The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend

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Winston Churchill, Great Britain’s wartime leader said this: “If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.”

Yalta_Conference_(Churchill,_Roosevelt,_Stalin)_(B&W)

The “Big Three” at Yalta, 1945. The War in Europe was nearly over. A sickly Roosevelt  would die in April of 45 had given Stalin pretty much what he wanted-a big slice of eastern Europe. Churchill was not so generous but by 1945 Britain was the junior partner in the Anglo-American Alliance. It kind of reminds me of an old saying, “if you dine with the devil you better have a long spoon.”

The context of Churchill’s statement was in regards to the Anglo (and later American) alliance with Stalin’s Soviet Union. Great Britain was desperate in the war against Hitler in 1941 and needed an ally. Germany foolishly invaded Russia and an instant ally was born.

Britain and Churchill were not fans of Stalin or his communism.  Stalin killed and starved hundreds of thousands of his own people and was especially hated in the Ukraine. He had recently picked a fight with tiny Finland and most western countries including Britain favored the plucky Finns. Stalin and Hitler had recently been pals and had divided up Poland, a British ally.

So, no one actually likes Stalin but…

Churchill, always colorful and usually memorable as he could turn a phrase like few others commented on Britain’s unlikely alliance with Stalin. Churchill’s comment about making a favorable reference to the devil (Stalin) was connected with the truism “that an enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Such is war, such is politics, such are personal relationships if we are honest and such is the world stage that a government will make alliances with some rather unsavory characters including a “devil” like Joseph Stalin.

This is the kind of  dilemma the United States faces with Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Iran, as most everyone knows are the bad guys. Iran hates Israel, our only democratic friend in the entire Middle East. The Iranian mullahs support terrorism (in Palestine and elsewhere) and is rather brutal to its own people when they get out of line. Just try being trans-gendered in Iran and see what happens. Iran is also anxious to get nukes-a nightmare scenario that the US tries hard to prevent.

On the other hand try being trans-gendered in Saudi Arabia and see what happens. You get my drift.

Both countries are Moslem and both are radical by degree. Iran is Shite and Saudi Arabia is Sunni. They do not get along. Iran is mostly Persian and Saudi Arabia is Arab-antagonisms go back centuries both ethnically and religiously. Given half a chance they would gladly destroy one another a Moslem on Moslem jihad.

Problem: Saudi Arabia like Israel is an American Ally but they are an ally of a different sort.  Israel shares with us a democratic process and other values. Saudi Arabia does not.

Iran is supported by Putin’s Russia and the Chi-Coms. This makes Saudi Arabia and Iran big players in international politics and while some argue that Saudi Arabia is “not as bad” as Iran is can be a bit of hair splitting.

Case in Point: Many in the West were horrified when “moderate” Saudi-Arabia obviously assassinated journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Khashoggi’s “sin” was being a critic of the rulers of Saudi-Arabia even though he was Saudi as well.

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If the shoe fits.

What few people know or knew is that Saudi Arabia like Iran is brutal. Mindy Belz of World Magazine details incident after incident, murder after murder (many of them Christians) in her excellent article titled Dealing in Realism.

Here is a revealing quote from the Belz article:

“The textbook language varies year-to-year, but adheres to core tenets [in state sponsored school curriculum]. It calls for violent punishment of non-Muslims and for putting homosexuals to death. All of Israel is ‘occupied Islamic territory’ the textbooks teach. And, ‘The Apes are the people of the Sabbath. the Jews; and the Swine are the infidels of the communion of Jesus, the Christians.'”

And lets not forget how many of the young men (11 out of 19) were Saudi nationals when the Twin Towers came down taking thousands of lives.

With an ally like that who needs enemies?

Governments are usually pragmatic like Churchill’s WW2 Britiain and will do what works (at the time). Principle is sacrificed on the altar of expediency and what works. Since Saudi Arabia hates Iran almost as much it secretly hates the West we should not be surprised that the US response was relatively mild to the Khashoggi killing although the US did pressure it’s ally to finally own up. (Some minor official in Saudi Arabia will have to bite the bullet perhaps literally.)

So, what about the other Saudi crimes detailed in Belz’s article? Should they not trouble us? And what about the textbook issue? What are little Saudi children learning about Jews and Christians? Can not the same type of thing be found in Iranian textbooks? I’ll bet it can.

I don’t think the US is naive regarding Saudi Arabia. I think the official position is we are stuck with them and at least they have not gone nuclear (but could, and probably would like to). I’m so cynical these days that I can see one of our representatives saying something like, “can’t you be a bit more discreet when you murder a political opponent?”

What should the serious Christian think about such things? Should we go along with the notion that the enemy of our enemy is our friend or should the US sanction the Saudi’s in a similar fashion to Iran? That would be Mindy Belz’s view.

The question is should the US “punish” its ally Saudi Arabia for exhibiting the same kind of behavior that its enemy Iran is guilty of?

As always Christians should try to think through thorny questions biblically. Applying biblical principles to international politics is not an easy matter especially because neither party in the US is particularly motivated to do so. It appears to me that one party actually hates the Bible and the other is mildly disinterested but needs Christian votes. I know, aren’t I the cynical one?

I think there are a number of biblical passages that can say something about how a Christian can respond to a sticky situation like Iran and Saudi Arabia.  It’s found in Romans 13:1-7 where Paul talks about the role of civil government.

13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. 

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 13:1–7). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

There is a lot going on in the passage and I don’t want to write a novel so I’ll just focus on verse 4.

for he [government] is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

What might we observe here?

First we see that government (the he) is God’s servant for good and if you do wrong be afraid, because that’s why the government gets a sword.

So government is God’s servant for good. Therefore, killing a political opponent is wrong and the Saudi Arabian government is not acting like God’s servant for good. The institution of government is good but people in the government or in positions of power are often evil and unjust and God is not for an unjust government.

There are a lot of places one can take all this but the basic principle seems obvious-government is God’s servant for good, not bad. Belz’s conclusion that the US should sanction Saudi Arabia certainly lines up with the Saudi pattern of injustice.

To sanction Saudi Arabia in some kind of serious way would require taking a principled stand and I’d be surprised if either political party has the fortitude to stand on principle. It might cost us something and at the end of the day the ends justify the means.

Khashoggi’s death ordered by Saudi Crown Prince

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A Tepid Response when Outrage is Required.

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Tepid.

Dictionary.com defines “tepid” likes this:

adjective

  1. moderately warm; lukewarm: tepid water.
  2. characterized by a lack of force or enthusiasm: tepid prose; the critics’ tepid reception for the new play.

Tepid is a great word to describe President Obama’s response to the latest terrorist attack in Jerusalem-a terrorist attack launched by who else, Hamas\Palestinians. The attack took place in a house of prayer and left a number of Rabbis with duo western\Israeli citizenship dead. An Israeli Druze policeman died a bit later after the shootout with the terrorists that also left the terrorists dead. Total Israeli dead numbered five.

It didn’t take long before we heard President Obama’s tepid response in which he repeated all the catch phrases that add up to the left’s idiotic moral equivalency arguments. Such as…

“The majority of the of the Palestinian people want peace.”

Obviously. That’s why they elected Hamas to their government and have a President overtly sympathetic to Hamas\Jihadis even as he issued his own tepid response to the attack that at the same time condemned it and justified it.

Obviously. That’s why Palestinians were dancing in the streets after the attack just as they did after 9\11.

Obviously.That’s why we heard numerous Muslim clerics deplore the attack and condemn the attackers. No, wait a minute, we didn’t hear any. Where are the so-called Muslim moderates? What is the definition of a Muslim moderate anyway? Is it a Jihadi who just stops short of cutting off people’s heads?

“We urge both sides to show restraint. Enough Palestinians and Israelis have died.”

There it is, the moral equivalency response. Terrorists attack defenseless Israeli citizens in a house of prayer and Israel which warns defenseless citizens of an impending attack should show restraint.

Never mind that Hamas hides its military assets among the civilian population in the hopes that Israel will kill civilians in their response. Hamas does this knowing full well that the western media will make much of the Israeli attacks and little of Hamas’ manipulation. The western media loves to make a victim out of the perpetrator. Hamas plays the western media like a fiddle.

It is noteworthy that Israel’s President Netanyahu called on western governments to express outrage. The fact he had to ask western governments to express outrage is because like Obama’s tepid remarks the tendency of the west is to likewise be tepid in their responses to Palestinian outrages.

The west with its bent toward political correctness and pacifism nominally fights ISIS in Iraq and Syria yet urges Israeli restraint in dealing with Hamas/Palestinians who are cut from the same cloth as ISIS. Go figure.

The Israeli government just relaxed the rules for Israelis to carry guns. That’s a response that makes sense. Perhaps if one of those hapless Rabbis had a gun the death toll would have been terrorists 2KIA and Israelis 0KIA or the attack would not have happened at all. Cowards do not like to face armed citizens. The defenseless make much easier targets for a coward. And the left wonders why we Second Amendment defenders like conceal and carry. Hamas and criminals is why.

One can only conclude from Obama’s tepid remarks that he sympathizes with Hamas and believes there is validity to their cause if not their methods.

Note to President Obama: Hamas is sworn to the destruction of Israel and will not stop until that is achieved. And by the way, we’re next. At least two of those Rabbis were Americans.

Shariah and the goal of a Caliphate

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The picture is of self-appointed Sharia police in Germany. They ran afoul of the German police as they attempted to enforce sharia law on Germans that were drinking.

This little incident came to mind last night after I heard the President’s speech regarding taking military action against ISIS.

The President is quite right to categorize ISIS as a terrorist organization and quite right to try to form a coalition of the willing to do something about it.

There was at least one thing missing from the President’s speech and that was the word, caliphate. The goal of ISIS is a caliphate, that is Islamic rule worldwide from a central caliphate not dissimilar to the old Ottoman Empire who were the last Islamists to try it.

What the President and his advisors do not seem to get is that there is more than one way to skin a cat. One way is military conquest like ISIS is capable of doing but the other way is more subtle.

The other way is to infiltrate western cultures and claim special rights  like enforcing sharia on Moslems and non-Moslems alike.  Then when busted claim victim status. racism and cultural insensitivity.

The subtle way is probably more effective in the long run especially because most of the west is naive about caliphate goals and frankly uber sensitive to anyone who claims victim status.

It has already been established that many ISIS fighters hold western passports and that should prove that within western nations there is a ready-made “fifth column” ready to take up the cause and methods of ISIS in those western nations. I would suggest that the sharia police are already on board philosophically with their more militant cousins and their goals are identical.

The war on Islamic fascism is bigger than you seem to think Mr. President.

Moral Equivalency-Hamas vs Israel

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There is a great column by Dennis Prager on Townhall.com titled, The Jewish State in a Morally Sick World.

In the article Prager discusses the concept of moral equivalency as it relates to the ongoing struggles between Israel and Hamas as well as the Islamic States that support Hamas.

The definition of moral equivalency from rationalwiki.org is: Moral equivalence is a form of equivocation often used in political debates. It seeks to draw comparisons between different, often unrelated things, to make a point that one is just as bad as the other or just as good as the other. It may be used to draw attention to an unrelated issue by comparing it to a well-known bad event, in an attempt to say one is as bad as the other. Or, it may be used in an attempt to claim one isn’t as bad as the other by comparison. Drawing a moral equivalence in this way is a logical fallacy.

Prager makes the argument that the moral gulf between Israel and Hamas is as great as the moral gulf between the Western Allies in WW2 and the Nazis. Prager continues to make his point by noting that hundreds\thousands of British were killed in the blitz and thousands\hundreds of thousands were killed in Germany by the RAF and USAF later in the war.

Prager notes and accurately I think that if all you do is look at the casualty rate you have some sort of moral equivalency that makes the western allies as bad as the Nazis. And this is the kind of illogical fallacy that many in the west commit when they compare Israel to Hamas.  The argument goes something like this. If Hamas kills three and the Israeli’s kill 30 in response, then Israel has not shown restraint and is immoral for doing so. Hamas on the other hand gets a pass because they hide among their civilians and look like the victims to the western media.

Hamas uses the western media to focus on the Palestinian\Hamas casualty rate versus the casualty rate of the Israelis to make a moral equivalency argument; or better put, to paint themselves as the victims of Israeli aggression as it they had nothing to do with the Israeli reaction to their incessant missile attacks and pledge to kill all Jews.

Hamas deliberately puts their own people in harm’s way to make the sympathy point and many in the western world fall for it and urge Israel to show restraint and/or just surrender to the acts of terror.

Below is Israel’s PM Netanyahu speaking to western ambassadors pleading with them to take a moral stand against Hamas. Netanyahu is quite right when he says that if the west lets this go the west will be next. The jihadis use our own morality against us while they have little of their own.

MAD

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MAD stood for mutually assured destruction during the Cold War. The theory was that neither superpower would start a nuclear war because each had the power to destroy the other so no one would win. MAD obviously worked because the superpowers were rational enough to “get it.”

All that came to mind as Secretary of State John Kerry returned to the US waving a metaphorical piece of paper declaring peace in our time with Iran. Why Obama and Kerry would find the mullahs in Iran trustworthy is astounding. Why they would find the mullahs in Iran rational is equally astounding.

Our Israeli friends who have everything to lose are not going to wait around to see if a nuclear Iran is trustworthy or rational. They cannot afford to be stupid or naive.

When will they speak up?

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For the moment it appears that controversy about Syria and poison gas has died down. The ever trust worthy and human rights advocate Vladimir Putin has brokered a deal where by Syria’s chemical weapons will be handed over to Russia and then to the U.N.

Yet, in the space of a day or two Islamic terrorists have killed over 60 in a shopping mall in Kenya and murdered 80 Christians in Pakistan. The incidents are notable for the death tolls but it makes one wonder how many other victims of Islamic terror are not noticed because the body count is less.

It seems the world does not care all that much. Perhaps if the terrorists use poison gas someone, somewhere will draw a red line and actually enforce it.

The more important question is why do the leaders of the religion of peace remain relatively silent about these atrocities? Their silence is deafening leaving one to conclude they either quietly approve or they are scared out of their wits to confront those who kill in the name of Allah.

Muslims living in western countries wonder why they are suspect. Perhaps it is their silence that makes them so.

Dennis Praeger address this issue in his Townhall Column for today. I don’t agree with Praeger’s view of the gospel but his main point about Muslim leaders remaining silent is spot on.

Link to NYT article on the suicide bombing of Pakistani Christian Church

Christian Minority In Pakistan Pounded By Islamists In Brutal Suicide Bombing (freedomoutpost.com)

Remembering Two 9/11’s

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Eleven years ago today my dad and I went fishing. He was retired and I was pastoring a small church in the Milwaukee area. One of the upsides in pastoring that church is that I could see my aging parents once a week. Dad like to shore fish and sometimes he would come to my house which was close to Lake Michigan and we’d head to the lake to wet a line. We never caught anything but that was not the point. It was just good to be with dad and “shoot the baloney” as he would put it. After fishing we’d go to lunch and continue the baloney shooting. There is nothing remarkable about any of this except for the date. It was 9\11\2001.

We had finished fishing, again having caught nothing, and got in the car. I turned the radio on and neither of us could believe our ears-a large plane had crashed into one of the twin towers in New York City. Was it an accident, was it a pilot suicide, what the hec just happened were the questions that swirled about in our minds.

We arrived at my house and turned on the television. We witnessed the second aircraft crashing into the second tower. The sight of the second plane crashing into the second tower answered our questions. It was not an accident but it was a pilot suicide although not of the type we originally guessed. We surmised, quite rightly, that the US had been attacked by Islamic terrorists.

The moment it dawned on us it was no accident and that we'd probably go to war.

The moment it dawned on us it was no accident and that we’d probably go to war.

At this point my dad left to go home to be with my mother. They both had lived through World War 2 and my dad had served at the war’s end. My dad made comments about Pearl Harbor and wanted to be with mom when he shared the news. He also shared concern about his grandson (my son) who was in his early twenties at the time and what it all meant should the US go to war.

After then President Bush said that we’d go after the terrorists wherever they might be found as well as the countries that hid them my dad nodded his approval even though it might have meant his grandson could be part of that going after. It was clear cut in dad’s mind and he was not the kind of guy who was inclined to Republican views. Never-the-less, in his mind Bush was absolutely right and never mind that dad didn’t particularly like him.

I think dad’s mindset was that of what is now called the “greatest generation.” The generation that lived through the great depression and World War 2 and knew that sometimes a country had to go war even while it most certainly preferred peace. To dad and most of his generation it was simply a matter of right versus wrong, wrong to let Americans die at the hands of terrorists and do nothing.

Mom passed away in 2004 and dad in 2006 so neither witnessed the election of President Obama. I doubt they would have voted for him because they were pro-life Catholics and while they leaned Democrat they could not longer tolerate the massacre of a different type of innocent-the unborn.

Had my father lived through 9/11/12 I wonder what his reaction would have been to Benghazi and the murder of four Americans by a different set of Islamic terrorists.

English: President George W. Bush and Presiden...

English: President George W. Bush and President-elect Barack Obama meet in the Oval Office of the White House Monday, November 10, 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Big Difference!

The cover-up, the false narrative of what happened and why, the Secretary of State saying, “what difference does it make” and the fact the administration let our people die would have enraged dad.

But, we are a different country now. The greatest generation is quickly passing away and along with it a collective ability to judge some things simply as right and wrong and act accordingly. I suspect that dad should he still be alive would more concerned with his grandson and his growing family and what kind of country they are inheriting.

My dad, 1946 on duty as MP in occupied Germany.

My dad, 1946 on duty as MP in occupied Germany.

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