Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Is Obama’s portrait of the state of the world realistic or delusional?

CNS News compares Obama’s words to reality.

Excerpt:

President Obama is “living in a dream world” if he believes the U.S. is “stopping ISIL’s advance” in Iraq and Syria, says former Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton.

In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, Obama said: “In Iraq and Syria, American leadership — including our military power — is stopping ISIL’s advance.  Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group. We’re also supporting a moderate opposition in Syria that can help us in this effort, and assisting people everywhere who stand up to the bankrupt ideology of violent extremism.”

[…]”I think the ISIS threat is growing,” Bolton continued. “They have consolidated control over the territory. They have seized, going back a year now, a year since they took Fallujah, seven months since they took Mosul. And they see weakness on the American side. They think it’s winning support among colleagues in the region.”

Bolton disagreed with Obama’s assertion that the U.S.-led coalition is stopping ISIL’s advance with air strikes.

“No,” he said. “The president is living in a dream world. The fact is, we have no effective way of containing ISIS.”

Bolton said terrorist groups in North Africa, the Middle East, and as far away as Afghanistan and Pakistan are beginning to declare loyalty to ISIS.

“I think moderate Arab regimes in the region, the king of Jordan, the oil-producing monarchies of the Iranians Peninsula, are in fear of what ISIS will do. The president’s notion that we have got opportunities is belied by the continued Iranian progress towards a deliverable nuclear weapons capability. The Middle East is descending into chaos and we are watching.”

Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) told MSNBC on Wednesday morning that Obama “is living in a make-believe world when it comes to our national security.”

Cotton, like Bolton, disagrees that the U.S.-led coalition is stopping ISIS/ISIL’s advance: “That’s simply not the case,” Cotton told “Morning Joe.” “We may have arrested their progress somewhat in Iraq, but you don’t win the war on defense — you win on offense.”

Cotton also mentioned Yemen, cited by Obama just four months ago as an example of a successful counter-terrorism strategy. But Yemen’s government is now dealing with an apparently successful coup attempt.

Powerline blog describes a few more crises Obama failed to speak about accurately. We have problems with Iran continuing their progress towards nuclear weapons. Russia has occupied Crimea and continues to attack targets in Ukraine using regular Russian troops. In Yemen, Shia rebels are attempting a coup against the president, and the U.S. Navy is heading there to evacuate the U.S. embassy if necessary.

Meanwhile, Obama assures us that the real threat we should be worried about is global warming.

CNS News again:

Not radical Muslim terrorism, not an unsecured border, not an ever-growing federal debt that now exceeds $18 trillion, not the fact that 109 million live in households on federal welfare programs. These are not the greatest threats facing us today.

“No challenge–no challenge–poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change,” President Obama declared in his State of the Union Address on Tuesday night.

That’s the top priority of the Democrat party.

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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

After Obama’s retreat of U.S. armed forces, Iraq plunges into bloody civil war

In 2008 and 2012, Americans voted for a “fundamental transformation” of our peace through strength foreign policy. And we got it. What does it look like?

ABC News reports:

Hundreds of Iraqi men, women and children crammed into vehicles have fled their homes, fearing clashes, kidnapping and rape after Islamic militants seized large swaths of northern Iraq.

The families and fleeing soldiers who arrived Thursday at a checkpoint at the northern frontier of this largely autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq were among some half-million people who have fled their homes since Monday, according to a U.N. estimate.

Workers were busily extending the Khazer checkpoint in the frontier area known as Kalak, where displaced women hungrily munched on sandwiches distributed by aid workers and soldiers rushed to process people.

The exodus began after fighters of the al-Qaida breakaway group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, seized the northern city of Mosul in a stunning assault Monday. Since then, the militants have moved southward toward the capital, Baghdad, in the biggest crisis to face Iraq in years.

“Masked men came to our house and they threatened us: ‘We will get to you.’ So we fled,” said Abed, a laborer who abandoned his home on the edge of Mosul Thursday. “They kidnapped other people. They took away some people for interrogation.”

The young man said rumors were quickly spreading that Islamic State fighters — as well as masked bandits taking advantage of the chaos — were seizing young women for rape or forced marriage.

It looks like a civil war.

More from the Wall Street Journal:

The Sunni insurgents’ lightning offensive in the past three days has sparked the biggest crisis Iraq has faced since it plunged into sectarian violence following the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

ISIS overran Tikrit, the birthplace of former dictator Saddam Hussein, on Wednesday. But early Thursday government forces fought back, said Ali Muhammad, an official in Sunni-dominated Salah Al Din province, where the city is located.

[…]The group aims to set up a state in a continuous stretch of territory from Sunni-dominated Anbar province in Iraq to Raqqa province in northeast Syria. Since capturing Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, on Tuesday it has advanced south along the Tigris River toward Baghdad.

In another indication of the increasingly sectarian contours of Iraq’s turmoil, ISIS on Thursday issued a threat against Baghdad as well as Karbala and Najaf. The latter two cities, along with Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, are considered sacred to Shiites, who make up 60% of Iraq’s population.

[…]U.S.-armed and trained Iraqi security forces put up almost no fight throughout the militants’ rout, witnesses said.

Who is to blame for this? Did it all happen by accident?

The UK Telegraph explains:

The takeover of large swathes of Iraq by Islamist militants should be seen as a damning indictment of Obama’s ill-judged decision to abandon the country to its fate so early in his presidency.

Throughout his tenure at the White House Mr Obama has made much political capital out of his claim to be an anti-war president: the man who brought America’s decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan to an end.

But in his desperation to distance himself from the Bush administration, Mr Obama made no real effort to understand the implications of authorising a wholesale American withdrawal from Iraq three years ago.

There were many Americans – including many prominent Democrats – who took the view that, after the terrible cost that the US had paid for ridding the country of Saddam Hussein and establishing Iraq’s first democratic constitution, the White House owed it to the American people to make sure Iraq continued to develop as a functioning democratic state.

But for that to happen, Washington needed to make a commitment to maintain a residual military presence in Baghdad to ensure that Nouri al-Maliki’s government did not renege on his commitment to reconcile his political differences with the country’s Kurdish and Sunni minorities.

But after Mr Obama lost patience with Mr al-Maliki, and ordered a unilateral withdrawal of American forces three years ago, Mr al-Maliki felt he was no longer under any obligation to honour his commitments. Instead, he cultivated deeper ties with neighbouring Iran, thereby further inflaming Sunni tribal leaders who felt increasingly disfranchised in post-Saddam Iraq.

The result is the current crisis, which has seen the radical Islamist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), seize control of large areas of the country, including Mosul – the country’s second largest city – and Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit.

For a more pessimistic commentary on these events, see this Investors Business Daily editorial, which tries to predict where this will all end. It’s not a good prediction, if you like freedom and peace.

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

Israel boosts navy with two guided missile destroyers from Germany

Big story from the Jerusalem Post.

Excerpt:

Germany has agreed to sell Israel two destroyers in exchange for one billion euros, AFP reported on Saturday, citing a report in German daily Bild.

According to the report, the torpedo-laden destroyers are intended to provide protection for Israel’s natural gas installations.

I suspect that the primary role of these vessels will be to intercept surface-to-surface missiles and air-to-surface missiles. Israel’s submarine force does not have this capability – they are primarily built for missile strike capability. Now why do you think that Israel is choosing to equip naval vessels with these capabilities? It’s to convey a clear message to her enemies: “even if you are able to strike our mainland and destroy our land-based missile defense system (Iron Dome) we will still have a naval-based air defense capability”.

This is a great deterrent against Israel’s enemies. It’s a second layer of defense to Israel’s Iron Dome system, which is tested and ready to shoot down incoming missiles. In addition to this missile-defense capability, these DDGs also offer surface-to-surface strike capability, but I can’t say what that would be without knowing what model they got. My suspicion is that they are older FFG Bremen class, which are being decommissioned and replaced by newer models. But they could also be FFG Brandenburg class, which are newer, but also scheduled for upgrades already. I wouldn’t call either of those “destroyers” though – they displace only about 3,600 tonnes each.

So could they be these 5,800 tonne vessels?

FFG Saschen class guided missile frigate

F124 Saschen class guided missile frigate (FFG)

Germany doesn’t have any real destroyers, although their new FFG Saschen class are as big as destroyers. If Israel somehow managed to get Saschen class FFGs, then I would really be thrilled and impressed. Those things are awesome and they excel at the air defense role. I noticed that the “file photos” being used in news releases were of FFG Saschen class vessels. But I just can’t believe that, it would be so awesome. That would explain why they are being called “destroyers” in the press stories. One can hope! If anyone knows, please tell me.

UPDATE: I did get some feedback through a friend of a friend who is an expert in missile defense, and here is his response:

Good for Israel. The article is mainly correct. I would say it is wrong on three points. One, Iron Dome will not assist in defending against TBMs or longer range missiles…Israel has other systems for that. Two, the DDGs are not meant to provide BMD if Iron Dome is destroyed. Sea based BMD can allow layered defense against ballistic missiles. Ballistic missiles require multiple interceptors to give a high probability of kill. Three, that being said, none of the Frigates mentioned possess a BMD cape. The Netherlands is working on a BMD cape for a ship they use that is similar to the Saschen class. The Dutch however, have a seafaring history and a navy that is more advanced than the Deutsch.

BMD means Ballistic Missile Defense, and TBM means Tactical Ballistic Missile.

And another SSK Dolphin submarine, too

And more good news from YNet News.

Excerpt:

Earlier this year, a significant deal between Germany and the Israeli security establishment was completed, as the Germans handed a fifth Dolphin-class submarine to Israel. The handover was marked in an official ceremony in Germany’s city of Kiel.

The vessel is considered one of the most advanced submarines in the world and is the most expensive war vessel the Defense Ministry has procured for the IDF. The diesel-powered submarines are widely regarded as an Israeli vanguard against foes like Iran. In total, Israel has purchased six Dolphin submarines from Germany.

There are two kinds of submarines that are used today: attack submarines, which are armed with torpedoes and anti-ship missiles, and ballistic missile submarines, which are armed with heavier missiles that can travel further. Although the SSK Dolphin class is an attack submarine on paper, my suspicion is that Israel will refit them to have long-range missile strike capability, including nuclear guided missiles. And in fact after doing a search, I found an article that confirmed my hopes.

Take a look at this article from NTI, a global security think tank based in Washington.

Excerpt:

As previous conflicts involving Israel began with naval blockades, Israel views its submarine force as critical to national security. Israel’s submarines are also intended to exercise sea control over the Eastern Mediterranean and secure sea lines of communication; Israel is dependent on imports of grain, crude oil, and raw materials. [4] There has been consistent speculation that Israel’s submarines could be refitted to carry missiles armed with nuclear weapons in order for the country to maintain a survivable second-strike option. Acknowledging Israel’s lack of strategic depth, officials have asserted that only submarines can provide a secure weapons platform in the future. [5]

The arming of Israel’s submarines has received a great deal of attention. While HDW has stated that Israel’s Dolphin-class submarines were equipped with weapon systems similar to those installed on other diesel-electric submarines, various sources have alleged that upon their arrival in Israel, the submarines were modified, and fitted with cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads. [6] The three initial Dolphin-class submarines were designed in accordance with Israeli demands, and include a “wet and dry” compartment for special operations, as well as four 650mm torpedo tubes, which could be used for Swimmer Delivery Vehicles (SDVs). [7] The German Defense Ministry has stated that these larger tubes were intended to fire Harpoons; upon delivery to Israel, liners were to be fitted to decrease the diameter of the tubes to accommodate the 533mm Harpoon containers. However, the Dolphin-class is equipped with six 533mm torpedo tubes as well, which are capable of launching Harpoons. [8] It seems possible, therefore, that the 650mm tubes might have been designed to accommodate indigenously built, long-range SLCMs.The German government has stated that it does not have information on whether Israel installed different equipment on the submarines after delivery, although former German officials have acknowledged that they assumed that Israel intended to equip the submarines with nuclear weapons. [9]

Some reports suggest that Israel has adapted Harpoon cruise missiles, which have a range of 130 kilometers, to carry an indigenously developed nuclear warhead and guidance system, though other experts argue that such modifications to a Harpoon missile are not feasible. [10] Others believe that Israel has developed an indigenous cruise missile with a range of 320 kilometers that could be a version of Rafael Armament Development Authority’s Popeye turbo cruise missile. [11] Still others believe that the missile may be a version of the Gabriel 4LR produced by Israel Aircraft Industries, which could be launched in 533mm torpedo tubes similar to the Harpoon. [12] Such speculation was further fueled by an unconfirmed test of a nuclear-capable, submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM) in the Indian Ocean in 2000. Some reports claimed targets 1,500 kilometers away were hit. [13] Such a range, however, implies an entirely new type of missile. [14] In June 2002, former State Department and Pentagon officials confirmed that the U.S. Navy observed Israeli missile tests in the Indian Ocean in 2000, and that the Dolphin-class vessels have been fitted with nuclear-capable cruise missiles of a new design. [15] However, the Israeli Defense Forces have consistently denied any such missile tests. [16]

[…]The new boats will be equipped with 650mm torpedo tubes—again leading to much speculation that the Israelis intend to outfit the submarines with nuclear-armed cruise missiles.

These submarines are designed to protect Israel’s supply lines in the Mediterranean Sea, and also to give them retaliation capabilities in the event of a large-scale missile strike. Iran and her allies will have a tough time detecting these submarines and destroying them – the subs have an extremely quiet propulsion system and can operate submerged for up to a week. These six submarines are a deterrent against any nation that would try to attack Israel, because they know that there is no hope for them to destroy all of their strike capability in the initial strike against Israel’s land-based assets. Israel could also depend on ground-based missile launchers,some of which might be mobile, and their airborne strike platform.

This is an application of the principal of peace through strength – the stronger a nation’s military, the less likely they are to be attacked, and the more capable they are of protecting their allies. The article above notes that the Clinton administration (Democrats) refused to sell Israel Tomahawk cruise missiles, which have a very long range. That’s too bad. If I were in charge, I would sell those to Israel in a split-second.

It really is a terrible thing for the United States to be disarming thanks to Democrat policies, because all this does is encourage our enemies to strike us, and encourage our allies to abandon our alliances and ally with stronger nations. I hope that we are able to elect a Republican soon who will restore our lost military strength.

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

Russia to supply Iran with state-of-the-art surface-to-air missile systems

From the Jerusalem Post.

Excerpt:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved the transfer of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, according to the prestigious Russian daily newspaper Kommersant.

The newspaper reported on Wednesday that the Russian government will revive the transfer three years after it canceled the original transaction.

According to Kommersant, the Kremlin agreed to Tehran’s request to complete the transaction, which will net the Russian treasury $800 million.

In addition to the missile deal, Russia has also agreed to construct another nuclear reactor in Bushehr. According to the Kommersant report, the two sides are expected to finalize the details of the deal this coming Friday, when Putin is expected to meet his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, in the central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan.

[…]The Russian-manufactured anti-aircraft batteries have been a source of concern to Israeli officials who fear that their enemies’ possession of them could have adverse strategic consequences.

The article reports the range of the surface-to-air missile system as 200 km.

The missiles can be used to shoot down incoming missiles or strike aircraft. It would probably make any Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear weapons facilities much more dangerous. If the system is supposed to come online in 2016 then that would mean that the Israelis would have to strike before then.

I blogged before about how missile systems sold to Iran made their way to Syria and then to Hezbollah, where they were used to sink an Israeli ship. Could that happen with these S-300 SAMs?

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

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