The Weekend Web
Last week, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said any security agreement made with the U.S. would have to include a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops—a good indication Iran is applying strong pressure on the fledgling Iraqi government to shed its military dependence on the United States.
After initial reports indicating the Bush administration was unhappy with Malaki’s demand, we read in today’sNew York Times about the U.S. increasing the pace of its pullout in Iraq. “The Bush administration is considering the withdrawal of additional combat forces from Iraq beginning in September, according to administration and military officials, raising the prospect of a far more ambitious plan than expected only months ago,” the Times reports. Later in the piece, they admit that no decision has yet been made by the president, so it may be a lot of wishful thinking on the part of the left-wing Times.
Still, based on the sure word of Bible prophecy, we have repeatedly said that the strength the U.S. and Britain have shown in Iraq will eventually be spent in vain (Leviticus 26:20) and that Iraq will fall to Iran.
In a related story, today’s London Timesreports that Gordon Brown’s government in Britain is looking to pull most of its troops out of Iraq by mid-2009.
Who’s Being “Provocative”?
There has been increased talk in the wind of an imminent Israeli and/or American strike against Iran. This has many commentators up in arms. Don’t provoke Iran! they’re saying. Everything will be fine if we don’t launch another preemptive attack. Yes, apparently the only real problem with Iran is that the U.S. is being too provocative.
Among these voices is the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama. This week, after Iran—quite provocatively—staged several missile tests, Obama told cnn that the important thing in responding was for the U.S. to “avoid provocation.”
The Weekly Standard weighs this response thusly:
Obama might not admit it, but for about five years now the Bush administration has followed a course of action rather similar to his preferred policy. Bush has pursued multilateral diplomacy through international institutions (the UN, the iaea) and through an ad hoc coalition called the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the U.K., and the United States) in order to induce Iran to suspend its enrichment activities. Obama’s policy would be a tad more unilateral, because he would prefer to have direct negotiations with the Iranians and thus remove our allies from the equation altogether.
But does any serious person believe that an offer of direct negotiations without preconditions would change the basic situation? … Iran has been immune to peaceful persuasion. Since 2006, the Security Council has adopted five resolutions calling on Iran to suspend its enrichment activities and comply fully with the iaea. And because those resolutions were summarily ignored, the Security Council has also enacted four rounds of punitive sanctions directed at the Iranian regime. No change.
In the face of all this decidedly unprovocative behavior from the West, Iran has remained unapologetically belligerent. It is possible that the U.S. or, more likely, Israel will launch a strike against Iran in the coming months—but in the event that it does happen, we don’t expect it to be sufficient to alter Iran’s basic course.
The president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, openly pines for a world without America and Israel. In 2007, the regime arrested American citizens, holding them in captivity for months, and held 15 British sailors and marines hostage for almost two weeks. Iran is funding, training, and in some cases providing direct assistance to radical Shiite “special groups” killing American soldiers in Iraq. In January of this year, five Iranian ships ran at U.S. naval vessels in the Strait of Hormuz, breaking off moments before the Americans used deadly force. Then last week’s missile tests and fiery rhetoric.
And the frontrunner for the presidency of the United States fears his own country may be too “provocative.” Iran has suffered no major consequences from the Bush administration—or anyone else—for its reckless and belligerent actions. Quite the contrary: The more irresponsible Iran’s behavior has been, the more entreaties for diplomatic rapprochement it has received.
Who’s being “provocative”? Biblical prophecy pins that label where it belongs. “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push …” (Daniel 11:40). Iran, the king of the south, is pushing—and will keep doing so until it provokes a power far greater than itself into what will quickly escalate into world war. Read The King of the South for more detail.
NBC—A Terrorist’s Arsenal
As memories of Sept. 11, 2001, grow dim, and the urgency and vigilance to thwart terrorist attacks that dominated post-9/11 America wane, Claude Salhani’s commentary in the Washington Times is a grim reminder of the threat still posed by nbc (nuclear, biological and chemical) terrorism.
Biological weapons are the easiest and cheapest to produce, the easiest to smuggle and possibly the most damaging.
Chemical weapons should not be discounted as a possible threat, as Salhani notes. When al Qaeda operatives fled training camps and bases in Afghanistan in fear of approaching U.S. forces, they left behind “piles of documents, including videotapes showing tests and effects of chemical agents on animals”—grave evidence that chemical attack is more than a theoretical option.
Then there’s the nuclear option; more expensive and harder to pull off, but potentially disastrous—not just in the scope of damage and the number of casualties it would cause should it occur in an area of dense population, but also because the psychological impact of a mushroom cloud over Chicago, London or Sydney would melt the bones of even the toughest onlooker.
Reading some of the scenarios described by Salhani, it’s not only the ease and simplicity with which an attack, particularly a biological one, could occur that is surprising. More surprising is the fact that a nuclear or chemical bomb, or satchel of deadly powder, still hasn’t inflicted its horrific consequences on American soil. Perhaps the vigilant stance of the American government against terrorism since 9/11 isn’t as fruitless as many like to imply.
More importantly, however, America’s hiatus from terrorist attack is predominantly a result of the mercy and compassion of a Higher Power. The Trumpet explains regularly that America, Britain and the nation of Israel are being cursed for their disobedience. But God is measuring those curses. He allows them to come upon these nations progressively, in the hope that each curse might light the spark of repentance in some individuals.
These curses are intensifying and occurring more regularly, however, because people refuse to see God’s presence in them. As the measuring intensifies in the coming months and years, expect to see the effects of the terrorists’ nbc arsenal.
British Society: Still Completely Broken
It used to be that when conservatives harped on the decline of British society, liberals and media elites would ridicule them. As it is now widely accepted that Britain is broken, those days are over, Minette Marrin points out in today’s London Times:
No one disagrees any longer that Britain is in parts and in places broken; Gallowgate is a horrifying microcosm of broken families, broken spirits, broken health and broken schools; it is a dark place of chronic unemployment, violence and crime, of disorder and fear—a disgrace to the supposedly developed world.
It’s also true that at long last people of all persuasions are beginning to recognize that this social breakdown is due in part to the abdication both of authority and of personal responsibility that began some time after the war. Some are inclined to emphasize the demoralizing paternalism of the welfare state, others the permissiveness of the 1960s, but few now question this abdication, at all levels. Not only that—taking personal responsibility is sometimes forbidden, or punished, as when misguided adults try to control delinquent children in the street.
Marrin also draws attention to Britain’s latest national embarrassment: knife crime. Another article in same paper has parents calling on the government to enforce curfews on youths in order to curb the violence.
Parents, having long lost the power struggle with their children, are now demanding that the government control them.
Haven’t We Read This Headline?
On Friday, Israeli police questioned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert about making duplicate claims on expense reports for trips that were funded by multiple donors. This investigation, writes Calev Ben-David in the Jerusalem Post, might be more serious than the Morris Talansky affair, where Olmert is accused of accepting bribes:
It is too early to say whether the last allegations will actually lead to charges against Olmert, and if so, whether they will stand up in court. There’s no question, though, that on several levels they pose greater political risk for the prime minister than any of the previous five police probes directed against him, including the Morris Talansky affair.
That’s because neither in that matter, nor any of the other investigations, has Olmert been suspected in any way of committing offenses relating to theft or embezzlement.
At present, Olmert has agreed to allow his Kadima party to vote on his replacement in September so long as he can retain power as prime minister until the next general election, which would most like take place next March.
Credibility Gap at the Fed
Last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson Jr. said that the two massive, government-sponsored housing lenders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are adequately capitalized. That means there is no apparent need for investors to fear their collapse. Sounds good, but the track record of public officials is one of inaccuracy at best—bordering on deception at worst. The market may be starting to question their integrity.
The first time Bernanke and Paulson said everything was okay was in the first half of 2007, when problems in the mortgage market were supposedly “contained” to subprime lending. The next time everything was supposedly okay was when the Securities and Exchange Commissioner said Bear Stearns was solid—and then days later Stearns imploded, wiping out billions overnight. Investors probably also remember how problems in the housing market supposedly would not spill over into the general economy and job market—a claim now disproven by several consecutive months of job losses. And consumers remember being assured that high oil prices didn’t really matter so much because they don’t affect the U.S. economy as much as in the past.
Last week the possible failure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac covered the news wires. Apparently these two lenders guaranteed or own almost half of all home mortgages in America. If the government was to step in to shore them up, it would have to take on more than $5 trillion onto its books. The current federal debt is already more than $9 trillion. A government bailout that large could have huge ramifications for the dollar, the bond market and the nation’s credit rating. The International Herald Tribune reports:
For years, anyone warning that Fannie and Freddie should beef up their financial positions was ridiculed or run over by the lobbying machines these companies kept oiled and close at hand. So their lucrative arrangement remained the same: business as usual, with all its riches, was the goal. After all, wasting money by inflating their cash cushions would just crimp their style. …
Which brings us to the main problem: credibility. … The surprise is not that Fannie and Freddie grew too large for the taxpayers’ good. … Rather it is that Congress and the various financial regulators, especially the Fed and the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, did little to keep the companies from getting out of control.
The economic system, which has come to function largely on greed and debt, is about to come tumbling down. The credibility of the system is under review, and America’s foreign creditors don’t like what they see.
Elsewhere on the Web
Israel National News says, “idf sources have warned Western Negev municipal leaders that Hamas is preparing to renew its rocket attacks—and that it has the wherewithal to do so with fury.” With Hamas and other terrorist groups firing an average of two shells or rockets a day, the ceasefire has not involved much ceasing of fire on the behalf of the Gazans. Hamas claims that the groups firing on Israel are not under their control. They had plenty of brutal force to boot the Western-backed Fatah from Gaza in last summer’s coup—but now that they control the Strip, they just can’t seem to get a handle on the rogue terrorist groups within Gaza that supposedly have no link to Hamas.
When Kathleen Casey-Kirschling retired last October, she marked the beginning of a new trend in America: The 61-year-old teacher was supposedly the first baby boomer to file for Social Security. “Plenty of people have retired since Ms. Casey-Kirshling’s 15 minutes in the spotlight,” reports the Washington Times today. “And plenty more will retire today, next week, and next year. Some 10,000 Americans each day will become eligible for Social Security benefits over the next 20 years” (emphasis mine). Where oh where will the funding come from?
And Finally …
Examples of Britain’s self-inflicted servitude to Muslims are too numerous to keep up with—but here’s one that takes the cake. The Times of London reports,
Police sniffer dogs will have to wear bootees when searching the homes of Muslims so as not to cause offence.
Yes, the Association of Chief Police Officers (Apco), overeager to respect the “religious sensitivities” of the people, will include this tragicomic provision in police policies this year.
Where Muslims object, officers will be obliged to use sniffer dogs only in exceptional cases. Where dogs are used, they will have to wear bootees with rubber soles. “We are trying to ensure that police forces are aware of sensitivities that people can have with the dogs to make sure they are not going against any religious or cultural element within people’s homes …” Acpo said.
This is how a once-Great Britain is “fighting” the virulent Muslim extremism that is growing on its soil and spreading within its populace. By sticking booties on its police pooches. In the vain hope that this will convince some potentially violent religious nut that Britain isn’t so bad after all.
Heightening the ridiculousness is the apparent fact that this “religious sensitivity” doesn’t even exist. The Times piece quotes one of Britain’s leading imams as saying that the dog itself isn’t considered impure—only its saliva. “I think Acpo needs to consult better and more widely,” he said.
For more on how truly dangerous—and prophetic—this trend is, read “The Sickness in Britain’s Heart.”