Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What Can We Do against Terrorism?

Islamic terrorists have struck again, this time in Belgium, killing many people and injuring many more. Is this how we are to live from now on? What can we do to put a stop to this madness?

Obstacles to Success

There are significant obstacles to protecting our citizens and successfully defeating and neutralizing terrorism.

First, the attacker has one enormous advantage: he knows where and when he will strike. The victim doesn’t know when or where, so is at a severe disadvantage.

Second, there aren’t enough police and security forces to be everywhere. Therefore, reliable intelligence is needed to overcome the attacker’s advantage mentioned above.

Third, privacy concerns hinder intelligence-gathering. While privacy is important, we are dealing with an insidious and ruthless enemy. Therefore, I believe intelligence-gathering abilities take precedence over privacy, with proper controls in place, of course.

Fourth, concerns about profiling hinders intelligence-gathering. Most terrorist acts are committed by Middle Eastern men, yet our resources are being wasted because we can’t focus on the more likely perpetrators – that is “profiling.” For example, I’ve been pulled out of line two or three times at airports by customs officials for a more in-depth examination. Supposedly I was picked at random. So they wasted resources interviewing an older US citizen of northern European background.

I’m not suggesting that people who fit the profile be harassed or intimidated by the authorities. We don’t want situations like African-Americans face where they get pulled over just because they are black (called DWB – driving while black). I’m saying that the authorities should focus their precious assets where they can be most effective and don’t waste time on elderly white guys in airports.

What Can We Do?

First of all, we have to understand that each country is unique in terms of its terrorism situation. France has many Muslims, some of which are French citizens. Russia has an internal insurgency within certain segments of its Muslim population. Turkey is a secular state whose population is overwhelmingly Muslim but is being influenced by radical elements. Turkey, like other Islamic countries, is the target of terrorism.

International cooperation is a necessity, even with the differences in each country’s situation. The European countries and the US should work more closely, share more intelligence, and form a military coalition to defeat ISIS. The US should not have to do all the fighting – every country must contribute.

Russia should be included in this alliance, or at least be a partner in some way. The Cold War is over – we need Russia on the team. We also need to involve and work with Middle Eastern Islamic countries such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other countries which are targets themselves. Islamic terrorists think nothing of killing their own people. It is in the best interests of the moderate Islamic countries to cooperate with the West in defeating terrorism.

Israel can be a big help to the coalition in intelligence sharing, and providing sound advice on strategy. Israel has had to deal with terrorist attacks from its inception in 1948. One thing we mustn’t forget is that Israel is constantly the target for all kinds of terrorism. Rockets are being fired all the time, for example. As part of the battle against terrorism I would suggest we make Hamas and other anti-Israel organizations an offer they can’t refuse, that is, stop firing rockets or face Armageddon.

Other things the coalition needs to do is arm the Kurds, contain Iran, and destroy training camps and other ISIS facilities when they are discovered. Sadly, there is the risk of collateral civilian damage, and we should do all we can to minimize it. Nevertheless this is war and we have to do what we have to do.

The coalition must improve intelligence gathering capabilities in the Islamic communities within their countries – these can be major sources of information. For example, the Islamic communities can help keep track of those who have been to places where ISIS and others train terrorists.

The authorities must treat the Islamic communities within their borders with respect. Doing so will help gain their confidence and it’s the right thing to do. ISIS and other terrorist organizations are killing innocent civilians, so one would think the Islamic communities in western nations would understand that it is in their best interest to defeat and neutralize terrorist organizations.

The coalition must do all it can to stop the flow of money and weapons to the terrorist organizations. We choke off their money and weapons, destroy their facilities, and defeat them on the ground with a powerful coalition, and we have gone a long way towards significantly reducing their capability to carry out terrorist activities. Bu there needs to be a concerted and unified effort by a coalition.

Finally there must be no appeasement, because it doesn’t work. These people are fanatics, and they can not be appeased. For them, there must be nothing less than total victory. Our way of life, our values, our culture and our freedom is at stake. Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms, which Americans take for granted, would disappear under an Islamic caliphate. These terrorists know only the language of violence, so we have to meet them with violence, distasteful as it may be.

Lastly this country should turn back to God and pray for protection. We’ve lost our way spiritually. Let us restore the faith that brought us through the Civil War, the Great Depression, and World War II. Without God who know what will happen to us. We have freedom of worship, so let’s use it.

Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms:
-Freedom of speech
-Freedom of worship
-Freedom from want
-Freedom from fear

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Failure of Government

What is making Donald Trump so popular? Why are so many people voting for this obnoxious character in the primaries? Does he have a chance of being President? I would like to explore these questions with you today.

Why So Popular?

In the Paul Newman movie “Cool Hand Luke” the head prison guard said this throughout the movie: “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” What we have in the United States today is a failure to govern. We have a Congress and President that aren’t working on behalf of the people, but on behalf of their party, their donors (special interests), and themselves. Moreover, Obama has shown himself to be a weak leader. Meanwhile the country is facing serious problems, including a multi-trillion dollar debt, increased threats from Islamic terrorist organizations (ISIS), jobs being shipped overseas, and a host of other challenges too numerous to mention.

Why are people voting for Trump?

The people are crying out for Congress and the President to get back to work and stop playing politics. They must learn to compromise, because that’s the only way anything will get done. The people aren’t stupid – they see the mess we’re in and cry out for action. The votes for Trump are a clear message to The Establishment: get to work and begin to deal with the multiple problems and challenges we’re facing as a nation and a world.

Why Trump?

Trump appeals to people because he tells it like it is, and then some. He’s saying he’ll get things done, that he’ll tackle the problems facing us. Talk is cheap – how’s he going to be effective if he still has a do-nothing Congress?

There’s no question that Trump gets thing done – in the world of business. He has employees who jump when he tells them to do something. He can seriously influence the people he deals with, such as vendors and suppliers. He’s got clout and can get things done. He’s often dealing with motivated people who also want to get things done: a signed contract, a finalized union agreement, etc.

But as President he’ll be working in a totally different milieu. He’ll have to deal with a Congress which has been pretty much useless for the past 30 years or so. Congress seems to have little motivation or incentive to accomplish anything. How will he handle them?

Can He Win over Hillary?

Hillary has a lot of baggage: she’s part of The Establishment, she’s tied closely with Obama, and she’s viewed by some voters as untrustworthy. Trump could beat her, but it’s hard to tell. If he became president, I have some fears about the possibility of significant failures: he might alienate foreign leaders; he might not be able to work with Congress effectively; he might become somewhat of a dictator, refusing to work with Congress and compromise. How would he deal with Putin or North Korea, for example? Can he think strategically?


While Trump is addressing the right issues, he’s been short on policy. How specifically would he solve these problems? Is he all talk but little action? It’s hard to tell. But the people might just vote for him with the attitude that things couldn’t get much worse, and – who knows – he might actually turn out to be a good president (like Ronald Reagan). So I believe he could very well be elected, and may actually do a good job. I would suggest that if you vote for Trump, vote for a Republican senator and a Republican representative. If he has a clear Republican majority in both houses, he might just be able to work with a more cooperative Congress and get something accomplished. If he doesn’t have those majorities then I think you can forget about anything being accomplished and we’ll just have more of the same gridlock, just with more bluster.

Pray for this country, pray for the election, pray that this country will once again look to God and not politicians for their salvation. Pray the following verse when you pray:

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” NRSV

The Immigration Debate

One of the main issues in the current presidential election is “immigration.” We need to understand this issue because there have been some misleading statements made on the subject. I’ve written on immigration before but it deserves another post since it is so prominent in this election.

Defining “Immigration”

As with most issues, there is a significant difference between conservatives and liberals. Liberals define the issue in terms of all immigration, not making the important distinction between legal and illegal entry into the country. In their rhetoric they imply that conservatives want to stop all immigration into the US. Conservatives say they have no problem with legal immigration (those who go through the process) but believe illegal (undocumented) immigration must be stopped. They are not anti-immigrant, just against people sneaking across our borders.

A Place of Refuge

Most immigrants, both legal and undocumented, come to the US for a better life. Some come to the US so their children will have a better life, even if theirs isn’t so good. Others come to the US to escape violence, persecution, and crime. We’ve seen that happening in Europe, where thousands of refugees are streaming into Europe from war-torn Syria.

Certainly you feel sorry for those escaping tyranny, yet you have to ask, “How many more people can this country accommodate?” We can’t take in everybody who is at risk, much as we’d like to help them. We already have underemployment. With jobs being sent overseas, where are these immigrants going to work?

Security Concerns

Having such porous borders is a security issue as well. With terrorists wanting to do us harm, shouldn’t we cut off any paths through which the bad guys can enter the country? We think primarily of Mexicans and Central Americans entering the country illegally, but other nationalities enter as well. Another aspect of the security concern is the cross-border drug trade. Drug cartels are flooding the US with drugs. Unfortunately there’s a big demand for these drugs, but if they weren’t so readily available, demand might diminish considerably.

Medical, Schooling, Other Services

Waves of illegal immigrants can put a strain on social services, such as health care and schooling. Since some of these illegals are paid “under the table” they pay no taxes while still using social services. As a civilized society we can’t deny these services to anybody living within our borders, but we can reduce the number of people entering the country.

Path to Citizenship

Since there are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living within the US, we should do something for them so they are no longer living as fugitives. For the most part they are hard- working, responsible people who often do jobs nobody else wants to do: farm workers, day laborers, etc. We aren’t rewarding bad behavior if we provide a path to citizenship, just dealing with the reality of the situation and trying to do the humane thing.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Understanding the Crusades

The Crusades are a poorly understood historical event. They are dragged out and used by anti-Christian bigots as an example of how corrupt Christianity is. Muslims point to the Crusades as an example of Christian persecution of innocent Muslims. Let me explain a few things about the Crusades so you can get a better understanding of what they really were all about.

Shortly after Islam was established, Muslim armies grew in numbers, and broke out of Arabia to conquer vast tracts of land that generally were Christian. Islam spread in North Africa, Spain and Portugal, and the Middle East by military conquest, not by peaceful missionaries building hospitals and orphanages.

The Western Roman Empire had collapsed and former parts of it in North Africa fell like dominoes before the Islamic armies. The Byzantine Empire (the eastern portion of the Roman Empire) was weakening, and had lost much of its territory to the Islamic armies. Although conquering Muslims at first allowed Christians to practice their religion, they became more repressive as time went on. After the conquest of mostly Christian lands, they gradually restricted non-Muslim religious observances and humiliated non-Muslims. They made non-Muslims pay a poll tax and wear a special symbol on their clothes or they had to wear distinctive clothes (similar to Nazi Germany with the Jews).

Unfortunately, Christianity had been weakened by heresies, division between East and West, politics, and other problems. Because Christianity was weak, most Christians in the conquered lands eventually converted to Islam rather than deal with the repression. After the Crusades, Turks continued to spread Islam into Asia Minor (now Turkey) and The Balkans (former Yugoslavia) by military conquest. The Turks eventually made it into Eastern Europe before being defeated in a decisive battle called the Battle of Vienna. The siege itself began in July 14, 1683, and the decisive battle took place on September 12, 1683. The battle marked the turning point in the 300-year struggle between the forces of the Central European kingdoms, and the Ottoman Empire. The legacy of the Turkish conquest of the Balkans is the Muslim population still living in that part of Europe. Eventually Muslims (“The Moors”) were driven out of Spain and Portugal, leaving behind some beautiful architecture.

Aside from the founding of Islam by the Prophet, the defining moment for Islam seems to be the Crusades. Apparently in the Middle East, stories of the Crusades are still told as if they had just happened (according to TV program I saw on the History Channel). The Crusades have had a tremendous impact on Islam, even though they occurred 900 years ago. The Islamic view of the Crusades is that the barbarian Europeans invaded peaceful Islamic lands for no good reason except religious imperialism.

A Geo-Political War

We learned in school that the Crusades were launched to take back the Holy Land from the Muslims, who conquered Jerusalem in 638. That’s not the whole story. There were really four reasons Europeans conducted the Crusades, with the most important reason being Geo-Political.

In 1095, Byzantine Emperor Alexius asked Pope Urban II for help in stopping Islamic expansion. Many Christian lands had been conquered by Muslims over the centuries, and the Byzantine Empire was continuing to lose territory to the Islamic armies (especially to the Turks). The Byzantine Empire (the eastern remnant of the Roman Empire) had been reduced to a shadow of its former glory, and was still losing ground to the Turks. The Europeans believed that if Constantinople fell, the door would be open for the Islamic armies to conquer Europe. In fact, these fears were realized when Constantinople finally fell to the Turks in 1453. The Muslim armies did invade Eastern Europe and made it all the way to the gates of Vienna.

Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire were barriers to the expansionist Turks, so it was in Europe’s best interests to keep them from falling into Turkish hands. The Pope, at that time the most powerful ruler in Europe and very much involved in politics, agreed to help the Byzantine Emperor beat back the Turks. The plan was for the Crusaders to not only stop the Turks, but to retake much of the land the Byzantine Empire had lost to them.

An additional benefit is that the Crusaders would take back lands that were sacred to Christians, especially Jerusalem, where Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead. In addition to protecting Europe and taking back the Holy Land, the Pope hoped to exert more influence on Eastern Christianity, which had split from Western Christianity. So to summarize, below are the four major reasons for launching the Crusades:

1. Maintain Constantinople and what remained of the Byzantine Empire as a barrier to a Turkish invasion of Europe. This was the geo-political reason – protect Europe.

2. Take back some strategic cities and other lands that had been taken by force by the Turks. This was the strategic reason.

3. Take back Jerusalem and other places sacred to Christians. This was the religious reason.

4. Provide an opportunity for the Pope to exert influence in Eastern Orthodox Christianity. It had separated itself from western (Roman Catholic) Christianity over theological differences and the pope’s attempt to exert authority over all Christendom. This was the political reason for the Crusades.

To give an incentive for people to join, the Pope declared the Crusades to be a Holy War, and anybody who participated in it would go to heaven, guaranteed (sounds a lot like jihad). While the Crusades did seem to have valid geopolitical purposes, Muslims and others don’t see it that way. Moreover, any valid reasons for the Crusades are overshadowed by the atrocities committed by the Crusaders. There were atrocities on both sides, but the Crusaders had launched the invasion in the name of God and should not have harmed civilians.

Today many feel it was inappropriate for a major leader of a religion that preaches “peace on earth and goodwill towards men” and “turn the other cheek” to launch an invasion of sovereign lands. We have to remember, however, that at that time the pope was not only a religious leader but a political leader. As such, he was involved in secular affairs. He controlled much of Italy via the Papal States.

Religious Conflict

The Crusades are viewed by Muslims as a religious conflict between Christianity and Islam. Today, Muslims still view Christianity as its enemy, which has a Crusader mentality by wanting to overrun Muslim lands if given the opportunity. The most severe persecution against Christians, even indigenous Christians, takes place in Islamic lands. Free practice of any non-Muslim religion is forbidden in many Islamic countries, and there are ongoing atrocities against Christians in such countries as Indonesia and Sudan.

While Westerners might view any struggles with the Islamic world in terms of clash of cultures, Muslims don’t make any such distinction. State, culture, and religion and all mixed together to them: there is no separation. So to the Muslims, this is a war of religions, even if the West doesn’t see it that way. Europe is in the post-Christian era, but the Muslims still see Europe as fundamentally Christian (in heritage, if not practice).

As we continue to export our culture, which many Muslims find offensive, the Muslims see that as an invasion no less frightening than the physical invasion by the Crusaders. They see our culture as a corrupting influence on young Muslims.

Now that we have troops in the Middle East, many Muslims see that as an invasion of their sovereign territory by armed force not unlike the Crusades. They believe that once the camel gets his nose into the tent, the whole animal is sure to follow. They also view corrupt regimes in Islamic countries as an affront (especially those who are friendly to the West – traitors to Islam). The extremists are fighting to overthrow those governments and establish Islamic caliphates in their place.

Finally, most Muslims (at least in the Middle East) view the establishment of Israel as an outrage, but that is relatively minor compared to the other factors I just mentioned. The West could do away with Israel tomorrow, and nothing would change, so certain experts have claimed. The terrorists are fanatics not following the more peaceful commands of their religion. The Qur’an calls for moderation in war, following certain rules of engagement and to not harm civilians. The terrorists ignore those commands, and focus on the more violent Qur’anic verses. We must never abandon Israel, and must never appease the terrorists.

Even if it means violating some of the moral commands in the Qur’an, they believe they are beating back the modern-day Crusaders and protecting Islam from the corrupting influence of “infidel” religions and cultures. To them, the ends justify the means if it will result in the defeat of the evil Western societies, the fall of corrupt regimes in Muslim countries, and the establishment of Islamic caliphates throughout the world.


Often the terrorists are mislabeled as “fundamentalists.” From what I’ve read, the terrorists are not fundamentalists in the sense of being devout followers of Islam, following a more conservative theology. I believe, rather, that the terrorists are cultural and religious imperialists, not because of any theological reasons, but because they feel their way is superior (religion, culture, law) to Christianity and Judaism, and to forms of Islam different from theirs. The terrorists who hijacked the airplanes in 9/11 are said to have broken many of the rules of Islam during their stay in the US. That doesn’t sound like fundamentalism to me.


It is important to know your enemy. Sad to say, the radical Muslims view us (the West) as the enemy, and will settle for nothing less than Islamic control over Western nations. Typically Westerners are naïve when it comes to enemies they don’t know or understand. “If we just dialog with them…” or “if we just give them what they want…” (like offering up Israel to placate them) Chamberlain took an appeasement approach with Hitler, and it led to the conquest of most of Europe by the Nazis. Appeasement doesn’t work, especially when you are dealing with fanatics whose sole reason for being is terrorism, conquest, violence, and power. Simplistic and naïve solutions won’t work because you are dealing with fanatics:
-whose lives are devoted to destruction of the western way of life,
-who are coming from a position that God is on their side,
-who keep looking back to history to justify their aggression, and
-who are convinced their way is far superior.

That is a dangerous combination. Hopefully this overview helped you gain some kind of understanding of the Crusades and why they were fought. I hope this brief overview gives you some insight as to where Muslims are coming from. If they are viewing this as a religious struggle, then doesn’t it make sense for us in the West to repent and turn to God for help? 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us:

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” NRSV

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Understanding Islam

Since we in the West are one of the targets for terrorist acts perpetrated by Muslims, we should understand these adversaries. Moreover, there are a lot of statements made about Islam that are questionable. I’m not an expert in Islam but I do know some things about it. Let me share with you some thoughts that might help you separate fact from fiction.

Nature of Islam

We should understand the nature of Islam in that it is both a religion and a culture. In predominantly Muslim countries the religion and the culture are so intertwined that they are inseparable. Of course the culture is heavily influenced by the religion. The terrorists aren’t particularly devout or religious in that they break a number of commands in the Qur’an by their terrorist activities. The goal of the terrorists is to establish an Islamic caliphate that would have an Islamic culture and be governed by harsh Sharia law, with the Islamic religion at its core.

What do we make of those who say we aren’t at war with Islam? My response to that statement is that we may not be at war with the religion, but we are certainly at war with those who are dedicated to imposing their culture and religion on the rest of us, replacing western culture and religions with their own repressive and often cruel brand of Islam.

Support and Approval

How many Muslims really support or approve of Islamic terrorist activities? I think we can answer that question by looking at the different segments of Islamic society:

(1) The Terrorists. These are the hard-core radicals who plan and carry out violent acts of terrorism. They do these acts against non-Muslims (mostly Christians and countries with a Christian heritage) and even against their fellow Muslims who are of a different sect (Shia vs. Sunni) or who practice their religion differently from the terrorists.

Terrorists are relatively small in number but are fanatical and willing to die for their cause.

(2) Those Who Approve. There are those Muslims who do not carry out acts of terrorism but approve of those who do, believing the terrorists are doing the will of Allah. Some of these sympathizers, mostly young men, become radicalized after listening to terrorist propaganda and may idolize ISIS or some other group of radicals. Many of these come from Europe and the U.S. where they have enjoyed the freedoms they are now trying to take away from the rest of us. For the life of me I can’t understand why these people, who have experienced such freedom, want to install repressive regimes.

(3) The Silent Majority. The vast majority of Muslims do not support terrorist activities, I suspect. Most of the radicals come out of the Middle East. Meanwhile, large numbers of Muslims live peaceably (for the most part) in India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Turkey, and parts of Africa. The Silent Majority doesn’t speak up either because of fear, apathy, or they’re neutral on the subject of Islamic terrorism.

As long as the Muslim Silent Majority remains silent and Muslim countries tolerate terrorist acts, the terrorists will continue to kill Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Moderate Muslim countries must take action to put an end to terrorism or they will eventually fall. They can’t rely on the US or NATO to do their job.

What Does The Qur’an Say?

The Qur’an, their holy scriptures, says that Christians and Jews should be treated with respect. Why aren’t we seeing this respect? Unfortunately the Qur’an is somewhat double-minded in its treatment of Jews and Christians. On one hand, it portrays Jews and Christians as “People of the Book” who are to be respected, and on the other hand they are evil infidels to be conquered and even done away with. The Quran distinguishes between People of the Book and “pagans.” It considers People of the Book to be people of God, as opposed to the pagans, who worship idols.

“Behold! Those who have faith, and those who are Jews, and Christians and Sabians – those who trust in God and the Last Day, and do what is righteous, they shall have their reward; no fear shall come upon them, neither shall they grieve.” (Sura 2:62; 5:69)

In another part of the Qur’an, Judaism and Christianity are shown as corrupted. Mohammad said:

“Had the followers of the scriptures accepted Islam, it would surely have been better for them… Ignominy shall attend them wherever they are found, unless they make a covenant with Allah or with man. They have incurred the wrath of Allah and have been utterly humbled: because they disbelieved his revelations and slew his prophets unjustly; and because they were rebels and transgressors. Yet they are not all alike. There are among the followers of the scriptures some upright men who all night long recite the revelations of Allah and worship him…” (Sura 3:106 ff)

Despite what the Quran says about Jews and Christians in one part of the book, it condemns them as “unbelievers” in another part:

For the Unbelievers are unto you open enemies. (Sura 4:101)

Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends and protectors: they are but friends and protectors to each other. Whoever of you seeks their friendship shall become one of their number. (Sura 5:51)

Fight those who believe not in God nor the last day, nor hold that forbidden by God and his apostle, nor acknowledge the religion of truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the (poll tax) with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (Sura 5:29)

Terrorists and their supporters use passages which command them to fight “unbelievers” to justify their violent actions, even though they go against more peaceful commands in the Qur’an.

Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you… and slay them wherever you catch them... and fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah. (Sura 2:190-193)

And if ye are slain or die in the way of Allah, forgiveness and mercy from Allah are far better than all they could amass. (Sura 3:157)

Fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war). (Sura 9:5)

Hopefully this post will give you some insight into the world of Islam.