Saturday, December 30, 2017

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, December 30

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


Myanmar is a South Asian country of 53 million. (see Burma:Map on Monday at AOA profile)The largest ethnic group is the Bamar (70%). In 1989 the military government changed many English names (like Burma) to ethnic equivalents (Myanmar). 88% of the people are Theravada Buddhist. British colonization after the Anglo-Burmese wars (1824-85) brought many Hindus and Muslims from present day India and Bangladesh into Burma. (Best map explanations here). The Burmese nationalist movement in the 1920's saw the immigrants from the subcontinent as part of  British colonization. The newcomers dominated industries and the colonial government. They were never perceived as seeking a common Burmese citizenship with the locals. The Burmese nationalist movement  rooted their nationalism in indigenous precolonial ethnic identities and the Buddhist religion. A 1982 law defining Burmese citizenship deliberately excluded the Rohingya people( a Muslim ethnic group that settled in Burma during the colonization period) when defining the ethnic groups constituting the Burmese nation. They excluded as natives anyone who could not show ancestry before 1823. The 1 million members of the Northwest state of Rahkine (bordering Bangladesh) are thus considered stateless and were advised to return to their previous homeland. In the last two years close to 10,000 Rahkine Muslims have been killed and 400,000 to 900,000 have fled-- mostly to  Muslim Bangladesh. It is ethnic cleansing by exile fed by brutal whole village exterminations to threaten those who might wish to stay. It is mindful of the wholesale ethnic/religous slaughter and mass migrations of the Indian partition in 1947 (15 million displaced; 1.5 million dead). 
    The replacement of Burma's military government (ruled 1962-2011) by the NLD party led by female democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi has actually increased the ability of nationalist advocates to take to the streets and expel their Muslim neighbors. Like the Arab Spring, so called democracy movements often unleash deeper communal identities and hatreds which eventually shape the course of events. The American press has been fairly incoherent in explaining this story. The photo shots of Hillary Clinton toasting Aung Kyi attest to the poverty of the democracy plus female empowerment=progress narrative. In the 200 year struggle for Burmese nationhood, Aung San (1915-1947), the father of Aung Kyi and the Father of the Nation looms large. He was an organizer of the Burmese Independence Army(1941)  and sided with the Japanese initially in WWII as a fighting alternative to British colonialism. He was the founder of the Burmese Communist Party as well.  His assassination in 1947 left his daughter a symbolic figure of national identity. How that national identity will be formalized and who will lead the country is a work in progress. Here is one account that takes religion and history seriously in explaining the carnage and resettlement. 
     Religion, nations, and men--we must learn to speak the real grammar of history to understand these events so we might build brotherhood under God and fraternity among the nations.   


STAR WARS BETRAYED: Bishop Barron doesn't like the feminist rewrite.

THE PRIEST ANNOUNCES HE IS GAY, THE BISHOP ALLOWS HIM; THE CONGREGATION APPLAUDS: Any problem here? The campaign to make the Catholic Church more gay-friendly is not for confused teens but for well-entrenched homosexual clergy. Here is another highly popular  "gay priest " from Ohio who announced his proclivities in a slightly more dramatic way from a high hotel window in Chicago (the Midwest center for the American homosexual priest subculture).

THE POPE REFORMING THE CLIQUES OF THE CURIA: Seeking men with the universal mission of the Church over the cliques of careerists. Very well put.



WHAT GORBACHEV HEARD ABOUT THE EXPANSION OF NATO: After his multiple concessions, archives show he was promised no eastward expansion of NATO by multiple US leaders.


A QUICK ROUNDUP ON THE PLOT TO GET TRUMP: They were defending the country from a racist narcissist who was also a sexist idiot. What's a patriot to do?

GENERAL MCMASTER - HIS WORLD VIEW AND SOME SOURCES: A one hour talk from before he was National Security Advisor. The NSS document is quite faithful to his vision. He cites two major sources for his overall vision: 1) Margaret Macmillan's book and essay The Rhyme of History comparing today to pre-WWI.

Reading her essay there is nothing here other than boilerplate international order platitudes. She does have a favorable mention of General McMaster who has returned the favor. She quotes his insight that accomplishing military objectives in a situation without strategic objectives is a fools errand. The Oxford lady professor compares the US alone to the Concert of Powers pre-1914. That seems unhelpful. A real Concert of Powers would include Russia, China, and Iran. That's the idea of a concert of powers vs. a balancing act of regional allies against regional powers. Mrs. MacMillan treats religion as sectarianism and nationalism as atavistic. She does say a good leader must truly understand the "viewpoint of another nation"-either friend or foe. There is no evidence she shows of understanding the three great civilizational nations who have become the boogymen of international globalists: China, Iran and Russia.

2) The Unquiet Frontier by Jakub Grygiel and A. Wess Mitchell - Grygiel and Mitchell are the authors that introduce the language of the "revisionist nations" who are supposedly challenging the US as the keeper of the international order. Three challenged allies are Taiwan, Israel, and Poland against the regional revisionists China, Iran, and Russia. This is the three encirclements strategy (our term) at the heart of the NSS document and American foreign policy as understood by John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and George Bush. President Obama rejected the "surround Iran" part of the strategy.

Here is the blurb for The Unquiet Frontier - a synopsis of the globalist vision if there ever was one:
From the Baltic to the South China Sea, newly assertive authoritarian states sense an opportunity to resurrect old empires or build new ones at America's expense. Hoping that U.S. decline is real, nations such as Russia, Iran, and China are testing Washington's resolve by targeting vulnerable allies at the frontiers of American power. The Unquiet Frontier explains why the United States needs a new grand strategy that uses strong frontier alliance networks to raise the costs of military aggression in the new century.

Jakub Grygiel and Wess Mitchell describe the aggressive methods rival nations are using to test U.S. power in strategically critical regions throughout the world. They show how rising and revisionist powers are putting pressure on our frontier allies―countries like Poland, Israel, and Taiwan―to gauge our leaders' commitment to upholding the U.S.-led global order. To cope with these dangerous dynamics, nervous U.S. allies are diversifying their national-security "menu cards" by beefing up their militaries or even aligning with their aggressors. Grygiel and Mitchell reveal how numerous would-be great powers use an arsenal of asymmetric techniques to probe and sift American strength across several regions simultaneously, and how rivals and allies alike are learning from America's management of increasingly interlinked global crises to hone effective strategies of their own.

The Unquiet Frontier demonstrates why the United States must strengthen the international order that has provided greater benefits to the world than any in history.

  • Increases the standard deduction to $12,000 for single filers, $18,000 for heads of household, and $24,000 for joint filers in 2018 (compared to $6,500, $9,550, and $13,000 respectively under current law).
  • Eliminates the personal exemption.
  • Retains the charitable contribution deduction, and limits the mortgage interest deduction to the first $750,000 in principal value. Limits the state and local tax deduction to a combined $10,000 for income, sales, and property taxes. Taxes paid or accrued in carrying on a trade or business are not limited.
  • Expands the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000, while increasing the phaseout from $110,000 in current law to $400,000 married couples. The first $1,400 would be refundable.
  • Effectively repeals the individual mandate penalty, by lowering the penalty amount to $0, effective January 1, 2019.
  • Raises the exemption on the alternative minimum tax from $86,200 to $109,400 for married filers, and increases the phaseout threshold to $1 million.
  • Reduces corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%.

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