by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch
I. ISLAM AND THE MIDDLE EAST
WILL IRAN BE PRESIDENT TRUMP’S BAY OF PIGS? For over a year the Saudis have led a bombing campaign against the Shiite Houthis of Yemen. They have spared the Salafist Sunnis of AQAP and ISIS in Yemen the same treatment. The brutal war against Yemen has been condemned in many forums but is defended by the Saudi defense minister as part of the larger war against Iran in the Mideast. On Monday, January 30th a Houthi suicide mission hit a Saudi warship. This was conflated by Fox News quoting unnamed Pentagon sources as a mistake by the Houthis who were really trying to ram a US warship. If we are looking for fake news - this is it. Now more than ever we need journalists and senators who know enough geography and history to tell this story correctly so we are not drawn into a war with Iran that Saudi Arabia and Israel are already engaged in. Iran is a sovereign country living in a neighborhood full of Salafist Sunni jihadists who say “First kill the Shiites, then the Jews and Christians.” Breaking another regime which is willing to fight ISIS undermines our new strategy against the Salafist Sunnis and ISIS. This is a critical moment in redefining a strategy that puts America first. We have argued for years that the legitimate defense by Shiites against the oppressive cleansing ideology of the Wahhabists of Saudi Arabia, Al Qaeda, ISIS and Boko Haram make them our most logical cobelligerents in the religious war against jihadist terrorism. President Trump can learn a lesson from the Kennedy presidency. JFK campaigned on getting tougher with the Soviets. There was a CIA and military plan already in place to attack Cuba. This was put before him early in his administration. He agreed and it was a disaster for which he took full responsibility. There is a similar military and Republican foreign policy faction that has lobbied for a military exercise against Iran. This would be blessed by the Netanyahu government in Israel. There is a lot of accumulated pressure building to carry out this huge mistake. But Iran is not the greatest sponsor of world terror--that would be Saudi Arabia.
THE YEMEN RAID WAS AGAINST OUR REAL FOE--AQAP NOT THE HOUTHIS
When you are seeking hard copy information it is not enough to bomb with drones. This attack was planned by Obama administration and carried out by the Trump administration. They needed a physical presence and they went after AQAP in Yemen which many analysts say is the most likely terror group to plan violence against the homeland US. Why haven’t the Saudis targeted this group more? Why is their firepower so heavily aligned against the Shiite Houthis. Because both the Saudis and Al Qaeda want a Mideast with no significant military capabilities in Shiite hands. Our enemy in Yemen is AQAP and the smaller ISIS force. The Saudis see them as a force that will kill Shiite Houthis. President Trump went for the group that most threatens Americans. For this the Saudi backed Yemen government may ask us to leave. The US is closing our embassy.
A MESSAGE TO OTHER MIDEAST NATIONS: Muslim Nations recognize leaders who act like leaders and nations who act like nations.
QATAR - LARGEST ARM BUYER FROM US IS WORTH LEARNING ABOUT: A report from 2008-2015 on arms sales. From our Map on Monday - the Gulf States:
“Qatar (2.2 million) strongly backs Sunni religious political groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and it has given arms to Syrian rebels both moderate and extreme. Qatar has the worst record in the region for fighting terrorism and most Qataris follow a Wahhabi interpretation of Islam. Despite this the US has strong ties with Qatar. CENTCOM’s forward regional headquarters are at Qatar’s Al Udeid Air Base. Qatar’s government funds the most influential venture in Arab television: Al Jazeera Network. Qatar is often at odds with the Saudi royalty. They were much more supportive of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. They have a more populist sense of the movement than the hereditary royal clan of the Kingdom.”SAUDI ISRAELI BUSINESS - GOOD DEALS UNDER THE COVERS: The tie that binds these two US allies may not be in the interest of the US if we decide that the heart of the jihadist ideology beats in the guardians of Mecca and Medina.
SAUDIS DO TWITTER CAMPAIGN FOR TRUMP: So far the Saudis like the tough talk from President Trump against Iran. They are organizing a support group. Discerning the roles of Iran and Saudi Arabia in the region and world is the most important strategic question in front of President Trump and the US senate. Two men he seeks as allies, Putin of Russia and Salman of Saudi Arabia bring very different answers to that question. It would be a humanitarian disaster if aiding the Saudis against the Shiite Houthis of Yemen will be the first theatre where the Trump administration "puts Iran on notice". The Houthis of Yemen are not a proxy army for Iran. That was treated as preposterous when first promoted but it has been repeated so often that it is treated as received wisdom in the US media. Our take on Sunni-Shia conflict with a subset on Yemen.
PAKISTAN NUCLEAR WEAPONS - THE ROLE OF TACTICAL NUCLEAR FORCES AGAINST INDIA: A good short reminder of where the real Muslim bomb abides... and it’s not Iran.
THE YEMEN RAID ACCORDING TO JOHN MCCAIN
John McCain called the raid a failure. Why? Here is his answer:
“While many of the objectives of the recent raid in Yemen were met, I would not describe any operation that results in the loss of American life as a success."By this logic, D-Day, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa were failures. We sense a double standard from Mr. McCain.
II. POPE FRANCIS AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
AGAINST THE POPE: A sudden poster campaign against Pope Francis inside the Vatican reminding us of the anti-Mass posters of another age. Here is our take on Catholic conservative critics of Pope Francis.
IF JESUS HAD A PRESS CORPS: A satire that answers why Pope Francis doesn’t spend more time clarifying his confusing statements.
BANNON, BURKE, AND THE NEW YORK TIMES: The NYTimes has discovered a link between Cardinal Burke, traditionalist Catholics and strategist Steve Bannon in the Trump White House. Cardinal Burke is actually to Pope Francis what John McCain is to Donald Trump. The traditionalist right in the Catholic Church is as viciously hostile to Pope Francis as the free market neocon right has been politically to Trump. It will be most interesting to see how the President and Pontiff relate man to man. Tying the Trump nationalist movement to the monarchy crowd in Catholicism is truly "fake news" from the NYTimes. (Robert Moynihan takes apart the reporting in Letter #8) Pope Francis has a very Southern hemisphere take on globalism and the financial manipulation of debt for the poor nations. Pope Francis has said about President Trump, we should "wait and see". Bannon and Trump should take the same attitude toward Pope Francis and be sure they see him through their own eyes not the left-right dichotomy they have rejected in American politics. If Bannon is tempted to ally with Cardinal Burke, he should get to know him - that is the best antidote.
III. PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS
POLICE POWERS AGAINST INDIVIDUALS-THE COURTS TIP THE SCALES
The Executive Order of President Trump on Jan 27, 2017 to ban immigration from seven states for a limited time was stayed by a Federal District court and that restraint on the President’s order was upheld by the Ninth Court of Appeals on Feb 9, 2017. The great cultural war within America is between those who would uphold a sacral, sexual, hierarchical order of community against those who seek the maximization of individual autonomy against communal, biological, and sacral restraints. The instrument for enthroning the autonomous individual has tended to be the administrative state backed by the Courts. When the due process claims of non citizens were set against the protective powers of the President, the Appeals Court had no trouble picking sides. As Hillary Clinton said: 3-0. Court decisions prohibiting school prayer, prohibiting all male service groups, allowing obscene dancing and flag burning, medicalizing abortion and sacralizing sodomy were all instances of Courts denying states, schools or municipalities their policing powers to safeguard communal bonds by acts of civic authority. Authority and Community vs the sovereignty of the individual--that will be the nexus of many a battle now that we have a President who is willing to exercise policing authority on behalf of the nation.
(Here is a more specific look at the case from the lawyers at Powerline).
BANNON BY RUSE: One of the few Catholic writers who has a sense of the world map is Austin Ruse. His contact with Stephen Bannon is a credit to both men. This is more evidence that religion, men, and nations is a theme that will resonate in the new Trump Presidency. The worldwide movement of global Christianity is going to expressed in the flowering of Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant nations. Especially that beautiful Christian republic known as the American nation.
JAMES WEBB ON A RUSSIAN THAW AND BEFRIENDING SYRIA - A MAN TO JOIN THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: The son of the ex-Marine and Democratic candidate for Presidency, James Webb of Maryland.
IV. AROUND THE WORLD R&G ROUND UP
MORAL SUPERIORITY, AMERICA, AND RUSSIA: Are there any Christian Americans who believe this may not be the right time to preen about American moral superiority? Is it a sign of moral superiority that the two favorite human rights of the West being imposed on African governments are sodomy and abortion? Shall our invasion of Iraq, assassination of Diem, execution of Gaddafi and Hussein, bombing of Belgrade and prolongation of the war in Syria be weighed in the calculus? This is not a proper way to conduct foreign relations. Christians in the Trump administration must start making a moral argument about American reform, and that means we can’t assume present-day America is the greatest. In fact, we should revive the ancient Christian tradition of fasting, asking forgiveness, and selective amnesties as part of a religious cleansing of the nation.
FRENCH ELECTION - A SCANDAL FOR FILLON. A WIN FOR LEPEN? The scandal. LePen’s chief strategist is Florian Phillipot. He doesn’t seem like a Steve Bannon. He combines a kind of secular modernism with a desire for the maintenance of France for the French.
ENVIRONMENTALISM AND THE CULTURAL IMPERIALISM OF THE WHITE WEST: Rachel Carson: DDT and the rest of the story.
CHINA: They have 90% of Rare Earth Elements. That is leverage.
V. CULTURE OF LIFE, CULTURE OF PROTECTION
FLEXIBLE GENDERS AND ELUSIVE SELVES: From a Catholic psychologist.
SUPER BOWL LESSON FROM A BOSTON SPORTS COLUMNIST: It wasn’t revenge for the Patriots. It wasn’t running out of gas for Atlanta. Atlanta’s coach and maybe their quarterback were caught in the momentum of their own drive late in the 4th quarter. As both Randy Moss and Terry Bradshaw noted, they did not play "situational football" understanding they were in field goal territory and a field goal would win the game. The players did not run out of gas. The coach failed to focus on the path to victory in a particular game situation.
WOULD IT HAVE BEEN RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION IF IN 1935 AMERICA LET IN ONLY GERMAN JEWS AS REFUGEES TO US? Anti-Semitic laws began in 1933 with more extensive Nuremberg laws in 1935. Kristallnacht was 1938. Why Christians should be favored in Mideast Refugee programs. When you are in a religious war, religion is a legitimate basis for judgment and policy.