Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Middle Eastern Diplomacy? Where is it?

Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser, has been offering a reassuring view of the Iranian nuclear deal in the face of some Arab skepticism. “If you can diplomatically and peacefully resolve the nuclear issue in a way that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” he told reporters last week, “we believe that will lead to a much more stable region.” Mr. Rhodes also contends that with a deal “there will be no need to see [a] regional arms race.” Does anyone believe this??

Bret Stephens, an editorialist on the Wall Street Journal staff, has written in an op-ed on 4-18-15 that evidence against the truth of this kind of na├»ve belief are the obvious facts of what has happened since President Obama presented his “Framework” for a nuclear peace deal with the Islamic State of Iran on 2 April 2015. The facts are as follows:

April 2: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif immediately accuses the U.S. of “spin” and contradicts Mr. Obama’s key claims regarding the terms of the deal.

April 12: A Swedish think tank reports that Saudi Arabia registered the biggest increase in defense spending in the world.

April 13: Moscow says it will deliver the S-300 air-defense system to Tehran. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei later boasts that the U.S. “can’t do a damn thing” militarily against Iran.

April 14: Iran announces agreements with Russia and China to build additional nuclear reactors.

April 17: Iran dispatches an armed convoy of ships, believed to be destined to resupply pro-Iranian Houthi rebels in Yemen in contravention of a U.N. arms embargo. The convoy turns back after the U.S. deploys an aircraft carrier to the region to shadow the ships.

April 20: Jason Rezaian, the American-born Washington Post reporter imprisoned in Iran since July, is charged with espionage, “collaborating with hostile governments” and “propaganda against the establishment.”

April 20: The British government informs the U.N. panel monitoring sanctions on Iran that it “is aware of an active Iranian nuclear procurement network” associated with two Iranian companies that are under international sanctions.

April 22: Saudi Arabia resumes airstrikes in Yemen despite administration pressure to maintain a cease fire.

April 28: Iran seizes the 837-foot long Maersk Tigris, a Marshall Islands flagged cargo ship with 34 sailors aboard, as it transits the Strait of Hormuz along an internationally recognized route. The ship is released a week later after Maersk pays a fine of $163,000.

April 29: Former Saudi Intelligence Minister Turki al Faisal tells a conference in Seoul that the kingdom will match Iran’s nuclear capabilities with its own. “Whatever the Iranians have, we will have, too.” The prince also accuses Mr. Obama of going “behind the backs of the traditional allies to strike the deal.”

May 8: Reuters reports that inspectors have discovered traces of sarin gas at an undeclared military research site near Damascus. The report puts paid to administration boasts that its diplomacy effectively solved the Syrian chemical crisis.

May 11: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman withdraws from the Arab summit meeting with Mr. Obama. The king of Bahrain follows suit, preferring instead to attend a horse show with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth.

May 13: Reuters reports “the Czech Republic blocked an attempted purchase by Iran this year of a large shipment of sensitive technology usable for nuclear enrichment after false documentation raised suspicions.”

May 14: Iranian patrol boats fire upon a Singapore-flagged oil tanker with machine guns as it transits the Strait of Hormuz. The ship makes it safely to Dubai.

May 17: Citing senior U.S. officials, the Sunday Times reports that “Saudi Arabia has taken the ‘strategic decision’ to acquire ‘off-the-shelf’ atomic weapons from Pakistan.”

Also on May 17, Islamic State fighters in Iraq seize the city of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province. This is after Mr. Obama crowed in February that “our coalition is on the offensive, ISIL is on the defensive, and ISIL is going to lose.” Now the Iraqi government will turn to Shiite paramilitaries under Iranian control to try to retake the city, further turning the Baghdad government into an Iranian satrap.

Could any rational person, President Obama or his Deputy National Security Advisor, Ben Rhodes, ever believe, with this kind of hard evidence that the United States is dealing with a nation of good will and benign intentions??

 

 

 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Conflicted Interest of Hillary Clinton!

Have you ever wondered how Hillary Clinton could accept donations from foreign governments for her Clinton Foundation while she was the Secretary of State? Did you know that kind of donation is specifically forbidden by the U.S. Constitution?

Article I, Section 9, of the Constitution provides that “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States] shall, without the Consent of Congress, accept any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

While Bill Clinton was president, his own Office of Legal Counsel once explained in an opinion letter, “those who hold offices under the United States must give the government their unclouded judgment and their uncompromised loyalty. .  .  . That judgment might be biased, and that loyalty divided, if they received financial benefits from a foreign government.” http://tws.io/1bQ38Z2

Dr. Larry Joseph Sabato, Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia, and director of its Center for Politics has commented: “Do you think this might suggest a conflict of interest?  This is not a SUGGESTION of a conflict of interest—this IS a conflict of interest.” http://bit.ly/1F7OqqE

Saturday, May 9, 2015

What Is the State of Religion in America?

On 4-26-15, two related papers appeared in the Wall Street Journal addressing this question. The first, “Why the Future of Religion Is Bleak, by Daniel Dennett of Tufts University, http://on.wsj.com/1Gx3fB2 and, “The Future of Religion Is Ascendant,” by Emilie M. Townes of Vanderbilt University, http://on.wsj.com/1DCuPL9.

In the first case, i.e., that religion is becoming more insignificant in the lives of people, especially in North America and Europe, Dennett points out that one of the largest group of people in the world are the “nones,” i.e., those who claim to have not religion, at all. One out of six Americans is a “none.” The growth of the “nones” seems underway, as the number of people in this group is becoming larger.

As Dennett sees it, the only thing that will reverse this trend is the onset of some global disaster, such as a global plague, a world war fought over oil or water, the collapse of the internet (and thereby almost all of electronic communication), or some catastrophe that causes widespread misery and fear—the soil in which religion historically thrives.

Professor Dennett believes that religion only thrives in societies where ignorance is the main characteristic and that the more people are educated, the more they will reject religion.

In the second article referenced above, Professor Townes points out that human populations have invariably been characterized by religious beliefs. She observes that as world population increases, so too, will religious belief. However, she writes that we, in the West must not measure the growth of religion by what we see in North America and Western Europe. She mentions that by 2050, 38% of the world’s Christians will live in sub-Sahara Africa—up from 24% in 2010. The world population of Muslims will nearly equal the population number of Christians. Thus, by 2050, the Muslim population will nearly equal the number of Christians.

It is a widely recognized fact that organized religion is on the decline in the West; but that must not be confused with the idea that religion (faith) is going away. People are turning away from organized churches; but they still claim to be “spiritual” people. This is evidenced by the rise of small group worship, the booming market for religious/spiritual books, blogs, music, and paraphernalia.

The social power of religion has diminished as it increasingly shares the public imagination with the natural sciences, economics, political science, and rampant individualism; but that does not mean that people do not seek meaning in their lives from religious viewpoints.

What will endure is the human need to find meaning in our lives, to have something beyond ourselves that calls us to some form of higher moral values. For many, the fulfillment of this need is, and will continue to be, the practice of religion and/or spirituality.

We members of the human race need to recognize that the three apostles of atheism are still health, wealth, and power. Life has much more meaning that these. The Christian faith is the only one that can answer the ultimate questions of true-life meaning.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Waffling Obama—Friend of Enemies, Enemy of Friends

President Obama is proving himself to be completely unreliable as an ally of our friends in the Middle East and a good friend of our enemy, Iran. This “framework,” with its “snap back” on sanctions if Iran reneges on it promises is turning out to be the biggest diplomatic give-away in the record of U.S. foreign relations. President Obama has backpedaled on everything he has promised and demanded, e.g., he faded away on the mythical “red line” against chemical weapons use by the Iraq government. Now he is backpedaling on his promise to gradually phase out sanctions on Iran, even though that was one of his main demands for a deal with Iran. He is even backpedaling on his demand for unrestricted inspections of all nuclear sites in Iran. What’s left to the United States’ advantage?? Nothing. Iran has it all.

Under this deal with the West, Iran now will have a rather unrestricted path to development of an atomic bomb and an effective delivery system! WHAT A DEAL! There will also be no restrictions on Iran’s terror-spreading activities through their support of Hamas and Hezbollah. Their activities in Yemen also will not be restricted. Can we call this process “negotiation?”

This whole process will undoubtedly set off a nuclear race through several countries in the Middle East. I noticed in a recent interview with the Saudi ambassador, he refused to deny that the Saudi’s will work to get their own nuclear weapons.

We should not be surprised at all this, however, Democrats are famous for lousy foreign relations policies. Take for instance, the situation at the end of the Carter administration. At that time, Libya was bombing passenger planes over the Mediterranean. President Carter spent his time wringing hands over the situation and generally dithered around without a single effective move being made to correct the situation. President Reagan came into office, promptly ordered a bombing of a Libyan munitions plant, and the whole situation ended suddenly.

The leaders of Iran speak of the great Satan with white hot rhetoric; they proclaim, “Death to America” and such other statements. Our leaders assure us that that wordage is just meant to whip up enthusiasm and placate their more hostile political supporters. But I wonder…. I think they mean it. Iran is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism. Iran bankrolls Hezbollah and Hamas, and it is a mortal enemy of Israel. Iran props up some of the most brutal leaders on the planet, including Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. They have repeatedly lied about their production of enriched uranium and reprocessed plutonium; and they have hidden all the facts they could about their nuclear activities from the International Atomic Energy Agency. They have reneged on their commitment to the Nonproliferation Treaty to which they have been signatories since 1970.

Our leaders in the administration continue to insist on dealing with the Iranians as if they are negotiating in good faith. I think our government should have the courage to believe the Iranians mean exactly what they say and act on that belief appropriately—they hate America and would like to destroy us, just as they despise Israel.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Why Have Jews Been Persecuted?

        Jews have been the perennial target of racial persecution for thousands of years; the question arises, “Why this persecution?” 
        The Romans crucified 50,000-100,000 anti-Roman Jewish activists during the Roman rule over Judea. And later, Jews were accused of being “Christ killers” for at least 2000 years until Vatican 2 in 1962 when Pope John XXIII exonerated Jews for that act. Shortly after Christ’s death on the cross, many European people began to accuse the Jews of killing him, whom they rightly believed was God, himself. They reasoned that there could be no greater sin than that of killing God. The practice of ritual murder became a not uncommon practice during the Middle Ages, as supposedly Christian people killed thousands of Jews.
        In 12th Century England, a myth arose that said Jews were murdering non-Jews and drinking their blood in their religious rituals. This belief persisted for hundreds of years and accounted for the deaths of tens of thousands of Jews. This practice spread to the Muslim world and was purportedly practiced for the last time in Saudi Arabia under the administration of King Faisal in the 1970’s.
        Anti-Jewish sentiment was enshrined in English literature by Wm. Shakespeare in his characterization of the Jew, Shylock, in the Merchant of Venice. Charles Dickens portrayed a very unsavory character in Oliver Twist in the character of the Jew, Fagin, a man who taught boys to be pick-pockets. 
        The Spanish inquisition of 1492 under King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella killed 300,000 Jews.   
        It is not news that there is a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe. Swedish Jews have complained that they have been targets of hate crimes from Muslim extremists, but authorities have rarely, if ever, taken any action against the perpetrators. Terrorist bombs in Paris have recently injured and killed Jews. Their property has, also, been destroyed.
        In Hungary, the new-fascist mayor of Erpatak, located in eastern Hungary, said the “the Jewish terror state” (Israel) was trying to annihilate the Palestinians. In western Hungary, a strongly anti-Semitic political party recently elected a powerful government official; that party consists of 20% of the Hungarian electorate.
        In Turkey, the president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, demanded the leader of Turkey’s Jewish community apologize for Israel’s self-defense during the Gaza attacks. Then he added, “One feels like saying, ‘God bless that Hitler!’”
        Another startling example of the murderous rage surfacing against Jews was a film made by Muslim students at al-Quds University in Jerusalem. The film demonstrated how to kill Jews, and it included a reenactment of the murder of four rabbis at a synagogue in Jerusalem in which the killers, after murdering the praying rabbi, shamelessly bowed toward a replica of the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount.
        The Palestinian Authority bears a huge responsibility for such outrages, yet continues to enjoy virtually total impunity in the international community, as well as funding that helps promote hatred and attacks against Jews.
      The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews reported in their March 2015 newsletter that 26,000 Jews have immigrated to Israel from dozens of countries in the past year to escape persecution at home; this immigration rate represents an increase of 39% over the previous year. Israel has received over 7000 French immigrants this past year in addition to almost 6000 from Ukraine.
       Our Savior was a Jew. We, Christians owe it to Jews everywhere to pray for Jews and support them in their distress from unjust persecution. You might think of contributing to the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, 30 North LaSalle Street, Suite 4300, Chicago, IL 60602-2584.

Friday, April 10, 2015

To Whom Does the Land of Israel Belong?

There has been strong opposition to the Jewish occupation of the land of Israel. The Palestinians claim the land as theirs by dent of the belief that they were the original inhabitants of that land; and the Jews claim that they were there first. Which is correct?

According to the Bible, the original inhabitants of the land of Canaan were the Canaanites, inclusive of several tribes.  The original Canaanites were either destroyed by, or absorbed into the tribes of Israel; they are no longer identifiable.

The Jews occupied the land after the conquest that was led by Joshua; they maintained control of the land until the Babylonian conquest in 597 BC. Even at that time, many Jews were left in the land until the main body of Jews returned 70 years later. Since that time, the control of the land has changed hands 26 times; and Jerusalem has been leveled to the ground five times. (Documented in the book, “Why Christians Should Support Israel” by Dr. Mike Evans) During each of these administrative changes, Jews continued to occupy the land or else they returned in strength after each foreign administration changed.
 
According to Wikipedia, many Jews and Palestinians share genetic characteristics tying them to a common genetic heritage. However, Palestinians usually consider themselves to be of Arab extraction. The Canaanites were not Arabs.

Thus, the only remaining peoples who can claim earliest ownership to the land are the Jews.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Foolish Agreement with Iran




The Obama administration is in the process of pushing through an agreement with Iran over its nuclear ambitions. This agreement has all the earmarks of the worst idea President Obama has come up with yet. The very idea of dealing in treaty-mode with a deceitful nation like Iran is just unbelievable to me; and I think it is the worst example I have seen so far in the litany of lousy foreign policy moves he has made.

 

These talks with Iran sound very much to me like the talks Neville Chamberlain had with Adolph Hitler in 1938 at Munich. At that conference, Chamberlain agreed to Germany’s annexation of parts of Czechoslovakia along the border of Germany; the area was subsequently named the Sudetenland. The agreement was the prelude to World War II. Winston Churchill admonished Chamberlain after the meeting, “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.” Our weak president is choosing peace at any price and he will ultimately involve us in the most disadvantageous situation imaginable in the Middle East.

 

Obama is threatening to use U.N. Security Council pressure against Israel to force that country into his bad plan for a supposed solution to the Iranian nuclear threat. Israel is in the thick of the controversy and recognizes that the Obama solution will only provide a temporary respite in the Iranian nuclear program. President Obama is allowing his petulance and animosity toward Prime Minister Netanyahu to cause our nation to contribute to the delegitimization of our best ally in the Middle East, Israel, while it legitimizes our worst enemy, Iran and allows Iran to get a path to the atomic bomb.