by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch
I. ISLAM AND THE MIDDLE EAST
THE ROAD TO PEACE IN AFGHANISTAN GOES THROUGH INDIA: Trump, India, and the Afghans.
TURKEY IS NOW IN THE WAR AGAINST ISIS: The nightclub bombing in Istanbul was a clear escalation of violence from ISIS against the Turkish government. For several years there seems to have been a truce possibly even collaboration in terms of movement of men and material through Turkey to ISIS. That era seems over. What is not clear to us but may be clear to the better-informed is how the Gulen movement relates to Salafism in general and ISIS in particular. This bombing was not an act of Kurds who often are sources of terrorism agains the Turkish government. Turkey is making a major strategic turn in no longer pushing for the fall of Assad in Syria and making a more open alliance with Russia. All of this after a huge purge of Erdogan’s old allies--the Gulen movement.
ISRAEL AND ISIS: Israel has never counted ISIS as a major threat. They in fact have allied with Saudi Arabia in fixing on Iran as their chief rival. The Shia/Sunni fight has been seen in Israel as a relief from the Mideast’s obsession with the Palestinians. Prime Minister Netanyahu went so far as naming Iraq and Afghanistan as Israel's enemies. These very divergent interests of the US and Israel contribute to our Mideast policy incoherence. The US does not want to fight Iran while we are abolishing ISIS and then rooting out the Salafist Sunnis. We count Afghanistan and Iraq as allies. We must cement our ties with Israel by abandoning the two-state fiction, and then broker a peace with Iran and Israel. As ISIS grows weaker it will try to play the card of all failed Mideast tyrannies - propose itself as Israel’s greatest enemy. That has not been its strategy so far. But it is time to ask: What of Israel and ISIS?
REMEMBER ISIS HAS NO INTEREST IN A PALESTINIAN STATE. FOR RELIGIOUS MUSLIMS, THAT TRAIN LEFT THE STATION LONG AGO (FROM ARTICLE LINKED ABOVE): "Islamic State and their local supporters consider as misguided Hamas’ core objective, the national struggle of the Palestinians, and promote the establishment and extension of the Caliphate instead."
HEZBOLLAH IN LEBANON - AN EXCELLENT HISTORY: From anti-Israel to anti-Saudi, this group has been and will be a key part of the alliance against Salafist jihadists.It is not enough to list them as one more Islamic terrorist group. The Shiites of Lebanon needed a fighting group to represent and defend them. For better or worse, that is Hezbollah and many Christian groups in Lebanon see them as allies not enemies. US policy makers cannot leave our understanding of this group to John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
THE REAL ENEMY IS SALAFIST SUNNI JIHADISTS - FROM MALAYSIA: From the article: "Ayob Khan: Curbing spread of ‘Jihadi’ ideology critical to stopping IS threat," Malay Mail Online, January 1, 2017: KUALA LUMPUR,
The threat of Islamic State will continue to grow if the spread of the “Salafi Jihadi” ideology is not curbed, said the chief of Bukit Aman’s Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division. DCP Datuk Ayob Khan said all parties must play their part, especially government departments, institutions of higher learning, mosques and NGOs, by vetting those invited to speak on issues relating to terrorism, especially Salafi Jihadi ideology issues. “In my opinion, as long as the spread of the Salafi Jihadi ideology is not stopped decisively by all parties, then the threat of IS and other terror groups with the same ideology will not dissipate. In fact it will grow further,” he told The Sunday Star in an interview.This was reported by Robert Spencer’s 'Jihad Watch' news service. Spencer was quick to obfuscate the distinction made by the Malaysian. Spencer and his group are dedicated to painting Islam in the whole as the enemy. William Kilpatrick is a similar critic in Catholic publications. Both Spencer and Kilpatrick are often the best news reporters on terrorist acts and jihadism in the world. However, their refusal to make distinctions of Sunni and Shia and Salafist Sunni from other Sunni schools is a fatal error in their analysis. They are mindful of the anti communists in the cold war who opposed Nixon's opening to China and Reagan's concessions to Gorbachev. Spencer and Kilpatrick are much closer to the truth than the Clinton-Obama strategy of treating terrorists as disgruntled unemployed "guys who want to kill Americans.” The Obama Clinton and in many ways George Bush approach is now history. The anti Islam invective should not be its replacement. Spencer and Kilpatrick should be vigorously debated. The distinctions of the Malaysian chief of counter-terrorism should be heeded.
YEMEN AND EUROPE: An interesting explanation of different forces. Many factions well explained. The crucial and sinister role of Saudi Arabia’s anti-Shiite policy is lost in the lengthy analysis. The inability of professional experts in America and Europe to see Saudi policy with any kind of moral or historical clarity is stunning.There are lots of facts and factions here that are instructive but the religious imperative of Wahhabi Islam to fight Shiites like the Houthi of Yemen is barely mentioned. The forest has been missed for the trees once again.
WHERE CHRISTIANS CAN BE FREE TOO - A DREAM FOR ONE-STATE ISRAEL: Will there be any Christians left in Palestine? In the 1950’s 86% of Bethlehem was Christian; now it is 12%. This happened under the secular Palestinian Authority. Freedom and Democracy does not necessarily mean one-man one-vote. The American electoral college and the communal representation formula in Lebanon are cases in point. The two-state plan in Israel has been a dead letter for a long time. To acknowledge that will only improve chances for nations and religions in the area to live in peace. Religions are always in great danger unless a state protects them. The Jews have learned that, and the one-state solution will be more committed to a Jewish nation than a "democratic" one if that means one-man one-vote everywhere all the time.
II. PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS
THE BACK ROW WORLD OF A GREAT PHOTOGRAPHER - HOW TRUMP WON: Peggy Noonan on what Chris Arnade saw across America.
THE TRUMP ELECTION AND INTELLECTUALS ON THE RIGHT: An interesting article.
III. RUSSIA AND EUROPE
NEWSFLASH - RUSSIA IS NOT THE SOVIET UNION: The argument against making Russia an enemy.
CAN PUTIN AND TRUMP AVERT A NEW COLD WAR? Pat Buchanan on the new nationalist possibilities is worth 100 other columnists singing from the same think tank script book.
IN GERMANY, NATIONALISM MAY COME FROM THE CATHOLIC SOUTH: Mrs. Merkel and Bavaria. They aren’t populists as much as traditional German Catholics.
IV. CULTURE OF LIFE, CULTURE OF PROTECTION
THE 'SILENCE': Martin Scorsese’s movie based on Shusaku Endo’s book is an amazing meditation on the priestly Eucharist-centered Catholic religion, and that amazing social organism - Japan. An encounter not yet resolved. A beautiful cinematic meditation we will write about after more reflection. The Catholic Thing and Fr. Zulsdorf panned the movie, showing again the increasingly constricted vision of the old wave online conservative Catholics. At First Things, a much better review especially understanding the Japanese as the central Christian characters in the movie. Bishop Barron at Word on Fire was more critical then I would expect, given that the movie is based on a book based on real historical figures. But there is nothing constricted about the Bishop’s interesting take.
ARE THEY REALLY HUSBANDS? South St. Paul male homosexuals abuse multiple boys; then party; then do murder-suicide. Is this just another marriage gone bad, or something deeply twisted and allowed by grownups who have lost their moral compass? This predator was allowed in elementary schools as a teacher. Don’t ask any questions when the predators are called a protected class. Ivanka Trump and her children were accosted by the "husband of a gay professor." Such deep sexual confusion. Such a disgrace to American manhood.
SCHOOL DISCIPLINE, MALE SOCIALIZATION - WE NEED A NEW WAY: The anti-discipline movement in schools boils over into the malls. Two women write about this best: Heather McDonald of City Journal and Kathleen Kersten of Minnesota.
LBJ AND THE NUCLEAR FAMILY: A devastating well-written critique with startling numbers.