For the First Time in the History of Iraq, Mosul is Now Empty of Christians

nazareneOne of the most horrific stories to come out of the ISIS conquest of central Iraq is the story of the Christians in Mosul (and the rest of the conquered area). There is no good parts of this story. Mafqud wa-Mawjud tells us some of the history of Christianity in the area. If you aren’t familiar with “The Church of the East” you will be amazed.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ISIS has consolidated its hold on the city of Mosul in northern Iraq and is busy converting the metropolitan center to its own extremist brand of Sunni Islam.  Last week the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, now styling himself Caliph Ibrahim, issued an order for Christians in the city to a convert to Islam, b pay the jizya tax on non-Muslims at an unspecified rate, or c be killed, although some awareness of the option to leave was displayed in the order as well.  Reports that a church was torched are of uncertain veracity see a careful analysis of the photos circulating around the web at this blog, but images showing an Arabic ن for نصارى, nasara, meaning “Christians” spray-painted on various houses indicate that these houses were available to be seized.  Nor are Christians the only ones to suffer: reportedly some Shiite men have disappeared, Shiite families have been told to flee or be killed, and Shiite homes have been emblazoned with another Arabic letter, ر for رافضي rafidi something like “heretic scum,” while reports are also circulating that ISIS has destroyed the Sunni shrine and tomb of Nabi Yunus the biblical prophet Jonah in the ruins of ancient Nineveh to the east of the Tigris.  In this climate, most Christians chose to leave Mosul for the comparatively tolerant lands of Iraqi Kurdistan to the north, although refugees have reported being robbed of all their belongings at the checkpoint leaving the city.

The Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon, Louis Sako, who is presently the highest ranking ecclesiastical official of any denomination in Iraq, commented on the expulsion of the Christians, “For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians.”

This comment may strike many Americans as odd, because they presume that Iraq and the Middle East more generally are necessarily Muslim regions, and Christianity there must be a recent European importation.  But that is far from the case.  Since the study of Iraqi Christianity is an area of expertise, I thought I would present here a brief timeline of Mosul and its Christians.

In antiquity, whatever settlement or fortification existed on the site of the center of modern Mosul was overshadowed by Nineveh, the old Assyrian capital.  It is unknown when Christianity first arrived in Nineveh, although it had an important bishop by 554, when its bishop was one of the signatories to a council of the Church of the East.  At that time, the bishop was under the authority of the metropolitan archbishop of Arbela modern Erbil to the east of Nineveh, and the patriarchate was in the capital of the Sasanian Persian Empire, south of modern Baghdad.  By the early seventh century, there were also Syriac Orthodox Christians in the region we know of as Iraq, with their regional headquarters in Tagrit modern Tikrit, and an important monastery of Mor Matay outside Mosul.  There was also an important monastery of the Church of the East outside Mosul, the monastery of Mar Gabriel and Mar Abraham, also called the “Upper Monastery,” which later became an important center for liturgical reform in the Church of the East.

via The End of Christianity in Mosul | Mafqud wa-Mawjud.

I also note that Jessica’s co-author Chalcedon451 has written on this as well, here, and here. In addition there is a category there that deals with the history of The Church of the East, if you would like to know more of its history, it is quite fascinating, that category is here.

A short quote from Chalcedon451 will explain the symbol that is illustrated with this article. This is from his first linked article.

Upon the walls of the houses in Mosul, the Islamic symbol for ‘N’ (Nazarene) has appeared, (see the picture at the top of the piece) used, just as the Star of David was by the Nazis, as a sign that this place can be looted and its people attacked. The forces of ISIS have confiscated more than thirty churchesburning down one which goes back to antiquity. There were no twenty four hour news channels when the forces of Mohammed swept through the region in the seventh and eighth centuries, but even his forces were not this brutal. Across the whole of the Middle East, Christian communities as old as any that exist in the world are being exterminated.

I have come to have some doubts about the second war with Iraq, although I was a strong supporter of it. But, notwithstanding my, or your, beliefs on the validity of the war, it happened. What also happened is that America ran away from what we had wrought, thereby causing all the death and injuries to our soldiers and those of our allies, like the British who stood with us to be in vain. In addition, I see no reason why the martyrdom of the Iraqi Christians should not also be laid at the door of those who decided we should, in the inelegant military phrase, “bug out”. May God have mercy on their souls.

Frankly, at this late date there is little to do other than pray for our brothers and sisters in Iraq, while sadly noting that many have been martyred and no doubt more will be.

Gaza, Israel, and Respect for Life

Israel-Flag-Flying2-2009So we are starting to see a few Palestinians die. Without being overly hard about it, why are you surprised? I did a little checking yesterday on just how big Israel is. It’s almost the same size an Maryland. That’s pretty damned small, hard to understand why anyone thinks they should cower forever in their shelters while 2000+ artillery rockets go off on the civilization they built.

Here you go.

Name Area in square Miles
Nebraska 77,358
Maryland 10,455
England 50,346
Israel 10,425
United States 3,140,000

Seems to me the British tried that one time in Maryland, some lawyer wrote a song about it, it starts, “O, say can you see…”. And the thing is the British, honorable people that they are, were attacking Fort McHenry, not Baltimore. Nor did the Americans pack the population of Baltimore into the fort, and leave them sitting on the powder magazines.

And just how long should the Israelis sit in their shelters with the economy more or less stopped, trading $60K anti-missile missiles for $1000 artillery rockets?

The closest comparison I can come up with is the German’s V weapons campaign in 1944 against the south of England. What was the response? United States 8th Air Force, and 9th Air Force, and RAF Bomber Command all diverted much effort from the air war to hunting the launch sites, and there was no attempt to limit civilian casualties. It was marginally effective at best, the problem was solved by infantry on the ground, and the complete suppression of Nazi Germany.

For me this cartoon summarizes the whole thing:

Juice2

It is admittedly difficult to root out combatants who attempt to hide behind women and children. At least without harming aforesaid women and children.

The Israelis, member of western civilization, that they are, are risking their soldiery, by going far out of their way to protect so-called civilians in Gaza, even as they know they will simply be damned for it.

Under any moral system, they would be completely justified going in behind a wall of fire not seen since Russia took Berlin, or the Allies bombed Dresden. I’m not sure that any solution short of that will solve the problem of living next door to a state whose very constitution calls for the destruction of your country, and the extermination of your population. An American general, fighting the Indian wars in Colorado during the Civil war once remarked, “Nits grow into lice,” it strikes me as appropriate.

6a00d8341c60bf53ef017744d4c663970d-300wi

 

You know, the opponents of Israel like to compare her to the United States by referring to her as ‘Little Satan’ even as they refer to the United States as ‘Great Satan’. They think it pejorative, I think it a great compliment. And our commitment to protecting life is once again being demonstrated in Gaza, as once again Israel expends blood and treasure to protect those who would harm her.

iStock 20492165 MD - American and Israeli flags

 

One Man or Woman and Leadership

forn984hYesterday, my friend, Juwannadoright, wrote on the power of the individual. She wrote in the context of the environment, and how if we picked up after ourselves rather than littering, it would make a major improvement. She also extended her point in her reply to the comment she had made, to note that our leftist/statist opponents tend to use the collective to avoid personal responsibility, much like five year olds do. I expect that most of us have scores, if not hundreds, of examples of this. Anyway, here is a piece of her article.

Recently I commented on a piece regarding “global warming/climate change” that appeared in The Huffington Post.  My response was very simple.  I offered the opinion that I didn’t know whether “climate change” was a reality or a fabrication, but I agreed that mankind does make an impact on our environment – the most obvious being in the form of litter and pollution.  I went on to explain that if one accepted that and disliked either litter on our streets or in our air, he or she should take whatever steps possible to reduce or eliminate taking actions which would result in those conditions.  Personally, I think that is a pretty non-controversial statement.  I went on to offer a simple list of ten things which each of us could do now to work to reduce both litter and pollution – until we wait for science to discover the “ultimate solution.”

Although several people checked the “Like” button, the only written response I received was from someone who apparently had a different world view.  He excoriated my naiveté, thinking that “one person could make a difference.”  Of course, he failed to recognize that I do realize that if only one person out of six billion does something positive, that will indeed be meaningless.  His statement was, of course, an expression of his belief that only through the power of government “enlightenment” would we be able to ameliorate “climate change.”  But he overlooked something far more fundamental which I pointed out in my response.

via CAN ONE PERSON MAKE A DIFFERENCE? | juwannadoright.

As is nearly always true, I completely agree with her but, it also made me think about some other things.

I, and those like me, which means traditional Americans in this context, are the culmination of a very long line. Jess said this in her article Saturday

 It is redolent of American virtues: self-reliance; a sense of personal responsibility; but a willingness to do the right thing to help others, even at personal cost. You might say these are human virtues, and I would agree; but they are exemplified by the America which, at great cost, sustained the free world during the Cold War Years, ensuring that the gains from the defeat of Fascism were not lost.

OK, she was speaking of me, and it is not for me to claim those words are true of me, that’s for others to decide. But I surely aspire for them to be, and I do believe them to be a fair assessment of what American exceptionalism is all about. That paragraph ended this way, “Other countries are countries – America is a dream.” and that is completely true.

But it didn’t start here did it.

  1. What if Martin Luther, fully expecting to be burned at the stake, had not said, “Hier ich stände, ich kann nicht anders“? Would the church still be selling indulgences to the peasantry of Europe?
  2. What about Stephan Langton, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who led and unified the barons of England, to force King John to sign Magna Charta? The basic guarantee of individual freedom wherever the common-law runs.
  3. And maybe more to the point these days, what about King John himself, a king so bad, that for nearly 800 years there has never been (and likely will never be) another? Surely an example of a negative great man.
  4. What about, Henry VIII who wanted a successor so badly, that he took England out of the Catholic Church, thus paving the way for the First British Empire?
  5. What about Oliver Cromwell, who in the name of Parliament overthrew and executed, by law, an English King?
  6. What about William of Orange, who supplanted James II, and assumed the crown under conditions that made him expressly subservient to Parliament, and committed to the rights of English freemen?
  7. How about Thomas Jefferson who wrote those rights into the heritage of Americans, or James Madison who wrote them into the law?
  8. And finally how about an obscure staff major in the American Army, nearly due for retirement in 1940, who four years later would both lead the greatest allied army of freedom ever seen, and mount the largest amphibious landing in history, and would end up the fourth ranking general in American history, after Washington, the one man who could have lost the Revolution, behind Pershing, whose insistence on keeping American forces together as American forces, has as good a claim as any for winning World War I, and behind his own boss, General Marshall, who managed to build and supply the greatest American army in history, while arming and feeding America and our allies. In 13 years that staff major would be president of the United States, and would set many of the policies that caused the collapse of the Soviet Union, and so this man, more than any other, is who Europe, from Brest to the Urals, owes their chance to be free. Well done, President Eisenhower.
  9. How about Ronald Reagan, or Maggie Thatcher, or Pope John Paul II, would the Soviet bear still stare balefully at the free part of Europe without them?

The left likes to denigrate the importance of the individual. Why? I think it is because they are afraid to think for themselves, and so they hide behind other’s skirts. I know they are afraid to be responsible for themselves or anything else. But if you look through history you will always find, from Alexander the Great on, a man (or a woman) who believes so much in something that they will bet their life, and their eternal soul on it, and those are the people who have made our world, and everything in it.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master,
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling

But in truth you will be more, you will be qualified to be a leader of men,

not merely children to the free candy store

Starting Another Year

The arms of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlbo...

The arms of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, are encircled by both the Garter and the collar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think it very important to thank Jess for her wonderful article yesterday. She said many nice things about me, some of which are true. :-) Where she is really right, is the strain of writing a blog. I decided quite early that it was reasonable to post at least once a day, and while I have never really reconsidered, doing my 4-15 hundred words 7 times a week and 52 weeks a years has often been a strain. Part of that is the unrelieved gloom of the political situation. and part of that is my memory of a better America, where a man worried about his honor. The good thing is that I have found it still exists, you just don’t see it on TV. And not just us old Americans either. One of the lessons that Jessica brings us is that the generations coming after us, and indeed in England as well as America, are very much like we are. We definitely need to increase the tribe, but that can be done. We are not starting completely over.

And, never doubt that she is an integral part of this blog, her by-line hasn’t appeared much in the last few months, and there are reasons for that, I understand and agree with them, but without her, this blog would have gone under several times, when she has rescued me from the ‘Slough of Despond’. It will likely happen again. So, if you like what I write, remember what I told a distinguished contributor from her wonderful blog, All Along the Watchtower yesterday, ” A lot of it, which won’t surprise you, is Jess, more behind the scenes than I would prefer. Muse, partner, supporter, and more, I wouldn’t have made it this far without her.”

One of my hobbies (time-wasters, if you prefer) has become the real estate listings in the £ Daily Mail. No, I’m not seriously shopping but when you live in a world that was settled slightly over a hundred years ago, it is fun to look at houses that are a bit older. Like this one.

CLI140692_01_gal (1)

Click to embiggen

It’s in the village of Painswick in Gloucestershire, and it’s called Castle Halle. The description says it is the third castle on the site which records say was occupied by Saxon Thane Ernsige before the Conquest. It passed into the control of the Lords Talbot, and the final Talbot, John of Shrewsbury  demolished the castle in about 1442 and there are some traces remaining. Sir Henry Winston lived here until his death in 1618 and presumably raised his daughter, Sara, here. Sara made a pretty good marriage, marrying Sir Winston Churchill whose son, John Churchill, later the First Duke of Marlborough, who became Queen Anne’s great general, and whose family eventually brought us another Sir Winston, and intermarried into the Spencer’s as well, thus being ancestors of Princess Diana as well.

I don’t care what you say, you just can’t buy a house with a history like that like that in Nebraska :-) I would bet ours are a bit more energy-efficient though.

But, hey, it’s Sunday and we try most weekends to have a movie. So let’s start the fourth year right, with a John Wayne flick. How about War of the Wildcats, and while we watch it, maybe we should think about having an oil boom somewhere besides North Dakota and Texas.

Enjoy

Three years of NEO!

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Three years ago this week Nebraskaenergyobserver made its debut on the Internet. So first, congratulations to my dearest friend Neo. Blogs are like Gibbon’s description of empires – they rise and fall and the sands of history cover them and their place knows them no more. It is, as I know myself, easy enough to start up a blog – it is the maintaining it which is the hard part. So, I think three years is something to celebrate.

Neo’s blog is a window on the world. He is part of an America which many of us admire, but which many foreigners (and quite a few Americans) never visit – the ‘fly-over States’. I spent a year in the mid-West twenty years ago, and retain a fondness for it and all it represents; this is one of the reasons I am fond of this place. It is redolent of American virtues: self-reliance; a sense of personal responsibility; but a willingness to do the right thing to help others, even at personal cost. You might say these are human virtues, and I would agree; but they are exemplified by the America which, at great cost, sustained the free world during the Cold War Years, ensuring that the gains from the defeat of Fascism were not lost. Neo, like many of his readers, has an admiration for the ‘greatest generation’ and a keen sense of patriotism. He is proud of America for what it has done and for what it represents. Other countries are countries – America is a dream.

That is why for him, and for so many, the past few years have been ones of grim realisation: realisation that, to use a Churchill quotation, our leaders have failed to ‘rise to the level of events’; we have great events and small men; nor is that a partisan political point; since Reagan and Thatcher the ‘free world’ has wanted a figure of stature.

As we look out from the prairie, the aspect is dark: the ‘Arab spring’ has given way to a winter of discontent, as the whole region is buffeted by the storms of radical Islam, a phenomenon which our secular, liberal elites fail to grasp; yes, these people really do believe women should be neither seen nor heard, they do believe in stoning homosexuals, and they will chop your head off. In Israel, the one democracy in the region is in a permanent state of siege, with only the US really supporting her; and across Europe, the complacency of a political elite is being rudely shattered by the realisation that President Putin is up to something and will not be stopped by being told he is being naughty. Super Powers may want to retire, but when they try, they may find themselves draw back from the plow.

In the meantime, America itself changes, and values which were once universal are relativised; social cohesion, always a difficult thing to achieve, is threatened; and faith in the rule of law is challenged by the rule of lawyers, in whom few place any confidence: the difference between a confidence trickster and a politician is that they both take your money, but only the latter demands you like him for it.

All of these trends Neo covers, but he also provides us with a great historical perspective, good company, good music and great movies, as well as a wry sense of humour which says that even if the world is going to hell in a handcart, it’s five o’clock somewhere – hence the clip – so join me in raising a glass to our friend Neo :)

The Well-Liked Hegemon, Still

warningYou won’t be surprised to know that I think polling to be a very limited resource for leaders and managers. But it does have the advantage of giving us an idea of what others think, and so it has value, at least when it is done well. I’m a pure consumer, I don’t really know what goes into making a reliable poll but, experience suggests that Pew does a reasonable job. And they have recently released a poll on how the USA is perceived in the world. I found it pretty interesting, and bet you would too. The complete poll is here, but I’ll talk a bit about what struck me.

First, they don’t like our monitoring of private citizens, which seems reasonable, really, since the poll says Americans don’t like it either. They also don’t think we should spy on other countries leaders and there I mildly disagree with them, it’s kind of important to know what they are planning.

In general, though, we are mostly still liked. Click to embiggenPG_14.07.08_LedeNSA_640px

PG-2014-07-14-balance-of-power-0-01The really interesting thing is that nearly everybody agrees that it is OK to spy on suspected terrorists, and that it is not OK to spy on American citizens, that’s true with Americans, and it’s true with pretty much everybody else, as well

What we do that almost no one likes (only bare majorities in the US, Israel, and Kenya) is our use of drones to attack suspected terrorists. I don’t know but I know for me, I think we are a bit too indiscriminate in target selection, and it is not very respectful of other nation’s sovereignty. In other words, I don’t much like it either, except maybe in clear-cut cases.

What I don’t understand completely is that worldwide, or at least 44 nations, 56% of the respondents think Obama is doing an OK job and is likely to do the right thing. But then, I am not exactly an unbiased observer here, and probably care much more about the Constitution than the average world citizen. I note that his rating is declining, just not as precipitously as it is here.

PG-2014-07-14-balance-of-power-0-03More people worldwide still think we respect personal liberty than France, China, or Russia, in fact, except for France, it’s not even close, which is nice feeling.

The Middle East, is the one area in the world, where we are not very well liked, to quote the poll.

“The Middle East is the clear exception. China’s favorability in the region is not especially high, but is higher than that for the U.S. Anti-Americanism has been common in many Middle Eastern nations throughout the Obama presidency, as was the case during the George W. Bush-era. And again this year some of the lowest ratings for the U.S. are found in the region. Only 19% of Turks and 12% of Jordanians offer a favorable opinion of the U.S., and at 10% Egypt gives the U.S. its lowest rating in the survey.”

We are pretty much liked better than China though, everywhere but the Middle East, which is rather heartwarming, to a point, anyway.

PG_14.07.08_LedeU.S.ChinaMedianMap

One thing that is highlighted pretty heavily here is that China’s neighbors don’t like her very much. This map pretty much tells the story.

PG_14.07.14_SouthChinaSea_640px

Remember that Pakistan has a treaty relationship with China, but everybody else is a bit nervous.

This chart pretty much goes with that

PG_14.07.10_AlliesThreats_640px

OK, guys, if you are anywhere my age, did you ever think you would see a reputable poll saying that Vietnam considers the US its greatest ally? Tells you a lot, I think, about how Asia views China.

This is getting a little long, so I’ll just give you a couple more, and you can follow the link (above)

Who loves us, baby?

PG-2014-07-14-balance-of-power-1-02

PG-2014-07-14-balance-of-power-3-03It looks to me (and the world, as well) that we better get our economic act together if we are going to remain the leading economic superpower. I would add to that it will be very difficult to retain our influence on world events, if we don’t. We got to where we are by strong freedom loving individual efforts, and that is the only way we will get back.

Personally, i think we need to start repairing our ties with India, which were quite close under George W. Bush but that Obama has let fray rather badly. India, which is pretty much an English-speaking, common law observing, counterweight to China, would be an ideal partner for us in Asia. Sure, it has some ethnic and religious problems, but we don’t?

 

So while it’s not exactly good news here, It could be a lot worse, and it does give us some idea of what we need to work on.

 

So let’s get back to work.

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