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Russian missile system ‘very capable’ of shooting down US planes: DNI James Clapper — No war over Syria if Hillary Clinton is elected

The intense anti-Russian campaign in the West is a sign of weakness rather than strength. The Russian air defence system in Syria has closed down the US’s military options. Hillary Clinton knows it and her policies in Syria if she is elected President will be simply a continuation of Obama’s.

Alexander Mercouris

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October 2016 will one day be recognised as one of those months – like October 1962 and October 1973 – when the world passed through a period of great danger.

The cause of the danger was the collapse in September of the Kerry-Lavrov agreement and the resulting stand-off this October between the US and Russia in Syria. 

This culminated in high level discussions within the US government about possible attacks on Syrian army bases, followed by public threats from Russia to shoot down US aircraft if such attacks took place.  As The Duran reported – but as the Western media has conspicuously failed to do – following these threats from Russia, the US backed down.

These events have been barely reported in the West.  Instead what we have witnessed is a deafening cacophony of abuse of Russia for its actions in Syria, with the country baselessly accused of war crimes, and with things written and said about its political leadership which go far beyond what was written and said even during the height of the Ukrainian crisis in 2014.

At one level this abuse is an attempt to embarrass the Russians to call off the Syrian army’s offensive on the Jihadi held districts of eastern Aleppo. 

However it undoubtedly also reflects the huge anger and sense of humiliation in Washington and in certain other Western capitals caused by the US climbdown earlier in the month.

The intensity of the media campaign against Russia is however creating something of a climate of fear, with most people unaware that the most dangerous moment of the crisis has in fact already passed. 

Much of this fear is centred on the personality of Hillary Clinton, now widely expected to be the next US President. 

Based on her record and her statements, she is widely supposed to be a hardline foreign policy hawk who has never seen a war she didn’t like or want to join, and who is widely expected to escalate dramatically the confrontation with Russia in Syria and elsewhere.

Many also point to Hillary Clinton’s known previous support for a no fly zone in Syria, and her comments on the campaign trail, which many see as suggesting that she plans one still.

Is all this however true?  Is the greatest moment of confrontation between the US and Russia in Syria still to come?  Will things really get far more dangerous if Hillary Clinton becomes President?  Are we really looking at World War III?

In my opinion these fears are wrong.  The great confrontation has already taken place, and it took place this October.  A direct clash between the US and the Russian militaries in Syria was avoided, and there is now no possibility that it will happen.

What this means is that there is now no possibility of Hillary Clinton imposing a no fly zone on Syria or of her ordering an armed confrontation with the Russians there.  Nor is there any chance of Barack Obama doing so in the few months left to him.  Nor is there any chance of either Obama or Hillary supporting Boris Johnson’s hare-brained idea for a no bombing zone in Syria, or of either of Obama or Hillary Clinton ordering US attacks on Syrian military bases.   

The reason none of these things will happen is because the US’s uniformed military opposes all of them.  In the face of the US military’s opposition none of them can happen.

The reason the US military opposes these schemes is because they would all require the US military to take on the very extensive and very sophisticated air defence system the Russians have set up in Syria.  The US military has made it absolutely clear that it is completely opposed to doing this.

In the days immediately following the US climbdown brave reports appeared in parts of the media which claimed the US military is confident of its ability to take on and defeat the Russian air defence system.   

It did not however take long for a report to appear in The Washington Post – obviously sourced from the US military – which made it clear that this is not the case. 

The Washington Post article, in addition to giving a comprehensive picture of the scale of the Russian air defence system in Syria, contains a frank admission that the US military is far from confident of its ability to defeat it

“While there is some disagreement among military experts as to the capability of the Russian systems, particularly the newly deployed S-300, “the reality is, we’re very concerned anytime those are emplaced,” a U.S. Defense official said. Neither its touted ability to counter U.S. stealth technology, or to target low-flying aircraft, has ever been tested by the United States.  “It’s not like we’ve had any shoot at an F-35,” the official said of the next-generation U.S. fighter jet. “We’re not sure if any of our aircraft can defeat the S-300.””

Since this article appeared in The Washington Post information has trickled out showing just how formidable the Russian defence system in Syria actually is.

Whatever the precise purpose of the Russian military’s complaint about the alleged Belgian air raid on Hasajek, it does at least show that the Russians can now track US and NATO aircraft as they take off from their bases in Jordan, and almost certainly from Incirlik air base in Turkey as well. 

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has also admitted that the Russian air defence system is restricting the operations of the Israeli force, with the US based internet journal Al-Monitor reporting – based obviously on information provided by Israeli sources – that

“The S-300 and S-400 missile systems that Russia put in place cover all of Israel up to the southern Negev. Russian radar will immediately lock on Israeli jets taking off from any base, except for the Uvda air force base near the southern city of Eilat, and their flight patterns will be under constant surveillance. That is how the Russians keep an eye on the Israeli air force’s activities over “hotspots” along the borders between Syria and Lebanon. Should he want to, Putin can simply push a button and turn the lives of Israeli pilots and the commanders who sent them on offensive strikes in Syria into a living hell.”

(bold italics added)

Meanwhile we know US intelligence is advising the US government that the Russians not only have the capability to shoot down US aircraft, but are not bluffing when they say they will do so.   No less a person than Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, speaking to the Council of Foreign Relations on Tuesday 25th October 2016, has said as much

“I wouldn’t put it past them (NB: the Russians – AM) to shoot down an American aircraft if they felt that was threatening to their forces on the ground.  The system they have there is very advanced, very capable and I don’t think they’d do it – deploy it – if they didn’t have some intention to use it.”

The Washington Post article confirms that the US military was always reluctant to impose a no fly zone over Syria because of Syria’s sophisticated air defences. 

In the face of the vastly more sophisticated air defence system the Russians have created in Syria the option of declaring a no fly zone over Syria or of undertaking any of the other US military options that have been talked about in Syria for all practical purposes no longer exists.

In saying this I realise some people continue to imagine terrifying scenarios of the US swamping the Russian air defence system in Syria by launching hundreds of aircraft and missiles against it whilst daring Russia to escalate.  In the real world of political and military decision making, it beggars belief the US military would be prepared to do this in view of the heavy casualties and the possibility of uncontrolled escalation it would risk.  There is simply no chance of the US military willingly engaging in a military confrontation with the Russians in Syria and risking World War III in order to rescue a gang of Al-Qaeda led Jihadi terrorists in Aleppo and to fulfil some people’s fantasies of regime change there.

None of this is going to change if Hillary Clinton is elected President in November. 

Whilst Hillary Clinton could in theory try to order the US military to take military action and risk confrontation with the Russians in Syria against its wishes, in practical political terms doing this is all but impossible since it would leave her catastrophically exposed in the very likely event that something went badly wrong.  In addition Hillary Clinton would almost certainly face a massive groundswell of opposition from Congress and the nation, which would surely dwarf the one that caused Obama to back off his proposed missile strikes against Syria in 2013, if she tried to do such a completely reckless thing. Hillary Clinton, whatever her faults, is far too experienced a politician to take on these well-nigh unbelievable risks.   

It is not as if Hillary Clinton does not know the huge risks of ordering military action in Syria.  Here is what she said about them back in 2013, when she discussed the prospects of imposing a no fly zone in Syria during a private speech to Goldman Sachs

“They (NB: the Syrians – AM) are getting more sophisticated thanks to Russian imports. To have a no-fly zone you have to take out all of the air defense, many of which are located in populated areas.  So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we’re not putting our pilots at risk—you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians.  So all of a sudden this intervention that people talk about so glibly becomes an American and NATO involvement where you take a lot of civilians.

In Libya we didn’t have that problem. It’s a huge place.  The air defenses were not that sophisticated and there wasn’t very—in fact, there were very few civilian casualties.  That wouldn’t be the case.  And then you add on to it a lot of the air defenses are not only in civilian population centers but near some of their chemical stockpiles.  You do not want a missile hitting a chemical stockpile.”

Note that Hillary Clinton said all these things back in 2013, long before the Russians deployed their own vastly more sophisticated air defence system in Syria.  If she had doubts about the wisdom of military action in Syria in 2013, then she will have far greater doubts about it now

If a President as belligerent and confrontational as George W. Bush was unable to order the US military to attack Iran against its wishes – as he undoubtedly wanted – then there is no possibility Hillary Clinton – who despite her reputation is neither stupid nor a fanatic – can order the US military against its wishes to attack the Russian military in Syria now.

What then of Hillary Clinton’s supposed campaign statements about wanting a no fly zone in Syria? 

When these are read carefully it becomes clear that Hillary Clinton plans no such thing.  Here is what she had to say on the subject during her third debate with Donald Trump

“First of all, I think a no-fly zone could save lives and could hasten the end of the conflict. I’m well aware of the really legitimate concerns you have expressed from both the president and the general. This would not be done just on the first day. This would take a lot of negotiation, and it would also take making it clear to the Russians and the Syrians that our purpose here was to provide safe Zones on the ground.”

(bold italics added)

In other words what Hillary Clinton is really supporting is not a no fly zone across the whole of Syria, but a “safe zone” within Syria the terms of which would be negotiated with the Syrians and the Russians. 

That is of course exactly what the Turks – with US support – are already busy setting up in north east Syria through their Operation Euphrates Shield.

In fact the more carefully Hillary Clinton’s comments are analysed the clearer it becomes that her policies if elected would be essentially the same as those of the current Obama administration. 

In her private 2013 comments to Goldman Sachs she made it clear that her preferred way of working in Syria was not through direct confrontation with the Syrians but covertly – in other words by arming and aiding the famously elusive “moderate rebels” in Syria in exactly the way the US under Obama has been doing

“And there is still an argument that goes on inside the administration and inside our friends at NATO and the Europeans.  How do intervene—my view was you intervene as covertly as is possible for Americans to intervene.  We used to be much better at this than we are now.”

(bold italics added)

However in her final third debate with Donald Trump she let slip that she is no more keen for Jihadis to get hold of sophisticated weapons (including by implication anti aircraft weapons) than Obama is, even if she tried to hide the fact by making a bizarre point about terrorists being prevented from buying guns across the counter in the US

“That’s why I want to have an intelligence surge that protect us here at home while we have to go after them from the air, on the ground, online. Why we have to make sure here at home we don’t let terrorists buy weapons. If you’re too dangerous to fly, you’re too dangerous to buy a gun.”

This is consistent with what Hillary Clinton said in 2013 to the Jewish United Fund Advance & Major Gifts Dinner, where she admitted that the large scale presence of militant Jihadi groups sponsored by Saudi Arabia and Qatar in Syria has made distinguishing between “moderate rebels” and Jihadi militants – and preventing weapons supplied to “moderate rebels” from falling into the hands of Jihadi militants – all but impossible

“Some of us thought, perhaps, we could, with a more robust, covert action trying to vet, identify, train and arm cadres of rebels that would at least have the firepower to be able to protect themselves against both Assad and the Al-Qaeda-related jihadist groups that have, unfortunately, been attracted to Syria. That’s been complicated by the fact that the Saudis and others are shipping large amounts of weapons—and pretty indiscriminately—not at all targeted toward the people that we think would be the more moderate, least likely, to cause problems in the future, but this is another one of those very tough analytical problems.”

Overall it is impossible to see any real difference between the policies Hillary Clinton advocates and those Barack Obama is already following in Syria. 

Like Barack Obama Hillary Clinton does not intend to impose a no fly zone.  Like Barack Obama Hillary Clinton is wary of supplying sophisticated weapons to the “moderate rebels” in case they might fall into the hands of Jihadi militants.  Hillary Clinton does want to set up a “safe zone” in Syria, which she believes (almost certainly wrongly) will give her “leverage” over the Russians in future negotiations about Syria’s future.  However she realises this has to be negotiated with the Russians, and besides it is what Erdogan and Obama are already busy trying to set up in north east Syria through Operation Euphrates Shield, so far with only very partial success.

Even Hillary Clinton’s immediately declared objectives are the same as Obama’s.  Like Obama her priority is not regime change in Damascus or the capture of Aleppo; it is the capture first of Mosul and then of Raqqah

“The goal here is to take back Mosul. It’s going to be a hard fight. I’ve got no illusions about that. And then continue to press into Syria to begin to take back and move on Raqqah, which is the ISIS headquarters.”

It is no coincidence that shortly after these comments the Obama administration openly discussed plans to capture Raqqah. 

The similarity of positions on Syria between Obama and Hillary Clinton in fact reveals an important truth about a future Hillary Clinton administration: it would not be a new administration at all, but rather it would be an extension of the present one.

This is not surprising.  Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama worked closely together when Hillary Clinton was Obama’s Secretary of State.  Obama obviously wants her to win the election and is pulling out all the stops to help her.  it is a certainty she is being consulted about administration policy and has a role in making it, and that issues like the capture of Mosul and Raqqah are discussed with her.

Just as Obama is less of a dove than he sometimes likes to pretend, so Hillary Clinton is less of a hawk than she sometimes wants people to think.  It is often overlooked that Obama and Hillary Clinton are both lawyers.  Both are skilled at using language to give a sometimes misleading impression of what they are about.

There is no doubt about the huge anger and of the sense of humiliation in Washington at the climbdown Russia forced on the US this October. 

There is also no doubt that there are lots of people in the US foreign policy establishment who yearn for a President who will “put Putin in his place” and who will take a more confrontational line with Russia on Syria and elsewhere.  These people unfortunately have achieved a lock-grip on the US and Western media, and this enables them to a great degree to shape the public discussion with the result that they have a disproportionate influence on policy.

Unfortunately Hillary Clinton has chosen to fight her election campaign by pandering to these people.  The result is that she gives the impression of intending a more confrontational policy in Syria than a careful analysis of her words shows she really does.  Thus she has fostered the impression that she is looking to impose a no fly zone on Syria when a careful analysis of her words shows she intends no such thing.

This is going to create many problems for Hillary Clinton if she does win the election.  However that does not change the fact, which Hillary Clinton certainly knows, that following the events of this October a direct military confrontation between the US and the Russians in Syria because of the opposition of the US military quite simply cannot happen.  The US is not going to declare a no fly zone over Syria, or ride to the rescue of the Jihadis in Aleppo, or take any other military steps there beyond those it has already taken, whether Hillary Clinton is elected US President in November or not.

What we are unfortunately  likely to see is a case of more of the same, even though that is a same which has already repeatedly failed.  Thus we can expect more attempts to identify and train “moderate” Jihadis and to supply them with more weapons – this time inside the Turkish controlled “safe zone” that is being created for them – and perhaps more efforts to redirect the more radical Jihadis from Iraq to Syria to cause more trouble for the Russians and for the Syrian government.

In my opinion these policies – which are simply continuations of the policies the US has been following in Syria ever since the war started there more than four years ago – are unsustainable, and are bound eventually to fail.  With the populous areas of western Syria and the main cities all likely to fall soon under the secure control of the internationally recognised Syrian government, these policies cannot achieve regime change in Syria.  If the US persists with them the US far more than Russia risks becomes bogged down in Syria in a war it cannot win.  As a matter of fact there are tell-tale signs this is already happening, with the US plan to advance on Raqqah already causing problems with the US’s Turkish ally.

Putting all that aside, the sound and fury of the current anti-Russian campaign should not mislead us.  It is not a reason for fear. It is a product of weakness and failure, not of confidence and strength.  Its exceptionally high volume and its ferocious tone are the product of the US’s feelings of humiliation and failure in Syria following the events of this October. It is after all natural for someone who feels defeated to over-compensate by being over-assertive, and that is what we are witnessing now.

 Certainly the anti-Russian campaign is not a sign the US is about to go to war with Russia, whether in Syria or anywhere else.  On the contrary it is a reflection of the fact war cannot happen precisely because the US in the form of the Russian air defence system in Syria is now faced with an adversary it is not confident it can defeat at any remotely acceptable cost.

Irrespective of whether Hillary Clinton wins the Presidency in November, that is the reality.  The moment of greatest danger in the Syrian crisis has passed.

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Photos of new Iskander base near Ukrainian border creates media hype

But research into the photos and cross-checking of news reports reveals only the standard anti-Russian narrative that has gone on for years.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Fox News obtained satellite photos that claim that Russia has recently installed new Iskander missile batteries, one of them “near” to the Ukrainian border. However, what the Fox article does not say is left for the reader to discover: that in regards to Ukraine, these missiles are probably not that significant, unless the missiles are much longer range than reported:

The intelligence report provided to Fox by Imagesat International showed the new deployment in Krasnodar, 270 miles from the Ukrainian border. In the images is visible what appears to be an Iskander compound, with a few bunkers and another compound of hangars. There is a second new installation that was discovered by satellite photos, but this one is much farther to the east, in the region relatively near to Ulan-Ude, a city relatively close to the Mongolian border.

Both Ukraine and Mongolia are nations that have good relations with the West, but Mongolia has good relations with both its immediate neighbors, Russia and China, and in fact participated with both countries in the massive Vostok-2018 military war-games earlier this year.

Fox News provided these photos of the Iskander emplacement near Krasnodar:

Imagesat International

Fox annotated this photo in this way:

Near the launcher, there is a transloader vehicle which enables quick reloading of the missiles into the launcher. One of the bunker’s door is open, and another reloading vehicle is seen exiting from it.

[Fox:] The Iskander ballistic missile has a range up to 310 miles, and can carry both unconventional as well as nuclear warheads, putting most of America’s NATO allies at risk. The second deployment is near the border with Mongolia, in Ulan-Ude in Sothern Russia, where there are four launchers and another reloading vehicle.

[Fox:] Earlier this week, Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said authorities of the former Soviet republic are being “controlled” by the West, warning it stands to lose its independence and identity as a consequence. “The continuation of such policy by the Kiev authorities can contribute to the loss of Ukraine’s statehood,” Mr Patrushev told Rossiyskaya Gazeta, according to Russian news agency TASS.

This situation was placed by Fox in context with the Kerch Strait incident, in which three Ukrainian vessels and twenty-four crew and soldiers were fired upon by Russian coast guard ships as they manuevered in the Kerch Strait without permission from Russian authorities based in Crimea. There are many indications that this incident was a deliberate attempt on the part of Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko, to create a sensational incident, possibly to bolster his flagging re-election campaign. After the incident, the President blustered and set ten provinces in Ukraine under martial law for 30 days, insisting to the world, and especially to the United States, that Russia was “preparing to invade” his country.

Russia expressed no such sentiment in any way, but they are holding the soldiers until the end of January. However, on January 17th, a Moscow court extended the detention of eight of these captured Ukrainian sailors despite protests from Kyiv and Washington.

In addition to the tensions in Ukraine, the other significant point of disagreement between the Russian Federation and the US is the US’ plan to withdraw from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Russia sees this treaty as extremely important, but the US point of view expressed by John Bolton, National Security Adviser, is that the treaty is useless because it does not include any other parties that have intermediate range nukes or the capability for them, such as Iran, North Korea, and China. This is an unsolved problem, and it is possible that the moves of the Iskander batteries is a subtle warning from the Russians that they really would rather the US stay in the treaty.

Discussions on this matter at public levels between the Russian government and the US have been very difficult because of the fierce anti-Russia and anti-Trump campaigns in the media and political establishments of the United States. President Putin and President Trump have both expressed the desire to meet, but complications like the Kerch Strait Incident conveniently arise, and have repeatedly disrupted the attempts for these two leaders to meet.

Where Fox News appears to get it wrong shows in a few places:

First, the known range for Iskander missiles maxes at about 310 miles. The placement of the battery near Krasnodar is 270 miles from the eastern Ukrainian border, but the eastern part of Ukraine is Russian-friendly and two provinces, Donetsk and Lugansk, are breakaway provinces acting as independent republics. The battery appears to be no threat to Kyiv or to that part of Ukraine which is aligned with the West. Although the missiles could reach into US ally Georgia, Krasnodar is 376 miles from Tbilisi, and so again it seems that there is no significant target for these missiles. (This is assuming the location given is accurate.)

Second, the location shown in the photo is (44,47,29.440N at 39,13,04.754E). The date on the “Krasnodar” photo is January 17, 2019. However, a photo of the region taken July 24, 2018 reveals a different layout. It takes a moment or two to study this, but there is not much of an exact match here:

Third, Fox News reported of “further Russian troops deployment and S-400 Surface to air missile days after the escalation started, hinting Russia might have orchestrated the naval incident.”

It may be true that Russia deployed weapons to this base area in Crimea, but this is now Russian territory. S-400s can be used offensively, but their primary purpose is defensive. Troops on the Crimean Peninsula, especially at this location far to the north of the area, are not in a position strategically to invade Kherson Oblast (a pushback would probably corner such forces on the Crimean peninsula with nowhere to go except the Black Sea). However, this does look like a possible defense installation should Ukraine’s forces try to invade or bomb Crimea.

Fox has this wrong, but it is no great surprise, because the American stance about Ukraine and Russia is similar – Russia can do no right, and Ukraine can do no wrong. Fox News is not monolithic on this point of view, of course, with anchors and journalists such as Tucker Carlson, who seem willing to acknowledge the US propaganda about the region. However, there are a lot of hawks as well. While photos in the articles about the S-400s and the Russian troops are accurately located, it does appear that the one about Iskanders is not, and that the folks behind this original article are guessing that the photos will not be questioned. After all, no one in the US knows where anything is in Russia and Ukraine, anyway, right?

That there is an issue here is likely. But is it appears that there is strong evidence that it is opposite what Fox reported here, it leaves much to be questioned.

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US Christians move to protect Christians in the Middle East

It is very good to stand up for Christians in places where they are persecuted in the world. We ought to start with the US and Europe.

Seraphim Hanisch

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ISIS represents the single most prominent national or pseudo national entity that makes the persecution of Christians a central part of its activity. The would-be Islamic Caliphate is widely understood to be on its last legs, having been destroyed or driven out of most of the Syrian territory and Iraq, which it had gained in surprisingly swift conquests during the administration of US President Barack Obama. However, ISIS is not the only persecutor of followers of Jesus Christ. In fact, Christianity is by far the most widely persecuted religion on earth, with the last 100 years seeing more martyrdoms than in the entire history of Christianity before.

In this video, released by Fox Entertainment, Dede Laugesen discusses the activity of Christians in the US moving to help those abroad. The video is well worth watching, but with additional considerations.

Persecution of Christians has many forces, and although this piece largely concerns itself with causing the physical death of Christian believers, it also makes a point of “exclusion from civil society, loss of property, and many other things.”

This may or may not be code for the other type of persecution that has taken place against Christians, that being in what we might call “First World” countries, like the United States itself, England and others in Europe.

During President Obama’s terms, for example, Christians were actively persecuted through the Affordable Care Act’s provisions of (at first) trying to get one dollar of  everyone’s health insurance policy premiums to go towards providing abortifacients or contraceptives to anyone who needed them. This was a violation of American First Amendment rights (Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…) and the Roman Catholic Conference of Bishops in the US spoke out against it strongly. The answer from the Administration was basically a shell game – insurance companies were thus mandated to provide such services for no charge at all.

Of course, the insurance companies are not about to lose money, so the original idea of a dollar per premium payment essentially survived; it was just slightly more hidden.

In 2015 and 2016, American Christians began to notice in very widespread fashion that they and those believing in a traditional understanding of family life and marriage, were now considered “hateful, bigoted, homophobic” and other pejorative labels. Some were driven out of business, like the cake backers in Oregon and Colorado. Homosexuality, a lifestyle that has been condemned by all Abrahamic faith traditions since recorded history began, was made legal by Supreme Court fiat in the United States. Now parents have to deal with the reality of lesbian or gay hero characters being portrayed by the likes of Marvel and DC productions on TV at home, and some public schools are insistent upon teaching children about “my two dads” or “my two moms” and so forth.

As Tucker Carlson noted in his own video presentation about two weeks ago, the attack against traditional family values for the sake of economic gain has caused unbelievable destruction in American society. The legalization of cannabis has accelerated this.

With all this is probably the most powerful attack yet devised against Christian believers. That attack says something like this:

Christianity? Sure, it’s okay if you want to be Christian. We do not mind. But keep your faith in Church. Be nice to the rest of us who do not believe like you do. Your faith is yours to keep but it offends us. Jesus said to love everyone, but when you talk about your beliefs (that we disagree with) you are being a bad Christian because you are being hateful to people who are different than you.

Many Christians have silently buckled to this argument. And why?

It is in our nature as Christians to strive for compassion and kindness to others. In America, a large part of our church upbringing talked about being nice to others whether they deserved it or not.

But being “nice” is not the same as being honest. There are still a lot of great parents that know that being too nice to their children will kill them. Being honest, strong, disciplined… these are also measures of what Christian love is.

Christian love is rooted in reality. The reality of God, of who we are, our ability to do either good or evil to ourselves and those around us, and far more than being nice to others, facing the Lord at the last moment in life or at the Last Judgement. To survive and make it through that session means that we have to make decisions that may not look nice. They may look harsh, unkind, or hateful. But every sane adult probably remembers times his or her parents put their foot down and did not let them do something. At the time it seemed wrong. But later it proved lifesaving.

We are under an attack as severe as ISIS’ attacks on Christians in those other parts of the world. If the seculars of our culture can render our faith as irrelevant, then they have won, and we all suffer.

 

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The Pences: defenders of Christian values in the White House

Article about Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen views Christian life as weird, showing nature of Christian persecution in the US.

Seraphim Hanisch

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A companion article noted that Christian believers in the US are seeking to help stand for those Christians in far off lands who are being martyred and persecuted for their faith at the hands of ISIS and other cruel religious and secular forces. But we also noted that this problem is extremely fierce in the Western “Christian” world, but the attacks try to bring Christian life to irrelevance and “shame it out of existence.”

An example of this in action came from Yahoo.com, carrying a news piece from AFP. Here is that piece; we have added emphases to focus on our point:

On page 11 of an application to work at a private Christian school in Virginia, teachers are bluntly asked to pledge to “maintain a lifestyle based on biblical standards of moral conduct.” It goes on to say banned conduct includes, but is not limited, to: “heterosexual activity outside of marriage (e.g. premarital sex, cohabitation, extramarital sex), homosexual or lesbian sexual activity, polygamy, transgender identity” or “any other violation of the unique roles of male and female.”

Students at the Immanuel Christian School — who range in age from five to 14 — are also banned from engaging in “homosexual or bi-sexual activity,” according to an agreement parents must sign before enrollment. Vice President Mike Pence’s wife Karen is once again teaching art at the school in Washington’s suburbs — sparking anger from gay rights advocates who say it sends the wrong message from the inner circles of US power. “We’ll let the critics roll off our backs,” Pence said in an interview with Catholic television network EWTN. But he added: “The criticism of Christian education in America should stop.”

Of course, the Pence family’s brand of religious conservatism is exactly why Donald Trump chose him as a running mate in July 2016.

– Pro-prayer, anti-abortion –

At that time, Pence was the governor of Indiana and a former congressman with a low national profile. He had a few crowning achievements to boast of — a state anti-abortion law and a “religious freedom law” that said individuals and companies wishing not to serve gay and lesbian customers could cite a “substantial burden” on their religious beliefs as a reason.

An amendment was eventually passed to provide protections for LGBT citizens.

The anti-abortion law added limits to access, banning those motivated by the fetus’s race, gender or disability. But it was eventually blocked in the courts. Nevertheless, the two initiatives had burnished Pence’s reputation as a champion of the religious right. Since taking office as vice president, the 59-year-old Pence — who seems to make it his business not to make waves — regularly appears alongside the 45th president of the United States.

In meetings, he often takes a back seat, his lips sealed and his head nodding in approval. When he speaks in public, he never misses a chance to voice his admiration for the man who brought him back to Washington.

On the face of it, they could not be more different — Trump is brash, twice divorced, vocal about his sexual conquests and doesn’t seem to have a tight grasp on biblical passages. Pence meanwhile said last year: “I do try and start every day reading the Bible. My wife and I try to have a prayer together before I leave the house every morning.” On Thursday, the vice president was set to host a roundtable for pro-abortion rights activists on the eve of the March for Life, a major annual anti-abortion rally in Washington. Pence was the first vice president to speak at the march in 2017.

“We will not rest, until we restore a culture of life in America for ourselves and our posterity,” Pence told the crowd.

– The fight continues –

Mike and Karen Pence met at church — an evangelical Protestant congregation. One in four Americans associates with the movement. Today, they are often seen holding hands when they are together in public. Pence often begins his tweets by saying, “Karen and I are praying for…”

They are reportedly inseparable — a fact that sometimes sparks mockery. In 2002, Mike Pence, then a lawmaker, infamously told The Hill that he never ate alone with a woman other than Karen, and that he would not accept an invitation to an event where alcohol was being served if she were not there. “If there’s alcohol being served and people are being loose, I want to have the best-looking brunette in the room standing next to me,” Pence told the Washington paper.

While he has often joked about his traditional views of coupledom, he has never denied them. Karen Pence, 62, shares her husband’s conservative beliefs. In 1991, she wrote to The Indianapolis Star newspaper to complain about an article that, she claimed, encouraged children to think they were gay or lesbian, according to a copy of the letter released by The Washington Post. Since that time, gay marriage has become the law of the land — legal across the country. But there is no explicit federal ban on discriminating against someone for their sexual orientation, which allows employers like the Immanual Christian School to maintain its rules against “sexual immorality.”

For the Pences, as for other evangelicals, the battle continues.

The thing that is stunning about this news piece is that it casts what are traditionally Christian values and a traditionally good Christian family in a negative light. For AFP and Yahoo, the Pences are an anomaly, a throwback that needs to be thrown back. The contemporary reader is more likely to mock the “backwardness” of Family Pence rather than see their lifestyles as honorable.

This is the nature of the attack against Christianity in our country.

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