Category Archives: United States History


BLOG 448
October 21, 2019

fake news


Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.


This past week America seriously demolished its leadership role in the Middle East.

US President Donald Trump’s newly announced withdrawal of nearly all US troops from northern Syria has cemented Russia’s status as the predominant global military power actively engaged in the Middle East. This week, Russian troops arrived at military bases in northern Syria that the American army had hastily left just days earlier, in what can be regarded as both a literal and figurative handover of regional leadership and authority.

My opinion? No, this come straight out of The Times of Israel newspaper!

Many officials in Jerusalem are deeply worried about being abandoned by their superpower ally, as the American decision to gradually disengage from this part of the world which started under former US president Barack Obama when he drew a red line and then demonstrated that he didn’t mean what he said. The follow-up acts by Trump threaten to embolden Israel’s enemies: Iran and its allies and proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Gaza and elsewhere.

What does Russia’s takeover really mean for Israel? Some analysts are deeply concerned, fretting about the possibility that Moscow could use surface-to-air missiles against Israeli jets attacking Iranian targets in Syria, which would effectively end Jerusalem’s campaign against Tehran’s establishment of a military foothold near Israel’s border.

Amos Yadlin, the head of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, told The Times of Israel he counts eight main reasons that motivated Russian President Vladimir Putin to get involved in the Middle East:

1.To Make Russia Great Again;

2. To again become an influential power, after the US kept it out of Egypt (1973), Iraq (2003), Libya (2011) and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process;

3. To reduce the influence of the United States;

4. To play Middle Eastern cards in Russia’s conflict with Ukraine;

5. To control ports and air bases, something the tsars dreamed of;

6. To try out weapons developed by Russia in the past decade;

7. To save Syria’s Bashar Assad — and show the world that Russians don’t throw
their allies under the bus.

8. To fight jihadists — in Syria and not in the Caucasus.

Sound scary? Ask the Kurds who were abandoned this week and without the American cover who have been slaughtered by the Turks. Today the media inside Israel is telling the story. Israelis are genuinely worried. Even stupid decisions can have serious consequences.

You might find my collection of Holy Land experiences to be helpful.
BIBLE LANDS: An illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places
Barbpir books Publishers

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Israel, Syria, Turkey, United States History, Violence, War, World

Oh Yes! It’s Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is a national federal holiday honoring the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces . The holiday was formerly known as Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in that terrible conflict. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service. It typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end. People visit cemeteries and memorials to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.

While it is particularly an American holiday, it reminds the world to pause and count the cost in human lives lost in military conflicts. The world should so remember.

Consider the loss.

Death comes in many forms. Some are social; some are political; some kill the body; some kill the soul. Iran still subjects children to the death penalty, including hangings from cranes. North Korea continues to maintain vast gulags for their political prisoners, including the descendants and relatives of the accused. Forced marriages are practiced for the purpose of breeding slaves. Russia has enacted homophobic legislation that criminalizes the social situation of gay, lesbian, and “non-traditional” relationships. Terrorist organizations abound.

Consider Hezbollah.

Hezbollah remains one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists organizations, operating from bases in Lebanon. Currently, Hezbollah is now fighting in Syria’s civil war, supporting and battling for President Bashar Assad. The war has taken over a 100,000 lives of the citizenry. This Shia Muslim organization was created in the 1980’s with financial and military support from Iran. The goals of this organization are the destruction of Israel and the undermining of Western interests. Nothing has changed on that front.

Led by Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah who was a devout follower of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Nasrallah’s organization has been responsible for more American deaths than any other terror group except Al-Qaeda. A 1983 truck bombing of a US Marine barracks killed 241 servicemen. Both Iran and Syria are responsible for providing Hezbollah with an arsenal of more that 60,000 missiles and rockets. The list goes on and on.

Killing has become an international pastime. People die simply because of their political persuasion. Children in countries like Syria grow up knowing nothing but a way of life that includes constant bombing, shelling, and violent death of relatives. The reality of what may happen with future generations becomes far beyond frightening.

On this Memorial Day let us recall much more than a trip to the beach and the beginning of summer. Let us not only remember those who have died but the value of their lives – of all lives. Perhaps, we can pray a simple prayer to attempt to protect life and bring strife to an end.

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Christians, middle east, United States History


The New York Times recently reported that the United States and Iran have agreed to private talks and negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. While this account was immediately denied, it suggests that back room discussions are going on. Certainly, Iran is feeling the squeeze and President Ahmadinejab is in big trouble over their economy. Merchants are screaming while America and its European allies continue to tighten the noose. It increasingly appears that Obama’s plan is working. We will see no clear indications of change until at least a week after the election process is completed.

The American move to settle the Iranian problem through sanctions and negotiations is not to be sheered at. The United States should be well aware of the high cost of war. The Korean war cost America dearly and Viet Nam proved worst. President Bush crusaded into Iraq and Afghanistan as if we could wrap up both struggles in a short time. The cost in lives is now off the scale. Two unpaid for wars have taken a staggering toll on the economy.

We must remember the painful, excruciating price wars exacts.

While America has withdrawn from Iraq, the killing has not stopped. Recently, a bomb detonated near playing children killed 18 people. Another blast in Baghdad near playground equipment killed four children, four adults, and wounding 25. Elsewhere, pilgrims were headed to a Muslim shrine when a bomb exploded under the bus. Five Shiites died and nine were wounded.  Meanwhile in the city of Mosul, gunmen attacked two houses, killing a boy and his parents in one as well as a mother and daughter in another. Just another day when Shiites and Sunnis disagreed.

Yes, the cost of war was enormous.

A recent report of Iraqi auditors reveals as much as $800 million American dollars were being drained illegally out of the country every week. Widespread money laundering also suggests that Iraq’s central bank as well as a former governor and top officials are involved. While customers are required to provide documentation, auditors found most transactions to be fraudulent. Iraq’s top auditor Abdul-Basit Turki expressed a deep concern about what he called a triangle of sectarianism, corruption, and violence that could threatened the existence of the nation.

In Syria at least 36,000 have been killed to date as both rebels and government troops kill indiscriminately. Mothers regularly rush their children down the steps into bomb shelters, hoping they will all survive, but knowing that the chances continue to diminish.

The survivors who have lost parents, children, spouses, and friends would instantly tell us the cost of war remains unbearable.

America rightly laments the victims of Hurricane Sandy on the eastern cost line. We have seen our tragedies, but none compare with the killing that goes on day after day in the Middle East. To avoid thinking, we can turn off our televisions or switch to a comedy at the flip of a finger. How quickly we forget the horrendous cost of a war.

We must not.

Leave a comment

Filed under middle east, Muslims, United States History, War