Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Victor Davis Hanson: Five mistakes Democrats made in the Middle East

This National Review article is by military historian Victor Davis Hanson.

Here are the 5 mistakes:

  1. Iran
  2. Iraq
  3. Libya
  4. Egypt
  5. Israel

All of the areas are important, but I want to focus on the one that I think is going to hurt us the most: Iran.

Dr. Hanson writes:

Sanctions were starting to squeeze Iran, which had been unable to absorb Shiite-dominated Iraq. Unrest in Iran was rising, spearheaded by pro-Western young reformers. Less than a month after Barack Obama’s inauguration, over a million Iranians hit the streets to protest their country’s rigged elections. The Europeans were beginning to understand that a nuclear Iran posed a greater threat of nuclear blackmail to the EU than to the U.S.

Poland and the Czech Republic had agreed to partner with the U.S. in creating an anti-ballistic missile system to deter Iran’s growing missile program. The U.S. and its friends occasionally sent armadas slowly through the Strait of Hormuz to remind Iran that we were determined that international waters would always remain international.

So what happened?

The new Obama administration kept silent as the pro-Western Iranian protests deflated. In herky-jerky style, Obama at first upped the sanctions as Tehran ignored his serial empty deadlines on curbing enrichment. Then, unilaterally and without much warning, Obama relaxed sanctions. He reopened negotiations, even as Iran’s centrifuges multiplied. Currently, Iran is on the cusp of nuclear acquisition, and it quietly advises its supporters that the U.S. is both weak and naïve — and will soon be gone from the region.

Tehran is creating a sort of Co-Prosperity Sphere at the expense of Sunni and Western interests, as it sabotages Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon. There is no longer talk of regional U.S.-led missile defense.

In brilliantly diabolical fashion, Iran has maneuvered a deer-in-the-headlights U.S. into an embarrassing de facto alliance with it against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The partnership was designed by Tehran to save the pro-Iranian Assad government, to bolster Hezbollah, to relieve diplomatic pressures on its own nuclear-enrichment program, and to increase tensions between the U.S. and the Sunni moderate states like Jordan and the Gulf monarchies.

There has never been a greater likelihood than there is now, under Obama, that Iran will get the bomb, that it will create a radical theocratic Shiite alliance from Yemen to Iraq to Syria to Lebanon, and that it will direct Hamas and Hezbollah to start another war against Israel — this time backed by an Iranian nuclear deterrent.

Right now, people are making a lot of noise about Islamic State, and that is a significant threat in the near term. But that will not be nearly as bad as the development of nuclear weapons by Iran. They have already stated that they want to wipe Israel off the map. With our porous southern border, we should expect to be targeted as well. Iran has had their Al Quds special forces deployed to Venezuela for years now.

The Washington Times reported this in 2010:

Iran is increasing its paramilitary Qods force operatives in Venezuela while covertly continuing supplies of weapons and explosives to Taliban and other insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the Pentagon’s first report to Congress on Tehran’s military.

The report on Iranian military power provides new details on the group known formally as the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), the Islamist shock troops deployed around the world to advance Iranian interests. The unit is aligned with terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, North Africa and Latin America, and the report warns that U.S. forces are likely to battle the Iranian paramilitaries in the future.

The Qods force “maintains operational capabilities around the world,” the report says, adding that “it is well established in the Middle East and North Africa and recent years have witnessed an increased presence in Latin America, particularly Venezuela.”

[…]The report gives no details on the activities of the Iranians in Venezuela and Latin America. Iranian-backed terrorists have conducted few attacks in the region. However, U.S. intelligence officials say Qods operatives are developing networks of terrorists in the region who could be called to attack the United States in the event of a conflict over Iran’s nuclear program.

[…]The report links Qods force operatives and the larger IRGC to some of the deadliest terrorist attacks of the past 30 years: the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in 1983, the bombing of a Jewish center in Argentina in 1994, the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia and many insurgent attacks in Iraq since 2003.

That was 2010, but fast forward to 2011, and we have Iran attempting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador on U.S. soil.

The radically leftist Huffington Post reported this in 2011:

When Attorney General Holder announced today that federal authorities had thwarted a “made for Hollywood” murder-for-hire plot by alleged Iranian-linked operatives tied to Mexico drug cartels to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S, it came as no surprise to counter-terrorism experts familiar with Iran’s terrorist activities in Latin America. Iran’s terror plotting south of the border has been a well-known fact — orchestrated by the Al Quds paramilitary wing of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a terrorist organization very well versed in the the art of the tango and tortillas for some time.

For over two decades, Al Quds operatives and their proxies from terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East have been deployed throughout Iran’s embassies in Latin America — most recently in Venezuela and Mexico.

Starting in the late 1980s and early 1990s, using Hezbollah as initial cover, Al Quds masterminds began populating the “failed state” region in Latin American known as the Tri-Border Area (TBA) of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay as a base from which to train Islamic extremists. The 1992 and 1994 attacks against Jewish and Israeli interests in Buenos Aires originated in the TBA. A veritable Star Wars bar scene of terrorists have reportedly been trained by Al Quds in the TBA and have taken shelter at one time or another there, including Iran proxy terrorists belonging to Hezbollah, Hamas, and al-Gama al Islamiya — all under the watchful patronage of Iran’s Al Quds operatives.

The TBA is ideal for laundering terrorist identities because once an operative enters Paraguay he/she can just drive into Brazil and return without the need for showing a passport.

Obama has been as serious about this threat from Iran as he has been about prosecuting the IRS for targeting Tea Party organizations, as he has been about defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court, as he has been about lowering the costs of health care, and so on. He wants to be on the golf course or giving speeches where he jabs his Republican opponents.

With respect to this Iran problem, Obama’s policy has been to effectively tell them go ahead and build the nuclear weapons. We are not going to be able to just make 8 years of clowning around disappear. This is going to hurt. People are going to die.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , ,

James White debates Adnan Rashid on trustworthiness of the Bible vs Quran

It’s on Justin Brierley’s Unbelievable radio show, from the UK!

The show starts with introductions by each speaker, then the debate begins.

James White’s opening address:

The Bible:

  • most Christians have a naive view of how holy books come to us from antiquity
  • the Bible and Koran were written and transmitted in two different ways
  • the Koran was written down and spread in a controlled way
  • the Bible was written in an uncontrolled way
  • Christianity was illegal until 313, so early Christians were persecuted
  • the Bible had to be copied and spread illegally by individuals
  • people risked their lives to copy pieces of the text
  • the good part of this is that there are tons of manuscripts
  • the manuscripts are earlier than the Church councils that define the Canon
  • a persecuted minority would not have been able to conspire to change the text
  • there are tons of minor variants from misspellings and typos in the manuscripts

The Koran:

  • the Hadith (writings that post-date the Koran) record how the Koran was written
  • the authorities worried that many fragments and manuscripts would cause disputes
  • the authorities got together and created an approved version to distribute
  • all the other Koranic materials (fragments and manuscripts) were burnt
  • this happened soon after the death of Mohammed
  • there are fewer variants with this centralized, top-down approach

Adnan Rashid’s opening speech:

The Bible:

  • the Bible we have today is not infallible, was not transmitted infallibly
  • none of the 4 gospels are written by eyewitnesses
  • there are around 400,000 variants in the manuscripts (cites Ehrman)
  • the huge number of variants touches on virtually every line of text
  • the manuscripts have differences – which manuscript is the inspired one?
  • editors are needed to adjudicate between all of the variants (cites Metzger)
  • editors have to rely on probabilities in order to choose the text itself

The Koran:

  • the text of the Koran was selected by Mohammed’s immediate successor
  • the purpose of this selection was to unify the Arab tribes on one text
  • rejected fragments and manuscripts were burned
  • no coercion was used to get the bad manuscripts burned

James White’s rebuttal:

  • 99% of the variants are technicalities of the Greek language
  • only 1500-2000 variants change the meaning of the text
  • there are many variants is because there are many manuscripts
  • more manuscripts makes it harder for any authority to change the text
  • the editors don’t hide the variants – that why everyone knows about them
  • the photographs of the fragments and manuscripts are available, not burnt

Adnan Rashid’s rebuttal:

  • we are in the process of photographing our fragments and manuscripts
  • what the photographs show is that the Koran has no shocking variants
  • Metzger is clear that editors are deciding the text based on probabilities

Crosstalk about Metzger:

  • James: editors decide the main reading and the rest goes in footnotes
  • James: Metzger doesn’t think that this makes the Bible unreliable
  • Adnan: prove it

Crosstalk about the Koran:

  • James: The Koran has variants too and manuscript issues
  • James: Mohammed appointed Ibn Masoud as the authority on the Koran
  • Adnan: actually Mohammed pointed out four authorities, not just one
  • Adnan: we don’t have manuscript problems or variant problems as bad as yours

Crosstalk about the crucifixion of Jesus:

  • James: the crucifixion is denied in Surah 4:157
  • James: the Koran is written 600 years after the cruficixion
  • James: the Koran is written hundreds of miles from the crucifixion site
  • James: non-Christians like Ehrman and Crossan do not deny the crucifixion
  • James: for 600 years after, history is unanimous that the crucifixion happened
  • Adnan: the gospel of Thomas doesn’t mention the crucifixion
  • Adnan:  Thomas predates Mark and is contemporaneous with Q
  • James: Thomas contains NO HISTORY – just sayings of Jesus
  • James: Thomas is not written by eyewitnesses to the events
  • James: Thomas is written in Coptic, originated in Syria, in the 2nd century
  • James: Thomas reflects gnostic theology, not Christian theology
  • Adnan: if the Koran says that the crucifixion didn’t happen, then it didn’t
  • James: Adnan believes one person 600 years later instead of the eyewitnesses
  • Adnan: Paul invented the crucifixion out of nothing
  • Adnan: The gospels are just theology, not history, written to confirm Paul
  • Adnan: some scholars say Thomas isn’t gnostic
  • Adnan: some scholars say Thomas is early
  • Adnan: Metzger says Thomas was rejected because it was non-Christian
  • James: I agree that it was rejected for theology because it’s gnostic

Filed under: Podcasts, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Muslims drag 25-year-old Coptic Christian woman from her car and murder her

From CNS News.

Excerpt:

Eyewitnesses have given a harrowing account of the murder in Cairo of a young Coptic Christian woman, hauled out of her car and beaten and stabbed to death by a Muslim mob, apparently targeted because of a cross hanging from her rear-view mirror.

The incident occurred in the Cairo suburb of Ain Shams after mosque prayer services on Friday, when police clashed with Muslim Brotherhood supporters angered by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s decision to run for president.

An eyewitness appearing on “90 minutes,” a program on the al-Mehwar satellite network, said 25-year-old Mary Sameh George was attacked in her car near a church, where she planned to deliver medicine to an ill and elderly woman.

Protestors climbed onto her car, collapsing the roof, then hauled her from the vehicle, beating and mauling her – to the extent, he said, that portions of her scalp were torn off. She was stabbed multiple times, her throat was slit and when she was dead, the mob torched her car.

One Coptic outlet said that according to the health ministry, the young woman had been stabbed at least a dozen times.

The death of Mary Sameh George received little coverage in Egyptian newspapers.

Keep in mind that the Muslim Brotherhood was supported by the Obama administration.

Here’s a story from David Limbaugh about those two women who were imprisoned in Iran in 2009 for their Christian faith. (H/T Frank Turek)

Excerpt:

On Sunday, two remarkable Christian women, Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh, spoke at our church, describing their harrowing tale of imprisonment by the Iranian regime because of their Christian faith.

Both were raised in Muslim homes in Iran but never embraced Islam. As young adults, they became Christians and met each other while studying theology in Turkey in 2005. When they returned to Iran, they began evangelizing together for several years, covertly distributing Bibles to some 20,000 people and starting two secret house churches. In March 2009, they were arrested in Tehran for promoting Christianity, which is punishable by death.

The regime officially charged them with apostasy, anti-government activity and blasphemy, and they were sentenced to execution by hanging. Before being cleared of all charges and released in 2009 as a result of worldwide prayer and international pressure, they endured 259 days in Evin prison. Thereafter, they moved to the United States and wrote a book together describing their horrendous experiences, “Captive in Iran.”

In Evin, which is notorious “for torturing, raping and executing innocent people,” they experienced brutal and humiliating treatment, poisoning and illness. They each endured solitary confinement and were interrogated once a week for eight or nine hours at a time. All the while, whether together or separated, they prayed for each other.

The first week, they were horrified and prayed to be released. But soon, they came to see their presence in prison as an opportunity to witness to other prisoners, many of whom were prostitutes and addicts and “so hopeless and sad.” Maryam and Marziyeh prayed for them and saw God work in their lives as they cried and confessed their sins. It became “like a church for us,” said Marziyeh.

[…]At any time, they could have secured their own release by simply renouncing their Christian faith, but they each emphatically refused, saying, “We will never renounce our faith.” Marziyeh told one Muslim prisoner who said they were “silly” for not renouncing their faith: “Our insistence on our faith is not out of stubbornness. … I have lived with God for many years. … He is my all. We are inseparable. My life has no value without him. I love God so much that denying him would be denying my own existence. How could I ever deny something that is in every cell of my body? I would rather spend the rest of my life in prison if that’s what it takes to stay close to him. I would rather be killed than kill the spirit of Christ within me.”

I blogged about them way back in July of 2009. Nice to see that there is a happy ending here, but not without costs.

Most young Christians that I speak to who come from a church background seem to have this idea that all religions are basically the same because the main goal of religions is to make people “nice”. Well. Maybe instead of having their heads stuck up their butts, they should be reading stories like this to inform themselves about the real differences between Christianity and Islam in places other than their safe Western suburbs. The content of the beliefs matter, and the contents of beliefs are different between religions. Christians would rather be killed than deny their faith, and Muslims would rather kill and imprison others who have a different faith. It’s not the same thing, is it?

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , ,

Obama administration betrays Christian pastor imprisoned in Iran

Letitia posted this article by Jay Sekulow from Fox News.

Excerpt:

In its quest for a “deal” with the hostile, jihadist Iranian regime, The Obama administration has thrown an American Christian, Saeed Abedini, under the bus – the latest American victim in the administration’s continual, naïve (at best) quest to bargain with Islamic radicals.

[…]Pastor Saeed Abedini, an Idaho resident, last year received permission to enter Iran to help build an orphanage.

Shortly after his arrival, Iran’s radical Revolutionary Guard arrested him, threw him in one of Iran’s worst prisons, and tried and convicted him on trumped-up “national security” charges – charges that had nothing to do with national security and everything to do with his Christian faith.

Even after President Obama raised Pastor Saeed’s case directly to the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Iran responded not by releasing Saeed but by transferring him to an even worse prison — a prison full of murderers and rapists, where his life is in danger at every moment.

The Iranian regime rebuked the president of the United States, and we’re now supposed to believe it’s acting in good faith?

President Obama is now trying to spin our stunning act of weakness as a breakthrough for peace.  In fact, we were so weak that (according to the administration) that the State Department did not even raise Pastor Saeed’s during the nuclear negotiations.

[…]Iran’s record of wrongdoing is long and sordid.

Beginning with the 1979-1981 hostage crisis, moving through repeated terrorist attacks – from the deadly Marine Barracks bombing in 1983, to the Kobar Towers bombing in 1996, to the direct intervention of Iran’s Quds force against American forces in Iraq – and including ongoing deadly support for terrorists fighting American forces in Afghanistan, Iran has proven by its deeds and words that it is America’s enemy.

If Iran had released Pastor Saeed we would have at least one concrete action to give Americans confidence that this deal was anything other than a disaster.  Instead, we are left with nothing but “commitments” from a regime that has proven itself committed only to killing and imprisoning Americans.

To make matters even worse, we have squandered a position of strength.

Iran was suffering under sanctions that were finally beginning to truly bite — wrecking its economy and causing deep discontent within Iraq. This was our opportunity to drive a hard bargain, to reach a deal that didn’t depend solely on Iranian “commitments.”

But we squandered that opportunity and left an American behind.

The Obama administration has betrayed Pastor Saeed.

One country that’s done a good job on promoting human rights and religious liberty is Canada, because they have a Conservative government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Here’s what Canada said about the deal: (H/T Dennis Prager)

The Canadian government was “deeply skeptical” on Sunday of Iran’s agreement to temporarily freeze its nuclear program, saying Ottawa’s sanctions against the regime would remain firmly in place until the new deal’s words turned into actions.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird appeared to take a stronger stance on the newly brokered deal than the United States and other allies, saying Canada would be watching Iran closely over the coming weeks and months.

“We have made-in-Canada foreign policy,” he told reporters on Sunday.

“We think past actions best predict future actions. And Iran has defied the United Nations Security Council, it has defied the International Atomic Energy Agency. Simply put Iran has not earned the right to have the benefit of the doubt.”

It’s striking to me that the American government is now to the left of Canada on foreign policy – making deals with dictators that actually set back the cause of freedom and universal human rights. I would not be surprised to see a full-scale war in the Middle East because of this deal. I guess that the Obama administration is so anxious to appear as if they are doing something that they don’t care if Iran nukes Israel in a few months. Because that’s what’s going to happen unless Israel attacks Iran first. Iran was threatening to nuke Israel as recently as last week. It’s hard to interpret the Democrat treaty with Iran as anything other than their stamp of approval on that plan.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mainstream media silent as Muslim Brotherhood targets Christians in Egypt

Investors Business Daily reports.

Excerpt:

Christians in Egypt are again the target of Islamist Muslim Brotherhood supporters using the new violence as a cover for ongoing persecution. If Christians were burning mosques, the world would be outraged.

Amid the raging violence in Egypt, a less-publicized war is being waged against Egypt’s long-persecuted Coptic Christians, this time using the excuse that they were somehow involved in the military’s ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi from power.

Coptic Christians comprise up to 10% of Egypt’s 84 million people.

Ishaq Ibrahim from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights group has documented as many as 39 incidents of violence against churches, monasteries, Coptic schools and shops in different parts of the country within the past few days. They include Thursday’s torching of the Prince Tadros Church in the province of Fayoum, where three similar attacks occurred on other churches the day before.

Islamists firebombed the Mar Gergiss Church in Sohag, a city with a large community of Coptic Christians, burning it to the ground. Islamists previously raised an al-Qaida flag over the church.

Another two places of worship, the Churches of Abraham and the Virgin Mary, were attacked in El-Menia province, leaving them partially damaged by fire. St. Theresa Church in Assiut in Upper Egypt was also burned.

[…]In a terrorist attack one minute after midnight on Jan. 1, 2011, 21 Christians attending a New Year’s mass were killed, and 97 people, mostly Christians, were injured as worshipers were leaving a New Year’s mass at the Saints Church in Alexandria.

On April 7, two Copts were killed and 84 injured by a mob using guns, wielding machetes, throwing stones and possibly hurling Molotov cocktails at mourners exiting St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo. The worshippers were mourning the deaths of four Copts in an April 4 attack in Khossus in which a nursery and church were burned.

An investigation into the October 2011 attack on Coptic Christians in Cairo’s Maspero district, leaving 30 dead and more than 500 wounded, was shut down by the Morsi regime. In the Egypt of the Muslim Brotherhood, Christian lives mean little.

As the administration quibbles over the definition of a “coup” regarding Egypt’s military aid, we are reminded the U.S. and NATO went to war over the “ethnic cleansing” of Muslims in Bosnia. What will be our response to the ethnic cleansing of 10% of Egypt’s population?

One of the troubling things that I’ve noticed with younger evangelicals and libertarians is that they don’t understand that wars start when bad people believe that they can behave aggressively and no one will stop them. Being nice doesn’t work on bad people, it just makes them act that more more aggressively.

Here’s an article from Townhall by famous economist Thomas Sowell, in which he explains how tyrants respond to weak foreign policy.

Excerpt:

On the international scene, trying to assuage aggressors’ feelings and look at the world from their point of view has had an even more catastrophic track record. A typical sample of this kind of thinking can be found in a speech to the British Parliament by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in 1938: “It has always seemed to me that in dealing with foreign countries we do not give ourselves a chance of success unless we try to understand their mentality, which is not always the same as our own, and it really is astonishing to contemplate how the identically same facts are regarded from two different angles.”

Like our former ambassador from the Carter era, Chamberlain sought to “remove the causes of strife or war.” He wanted “a general settlement of the grievances of the world without war.” In other words, the British prime minister approached Hitler with the attitude of someone negotiating a labor contract, where each side gives a little and everything gets worked out in the end. What Chamberlain did not understand was that all his concessions simply led to new demands from Hitler — and contempt for him by Hitler.

What Winston Churchill understood at the time, and Chamberlain did not, was that Hitler was driven by what Churchill called “currents of hatred so intense as to sear the souls of those who swim upon them.” That was also what drove the men who drove the planes into the World Trade Center.

Pacifists of the 20th century had a lot of blood on their hands for weakening the Western democracies in the face of rising belligerence and military might in aggressor nations like Nazi Germany and imperial Japan. In Britain during the 1930s, Labor Party members of Parliament voted repeatedly against military spending, while Hitler built up the most powerful military machine in Europe. Students at leading British universities signed pledges to refuse to fight in the event of war.

All of this encouraged the Nazis and the Japanese toward war against countries that they knew had greater military potential than their own. Military potential only counts when there is the will to develop it and use it, and the fortitude to continue with a bloody war when it comes. This is what they did not believe the West had. And it was Western pacifists who led them to that belief.

Then as now, pacifism was a “statement” about one’s ideals that paid little attention to actual consequences. At a Labor Party rally where Britain was being urged to disarm “as an example to others,” economist Roy Harrod asked one of the pacifists: “You think our example will cause Hitler and Mussolini to disarm?”

The reply was: “Oh, Roy, have you lost all your idealism?” In other words, the issue was about making a “statement” — that is, posturing on the edge of a volcano, with World War II threatening to erupt at any time. When disarmament advocate George Bernard Shaw was asked what Britons should do if the Nazis crossed the channel into Britain, the playwright replied, “Welcome them as tourists.”

Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher called this view “peace through strength”. There is only one reason why evil people do not attack – because they think that good people have the firepower tomake them pay dearly for their aggression, and – and this is very important – the will to use it.

The important thing to realize is that without a powerful military, there is nothing that we can do when the Muslim Brotherhood goes after Coptic Christians in Egypt. Happy talk isn’t going to solve anything. To deter aggression, you need to have a credible threat of military force deployed in the region. Even if you don’t go to war, the other guy has to believe that you can and that you will. That’s what stops bad people from being aggressive. What Benghzi showed the Islamists is that they could do anything they wanted, and no one is going to stop them. That’s why Christians are dying by the bushel in Egypt today.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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