Saturday, June 24, 2017

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, June 24

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch

                                                               THE WEEKLY BRIEF

In Korea, we should remember the end game: to reunite an ancient people. The Koreans suffered terribly in the last century. They are still divided as were Germany, Vietnam, and mainland China through the Cold War. We should not forget that both North Korea (25 million) and South Korea (50 million) believe reunited Korea surrounded by superpowers who have colonized them in the past have a "right" to a nuclear weapon to defend themselves. The US lives very far away to be too dogmatic about that argument. We should also remember that our ships and military bases, not California, are the targets most at risk if there are hostilities. All Asian countries think of the last 200 years as a time in which their different cultures were occupied by white foreigners. If North Korea bombed foreign troops or US warships, that would be a popular move to more than the Chinese and Vietnamese. There are South Koreans and Japanese who do not consider American bases in their homelands as a force for peace. In Mr. Trump's early campaign, he was asking these very questions. They may be put to President Trump again in a more consequential and dangerous manner. Does the presence of our troops and our encircling navy help bring the Asian countries to peace?

This week the US State Department called into question the allegations from Saudi Arabia against Qatar.  This shows Washington may not rubber-stamp this incredibly aggressive move by the new Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MbS) against his smaller Sunni neighbor.  He is now demanding that Qatar close their news service al Jazeera, that they cut all ties with Iran, and that they  tell their ally Turkey to withdraw military troops. These are untenable requests. The 31-year-old bin Salman is the architect of the war against the Shiites of Yemen (he has not been aggressive against the Sunni al Qaeda radicals in Yemen who have grown stronger because of the war against the Houthis). Could he engineer an incident to implicate Qatar in an anti-Israeli move to win American support for a hostile takeover? The strong statement by the State Department is a good warning that we might not follow the young Prince into his next battle. This is a different message than President Trump sent in his first communication about the isolation of Qatar. Hopefully, the president will heed the mature voice of his Secretary of State in this matter. We have never seen such a clear rejection of Saudi initiatives as this statement from State. It is a real crisis that the fate of so many countries should  be in the hands of this young, bellicose, and pampered prince. The US had as recently as February 2017 shown a clear preference for Muhammad bin Nayef, his 57 year old predecessor. The new Crown Prince  is mindful of "Little Marco" Rubio who displayed the same petulant adolescent personality in presenting himself as a war leader for an office beyond his competence. Rubio shrunk from the presidential stage when confronted by an adult male personality who exposed his charade simply by conversing with him. (To compare Saudi Arabia and Qatar see AOA profile of The Gulf States).

Our alliance with the next generation of Saudi keepers of the Wahabbi flame is strategically untenable. Israel has been in a de facto alliance with them for years as an ally in their war against Iran. President Trump's willingness to act is eliciting a much needed discussion about US overall strategy that the press and antiwar left were remiss in bringing forth in the Obama years.

In Afghanistan we need Iran, India, China, and Russia to help us settle the porous border problem between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Much more than a troop infusion we need a big power consortium. Our alliances with the Saudis and the UAE in the Mideast and our reliance on Pakistan in South Asia have entangled us in unwinnable wars. Our alliance with Israel has kept us close to a power that does not consider our confusion as all bad. It keeps us in the region and closer to their side. They say, "Welcome to our world." The problem in US strategy is not that we haven't "unleashed our military." President Trump is "unleashing " the military. Now, a statesman from the State Department or Senate has to play the Kissinger role and propose a grand new strategy. The tip of the spear is sharpened; but who are we pointing at?


SLOTH, TOLERANCE, DESPAIR: "The sixth Deadly Sin is named by the Church Acedia or Sloth. In the world it calls itself Tolerance; but in hell it is called Despair." — Dorothy Sayers

A RUSSIAN ON THE BENEDICT OPTION: The Benedict Option is nothing more than a person’s self-alienation from the affairs of the surrounding society, a refusal to strive for victory within this society. It is something more like heroic pessimism in the spirit of Max Weber: the world is dying, so let us be the courageous witnesses of its last days, not sharing in hopes for its miraculous salvation. In the aesthetic sense, this position is even very appealing. And yet it provokes questions along ethical lines.

A NEW LOOK AT LUTHER: Bishop Barron on the insights about Luther, love, and grace in a new History of Protestantism and the Modern World.

SOUTHERN BAPTISTS AND GENDER NEUTRAL TRANSLATIONSSome slippage. Jesus Christ the Son of God has been incorporated into humanity as the Head of the Body of Christ. This is the predestined communal form of humanity as we will exist for all time. Representing humanity by the male pronoun is a grammatical genuflection to the primacy of Christ. No matter atheists and feminists hate such speech - but why Baptists?


SUPPORTING QATAR: Iraq - the country the US liberated - knows that Saudi Arabia, not Qatar, has been undermining them. How did tiny but resourceful Qatar (2.2 mill pop; 300,000 citizens) became independent from the Saudis (33 million pop; 27million citizens ) - natural gas and making separate alliances is key including a military alliance with the US. Iran (80 mill), Turkey (80 mill), and Egypt (90 mill) are the giants, Iraq (36 mill) Saudi Arabia (33mill) and Syria (19 mill) intermediate. 30% of liquid natural gas is exported by Qatar. Their Arab neighbors are a tiny part of a market centered on Asian countries. They share their natural gas field with Iran. Exxon plays a role in the extraction. A small amount of LNG is shipped to UAE by pipeline but the majority of the market is moved by shipping tankers.

QATAR AND THE SAUDIS DEMOCRACY AND TRIBAL MONARCHIES: The real feud about press freedom and popular movements vs. old monarchs that led to the isolation of Qatar.

THE SUCCESSION IS MADE FORMAL - THE KING'S 31 Y/O SON IS NOW CROWN PRINCE: We have argued that the war in Yemen and the isolation of Qatar are both initiatives of the King's son to curry favor with clerics and solidify his claim to command of the Kingdom when his father dies. The line of succession is now formalized. The former Crown Prince, 57 year old Muhammad bin Nayef, has also lost more of his security portfolio which goes to another member of the next generation considered loyal to Muhammad bin Salman al Saud. The new young Crown Prince talks of a new Saudi Arabia for the gullible American media but his ties deepen the links of his part of the royal family and Wahabbi clerics. Maybe there will be a breaking news story for the Americans that women are about to sell cosmetics in a department store. Senators like John McCain  talk about "our allies" the reforming Saudis while the religious noose around Shiite necks grows tighter everyday.

ON SAUDI ARABIA - DEVELOPING A NEW OPPOSITION: A closer vote on arming the Saudis - there is now a huge Democrat opposition.


AFGHANISTAN - MORE TROOPS BUT STILL NO STRATEGYThe troops pay because the political elite has no plan.

CHINA HAS A STRATEGY AND IT INCLUDES PAKISTANA military base in nuclear-armed Pakistan where China is building a road to the sea.


AN INTERVIEW WITH CAMILLE PAGLIA: She is especially insightful in her description of the physical world of Trump - of aluminum and steel and copper. It is a great misfortune of our culture that deeply confused people like Camille Paglia and Milo Yiannopoulos have become truth-sayers for a certain brand of conservatives. They have pithy sayings and insights because they reject the usual feminist group think. But both of these sexually-disoriented Catholics are metaphysical catastrophes.


FINDING OUT THE REAL NEWS ON WHO SAVED THE DAY BY SHOOTING JAMES HODGKINSON: The shooter has been analyzed and profiled post-mortem on the internet. That is fortunate because the FBI seems perplexed after their investigation. It is not clear to them why this man who voted for Bernie Sanders and hated Donald Trump shot "Republicans." Their inability to come up with a plausible motive reminds us of the John Kennedy assassination in 1963. The Marxist assassin steeped in the dominating worldwide ideology of communism was treated as a lone wolf loser. Though the official report is no help, it is fairly easy to put together the thinking of the killer from multiple sources. It is less clear exactly how and by whom the shooter was killed. One would think that real reporters would be mildly interested in the basic facts of the lifesaving swift police work that saved lives. There were three capitol police officers and three Alexandria officers who responded. Each played different roles. It is peculiar that a week after the shooting a simple narrative of how Hodgkinson was killed and the role of the various protectors has not emerged. This is not a hunt for conspiracy but a request for a narrative we can learn from.

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