Florida Gutter Birds!

Florida Gutter Birds!

Florida Bald Eagles in SewerTwitter lit up when two bald eagles fighting over Florida fell down the drain.  Both sides of the recent political battle in the US interpreted this to their advantage. Trump was alternately taking our nation down – or rescuing it from – the sewer. If a bald eagle had fought a hawk or dove the analogy might fly, pun intended, but that’s not what happened.
Both were bald eagles – symbolic of our Nation. Both landed in the Gutter, and fell down the drain. And it happened because they were fighting.
It matters not which one was on top, or if the gutter was on the left or the right side of the road. In fact, Right and Left are relative, depending on if you’re facing East, West, North or South on that road. We need to find a way to acknowledge that both visions have merit, and that a compromise is needed, in which both sides work together, harmoniously.
Trump was elected, in my opinion, because even though Obama had a 55% approval rating, more people, at this moment in time, think Trump will lead in the way necessary over the next four years than think Hillary will. Tomorrow their opinions may change, but the election is over.
Republicans certainly don’t all agree with Trump on any given issue. But if they do agree on anything, it’s that they don’t like the direction Obama was taking the country. Republican control of the Presidency, the Senate and Congress means that most, if not all, of Obama’s major initiatives, will be rolled back. They believe Trump understands the average Joe, or traditional majority, if you will, and they want Trump to tackle Washington bureaucracy, corruption, and dismantle big government.  This is true, even though Obama’s approval rating is high.
A reverse in direction like this is the nature of the American system, one of the least horrible on the planet. Whether that is the reason for recent protests / riots and the fear-mongering of the left about Trump’s fear-mongering on the right, the bald eagles of the Democratic and Republican party are in a knock-down drag-out fight, and it doesn’t look like it’s over.
1431875_89afdcb6So, the question is, how far down the drain will the two eagles go, and can we stop long enough to chart a course that leverages the strength and orientation of both the Left and Right Wings of the American Eagle? 
The final popular vote tally will mark this election as one of the closest in American history. Sadly, with the exception of the civil war period, it’s probably fair to say that we have never been more divided.

Will Trump do a better job than Obama did at bringing the country together? While the jury is out, those who are openly opposing Trump before he even takes office have already delivered a verdict.

But having won a democratic election, doesn’t he deserve a chance?

The outgoing president seems to think so, and hopefully those who threw their support so wholeheartedly behind Obama can continue to follow his lead, under a new leader.
High Minded Leaders

High Minded Leaders

I’m sorry, but I’m appalled by the reactions of many of our political leaders to the growing turmoil caused by belligerent militant bad actors on the global scene. Innocent men, women and children are being slaughtered, and in the US and elsewhere leaders seem consumed by petty partisan politics.  What am I getting at with the title High Minded Leaders?

The phrase is inspired by a little known book written 150 years ago by a visionary spiritual leader. It is appropriately titled “The Secret of Divine Civilization” and its author, Abdu’l Baha, outlined a clear, practical solution to how a modern head of state should approach the issues we now face.

 “In like manner, the size of the armaments of every government should be strictly limited, for if the preparations for war and the military forces of any nation should be allowed to increase, they will arouse the suspicion of others. The fundamental principle underlying this solemn Pact should be so fixed that if any government later violate any one of its provisions, all the governments on earth should arise to reduce it to utter submission, nay the human race as a whole should resolve, with every power at its disposal, to destroy that government. Should this greatest of all remedies be applied to the sick body of the world, it will assuredly recover from its ills and will remain eternally safe and secure.”

How do we apply this? Being an American, I’ll highlight that the US President is also our Commander in Chief, with a solemn duty to protect those who have elected him according to sound principles of national security. Yet as we are descending into the most perilous crisis the world has ever faced, this article challenges the content of our President’s recent speeches and pronouncements. High Minded Leaders?This is not intended to single out this US President, but he, along with all other global leaders, are accountable to sound principles. We can ask whether key policies and actions in recent years align with the above quote, to educate ourselves, wherever we live, before we head back to the voting booth.

ISIS Claimed Territories (Chinese)1) Regardless of how America got there, Iraq had been stabilized after the removal of it’s brutal oppressive dictator, but was allowed to descend into ISIS driven chaos by the premature withdrawal of US and allied forces, which were maintaining order, with the help of local enforcement.
2) Russia’s leader violated an international agreement it signed with Ukraine, executed in alignment with the above quote – i.e. for the reduction of (nuclear) armaments, and the other signatories (the US and the UK) did not come anywhere near taking the actions prescribed by the quote.
3) The US drew a red line against another brutal oppressor, Syria’s Assad, who used chemical weapons against his own people, against the Geneva accord. The red line was in alignment with Abdu’l Baha’s outline, the subsequent failure to enforce it is, in this authors opinion, a major contributor to a further descent into chaos that has since resulted.

Iran Nuclear Agreement4) The US and others struck a deal intended to renew Iran’s commitment to the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty. Instead, it rewards a brutal terrorism sponsoring regime for its violations and agrees to allow increased Armaments, the opposite of, in this author’s opinion, Abdu’l Baha’s prescription.

This is NOT about being a Monday morning quarterback, or about criticizing a sitting President. It’s about education and trying make better forward-looking decisions going forward. You can, and should, check my track record – as I’ve been discussing this situation and warning of deterioration for years. This recent post provides a summary, with links to other posts further back in time. My main purpose today is to challenge those of us electing leaders to evaluate what may be wrongheaded ideas about virtues we hold dear, such as peace and love. Abdu’l Baha’s message highlights how even those with peace and love in their hearts – those who might qualify as what he called “high minded sovereigns” – must agree to confront those bent on murder and mayhem.

Stopping Evil HitlerHowever important it is to have love and understanding in our hearts, this visionary spiritual leader had the foresight to outline what tough love in international relations looks like. And then to emphasize how critically important it is to resolve, with every power at our disposal, to destroy rogue governments. If we are unwilling we, according to the quote, have no right to expect peace.

How did we get here?

Many nations and institutions, backed by well-meaning but naive and, frankly, foolish people, have been enabling and even encouraging our descent into this weak and unstable global situation, in which terrorists, murderous fanatics, despots and bully-governments can wreak havoc. Thankfully, the sheer intensity of the current “chickens-coming-home-to-roost” situation, with attacks in Paris being the most striking recent example, is helping people to wake up and shake off the hypocritical thinking that has fettered them with the shackles of self-deceit.

World PeaceAn understanding of Abdu’l Baha’s book would, in my opinion, represent a major shift towards a balanced view of justice – that would put the world back on the path to peace, as outlined in The Secret of Divine Civilization.

The Secret of Divine Civilization

The Secret of Divine Civilization

Syrian RefugeesThis blog is dedicated to the millions of dead and suffering souls in places like Syria and the countries struggling with the assimilation of millions of global refugees. In the case of refugees from Islamic nations this is a mixed bag comprised of the gentle and Jihadists, terrorists and terrified, further complicating matters.

Syria has a rich history. Its capital, Damascus, is among the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in the world. In that sense Syria is symbolic of the state of the world. It now lies in ruins, and with Russia moving in through a door left open by the current US administration, which protests their entrance, Syria may well become the Next Sarejevo. And if Syria does not turn out to be the tinder-keg that sets off WWIII there are plenty of other candidates of equal volatility.

I’ve blogged about Syria, Sweden, Russia, Israel, human rights, religious freedom, the Iran deal, and more. Such key data points form a fact pattern to help us understand why the world is in this state of disarray, but this question remains.

One small step How on earth, more than 50 years after Armstrong took one small step to prove that man can, in fact, ascend to heaven, did we arrive here? Why do we today experience horror we thought we, as a species, had grown out of? As an American citizen, I’ll focus on how I believe the US has contributed to the current situation.

After having done much to lead humanity forward, in the last decade we have abdicated the role of global policeman that was (for better or worse, rightly or wrongly) forced upon us after a long and protracted cold war. Let’s quickly review the recent history that brought us, as a species, to this moment.

The nation that won a space race with the Soviet Union, the United States, did so because of its ability to assimilate refugees and visionaries from around the planet. We represent all people and tongues, and the race to the moon represented our parent’s positive aspirations, their altruistic vision, and their willingness to let personal history, culture and language become a secondary identity in favor of being a citizen of States that had voluntarily united. Saluting the FlagWe were a “company of nations” working together in peace and harmony for the betterment of mankind. My forthcoming book, The Rod of Iron, will explain how this fulfills aspirations dating back to the City of Bab-El (Gate of God). The voluntary assembly of these States is in stark contrast to “Unions” built by military force and intimidation. But in the last decade, after having won both the space race and the cold war the United States is in retreat. We lead from behind while bullies exploit openings presented by explosive rivalries emerging in a super-heated state after centuries of forced repression by global dictatorships.

What is the path to Peace and how can we walk it? To provide a focal point in answering the question of how to achieve a real and lasting peace, I’d like to introduce you to Abdu’l Baha, a relatively unknown religious leader, who published an astonishing little book in 1875, at the close of the Age of Enlightenment. It is boldly but in my opinion appropriately titled The Secret of Divine Civilization. One passage that has recently illuminated my understanding is this amazingly prescient quote, which seems to foretell the sequential geopolitical challenges the modern world has since faced. It provides a clear and unmistakable answer to the question that opened this paragraph.

“True civilization will unfurl its banner in the midmost heart of the world whenever a certain number of its distinguished and high-minded sovereigns—the shining exemplars of devotion and determination—shall, for the good and happiness of all mankind, arise, with firm resolve and clear vision, to establish the Cause of Universal Peace. They must make the Cause of Peace the object of general consultation, and seek by every means in their power to establish a Union of the nations of the world. They must conclude a binding treaty and establish a covenant, the provisions of which shall be sound, inviolable and definite. They must proclaim it to all the world and obtain for it the sanction of all the human race. This supreme and noble undertaking—the real source of the peace and well-being of all the world—should be regarded as sacred by all that dwell on earth. All the forces of humanity must be mobilized to ensure the stability and permanence of this Most Great Covenant. In this all-embracing Pact the limits and frontiers of each and every nation should be clearly fixed, the principles underlying the relations of governments towards one another definitely laid down, and all international agreements and obligations ascertained. In like manner, the size of the armaments of every government should be strictly limited, for if the preparations for war and the military forces of any nation should be allowed to increase, they will arouse the suspicion of others. The fundamental principle underlying this solemn Pact should be so fixed that if any government later violate any one of its provisions, all the governments on earth should arise to reduce it to utter submission, nay the human race as a whole should resolve, with every power at its disposal, to destroy that government. Should this greatest of all remedies be applied to the sick body of the world, it will assuredly recover from its ills and will remain eternally safe and secure.”

Swords into PlowsharesAbdu’l Baha’s words predated and predicted the rise of the League of Nations, which the world was finally ready for in the wake of a horrific world war. President Woodrow Wilson is considered its architect, yet despite his proposal being wildly popular in the US he ended up leaving office before it could be assembled, and ultimately the US never joined.  Thus it failed to meet essential criteria outlined by Abdu’l Baha, which inevitably led to a second, even worse, global war. WWII, fueled by aberrant ideologies, featured the unbelievable atrocity known as the holocaust. So extreme was the revulsion to these events that an idea, again introduced by a US president during the war, was quickly implemented in its wake. That idea was the United Nations, of which the United States was a charter member, and it came closer to the ideal espoused by Abdu’l Baha, 70 years earlier.

And yet the United Nations became corrupted by nations that have since joined with the agenda of using it to destroy the very people whose suffering inspired its creation, the Jews. And the selfish and self-serving aspirations of key member states have enabled this evil corruption, as they use the United Nations as a political cover for violating the very principles upon which it was founded, principles outlined by Abdu’l Baha, in the above quote.

Another key signpost Abdu’l Baha’s quote appears to foreshadow was the establishment of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Rather than the crucible of war, the backdrop for its creation was the US success referenced above, the moon landing. It doesn’t cover all armaments, and is in other ways not comprehensive, which means it also falls short of Abdu’l Baha’s standard.  Nonetheless, since nuclear weapons are so exceedingly powerful, and because the treaty achieved such near universal adoption, it can serve as an example of how the criteria set out by Abdu’l Baha might work, if followed. The Chemical Weapons Convention, for example, can be considered a direct descendant of this amazing achievement, expanding its scope. The adoption of the NPT provides clear examples of how following his advice can lead to peace and help us see why we ignore his advice at our own peril. He states emphatically that if/when a nation violates a treaty limiting armaments the rest of the world should be united in its resolve to confront the bully. Here is the specific quote, written down 100 years in advance of the treaty which it seems to foretell:
“if any government later violate any one of its provisions, all the governments on earth should arise to reduce it to utter submission, nay the human race as a whole should resolve, with every power at its disposal, to destroy that government.”

We can use this framework to answer questions like: Should the President of the United States have backed off his Chemical Weapons “Red Line” in Syria?” Is there a connection between the way in which Russia, which signed the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, was largely unopposed in its recent incursion into Ukraine and ended up entrenched in Syria, supporting the regime that used them? Is this not directly due to how the US, rather than enforcing the Chemical Weapons Convention, deferred to Russia to handle the Chemical Weapons violation? Students of Geopolitical history and Realpolitik will not have any difficulty tracing the chess moves that led to this.


Call it what it is!

Meanwhile, the primary violator of the NPT itself, Iran, now has, in effect, a treaty with the same nation that historically has led the world towards peace, in accordance with the principles outlined by Abdu’l Baha. And that same treaty undermines the United Nations provisions that limit its armaments.

What a tangled web we have now woven. When it comes to peace, leading from behind is bad enough. Leading in the wrong direction is another thing entirely. Sadly, it seems, we are destined, in coming years, to reap consequences that will be catastrophic. And at this point in history, unfortunately, the only path forward appears to be through the crucible of another global conflagration.

Only then, apparently, will the nations understand The Secret of Divine Civilization, unveiled by Abdu’l Baha, in 1875.

Not Neutral on Sweden

Not Neutral on Sweden

Carl_Larsson_Christmas_Morning_1894Two and one half years in Sweden, living with my aunt and uncle and attending 4-6th grade had a profound impact on my life. These are identity forming years, in which we begin to perceive the values held by our families, our tribes, our nations, at an intellectual level. This period was all the more profound for me, having landed in Sweden as a result of domestic kidnapping (see The People of the Sign). Given that I was a focal point of a contentious divorce proceeding that wound its way to the Supreme court of Sweden it isn’t surprising that I adopted neutral Sweden’s version of socialist nationalism over that of the individualistic and very competitive United States, where I had been kidnapped from, or my native Canada.

Swedish IdentitySwedish society in the late 60’s and early 70’s reflected the best that Socialism had to offer: universal employment, universal education, universal access to health care, tolerance, justice, and a causal reduction in extremes of poverty and wealth. Sweden was a world leader in equality, freedom and international humanitarianism. It was easy to root for Sweden in World cup hockey, Soccer and the Olympics – especially when its major competitors were often totalitarian regimes from within the Soviet Union. I was very proud to identify with their Neutral stance, neither for nor against the West or the East

Sweden's Summer Solstice CrisisThere have always been accusations of hypocrisy against Sweden, whose neutral position has roots in WWII when it opted not to become an enemy of Hitler’s Germany. These could be brushed off fairly easily, since no nation can lay claim to a perfect pedigree, and the tiny population did what it felt it needed to survive.  It’s decision gave it a head start in economic terms, once the war ended, empowering its meteoric rise after the war. Sweden’s population when I lived there hovered around 8 Million, but it had international stature that easily exceeded that of nations 10 times its size, and a reputation as a champion of human rights that was in a league of its own.

I used to defend her, always. Then I became more neutral. These days her neutrality rings so hollow that I can no longer be nuetral on Sweden.

Tel_Aviv_university_students_support_IDF_and_Israel_against_Gaza_Flotilla_3Sweden’s activism in Middle East politics is clearly wrongheaded and hypocritical and her decision to support Islamic countries in opposition to Israel has removed all doubt that she has lost her way. What began as neutrality towards Nazi Germany, which was the primary driver of the Holocaust has morphed, over time, into a malfunctioning moral compass that today welcomes any Trojan Horse that knows how to ring a Swedish doorbell. Sweden now routinely welcomes and protects hate preachers & jihadists in its continued efforts to convince the world that it is non-judgmental. After standing by while millions of Jews were murdered in WWII Sweden proceeded to lay down a long track record of opposing Israel’s right to protect itself from terrorism. There is nothing neutral about her activism against the lone Jewish State on the planet in favor of those who have turned a desire to destroy Israel into a political cause. Launching the ship Marianne from Gothenburg to break the Gaza Blockade, the so-called “Freedom Flotilla III” is just the latest example in an ongoing campaign.

humans_respect_humans_by_rbeloniojr-d4y9ceuIn pulling a random Virtues Card to conclude with, Respect came up.  “Respect is an attitude of honoring ourselves and others as people of value. We care for each person’s dignity. Everyone has the right to expect respect.” That pretty much calls Sweden’s bluff. Its pretense at respecting everyone has enabled her to hypocritically pick and choose which aggression to turn a blind eye to, a mask to hide behind while interfering in the self-defense of a nation even smaller than her. In the past Sweden leveraged its Geographic isolation to avoid dangerous confrontation, with great success. Her respect-less international meddling will certainly result a continued loss of respect for her as well.