ROADMAP TO WAR?
The vicious cycle of violence and death is continuing in the Middle East. Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel and Israeli attacks on Hamas strongholds have almost become commonplace. The road map to peace appears dead — and has been replaced with a road map to continued war and bloodshed. The resignation of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and the designated replacement of Palestinian parliament speaker Ahmed Qureia seem to have driven the last nail in the coffin. Very few observers believe that a peaceful solution can still be found under Yasser Arafat, Qureia, and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
This week has seen additional violence in the region. As washingtonpost.com reported on September 9, “at least 13 people were killed and dozens wounded in two suicide bombings today, the first at a bus stop and hitchhiking post near the entrance to a major military base south of Tel Aviv, followed about six hours later by an explosion at a popular cafe in Jerusalem. The attacks came after the radical Islamic Resistance Movement, known as Hamas, vowed revenge for Israeli assassinations that have killed 14 of its leaders in the past three weeks and narrowly missed its founder, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, on Saturday… Earlier today, in a firefight in Hebron in the West Bank, Israeli troops killed two Hamas members and a 12-year-old bystander, and blew up a seven-story apartment building where the Palestinians were hiding.”
Hamas claimed responsibility for the subsequent suicide bombings. In the rush-hour bombing at the bus stop, eight Israeli soldiers were killed, at least three of them women, and at least 15 were wounded. Seven additional people were killed in the attack at the cafe, and 31 were injured, according to an article by the Associated Press of September 10. “Among the dead at the Hillel Cafe were two U.S. citizens — a doctor who headed to a Jerusalem hospital emergency room and his daughter, who was to have been married Wednesday. Instead of a wedding, a funeral was held for both.”
Associated Press also reported that “Israel bombed the home of a Hamas leader Wednesday, killing his eldest son and a bodyguard in retaliation for [the] two suicide bombings.” The article pointed out that in addition, twenty-five people were wounded, including the Hamas leader, Mahmoud Zahar, his wife and his daughter. The article continued, “Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon… [allegedly] consider[s] far-reaching options, such as forcing Yasser Arafat into exile or ordering a large-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip. The spiral of violence drew calls for retaliation from Israelis and Palestinians alike… Hamas… said it would now begin targeting Israeli homes and high-rises in response to Wednesday’s airstrike on the home of [Zahar].”
In the meantime, the European Union has declared Hamas to be a terrorist organization, according to Der Spiegel Online of September 11. Israel and the United States had for a long time asked the EU to make this determination, but so far, France had resisted doing so. Now, Hamas supporters can be criminally prosecuted, and Hamas’ funds can be frozen.
The Biblical gospel message of peace also includes the fact that war only breeds more war. The events in the Middle East confirm this timeless truth. Christ told us very clearly in Matthew 26:52, “Put your sword in its place, for ALL who take the sword will PERISH BY the sword.” Man does not believe this. Man does not accept this. Man has chosen instead the way of war and violence. We read that “their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known” (Romans 3:15-17). When Jesus thought of Jerusalem’s coming destruction, He wept. He knew what would happen, because man would not believe Him and His words, choosing war rather than peace. He said, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:42).
This is WHY we don’t have peace in the Middle East. This is WHY we hear of wars and rumors of wars, of assassinations and suicide bombings, of “retaliations,” death and destruction. In Matthew 23:37-38, Christ said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate.”
Total desolation will come upon that part of the world. Soon, there will be “the abomination of desolation” standing in the holy place (Matthew 24:15). People will look for peace, but won’t find it. War can only heal “the hurt of My people slightly,” while “counselors of war” are assuring them that war will bring peace, “when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). Until man has learned that war does not produce peace, man will have war. The prophet Isaiah tells us, “Surely their valiant ones shall cry outside, The ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly. The highways lie waste, The traveling man ceases. He has broken the covenant, He has despised the cities, He regards no man. The earth mourns and languishes, Lebanon is shamed and shriveled; Sharon is like a wilderness, And Bashan and Carmel shake off their fruits” (Isaiah 33:7-9).
The road map to peace won’t lead to peace, as long as man is unwilling to live in peace with his neighbor.
SWEDEN, THE EURO AND MURDER
According to the latest polls, as published by Die Welt on August 29 and Spiegel Online on September 11, the percentage of Swedes who intend to vote “Yes” to the euro on 14th September is between 32% and 37%, as against between 47% and 50% who intend to vote “No.” The Swedish daily, Dagens Nyheter, has calculated that the “Yes” camp would have to convert 25,000 Swedes a day for it now to win. The “Yes” camp has been severely damaged by infighting within the government, which contains opponents of the euro. For instance, the Finance Minister has attacked the Trade Minister for using “unfactual” arguments in favor of the single currency. The Environment Minister has similarly been accused of spreading “false information.” Even the prime minister himself felt moved to attack his own culture minister. He said that she did not know what she was talking about when she said that the EU was evolving into a superstate to which it was a risk to attach oneself. A split within the Social Democratic Party is now being openly talked about.
The world was shocked when it learned that extremely popular Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh (46) died Thursday from multiple stab wounds, after she was knifed in an upscale department store Wednesday by an unknown assailant. Lindh was a leading campaigner for replacing the Swedish krona with the euro — an issue that had inspired vehement opposition, as USA Today reported on September 11. Lindh was the second Swedish politician to be murdered in the Scandinavian country in 17 years. Prime Minister Olaf Palme was killed in 1986. His murderer has never been found. In spite of Lindh’s murder, the vote on the euro will go forward on September 14.
EU AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
euobserver.com reported on September 4 that “the former head of the French government and president of the European Parliament, Robert Schuman, is on the path to beatification.” The article continued, “The French Minister of Foreign Affairs Robert Schuman put forward a proposal for establishing the European Coal and Steel Community, which led to the subsequent institutionalization of European integration. The Schuman plan unveiled on 9 May 1950 is regarded as a milestone in European integration and celebrated as ‘Europe Day.'”
In related news, the pope made another appeal to continental Europe not to forget its Christian past. As Zenit reported on September 9, the pope wrote, “The Christian roots are not a memory of religious exclusiveness, but a foundation of freedom because they make Europe a melting pot of different cultures and experiences… From these ancient roots, the European peoples have obtained the impulse that drove them to touch the limits of the earth and to reach the depth of man, of his intangible dignity, of the fundamental equality of all, of the universal right to justice and peace.” He wrote that the city of Aachen in Germany “speaks clearly of the ancient tradition of Europe: It speaks of its ancient roots, beginning with the Christian, which harmonized and also consolidated the rest.” The pope also wrote, “Europe will be that much stronger for the present and future of the world the more it drinks from the sources of its religious and cultural traditions.”
It is perhaps interesting to note that the city of Aachen was mentioned in the context. It was of course in Aachen were Charlemagne was crowned, in A.D. 800, as the first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. It is also a well-know historical fact that Charlemagne brutally killed and massacred thousands of Saxons who refused to become baptized into the Catholic faith.
GERMANY AND ITALY
Der Spiegel Online reported on August 23 that Germany and Italy support a speedy course of action to adopt the European Constitution by the end of the year. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder assured the Italian government that he will do everything to guarantee the success of Italy’s presidency of the European Parliament. He said that he would welcome it if the European Constitution would be signed in Rome.
EUROPE AND THE U.S.
euobserver.com reported on September 5 that “Europeans have grown more critical of US global leadership, while American support for a strong European partner has increased over the last year… Overall, only 45% of Europeans… see strong U.S. leadership as desirable… While majorities in France (70%), Germany (50%) and Italy (50%) believe global US leadership is ‘undesirable,’ the contrary feeling is found amongst the British, the Dutch, and the Poles… 71% of Europeans want to see the European Union become a superpower like the United States in order for the EU to cooperate better, rather than to compete, with the US… Americans were more likely than Europeans to support the use of military force to rid countries of weapons of mass destruction and to bypass the United Nations if vital national interests are at stake.”
Stern Online reported on September 10 that the relationship between the United States and Germany must be newly defined, according to German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. He stated that the United States is absolutely necessary for global peace and stability. “The worst that could happen to us would be if the United States were to withdraw from world affairs,” he said. He added that both countries must “come together again.” He also mentioned that the American policy in Iraq has failed, and that therefore, the United Nations must play the central role in Iraq. He confirmed that Germany has no plans to send troops to Iraq.
EUROPE TO THE RESCUE?
Time Europe Magazine reported on September 8 that “62% of French citizens surveyed would support their troops being sent to Iraq; 44% of Germans questioned would support a deployment of German soldiers. Nothing of the kind will happen, though, without delicate negotiations to calibrate a level of American control acceptable to Paris and Berlin.” Der Spiegel Online and ABC News reported on September 10 that “France, Germany and Russia are urging a speedy transfer of power from the U.S.-led coalition to an interim Iraqi administration.” Proposed amendments to a U.S. draft resolution demand more power for Iraqis and the United Nations in running the country. The Russian amendment does not go as far as the French-German amendments “in demanding the immediate handover of authority to the Iraqis… under the auspices of the U.N.” The U.S. “also wants the resolution to spur financial contributions for Iraq’s reconstruction. President Bush said Sunday he will ask Congress for $87 BILLION primarily for Iraq, but also for Afghanistan.”
USA Today reported on Thursday that at the United Nations, the United States “dismissed a proposal by France and Germany that would give the U.N. expanded authority over reconstruction of Iraq.”
Washingtonpost.com reported on September 10 that “Germany and the United States asked NATO on Wednesday to consider expanding the mandate of the alliance’s Afghan peacekeeping force beyond Kabul to protect reconstruction teams outside the capital.” The article continued, “Western nations have been reluctant to do that, but in recent days, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder have backed an expanded role.”
AMERICANS QUESTION WAR IN IRAQ
ABC News reported on September 8 that “Americans express a growing suspicion that the war in Iraq will boost rather than ease the long-term risk of terrorism against the United States, a concern that directly challenges President Bush’s rationale for invading. This finding of a new ABC NEWS poll follows continued attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and on civilians elsewhere in the world, and marks a sharp turn in public attitudes.” The article pointed out that 58 percent of Americans thought a week after the fall of Baghdad, that the war would reduce the long-term risk of terrorism. Today only 40 percent believe that, while 48 percent think that the war has raised the risk. “At the same time, the number of Americans who say the war was worth fighting has slipped to 54 percent — a new low, down from the 61 percent in mid-August and a high of 70 percent as the main fighting wound down.” The article also pointed out that “a new high, 57 percent, term the level of U.S. casualties ‘unacceptable,’ compared with 38 percent — fewer than four in ten for the first time — who say it’s acceptable.”
U.S. vs. IRAN
Washingtonpost.com reported on September 10 that “the Bush administration accused Iran today of violating the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty but said the Iranian government had a ‘last chance’ to prove it wasn’t running a covert weapons program.” The article quoted Kenneth Brill, the U.S. ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, as saying, “‘The United States believes the facts already established would fully justify an immediate finding of noncompliance by Iran.’ Still, he said, U.S. officials were ready to give ‘Iran a last chance to drop its evasions’ before pushing FOR PUNITIVE ACTION.” This language is reminiscent of the vocabulary used prior to U.S. invasion in Iraq.
U.S. vs. NORTH KOREA
USA Today reported on September 3 that “North Korea’s parliament on Wednesday approved the communist government’s decision to increase its ‘nuclear deterrent force’ in angry reaction to what it calls a hostile U.S. policy.” The article pointed out that “North Korea’s envoy… last week warned that the reclusive state might test a nuclear device to prove itself a nuclear power.”
IGNORED WAR IN NORTHEASTERN CONGO?
As USA Today reported on September 10, “the fighting in northeastern Congo has created ‘the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet, and the worst documented war in the history of Africa,’ [Jessica] Lange told the Associated Press. “The actress spent a week in the volatile area last month as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund.” The French-led international force handed over the task to U.N. peacekeepers in the town of Bunia in Ituri province. French troops arrived in June after 500 people were killed in weeks of fighting. While foreign troops have withdrawn, “fighting continues in the northeast,” according to the article.