Friday, December 4, 2015

Good Samaritan Supports Air Attacks on Daesh

It may not be the first thing which pops into our minds when we read the parable of the Good Samaritan, but it has been argued that the Good Samaritan would take part in air attacks on Daesh. The argument is hidden in Hilary Benn's cracking speech in the House of Commons the other day, in support of bombing Daesh. The speech has been widely praised by those open to the argument he makes and bitterly panned by some who are closed to the argument he makes. Crucially it appears to have swayed some wavering MPs. You can read the text here or watch the video below.



In the last part of the speech, Benn, speaking to his own Labour Party, makes the case that Daesh equals fascism and the Labour Party has always fought against fascism. It is one of the best denunciations of the terror of Daesh I have come across. Hidden within this paragraph is a reference to the Good Samaritan and the reference implies that it is Good Samaritan behaviour to refuse to ignore the threat of fascism, instead to engage with it:

"Now Mr Speaker, I hope the House will bear with me if I direct my closing remarks to my Labour friends and colleagues on this side of the House. As a party, we have always been defined by our internationalism. We believe we have a responsibility one to another. We never have and we never should walk by on the other side of the road. And we are here faced by fascists. Not just their calculated brutality, but their belief that they are superior to every single one of us here tonight, and all of the people that we represent. They hold us in contempt. They hold our values in contempt. They hold our belief in tolerance and decency in contempt. They hold our democracy, the means by which we will make our decision tonight, in contempt. And what we know about fascists is that they need to be defeated. And it is why, as we have heard tonight, socialists and trade unionists and others joined the International Brigade in the 1930s to fight against Franco. It’s why this entire House stood up against Hitler and Mussolini. It is why our party has always stood up against the denial of human rights and for justice. And my view, Mr Speaker, is that we must now confront this evil. It is now time for us to do our bit in Syria. And that is why I ask my colleagues to vote for this motion tonight."
Without going into all the arguments for just war and so forth, I think Benn has a theological point. If we take the Good Samaritan paradigm [sic] seriously, then we will not just love our neighbour in an ambulatory mode (binding up wounds after the beating up), nor will stop once we love our neighbour preventatively (guarding the road to Jericho to prevent robbers and malcontents lurking in the shadows). Where fascistic forces are intent on war, depredation of 'the other' and despicable behaviour towards women and children, it is (so the argument goes) unloving to persist in refusing to combat such evil. One response in chorus to Benn's speech has been that bombing will destroy innocent lives alongside destruction of combatants. That surely is true. But the rejoinder is that if we walk by on the other side and do not engage Daesh, innocent lives of non-combatants will still be lost, both in Syria/Iraq and in the killing fields of Paris, airspace over Sinai and wherever terror strikes next.

There is a larger set of arguments - noted in part previously on ADU - in which we need to ask, notwithstanding Benn's argument, what the "best" engagement with the situation is, with special reference to twisting Turkey and Saudi Arabia's arms in respect of their tacit (?) / explicit (?) support for Daesh.

In connection with various themes above, finally, an Economist article on ++Justin Welby's speech in the House of Lords re the air attack motion, is more than worth a look at. Not only does ++Justin think the just war criteria have been met for the UK to justify engagement, he also as a Christian theologian challenges Qatar and Saudi theologians to re-examine their Salafist theology (which underpins Daesh's justification for their thuggery).


72 comments:

tachesterton said...

Peter, I didn't think it's permissible to expound one part of the teaching of Jesus in such a way as to make it repugnant to another. Every time Jesus mentions enemies in the gospels, it's in the context of loving them. And of course, he was well aware of the arguments the Zealots would have made - that those Roman enemies were oppressing the people of Israel and had murdered innocents again and again. He was well aware of how they had brutally put down Jewish rebellions and routinely nailed people to crosses in broad daylight in full view of friends, families and all the good folk of Jerusalem.

Interesting, then, that he himself does not use the parable of the Good Samaritan as an argument to put armed police on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho and do preemptive strikes against the bandits. Rather, he uses an enemy - a Samaritan - as the hero of his story. Interesting.

Tim Chesterton

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter, Nationalist voter as I am; I was amazed at the passion with which the Hon. Hilary Benn (a Socialist) addressed the House of Commons in this video presentation you have set before us on this thread. If only all politicians could be so clear and categorical in their denunciation of the facistic ethos of Daesh, in its deadly attacks against anyone who does not embrace the Fundamentalist ethos that has motivated the desire to establish a Caliphate in Syria and Iraq - extending, eventually, to all parts of the known world; we might not be in the position that faces us today.

Mr. Benn rightly challenged his own Socialist colleagues in the House to remember the Socialist Tradition that has fostered relationships with peace , freedom and justice-loving peoples throughout the world. His speech a available on this thread, should be heard by everyone who is still debating the morality of the use of force agaisnt Daesh.

Of course, Peace must still be our aim. But when we are faced with the threat of international terrorism, we surely have a corporate responsibility to help in the joint defence of everyone against totalitarian rule under an unjust religious fiefdom - whether it be Muslim, Christian or any other religious group intent on abolishing the fundamental human rights of 'outsiders' who do not share their particular religious philosophy.

Having been part of a generation of English people whose siblings were invovled in the figtht against Nazism in world-War II, I have to admit to the fear of global war. However, my human conscience could not stand by and do nothing when threatened by a totalitarian regime that seeks to destroy, rather than build up, our world community, on the basis of ideological sectarianism.

A very satatemanlike speech from Mr. Benn!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Tim
Excellent counterpoints!
I take your (implied) point that an argument for going to war to defeat fascism would be stronger for taking passages which tackle going-to-war-to-defeat evil, rather than the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

Nevertheless, the love of enemies in some situations needs counterbalancing with the love of neighbours: I remain comfortable with the case for going to war to defeat Hitler and Mussolini (hypothetical for me, born after WW2).

tachesterton said...

Peter and Ron, the war to defeat Hitler and Mussolini was won, as far as we were concerned - but then we were on the right side of the Iron Curtain. What about those who were consigned by it to forty-five years of Communist rule?

Peter, interesting that you should set the love of enemy against the love of neighbour, given your choice of the Good Samaritan as a text - the passage in which the enemy turned out to be the neighbour.

I'm still waiting for a justification from the teaching of Jesus (the word made flesh, as Ron often reminds us) of taking up the sword of war against an enemy - something that Ron's hero, St. Francis, refused to do.

Tim C.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Tim
Those consigned behind the Iron Curtain were there because Hitler invaded Russia, not because Britain showed neighbourly love to Poland and declared war when Hitler invaded Poland. My sense of "success" re WW2 has less to do with "we won" and more to do with "all European Jews were not wiped out" and "the evil totalitarian grip of Hitler over Germany did not, in the end, become an evil totalitarian grip over Europe and possibly even beyond." That is not a bad result. I think even Jesus might have approved. (Ditto thinking of what Japanese rule over NZ might have meant. They hadn't exactly shown any niceness in their treatment of our POWs).

I am not quite as settled as you are about the teaching and example of Jesus (or of Francis) in respect of certain kinds of conflict and potential conflicts. Yes, in the face of Roman totalitarian rule Jesus did not urge insurrection. But there was a lot of wisdom in that since it would have been pretty futile. Did Jesus ever have occasion to comment on the question of "love of neighbour" / "love of enemy" in respect of nation-states, treaties and obligations thereof? Or, for that matter, on what one is to do, as an individual or nation-state if one has the power to protect the innocent from the violent aggressor? (It is that perspective I am coming from when I pit love of neighbour v love of enemy. Is it love of my enemy if I insist that you my neighbour also must suffer from that enemy because I refuse to use power at my disposal to protect you?)

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, I'm glad to see that you and I, on this particular issue, have a similar world-view. Certainly the Old Testament warriors seem to have been aided by Yahweh in their battle against their enemies. So, despite Tim';s objection. there is evidence of God's support of warring against injustice - when there semed no other way of overcoming it.

Tim, I recognise your argument, which I have used myself, in support of Blessed Francis of Assisi's accommodation with the enemy (The Caliph). However, the Francis incident took place at a time of comparitive Muslim enlightenment - with a Caliph open to religious accommodation with other religious thought. Otherwise - like today's Muslim extremists (Daesh) - his influence with the Caliph would not have even been considered.

Daesh really is a religious fundamentalist lunatic fringe, intent, in their sectarian ideolog, on using violence as a means of extinguishing 'non-believers'. The only defence against such violent religious extremism is to meet it firstly, with an invitation to dialogue; and, failing that, to resist with such force as is necessary to contain the threat against world peace.

If this had not occurred, in the case of the Allied actions against the Fascist Dictators in world War II, neither Tim nor I (having both been born in the U.K.) would be alive to tell the tale. Likewise, in the case of Peter; if Japan had been allowed to continue its campaign in the Pacific - ended, abruptly, by the atomic bomb - New Zealand and australia might now have been under a different type of Fasciost occupation.

In all matters of peaceful negotiation, it takes two to tango.

Andrei said...

Actually if you want to tackle Daish using force you have to go to the source which is neither in Syria nor Iraq

But the Brits getting involved in Syria to fight Daish is a smokescreen even a lie, they are actually there to block Iranian and Russian moves to aid the Government in Damascus in regaining control over its own territory

There are some very malignant forces at play here and we are headed for WW3

MichaelA said...

That good Samaritan fellow sure has a lot to answer for...

MichaelA said...

Well put, Fr Ron.

Anonymous said...

Q: Might it possibly be the case that those with guns and those with baptisms have qualitatively different responsibilities for the violence endemic to a fallen world, so that the virtues of a civil ruler and those of a Christian are not be the same?

A: Romans 13:1-6

Father Ron Smith said...

Here is the latest from some bishops in the house of Lords - including comments from the current Bishop of Coventry - mu home diocese, which suffered such devastation during World War II. He sees the need for intervention, while yet warning of the ideological consequances of indiscriminate use of force - even though this certainly is the tactic used by Daesh.

One sees the need for all religious leaders to meet together, in a concerted attempt to end religious fundamentalism - based on out-dated understandings of human behaviour.

Brendan McNeill said...

Peter

We seem to be forgetting that at heart, the battle in the Middle East is a sectarian struggle between competing interpretations of Islam. It influences the west only in so far as we have been foolish enough to allow wide spread Muslim immigration into our countries.

The Good Samaritan to one side for a moment, do we honestly believe that it’s possible for the west to impose a military solution in that region? If we do, then we are delusional, and have learned nothing from our most recent 15 years of blood and slaughter in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our bombing of Libya.

How well did that work out?

How will more of the same produce a different outcome this time?

You could make a case for the military rescue of Jews, Christians and other non-Muslims from the region, and provide them with a safe corridor out of the conflict zone with the opportunity for resettlement in the west.

That would be a clearly defined ‘Good Samaritan’ mission with a beginning, middle and an end.

But no, our politicians believe they can ‘save lives’ by engaging in more blood and slaughter. Furthermore, being ‘blind to religion’ they give no preference to Christians and other minorities who have been displaced by the persecution and violence, seeing them as no different to the Muslims who are on the losing side – today.

In short, we have a failed secular ideology attempting to defeat a failed religious ideology. One has the technology but will not use it; the other has time, youth and will.

America has not won a war for sixty years, and they have no interest in winning this one. We are foolish indeed to engage beyond the rescue mission I have outlined above.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
I agree with you that past forays into the ME by Western powers have been counter-productive, faulty, etc.
I cannot agree with you that (e.g.) removing Christians, Jews etc from the ME, and/or restricting migration of Muslims will reach a solution satisfactory to the West.
Various Daesh terrorist actions in recent times have at best been supported by recent migrants but they have not been the sole responsibility of recent migrants. Accordingly the West (including Russia) face a challenging question of how to bring Daesh to an end, otherwise the terrorism will continue. Further, Daesh have slowly been expanding their operations, beyond Syria/Iraq to Libya and (I see today) Yemen. At what point do we find this expansion unsatisfactory and require a military response? Now or later, after more expansion?

Now, absolutely, there are arguments to be had about the most effective pathway to destruction of Daesh, and, in particular at this time, whether bombing Daesh is "fit for purpose." But what I am now beyond arguing is whether something should be done to/against Daesh or not.

Andrei said...

Peter Saudi Arabia is at war in Yemen and has been bombing it for six months or more

Prior to that the USA bombed it with cruise missiles and drone strikes for years

Theoretically they were targeting Al Qaeda but in fact many of the dead were local Shiite tribesmen (the arch enemies of Al Qaeda)

A dirty little secret war has been being fought in Yemen for years and it is about neutralizing Shiite and hence Iranian influence on the peninsula.

The so called "war on terror" has provided cover for many crimes that have nothing to do with terrorism but to do with the geo strategical interests of Western Oligarchs who are allied with the Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia where it is illegal to possess the Holy Bible

Brendan McNeill said...

Peter

If the problem is (as you suggest) ISIS/Daesh and its expanding franchises around the world, then I might agree with you. But what if the real problem is not ISIS/Daesh but Mohammad?

New Zealand and Australia are not responsible for what happens in Iraq, Libya or Yemen.

Nation states are responsible for policing their own borders. Only fools welcome their enemies as friends.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
It is a confusing situation, including the fact that the West has concerns about global terrorism irrespective of "geo strategical interests of Western Oligarchs who are allied with the Gulf States" and has such geo strategical interests, whether or not the terrorism abates.

Andrei said...

Have you ever read "the Guns of August" - Peter?

The armies are gathering - and it isn't about "terrorism" but it makes for a good slogan.

Germany's on board and the Netherlands are next - we have our token force in theater, our guys are currently training battle hardened veterans how to suck eggs but we are showing the flag

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
Who is the book by?

Andrei said...

Peter "The Guns of August"is by Barbara W. Tuchman and is perhaps the definitive history of the lead up to the First World War

There are some very ominous things going on as we speak, the storm clouds are gathering.

And I wonder if there will be anyone left to write the book after the dust has cleared.

But if there is and the book is written that speech you embedded will be revealed as the pompous foolishness that it is

Father Ron Smith said...

Andrei, it seems you're all saddled up and ready to ride, then?
Go, Cowboy!

carl jacobs said...

Andrei

There are no gathering storm clouds.

In the first place, the collective military might of Europe couldn't force the crossing of a road against the resistance of a determined school guard. Every single Western country not named the United States has chronically underspent on defense in favor of its welfare state and has done for years. Without exception. They have done so on the assumption that "someone else" will protect them if push came to shove. The West is incapable of military action without the United States. Literally. Europe couldn't even conduct the air campaign against Libya without access to US capabilities.

Neither is there any political possibility that either the spoiled kept governments of Europe or their populations could possibly bestir themselves to fight a war. They may be willing to send a few pilots hither and yon to bomb a few places to "demonstrate resolve" or something. But the idea that any of these countries would mobilize themselves to fight a major war is beyond comprehension. Europe doesn't "do war" anymore. It is famously the post-war continent.

In the second place, the Russians are just beginning a military modernization program as a result of the poor performance of the Russian military in Georgia. Russia is in no shape to fight a major war. There is a long-term threat to Europe as Russia re-emerges - especially since the West seems intent on antagonizing Russia and ignoring its vital interests. Europe after all is now mostly a collection of vanity states that individually do not have the ability to generate any significant military capacity. NATO just offered membership to another useless hanger-on in Montenegro. That nation has less than 2000 men in uniform for all services combined.

In the third place, there is no appetite for war in the US. And unless the US chooses to fight, there won't be any war. No American president is going to commit American forces to Syria. No one is threatening the gulf states. What is happening in the Middle East is the unraveling of San Remo. A power vacuum has produced chaos. That has created a catastrophe of civil war, but there isn't much that can be done about it. After Iraq, no one is going to try. No one will take up the responsibility to protect Syria.

To avoid a war, the following would be advisable.

1. Europe needs to figure out how to build a collective military that can fight on its own, or Germany needs to re-emerge as a dominant military power. Take your pick. Europe cannot keep outsourcing its security to the US indefinitely. It has to quit this reversion to self-indulgent adolescence and grow up.

2. Stay away from Ukraine and seek rapprochement with Russia. That nation is eventually going to re-incorporate Ukraine and the reality is that no one other than Russia will fight a war about it. Don't provoke conflicts you won't finish.

3. Accept the fact that the Post WWI settlement in the Middle East is unraveling and that these events must just burn themselves out. It's going to be bloody and messy and there is no way to prevent it. Stay out of it.

4. Western countries had better figure out that the continuation of Western civilization depends upon its people accepting the imposed obligation to have children in sufficient numbers to maintain population. Unless that happens, nothing else matters.

Andrei said...

Karl as I wrote my last comment Turkey was invading Iraq - heading for Mosul
Rsponse 1 to Karl

As I wrote my last comment these things were occurring

A NATO naval task force including an American missile carrier armed with nuclear weapons was entering the Black Sea

Another NATO Naval Task force is gathering in the Eastern Mediterranean

Troops and Tanks are being moved to East Ukraine

And gross provocations north of the Isthmus of Perekop the land bridge to Crimea are continuing including the downing of power lines that carry electricity from Russia too Crimea are ongoing

Andrei said...

Karl Jacobs response 2

Europe after all is now mostly a collection of vanity states that individually do not have the ability to generate any significant military capacity. NATO just offered membership to another useless hanger-on in Montenegro

This of course is being done to deliberately provoke Russia as well as Serbia and Macedonia

And while you as a citizen of the "exceptional Nation" may sniff at Montenegro's meager military it is in fact a totally unviable Nation of a mere 600,000 souls most of whom are desperately poor

It was ripped from the rump of Yugoslavia to ensure that Serbia had no access to the sea but is completely landlocked - it political leadership is of course owned by the USA and while their citizens are desperately poor the political elite number among the richest men in Europe.

That meager military does come in handy when to show loyalty to the Empire the obligatory gay pride parade is held in Podgorica - consisting of people brought in from North Western Europe to cavort in front of Orthodox Churches these men can be deployed to keep the outraged citizens at bay

Images of these events can been shown on BBC to show the world how backward those Balkan Christian peasants are.

Of course the events that lead to Montenegro becoming a "useless hanger-on" a tin pot little country if you will was NATO's illegal and immoral bombing in 1999 - an act terrorism that makes the recent events in Paris seem like a Sunday school picnic - but its not terrorism when the exceptional nation does it is it? No its a "humanitarian intervention" according to the spin masters

Of course what these terrorists were after was Kosovo where they have built a huge military base Camp Bondsteel to make sure that the Governments of a Balkan Nations know who their master is and don't disobey the dictats of Washington

Andrei said...

Karl Jacobs response 3
the Russians are just beginning a military modernization program as a result of the poor performance of the Russian military in Georgia

Dear Karl - the South Ossetia war lasted 5 whole days in 2008

It began with the so called "Rose Revolution" when the Government of Georgia was overthrown (sold as an advance of Democracy to credulous Western Sheep such as yourself) and an American puppet call Mikhail Saakashvili installed as President

On the first day of the Beijing Olympics, when the world wasn't paying attention MR Saakashvili launched a surprise air and artillery attack on the city of Tskhinval(i) in South Ossetia - killing many in the process

Russia responded immediately and decisively - driving the Georgian troops all the way back to Tbilisi before returning home the point having been made

No doubt mistakes were made during this conflict but it hasn't ended up a quagmire like Viet Nam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Libya.

One of the funny things to come out of this conflict was American media notably both Fox and CNN used Russian Video of the destruction of Tskhinval(i) presenting it to a credulous American public as video of the Georgian town of Gori - which since the average American cannot even find Europe on the map, let alone South Ossetia are not hard to fool,

Mr Saakashvili is currently subject to an international arrest warrant issued by Georgia to face charges there for corruption but he is safe acting as Governor of Odessa in Ukraine (you couldn't make this up if you tried) where a major massacre took place a little more than a year ago now that nobody wants to know about

carl jacobs said...

Andrei

My name is spelled with a 'C.' You couldn't possibly have missed that salient fact. You had to have to read my name in order to know to whom you would respond. That means you deliberately chose to re-write my name with a 'K.' It was not a mistake. So why would you deliberately misspell my name like that? I don't know where you are from, but in the United States, a deliberate switch from a hard 'C' to a 'K' in written text is done for one, only one, and no more than one very specific reason. It is done to make the word look more "German". It is a cheap way to imply that someone or something is either a Nazi or a Fascist. If you want to say that, then have the courage to say it out loud. Don't imply it from the shadows. Let your "Yes" be "Yes." Otherwise, have the good grace to desist. Because it's a lie, and it annoys the hell out of me.

carl jacobs <-- Note the hard 'c' at the begining of my name

Andrei said...

Apologies Carl

It not deliberate it is possibly because I use Cyrillic as well as Latin characters and hearing your name in my head implies K rather than C, C to me implies an "s" sound when encountering an unfamiliar word

The K variant of your name is used, if it wasn't I'd get it right but literally "C" feels unnatural to me and I wrote it on instinct and phonetics - not out of malice -

this is possibly how see your name spelled in my head К-а-р-л . I'm not sure but I do know given a choice between a hard C and a K variant spelling the K will win out every time because it feels right

Do you think about every letter as you type or do your fingers just find the right key? Think about it

carl jacobs said...

Andrei

Do you kniw? I can accept that explanation because I briefly considered it as a possibility and rejected it. I though "Maybe he spelled it phonetically and didn't check.". But I thought "No, he spelled 'Jacobs' correctly." That was my contribution to this misunderstanding.

This then is an interesting lesson for me as well - to not always read with an American lens. I should have ignored the offense I felt and made the charitable assumption. So I accept your explanation and your apology. And I will apologize in turn for jumping to a conclusion.

Andrei said...

You wrote through an American Lens Carl

Take this
NATO just offered membership to another useless hanger-on in Montenegro. That nation has less than 2000 men in uniform for all services combined.

Bringing Montenegro into the NATO fold is incredibly inflammatory - its not doing the poor Montenegrin's whose average income is less than US$500 per month any favours and that's a fact

What do suppose their view on the matter might be, recalling that they have been in living memory on the receiving end of NATO's bombs.

But at a time when common sense would say World leaders should be easing tensions why do something to ratchet them up - especially something as pointless in terms of European and American security as this

NYT editorial Russia’s Fury Over Montenegro and NATO

Right now Turkey under the cover of NATO membership is stealing the oil from both Iraq and Syria's oilfields and positioning itself to annex them, with, from where I sit, NATO's blessing - Russia and Iran stand in their way

And NATO countries including Britain and Germany are moving military assets into this theater under the cover of "fighting terrorism" but positioning them in a way that they can interfere with Syria's attempt with Russian and Iranian help to secure its border with Turkey to stop the flow of terrorists and arms into Syrian territory and the flow of oil and antiquities out of it where they can be sold to fund terrorism

It doesn't look good to me

Father Ron Smith said...

Another possibility in all of this dreadful scenario would be soft warnings and appeasement - which I suspect is beinng counselled by Tim and some others here. My question in that instance would be: Should we try that tactic, in the hope of forestalling further depredations by a well-armed and determined Daesh?

Having experienced the acute failure of accommodation given by Mr Neville Chamberlain (yes, I was alive and in school at the time) to Adolf Htiler and his Fascist cronies after their invasion threats to Europe in 1939; All Britain became aware quite quickly of how that strategy failed. It also allowed the enemy strategic advantages.

You cannot make peace with an implacable enemy who is determined to wipe you out. What is needed here is to prove to Daesh that the rest of us just will not tolerate religious conflagration.

Brendan McNeill said...

@Father Ron Smith

You wrote: "You cannot make peace with an implacable enemy who is determined to wipe you out." Agreed.

The difference between our experience today and the allied response to Hitler in 1939, is that back then we were 'here' and the Nazi's were over 'there'.

Those few Nazi's that were ‘here’ we interned for the duration of the war.

As the events in London, Paris, Boston New York, Sydney and San Bernardino remind us, the enemy is not simply 'over there' in the form of ISIS/Daesh residing in Syria and Iraq, but over 'here' living amongst us as well.

Therefore, if we believe that the eventual annihilation of ISIS/Daesh over 'there' is going to solve our problem 'here' then we are gravely mistaken. Local restive Muslim populations are the elephant in the room that no Western leader is prepared to have an honest conversation about, and likely never will.

Carl touched upon it with respect to western demographic decline, to which I would add Muslim immigration. We don't talk about the first issue in this context, and it would be 'racist and bigoted' to talk about the second.

What is the 'happy ending' we are supposed to envisage with unchecked Muslim immigration into Europe, and 'managed' Muslim immigration into other Western countries including New Zealand?

tachesterton said...

Father Ron, if you would describe Jesus' words about loving your enemies, praying for those who hate you, and doing good to those who despitefully use you as 'appeasement', then I guess I will have too plead guilty.

If you would describe St. Paul's words (quoting from Proverbs) that if our enemy is hungry or thirsty, we are to feed him and give him drink as appeasement, then again, I would have to plead guilty.

I have no interest in what Neville Chamberlain should or should not have done in 1938. I have a great deal of interest in what the international Christian church, in Britain and in Germany, should have done. A church which calls Jesus 'Lord' and then refuses to do what he says because it appears to be too dangerous is a church whose obedience is not worth very much.

I have no interest in appeasement. I have a great deal of interest in finding out what it actually means to obey Jesus as Lord. And I note that most of the replies on this thread so far are totally disconnected from the teaching of Jesus. Apparently his words are considered to be irrelevant. Which is interesting, given the fact that, unlike the subject of homosexuality, the subject of nonviolence and love for enemies was something on which he actually had something very clear and uncompromising to say.

Tim C.

Jean said...

Hi All

It is apparent Daesh is using power vacums and/or existing tensions between peoples in order to increase their presence. Especially if one looks at Iraq (when the US removed its forces it left an unstable regime and of course where Sunni Muslims which Daesh 'claim' represent were mistreated for many years), France (and the high tension already there between Muslims and the general populace), Mali (currently in civil war) and Syria (a civil war begun primarily over the the treatment of some of the population, mostly Kurds, by the Assad government - they just got to the point where anger took over - and if I had had my citizenship and lands taken off me I might have too).

It is of course complicated because the nation states within the Middle East will side with a different sectarian Muslim faction within Syria - Sunni or Shia dependent upon there own predominan allegiance. However, ultimately all 'appear' to be against Daesh. The biggest challenge would be to work at re-conciliation or at least agreeement between the two factions within Syria so their supporters can in effect be 'on the same side' and work by the majority of Syrians in their opposition of Daesh.

As for European/Western military action now?

My first reaction is like that of Tim's. The calls of movements such as 24-7 prayer who have witnessed God moving in the Muslim countries in the area, alongside the Lebanese population (first for a very long time) rejecting sectarian division as a valid reason and instead being more open to rejecting the perpetrators of violence, alongside operators of US drones in Syria being traumatized after acknowledging they knew their targets included children - spell out to me a need if at all possible for a different approach.

Personally I don't see myself as having enough impartial information to say what type of military action if any is justified but I think how it is carried out if it is decided upon and on whose behalf needs careful thought.

WWII is the only war I know of where as a Christian I would have supported. Terrorism, however, is a different beast to fight as many countries who have lived with this warfare will tell you. It is insidious and plays on people's emotions and beliefs. Hence, I think Justin Webly's remarks re ideological responses are critical lets not be too reticent and afraid to offend and pretend their is not a section of theology within Islam that can be and in some instances is being used to promote violence against people who do not follow Islam, as Daesh has not declared war on any country they have declared war on all who do not believe as they do; and lets refuse to be manipulated into antagonism to see others only through a lense of persona non grata as Daesh so obviously works it's wiles to do; and most of all let us remember we are already on the 'winning side' of the one whose Kingdom is not of this world - pray, for our weapons are not the weapons of this world but they have the power to demolish strongholds that set themselves up against God.

Blessings to all,
Jean

P.S. Nice apology Carl, I too have never heard of your reasoning re the use of K.. And culture here has long since moved passed seeing anything German as a negative slant.

Andrei said...

So the lies continue to be told

Who is the Prince of lies Fr Ron?

Do you really believe that Great Britain is going to Syria to fight "Daesh" especially after what happened to Libya?

They are going there to destroy Syria, Fr Ron, not to fight terrorism - to fight Islamic terrorism you would have to go to the heart of the beast and it isn't in Syria, Iraq or Libya and never was - and none of these countries have anything to do with the problems of radicalized young men in Western European cities and smashing them up wont solve that problem

Father Ron Smith said...

I must admit to everyone on this thread, that I have no personal answer to the problems of Daesh. There now, I've admitted it. If anyone one of you has a definitive and constructive way through this dilemms, then spell it out clearly, on this thread under your own name, and then our Host, Peter, if so-minded, can put it to the United Nations. I'm sure they would accept your informed opinions.

My own resort is to pray: "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace".

Anonymous said...

The just war arguments here are passing the first test of showing a cause for intervention, but failing the second test of identifying an intervention that is itself just, proportional, and likely to succeed.

Jean and Tim, I wonder whether you might describe what you believe Christians should positively be doing to follow Jesus, given what we know.

Andrei, when you style Carl as Karl, it startles me. I have read Carl's comments for years, always picturing him as a military officer retired to a pleasant house with a wine cellar on Philadelphia's Main Line. Imagine my surprise then at reading your comments to Karl, whose defiant K conjures a Teutonic hard rocker in black leather who lives in a warehouse, grows hydroponic marijuana, plays heavy metal loudly enough to be dangerous, and drinks dark beer and espresso each night until dawn. Please be careful... ;-)

Back to serious writing...

Bowman Walton

Jean said...

Hi Bowman

Christian or otherwise I think all international experts with skills in negotiating and re-conciliation could work with the Assad government and the 'rebels' to first stabilise Syria. Then all parties/nations who believe Daesh needs to be disbanded could work with Syria without agravating already historical polarised political and religious tensions. (e.g. keep the main focus as the main focus).

As for actions well actually I believe prayer is a positive and real influence for whom we may consider 'enemies', 'victims' or 'friends' or 'leaders' involved in this situation. On a practical level I think Christians are already involved, many are working in refugee camps, many are taking in refugees, and others will be working with aid agencies. I believe as Jesus did we should speak about our own convictions yet still eat with and treat well followers of Islam or other faiths or people with differing political views rather than isolating them.

What each person can or can't do as a Christian in this instance will depend upon their location and their sphere of influence.

Overcoming evil with good is not easy but possible - having just finished reading Steve Saints book his relationship, ministry and love for his tribal amazon father who was the person who killed his natural father. One thing he said his father, Jim Elliot and the others who went to the tribe agreed upon was that they would not kill if it came down to it because while they knew they were going to heaven the ones they were reaching out to wouldn't. I can't say I have that faith or personally rule out any justified violence, however, I can't dispute they lived it the way Jesus lived it and because of it many lives have been saved - in the present day and eternally.

carl jacobs said...

Bowman

It's true. I am a former military officer. But I left the service a long time ago. I am an Engineer and not retired. But I live in the Midwest. I would never live in Philadelphia. The city simply cannot be forgiven for the Eagles.

Andrei said...

Christian or otherwise I think all international experts with skills in negotiating and re-conciliation could work with the Assad government and the 'rebels' to first stabilise Syria..

Exactly What Mr Putin and Sergei Lavrov have been proposing all along Jean and which has been comprehensively rejected by the usual suspects though they are negotiating the Geneva - one problem is many of the so called "rebels" are Jihadists and mercenaries who are not from Syria in the first place and you cannot negotiate with them

But the big issue is the "Assad must go" mantra emanating from the White house and number 10. It is not up to them to dictate who leads Syria. it is up to the Syrian people

Brendan McNeill said...

To provide some perspective on this conversation, I think it’s helpful to differentiate between the responsibilities we have as individual Christians, that is to love our enemies, turn the other cheek, pray for those who despitefully use us, and contrast that with the responsibilities of nation states.

They are not the same thing.

Nation states have the responsibility first and foremost to protect their citizens.

Imagine what would have happened in 1939 if Churchill and Roosevelt believed it was their responsibility to enact Jesus Sermon on the Mount as Nation States?

We would all be speaking German and there would be no Israel today, and no Jews.

There is no radical Islam, no moderate Islam, just Islam. That is our 21st century challenge, both as individual Christians and as Nation States.

Father Ron Smith said...

I hope everyone contributing to this thread might agree that - in the light of his recent suggestion to ban Islamic immigrants into the USA - that the mega-rich Donald Trump is not the person for the White House! He really belongs to Never-Never Land.

Andrei said...

"There is no radical Islam, no moderate Islam, just Islam. That is our 21st century challenge"

I wonder what the relatives of the 50,000 who died under NATO bombs dropped by Godless barbarians from the Post Christian West on Libya think their 21st Challenge is Mr McNeil?

Or the Christians of Syria whose daughters were raped by "moderate rebels" armed by the superior people of from over the Atlantic who in their hubris think they should determine who leads Syria and have the God given right to create havoc in Syria to advance their vision of the world by flooding it with weapons to undermine the lawful Government that they don't approve of?

Or the thousands of dead in Yemen their blood not yet dried in the sand - what would they say if they could talk do you think Mr McNeil

Barbarism is not limited to Muslim psychopaths and just because you've got hi tech weapons so you can commit your atrocities from afar - even blowing the poor apart half a world away from comfortable air conditioned rooms in Las Vegas well protected from any response from the tent dwelling Bedouins who stand in the way of your nations ambitions does not make you civilized Mr McNeil

There is a day of Judgement to come when all will be held accountable for their sins

Anonymous said...

The Donald will not be adding 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC to his portfolio of real estate investments. Neither, probably, will Bernie Sanders, the genial Democratic senator from rural Vermont who describes himself as a democratic socialist. But tellingly, Trump and Sanders have both defied their parties by endorsing *single payer* government health insurance for all. As with Barry Goldwater in 1964, the campaigns of both candidates could so remake their respective parties over time that they lose the White House but win the election.

A Republican Party (GOP) more like Trump would sound a lot like UKIP but would also have a focus on the economic fate of rural, elderly, and working class voters that the GOP's billionaire elite has never had. A GOP presidential candidate saying silly or offensive things is nothing new; a GOP presidential candidate intimidating Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers was unimaginable until Trump actually did it. Trump is rightly denounced as a demogogue, but demogogues are the natural voices of partisan bases pulling their parties into new alignments. He leads the polls of GOP voters, so at least for the moment, the *masters of the universe* have lost control of their party.

A Democratic Party more like Sanders would stand by its positions in the sex wars but would pivot to, again, focus on the economic fate of rural, elderly, and working class voters that the Democratic elite has recently written off. A Democratic candidate for president raging against gun violence is like a pope deploring atheism, but a candidate like Sanders who goes on to say that only cultural sensitivity to rural voters can bring laws that reduce gun violence is like a pope saying that Luther had a point.

Barring one of a very few developments, the Clintons will return to the White House in 2016. But even if Trump and Sanders left the race today-- and with such excellent poll numbers there is no reason why they should-- they will have broken taboos in their respective parties that, in much of the US, stand in the way of truly competitive congressional races. All sustained presidential campaigns leave some legacy of donors, organizers and activists who share a bond and sometimes a vision that drives their parties after the candidates have left the scene. In the House and Senate races of 2018, we will see the lasting influence, if any, of Trump's focus on GOP voters who don't play golf and Sanders's focus on winning new territory to Democratic politics.

Bowman Walton

Brendan McNeill said...

@Andrei

My statement regarding the nature of Islam was from the Muslim Turkish President Erdogan who said: “There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it”

http://my.telegraph.co.uk/abdulmuhd/amuhd/1476/moderate-islam-is-an-insult-to-islam-the-cultural-muslim/

‘Radical Islam’ is a western construct. Just like ‘perverted Islam’ is a western construct. I understand why politicians with resident Muslim populations invent these terms, but there is nothing ISIS are doing that Mohammad didn’t do – wage war, slaughter captives, take sex slaves etc. Yes, it is perverted to the western mind, but it is still Islam.

@Father Ron

Sometimes we dismiss a policy option simply on the basis of who proposed it. I’m not a Trump fan personally, but what he proposes makes sense if we agree that ‘death by jihad’ is simply a numbers game. That is to say the more Muslims you have in your community, the more likely the atrocities will occur.

I note that Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have made similar suggestions.

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/12/07/sens-cruz-paul-call-end-muslim-immigration-rubio-ignores-issue/

Father Ron Smith said...

"there is nothing ISIS are doing that Mohammad didn’t do – wage war, slaughter captives, take sex slaves etc. Yes, it is perverted to the western mind, but it is still Islam." - Brandan Mc.Neil -

There is bibilical evidence of other nations/races that have waged war in the very same manner - at a time when there were no Muslims!! So we must not generalise along the path of our own prejudices. That was the custom of the times. Sadly, the lunatic fringe of feundamentalist religion is ever prone to wipe out the opposition.

President Obama is now taking heed of a prophetic element within Daesh that looks forward to a ground-war confrontation with Western armies. It seems that Armageddon canmnot come to soon for the faith-filled radicals. Perhaps Mr Trumop is not in on the loop?

Andrei said...

ISIS foot soldiers in Syria and Iraq (and "moderate rebels") are behaving exactly the same way German Soldiers (and not only Germans btw but "the good guys:" as well - lets not look at logs in eyes) behaved during WW2.

Do you have any idea of the horrors inflicted on the people of Belarus 73 tears ago? No of course not

ISIS foot soldiers are for the most part mercenaries Brendan McNeil - they fight for money and women.

There is nothing new here. all of these horrors are as old as humanity itself and is part of our nature.

We as civilized human beings need to support the structures that contain and limit these horrors

Demonizing a group of people for the Faith, race - whatever is the road to perdition

It is a trick used by demagogues to rouse people into committing atrocities or at least turning a blind eye to the atrocities committed against the target group

Brendan McNeill said...

@Andrei @Father Ron

You are both right – we should should suspend judgement and accept the acts of violent jihad from our Muslim immigrant population. Clearly we deserve it based upon our sins and those of our forefathers.

Anonymous said...

we should should suspend judgement and accept the acts of violent jihad from our Muslim immigrant population

Straw man Brendan McNeill

The acts of violence committed by young Muslim men are totally unacceptable

They are atrocities and the problems of radicalized young men in the West needs to be addressed - it is a major issue

But it should not be conflated with the wars being conducted against the Syrian, Iraqi and Yemeni peoples - those responsible and encouraging radicalization of Western youth do not come from those places. And escalating these conflicts will not solve this issue ( and this post is about escalating the conflict in Syria in a way that will make its peaceful resolution much more difficult)

The worst acts of random violence in the West against innocent people have not been committed by Muslims - examples Port Arthur Massacre, Aramoana, Dunblane, Hoddle Street in Melbourne, McDonalds in San Diego the list goes on and on.

If you look at what has been published about the leaders of the Paris atrocity you see an extensive criminal history and not a huge involvement in the Muslim religion in fact.

There is a crisis in the West as the native populations, which have failed to reproduce in sufficient numbers for forty years is replaced by a more fecund immigrant population with an entirely different cultural and religious heritage.

How this is managed and plays out remains to be seen

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous
Please give your name!

Andrei said...

Anonymous was myself Andrei

A whoops with Blooger

Anonymous said...

Carl

Astonishing to think that I know your views on many things theological and Anglican but not your team.

Giants, Redskins, or Cowboys?

The Eagles sometimes play well-- especially lately, alas-- but their fans need help.

Patriots, Crimson.

Bowman Walton

Brendan McNeill said...

@Andrei

You wrote:

“The worst acts of random violence in the West against innocent people have not been committed by Muslims - examples Port Arthur Massacre, Aramoana, Dunblane, Hoddle Street in Melbourne, McDonalds in San Diego the list goes on and on. “

Well the list does go ‘on and on’ and for some reason you have forgotten the 3,000 killed by Muslims who flew planes into the twin towers and the Pentagon at 9/11, or were they not ‘true Muslims’ and therefore cannot be counted?

None of us has set out to demonize a group of people for their faith – we didn’t need to as Muslims have done a good job of this all by themselves.

I’ll be the first person to rejoice when the jihad stops, in the mean time we need to discuss practical and humane ways to mitigate the risk for civilian populations living in the west, and all options need to be considered.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
Your statements are becoming highly objectionable, at least to the extent that I am understanding you as saying that all Muslims constitute a problem in respect of Islamic terrorism.

Would we Christians have enjoyed being told we were the problem because Irishmen were blowing people up in various countries? How would we feel with Trump type statements about not being welcome in the USA?

Should Jews have been banned from migrating after WW2 to (say) Britain because of the terrorist actions of the Stern Gang as they murdered British officials in (then) Palestine etc?

Besides which, it is impractical to ban one whole large group of people from migrating. On what basis would the ban take place? Through signed up membership of a mosque? Simply having an Islamic sounding name? Would atheists from Syria qualify for residency? And what about the Sonny Bill Williams of this world who are (a) Muslim (b) do not have an Islamic sounding name (c) moving from country to country quite a bit!?

Having experienced warmth and welcome in a Muslim country I once lived in, I am not about to support closing the door to Muslims here in NZ. And as for Trump ...

Andrei said...

Brendan the largest Muslim country in the World is Indonesia and there is a low level Muslim insurgency there

But I have never heard of Indonesians being involved in terrorism outside of Indonesia

As for 9/11 where did the majority of the terrorists involved in that come from 15 out of the 19, and where did the money to fund it come from?

The answer to this is the joker in the pack

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

For the record, my family has resettled Muslim refugees in Christchurch, we have broken bread in their home, and they have with us in ours. I have employed Muslims in my business. I have no animosity towards any person of faith or no faith.

However from a practical perspective, the problem we now face with Muslim immigration in the west, is that we cannot tell who is ‘safe’ and who is not. The San Bernardino jihadists both had well paid middle class jobs, a young baby and were said by workmates to be ‘living the American dream’.

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-syed-farook-had-traveled-to-saudi-arabia-married-appeared-to-live-american-dream-co-workers-say-20151202-story.html

These were not disenfranchised Muslims, ostracized for their beliefs, marginalized by white Americans and living on the edge of society. By all reports they were ‘well integrated’ and showed no outward sign of radicalisation – until they did.

Practically how does any society protect themselves from such a risk?

Trump’s solution may jar with our liberal sensibilities, but what is the alternative? We have been ‘reaching out’ to the Muslim community since 9/11 and has the situation improved or worsened?

I’m on record here as saying we should get all ‘crusader’ armies out of the Middle East - Killing Muslims in order to save Muslims has ceased to make any sense to me. On the other hand you want to send in the troops to defeat ISIS - well that’s fine, but may I gently ask who is the greatest hawk, you or Trump?

At least there is no widespread bloodshed and slaughter associated with his policy, and when it comes to protecting us at home, his policy is more likely to be effective.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
I appreciate very much the response you have given, not least because you are clearly a man of compassionate action and practical concern, including for our nation.

Nevertheless I continue to be concerned about a blanket ban approach.
1. Andrei's point is well made: no one is worried about Indonesians migrating here (or there).
2. Consistent with your argument would be an Australian ban on Kiwis moving to Australia since (especially recently, as you will be aware) it has been widely publicised that a group of Kiwis have embarked on violent crime in Oz. How would Oz tell violent from non-violent Kiwis apart? Simpler to ban the lot of us!
3. While I can see some merit in an argument which proposed that, for the time being, citizens of countries A, B, and C were denied visas etc, in the present situation, at least from Syria and Iraq, there are genuine refugees looking for a safe haven of a country in which to settle and to bring up their families without fear. Are we to suspend our refugee policy because we might have a future problem with a few terrorists? (We would not suspend acceptance of Chinese migrants because we might have a problem with Triad gangsters settling here ...)

carl jacobs said...

Bowman

Isn't it obvious? All well-taught and doctrinally sound individuals are Dallas Cowboys fans. It's practically evidence of election. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Actually, Carl, that was my guess. But truth can be stranger than fiction, and for all the reasons given or implied, the thought of a reformed, ex-military engineer cheering on the Giants or the Redskins was too hilarious to omit.

Bowman Walton

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

Did you get my lengthy reply to your three questions:

1. Andrei's point is well made: no one is worried about Indonesians migrating here (or there).
2. Consistent with your argument would be an Australian ban on Kiwis moving to Australia since (especially recently, as you will be aware) it has been widely publicised that a group of Kiwis have embarked on violent crime in Oz. How would Oz tell violent from non-violent Kiwis apart? Simpler to ban the lot of us!
3. While I can see some merit in an argument which proposed that, for the time being, citizens of countries A, B, and C were denied visas etc, in the present situation, at least from Syria and Iraq, there are genuine refugees looking for a safe haven of a country in which to settle and to bring up their families without fear. Are we to suspend our refugee policy because we might have a future problem with a few terrorists? (We would not suspend acceptance of Chinese migrants because we might have a problem with Triad gangsters settling here ...)

I'm happy at one level if you chose not to publish it - it is your blog after all, but I'm just a little concerned that you have challenged me to respond, said that "Andrei's point is well made:" which is of course nonsense as I clearly demonstrated, and I am seemingly left without a right of reply?

Again, it's your blog, and also I accept you may not have received my post, which is a possibility. :-)

Blessings
Brendan

Peter Carrell said...

I have not seen it Brendan.

Brendan McNeill said...

Part 1/3

Hi Peter

Thank you for the moderate response. ☺

I’d like to address each of your questions as best I can in-line below….

1. Andrei's point is well made: no one is worried about Indonesians migrating here (or there).

REPLY:

The obvious question is why not?

There are currently 200 Indonesians fighting for ISIS according to that bastion of right wing conservatism, the Guardian newspaper.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/11/indonesian-jihadis-could-be-galvanised-return-isis-fighters-analyst

Have we forgotten the 200 killed by Indonesian terrorists in the Bali bombings?

Our Government advises against travel in Indonesia stating a ‘high risk’ of terrorism there.

https://www.safetravel.govt.nz/indonesia

Two months ago, Indonesia’s last synagogue was ‘torn down’

http://jakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/news/javas-last-synagogue-torn-down/

http://www.jpost.com/Jewish-World/Jewish-News/Report-Indonesias-last-synagogue-destroyed-327907

ChristianityToday.com is one of many organizations reporting persecution of Christians in Indonesia, the burning of churches etc.

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/muslim.militants.burning.of.churches.persecution.of.christians.in.indonesia.spurred.by.imams.jihad.order/70601.htm

So, why should any rational person have cause for concern about those gentle Indonesian Muslims migrating to New Zealand?

Brendan McNeill said...

Part 2/3

2. Consistent with your argument would be an Australian ban on Kiwis moving to Australia since (especially recently, as you will be aware) it has been widely publicised that a group of Kiwis have embarked on violent crime in Oz. How would Oz tell violent from non-violent Kiwis apart? Simpler to ban the lot of us!

REPLY:

Peter, there is general criminal offending that takes place across all sections of society, all races, all ethnicities and people of all religious persuasions. We all understand that.

However, today there is only one demographic that believes they are under obligation by God to kill infidels, apostates, heretics and homosexuals.

Only one demographic whose sacred texts support this activity today.

Only one demographic whose prophet did these very things himself by way of example for his followers to emulate.

While we must all accept some risk from general criminal activity when living in liberal western pluralistic societies, is death by Islamic jihad an acceptable risk? Should we just shrug our shoulders, and say ‘oh well, at least it wasn’t me or my family’ and move on?

Or, given that it is such a clearly defined demographic, should we at the very least be putting some pressure on these communities to either reform Islam, or expose those living amongst them who do represent a clear and present danger to us all – assuming they know who they are?

Or should we place a moratorium on immigration from Muslim countries, and those who profess the Muslim faith? At least until they learn to play nicely with us?

I think as a society we are slowly moving beyond ‘doing nothing’ as a strategy against jihad, so let’s hear the options?

My second concern is that if those who are elected to protect us ‘do nothing’ domestically other than run defense for Islam and its followers, sooner or later there will be bloody retribution on innocent Muslims following a jihadist attack, and we are obligated to do all we can to prevent that.

Brendan McNeill said...

Part 3/3

3. While I can see some merit in an argument which proposed that, for the time being, citizens of countries A, B, and C were denied visas etc, in the present situation, at least from Syria and Iraq, there are genuine refugees looking for a safe haven of a country in which to settle and to bring up their families without fear. Are we to suspend our refugee policy because we might have a future problem with a few terrorists? (We would not suspend acceptance of Chinese migrants because we might have a problem with Triad gangsters settling here ...)

REPLY:

First of all, its not a question of ‘we might have a problem with a few terrorists’ we most definitely will have a problem and if John Key is to be believed, we already have a problem now. The point I have been labouring is that it is simply a numbers game.

We have a ‘minor’ problem now because we have around 1% Muslim population. Sydney has a greater problem because they have 2-4% Muslim population, Paris and France has a greater problem again because they have 8% - 10% Muslim population.

As to the Syrian Muslim refugee question, allow me to say this. First who do you call in Syria today in order to check refugee Ahmed Mohammad? Do you honestly believe there is some database in the Middle East that our immigration services or the UN HCR can log into in order to validate or exclude someone’s application?

If you or anyone else reading this post believes that, please contact me directly as I have several commercial transactions that would be of interest to you.

How do you think the 40 Muslims presently on the SIS terrorist watch list arrived here if not by passing the Immigration Services scrutiny?

Once Muslim immigrants arrive here how do we know they will not be subsequently radicalized while living in New Zealand?

How do we know that their children will not be radicalized? The London 7/7 bombers were second generation Muslims. San Bernardino’s Farook was born in the USA.

I have calculated that it is approximately 1 in 1,000 Muslims who would do us harm. I have taken that number from our SIS who says there are 40+ Muslims on their terrorist watch list, and we have about 40,000+ Muslims living in New Zealand.

For every 1,000 additional Muslims we bring in, we add one more to Rebecca Kitteradge’s front bench.

They admit they cannot watch them all, and as recently as today John Key acknowledged that we are unlikely to prevent a successful (Muslim) terrorist attack in NZ. If San Bernardino is any guide, it’s the ones who are not on the watch list that present the biggest problem.

Knowing this, let me ask you a question Peter, is it reasonable therefore to increase our Muslim population given that we are able to quantify the risk in this way?

If you answer ‘yes’ to that question, will you then feel any personal responsibility when we experience our first ‘death by jihad’ on NZ soil? When it happens, will you be posting about your grief, or your anger or possibly your foolishness?

New Zealand is unique in the western world at not yet having experienced jihadist slaughter on our soil. We still have the opportunity to prevent this by restricting Muslim immigration to zero. If people find this more offensive than innocent Kiwi’s being killed by local jihadists, then I’m confident as to which of us has the problem.

Father Ron Smith said...

"Practically how does any society protect themselves from such a risk?" - Brendan McNeil -

Brendan, there are NO GUARANTEES of freedom in this life. If you think so, you are living in Fantasy Land - the land of Never-Never.

For Christians, however, what we do have is Faith, Hope and Love, and if we exercise these - to the very best of our ability - it may be that we will not encourage the ire of enemies. Faith, Hope and Love, these three, and the greatest is LOVE.

Brendan McNeill said...

Dear Father Ron

First of all, I begin with the assumption that you are a person of integrity and good will, and that you sincerely believe what you have written.

I ask you therefore to think about what you have said, which I paraphrase as follows: ‘if we love to the very best of our ability, we will not encourage the ire of our enemies.’

Would you say therefore that Czechoslovakia’s problem in March 1939 was that they did not express enough love to Hitler and the Nazi party?

And, that Poland’s problem in September 1939 was that they did not express enough love to Hitler and the Nazi party?

And that Denmark and Norway’s problem in April/May 1940 was that they did not express enough love to Hitler and the Nazi party?

And that the San Bernardino jihadists Farook and his wife who by all reports were ‘living the American dream’ in December 2015 did not feel sufficient love from their fellow Americans that they felt entirely justified in slaughtering 14 and wounding more than 20?

The most deadly jihadist attack on American soil since 9/11.

No doubt one of us is ‘living in fantasy land’ as you so delicately put it, and I do accept there are no guarantees in life, but you can rest assured that I’m prepared to do a damn site more to protect my children and grandchildren than to tip toe around the religious sensibilities of the jihadists who hate us both at home and abroad.

We are facing the greatest existential threat of our generation, and I agree that prayer, love and mercy play an important part in our response to our Muslim neighbours. We are after all called to love our neighbour as ourselves.

But that doesn’t mean we should abandon our responsibility as watchmen and alert our neighbours, both Muslim and otherwise to the jihadist ideology that threatens to consume a 1,000 years of western civilisation and take us back to the days of Mohammad, best exampled by ISIS today.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
A general note: I am not trying to minimise real problems; but I am trying to keep things in perspective, and to avoid going "full Trump"!!
Briefly, re above:
1. There is plenty going on inside Indonesia re tensions etc but I still see a paucity of evidence of Indonesia "exporting" terrorism.
2. Governments are in a tricky position. They are well aware that to up the ante against Islam will lead to more violence against Muslims already within their countries and to likely radicalise further those open to radicalization. Some terrible things are happening to Muslims at the hands of non-Muslims. However, it would be helpful if government more robustly criticised Daesh and its supportive theologies and those promoting them.
3. Well put question! I think - on balance - my/our Christian duty is to take a risk on 999 refugees knowing that the 1/1000th might turn out to be a terrorist rather then reject the 999 refugees in case the 1/1000th turns out to be a terrorist. A question back to you: what risk do we run that a "full Trump" ban on Muslim migration would alienate more than 40 Muslims in our society (by your count there are 39,600 Muslims who might get really frightened by a full Trump ban. Fear is one of the mothers of violence!

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

Thanks for engaging on this. For the sake of argument:

1) First of all, we were not discussing the export of terrorism from Indonesia, but the risk associated with Indonesian Muslims coming to New Zealand. That said, reputable news sources suggest 500 Indonesians have gone to fight with ISIS.

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/jakarta-grapples-with-indonesian-pro-isis-fighters

Is that exporting terrorism in your opinion?

Given the destruction of Synagogues, the burning of Churches and persecution of Christians at the direction of Imams, are these the people we want in New Zealand?

2) Yes Western Governments are in a tricky position. Can we agree that the larger their domestic Muslim population, the more ‘tricky’ it is for them?

So help me here, what are the ‘terrible things happening to Muslims’ at the hands of non-Muslims in the west? Did someone throw bacon at a Mosque; did someone abuse a Muslim on the subway or on the bus? How do these ‘crimes’ stack up against the 14 slaughtered at San Bernardino or the 130 innocent victims killed in Paris, many of the wounded who were still alive and had their stomachs ripped open by their attackers?

3) You say: “I think - on balance - my/our Christian duty is to take a risk on 999 refugees knowing that the 1/1000th might turn out to be a terrorist rather then reject the 999 refugees in case the 1/1000th turns out to be a terrorist.”

Let’s say I respect that opinion. Frankly I don’t - I think it’s the worst thing I have heard from a professing Christian and a New Zealander in recent times, but for the sake of argument, perhaps you could rehearse for me the words of comfort you will be offering to the first victim of Islamic Jihad in New Zealand?

What will you be saying to them? I recognized the risk, I calculated it, and I decided that the future of these 999 Muslim refugees was more important than the life of your mum, your dad, your brother, your sister, your child, oh and by the way, do you know I’m a Christian?

God help us.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
No, I don't think people leaving a country to fight for Daesh is "exporting terrorism" - that would make Australia, New Zealand and Britain exporters of terrorism and I do not think that is true.

As for restricting Indonesian migration to NZ, you are confusing one set of individuals with another. That (for example) white Americans were lynching black Americans in the first part of the 20th century was no reason for our country to prohibit migration of white Americans to NZ. Not all Indonesians are committing crimes against religions not their own and so all Indonesians should not be denied opportunity to migrate here.

Some Muslims are starting to get beaten up in Western countries. The question is not whether such beatings equate to what the terrorists have done but whether governments have a responsibility to keep social harmony within its citizenry.

Perhaps what I wrote is the worst thing a Christian could say etc; but is it not worth considering whether a Christian should be banning migration of Muslims, many of whom are at their wits end as they flee civil war, famine etc, because a tiny few of their number may be terrorists?

On your argument, to eliminate all possible risk of terrorism, after banning migration we would likely need to consider the logical next step, deportation of current Muslim residents. Is that a step too far? Where would we send them?

Father Ron Smith said...

"And that the San Bernardino jihadists Farook and his wife who by all reports were ‘living the American dream’ in December 2015 did not feel sufficient love from their fellow Americans that they felt entirely justified in slaughtering 14 and wounding more than 20?"
- Brendan McNeil -

We will never know what actions made towards/against the presumed 'Jihadists' in San Bernadino triggered their despicable act of terrorism. The fact is that they felt the need to do it! That, of course, is absolutely no excuse! We cannotknow their exact motivation

However, short of all Jihadists being devoid of any sense of human compassion and decency and motivated by an evil religious fervour, we cannot know what might have happened in their lives that could evoke such hatred? That is the basic question all of us must ask - not just of the aminstream Muslim Community, but also of our own culture. We must remember that there has also been terrorism enacted in the opposite direction - from 'Christians' towards Muslims!

After all, the Hebrew Bible is not totally devoid of horrendous acts of violence against God's enemies'. Is the Quran not modelled along the same lines, and therefore needing a modern hermeneutic, like the Bible - especially the Old Testament?

What we Christians must never forget is the fact that the 3 strands of biblical religion are all descended from Abraham. We all need to get along together is we really believe in our common heritage.

This is where, when Christianity livesx up to the precepts of its Founder, we may find it difficult to match the enemy's thirst for war. However, when it may be a matter of the extinction of good by evil; there are other principles at stake - not least, the survival of the species. Is that what God would want?

Brendan McNeill said...

Peter, dear Peter

We are in the early stages of a very long war with Islamic jihad in the West, one that Israel has been fighting most recently now for more than sixty years and is still fighting today.

But to answer your question, in 1614 after more than 700 years of conflict and Islamic dihimmitude, Spain’s Christian King Philip III decided he’d had a guts full of Muslim rapine, murder and jihad and expelled all remaining Muslims out of his country.

There is historical precedent.

There are Muslims whom I know and respect who have integrated and have chosen to live well in New Zealand – God bless them. There are others however who are less benevolently minded. The truth is, all Muslims are at risk from the jihadists, and frankly the onus is on them to sort out this problem with Islam, not on you or me.

However if we start to experience the atrocities of Sydney, Paris, London, New York or California here in New Zealand on a recurring basis, then I suspect many New Zealanders will be going full ‘King Philip’, and that’s something we can easily avoid by closing the door to more Muslim immigrants now, something you are bizarrely, unprepared to do.

The Muslim family we resettled here are Shia. I asked them somewhat naively how they were getting along with local Muslims? They were awkward about it, but eventually they acknowledged that it was fraught, because most Muslims in Christchurch were Sunni, and there were considerable ‘tensions’ between them.

Oh yeah, those historical Middle Eastern ‘tensions’. Who’d have guessed, right here in Christchurch New Zealand?

My Muslim employee had a conversation with my daughter who was working alongside him in our technology business. They started talking about faith, and he told her that he admired the Palestinian suicide bombers for their faith. He hoped he could in some way emulate them. Now I don’t believe that he was immediately about to strap on a suicide vest, but I am pointing out the influence the jihadist narrative has on all Muslims of all ages and all qualifications.

It is part of their religious DNA.

We naively think that refugees will come as a blank page, filled with gratitude at the opportunity of freedom, embrace our ‘values’ what ever they are, and start afresh. Thankfully many do, but the reality is that they bring with them a 1,000 years of historical hatreds and vindictiveness that are not left behind at immigration.

You would do well to consider this, and to limit the bloodshed of innocents. I’m still deeply appalled at your callous disregard for the security of New Zealanders.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
I do not have a callous disregard for the security of New Zealanders. That charge could be levelled at all NZers, for example, who support our (very modest) contribution to the war in Iraq at present. If those of us who support that contribution had regard for "security" we would never send the troops off our shores! Further, regarding Muslim migration, everything I have said has been couched in terms of tension between the requirements of Christian love (to welcome, support refugees, to offer opportunity to contributory immigrants to settle in a land in which all of our descendants themselves were immigrants) and the obligation to provide security for NZers. I do not think that "callous disregard". Nor, conversely, do I think your arguments for security represent "callous disregard" for refugees and aspiring migrants.

Yes, of course those tensions are here in Chch, and everywhere that Shia and Sunni gather. Analogously they compare to tensions here in the past between Catholics and Protestants. But those tensions can be overcome ... but, and another "of course", that has to come from within the wider Muslim community ... which relates to other points being made here on the blog: there is a desperate need for change within Islam driven by Muslims. (Some commentators think that is actually under way, hidden beneath the headlines about terrorism).

I do not disagree with you that we are in the early stages of a long war. I note the Spanish precedent. I suspect we are wary of such mass expulsions because such events have also been associated with the Jews and, in the long run, in Europe such hatred of Jews led to the Holocaust. I do not think we (Westerners) wish to go there again.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

Your hopeful comparison between Catholics and Protestants, in reference to the Sunni and Shia conflict doesn’t withstand scrutiny. The Bible carries the narrative of reconciliation from Genesis to Revelation. It was the core of Jesus ministry. While there was no guarantee the Protestants and Catholics would ‘get it’ – there was at least a Scriptural basis for hope.

From what I can tell, there is no equivalent narrative in the Koran or the Hadith - just death for apostates. Have I missed something?

It is now time to remove the rose tinted immigration glasses.

There are parts of Britain and Europe today, that looks and functions more like Lahore than London. That is to say all of the joys of the Middle East including FGM, child brides, polygamy, misogynist attitudes, incidents of rape and endemic child abuse are present. Many cities like Malmo in Sweden and Marseille in France are characterized by violence, gun battles, and bombings. To all intents and purposes Muslim gangs control these cities.

Would it be fair to say that the politicians and religious leaders who allowed this to happen had a ‘callous disregard’ for the security and the best interests of their citizens?

I say again, it is simply a numbers game. The leaders of Malmo and Marseille may have acted in ignorance; we on the other hand are without excuse.

Brendan McNeill said...

Finally, moving back finally to the Good Samaritan. :-)

It’s worth noting what he actually did and did not do. He had compassion on the man who had been beaten and robbed, took him to an Inn, paid for his care, and promised to make up any shortfall on his return journey.

He did not take him home.

What he did do was take him to a safe ‘third space’ - the Inn.

If we reflect on this in the light of the Syrian refugee context, then ‘being a good neighbour’ to those who are victims does not mean taking them home to live with us. If we can take them to a safe ‘third space’ then that is fulfilling our obligation according to Jesus at least.

We have every opportunity to do this through the services of the UN HCR and other aid agencies in the region.

Not only does this meet the ‘Gold Standard’ of Good Samaritan neighbourly care, but we also meet the security test of not allowing those whose religion and culture is antithetical to liberal western democratic pluralism settle here, an action that overseas experience tells us causes a problem for everyone.