Sean1427

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  1. Reading through this thread brought back lots of memories. My mother was born in the church, and her ancestors go back to the very early days of the church. My father was not born in the church. Ironically, both my parents' ancestors were on both sides of the conflict in Nauvoo. I have an ancestor whose name was given him in a blessing by Joseph Smith, and that name given was that of one of Joseph's late brother's. I have an ancestor on my father's side who was named after one of the IL militia leaders who rallied the troops against the Mormons in Nauvoo. Years later my parents married and had four sons, all of whom served missions. My father, even though he was not a member, was always very supportive of my mother. She paid tithing on money he earned, and he never complained. Each time one of us was born, my mother, who was somewhat inactive in the early years, took us to the local unit to be blessed, and my father supported her. When we were baptized, he never complained. He supported my older brother on a mission, without any help from the church. He also donated his skills, time, and labor to building the first chapel in my home town. He did the same for our ward's scout house. He also taught us the importance of remaing true to the covenants we had made. Once my younger brother wasn't getting ready to go to church with Mom and the rest of us, except for Dad. Dad went in to see what was wrong and my brother said he wasn't going to church. My brother then said that since my father never went to church, he didn't have to go. But my father wisely told him that my father didn't go because he hadn't made a covenant with the Lord to do so, but that my brother had and that because he had, he should get up, get ready and go to church to support the church and his mother and be true to his covenant. My father did all this as a non-member. As the years passed and the church became more important to my mother, she began to want to see my father come into the church as well. Such wasn't going to be easy since some of the members weren't doing much to help out. (I have to laugh when I remember that our home teacher once told my father that because he smoked he was a servant of the devil.) But my mother never pressured him and never gave up hope that perhaps, some day, things might change. But having the missionaries teach my father the lessons wasn't enough since he knew more about the the basic doctrines, teachings, principles and history of the church than the poor elders did. So my mother settled for just having them come to dinner every Monday. Missionaries came and went, but the time came when one missionary came that somehow "clicked" with my father and that missionary was the one who baptized my father. My father once told us sons that we had a great responsibility since he and us were the only ones among all his ancestors that were members of the church, and that generations of family members now dead depended on us. Before I went on my mission, my father and I received our patriarchal blessings together. None of us ever really read my father's blessing until he lie dying several years later. What we read was interesting. The first paragraph sounds like that of those who've been born in the church when it said that my father had been faithful in the pre-existence. But then it added something I'd not seen or heard of before. It said that he had chosen to use his agency to be born into a non-member family, and that he had made a convenant with his Father in Heaven that when the day came that he was baptized, he would take the gospel message to those of his family who were not members. Never before had I imagined faithful individuals who used their agency in the pre-existence to be born outside the church as a mission. In the church we are counseled to marry members. But I'm grateful that my mother did becuase I'm grateful for what both sides of my heritage have taught me. And if my mother hadn't married out, one wonders when and where my father would have joined, and how his family would have ever heard the gospel message. Your situation and that of my father's reminds me of the words of Elder Orson F. Whitney: "[God] is using not only his covenant people, but other peoples as well, to consummate a work, stupendous, magnificent, and altogether too arduous for this little handful of Saints to accomplish in and by themselves . . ." Remember, Joseph of Egypt married a non-member, who became the mother of two great nations (Ephraim and Mannaseh), whose members are as the sands of the sea. So do marriages between members and non-members work? From my own family experience, I would say they can and often do, and sometimes they work in ways we members can't even begin to imagine. And we need to remember that what was begun here in mortality doesn't end in mortality.
  2. Sean1427

    Anyone watching world events right now?

    As an American who lives in the ME I agree with what Jenamarie shared about how many radical Muslims are illiterate and therefore don't know much about their own religion. However, I would also point out that while many Americans--Christian or otherwise--are basically literate, the sad reality is that most Americans don't read much anymore much less take time to do their own research. And just as many Muslims get their views of Islam, current events, or politics from their local imam, many Americans seem to get most of their views of Islam, Christianity, current events, or political views from TV, the movies, their favort talk radio host, or their particular religious leader. I remember a quote I saw once in a hall at BYU that asked, What advantage does a man who can read but doesn't have over the man who can't read. Sadly, for many in both East and West it's as though the printing press had never been invented. The fact that many of those rioting have never seen the movie reminds me how the Wyoming tourist bureau was flooded by Americans wanting to visit Brokeback Mountain after having seen the movie Brokeback Mountain. Evidently, they didn't realize that there was no Brokeback Mountain in Wyoming, where there aren't a lot of mountains to begin with. Nor had they looked at the credits, for if they had, they would have learned that the film was made in Canada, not the US. With respect to what the BBC show "Islam, The Untold Story" said of Mohammed, those of us who are LDS should remember the LDS First Presidency Message of 1978, which reads in part: "Based upon ancient and modern revelation, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gladly teaches and declares the Christian doctrine that all men and women are brothers and sisters, not only by blood relationship from common mortal progenitors but also as literal spirit children of an Eternal Father. “The great religious leaders of the world such as Mohammad, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God’s light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals . . . “Consistent with these truths, we believe that God has given and will give to all peoples sufficient knowledge to help them on their way to eternal salvation, either in this life or in the life to come . . .” Hence, Mohammed, according to the First Presidency, did receive a portion of God's truth (i.e., inspiration) that helped serve to enlighten people and bring them to a higher level of understanding as individuals. What individual followers of a particular religion do with their religion is another matter. But as I reflect on how some Muslims seem to fail to live their religion, I also appreciate what C. S. Lewis had to say about Christians: If we were arrested for being Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict us? As for the rioting one sees throughout the Muslim world, let me share the following article which makes a number of very good points that we should at least consider as we try to make sense of what we see-- US media angrily marvels at the lack of Muslim gratitude NBC News, along with a leading US newspaper, insist that Egyptians should be grateful to the US for having 'freed' them By Glenn Greenwald, 14 September 2012 One prominent strain shaping American reaction to the protests in the Muslim world is bafflement, and even anger, that those Muslims are not more grateful to the US. After all, goes this thinking, the US bestowed them with the gifts of freedom and democracy – the very rights they are now exercising – so how could they possibly be anything other than thankful? Under this worldview, it is especially confounding that the US, their savior and freedom-provider, would be the target of their rage. On Wednesday, USA Today published an article with the headline "After attacks in Egypt and Libya, USA Today asks: Why?" The paper appeared to tell its readers that it was the US that freed the Egyptian people from tyranny: "Attacks in Libya that left four US diplomats dead – including Ambassador Christopher Stevens – and a mob invasion of the US Embassy in Cairo, in which the US flag was torn to shreds, have left many to wonder: How can people the USA helped free from murderous dictators treat it in such a way?" Did you know that the "USA helped free" Egyptians from their murderous dictator? On Thursday night, NBC News published a nine-minute report on Brian Williams' "Rock Center" program featuring its foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, reporting on the demonstrations in Cairo, which sounded exactly the same theme. Standing in front of protesting Egyptians in Tahrir Square, Engel informed viewers that this was all so very baffling because it was taking place "in Cairo, where the US turned its back on its old friend Hosni Mubarak", and then added: "It is somewhat ironic with American diplomats inside the embassy who helped to give these demonstrators, these protesters, a voice, and allowed them to actually carry out these anti-American clashes that we're seeing right now." That it was the US who freed Egyptians and "allowed them" the right to protest would undoubtedly come as a great surprise to many Egyptians. That is the case even beyond the decades of arming, funding and general support from the US for their hated dictator (to his credit, Engel including a snippet of an interview with Tariq Ramadan pointing out that the US long supported the region's dictators). Beyond the long-term US support for Mubarak, Egyptians would likely find it difficult to reconcile Engel's claim that the US freed them with the "made in USA" logos on the tear gas cannisters used against them by Mubarak's security forces; or with Hillary Clinton's touching 2009 declaration that "I really consider President and Mrs Mubarak to be friends of my family"; or with Obama's support for Mubarak up until the very last minute when his downfall became inevitable; or with the fact that the Obama administration plan was to engineer the ascension of the loathed, US-loyal torturer Omar Suleiman as Mubarak's replacement in the name of "stability". Given the history of the US in Egypt, both long-term and very recent, it takes an extraordinary degree of self-delusion and propaganda to depict Egyptian anger toward the US as "ironic" on the ground that it was the US who freed them and "allowed" them the right to protest. But that is precisely the theme being propagated by most US media outlets. Even in Libya, where it's certainly true that many Libyans are happy about the Nato intervention, this bafflement is misplaced. It's always the case that some portion of the populace of an invaded nation will be happy about even the most unjustified invasions: that the Kurds are thrilled by the Iraq war is a fact still cited by Iraq war advocates as proof of the war's justness and wisdom. But it's also the case that such invasions produce extreme anger, as well: among the families of those killed by the invading forces, or who suffer from the resulting lawlessness and instability. Combine that with the fact that it was repeatedly noted that US involvement in Libya meant that anti-US extremists, including al-Qaida, were being armed and empowered by the US, it is far from mystifying, as Secretary Clinton insisted, that some people in Libya are deeply hostile to the US and want to do it harm. In the same report, Engel also spent several moments explaining that the primary reason these Muslims have such animosity toward the US is because their heads have been filled for years with crazy conspiracy theories about how the US and Israel are responsible for their woes. These conspiracies, he said, were fed to them by their dictators to distract attention from their own corruption. Let's leave aside the irony of the American media decrying crazy "conspiracy theories" in other countries, when it is the US that attacked another country based on nonexistent weapons and fabricated secret alliances with al-Qaida. One should acknowledge that there is some truth to Engel's claim that the region's tyrants fueled citizen rage toward the US and Israel as a means of distracting from their own failings and corruption. But to act as though Muslim anger toward the US and Israel is primarily the by-product of crazy conspiracy theories is itself a crazy conspiracy theory. It's in the world of reality, not conspiracy, where the US and Israel have continuously brought extreme amounts of violence to the Muslim world, routinely killing their innocent men, women and children. Listening to Engel, one would never know about tiny little matters like the bombing of Gaza and Lebanon, the almost five-decade long oppression of Palestinians, the widely hated, child-killing drone campaign, or the attack on Iraq. And it's in the world of reality, not conspiracy, where the US really has continuously interfered in their countries' governance by propping up and supporting their dictators. Intense Muslim animosity toward the US, including in Egypt, long pre-dates this film, and the reasons aren't hard to discern. That's precisely why the US supported tyranny in these countries for so long: to ensure that the citizens' views, so contrary to US policy, would be suppressed and rendered irrelevant. It doesn't take a propagandized populace to be angry at the US for such actions. It takes a propagandized populace to be shocked at that anger and to view it with bafflement and resentment on the ground that they should, instead, be grateful because we "freed" them. But to see why exactly such a propagandized populace exists in the US and has been led to believe such myth and conspiracies, simply read that USA Today article or watch the NBC News report on these protests as they convince Americans that gratitude, rather than resentment, should be the sentiment people in that region feel toward the US . SOURCE: The Guardian, UK
  3. Sean1427

    Afterlife and Millennium questions...

    Sweetiepie, perhaps the following quote might shed some light on your questions. I have not yet found who the author actually was, but it was published in the Millenial Star, November 17, 1866. And while it's technically addressing heaven, I suspect it has some application to the Millenium and other kingdoms as well. "A Saint, who is one in deed and in truth, does not look for an immaterial heaven but he expects a heaven with lands, houses, cities, vegetation, rivers, and animals; with thrones, temples, palaces, kings, priests, and angels; with food, raiment, musical instruments, etc.; all of which are material. Indeed the Saints' heaven is a redeemed, glorified, celestial material creation, inhabited by glorified material beings, male and female, organized into families, embracing all the relationships of husbands and wives, parents and children, where sorrow, crying, pain, and death will be known no more. Or to speak still more definitely, this earth, when glorified, is the Saints' eternal heaven. On it they expect to live, with body parts, and holy passions; on it they expect to move and have their being; to eat, drink, converse, worship, sing, play on musical instruments, engage in joyful, innocent, social amusements, visit neighboring towns and neighboring worlds; ineed, matter and its qualities and properties are the only being or things with which they expect to associate. If they embrace the Father, they expect to embrace a glorified, immortal, spiritual, material Personage; if they embrace the Son of God, they embrace a spiritual Being of material flesh and bones, whose image is in the likeness of the Fathe; if they enjoy the society of the Holy Ghost, they expect to behold a glorious spiritual Personage, a material body of spirit; if they associate with the spirits of men and angels, they expect to find them material." True, the above is not scripture, but it is food for thought. As for the idea some have that "spirit" is immaterial, such a view contradicts the D&C which teaches that all spirit is matter--it's just that some spirit is more refined and pure than other spirit matter. Hence, what seems immaterial to us in our present state is certainly not immaterial to others in a different state of being.
  4. Sean1427

    Pres. Obama, Winner of Peace Prize, Starts New War.

    J. REUBEN CLARK, Excerpts, 1947, US foreign policy NOTE: I've posted this at another thread, "We Were Right to Intervene." If you've read it there, just ignore it here. I'm simply posting for those following this thread but not that one. -- More “girth” for those who might be interested. But almost all the “girth” here comes from J. Reuben Clark, after whom BYU's law school was named. For those who don’t know who J. Reuben Clark was, I’ve provided a short background on him in the following paragraph before sharing his words. Clark was appointed assistant solicitor to the US State Department in 1906, which began his career in government. During WWI, he worked in the Attorney General’s office. In 1928, as Under Secretary of State, he wrote the Clark Memorandum on the Monroe Doctrine, which repudiated the idea that the US could arbitrarily use military force in Latin America. He was US ambassador to Mexico from 1930-1933. In 1933, Clark was called to be a member of the LDS First Presidency to replace Charles W. Nibley. This call was unusual on two counts, one count being that previously counselors in the First Presidency had generally been selected from within the general authorities of the LDS church, but Clark had never even been a bishop or stake president. Until his death in 1961, Clark served in the presidencies of Heber J. Grant, George A. Smith, & David O. McKay. What follows after this paragraph was written by J. Reuben Clark in 1947. Please note that everything I quote comes from the same article. My inserts for clarification are in brackets.: “Until the last quarter of a century, this gospel of the [America’s Founding] Fathers was the polar star by which we set our international course. In the first hundred thirty years of our constitutional existence, we had three foreign wars, the first merely the final effort of our Revolution, which made good our independence. During the century that followed we had two foreign wars, neither of considerable magnitude. During the next twenty-three years, we had two global wars. While the gospel of the Fathers guided us we had peace. When we forsook it, two global wars engulfed us. “It is not clear when we began our wandering, nor is it necessary to determine the time. President Theodore Roosevelt was hinting our straying when he uttered the dictum ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick.’ We were to force others to do our bidding. President Wilson had the full departure in mind when he declared: ‘Everybody’s business is our business.’ Since then we have leaped ahead along the anciently forbidden path. “In our course under the new gospel of interference with everything we do not like, we have gone forward and are going forward, as if we possessed all the good of human government, of human economic concept, of human comfort, and of human welfare, all of which we are to impose on the balance of the world,--a concept born of the grossest national egotism. In human affairs no nation can say that all it practices and believes is right, and that all that others have that differs from what it has is wrong. Men inflict an unholy tragedy when they proceed on that basis. No man, no society, no people no nation is wholly right in human affairs; and none is wholly wrong. A fundamental principle of the operation of human society is to live and let live. “Yet, to repeat, we have entered into new fields to impose our will and concepts on others. This means we must use force, and force means war, not peace. “What has our apostasy from peace cost us? . . . “. . . America should again turn to the promotion of the peaceful adjustment of international disputes, which will help us regain the measureless moral force we once possessed, to the regeneration and salvation of the world. We now speak with the strong arm of physical force only; we have no moral force left. . . . “Our whole international course and policy is basically wrong, and must be changed if peace is to come. Our policy has brought us, and pursued, will continue to bring us, only the hatred of nations now—and we cannot thrive on that, financially or spiritually—and certain war hereafter, with a list of horrors and woes we do not now even surmise. If we really want peace, we must change our course to get it. We must honestly strive for peace and quit sparring for military advantage. We must learn and practice, as a nation . . . , the divine principles of the Sermon on the Mount, There is no other way.” Interestingly, elsewhere in the same article Clark freely admitted to being an isolationist in terms of how US foreign policy was even then being used. He admitted to fully believing in “the wisdom of the course defined by Washington, Jefferson, and other ancient statesmen”; that “American manhood is too valuable to be sacrificed on foreign soil for foreign issues and causes”; that “ America’s role in the world is not one of force, but is of that same peaceful intent and act that has characterized the history of the country from its birth till the last third of a century”; & that “moral force is far more potent than physical force in international relations” but that “we [i.e., America as clearly seen in the context] now speak with the strong arm of physical force only; we have no moral force left.” These are his words, not mine. He also stated that he was not shaken in his “convictions or frightened by the assertion” that “the doctrine of the Fathers is outmoded, and that we are now in a new world. All the age old forces are still peering out at us, -- greed, avarice, ambition, selfishness, the passon to rule, the desire to enslave for the sordid advantage of the enslaver. Not a single wanton face is missing and the visages of some are more hideous than ever.” Despite the technological advances, which would now include the internet, “we are just as we were . . We can and should mind our own business . . .” Again, Clark’s words above are from 1947, after the conclusion of WWII. It amazes me that he would write such just after the end of WWII at a time when Americans are patting themselves on the back for being the good guys. But there's not much victory-celebration language in his words! It’s always made me wonder what Clark knew that we don’t know even today. And while on another thread it was suggested that I was an isolationist and was accused of using “contemptuous language in speaking about America” that makes me “sound like another moveon.org dunderhead,” how are we to judge J. Reuben Clark and his words above? Clark was speaking as member of the LDS Church First Presidency and as a statesman who had a wealth of experience in and knowledge of America’s international dealings. For those of us who are LDS we have to wonder why a member of the First Presidency would write what he did. And for all of us, regardless of our backgrounds, we have to wonder why someone who had such a long and illustrious career in the US State Department would say such things. Now readers can rest. No more "girthiness" from me. At least not on this topic. I'm going to rest as well.
  5. Sean1427

    It Was Right To Intervene

    J. REUBEN CLARK, Excerpts, 1947, US foreign policy More “girth” for those who might be interested. But almost all the “girth” here comes from J. Reuben Clark, after whom BYU's law school was named. For those who don’t know who J. Reuben Clark was, I’ve provided a short background on him in the following paragraph before sharing his words. Clark was appointed assistant solicitor to the US State Department in 1906, which began his career in government. During WWI, he worked in the Attorney General’s office. In 1928, as Under Secretary of State, he wrote the Clark Memorandum on the Monroe Doctrine, which repudiated the idea that the US could arbitrarily use military force in Latin America. He was US ambassador to Mexico from 1930-1933. In 1933, Clark was called to be a member of the LDS First Presidency to replace Charles W. Nibley. This call was unusual on two counts, one count being that while counselors in the First Presidency previously had generally been selected from within the general authorities of the LDS church, Clark had never even been a bishop or stake president. Until his death in 1961, Clark served in the presidencies of Heber J. Grant, George A. Smith, & David O. McKay. What follows after this paragraph was written by J. Reuben Clark in 1947. Please note that everything I quote comes from the same article. My inserts for clarification are in brackets.: “Until the last quarter of a century, this gospel of the [America’s Founding] Fathers was the polar star by which we set our international course. In the first hundred thirty years of our constitutional existence, we had three foreign wars, the first merely the final effort of our Revolution, which made good our independence. During the century that followed we had two foreign wars, neither of considerable magnitude. During the next twenty-three years, we had two global wars. While the gospel of the Fathers guided us we had peace. When we forsook it, two global wars engulfed us. “It is not clear when we began our wandering, nor is it necessary to determine the time. President Theodore Roosevelt was hinting our straying when he uttered the dictum ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick.’ We were to force others to do our bidding. President Wilson had the full departure in mind when he declared: ‘Everybody’s business is our business.’ Since then we have leaped ahead along the anciently forbidden path. “In our course under the new gospel of interference with everything we do not like, we have gone forward and are going forward, as if we possessed all the good of human government, of human economic concept, of human comfort, and of human welfare, all of which we are to impose on the balance of the world,--a concept born of the grossest national egotism. In human affairs no nation can say that all it practices and believes is right, and that all that others have that differs from what it has is wrong. Men inflict an unholy tragedy when they proceed on that basis. No man, no society, no people no nation is wholly right in human affairs; and none is wholly wrong. A fundamental principle of the operation of human society is to live and let live. “Yet, to repeat, we have entered into new fields to impose our will and concepts on others. This means we must use force, and force means war, not peace. “What has our apostasy from peace cost us? . . . “. . . America should again turn to the promotion of the peaceful adjustment of international disputes, which will help us regain the measureless moral force we once possessed, to the regeneration and salvation of the world. We now speak with the strong arm of physical force only; we have no moral force left. . . . “Our whole international course and policy is basically wrong, and must be changed if peace is to come. Our policy has brought us, and pursued, will continue to bring us, only the hatred of nations now—and we cannot thrive on that, financially or spiritually—and certain war hereafter, with a list of horrors and woes we do not now even surmise. If we really want peace, we must change our course to get it. We must honestly strive for peace and quit sparring for military advantage. We must learn and practice, as a nation . . . , the divine principles of the Sermon on the Mount, There is no other way.” Interestingly, elsewhere in the same article Clark freely admitted to being an isolationist in terms of how US foreign policy was even then being used. He admitted to fully believing in “the wisdom of the course defined by Washington, Jefferson, and other ancient statesmen”; that “American manhood is too valuable to be sacrificed on foreign soil for foreign issues and causes”; that “ America’s role in the world is not one of force, but is of that same peaceful intent and act that has characterized the history of the country from its birth till the last third of a century”; & that “moral force is far more potent than physical force in international relations” but that “we [i.e., America as clearly seen in the context] now speak with the strong arm of physical force only; we have no moral force left.” These are his words, not mine. He also stated that he was not shaken in his “convictions or frightened by the assertion” that “the doctrine of the Fathers is outmoded, and that we are now in a new world. All the age old forces are still peering out at us, -- greed, avarice, ambition, selfishness, the passon to rule, the desire to enslave for the sordid advantage of the enslaver. Not a single wanton face is missing and the visages of some are more hideous than ever.” Despite the technological advances, which would now include the internet, “we are just as we were . . We can and should mind our own business . . .” Again, Clark’s words above are from 1947, after the conclusion of WWII. This was a time when Americans were feeling pretty good about themselves. It's not a stretch to say that victory-celebration spirit was still strong. Yet Clark's words are not quite victory-celebration words that flatter us by telling us how good we are as a nation. Saintmichaeldefendthem1 suggested I was an isolationist and accused me in a public forum of using “contemptuous language in speaking about America” that makes me “sound like another moveon.org dunderhead." Yet one could make the same accusation of Clark and the words he used. But it becomes far more difficult to dismiss Clark when we realize he was speaking as member of the LDS Church First Presidency and as a statesman who had a wealth of experience in and knowledge of America's international dealings. Regardless of whether one agrees with Clark, one still has to wonder what he knew that we don't know that caused him to write what he did. Everyone may now relax. No more "girthiness" from me. At least not on this topic. I'm going to relax also.
  6. Sean1427

    Pres. Obama, Winner of Peace Prize, Starts New War.

    Thanks, Elphaba, very much for what you wrote. I very much appreciate the words you wrote. It's not easy to post something that I know someone else might find offensive. Hence, sometimes I doubt it's really worth it. As I've said elsewhere, I don't expect anyone to agree with me. I'm simply sharing a different viewpoint that's based on my experiences. But reading something such as you wrote makes all the difference. Knowing that just one person appreciates something I've shared makes it all worthwhile, and in that sense, what I write, I write for you.
  7. Sean1427

    Pres. Obama, Winner of Peace Prize, Starts New War.

    I'm unsure which thread to post this at, but this seems more appropriate than most of the others. I forewarn anyone reading this that it will be a two parter. The first part will provide a little background that helps in understanding why I share what I do in the second part. I simply attempt to show a different perspective. One member on another thread stated that the "girth" of my posts were an attempt on my part to portray myself as an intellictual and to intimidate others into silence. I assure you that such is not the case. The "girth" of my articles is simply the way I write about topics. I simply find it difficult to take complex situations and reduce them to a few short sentences. As for my alleged attempt to portray myself as an intellectual and intimidate readers, trust me, I rarely expect anyone to even read what I write. I post things knowing that most people won't read what I've posted and believing that people are free to read or not read, agree or disagree, accept or reject in whole or in part. My only attempt is to show a different way of looking at things. I have no desire to get into an online debate/argument with anyone. I'm simply putting a different perspective out there. I realize that some might be offended by what I write or by how I phrase things. Yet my intent is not to offend, but simply to share a different viewpoint. And my main point in sharing any of this here is that I believe that our involvement in Libya cannot be understood if we divorce it from the larger picture, one which many of us are unable to see for various reasons. I simply want to share a different perspective on the bigger picture that might help us understand what's going on in Libya. As some know on this site, I'm an American LDS who has lived and worked in Saudi Arabia since several years before 9/11. While I've never thought of it as such, I am likely one of the few members on this site who has lived among Muslims Arabs, under Shari'ah, and in the heartland of Wahhabi'ism. Currently, I am not there; I'm simply elsewhere. If I were there, I wouldn't be sharing this online. As you learn quite quickly when you enter the kingdom, the walls have ears. They also have eyes. Of course, the same is now sadly true of the US. When I'm in Saudi, I do not post anything regarding religion or politics to this or any other site. I do not have a profile here and like most do not use my real name. I do this mainly because I don't want the Saudis among whom I work tracing anything back to me. My concern is not because I'm afraid of them, per se, but I would simply like to keep my job. I do not work for the US in any capacity. Nor am I a "private contractor," which is a euphemism in many instances for what was once know as a merc. In Saudi I live and work in the Eastern Province near Qateef, which is Shiite terrority. This part of Saudi is also where all the oil is. The lights of Manama, Bahrain, can be seen at night just across the water. Bahrain, as many now know, is "the home port" of the US 5th Fleet. It's a very small country, essentially what was once known as a city-state. It's about 15 miles from my stomping grounds. When oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia, it was discovered on the Shiite homeland. The Saudi government took a page out of American history and did to the Shiites what we did to the Indians--they forcibly moved them off their lands. (Note that what the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians can also be viewed in the same light--removing them from their lands and walling them in is not much different than a reservation where both the Indians and the Palestinians were and are made completely dependent on US or Israeli governments.) Saudi, like most Middle Eastern countries/societies, including the North African Muslims Nations are tribal, something we don't understand any better than our Anglo ancestors understood the tribal nature of the numerous Indian nations inhabiting what is now the US. Saudi is the only country in the world named after a family, the al-Sa'ud family. When one speaks of the Saudi government, one is referring, whether they realize it or not, to a government controlled by the al-Sa'ud family. Saudi has a poplulation of about 16 million natives. While you will see higher population figures, you have to subtract all the foreign expats working in the kingdom and their families, who make up about 30% of the population. While this is true for all the countries of the Gulf, the percentage of expat workers differs. For instance in the UAE, about 10-15 % are Shia in the area of Qateef. The royal family of Saudi consists of a very small percentage of the Saudi population. The family consists of between 6,000to 9,000 princes and princesses. (No one knows the exact number.) As is the custom, the first choice for a marriage partner is first cousins. In any event, rarely do individuals marry outside the extended family and the tribe to which they belong. Hence, royals marry royals for the most part. While the al-Sa'ud family does have tribes allied to it, their first loyalty remains with the family/tribe. This is important to remember when one considers the oil wealth that Saudi is known for. What's often missed in the West is that in Saudi, oil is considered the private property of the al-Sa'ud family. It is not a national resource. Rather, it is private property. Others are thrown bones here and there to buy and pacify them, but the wealth is the property of the royal family. Shedding some light on what this means can be seen in a Wikileaks leak of US diplomatic cables that showed that in 1996, "the lowliest member of the most remote branch of the [al-Sa'ud] family" received a monthly stipend of $800US. (This is per member, not per family; hence, a remote family of ten would be getting $8,000 US/month). The surviving sons of Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud, the founder of Saudi, received between $200,000 to $270,000US/month. Grandchildren of the founder recieved $27,000/month; great-grandchildren $13,000/USmonth; and great-great-grandchildren $8,000US/month. Again, that was in 1996. Recently, at the same time US navy ships were sailing through the Red Sea back to the "shores of Tripoli," Saudi tanks were moved from Saudi across the King Fahd Causeway to Bahrain. The US media, to my knowledge, never covered that event. Instead, the US media focused almost solely on Libya and the US' riding to the rescue of Libyan rebels in the eastern part of Libya. And while our attention was focused on our then-approaching involvement in Libya to save the Libyan civilians. Saudi troops, along with other troos for most GCC countries, were crushing the peacefull demonstrations by Bahrainis. A little more history is necessary. The Shia of Bahrain make up about 70-80% of the population. Just as Gaddafi uses mercs, which the US uses as well, Bahrain also uses mercs. In fact, the typical policeman on the street is not Bahriani. Most are Pakistani. The Khalifa family’s security force is almost entirely merc--British SAS, Pakistani, Indian, etc. The Khalifa family, a good friend and ally to the US, has its roots in Saudi, their homeland. (While they came from the mainland 200 years ago, they still consider Saudi their homeland.) Bahrain is the poor man of the GCC, the Gulf countries. They don't really have any oil worth speaking of and most of their money comes from refineries and banking. And yes, the Khalifa royal family is heavily financed and supported by the al-Sa'ud family of Saudi. All the good jobs in Bahrain go to mostly Sunni, who are closely affiliated and allied to the Khalifa family. Most Bahraini Shia get the menial jobs. Violence during the demonstrations in Bahrain came almost totally from the reaction by the Khalifa family. Yet initially all the Bahraini demonstrators, which included a good number of Sunni, wanted was reform. But once the violence began, some called for the king's departure. Another point that's missed completely in the West is this. The largest American city outside the US is inside Saudi. Perhpas there's a reason for this since those in the region have long considered Saudi to be a de facto US colony. Perhaps this is because our agreement to protect the Saudi government, i.e., the royal family, from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. (Sound familiar?) While we've technically moved our troops from Saudi, they are still in the area, especially Bahrain, which is a mere 15 miles from the oil fields of Saudi. I've even seen this quite low down in the system when I've asked Saudi officers why they don't hire Saudis to do jobs often given to Americans. The replies are essentially the same: we can't because we have to hire so many Americans every year or we run the risk of being distablized. Saudi does buy a lot of weapons from the US and the West. In fact, it's flooded with weapons, weapons no one really knows how to use other than those doing the training. Most Saudi troops don't know how to use or maintain them. And no sooner than western trainers train them how to properly maintain something than the particular hardward is scrapped and replaced by something else, which means new training is required. But it there are very good commissions, outrageous commissisons, for both Saudi buyers and Western suppliers. And it provides lots of jobs in the military-industrial complex and home and abroad. But the reality is that Saudi does nothing major without our tacit approval, consent, protection or request. This is also true for Bahrain. I do need to share a few thoughts on the Saudi military. The Saudi military, like most militaries in the ME are funded, trained, and supplied by the US. It can do a lot of harm to its own citizens, which is the same for the Egyptian military. It can also do a lot of harm for a small country like Bahrain. But on a large scale, there's nothing to worry about. Unemployment is high in Saudi and one of the ways to keep the people pacified is through giving them a job in the military. In essence, it's a form of welfare where they are taught a few things, where attempts are made to unite people whose primary loyalty is to their tribe, and it gives them a little money which allows them to marry and help their families. And most importantly, it keeps them off the streets and under the watchful eye of the powers that be. Other than that, it's a joke. I've seen military cadets between 20-30 having problems changing flat ties. I've worked with soldiers who have epilepsy, not the kind of guy you want behind a gun. During marching drills on the parade ground, I've seen obese soldiers who get to stand on the sidelines because marching is too tiring. A friend of mine was a US fighter pilot in the Gulf War. He said that the hardest thing they had to do during the war was to try to get the pilots into their planes! In fact, there was one decorated Saudi pilot during that war. But he himself didn't want go fight. It wasn't until American fighter planes trapped an Iraqi pilot in the air, got him to expend all his weapons, and then vectored in the Saudi pilot when it was safe and he could down the Iraqi pilot without any real risk to himself. The reality is that the Saudi military is like the Keystone Kops. The navey spends most of it's time looking for pirates off the coast and the navy shuts down about 3 p.m. so the married men can get home and take their wives shopping. (Remember, their wives can't drive.) The real military backbone of the country comes from two sources. The first is the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG) which consists of members of bedouin' tribes loyal to the al-Sa'ud family. They're like the royal family's praetorian guard; they were also sent with the Saud army into Bahrain to take care of the problem there. The second is the US military, along with the US president's private military, the CIA, and our enormous supplement of private contractors, America's new Hessians. Lastly, the Shiites of Bahrain and Iran have no more in common that Mexcian and American Mormons do. They are not Iranian sympathizers. They make this clear in many ways. Even US State Department documents have showed that there was no Iranian meddling in Bahrain until after the Saudi/GCC crackdown on the demonstrators. Regarding the UN, NATO, the Arab Leaque and the GCC. The GCC are the Gulf states, of which Saudi is top dog. The Arab League consists of 22 states and has been ignored for its entire history until it requested help from the UN vis-a-vis Libya. The UN has no power except what is given to it by the Security Council, which currently consists of 15 members. Yet the only members in the SC that have any power within the UN are the the five permanent members of the UN, i.e. the US, the UK, France, Russia and China. Any one of these five members can veto anything that comes before it. And anything done by the UN similar to the current involvement in Libya is done with their approval. In terms of Resolution 1973 which Obama uses to justify the US involvement in Libya, Russia and China abstained when the vote was taken, which means that it passed becaue it had the approval of the US, the UK and France. And NATO, which, should have disappeared after the collapse of the USSR, is under US control and commanded by an American general. It has, for all intents and purposes, become the UN military. And as J. Reuben Clark pointed out many years ago, the UN's purpose is not peace but war. OK, sorry for the length of this for anyone who might read it. Initially, I failed to make this post to this thread and ended up making two posts to the thread entitled "It Was Right to Intervene" found under Current Events. The second post at that thread was meant to be the second part of this post here. But since I've already posted it there, there's no need to do so here. Rest assured, the second part/post there is not nearly as long as this post. Basically, it shares links to articles written by people (Paul Craig Roberts, etc) that have help explain best what I've experienced and learned living in the ME. So if anyone is interested in browsing through those articles, you can find the links to them at that thread.
  8. Sean1427

    It Was Right To Intervene

    Saintmichaeldefendthem1 , While we obviously disagree on most of what I wrote, I do retract something you pointed out, i.e., my writing "any dictator, even our own." That was poor wording on my part. I was not referring to Obama, but to our dictators in the ME, as the context should have suggested. As for criticizing Obama, I was not criticiziing him per se. I was referring to the word games all politicians play, regardless of party. The political manipulation of language is, as Orwell taught quite well, always part of the game played. And it's played by politicians and media alike. Your assumption that I'm one of those nasty isolationists doesn't quite fit my background given that my entire career has involved my working and living in the Far East, Latin America, and the Middle East. Hence, I'm far more international than the typical citizen. Of course, the term isolationist as used in America today was first used as a term of opprobrium that was used specifically to label Americans of an earlier generation who did not approve of our initial attempts to use the military to do abroad what America's founders warned us against doing. Hence, if J. Reuben Clark, an ambassador to Mexico, were alive today and saying or writing what he did after WWII, he would be branded an isolationist. Of course, so would David O. McKay. Politically, I've been a registered Republican and, much to my regret, voted the party-line my entire adult life. I'm actually an old-school Republican, or what some have called a Burkean conservative. Regardless of how I mihgt be labelled, I'm one who believes very strongly that the reason we are in such a mess as a nation is partly because we. as a nation, have, in religious terms, apostatized from our founding gospel, as I referenced in my first post to this thread. Please note that before I'm accused of being anti-American, I make a distinction between the America the Founders gave us and the America we are now living in; between America my homeland and America as the federal government; and between American values, ideals, and principles as opposed to what we actually do. And while I do believe in America's earlier dictum that America should not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy, I am very much in favor of Americans as Americans having dealings all over the world. In fact, I believe that one of the problems Americans have in dealing with and understading situations abroad is precisely because few of us have any real experience abroad. Of course, even then it can be confusing, perhaps even more so. The "girth" of my article, as you described it, is rooted simply in the way I write. I find it difficult to explain complex issues in a few lines. But to go from that to accusing me of an intent to portray myself as an intellectual and to intimidate people into silence is quite a stretch. No one needs to read what I post. I don't really expect anyone to given the length of what I post. All I've done is to post other ways of looking at a complex and confusing situation. I simply posted some of my thoughts, but I did so knowing that people are free to do what they choose. They can read or not read, agree or disagree. They can also ignore you and me and can and should do their own research, their own thinking and come to their own conclusions. As for what I wrote, I stand by it. But since this is not a place to debate with others on the forum in detail, and since doing so certainly requires more"girth," I see no point in attempting to counter your comments point by point. In any event, it's not as though I've come up with the ideas I've expressed on my own. But given my experience living in the ME, I do have views that obviously differ from those of many Americans who have never lived there in a non-government related capacity or otherwise. And because of my experiences I tend to agree with writers from all over the political map whose writings and insights come closest to explaining what I've learned by living in the ME and elsewhere. By the way, one thing I do find interesting about your accusation that I have used the "girth" of my article to intimidate people into silence is that while you suggest in a public forum that I am likely an isolationist, the real irony is that the term you used, i.e., isolationist, has been used pejoratively in America for over a hundred years to intimidate into silence Americans who oppose or even criticize any departure from America's founding principles as they relate to our foreign policy. This term along with its cousin "isolationism" have consistently been used not only to silence such Americans but to marginalize them so that no one else pays any heed to what they might contribute to a debate in a true marketplace of ideas. But for those following this thread who might be interested in reading more, let me share the following sources that simply share different takes on the situation. The writers who follow are among those who I tend to agree with based on my background. First, let me say that I tend to agree with Craig Murray on the reason for our getting involved in Libya. Craig Murray, worked for about 20 years in the British diplomatic corps and was the UK ambassador to Uzbekistan until about 2005. You can read about his background at his blog. In any event, he believes, and I concur, that our involvement in Libya is most likely an attempt to crush what has become known as the Arab Spring/Awakening of these past few months. If such is true, then everything else--oil, water, ports, Gaddafi's refusal to participate in AFRICAM--is simply icing on the cake. When Murray writes about the legality of our involvement in Libya, we need to remember that he is writing as a British citizen. For Americans, there is a constitutional issue, which, naturally, is of no concern for Murray. Paul Craig Roberts, as many here know, is a Republican and was a Reagan appointee to the Treasury. Lew Rockwell is a libertarian. Pat Buchanan, a Republican, is the first one I've seen who clearly pointed out that Gaddafi and Lincoln have something in common. Of course, Buchanan is also labeled an isolationist. I've provided the pertinent quote and a link. I've provided a link to an article by Eric Margolis, a respected columnist/author who has extensive experience covering the Middle East and the greater region. His articles and books on the region provide insights that are often missing in the US debates, but the specific one I've provided a link for addresses SaintMichaelDefender1 disagreement with respect to my assertion that by the time we had effectively entered WW II, Germany had already been bled dry by the Soviet Red Army. I do not expect anyone to simply accept Margolis' views. But it does provide information and food for thought that anyone can independently verify and come to their own conclusions on. Pepe Escobar, is, if I remember correctly, Brazilian but has vast experience covering the ME. While I agree with most of what he writes, I disagree on his statements describing life inside Saudi Arabia. I disagree based on my experience living there. His article "Rage Against the House of Saud" is what I'm specifically referring to where he describes what it's like to live in Saudi. For instance, his descriptions of Wahhabiism in Saudi and how expat workers live in "perpetual fear" in Saudi are way off the mark. But his descriptions of the way things work between the US, the KSA, and Bahrain are quite accurate. (By the way, NYTEKTCHR, who posted a greeting here from Saudi, e-mailed me telling me that she loves living in Buraydah, which is in the Qur'an Belt, the most conservative part of the country. She's a doctor from Las Vegas who's the first Western woman to tell me that she really enjoys wearing the veil! Of course, she lives in a part of the country where all women wear veils which is not the case outside the Qur'an Belt.) Ok, pardon my "girth" in all this but the articles I share below are for anyone who's interested in reading more. 1. CRAIG MURRAY’S BLOG Craig Murray Blog Archive Cameron and Sarkozy’s Libyan Debacle Craig Murray Blog Archive The Invasion of Bahrain His blogs on the ME: Craig Murray Middle East 2. PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS The New Colonialism by Paul Craig Roberts Libya – The DC/NATO Agenda and the Next Great War by Paul Craig Roberts 3. PAT BUCHANAN: “Indeed, Gadhafi has asked of Obama, "If you found them taking over American cities by force of arms, what would you do?" “Well, when the South fired on Fort Sumter, killing no one, Abraham Lincoln blockaded every Southern port, sent Gen. Sherman to burn Atlanta and pillage Georgia and South Carolina, and Gen. Sheridan to ravage the Shenandoah. He locked up editors and shut down legislatures and fought a four-year war of reconquest that killed 620,000 Americans – a few more than have died in Gadhafi's four-week war. “Good thing we didn't have an "international community" back then. “The Royal Navy would have been bombarding Lincoln's America.” A Foolish and Unconstitutional War by Patrick J. Buchanan 4. LEW ROCKWELL The Other Captive Nations by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. Another Obama War by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. 5. Eric Margolis (whose book "American Raj" I highly recommend) describes in the article linked below how Germany had the USSR was in trouble in 1941 when Germany invaded. But even though the US Congress declared war in Dec. 1941, it took almost all of 1942 to get us ready to enter the conflict. We used 1942 to mobilize which included getting production going, troop strength up, arming, and developing a wartime management organization such as had been used in WWI. By 1943 we were ready. D-Day took place June 1944. But the war began for Europe in 1939. Moreover, as to my assertion that we entered WWI late, we entered in April 1917 in a war that begin in 1914 and ended in 1918. By the time we entered, European powers were badly warn down, but by our entrance, a valid argument can be made that the war was prolonged. Incidentally, Margaret Thatcher's defense aide Alan Clark stated that the war could have ended in 1940 had it not been for Churchill's "obsession" with Hitler that prevented Churchill from accepting Germany's offer to end the war. One can say that something similar seems to be playing out in Libya. Read Craig Murray's most recent blog ("Cameron and Sarkozy's Libyan Debacle," April 11, 2011) on how NATO/the rebels, by rejecting the ceasefire, are now in violation of Resolution 1973, the same resolution we used to justify our involvement in Libya in the first place. Feldgrau.net • View topic - Did Russia Win D-Day? Eric Margolis 5. PEPE ESCOBAR Escobar’s articles on the Arab Spring/Awakening, which include articles on Libya and the KSA can be found here. This page provides the links to each of his articles. : Asia Times Online :: the best of Pepe Escobar
  9. Sean1427

    It Was Right To Intervene

    ProphetofDoom, Reading of your frustration with the Western media reminded me of a the description of the American media by the Israeli thinker, Uri Avnery. He perfectly describes the American media as "mixture of propaganda, news and entertainment." Once I began working in the ME in a non-government capacity I began to realize very clearly that all we see is what is framed by the lens of the camera, so to speak. I've got to where I actually prefer Al-Jazeera to American news outlets even though I realize that it, too, has its bias. And as bad as things are in the Western media, at least in Europe one can actually watch foreign news channels, which, of course, doesn't help most Americans if they don't know the foreign language. A DVD you might appreciate is Control Room, which was produced by Al-Jazeera and deals with the invasion of Iraq. At the end of the DVD, one of the producers states that the war was just like a Hollywood movie--you knew who the bad guys were, who the good guys were, you new the plot, you knew how it would end with the deaths of the bad guys, but you had to hang in there because you were so curious as to how the bad guys would meet their end. She made a good point that applies to much of our news. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the partial quote.
  10. Sean1427

    It Was Right To Intervene

    If we wanted to protect civilians from dying in Africa, there is always Congo, where up to 4 million have died over the years. There is also Ivory Coast, were at least a couple of hundred thousand have died. We know that for a fact in both cases. Yet to this day no one knows how many civilians have been killed by Gaddafi or the rebels. Living and working in the ME, I've come to know that Arabs love to talk, talk big, but threats usually end as threats. The US State Department should know this. So what Gaddafi says is immaterial. In any event, before running to the rescue, we should have had some kind of fact-finding mission. We still don't know how many were killed and we don't know who the rebels even are. One thing that is certain is that Gaddafi has a lot of support from the Libyan people. In any event, I tend to agree with Pat Buchanan on this one that while we in the US consider it evil for Gaddafi to us violence to put down a rebellion in Libya, Lincoln used violence to put down what he saw as a rebellion in our own country and Lincoln is at the top of the American pantheon of presidents. Yet at the time Lincoln declared war on the South, after the latter fired on Fort Sumter, no one had yet been killed. Nor did the South ever try to overthrow the government, which is the nature of a civil war and which has been the goal of the Libyan rebels. The South simply wanted to leave the Union. But the North wouldn’t allow a repeat of what the founders had done during the Revolution. Result? About 620,000 Americans died over the next four years. In the current situation some of the ways that have been used to demonize Gaddafi are as follows. Gaddafi has been accused of using mercs. But we use mercs all the time. We just call them "private contractors." Fallujah was leveled because of the deaths of 4 mercs. He has been accused of not fighting fairly and it was said here in one post that our coming to the rebels aid can be seen as a picking-on-someone-your-own-size sort of justice. But the US hasn't picked on anyone its own size for long time. We've been using far superior force to go after smaller, weaker nations for decades. As with WW I, which we entered late, we entered WW II late, well after the USSR had basically bled Germany dry. (We like to boast how we saved Europe from the Nazis but the truth is that Europeans give as much credit to the USSR. Worse, we forget that we gave the USSR all of Eastern Europe.) Post WW II there’s been North Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Libya. (I might have missed a few.) All of them have been third world nations with third world militaries. None of these are our own size. They’re not even close. Few of them even had anything close to a navy or anything resembling a decent air force. In Iraq and Afghanistan they fight us in sandals and loose flowing robes; we have helmets and body armor. They don't have any of the hi-tech weapons we have. Remember, for Iraq, there was first the Gulf War, followed by 11 years of bombing in the no-fly zones and sanctions for a country 90% dependent on imports, followed by our invasion of 2003. Of course, all of that was on the heals of a destructive war between Iraq and Iran, with our helping Iraq. By 2003, Iraq was on its back. It was in ruins. As for Gaddafi's using planes to bomb people, we also use planes to bomb from miles above. (Note that in such an asymmetrical war, car bombs are essentially a poor country's air force.) They certainly don’t have anything close to just one of our carriers, much less the two and their respective strike groups just off Libya’s coast. We fire cruise missiles from up to 900 miles out to sea. And we launch drones from nice comfortable offices on America’s eastern seaboard. The truth is that since the end of WW II, Washington has had a very clear preference for picking on small nations that are nowhere near our own size. And we do so using our superior technology which they don’t even come close to matching. Such is the case now, with our deciding to go after Gaddafi. Moreover, up until recently we were selling Gaddafi weapons, just as we do neighboring Egypt. And we know full well that neither Libya nor Egypt have any neighboring countries they need to fear. Hence, we sell them weapons knowing full well that these weapons will most likely be used against these countries’ own respective citizens. The US certainly does play a key role in the UN and NATO. But it’s more than just a key role. The UN and NATO can do nothing of this sort without the US. The UN General Assembly is powerless. Only the UN Security Council has is any power and is lodged in its five permanent members, i.e., the US, the UK, France, China and Russia. These five are the only countries with veto power and any one of them could have stopped Resolution 1973 from passing. While China and Russia abstained during the vote, the US, the UK and France approved. As for NATO, it should have died with the collapse of the USSR 20 years ago. But it was conveniently kept alive and has become the de facto military branch of the UN, which is under US control. We simply use the UN and NATO as a convenient cover. When Obama says it's been passed to NATO that's just a game of words. We're still in charge. The commanding general of NATO is American. We’re simply passing the prosecution of this war from ourselves to ourselves. The UN and NATO are simply masks we hide behind when it’s convenient. Then there are those pesky dictators. However, the one thing that should have been made clear in the past two months is the fact that while the USSR for years had their bloc of satellite nations, we also had our bloc of satellite nations. The Soviet bloc was Eastern Europe, which, of course, we gave them at the conclusion of WWII, in accordance with our Yalta agreement. The American bloc of satellite nations stretches from Morocco in NW Africa through the Middle East. Those dictators who won't bow to us and do our bidding are labeled evil, perpetually demonized by us, and often compared to Hitler. Currently, these are Iran, Libya, and Syria, the latter perhaps being next after Libya. Those who obey us are allies, our friends, those with whom we have a “special relationship,” as Gates and Mullen recently pointed out. On much smaller scale, Bahrainis were crushed by our allies and friends in the Gulf at the same time we decided to get rid of Gaddafi. The timing was perfect. Too perfect, actually. In fact, diplomats from other nations have stated that such was part of a deal between the White House and Riyadh. If Riyadh would get the GCC, all of whom are our dictators, to pressure the Arab League to request help from the UN in Libya, a well-known enemy to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the US would give them the green light to crush the demonstrators in Bahrain and eastern Saudi Arabia. Saudi is top dog in the GCC, none of whom want any change in their fiefdoms. All Saudi needed was three other votes to get everything going rolling--Khalifa of Bahrain was already on board and less than half of the Arab League was even present for the vote. And while the US media diverted our attention to US ships sailing through the read sea to rescue Libyan rebels, of whom we know nothing, American supplied Saudi tanks and American trained Saudi troops moved across the King Fahd Causeway into Bahrain. Interestingly, something that is completely missed in the US is that fact that in the Gulf and the greater region, Saudi Arabia is considered a de facto US colony. Gaddafi of Libya and King Abdullah of Saudi hate each other. Abdullah wants Gaddafi gone as does the US since Libya, besides having oil and lots of scarce water, estimated at about 200 years of the current Nile flow, was also one of five African nations that refused to participate in AFRICOM, part of our military doctrine of full spectrum dominance in which we've carved up the world into different American military commands. AFRICOM is the US African Command. Of the five African nations that refused to participate in AFRICOM, there is Western military intervention in four, and American military intervention in at least three that we know of. Additionally, in the Mediterranean the US Navy is denied access to the ports of only two nations, Libya and Syria. On thing certain is that our war with Libya is not for humanitarian reasons, and war it is since the mere act of attempting to establish a no-fly zone on a sovereign nation is an act of war under international law. The White House can call it "kinetic military action" and claim it’s for humanitarian reason, but no matter how we dress it up, it’s still a war and it’s for anything but humanitarian reasons. One thing that going after Libya has accomplished has been to kill mostly peaceful demonstrations and calls for reforms elsewhere in the ME. While our attention was intentionally shifted to Libya, everything supposedly gained by the departure of Mubarak in Egypt was lost this past week as Mubarak's fellow officers banned further demonstrations and street gatherings. (Egypt’s dictator was never just one man but a military junta of high-ranking officers of whom Mubarak was simply the face we knew.) Also, our little dictators in the Gulf can now sleep easier, as can we, knowing that nothing is really going to change. In essence, the Arab Awakening is being crushed, which is precisely what is wanted by the various rulers of the US, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and members of the GCC and our other friends in the region. Please note that I am not attempting to defend Gaddafi or any dictator, even our own. But the stench that comes from our hypocrisy as a nation in all this is almost overpowering. If we had stayed with what the founders had set up, we wouldn't have all these problems. But the more we meddle, the more problems we create for ourselves and the more freedom we give up. The truth is that the US has become far worse than the British empire America's founding father's rebelled against in during the Revolution. We have, using an appropriate phrase from the Bible, been as a dog turned to its vomit. We have become what the founders feared and abhorred. I agree with President Benson who basically said that we have apostatized from the founding gospel of this nation, which can be seen in part in the Constitution and the Declaration.. J. Reuben Clark, in general conference, after the conclusion of WWII, warned that if we did not change our nation's foreign policies we would become hated justly by other nations. Lord Acton stated that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The US, of all countries, comes closest to having absolute power, and we are addicted to it. And it has corrupted us. As Spencer W. Kimball said, we are a warlike people. And as with Rome, the Republic is dead and has been for some time. We are living in a time of America's world empire, yet so many of us don't, or won’t, see it. And lest anyone think that we are the good guys on the block, it was Joseph Fielding Smith who said the following: “The United States is not the kingdom of God, . . . Satan has control now. No matter where you look, he is in control, even in our own land. He is guiding the governments [of the world] as far as the Lord will permit him. . . One master mind is governing the nations . . . it is Satan himself.”
  11. Sean1427

    Pres. Obama, Winner of Peace Prize, Starts New War.

    Slamjet, In your post regarding a fireside you attended you wrote regarding Libya: "I attended a I fireside last night with the speaker who is involved in diplomatic circles, works in international law and diplomacy and was the U.S. representative at the U.N. general assembly. His experiences clearly shows that the arrogance of the U.S. is a misnomer. The world at large are constantly wanting to know what the U.S. stance is on things. They will act if and when the U.S. will act. It's all part of the promise in the Book of Mormon about this country. "What we are seeing is what happens when the U.S. does not act. Other countries come begging us to do something. This inaction/late action in Japan and Libya will shape the world's opinion for a long time to come. That opinion will be that the U.S. is still an absolute necessity in the world. Yea, France and the UK can take the lead but nothing will happen without us being involved. "Whether we like it or not, we are the world's police force. We'd better get used to it.” Please don't think I'm playing the devil's advocate here or trying to contradict anything you wrote. But when you wrote that "[t]he world at large are constantly wanting to know what the U.S. stance is on things. They will act if and when the U.S. will act. It's all part of the promise in the Book of Mormon about this country," I was unsure how the world's acting and its wanting to know the US stance are specifically related to the BOM promise for this country. I'm probably just reading things wrong, but if you could clarify what you meant, I'd very much appreciate it. Also, could you please refer to the specific scriptures you're referring to. Thanks!
  12. Enjoying this thread, I'll have to share some thoughts for those who believe it's ok as long as it's beneficial. Most Muslims are Sunni, the the second largest branch of Isalm are the Shia or Shiites. My residence in Saudi is technically in Shiite territory, between Qateef and the neighboring country of Bahrain, just south of Iran which is predominantly Shia. Unlike the Sunni, Shia have what is known as temporary marriages. Sometimes they are called "weekend marriages," other times "vacation marriages," but mostly they are known as temporary marriages, where the "expiration date" is agreed to in advance by the contracting parties. With the exception of the expiration date, it's handled like a regular marriage. Marriages in Islam are not a sacrament but a contract where the dowry is negotiated. Anything the bride wants to include in the contract must be provided by the groom as along as it does not violate the laws of Islam. So if she wants a house in the mountains near Taif and a second in Monaco and a third in the Bahamas, such is acceptable. She could even stipulate a monthly stipend. In any event, Sunnis condemn this as prostitution. But it's different in one sense from our prostitution does allow more rights than our prostitutes get in their practice. The real odd thing is that in Saudi you now find women who prefer these kinds of marriages because not just because of all the benefits but because of the power it gives them in a culture where men have more visible/public power. Hence, it's liked by both the men and the women who enter into these marriages, as no one is forced into them. (Of course, before we laugh at them, we need to remember that many of our marriages are for all purposes temporary. I even remember when I was a student in Utah . . . but maybe given this is a public forum I best shy away from that thought!) Also, as you know, Muslims can have up to four wives. Polygamy, or more properly, polygany. (Again, most Muslims, and many anthropologists, refer to us in America as practicing serial polygamy, which is actually a mix of polygamy and temporary marriages but that's another story.) Besdes polygamy, the Middle East, including North Africa, consist of tribal cultures, something we don''t really understand, just as we didn't understand it when what is now the US was being colonized. What it means in part is that one's loyalty is to one's tribe, not to the nation of which one is a citizen. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world named after a family, the al-Sa'ud family, which is part of a larger tribe. Moreover, the East as well as Africa are parts of the world where the smallest unit of society is the family, not the individual. In Europe and the children of Europe (i.e., the US, Canada, Australia, etc) have cultures where the smallest unit is the individual. Latin America, with respects to family, is more like the countries of the East (including the Middle and the Far East). And to some extent the US was such prior to WWII. In any event, in countries where the smallest unit is the family, while one's job is one's job, his income is used to support not only his own immediate family, but his extended family and even those of his village or tribe. When you see little kids in Mexico trying to sell chicle or wash your car windows, the money they earn helps out the larger family. It's not their own as it is for children in the US. There are good points to this. But there is a darker side in Saudi, one that involves marriage among the Saudi royal family, which would naturally be Sunni. Wikileaks revealed an American diplomatic cable which dealt with corruption within the royal family. The royal family, which is protected by the US government from all enemies foreign and "domestic", similar to what is the case with Bahrain, considers oil it's own private, not national, property. Most of the oil revenues goes to the royal family, which consists of between 6,000 and 9,000 princes and princesses. (Think tribal.) Wikileaks revealed how corrupt the system is. It showed that in 1996, the lowliest member of the most remote branch of the royal family received a stipend of $800/month. From there it gets better, much better. Sons of the country's founder got stipends between $200,000 to $270,000/month. Their children got $27,000/month; grandchildren got $13,000/month; great-great-grandchildren got $8,000/month. And within the diplomatic cables that someone might not piece together with the total picture--it read, "the stipends also provide a substantial incentive for royals to procreate since the stipends begin at birth." Remember, this is in Saud where first cousin marriages are the marriage of choice, where the smallest unit is the family, where families are large, where individual incomes provide for the greater family at large, and where loyalty is to the tribe before anyone else. Also, factor in the possibility of more than one wife, with each wife likely being a princess. It begins to give you how beneficial the arrangement is. The father gets his stipend, his wife or wives get their stipends, and where each child is getting his or her stipend, all adding to the family and tribal wealth. I have one friend, whose father has four wives and my friend comes from a family of 35 children. While he is not a member of the royal family, imagine what kind of family wealth we'd be talking about if his family were part of the royal family. Again, everything is mutually beneficial, including the marraiges and all each marriage affords. Lastly, and this is back in the US. My mother has a good friend, an adopted daughter of sorts. She's in her late 50s and recently lost her husband. She doesn't like the loneliness and desperately wants to marry. But she makes it clear that she's still in love with her first husband, to whom she was sealed. She's very good friends with a man in the ward who's also widowed. She'd like to marry him but she and the RS sisters have talked about the fact that he likely can't satisfy her physical needs in bed since he's about 10 years older. Hence, she's looking for someone closer to her age who can give her everything she wants. Of course, since she was sealed, she's definitely looking for a temporary marriage where the expiration date is the death of one of the parties. Remember, in all instances, the marriages are certainly beneficial just as they were with Lizzy's grandmother! Suffice it to say, I'm not Solomon and his wisdom escapes me. I think I'll stay away from an answer to the original question.
  13. Sean1427

    Midsingles

    Angela007, Let me share a few thoughts that came to mind as I read the part of your post that dealt with age restrictions. When I was a student at BYU, the father of a good friend of mine was a GA. This friend told me that the leaders went back and forth, back and forth on singles' wards. Some believed that singles' wards should be done away; others believed the opposite. What it came down to, according to what her father had told her, was a majority decision. And I do remember seeing it go from one other at different times. With respect to this, and to the larger context of grouping people by age, that's something the the church does based on culture. In other words, some of the church's program's reflect the culture in which it is operating. And in the US as well as other countries similar to the US culturally, members are grouped by age. The fact that the US is a culture that groups people by age in so many ways, some of the church's programs follow the same pattern. Think of our public schools where the grade you're in is based on age. In my grandmother's day, before public schools were the norm, classes were based on the level of education one had. As a result, the norm was having children of every age in the same classroom. My grandmother was taken out of school when she graduated from the 8th grade so her mother could go to school and learn to read and write, which meant that a grandmother with a daughter who'd graduated from the 8th grade was in school with young children and teenagers and all were learning the same subject. And it's not just in school we do this. It's all over the board where we group by age. Yet other countries and cultures operate different and the church programs reflect this. When I was in Mexico in the 1990s, I was in my early 30s. I was not married then so I was quite accustomed to being classified by age. I remember my first experience in the next step up from SYA, what my close friends and I referred to as Special Lepers. What a shock! I found out quickly that about there were only two things we had in common--we were all LDS and all in the same age group. Other than those two points, I was a square peg in a round hole. This and more were part of my thoughts, mindset, and expectations when I found myself in Mexico. I was invited to an LDS dance in Mexico City (el DF). Being the typical gringo from the US, I was thinking in terms of the various groupings we had in the US based on age. Hence, I asked my Mexican brothers and sisters what age group the dance was for? Note, I'm fluent in Spanish, so there was no real language barrier. But my background was a barrier since I was speaking of things they had no concept of. When I'd ask my question, they didn't seem to understand what I was talking about. I re-phrased things, and they still didn't understand. When I spelled it all out, they were surprised that we did things that way and said that in any event it was for everytone. I still didn't know what they really meant until I went to the dance. Sure enough, it was for everyone, something I'd never experienced in all my years living in the US. Everyone was out there dancing and having a good time. The elderly and the young all mingled together. And for the first time in my life, I actually saw little children of 8, 9, or 10 dancing at a chuch dance right along with everyone else. Since that time I've lived all over the world, and I've repeatedly seen how the church adapts certain programs or policies (as opposed to teachngs, principles and doctrines) to the culture in which it finds itself. For the past several years, I've seen this in the Middle East. But I've also seen it throughout Latin America, the Far East, and Europe. While I've come to appreciate the Mexican way, I do understand what the leaders are attempting to do in the US when it comes to certain programs. The truth is that the Mexican way might not work in the US since our cultures are different. But given my experience working and living abroad as one who is not attached living on all the Little Americas abroad I've come to appreciate even more how the church has an adaptability that we sometimes don't see in our own culture. On a personal level, I've come to value the Latin way, were age or status are not part of the equation, but I probably would have never come to value their way of doing things if I hadn't lived there since I grew up in a culture that did things differently and my mindset was in large measure shaped, nourished, and rooted in my native culture.
  14. Sean1427

    Other countries, marriage laws, and the church

    Backroads, I was ordained at 18 so I could attend my older brother's temple marriage. Someone mentioned that in some countries, men are ordained at 18 to go on missions. As an American, this exception didn't apply. But I did have to get permission, which actually came from the president of the church at the time. My being ordained was conditioned on my promise to go on a mission when I turned 19. As for the marriage in Saudi of an older man to a 12 year old, let me suggest that we need to be aware that different cultures are just that, different. I'm not saying this to justify a situation such as was mentioned. But I do say it because sometimes we don't really understand what's going on. Not all countries have marriage laws as detailed as US state laws are. Moreover, marriage in most Middle Eastern countries, especially Saudi Arabia, is a two-step process, something we don't even think about. I'm not talking about our two steps of engagement and then marriage. I'm talking about marriage itself. One can technically be "married" while the actually wedding doesn't take place until sometime later. (It might help to think of the story of Mary's marriage to Joseph in the NT.) In other words, you can have a marriage at a young age, but the "wife," for lack of a better English word, still lives with her parents until the wedding, after which the marrige will be consummated. This even impacts inheritance law. For instance, if a woman has achieved the first step of the marriage but not the second step and her "betrothed" dies before the wedding, all that was spelled out in the marriage contract must be given to her before anyone else inherits. And unlike our marriages, a Muslim women is not legally a member of her husband's family. Legally she remains a member of her birth family. As I said, I'm not sharing this to justify marrying a child, but simply to point out that since marriage customs vary from culture to culture, we need to be aware that what constitutes being married in country x might not be the same thing as being married in country y. Indeed, what constitutes an adult varies from culture to culture. In our own country, for instance, the very idea of "adolescence" is a very recent concept. Hence, in some cultures, children "grow up" faster than in other cultures.
  15. Sean1427

    Obama's Mosque Remarks Reverberate

    Traveler, I agree with you that there’s a cultural problem here, but that goes back to what I’ve been focusing on, a widespread ignorance among the American people regarding Muslims and Islam. I agree with several here who have wondered what would this controversy would be like if 9/11 had been committed by an offshoot Mormon cult. Of course, I think that given the view many Americans apparently have of Mormonism, I suspect we already know the answer to that. But looked at in a slightly different way, we’d likely find a different situation altogether. For instance, if 9/11 had been committed by a violent Christian cult and an unrelated Christian denomination wanted to build a church in this spot, I seriously doubt anyone would really care. The only difference would be that in this hypothetical, American Christians would recognize the perps as a group of fanatics and not represtantive of most Christians, but when it comes to Islam, as in this particular case, our national ignorance of Islam kicks in. I actually never wanted to get involved with this thread because I realized it was a very touchy issue. When I read the very first post on this thread, I suspected the direction this thread would take, and I wanted no part of it. However, it was your first post that triggered my decision to become involved. In your first post you stated that Islamic law requires all Muslims in a mosque to protect a known terrorist and then you essentially accused Rauf of being a sympathizer and supporter of terrorism. I disagreed with you regarding Islamic law, shared a teaching Muslims have similar to our own about obeying the laws the land in which they live, and then provided information regarding Rauf and the proposed Cordoba House project. At that time I felt that the facts were missing for this thread, facts about Shari’a, about Rauf, and about the proposed project itself. In my mind, what you shared in that first post contributed to the misunderstanding and the cultural disconnect that is rooted in ignorance, both of which your most recent post addresses quite well. But in that first post, you actually accused Rauf of being a sympathizer and supporter of terrorism for expressing some of the same views that many Americans/Christians, including several prominent Republicans, have. While I hate to do this, let’s go back to your first post for something I’ve never addressed. I address it here purely to show again why I became involved and why my emphasis has been on ignorance and the need to have the facts before we attempt to rationally discuss something like this. So please do not take this personally, as I do not mean it as such. Please know that while I think the following paragraph is a very inaccurate portrayal of the situation you addressed in that paragraph, I also believe that you were sincerely attempting to portray reality as you thought it to be. I do not think for a minute that you were attempting to share inaccurate information. I’m simply using this to highlight where I’m coming from. In any event, you wrote the following-- “There are some interesting facts concerning Islam in New York City. There already are several Mosques in New York City. In fact there is no need for an additional Mosque. There is no overcrowding or a large number of Muslims having to travel difficult distances to worship. The size of the proposed Mosque along with the location and the number of Muslims that will live in proximity makes no sense what-so-ever. The Mosque is not serving any need within New York City.” (Post #82) Everything expressed in that paragraph you introduced as facts as your first sentence indicates. In your second sentence you wrote that there are already “several” mosques in NYC. (Of course, we should point out that NYC has a population of about 8 million.) One could say you are correct in saying “several,” which actually suggests far fewer mosques than what there really are. However, in the context its use unfortunately distorts reality given the actual number of Muslims per mosque there are in the city. In your third sentence you stated as fact that there is no further need for "an (i.e., one) additional mosque" in NYC, an idea you echoed in your concluding sentence. You stated as facts that “there is no overcrowding or a large number of Muslims having to travel difficult distances to worship.” Yet Reuters and other sources show that while there are about 800,000 Muslims in NYC, roughly 10% of the population, there are only about 100 mosques.* (Let’s imagine the LDS Church trying to accommodate 800,000 members, or even 10% of this number, into 100 chapels and see if there is no overcrowding.) Moreover, the place where this project was proposed to be located, a place where Muslims have been worshipping since before 9/11, has been repeatedly described as an overcrowded basement. Regarding your statement that there were no travel difficulties involved, your paragraph failed to take into account that this part of NYC is a transportation hub where large numbers of people pass through daily. It also did not take into account that Muslims pray up to five times a day, and two to three of those prayers often occur during business hours, which makes it difficult for Muslims working in any given area to travel to another mosque when they get a work-break which they often use to pray. (I'm sure you've seen in your travels that some of their prayers can be relatively short, but if they have to tack on travel time to that prayer, then there can easily be travel-related difficulties, especially in a place like NYC. Then, too, we need to remember that their prayer times change daily.) Lastly, when your paragraph referred to the size of the proposed “mosque,” it failed to mention everything else that was proposed to be part of the project, which leads to the belief that it is be strictly a "mosque." Please note that I admire much of what you have shared here and elsewhere. As I've said before, I agree with much of what you have added to this thread. But your initial post on this thread had, in my opinion, problems related to the facts that I felt need to be corrected. Moreover, no one countered you or even addressed the issue of facts. And silence, in our society, is generally interpreted as lending consent. It was that post which made me decide to weigh in. Perhaps no one knew what the facts were, but that’s the point I’ve been addressing all along. We have a duty to learn the facts before we can discuss an issue such as this rationally. Failing to do so, we only contribute to misunderstandings and misrepresentations when we offer our opinions. Facts are an important first step if we wish to unshackle our minds from ignorance. You and I would likely agree with Jefferson’s words that “f a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” We as Mormons should be adding to the light that is fading, not contributing to an enveloping darkness. Of course, even when we have the facts, there is the issue of interpretation of those facts, which can be complicated in itself. Let me share two examples that I've heard repeatedly since 9/11 from non-Mormons and Mormons alike, which is something I find strange for Mormons to buy into. My first example is this--we constantly hear of the violence promoted in the Quran and of how the Quran teaches that Muslims are justified in killing the infidel and anyone who converts to another religion. But before we can truly discuss these two issues, we first need to find the passages involved, put them in context, and then see how such things are interpreted by Muslims today, including their definitions of infidel and conversion. If we fail to do these things, then how do we handle the same accusation when it’s made about our scriptures? After all, anyone who has ever read the OT in its entirety knows it is full of violence. I also remember very well experiences I’ve had where ultra-orthodox Israeli Jews have pointed out to me the verses in the OT and the Torah that “teach” that believers are obligated to kill anyone who converts to another religion and anyone who persuades another to do so. Worse, what do we Mormons do when our critics speak of all the violence and bloodshed in the BOM, a book we hold sacred, but one that begins with a decapitation, that begins and ends with the destruction of two great nations, and that contains 180 pages of war and violence, that even include the violent destruction of a third nation? (And, of course, there's that second beheading in Ether.) This same principle applies to another example where we hear how the Quran encourages men to have many wives, with an emphasis on their being virgins Yet what do we do when critics point to our LDS history, point to so-called Mormon polygamists in Utah, Arizona and Texas, and then specifically point to verses in the D&C that “teach” that a Mormon man can have and be “given” up to ten virgins in marriage? In my posts I’ve not really taken sides on what the Cordoba House should do. The fact that I’ve shared facts and a possible alternative argument regarding Obama’s statement does not mean that I necessarily agree with the proposed project or what Obama did. I’ve certainly expressed my opinion as to how insane I think this controversy is and as to whom I believe are responsible for making it such a controversy. I’ve also written about the possible implications of this. I’ve mentioned the problems Mormons and Americans are facing now in the ME because of this controversy. The questions I’ve asked about our attitudes and behavior and how it affects our foreign policy abroad are certainly questions that should be asked along with many others. But I haven’t yet stated whether I actually agree with the proposed project or Obama’s involvement. But these things are simply part of what my focus has been—the role that ignorance is playing in this. I’ve been writing about both ignorance and the related need to know the facts. And in doing so, I’ve been talking about us, not them. The fact that a majority oppose this does not mean that the majority are in possession of the facts. The masses can be just a ignorant as the few. To argue this, as some in our society would, reminds me of the words of Marcus Aurelius that “[t]he opinion of 10,000 men is of no value if none of them know anything about the subject.” I’m also reminded that one of the principal reasons for the US Constitution was to help prevent the passions of a majority from using the federal governemt to trample on the rights and liberties of a minority. We need to remember that America’s founders feared the passions of the masses as much as they feared an imperial presidency. But the reality is this, we’re all ignorant, just on different subjects and to differing degrees. And I believe very much that even the issue of sensitivity to others’ feelings on this particular issue (and even our problems abroad) can be linked to ignorance. You and I, I believe, are on the same page in many ways. We're just approaching this issue from different angles. While you seem to be more focused on how to resolve it, I'm more focused on its root cause. *SEE NY Muslim project spurs support coalition | Reuters