Church as surely as he is a grandson of Rome. 

G.K. Chesterton said that what St. Benedict had stored in barns like grain, St. Francis spread in the world like seed. Mr. Ivereigh contends that the same relationship holds today, though the critics most hampering the pope within the Church today are  Benedict XVI devotees who mask their opposition to him in their pained confusions and half-hearted loyalty pledges. The fifth chapter of the book, "The Leader Expelled (1980-82)," is about the rejection of Bergoglio by the progressive Jesuit intellectuals who then ruled the Order. Today it is not progressives but the “orthodox” who are disappointed in his ways. He has always been opposed by intellectuals.  

All true reform, says Ivereigh quoting Congar and channeling Chesterton, is the return to some original form. Pope Francis is a Jesuit—his spiritual life is shaped by the exercises of Saint Ignatius. Each of his days is marked by the Office, the Rosary, the Mass, and Eucharistic Adoration. He is a big heart open to God but also a discerning soul allowing situations to mature before acting. Is this action an act of compassion and good, or is the Evil One posing as a spirit of light? The Ignatian Pope asks these kinds of questions. Discerning spirits -- a continual awareness of the reality and machinations of Satan, while resting in the mercy of God is the best description of his approach to governance. He has certainly known the definitive call of the Holy Spirit. He was called to the priesthood as definitively “as being knocked from a horse” after confession when he was sixteen. And like Peter at the home of Cornelius, he has recognized the Holy Spirit in those not of the fold in his remarkable ecumenism of prayer with Evangelicals in Argentina.  

Francis is much more a man of prayer than a theologian (but let us not dimiss the theology of the knees). Like the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius he starts from the mercy of God, but then discerns the spirits. Before he will organize us around the “issues” he will ask us to reflect by “keeping silence, praying and humbling ourselves” as he wrote in Silencio y Palabra (Silence and Word). He especially understands the scourge of our day in which evil presents itself as good or “the bad spirit comes in the guise of an angel.” This kind of deceit and temptation appears sub angelo lucis. The way to deal with such Spirit is not to fight it head on, because only God can defeat such a Power. He tells us, "Be gentle! The evil ones will take that for weakness... The devil emboldened will show himself and his true intentions, no longer disguised as an angel of light but boldly and shamelessly.” Did this not happen at the extraordinary synod in October 2014 when the pope was much criticized by conservatives for not “speaking up” against falsehoods? He only spoke at the end reminding the free-speaking bishops they were both with Peter and under him. His disciplined silence allowed over the next few months that several prominent episcopal “angels of compassion and light “ were exposed by their own deeds and words to be thieves, liars, and racists. Francis brings the church back to the original underlying conflict with our original foe -- the father of lies, a murderer from the beginning, and he does it as a Jesuit conforming to the original spirituality of that warrior mystic Saint Ignatius.
The young Bergoglio

When the bishops of Latin America returned from the Vatican Council they were struck by its message about bishops and collegiality and the people of God. They were also struck by how the bishops of the continent with the most Catholics played such a small role in the give-and-take of that great spiritual event. Over the years, the Latin American bishops would form not a national conference but a continental conference: CELAM. Its first conference was in Rio de Janeiro in 1955, but after Vatican II it progressively developed a theology of "Church and the people" from Medellin (Columbia 1968) to Puebla (Mexico 1979) to Aparecida (Brazil 2007). This experience of collegially developing a theology of liberation and communio rooted in a matured understanding of God’s holy faithful people is a central experience in the life of Bergoglio. He understands himself as a brother priest and a brother bishop. Fraternity and collegiality, governing and learning through synods in which there is real dialogue and disagreement is central to this new Peter whose favorite papal title is Bishop of Rome. It is this trait, above all, which will allow him to do what his predecessors did poorly -- to govern, to rule. 

[A fascinating section of the book outlines meetings of bishops at St. Gallen in Switzerland, concerned that the local church/central church dynamic had gone too far central. While the theological concerns of prelates Martini (the late Jesuit cardinal of Milan), Kasper (Rottenburg-Stuttgart), Lehmann (Mainz), and Danneels (Brussels) were very different than those of the Latin American bishops, this was the common ground where they met the Argentine bishop who carried the concerns of the southern Church.]

The bishop of the poor will not leave the organization of governance to inertia. He knows how old he is and he knows the rot he has been called to expunge. Like Moses on the advice of his father-in-law, Pope Francis immediately appointed men to help him govern. Some of those men are not as pure as the pope. He, too, will have his Judas priests. Let us see who is washed out and who stays to govern. Mr. Ivereigh has said that if Pope John Paul II was a prophet and Pope Benedict a priest, then Francis will be king; he will rule. His ability to govern was well known among many, if not all, of his elector cardinals. Pope Francis has lived in patriarchal fraternity with the Jesuits. He experienced and shaped the most dynamic international bishops’ conference in the universal Church. He will govern as Peter, not Louis XIV. 

He will also talk more like Peter than a professor. That is not to disparage the professor popes which the Church needs at different times, especially in eras marked by confusion of doctrine. Peter was a net fisherman. The men of Galilee did not fish singly with a pole and a hook and a worm. They worked together on a large net in a rough sea, and when push came to shove they knew they were a body; and they had a leader who would assess the situation and make the decision needed in times of crisis. Francis returns the Church to its original communio of governance that Christ ordained: the patriarchal fraternity of the Apostles under Peter. 

Francis will not consider it clericalism to govern, pray, or relax in communio with his brother priests. He does not think masculine fraternity is a dirty word and he considers the art of politics to be the forging of bonds, not the slaking of ambition. He is a man who can lead while he shares a net with other fishermen. Like John Paul II -- and unlike Benedict and most popes of the last century -- he is a nation-man. He shares a communal masculine identity with countrymen tied to a particular soil. Unlike most Europeans and North Americans he has no feminist implant rewiring his brain to apologize for this fraternal aspect of his nature and the nature of political life.  

He may be a porteno—a man of the port city in his upbringing, but he was a 'Gaucho Cardinal' [see chapter seven, covering the years 2001-2007]. He identifies not with the Enlightenment liberals who ruled his county’s trade and commerce from the port cities, but with the great cowboy leaders who led bands of free men in the countryside. The gauchos are what Robin Hood and his band of merry men are to Englishmen, what Armenius and his warrior Bund mean to Germans, and what Wilhelm Tell and his confederates are to the Swiss. Those bands of men under a democratic but forceful leader are immortalized in the Argentine epic poem "El Gaucho Martin Fierro" (1872). In their story, which Bergoglio could recite copiously, is the soul of the nation. It is why the early aspirations of Juan Peron (1895-1974) will always embody the soul of Argentine more than the necessary military junta of 1976 or the understandable armed insurrection of the Montoneros guerrilla movement.

Francis has a spiritual communal sense of Trinity and the Body of Christ and humanity. It overflows in the words of his fellow bishops from Aparecida. He accepts the formulation of Alberto Ferre of Uruguay that Latin America is a continental Christian patria with a concert of nations rising from this God-soaked soil. Francis is man of soul and communio. He will never prefer the European Enlightenment and its superstate enforcing libertine atheism over a Catholic nation protected by men sharing the work and protective duties of fatherhood and fraternal citizenship. Pope Francis is not a pacifist. He thinks that Europe without Christ is a barren grandmother. The Catholic America he sees will be a concert of nations and nations governed by agreement as well as force. He has a high concept of politics and expects that protective personalities are shaped by religion and then act in civic leadership. He knows Latin American nations have passed the era of the Marxist Castro and Chavez. He knows his nation and continent are aping the North while passing though the era of libertine atheists led by feminist Lady Presidents: Dilma Rousseff of Brazil and Christine Kirchner of Argentina. He meets the nation-men around the world and awaits his own continent to shape a Republican Christian, if not a Martin Fierro then a nation-man like Juan Peron. 
There are three keys to the papacy of Francis, says Mr. Ivereigh:
1) Evangelize through mercy; this era of human history is the kairos of mercy. If John Paul declared a feast day after Easter for the Divine Mercy, Pope Francis will ground his whole pontificate in that truth. 
2) Learn and hear the infallibility of God’s holy faithful people (santo pueblo fiel de Dios). This is not Marx’s proletariat. It is not a council of laity who wish to pass resolutions and to project their voices. This is the people at prayer and pilgrimage. They are not shouting at the government or the clergy; they are praising God and bringing Him their concerns. Just as often, they are raising their hearts of love and petition to His mother. Ecclesial men and civic men must accompany them in prayer and then ensure that nation and Church act in accordance with the needs expressed in prayer. When the people recite the creed during the Mass, God’s holy and faithful people are speaking without error. When old women in the U.S. kept the fires burning for Eucharistic adoration when seminaries were getting beyond "wafer worship," it was the faithful women who were without error. The beautiful CELAM bishops' document from Aparecida in 2007 was deliberately drafted within touching distance of pilgrims praying near the clay statue of Our Lady of Aparecida. It was not so the pilgrims could see the bishops, but so the bishops could hear the people. If such a practice frees the whole Church to come before God in prayer, we might even call this matured sensibility "liberation theology." 
3) Institutional reform will come by restoring the Church’s mission to the poor and faithful who can carry forth a more universal deepening of holiness in both diocese and parish. To enable that return to the first mission, a reformer must assemble real synods of governance and dismantle structures and depose careerists who are impediments to the reform.
A set of four governing Christian principles provide practical guidance to true reform which is never to be mistaken for the false reform of adopting the regnant ideology of a given era:
Unity comes before conflict; the whole comes before the part; reality comes before the idea; and time comes before space.

The pope's favorite image of Mary is not from Guadalupe. He met her in Germany—Mary, the Untier of Knots. He had seen his Jesuit brotherhood torn asunder and men pulling against each other with a rope of liberation and a rope of order as the knot grew more tight. He saw his beloved country torn apart between an oligarchy of super-rich and an ideology of liberating violence answered by a response of order, turned into an even more brutal violence of hidden torture and murder. Each kept pulling and killing and the knot grew more tight. He sees the tired but rich German Church of Walter Kasper, and the living word made a dying letter by the American Raymond Burke. He sees the envy of Marxism and the greed of Adam Smith. He is too much a man of Trinity, Church, and nation to reduce ecclesial or civic life to such options. He knows for sure that most knots are not undone by pulling. Start with God’s mercy, often be silent, pick where you will contest, act boldly. The Great Reformer is a poetic, historical, spiritual masterpiece about Francis and the "Making of a Radical Pope."                                                    


UPDATE: The continuing insights of Austen Ivereigh into the strategy of Francis -- "mission and mercy" -- are first-rate.

And this is an earlier talk Mr. Ivereigh gave in Ireland.

Pope Francis is making major diplomatic initiatives with Russia and China. Here is an excellent dissection of the intellectual and pastoral basis of his approach to China.  

Monday, September 21, 2015

Map on Monday: JORDAN

The Physical Ecology, Communal Loyalties, and Geopolitics of Jordan

by David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch

Physical Geography of Jordan (click to enlarge or click here for original size)

Physical Ecology: Natural Resources and Physical Geography

Jordan is a middle-eastern nation slightly smaller than the US state of Indiana. The vast majority of Jordan is dominated by desert and heat, be it the Syrian Desert in the northeast or the Arabian Desert in the south. Sand dunes and salt flats are commonplace as one travels into Jordan from the west. Destructive dust storms from the southwest are common during the month or so before or after a dry season in summer. In its western periphery, the Jordanian steppe-highlands run north-south forming a barrier with Israel. At elevations of 2,700-3,000 feet, the landscape overlooks the world's most physically depressed regions: the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. This narrow strip of land in Jordan's west is also the most fertile (less than 2.5% of Jordan's land is arable) and is also where most of its population lives. With the exception of sixteen miles of coast on the Gulf of Aqaba in the extreme southwest, Jordan is a landlocked nation. Among Jordan's natural resources are phosphates (in the south), potash, and oil shale (Jordan holds the 5th-highest reserves worldwide), which it exports along with fertilizers and knit sweaters.     

Communal Loyalties: Ethnicity, Language, and Religion

Arabs make up 98% of Jordan's population. Jordan's overall population of just under 8 million is concentrated in the northwest in and around the capital of Amman. Jordan's religious landscape is dominated by Sunni Islam - in fact, Jordan has the highest percentage of Sunni Muslims in all the nations of the world (roughly 93% of Muslims in Jordan identify as Sunni). Christians make up a mere 6% of the nation's population, yet Islamic-Christian relations in Jordan are amicable and Jordan generally protects the religious freedom of Christians. By tradition, Christians hold two cabinet posts in the government and are given nine seats (out of 150) in the Jordanian Parliament. Christians own the most popular TV channel in the nation, and are also very influential in business.

Jordan is ruled by the Hashemite dynasty - a family which claims descent from the prophet Muhammad. The Hashemite royal family once held great influence across the middle east. The great grandfather of Jordan's current king was a driving force behind the Arab nationalist movement against the Ottoman Empire's caliphate. He sought to become the ruler of a "Greater Syria" (for more on Greater Syria, see the communal loyalties section of our Map on Monday post on Syria). which would have encompassed what is today Jordan, Sunni-Syria, Iraq, and a great part of western Saudi Arabia. In the waning days of World War I, the Hashemites threw their support to the Allies. After the war the Hashemites ruled the western edge of what is today Saudi Arabia, and with it the holy sites of Mecca and Medina. In 1921, Hashemite influence expanded to Iraq and Jordan. Hashemite rule in the region was checked, however, by Wahhabi warriors of Saudi Arabia in 1925 when Mecca and Medina were captured for the Saudis (with British support). In 1958, the Hashemite King of Iraq, Faisal II, was assassinated. Iraq then entered a time of internal strife which ultimately led to the rise of the Ba'athist party and Saddam Hussein. Today the Hashemite ruling family remains a source of communal loyalty in Jordan - but could one day resume its wider role in the region.

Geopolitics: Political Geography and Foreign Policy

Jordan borders Israel and the West Bank to its west, Syria in the north, Iraq in the east, and Saudi Arabia to the south. Its port town of Aquba in the extreme south gives Jordan access to the Red Sea. Although relations with Israel today are stable, Jordan has been involved in wars with Israel in 1948, 1967, and 1973. Each war sought the annihilation of the Jewish State. Following the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, Jordan annexed the West Bank (a move recognized only by Iraq, Pakistan, and Britain). Control of the West Bank was lost after Jordan's costly defeat in the Six-Day War of 1967. Today Jordan is involved in two ongoing conflicts. The first is against the Islamic State, which has spread across western Iraq and southeastern Syria - both areas along Jordan's borders. The brutal murder of a Jordanian pilot has led to the nation's more active participation in the campaign against the Islamic State. Jordan is also involved in fighting against the Houthi, Shiites of Yemen. This war against the Houthis is more than a mere proxy war with Iran - it is an intra-Islamic war between Sunnis and Shiites with the aim of the destruction of the Shia. Wahabbis - of which all 9/11 terrorists were members - are leading this fight as they did for Mecca and Medina, and pressing other Sunni nations, such as Jordan, to join in.

For more information on Jordan, visit its page on the CIA World Facebook.
A September 2016 interview with King Abdullah of Jordan. He will be a large part of the solution in the Mideast. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, September 19

by David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


Senator Rand Paul said he was the only candidate who was not for another war in the Mideast, but his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal left him very much in lockstep with the "Iran as the Great Satan" crowd. Marco Rubio was the most articulate in laying out the THREE WARS POLICY urging a bellicose approach to three regional powers: Russia (ruled by a gangster); China (don't appease them); and Iran ("a radical, Shi'a cleric is going to develop a nuclear weapon, and he will also have a long-range missile that can hit the United States"). For good measure he described North Korea as "ruled by a lunatic." Carly Fiorina promised on her first day to call Israel's Netanyahu and say we are friends; and Iran's Supreme Leader, to tell him to open all of his country's military nuclear facilities to the country that has been fighting them for 35 years (the USA)... or suffer consequences. Nothing like a unilateral declaration of war to toughen the lady's war-making credentials -- and on day one to boot!  Only Governor John Kasich suggested a radically different approach to the three major regional countries we are building alliances to oppose.

While discussing nuclear weapons in the Mideast, no one mentioned Israel. And, more strangely, no one brought up Pakistan -- refuge of the Taliban, refuge of Osama bin Laden, and proud owners of 80-100 nuclear warheads first dubbed the "Islamic Bomb."

Rand Paul mentioned Saudi Arabia as a country that makes him angry. The fact that they are the spiritual home of Salafist Sunnis has not yet made the topic list of journalists or candidates in the presidential debates. We need to remember that 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9-11 were Salafist Sunnis from Saudi Arabia; and the rest were Salafist Sunnis from other countries. ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Boko Haram are all Salafist Sunni. The distinction of Sunni and Shia is being obscured by calling all such distinctions sectarian. Donald Trump jump-started the immigration debate. Now who will do the same for a deeper discussion of our foreign policy?


The study from the US Marines isn't pretty for the gender-benders. Refutations soon to follow.


Stephen Walt on the myth of the better deal.


The aerial invasion of Yemen by Salafist Saudi Arabia to strike at Shiites is part of the religious war emanating from the Mideast.


The Archbishop of Canterbury tries to untie a difficult knot with a new strategy. He may find what Lincoln found - that some disputes are incompatible with a common life. For now he proposes the sexual disputes that divide the North and South cannot be resolved doctrinally. He proposes a common office of communion: the A of C.


A spiritual reflection on post-Christian European guilt, destructive sentimentalism, and making strangers into citizens by Alastair Roberts.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Dr Johnson may be the most quoted English writer, aside from Shakespeare


Take a look at this review of the Life of Samuel Johnson, that classic written in England (during the first presidential term of George Washington).

Call me a poor-man's Boswell to the towering Doc Pence, and his noble project of re-strengthening patriarchal fraternity.

"He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man." 
(Dr Johnson)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, September 12

by David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


9/11 - HOW TO REMEMBER: Fourteen years have passed. We are not clear at all about who is the enemy. We have spent a decade antagonizing our natural co-belligerents. There are many more centers from which our country can be attacked and many, many more young male souls enlisting in a spiritual war against a flag that seems to stand for blasphemy, abortion, and sodomy. Over the last year, we at AOA have argued that we are engaged in a religious war which we must fight as a religious nation against a defined religious enemy. This was our 9/11 review of Christianity, Islam and Atheism.


POPE FRANCIS: The Pope on the beauty of the fraternity of the priesthood. Continuing the theme of mercy, this Pope (called antagonistic to traditionalists) has extended an incredible act of mercy to those who take confession seriously and go to priests of the Society of Pius X.


SAUDI SON OF A KING AND THE RELIGIOUS WAR TO HELP HIS CLAIM ON THE THRONE: Saudi King Salman is 79. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef is 56. The king's son Mohammed bin Salman is 30. He is deputy Crown Prince (second in line) as well as Defense Minister and chief economic planner. The young son of the King has been the impetus behind the slaughter of Yemen's Houthis, mostly by air war. This increases his legitimacy with the other major force in the Saudi State -- the Wahhabi Salafists who have never seen a war against Shia Muslims that they did not like. Sadly the US has helped in this disgraceful mixture of religious persecution and dynastic maneuvering.


SYRIAN REFUGEES - THE BORDER COUNTRIES: Syria's border countries (not Israel) have taken in the most refugees. Lebanon (population 4.4 million; REF: 1.7 million), Jordan (population 6.5 million; REF: 630,000), and Turkey (population 75 million; REF: 2 million). Our Sunni Gulf Arab allies of UAE and Saudi Arabia have been non-actors in befriending this overwhelming Sunni Arab population.

REFUGEES TO EUROPE: WHY NOW? A short essay explaining the best routes for Syrian refugees to get to Germany and the invitation to come to Germany by Mrs. Merkel that set off the wave. Then Germany said they would not follow the rule in the EU that refugees seeking asylum must seek it in the country of entry. But Germany announced it won't ask which EU countries you came through, but simply: do you need asylum? Halfway through the year Germany had 200,000 applicants. Most were from Syria but the second leading country of origin was Kosovo. The Germans tend to deny those from Kosovo, saying they don't qualify as refugees from a country in danger but are job seekers. The Hungarians did not extend this invitation to the Syrians and are trying to build their commonwealth as a Catholic country. If Germany invites all the Syrians and then demands that each country take a quota, the Visegrad Four (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and Czech Republic) will not comply. The 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees defines a refugee as someone who has left his own country, and is unable or unwilling to return because of a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Economic betterment does not confer refugee status.

GREATEST REFUGEE MIGRATIONS POST WWII: The expulsion of over ten million Germans from their homes in Eastern Europe is not well known. The 1947 Partition of Pakistan and India dispossessed over ten million refugees.

DIFFERENT MEMORIES - GERMANY DESIRES TO REPENT; HUNGARY TO RENEW CHRISTIAN IDENTITY: For Germans to be saluted as the national champions of human justice and mercy regardless of race or religion is just what they need to forge their post-WWII communal identity. Will this be as the leaders of Europeans or as a new Germany that turns the steel forges of war into the melting pot of a new civic nationalism? There are other nations of Europe that do not harbor so much guilt. They desire to regain the Christian roots of their communal identities that were repressed under the rule of the atheist ideologies of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. The Germans must be sure that their own admirable bid for national redemption doesn't swallow other spiritual bodies who are living out very different national roles under Providence.


THE ORTHODOX ANSWER MR WEIGEL: American Orthodox answer the intemperance of George Weigel in his writings on Russia and Ukraine.

LEO STRAUS IN DEFENSE OF WAR IN POLITICAL LIFE - HEAR O ISRAEL:  A review of a book on Leo Strauss. The review, not the book, is a convincing intellectual history of the esoteric philosopher. He believed states must act with authority above all. His latest defender trying to save him from nasty right-wing neoconservatives calls him a man of peace, and then tells his story with nary a word about his defense of Zionism and the Jewish State. Such defenders do a disservice. This reviewer is much more helpful than the book author, both to the memory of Strauss and the understanding of readers.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Friday BookReview -- "Christianity, Islam and Atheism: the struggle for the soul of the West"

by David Pence

For the 'Amazon' reviewing service, I rated William Kilpatrick's book 3 of 5 because I think there are major conceptual errors in the author’s conclusions, and I meant this as a critical review. However, I highly recommend reading this book for its excellent writing, copious research, and multiple insights. My goal is to highly praise the author and sharply criticize him.

The first great insight of the book is his description of an American religious political dilemma: the confrontation of the three forces of Christianity, Islam, and atheism. Throughout the book, he shows atheist multiculturalists and Islamist apologists as fellow travelers. He repeatedly documents how the multiculturalists protect a political Islam at odds with their own core tenets. What unites them is their mutual interest in preventing a vibrant masculine Christianity asserting itself in political life. One of his most perceptive chapters, "the Warrior Code vs. the Da Vinci Code" shows how the war against gender roles has emasculated Christianity -- a fundamentally "patriarchal religion." This has played no small part in diminishing our spiritual, psychological, and physical ability to defeat the threat of Islam. That chapter is worth reading as a stand-alone essay probing the heart of the three-pronged problem before us.
One of the many Syrian churches destroyed in recent years

Kilpatrick divides his book into five parts -- 1) the Islamic Threat; 2) Islam’s Enablers (atheists, multi-culturalists, and soft Christian enablers all get their just rebukes); 3) the Comparison (a withering contrast of Muhammad and Christ); 4) the Culture War and the Terror War; and 5) the Cold War with Islam (his excellent debunking of the "moderate Muslim" strategy and his proposals "What Christians Should Do.")

Dr. Kilpatrick has a PhD in counseling, a Masters in education at Harvard, and thirty years teaching experience in the Boston College education department. In 1992 Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right from Wrong was published and won him a reputation as a serious writer on character and education. He has said in interviews that this latest book continues his earlier work. Just as the multicultural educational psychologists were teaching in a way that could not build character and citizenship in students, he argues that the cultural predominance of atheistic relativism cannot build an American civic culture that can defeat jihadist Islam.

In his section on what is to be done, he debunks the "moderate Muslim strategy" which he says defines a moderate as basically a western liberal. Saint Augustine wrote, "Be moderate in all things but your love of God." It certainly is no goal of a man who is ordered to submit to Allah, to submit moderately. He derides the notion that Islam is too big to fail. He reminds us that Kemal Ataturk (d. 1938) had almost completely secularized Turkey in a generation; and Ireland dissolved as a professing Catholic nation in even less time. "Like communism, Islam may prove to be more fragile than it appears." In the War of Ideas chapter he uses the communist analogy effectively to argue we must fight with conviction and a determination to win: "… our aim should go beyond resisting jihad; it should be the defeat of Islam as an idea… So our overall aim should be to cast doubts in the minds of Muslims about the words and example of Muhammad. In other words, we should want Muslims to lose faith in Islam just as Soviet-era communists lost faith in communism." He also shows convincingly that neither Islam nor Christianity is a "religion of peace." They are both religions serving a God who is not a pacifist, but one of them is based on the life of a warrior-conqueror whose armies killed an awful lot of people.

Dr. Kilpatrick challenges Christians to be much more robust in our presentation of the Gospel. "Because the current conflict is in large part a spiritual struggle, it follows that Christianity must play a leading role. Islam claims to be a true account of the universe; thus any effective resistance to it must address that claim." This can only be done if there is a deep spiritual revival of Christianity: "Christians need to recover the sense of the sacred."

"Christian renewal depends on family renewal that requires a reemphasis on sexual morality, on the sanctity of marriage, and on the rewards and duties of family life." But, he says, "Neither family renewal nor Christian renewal will get very far without a reemphasis on the masculine nature of Christianity…The masculine spirit of the band of brothers who first launched Christianity needs to be recaptured to attract more men to Christianity and counter the masculine appeal of Islam. If the masculine side of Christianity needs to be reemphasized, so also does the masculine nature of Christ. The power and authority of Christ is a central element in the Gospels yet our therapeutic culture prefers to picture Christ as sensitive and mild."

With so many bracing insights, helpful categorical distinctions, and pungent phrases, how could a serious Catholic man object?

In his chapter on the Islamic Threat, Kilpatrick recounts ten thousand Christians martyred in northern Nigeria since 1999; two hundred thousand murdered in East Timor by Muslim-dominated Indonesia in 1975; and two million Christians killed in Sudan (many crucified) from 1983 to 1995. Why the silence of  American Christians? “One effect of American individualism on Christianity is an overemphasis on the personal nature of one’s relationship with Christ and a corresponding neglect of one’s membership in the Church, the Body of Christ.”

That one early insight about the African and Asian human species character of the Body of Christ will give way for the rest of his book to a more nebulous idea and less sacramental community of identity—the West. Kirkpatrick’s conception of the communal identity which contends with Islam is "the West." The subtitle of his book is "the struggle for the soul of the West." This is a serious conceptual problem and it undermines the actual religious and military strategy which Christians in general and Americans as one Christian nation must employ to defeat the modern jihadists. It is Christianity -- not the Western nations -- which must live with Islam in some situations, and contest Islam in others. It is Christianity, not the West, which must convert and offer a different worldview to contradict Islam. Christianity is a world-wide movement. The "West" is a soul-less shell, and it was not Islam who robbed its soul. The worldwide movement of Christianity is not going to be awakened as a rejuvenation of the Occident. NATO and the EU (two prominent institutional forms of the West) are not yet prepared to fight the spiritual fight this book shows so clearly must be waged. In fact, NATO’s first shooting war [in the late 1990s] was a technocratic high-altitude bombing of the Orthodox Christian nation of Serbia. The organizational impetus of both groups today is aimed at accelerating enmity with Orthodox Russia. It will be African bishops, Christian nations, Asian nation states, and Orthodox Russia and Serbia who will be the allies of a Christian America in this war. Those players are never mentioned in this impoverished rendition of the Body of Christ and the emerging nations of a new Christendom.

Serbian nationalists confront American GIs serving in NATO force

The book encourages that very disturbing tendency by some critics to argue that Islam is not a religion. "One way to reply to the First Amendment argument is to say that while the religious aspect of Islam is protected, the legal aspect (sharia) is not. Another way is to assert that Islam doesn’t qualify as a religious faith. Proponents of this view hold that Islam is a political ideology, not a religion, and therefore is not protected by the freedom of religion clause." This proposition is deeply opposed to the consistent Vatican position that we monotheists (including the Jews, who also don’t quite agree with us on the Trinity, Incarnation, and Resurrection) worship the same God. In his last chapter he says, "Another way to frame the current situation is to think in terms of one religion (Christianity) versus two totalitarian ideologies that despite their differences are united in their hatred of Christianity and the West."

Religion is a social binding of men to God by beliefs and practices. Many critics of Islam treat it solely as a set of ideas, a theological project, or a scripted adherence to the letter of the Koran. But Islam is a set of actions –most simply, daily prayer; and more socially, sharia. It is a yearly fast that disciplines the appetites of men and women and teens to turn toward God. Critics may write books about the closing of the Muslim mind, but millions of Muslims open their hearts and minds to God in acts of daily prayer. As Pope Francis loves to remind intellectuals of the left and right, "realities are more essential than ideas."

Dinesh D’Souza wrote the first serious book on the relations of Christian America, the atheist left, and Islam: The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11. He was pilloried on the right much more than the left because he  saw true religious merit in practicing Muslims whom he had lived with in his youth. D’Souza had a lived experience of a lived Islam. This is very different than the intellectualized opponents of Islam who bear a strong semblance to the anti-Catholic  pamphleteers of the 1950s. Those anti-Catholics were able to quote many Catholic sources (popes and councils usually of a different century and other country) to make a convincing case that trusting Catholics with high office would be the end of a free Christian country. Kilpatrick was fairer to D’Souza than his hysterical critics, but understanding religions as living practices seems to elude many thinkers on the right (including the author). The desire of Muslims to live out their religion in daily practice does not constitute it as a political totalitarian ideology. We might better ask why  Christendom has failed to find better public expression in political forms from Nigeria to Lebanon to Spain to Brazil to the Philippines to America. The public political form of Christendom is in fact the flowering of the different nations. Within the religion of Christianity arose the language-bound territorial civilizations of nation states. The Salafists of Wahhabi Islam seem to understand that Christians live under the protection of armed nation states. The jihadist sees the incredible civilizational edifice much more clearly than the privatized modern Westerner. The Christian nations from Orthodox Russia to Catholic Spain to the Americas need to better live our public protective lives together as Christians again. The party is over, and Dr. Kilpatrick has blown a clarion trumpet to warn us.

Another profound weakness of this excellent book is the deafening silence about the religious fault lines that divide Mideast Islam. There is not a single word about the civil war between the purification Cromwellian Sunnis of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and Wahhabi Saudi Arabia against the minority Shia of Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, and Syria. For those of us who agree that we are fighting a religious war -- but not against all Muslims -- these distinctions are crucial in picking who can be our allies and who must be our foes.

A last example from the book which shows how historically deficient the author’s psychological approach can be is the author’s explanation of the winning of the Cold War. "The expansion of the Soviet Empire was halted and then reversed due largely to the efforts and determination of three people: Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II. The Cold War was for the most part an ideological struggle and its resolution should provide us with the confidence that we can win the current war of ideas." This "Western intellectual" interpretation strangely includes Margaret Thatcher, while leaving out Mikhail Gorbachev. And while the requisite white woman is included for the sake of "Western values," too many actual warriors were excluded for this rendition to be considered even close to the truth. The fighting Muslim men of Afghanistan, the bloody Asian holding-action in Vietnam by American and Vietnamese soldiers, the victory of Muslim military nationalists in Indonesia, the emergence of secular Asian nations on the Singapore model, and the pilloried Catholic Asian nationalists like Marcos and Diem fought with swords in defense of fundamental religious and national loyalties, not Western ideas. The splitting of the Communist superpowers by the Nixon-Kissinger diplomacy is certainly a historical lesson to guide how the US should relate to Iran and Saudi Arabia. "Islam is hopelessly warlike" is really not enough. Again, pay attention to Papa Francis: realities are more significant than ideas.  

Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau

In the same vein of criticism, Ronald Reagan’s deep Christian sense that Mikhail Gorbachev could be reached as a fellow man with a soul in order to pull two peoples away from nuclear war displayed a Christian magnanimity entirely absent in the writings of Dr. Kilpatrick, Robert Spencer, and Robert Reilly about Islam. Reagan’s affinity with the men of other nations whose religious identities would be expressed in many different national customs was a crucial religious element in winning the Cold War  (See our review of Paul Kengor's God and Ronald Reagan). That Reagan trait, which drove war hawks crazy in negotiations with the Soviet Union, seems dangerously forgotten today. The liberals are afraid to praise the uniqueness of Reagan; and the neo-conservatives were always embarrassed by his providential sense of history and Christian demeanor toward the enemy.

Dr. Kilpatrick has done a remarkably useful job debunking attempts to treat Islam as a religion with no public sword. He is bracing in calling for a masculine Christian response. But there is much more to be said.  

The Byzantine coat of arms

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, September 5

by David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


Maybe Pope Francis is better at framing a message than his critics allow. The Year of Mercy may feature the Confessional more than the Communion rail. The Church as field hospital and the sacrament of healing available wherever there is a priest. 


 Good reporters from the Left  piece together how the Bush administration was thinking about the prospects of a Shia government replacing Sunni but secular Saddam Hussein. The alliance of a smaller Shia-based Iraqi state with Iran is the end result. This wasn't predicted but is a very understandable consequence of allowing religiously-based cultures to govern themselves. Now what state will rule the Sunnis in the middle?

A fascinating history of the neocon project from Wohlstetter to Wolfowitz to Libby in Washington. The commitment to destroy States in the Mideast which might assemble nuclear weapons.  A pivotal document written in 1996 by Richard Perle and others for Benjamin Netanyahu advocating a new Israeli policy built on regime change for possible nuclear states in the Mideast(starting with Iraq) in the name of Western values  - A Clean Break.

From Thomas Friedman, a long overdue truth in defense of Nuclear deal with Iran.

Walter Russell Mead with his take on the Saudi general interview.

One site that has reported the ongoing war by Saudi Arabia against the Shiite Houthis of Yemen is the 'American Conservative.' They seem to miss how central the religious aspect of the war is. They downplay this possibly because they think it will feed into the Houthis as a Shiite proxy for Iran. At least they have reported this shameful war which remains beneath the radar of most of the American press. Saudis against Shiite Houthis while letting Salafist Sunni AQAP reap the benefits.

Another "ally," Turkey, has its peculiar idea of the enemy as they aim their firepower at one of the few groups consistently fighting ISIS - the Kurds.

They are building more. This is the real "Islam's bomb" and it is in a very unstable land.


Peter Strzelecki Rieth of the 'Imaginative Conservative' discusses the new Polish president, President Andrzej Duda, the Polish Law and Justice Party, the animus of Anne Applebaum, and his hopes that Russia and Poland can recognize one another as religious nations not beholden to the atheist West.

 A short insightful look at Czechoslovakia and the anti-immigrant feelings so deep in European ethnic-linguistic nations.


FOSTERING SOCIOPATHS, FATHERING PROTECTORS: The news is stranger than fiction but  there is a certain clarity about clear juxtapositions of the heroism of the Good and the depravity of the Evil. The aggrieved black, gay sociopath murdering on a selfie vs. the interracial American brotherhood of protectors on a Paris train are pretty stark opposites. These events and characters give us the sharpest  colors on the palette to paint a true picture of our nation's spiritual battle and the communal forms we must adopt for victory.

THE SIZE OF THE NAVY: A short primer on US Navy strength - 273 ships and 10 carriers.

 Once a week Hugh Hewitt devotes an hour of his three-hour radio show to discussion with a faculty member of Hillsdale College. It is usually with the president Larry Arnn, but this week with Paul Rahe about the need for the "big man" leader in times of confusion. A tribute to Mr. Hewitt and his use of radio for extended public discourse informed by history.  This program ranges from the Persian invasion of Greek city states by an imperialist religious monotheistic culture to a look at the differences between Cromwell and Caesar as military and political leaders.