Saturday, October 21, 2017

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, October 21

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch 


Driving ISIS out of its territorial base in Iraq and Syria is an incredible accomplishment. Iran, Russia, the Syrian government, Iraq's regular army and their Shiite militias, the noble Kurds and the SDF all can share credit. Likewise an initial strategy of President Obama and an intensification of efforts by President Trump deserve praise.  The desire of the internationally recognized Syrian government to reestablish control over its territory, the desire of the Kurds for autonomy, and the Israeli desire for a fragmented Syria which doesn't threaten the Golan Heights are now all in play.

The "war on terror" meanwhile will continue on many fronts. There are three religious errors we see confusing the public debate. 1) From Niger to Mozambique to the Philippines, the terrorists are all products of the Salafist Sunni schools of Islam championed by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Pakistan. Yet we have targeted Shiites in Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain as enemies in our alliance with the Saudis and Israelis.  2) The greatest need in Africa will be strong states capable of exercising lethal authority to safeguard their people. This is why the US will have military advisors in multiple countries buttressing states most Americans could not find on map. Meanwhile Catholic intellectuals in the worldwide Church are following the pacifist/homosexual wing of the clergy in developing theories of the state which "morally prohibit" waging war or inflicting capital punishment. It is another instance of the  "modern west" betraying the southern Christians. The Charmin (soft and white) Catholics want to weaken authority, nations and men. The southern nations (including South America) need strong states and strong religious national male leaders to establish civic order to insure economic justice. We may not hear that from peace and justice seminars at the Vatican.  3) In the fight against atheist communism, it was necessary to divide in order to conquer. In the fight against jihadists, it does not help to lump all of Islam as the source of violence.  This is both a religious disservice and a strategic blunder. Conservative anti communists opposed the opening to China of President Nixon and Kissinger. Many of them thought Ronald Reagan had given away the store to Gorbachev as well. Those moves split the Communist monolith and were absolutely necessary in the subsequent collapse.  While the "liberal" Christian press cannot see any relation of Islam to jihad, the conservative Christian press can see no difference between a Sufi and a salafist or a Shiite nation state and the Hanbali law tradition.  Many "conservative Christians" reject that the Muslims worship God and put forth an argument that the West is at war with all of Islam. This is particularly convienent for those trying to equate Israel's war with Shiite Iran to the US war against Salafist jihadists. American military men from McMaster to Mattis have fought alongside  Muslim soldiers and they never say we are at war with all of Islam. It takes intellectuals to propose that formula.  The American military spear is sharp and strong but our strategy is as muddled as ever. As ISIS loses its territorial base, it will be more essential than ever to understand the religious roots of the multi headed monsters that will now emerge.              


THE DEEP STATE AND THE BOGUS THREAT FROM IRANDavid Stockman tells a persuasive tale of an overwrought military complex in perpetual search of threats. Is war inevitable with Iran? President Trump has a more bellicose approach than his advisers but he has support from the Republican Senate, Israel under the Likkud and the ruling clan of the Saudi royal family. Pat Buchanan's analysis is geographical, historical and adult.

DEADLY ATTACK IN SOMALIA - WERE THEY SHIITES OR SALAFIST SUNNIS? Educated in mosques paid for by Saudi money. The most effective opposition to the Salafists in Somalia may be a rekindling of Somalian Muslim nationalism with soldiers trained by Turkey. Turkey was the first nation state with a Muslim majority to emerge from the Ottoman empire. Turkey renounced public Islam in its hyper secular founding but has now reembraced Islam as its cultural core. Somalia has a common language and religion but needs nationalist institutions and a unifying leader to prevent tribal disintegration which has devastated the country for thirty years. In Niger, the jihadists are also from the salafist Sunni branch of Islam. There can be no real strategy against the new face of Jihadism unless we understand its religious home.


NETANYAHU ON IRAN - NOT SO HIDDEN MESSAGE THAT ROGUE NATIONS HAVE NO RIGHTS OF SOVEREIGNTY: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Fox News on Sunday,Oct 15: "Iran is the foremost terrorist state of our time. It hangs gays, jails journalists, subjugates women, and foments terrorism throughout the world and wild aggression in the Middle East. To have a regime like this, whose economy is 30 times the size of North Korea...acquire an arsenal of nuclear weapons in 10 years' time, which is what the Iran agreement now provides Iran to do, is a terrible folly." "The president is right to put that forward now and to say I'm not going to authorize the continuation of a very bad deal that will give a rogue criminal state the power to threaten the United States mainland." President Trump seems to be in full accord with the Israeli Prime Minister.  We have long argued that Iran and Israel are both nation states who will eventually help us in the fight against the salafist jihadist movement in Sunni Islam. Israel's shortsighted alliance with Saudi Arabia should not be US foreign policy. The attempt by the Obama administration to engage the great civilization of Persian Shiite Iran was its highest diplomatic accomplishment. This was a case where President Obama, Secretary Kerry and Advisor Ben Rhodes broke with the "think tank foreign policy establishment" They were pulling out of that swamp (See these  last foreign policy interview/profiles with President Obama and Ben Rhodes).


KOREA: In Korea President Trump has inherited a situation he has decided we cannot live with. Can this be done without war with China? That has always been the question in Korea since the 1950's. The wick of war seems lit.

IN EASTERN EUROPE RELIGION AND NATIONS REASSERT THEMSELVESFrom the Polish Borders Rosary to a disruption at a Romanian opera.

IN AUSTRIA, THE NATIONALISTS UNSEAT THE LEFTThey will need the libertarians to form a coalition government but this is a sea change for a country of 8 million (75% Catholic). Germany has ten times the population and is divided in thirds among Catholic, Protestant and "None".   5% of Germans are Muslims.

THE KURDS ARE A REAL PEOPLEBut the most important oil resource in the region now belongs to a bigger entity. Iraq takes Kirkuk.

REX TILLERSON: A revealing profile article on the Secretary of State, Qatar and the State Department.


JUDGE MOORE AND HIS FOX NEWS/WEEKLY STANDARD CRITICS: How biblically based Christans are still the social outcasts at Fox.

ST. MICHAEL THE ARCHANGELDefend us in battle.

MEN IN TRENCHESA football poem in the military news.

ONE TAKE ONBowe Bergdahl.

POLISH PHLOSOPHER LEGUTKOAn interview about the similar dangers of secular liberal democracy and communism. They turn out to be two forms of an atheist anthropology.

Legutko: One of the main elements of my book is a reflection on the anthropological assumptions that underlie our political choices. Both democracy and liberalism have assumed a minimalist concept of human nature, devoid of any higher dimensions, metaphysical or moral. Christianity has an entirely different view of human nature, similar in many respects to what we find in antiquity. On the one hand, man is defined, like Aristotle’s political man, by his existence in a society in which he — as a person, not as an individual — can acquire moral virtues, and on the other hand, by his metaphysical status, having been created in the image of God. To put it differently, the liberal-democratic man is a flat character whose higher aspirations are considered either as personal idiosyncrasies or politically dangerous ambitions to overthrow equality. In Christianity, as in antiquity, human existence is represented vertically — it has its highs and lows and is strained between sainthood and sin. In Christianity, we hope to live up to that for which we were created, but we also fear failure. In the flat anthropology of liberal democracy, there is not much people hope for and not much they fear. Even God is reduced to a liberal-democratic dimension in that He resembles a nice, easygoing philanthropist more than the God we read about in the Bible.

All Christians who believe that liberal-democratic ideology is like an ordinary coat, no different from any other, that they can put on to be able to move around more easily and comfortably but inside which they will still remain the same Christians, make a mistake — and a double one to boot. The first mistake is a wrong choice of strategy. The liberal-democracy ideology uses — no matter that it does so fraudulently — the rhetoric of multiculturalism, which is supposed to give justice to the existence of different “cultures,” which, precisely because they are different, are said to contribute to the richness and diversity of society. But if this were true, then Christians should compete with others for a visible presence and for influence — after all, this is what the coexistence of different groups in a liberal democracy should amount to — and in order to be a successful competitor they should act as an energetic and full-blooded group, strongly committed to their cause, openly determined to imprint their mark on the world. The opposite strategy — obliterating the boundaries, diluting their message in liberal jargon, cajoling the idols of modernity, paying homage to today’s superstitions, self-effacing their identity — condemns Christians to a sad defeat with no dignity and no progeny.

THE PARIS STATEMENT - A EUROPE WE CAN BELIEVE IN: A ringing celebration of a European identity based on a community of nations, a renewal of marriage and a Christian heritage. The signers of this declaration counter the "false Europe" with the "true Europe". An inspiring assertion of Christian culture, national identity and marriage as the true Europe under siege by the arrogant "generation of 68". The Anthropology of Accord argument for a new concord of Christian nations and a repudiation of the sixties sexual revolution is close to the heart of this statement. Some favorite authors had a hand in it including Remi Brague and Ryszard Legutko. A few excerpts:
THE LOSS OF RELIGION; THE PROGRESS MYTH AND THE FALSE EUROPE: It is no accident that the decline of Christian faith in Europe has been accompanied by renewed efforts to establish political unity—an empire of money and regulations, covered with sentiments of pseudo-religious universalism, that is being constructed by the European Union. The patrons of the false Europe are bewitched by superstitions of inevitable progress. They believe that History is on their side, and this faith makes them haughty and disdainful, unable to acknowledge the defects in the post-national, post-cultural world they are constructing. Moreover, they are ignorant of the true sources of the humane decencies they themselves hold dear—as do we. They ignore, even repudiate the Christian roots of Europe.

THE TRUE EUROPE: A European spirit of unity allows us to trust others in the public square, even when we are strangers. The public parks, central squares and broad boulevards of European towns and cities express the European political spirit: We share our common life and the res publica. The true Europe is a community of nations. We have our own languages, traditions and borders. Yet we have always recognized a kinship with one another, even when we have been at odds—or at war. This unity-in-diversity seems natural to us.

CHRISTIANITY FRAMED THE NATION STATE AS THE POLITICAL FORM AND MARRIAGE AS THE DOMESTIC COMMUNION: The allure of the imperial form endured, but the nation-state prevailed, the political form that joins peoplehood with sovereignty. The nation-state thereby became the hallmark of European civilization.We do not seek the imposed, enforced unity of empire. Instead, European cosmopolitanism recognizes that patriotic love and civic loyalty open out to a wider world. The true Europe has been marked by Christianity. The universal spiritual empire of the Church brought cultural unity to Europe, but did so without political empire. This has allowed for particular civic loyalties to flourish within a shared European culture.

Christianity revolutionized the relationship between men and women, valuing love and mutual fidelity in an unprecedented way. The bond of marriage allows both men and women to flourish in communion. Most of the sacrifices we make are for the sake of our spouses and children. This spirit of self-giving is yet another Christian contribution to the Europe we love. Europe did not begin with the Enlightenment. Our beloved home will not be fulfilled with the European Union. The real Europe is, and always will be, a community of nations at once insular, sometimes fiercely so, and yet united by a spiritual legacy that, together, we debate, develop, share—and love.

FALSE EUROPE IS THE GENERATION OF 68 MASQUERADING THEIR TRANSGRESSIONS AS LIBERATION: As the patrons of the false Europe construct their faux Christendom of universal human rights, we are losing our home.The false Europe boasts of an unprecedented commitment to human liberty. This liberty, however, is very one-sided. It sells itself as liberation from all restraints: sexual freedom, freedom of self-expression, freedom to “be oneself.” The Generation of ’68 regards these freedoms as precious victories over a once almighty and oppressive cultural regime. They see themselves as great liberators, and their transgressions are acclaimed as noble moral achievements, for which the whole world should be grateful. Libertine hedonism often leads to boredom and a profound sense of purposelessness. The bond of marriage has weakened. In the roiling sea of sexual liberty, the deep desires of our young people to marry and form families are often frustrated. A liberty that frustrates our heart’s deepest longings becomes a curse. Our societies seem to be falling into individualism, isolation and aimlessness. Instead of freedom, we are condemned to the empty conformity of consumer- and media-driven culture. It is our duty to speak the truth: The Generation of ’68 destroyed but did not build. They created a vacuum now filled by social media, cheap tourism and pornography.

UNLIMITED HEDONISM LEADS TO PROLIFERATION OF REGULATIONS: At the same time that we hear boasts of unprecedented liberty, European life is more and more comprehensively regulated. Rules—often confected by faceless technocrats in league with powerful interests—govern our work relationships, our business decisions, our educational qualifications, our news and entertainment media.

THE UNIVERSITY BETRAYED; A NEW GENERATION WITHOUT GUIDANCE OR ORIENTING CATEGORIES: ...our universities are one of the glories of European civilization. But where once they sought to transmit to each new generation the wisdom of past ages, today most within the universities equate critical thinking with a simpleminded repudiation of the past.

MARRIAGE: Marriage is the foundation of civil society and the basis for harmony between men and women. It is the intimate bond organized around sustaining a household and raising children. We affirm that our most fundamental roles in society and as human beings are as fathers and mothers.

THE ONE TERRITORIAL LOYALTY LEFT: The fanaticism of our football loyalties is a desperate sign of the deeply human need for solidarity, a need that otherwise goes unfulfilled in the false Europe.

NATION MEN NEEDED: A good political leader stewards the commonweal of a particular people. A good statesman views our shared European inheritance and our particular national traditions as magnificent and life-giving, but also fragile gifts. He does not reject that inheritance, nor does he chance losing it all for utopian dreams. Such leaders covet the honors bestowed upon them by their people; they do not lust for the approbation of the ‘international community,’ which is in fact the public relations apparatus of an oligarchy.

LOVE GOD, LOVE COUNTRY, LOVE EUROPE--THE ORDERED LOVES OF THE TRUE EUROPE: We reject as false the claim that there is no responsible alternative to the artificial, soulless solidarity of a unified market, a transnational bureaucracy, and glib entertainment. Bread and circuses are not enough. The responsible alternative is the true Europe. In this moment, we ask all Europeans to join us in rejecting the utopian fantasy of a multicultural world without borders. We rightly love our homelands, and we seek to hand on to our children every noble thing that we have ourselves received as our patrimony. As Europeans, we also share a common heritage, and this heritage asks us to live together in peace as a Europe of nations. Let us renew national sovereignty, and recover the dignity of a shared political responsibility for Europe’s future.

The Paris Statement lines up well with the nationalist philosophy behind the Trump UN speech.

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