by David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch
I. ISLAM AND THE MIDDLE EAST
SAUDIS AND TERRORISM: The Saudis and 911. Lots of fingerprints remain. The Saudis' war against the Shia according to British Security head Sir John Dearlove. "Thank God for the Saudis" according to John McCain. The Saudis and Israel in an anti-Iran coalition - an odd couple no more.
PAKISTAN AND TERRORISM: Fareed Zakaria writes how Pakistan is the real base for the Taliban in Afghanistan. What Pakistan knew about bin Laden by Carlotta Gall, NY TIMES reporter/author of The Wrong Enemy. Her book (to be reviewed by AOA soon) depicts Pakistan, not Afghanistan, as the root of terrorism in South Asia.
Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan from 2006-2014 used his farewell speech to blast US/Pakistan inaction in addressing the real source of Taliban violence in Afghanistan - the Pakistan policy of intelligence agencies and the military supporting Salafist Sunnis as part of their anti-India foreign policy. The new president, Ashraf Ghani (elected 2014), promised to take a softer line against his neighbors in Pakistan. Now he sounds like his predecessor Karzai.
REALIGNING THE MIDEAST: Qatar and Iran. From our Gulf States Map on Monday. "Most Qataris follow a Wahhabi interpretation of Islam but they have had differences with the monarchs of Saudi Arabia, especially in favoring the more populist Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The US CENTCOM regional headquarters are in Qatar at the Al Udeid Air Base. Qatar's government funds the most influential venture in Arab television - Al Jazeera Network."
CHRISTIAN REFUGEES - WHY SO FEW?: Our State Department has not yet addressed the situation in which Christians avoid the UN refugee camps for fear of continued persecution by fellow refugees. None dare mention the religious nature of this problem. though many recall the Christians Overboard tale of refugees crossing the Mediterranean in April 2015.
II. NATIONS ROUNDUP
CANADA AND HER SIKHS: At the interaction of Islam and Hinduism arose the Sikhs. They are 4% of Canada's population but a much higher percentage of the diverse cabinet of newly elected Prime Minister Trudeau. The new defense minister got there the old-fashioned way - he fought.
BURMA (MYANMAR): Myanmar held elections on Nov 8, 2015, with the NLD party of Aung San Suu Kyi an overwhelming victor in the first open election in three decades. A short history for background explaining the role of her father in Burma's independence. She is barred from the Presidency because of a clause that says anyone with foreign children may not be president. That law was made with her in mind under the previous regime. She promises to rule from another perch than the presidency. Burma has 52 million people, 80% Buddhist, 7% Christian with ethnic dominance by Bamar 70% and Shan 10%. See Map on Monday (Southeast Asia).
III. RELIGION AND GEOPOLITICS ROUNDUP
WILL CHURCH FATHERS PUNISH THE GOMORRAH LOBBY: A new translation of Peter Damien's letter to the Pope on clerical depravity.
JEWS AND KEEPING SACRED SPACE: THE SEXUAL TABOO: The Rabbinical Council of Orthodox Jews has definitely stated there will be no female rabbis. A Yeshivat advocating female rabbis will keep graduating them to "change the facts on the ground."
NON-VIOLENCE AS RELIGION - THE DEATH OF RENE GIRARD: Rod Dreher at 'American Conservative' has a very good summary of the deceased philosopher's defining thesis concerning: 1) mimesis (the relation of the human drive to imitate and what we desire) and 2) sacral violence and scapegoating. Girard was controversial among secular academics because he claimed that Christianity was a "revealed religion" in exposing this fundamental human fault which leads to war and violence. He returned to the Catholic Church with his family, which is wonderful. His religious blindness, however, has misled many Catholic intellectuals who likewise are embarrassed by traditional notions of Satan and the Fall. Whenever I hear theologians talking about "non-violence as a biblical principle," I look for an inadequate description of Lucifer and an over-attachment to Girard as an "intellectual." Such theologians seeking intellectual credibility demonstrate their own misguided mimesis of a high status "great man." Sadly, the theologian mimics the anthropologist instead of correcting him. Rene Girard (1923 - 2015) R.I.P.
THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE: Trump and middle-aged white guys with rising death rate.