Estonia: Back in the USSR?

I had assumed that Estonia’s increasingly vitriolic stance towards Russia was something to do with its history in the USSR, where liberties and freedom of speech were crushed, and that they were taking a moral stance against repression. That would be understandable.

But alas no. A few days ago the Prime Minister of that country, Taavi Rõivas, reacted to news of the CIA’s torture campaign with this apathetic and lickspittle response:

“We don’t need to be telling the U.S. what to do and what not to do.”

Well no one asked you to Taavi. But you might have tried expressing disapproval. Or would that get you in trouble with the enlightened empire?

And now this.

I really, really loathed the USSR and all that it stood for. So too did the majority of Estonians. But unfortunately, it seems their black hats/white hats approach has blinded them and they are now heading back to the role of vassal nation of another increasingly repressive regime. And as they do so, their commitment to liberties and freedom of speech is ending up in the trash can. Looks like they are going back to the USSR. Only this time it comes from the West and not the East.

Torturing 4 Freedom and Tyrannising 4 Tolerance

The irony of governments and their agents “torturing some folks” in the name of protecting freedoms ought not to escape us. And if you fancy overdosing on irony, consider that the governments of those same countries that have been busy “torturing some folks” or allowing it to happen, are the very same ones that are constantly reminding us of how tolerant we all need to be — even to the point of agreeing with their agenda to redefine marriage and triangles.

A closer examination, however, reveals that it is perhaps not quite as ironic as it first looked. If those in power were really as tolerant as they would have us believe, but then went about “torturing some folks” or allowing it to happen, that would indeed be bizarre, not to mention downright hypocritical. But let’s imagine that their push for “Tolerance” is not really about tolerance at all, but rather about foisting an agenda on everyone, and let’s imagine that they are prepared to persecute and prosecute people who won’t accept that agenda, and suddenly you can see the connection more clearly.

So zealous are they for promoting what they consider “Tolerance” that they are prepared to act like tyrants to stop dissent. So zealous are they for “protecting our freedoms” that they are prepared to “torture some folks” to achieve this. Thus it is not “Tolerance” that Western leaders are pushing for, after all, but conformity to a set of values, which just happens to be intrinsically hostile to Christian values. It is no surprise that those who are prepared to Torture 4 Freedom, will also be capable of Tyrannising 4 Tolerance.

Christmas Musings: The Atheist Hope and the Problem of Dust

Biblically speaking, dust is usually symbolic of death:

“Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” — Genesis 2:7

“By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” — Genesis 3:19

“What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?” Psalm 30:9

One thing that atheists and Christians have in common is that we both believe wholeheartedly in Ecclesiastes 3:20:

“All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.”

True, Solomon, but what then? Well for the Christian, the story doesn’t stop there. And because we believe it doesn’t stop there, we have hope.

But from where does the atheist get hope? To put it another way, if the story starts with dust and ends with nothing but dust, where does hope spring from? The answer is that it doesn’t and it can’t. Life that begins and ends in dust can only do one thing for hope, and that is bury it. This is why there really is something very odd hearing secularists and atheists speaking of hope for humanity. What hope? Sure, you can hope that it will be sunny tomorrow, but there is no hope for humanity. Your worldview won’t allow it. The dust simply won’t have it.

The only hope this world and its people could possibly have must come from outside the dust:

“The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.” — 1 Corinthians 15:47 

That second man from heaven is Jesus Christ. Yet the irony is that He came into this world as dust, and at the end of His life He went back down into the dust, seemingly taking hope with Him.

If the story ends there, atheism wins and hope is crushed. Yet it doesn’t. For He rose from the dust, and with Him rose hope. And so we can rejoice in the words of the Messenger of God who marked His incarnation with these words:

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” — Luke 2:10

The Answer to Self-Harming: Money, Programmes and Information? Or Jesus?

Here is a report on the BBC documenting the rise in self-harming among young people. In Britain, the number of girls aged 10-14 admitted to hospital after self-harming incidents increased from 3,090 in 2009/10 to 5,953 in 2013/14 — a rise of almost 93%. Amongst boys in the same age group, there was a rise from 454 to 659 — 45%.

According to the article, these figures may well be the tip of the iceberg. That’s pretty clear. These statistics are for hospital admissions only, and as most cases of self-harm will clearly not result in a hospitalisation, it is fairly obvious that the problem is much bigger than these figures suggest. It is also the tip of the iceberg in that self-harm is clearly connected with deep unhappiness in an individual, but there are other manifestations of deep unhappiness than self-harm. The huge rise in the number of prescriptions for antidepressants over the past 10-20 years exposes a deep unhappiness at the core of society, if you have eyes to see it.

So what is the response? Perhaps the most depressing thing about the article is that the response it offers is so utterly predictable, and at the same time so totally not what is needed. According to the piece, the British Government has responded by saying that they will put an extra £30m into mental health care in A&E units.

Have you ever noticed that whenever a study or a survey comes out which exposes something deeply wrong with individuals or society, the answer always — and I mean without fail — always involves money? This is a deeply materialistic reaction to a problem that has been caused in the first place by deep materialism. It’s a bit like treating alcohol poisoning with alcohol.

Let me get straight to the point. No amount of money, no amount of leafleting, no amount of awareness campaigns is going to properly address this problem. The issue has arisen because we have abandoned the only thing that can properly answer our deepest needs of a purpose and reason for existence. The atheist will say that he has plenty of purpose in his life, but question him and push him back on this and you will be given lots of purposes within this life — football, music, art, education, stamp collecting, car racing, going out, whatever — but what he will not give you is one single purpose for his existence. And that is because “You’re born, you live, you die” cannot logically give you one single grand purpose for existence.

In other words, from dust to dust, without the possibility of redemption and future life, it is impossible to find existential purpose. As granted above, yes you can find purposes within this life, but you cannot find purpose for this life. The dust simply won’t allow it. However, a transcendent God, who created us for a purpose, and who can bestow on us life after dust, can indeed give us existential purpose.

In Britain, we have consciously abandoned God and gone about trying to find purposes for our lives outside of God. What we have ended up with is a generation trying to replace ultimate purpose with transient purposes. Many happily go on with this grand delusion. But for those who find out that this is just a fraud, they end up deeply purposeless, deeply unhappy, and often with a deep self-loathing that they take out upon themselves by self-harming.

Furthermore, many have also been deprived of feeling loved and wanted, because their parents didn’t just cast God out of their lives, but also the moral restraints He set for them. They went after their own selfish pleasures — seeking to find fulfilment outside of God — and their children were the unfortunate “collateral” damage as they abandoned their responsibilities for them, leaving many of them without fathers, and without the feeling of being loved.

Of course that’s an attack on single mothers, right? No, it is an attack on the sexual revolutionaries and leftist hand-wringers who hate the family, decided to break it up, and so left many mothers trying to perform the job of father and mother at the same time. It is also an attack on those fathers who absconded.

The BBC article points to this quite clearly, citing the example of Kenlie Youngman, a 15-year-old who began self-harming two years ago. Here’s what Kenlie had to say:

“I’ve never seen my biological father, so that’s kind of one thing that made me want to self-harm, because it makes me think he didn’t want me — he wouldn’t accept me. I was also badly bullied which also led to self-harm. When I felt really down I would self-harm.”

The article then goes on to quote Kenlie’s mother, Donna, who said that teenagers hurt themselves as “a cry for help.” She is right. They do indeed hurt themselves because they are crying for help. But the question is, what help are they crying for, and how is that answered? Can more money answer it? Government programmes? Awareness campaigns?

The cry is a cry to be loved and a cry for a purpose. This is something that no amount of money or campaigning can give them. I have no doubt that some of these things can put a patch over the wounds. But there is only one thing that can not just cover the wound, but heal it completely. There is only one thing that can assure a human being that they are truly loved, even when their father has abandoned them. And there is only one thing that can give them a true existential purpose to their very being. That thing is the love of God, seen most clearly in the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ on the Cross for sinners. He is love. He is purpose. And only He can give these young people the love and the purpose they really need.

Russian Aggression? Nah! It’s Just US Peacemaking

What’s this? Is it finally the proof that we have all been waiting for of Russian aggression in the form of tanks and Armoured Personnel Carriers, threatening a peaceful neighbouring country and marking the beginning of the campaign of European conquest which the Russians are so obviously desperate to begin? Nah! It’s just a train carrying a cargo of US peace-making equipment including Bradley Fighting Vehicles, M113 Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs), Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks (HEMTTs), High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs), an M88 Hercules Armory recovery vehicle, trucks, tactical engineering and medical vehicles, and a pair of railcars with ammunition. And in Dalbe Railway Station in Latvia of all places. That’s thousands of miles away from the US, but less than 150 miles from the Russian border. Make of it what you will:

 

Was This a Declaration of War?

Anyone who has read this blog over the past few months will have been struck by the amount of articles on the Ukraine crisis. Sure, I have written about other issues as well, but Ukraine has featured heavily. Why is this?

The reason is that from the outset of that whole crisis, it has been clear to me that this is not really about Ukraine at all. The poor unfortunate dupes in that country who believe that the West is a beacon of light, promising prosperity and freedom have been sadly deceived into thinking that the West actually gives a stuff about them. It does not.

No, Ukraine is merely an unfortunate pawn in the attempts of the US Government to encircle, destabilise and ultimately balkanise Russsia, the country that it sees as the biggest threats to its goal of world hegemony, or “full spectrum dominance,” as Donald Rumsfeld so subtly put it.

Long before all this kicked off, it was clear that Washington neocons (the ideological heirs of Trotskyism, funnily enough) had their sights set on regime change in Moscow. One of the most blatant examples of this came back in a piece written for the Washington Post last September by Carl Gershman, President of the National Endowment for Democracy, a US Government-financed slush fund that basically works for regime change around the world, under the cover of promoting “democracy”:  

“Ukraine is the biggest prize … The opportunities are considerable, and there are important ways Washington could help. The United States needs to engage with the governments and with civil society in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova to ensure that the reform process underway not only promotes greater trade and development but also produces governments that are less corrupt and more accountable to their societies. An association agreement with the European Union should be seen not as an end in itself but as a starting point that makes possible deeper reforms and more genuine democracy. Russian democracy also can benefit from this process. Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents … Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

Did you get that? The President of the National Endowment for Democracy is such a keen supporter of democracy, that he works to topple governments in countries thousands of miles away from America, all in the name of democracy. The name “National Endowment For Sticking Our Noses Into Countries That Have Nothing To Do With Us, So That We Can Topple Governments We Don’t Like” is a more appropriate name.

So it has been perfectly obvious for some time that the Government of the United States was looking to bring about regime change in Russia, and that the Ukraine was their means of beginning this process. Of course it hasn’t quite turned out the way they planned, and opinion polls in Russia are consistently showing huge levels of support for their President. I wonder what Mr Gershman, promoter of democracy that he is, has to say about that.

But now the stakes just got raised much higher. Yesterday, the US House of Representatives passed a bill that once again has the US posing as the saviors of a situation that they themselves are responsible for creating, and which Ron Paul has described as “one of the worst pieces of legislation ever” and, effectively, a declaration of war.

Please do read through Dr. Paul’s analysis here. Sadly, I think he’s right. The neocon ideologues in Washington, in their neo-Trotskyist desire for world revolution and world domination, have just raised the stakes to a terrifying level. May the God who sits in the Heavens and laughs at the scheming of the wicked (Psalm 2), thwart them in their evil and stupid plans.

Game-Changer: Goodbye South Stream; Hello Turk Stream

The news that Russia has cancelled South Stream — a gas pipeline from Russia to Europe, via the Black Sea — was at first reported by many news agencies as a bitter blow to “The New Hitler,” Vladimir Putin. Here was proof that Russia was indeed isolated, and that the stance of the West was paying off.

However, just moments after this was reported, a monumental piece of news came through. The news was that instead of going ahead with the South Stream pipeline, which would have entered Europe in Bulgaria, Russia had just signed a deal with Turkey to build a pipeline into that country via the Black Sea. This new pipeline will be capable of delivering exactly the same amount of gas as the South Stream pipeline could have delivered (63billion cubic metres per year), and may include a special hub on the Turkish-Greek border to make delivery to Europe a possibility.

The significance of this cannot be overstated. This is what is technically known as a “game changer,” or if you prefer chess terminology, “check”. Why so?

I wrote here about how Putin had lobbed a missile right into the heart of the EU with the Russian sanctions, which came as a response to rounds and rounds of US and EU sanctions. I continue to believe that that’s exactly what it was, and the evidence of this can be seen in the growing criticism from various industries within EU countries that are suffering badly as a result of having access to the Russian market blocked.

But if anything, the abandoning of the South Stream project and the announcement of the “Turk Stream” project is an even bigger missile. My guess is that the EU is stunned and flabbergasted by this, and just as it took them a few days to take in the significance of the agricultural sector sanctions, it will take a few days for this to sink in too.

Sink in it will, though. The scheme has been shelved, not because Russia didn’t want it to go ahead, but firstly because EU bureaucracy and competition laws stalled it long before Barack O’Bomber could even point to Ukraine on a map, and secondly, and more importantly, because the EU and US put massive pressure on those countries involved in the project to put it on hold as an extra “sanction” on Russia (Bulgaria even got a visit from John McCain a few months ago, and they announced the suspension of the project the following day. Coincidence?).

But now Russia has completely pulled the rug from under their feet, not only by cancelling the project, but in a move of astonishing audacity, redirecting the whole thing via Turkey. At a press conference to announce all this, Putin said that Russian gas:

“will be retargeted to other regions of the world, which will be achieved, among other things, through the promotion and accelerated implementation of projects involving liquefied natural gas … We’ll be promoting other markets and Europe won’t receive those volumes, at least not from Russia. We believe that it doesn’t meet the economic interests of Europe and it harms our cooperation. But such is the choice of our European friends.”

“Such is the choice of our European friends” indeed. Well they have made that choice and now they can bask in the knowledge that all those Bulgarians, Serbians, Hungarians, Italians and Austrians who might have been employed on this project will not now be needed. The Bulgarian government has been especially foolish in toeing the Brussels/Berlin/Washington diktats and now finds herself losing the massive benefits that this project would have brought. Again, Mr Putin summed this up quite succinctly, whilst at the same time losing no opportunity to lob a missile straight into the heart of the EU project:

“If Bulgaria is deprived of the opportunity to act as a sovereign nation, then they should at least demand money from the European Commission to compensate for their lost profits, because direct revenues to Bulgaria’s budget alone would have been no less than 400 million Euros a year. But ultimately, this is also the choice of our Bulgarian partners; it seems they have certain obligations. Still, that’s not our business — it’s our partners’ business.”

As a further slap in the face for those countries, they will not only lose out on the jobs and the revenue, but they will also be at the mercy of Turkey if they want the gas that they could have got had they stood up to Brussels, Berlin and Washington. This is particularly ironic because the EU has been putting off Turkish membership for decades. I have no time for their President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose authoritarian tendencies are far greater than anything Vladimir Putin can cook up, but he has clearly decided that he is no longer interested in the EU, other than sticking two fingers up at it.

There are two other fascinating aspects to this new deal. The first is that Turkey is a NATO member. It has historically been allies of the US, but that relationship seems to have soured of late. The Turk Stream deal seems to set the seal on that souring relationship and shows that Turkey is no longer prepared to simply toe the line set by Washington. How the US government reacts to this will be hugely interesting, and I suspect it won’t be very positive.

The other hugely interesting aspect is the Syrian issue. Turkey has been supporting regime change in Syria, and has almost certainly been funding the rebel groups, many of whom managed to miraculously transmogrify themselves from “moderates” into fanatical jihadists under the name ISIS. Now, I may well be wrong, but it seems to me that the reason that Turkey was so keen on Syrian regime change was the same reason that Qatar, Saudi and the US have been so keen on regime change there — namely, so that a pro-US government could be installed there, and Qatar and Saudi could then be free to build oil and gas pipelines all the way to Europe, transiting both Syria and Turkey.

But with the announcement of the “Turk Stream” project, there will no longer be the same need for Turkey to oppose the Syrian regime. They can now act as the conduit for gas into Europe, but instead of this coming up through Syria, it will now come direct from Russia.

So watch this space. If I am right — and it is a big if — I would expect to see Turkey gradually shifting its position from one of outright hostility to the Assad regime, to one where they agree to cooperate in order to remove ISIS. This would pull the rug from under the carpet of the US government, whose actions against ISIS are really just a sideshow to their real business, which is the removal of Assad.

The end of South Stream and the beginning of Turk Stream is, as I say, a game changer in so many ways. In one foul swoop, Russia has managed to:

1. Make the leaders of the EU look stupid (which they largely are)
2. Sow discord within certain EU countries
3. Expose the fact that countries within the EU are unable to act as sovereign nations
4. Expose the fact that subservience to Washington, Brussels and Berlin is not in a nation’s interests
5. Create a split within the NATO alliance, whereby one of its members (Turkey) is openly cooperating with Russia
6. Open up the possibility that Europe will eventually get its energy via Turkey, bypassing Ukraine
7. Create the possibility that Turkey will change its line on Syria and join with them in routing ISIS

As I say, this is huge. But a final note of warning to the EU and US. You have just been put in check. Merely placing another round of sanctions is really not going to get you out of it.