Tag Archives: religion

PROBLEMS IN ISRAEL

BLOG 447
October 14, 2019

election

 

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

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.

PROBLEMS IN ISRAEL

The political crisis in Israel continues.

Talks have surfaced of a possible coup against Netanyahu within the Likud party, his own political base. If such a challenge evolves, it would be the most serious affront in a decade. The bombshell announcement prompted a statement from Likud leader Gideon Sa’ar announcing that he was prepared to serve in a leadership position. It would appear that Sa’ar is prepared to confront Netanyahu over party leadership. In the past, Sa’ar has been a critic of Netanyahu’s attempts to secure immunity from prosecution for charges of bribery and similar crimes. If you like spy novels and intrigue, this story may be one to follow. We’ll see.

Tied in a dead heat in the last election, Benny Gantz and Benjamin Netanyahu continue to exchange barbs with no progress to settling the leadership crisis. President Reuven Rivlin had earlier proposed a unity government with the two each serving in equally divided time periods.
So far no success.

Just before the Rosh Hashanah holidays, Gantz and Netanyahu had a coalition meeting set. Claiming that the minimum conditions for a meeting had not been met, Gantz saw no purpose in meeting and cancelled the discussion. The accusations flew back and forth for what went wrong, but it all sounded like typical political double-talk.

Fundamentally, a stalemate continues to exist. Probably a couple more weeks will be required before enough of the dust clears to really know what is going.

Meanwhile back at the ranch…

Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara failed to show in a lawsuit hearing filed by a housecleaner who claims Sara Netanyahu abused her. The judge was furious and condemned both Sara and her attorney. The ultra-Orthodox mother of three is suing for $64,000 dollars of damages. The judge made it clear that Sara would be charged with court costs for this lack of an appearance. Needless to say, this is another headache, Bibi doesn’t need.

On the upbeat side, the children of Holocaust survivors saved by the actions of German Industrialist Oscar Schindler gathered at his grave in Jerusalem to mark 45 years since his death on October 7, 1974. As is customary for Jews, his grave is marked with many small stones placed on the tombstone. Schindler was a controversial individual because he worked for the Nazi party as well as spying in Czechoslovakia in 1940. He was known as greedy, a gambler, a drinker, and womanizer. And yet from the 1,200 Jewish people Schindler saved have come a multitude. Though a man of contradictions, thousands of Jews are today grateful for his life.

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

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ANCIENT TREASURES

BLOG 442
August 26, 2019

m desert

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

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.

ANCIENT TREASURES

One of the fascinating dimensions in the Middle East is the near ending archaeological discoveries that continue to pop up. Of course, the well-known ancient history of the entire region provides a fertile bed for new discoveries. Nearly every major American university annually sends teams of students and professors over to dig.

In addition, Israel knows that these finds collaborate the Old Testament support for their claims to the land. The Palestinians scream when the area around the Temple Mount continues to confirm Jewish claims to the past. However, apart from the political struggles, these recent discoveries enlarge our understanding of ancient history.

Recently, a rare and unusual find was unearthed north of the City of David in Jerusalem. A half-shekel weight was found that dates back to the First Temple period. The weight was found during the shifting of soil in the Emek Tzurim National Park that had been removed from the base of Robinson’s Arch on the Western Wall.

The word “beka” on the weight written in ancient Hebrew indicates this was the required donation for the maintenance of the Holy Temple from every person age 20 and older. (Exodus 38:26)

Another extraordinary find turned up at the Byzantine site of Shivta in the Negev Desert. A previously unknown painting of Jesus was found in part of a depiction of his baptism. This picture presents a youthful Jesus. The picture is in a badly preserved state with traces of red paint that present the outline of the face. Early Christian imagery is also rare in the Holy Land. Another painting was also found in the southern church of the same Shiva town. This painting depicted the Transfiguration of Jesus.

Using high resolution and special lighting, a picture revealed short curly hair, an elongated nose, large eyes, and a long face. To the left of Jesus is a picture of John the Baptist. This is the only in-situ scene of Jesus’s baptism recorded in the pre-iconoclastic Byzantine Palestine period.

The town of Shivta had a total of three churches which probably served pilgrims on their way to St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai Desert.

Fascinating!

 

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MY, MY LOOK WHAT THEY FOUND WHILE PLAYING IN THE DIRT

BLOG 439
August 5, 2019

coin (1)

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

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.

MY, MY LOOK WHAT THEY FOUND WHILE PLAYING IN THE DIRT

Periodically, I share the latest archaeological finds in Israel. (Makes a nice break from all the turmoil and fighting going on across the Middle East.) Moreover, the latest discoveries are always fascinating. Over the decades, I’ve watched many of these digs reveal the past in surprising ways. They always make us more aware of the importance of the past.

Remember the city of Ziklag? Probably not because the name is rather obscure. However, Ziklag was one of the places that David stayed when he was running from King Saul. A team from the Institute of Archaeology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem turned up the ruins of Ziklag. Large stone structures characteristic of Philistine culture were turned up along with a significant number of vessels that reveal the biblical period. Bowls and jugs all reflect the period of King David. The Philistine name further supports the contention that the Philistines were not native to the area, but migrated from Europe.

All of which reflect new discoveries at the excavation of the Philistine cemetery at Ashkelon. The Book of Joshua identified five Philistine cities: Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath. The name Palestine came from this beginning and was first used by the Greeks. Dating of the bones reveals that the Philistines probably immigrated in the 12th century B.C.E.. Bone samples received DNA testing that also revealed ancestry from European population. Their dig continues offering new insights.

Jerusalem is once again offering more discoveries. A broken sewage pipe in 2004 in the Silwan neighborhood led to the discovery of a long, narrow staircase that connected the Pool of Siloam to the Temple. People would bathe in the pool before entering the Temple grounds. When I was there in February, this was being readied for opening to the public.

Archaeologists are calling the ancient street “the Pilgrimage Road.” They are convinced this was the path millions of Jews took three times a year when fulfilling the commandment to go up to the holy city and bring their sacrifices during Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot. Jesus would certainly have used this road in going up to the Second Temple.

Discovered in the dirt of this find was a cache of coins marked, “Free Zion.” This was the Jewish battle cry against the Romans. One archaeologist suggests they made coins instead of arrowheads because they knew they could not beat the Romans. However, the coins would be there for the people who would one day come back.

And so we have. We, too, can now walk this ancient path.

You might find my book on near-death experiences important for you:
CROSSING THE THRESHOLD OF ETERNITY
Revell books

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WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH IRAN?

BLOG 438
July 29, 2019

middle east

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

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.

WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH IRAN?

And by the way, after my last week’s blog on racism in Israel, an important statement appeared in The Jerusalem Post on the subject. Columnist Yaakov Katz wrote, “Another urgent step pertains to the racist culture within Israeli society. This must end through education.” We’ve been following an important story.

And now on to Iran and the current crisis. No one disputes that President Trump’s pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal precipitated the current situation. Of course, that’s old news. Now where are we?

America has rushed in thousands of troops stationed in Saudi Arabia, an aircraft carrier capable of launching nuclear carrying B-52 bombers. On the other side Iran has stood behind attacks on oil freighters sailing through the Straits of Hurmuz as well as shooting down an American drone.

In response, Bibi Netanyahu noted that World War II emerged because Germany got away with taking similar “small steps” that no nation stopped. One step led to another step as the issues became progressively more serious. When Iran started enriching plutonium to a 3.67% level it was a change the world could live with. However, Netanyahu’s point was small steps were what eventually got the entire world in war.

What does the 3.67% level mean? That level of fissile material is well below the 20% level Iran was reaching when the treaty was signed. However, 20% is way lower than the 90% level required to make a nuclear weapon. Simon Henderson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said that if Iran was really serious about a bomb, they would have to return to raising enrichment to a 20% level for technical reasons.

So, what’s going on?

Everyone is posturing, flexing their muscles. American sanctions have put Iran in a horrific bind. The man on the street is struggling to survive. After Iran boarded a British ship, Britain joined the discussion about imposing sanctions. The Iranians also have the Saudis next door who would love to whack them big time. Consequently, Iranian current actions are saying, “you don’t frighten us.”

But they do.

I would suggest Iran is struggling for a better place at the table when discussions start again. Probably more provocations will follow. However, no one really wants a war which Iran knows they will lose.

Keep watching. More to come.

You might find my book on near-death experiences important for you:
CROSSING THE THRESHOLD OF ETERNITY
Revell books

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THE ON-GOING STRUGGLE IN THE EAST

BLOG 436
July 15, 2019

iran (2)

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

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.

THE ON-GOING STRUGGLE IN THE EAST

Iran continues to enrich uranium and America increases the sanctions. Where’s it all going?

Of course, predictions about what’s happening inside Iran are difficult. Their society certainly doesn’t invite American newsmen to drop by for a story. However, some aspects are discernible.

Some years ago, I was in Damascus, Syria (where Western tourists did not go!) and sitting in a hotel eating breakfast. A group of tourists came filing in. One glance said they didn’t look like Arabs or the usual racial groups one sees on the streets in Damascus. I guessed they looked like Iranians. Everybody in the restaurant had already given me a second once over. My attire, haircut, countenance, screamed American and there usually wasn’t anyone around who looked like me.

In the center of the café (as well as the taxis, rest rooms, lobbies, you name it) were pictures of Hafez al-Assad and his son Bashar, the current despot. The impression was clear; the Assads are WATCHING YOU! Not exactly, the most comfortable place for an American to be.

I noticed one couple kept looking at me. I smiled; they smiled back. After a few minutes, they got up and came over to my table. I quickly learned they thought I was a Canadian. They confided that they were trying to get out of Iran and escape to Canada. They were sure I could help them.

Because I had once worked in Canada, I could answer many of their questions. Finally, I asked why they wanted out. The wife said firmly, “The leaders of our government are crazy. The country is ruled by religious lunatics.”

Her response revealed a sharp division in Iran that exists to this day. Groups like the Revolutionary Guard are fanatical extremists while many, many of the average citizens strongly disagree with them. Periodically, there is an explosion between the extremists and the ordinary citizens with revolting in the streets.

In the current situation with sanctions crippling Iran, this division continues to deepen. The average citizen knows that to oppose the government and the Supreme Ruler will bring imprisonment and probably death. On the other hand, the government realizes that a huge percent of the population does not agree with their race to build a nuclear weapon and start a war.

While no one is saying so, probably insiders in the American government are hoping that a revolution will follow before the Islamic extremist government yields.

Keep your eyes open. Who knows what’s coming next!

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THE NEW ANTI-SEMITISM

On March 24, 2014, I wrote about a new study guide from the Presbyterian Church (USA) entitled “Zionist Unsettled: A Congregational Study guide.” I noted that this study is an undisguised attack on Israeli politics and their conflict with the Palestinians that ignores the many other complications operating in the Middle East. The study guide is slanted against the actions and positions of Israel. My blog raised the question why an American denomination would make such an unbalanced attack on a Middle Eastern country. The study is not objective because it favors the Palestinians. In addition, I asked why a church would choose Israel and ignore the atrocities occurring in Syria –and I could add Egypt. Why single out this one country?

The Presbyterians aren’t the only denomination up to such antics. It now appears that other denominations are doing the same thing. Since churches were once in the theological business, why have some shifted to politics? That question is easily answered but takes up too much space here. Needless to say, these radical moves continue to cost them members and reduced influence.

However, the issue is more serious than a few misguided religious groups. The Boko Haram Islamist terrorists are a current example of a religiously motivated attack group. The Islamist terrorist group have kidnapped girls, forced them to dress like Moslems, and want to bring down the Nigerian state to create an Islamist nation. In their raids they attack Christians, burn churches, and spread hate. These overt expressions of terror come from a different world, but express the same basic thought patterns of religious groups who attack.

The assaults need to stop! Our world has enough political division and commercial animosity without the religious community going off the charts.

In The United States, churches have generally sent the pendulum swinging back in the other direction and now love Jews. The support of individual Jews is a relatively new phenomenon. However, the new form anti-Semitism has taken is attacking the state of Israel. Make no mistake about it, the problem of prejudice still burns in Germany. Vienna remains one of the most anti-Semitic cities in Europe. The subtle but nasty posture such discrimination takes was also expressed in accusing Israel of being apartheid because they built a wall between Israel and the Palestinians to keep suicide terrorists out. And if you keep track of such numbers, the wall has nearly wiped out such explosions.

As one who has spent time in Jordan, Syria, Israel, and Egypt, I know about weekend experts whose superficial views miss the essence of the issues. The religionists tend toward being opinionated and that’s the last position needed in the continuing sensitive debates.

Anti-Semitism is prejudice – not peace  –and certainly not pastoral.

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BOOKS YOU’LL LOVE: THE STORY BEHIND THE STORIES

THE ASSASSINS

 

“Robert, how can you get inspired to write about assassinations? Isn’t that a rather heinous subject?”

As I listened to the woman’s question, I wondered what she meant by the word inspiration. Her reply proved interesting.

“Why, I thought the word meant ‘God breathed,’ she said. “Isn’t inspiration something that the Holy Spirit brings?”

Well, yes and no. Certainly, we think of The Bible as being inspired and that definitely means the Holy Spirit was at work. I would like to think that my books are “God breathed,” but that’s more than a little presumptive. Generally, divine inspiration implies that a new or creative revelation has occured. Hey, I’m certainly not claiming such lofty status But actually, inspiration has a wider range of meaning than my friend related. We can be emotionally or intellectually inspired. A feeling may bubble up that touches us deeply.  Alex Haley’s Roots had such powerful emotionally inspiration. The last TV episode as he discovered his personal origins in Africa moved me to tears. The Imperial Presidency didn’t have such an  emotional push but it was an intellect assessment of the government.  Often, we are deeply moved by some such event and want to convince others only to find out they don’t care. Before you feel bad, remember that divine inspiration also gets the same reception in some quarters.

So, my book The Assassins doesn’t have to claim to be divinely inspired to have a quality of creative thought that some people might find to be moving. While I’d never put myself in a class with Fedyor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov definely touched on universal issues that are still studied in seminaries. I will argue Dostoevsky was definitely inspired, but not just because he wrestled with issues affecting the Roman Catholic Church. His focus was moral and concerned with the future of civilization.

My story is certainly not so lofty, but it seeks to explore the idea of what happens when a head of government is willing to commit murder to acheive the purposes of his government. Today we know such a goal is possible. My story suggests that those draconian purposes run afowl of ultimate values, including the value of human life.

When the Oklahoma City Murrah Building terrorist bombing occurred, I was the first clergyman on the scene and stood in the back of the building as the bodies were brought out. I will forever remember standing by those tarp covered remains of people killed by a man whose values were eschewed to the core. During those hours as more and more bodies were brought out, I wondered what will come next and shuttered.

And yet as the days, weeks, and years have gone by, the actions of good people have transformed those tragic deaths into monuments to eternal truth and the endurance of righteousness.  Decadence has been transformed into inspiration.

Inspiration often arises from unanticipated circumstances and humble origins. Even evil actions may unexpectedly give rise to redemptive expressions and results. We have to be ready for inspiration to come at the most unexpected moments.

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STORIES YOU’LL LOVE: THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY

STORIES YOU’LL LOVE: THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY

 BOOKS YOU’LL LOVE: THE STORY BEHIND THE STORIES
  “And why did you write that story?”
     Authors hear the question everyday. What’s hidden within the folds of the story? What secrets created the tale I’m telling. When the book is non-fiction,
the riddle may even be more intriguing. During the decades that I wrote my 32 published books, these are the back pages behind the headline episodes.
Here are the fascinating scenes behind the big picture!

THE ASSASSINS

            In The Assassins, Masha Khaykina enters the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Washington, D.C., and begins a journey that will change her life. Perhaps, some readers of mysteries and murder novels will find this interjection of religion inappropriate. However, if one knows Russia, the combination of spies killing people and a Christian perspective will feel quite at home. Such is the way of Russia, a country that has lived through horrendous violence and loves poets.

It has been estimated that Stalin killed 20 million people during his purges. Another 20 million died during World War II before the country quite counting. All of this happened in the country that features the Bolshoi Ballet.

I discovered the power of their faith during a visit with the Metropolitan of Minsk. Because it was l985 and in the Soviet Union, the meeting was arranged in clandestine fashion. We came in one door and the Orthodox priest came in a back door. The encounter was in a winery with a large wine tasting back room. We sat on one side of the table and the Metropolitan sat on the other side. In his high black kamlavka or maitre, black cassock, with a heavy staff, he was most impressive.

The introductions were made and pleasantries exchanged. The Metropolitan quickly pushed us to the heart of the discussion. He wanted to know what we believed and what motivated us to come to Minsk. Were we truly men and women of peace? Did we really want to avoid a war with the Soviet Union?

Our responses assured him that we sought only the highest objectives. In turn, we pressed the priest to tell us how he had survived World War II, the political purges, and the struggles with Communism. To our surprise, the large man answered in a forthright and straightforward manner.

His story of endurance left us staggered and overwhelmed. We were listening to a man who had walked through hell and back. The Metropolitan had seen the worst violence a time of horrendous upheaval could produce. Living through nights of intense pain and fear, he had come out a man of peace and faith. His story left us unable to speak. None of us had ever experienced his world of struggle.

Finally, the Metropolitan asked us to sing an American hymn. We looked at each other in consternation. None of us were musicians and my singing is beyond terrible. Nevertheless, we decided a Negro spiritual would be an authentic expression of native American music. We launched into “Go Down Moses” sounding like Moses probably wouldn’t ever want to be coming back after that number.

Then, we asked the Metropolitan to sing. He suggested the Sanctus from the Mass would be best for him. Leaning back in his chair with his eyes turned upward toward heaven, he began singing in Russian. No one in our delegation understood the language, but our hearts melted as the transcendent, mysterious hymn literally took us out of the room to the feet of our Creator. The majestic sound transformed us into participants in eternity. We were left overwhelmed and awe-inspired.

The heavenly sound came from a man who had endured the worst the world had to offer.

Religion in Russia? Yeah, it will always be there regardless of Stalin, Putin, and whoever tries to repress faith. Masha’s experience with the icons is different from the American world, but so typical of Russia.

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WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH SUNNIS AND SHIˇITES?

WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH SUNNIS AND SHIˇITES?

Sunni Muslim rulers shunned an Arab League summit held in late March. The

meeting ended with a joint call on President Bashar Assad to stop his bloody crackdown

on Syrian citizens. Unfortunately, an important element didn’t show up. Shi˜ites weren’t

there. Having watched this tension within the Muslim world for years, I still find myself

baffled by how passionate these divisions are in Islam.

Following the completion of America’s war and withdrawal from Iraq, the on-

going bombings made it clear that Sunnis and Shi˘ites have big problems riding in the

same boat. During the so-called Arab Spring, the relationship between these two

fundamental Islamic sects has not improved. To put the struggle in a Western context,

the situation is like the Baptist shooting at the Methodist because they don’t practice

immersion. (And that’s with bombs and AK-17 rifles.)

How can the two major Islamic groups have such a hate for each other? Few

Westerners actually understand the differences. Here’s the inside scoop.

Sunnis constitute 84% to 90% of the Muslim population while Shi˚ites sweep up

most of the rest. The Shi˜ite name literally means “party” or the party of Ali, the younger

cousin of Muhammad who grew up in the prophet’s home and married his daughter

Fatima. The basic Shi˘ite principal is that the head of the Muslim community must be a

descendent of Muhammad. Ali carried the Muslim flag when Islam captured Mecca in

630 A.D. and came out a hero. Long dead Ali is the central figure in this dispute.

The first three caliphs of the Moslem era weren’t of this linage and are considered

illegimate rulers by Shi˘ites, believing God imposed the years of corrupt rule to separate

true believers from hyprocrites. This conviction sets the stage for the ongoing strife and

struggle with the Sunnis.

The population of Iran contains the extremists Shiˇa element while next door

neighbor Saudi Arabia, once allied with Egypt, supports the Sunnis. The fall of Hosni

Mubarak has thrown these struggles into a turmoil, further pitting Sunnis and Shiˇa

against each other. In Iraq, as refugees returned home following the war, the tension runs

high with neither side trusting the other. Consequently, as the Americans left, the old

tensions between these groups returned, but with even greater suspicion and anomisity.

The differences between these groups are complex, but the basic apprehension is

that Sunnis will impose Islamic law and Shi’ites fear they will be required to follow

Sunni law. Sunni’s are highly offended because Shi˜ite ritual still curses the first three

caliphs. In addition, Sunni’s accuse the other group of hypocrisy and immorality because

of their practice of dissimulation and acceptance of temporary marriage.

Sound strange that two Muslim groups could still be at war with each other over

events that stretch back 1500 years? Westerners shake their heads and can’t decipher the

facts. With our separation of religion from government, Americans find Moslem hostility

toward each other to be strange, foreboding, and hostile.

Back to the recent Arab summit. The cold shoulder from Sunni-led monarchies

only re-enforced Shit˘ite suspicions. Iraq’s Shi˘ite leadership and Iran’s identical position

keep them on the outside of Arab League gatherings.

Make sense? Well, not really, but that’s the role Islam plays in the Middle East

and it won’t be changing anytime soon.

Question: Can you see any basis for reconciliation between these two groups? Will they
ever trust Americans when they don’t trust each other?

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DUMPSTER DIVING IN SYRIA

DUMPSTER DIVING IN SYRIA

 

During the week of March 5, Senator John McCain called on Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to start military action in Syria. McCain seemed irritated at Panetta’s hesitancy. However, the secretary retorted that he had to give long and careful thought to sending American military into of harm’s way. McCain retorted that what Panetta had left out of his reply was the need for America to maintain its military superiority and pre-eminence in the world. I noticed the press didn’t give much space to this two-man debate.

As I stated in beginning these blogs, I am not promoting a political point-of-view or a theological ideology. My objective is to clarify the current situation in as correct and comprehensive a light as possible. Therefore, I’m not debating whether saving lives is more important that maintaining global pre-eminence. I leave it to you sort out whether you feel McCain or Panetta were on the right track. My concern is highlighting a serious situation that continues to escalate. As noted earlier, the Russian and Chinese vetoes at the United Nations have only resulted in more deaths.

Through a personal conversation this week with a Muslim born, raised, and now living near Syria, I had the fact confirmed that Syria has called in Iranian troops that are major players in the atrocities occurring daily. Iranian soldiers have raped many Syrian women suspected as supporting the uprising. I listened to a Syrian cleric in a Friday sermon in a Mosque proclaim, “What a humiliated life a man has when his sisters are being raped and his brother oppressed and their dignity and religion is trampled over.” The clergyman was urging his hearers to rise up and not wait for NATO to protect them. His point was the audience in the mosque must assert themselves to fight against the invaders from Iran.

Well-fed Americans sitting on comfortable leather couches watching large screen televisions in climate-controlled houses have a hard time grasping the terror these good people face because they could be killed at any moment by a rocket dropping indiscriminately on their roof. Syrian government troops running down the street could kill them with mortars or automatic weapon fire while randomly targeting any house. Such is the current situation in Syria.

What should be done?

Unlike Libya, Syria has strategic importance because it sits in the midst of ethnic, religious, and regional rivalries that could turn the entire region upside down. If the Assad regime topples, it could send the entire area into a tail spin. A proxy war might pit the gulf states and Saudi Arabia against Iran. Who knows where that conflict could go?

Israelis worry while juggling their problems with Iran’s nuclear program. They must consider what a change in the leadership in the Syrian government could mean for their nation.

So, I return to Senator John McCain’s question. Is this the right time for American intervention? While I certainly have no knowledge that this assertion is true, my hunch is that the United States has already begun sending military supplies to the insurgents behind the scenes. If this is correct, we have another of those old “under the table” wars going on with the Russians.

Does that make your stomach churn? It does mine.

 

Question:

Should the United States enter the Syrian conflict? Can the world standby and allow innocent people to be killed?

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