Foreign Affairs


by Reid Fitzsimons

The Gaza Strip is a piece of land in the Southwest corner of Israel mostly occupied by Muslim Arabs. It was under the control of Egypt until the “Six-Day War” in 1967, when Israel defeated the surrounding hostile Arab countries. In subsequent agreements and accords, Israel agreed to give up control of both Gaza and the area usually called The West Bank, and in 2005 Israel completely withdrew from Gaza, giving autonomy to people referred to as Palestinians. In the subsequent two years, a group called Hamas, dedicated to the annihilation of Israel, wrested control of Gaza from another group- Fatah- that had agreed to the idea of peaceful co-existence with Israel, in a conflict sometimes referred to as the Palestinian Civil War. Hamas has long been classified as a terrorist organization, yet has the legitimacy of being the established government of Gaza, beating out Fatah in elections in 2006 44 to 41%; no elections have been held since. On Oct. 7th of this year, well-armed Palestinians (reasonably called terrorists) attacked Israel at the direction of Hamas, and a slaughter of over 1,000 Israeli civilians ensued.

A Brief History of an Enormously Complex Situation

The first issue is: who exactly are the Palestinians? My historical understanding is that they were basically hapless Arabs who found themselves living in an area contested for centuries, a land controlled by empire after empire, especially the Muslim Ottomans into the modern era. Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after WW1, decisions about the area called Palestine (from the Biblical Philistines) were made by an array of international bodies and powerful countries- especially Britain- often with conflicting interests. Post WW2, in light of the Holocaust, the newly created UN came up with a division of the the area called Palestine, about half to be Jewish and half Arab. When the British, who maintained a modicum of peace, bailed out on May 14th, 1948, the independent nation of Israel was declared within the boundaries set forth by the UN, and on May 15th it was attacked on all sides by Arab/Muslim controlled countries (a war the Arabs thought would be “A parade without any risks" and last about 2 weeks, considering their combined militaries had vastly superior armament).

Virginia's enlightened progressive Governor Dr. Northam's medical school yearbook photo

Part 1, Milton

We first knew Milton when he was perhaps 5 or 6 years old.  He was a fairly regular attendee at our charity children’s program (breakfast, story time, playtime, lunch, arts and crafts, sports, games, snack, finish up by around 4 pm) near a small village in rural Honduras.  To be honest he wasn’t the brightest of kids, but he was very cute as he sat on the swing and said, “Reid, calame (Reid, swing me).” 

We would open in the morning, often with 20-30 kids, and by the afternoon 40 to 50 wasn’t unusual.  They largely had one thing in common in regards to the following: pretty much none of the parents (mothers) had any idea where their kids were.  There is no tradition of, “Hey mom, I’m heading off to the guarderia, be back around 4:30,” but rather the kids go off to do whatever they do and all is well if they end up back home by dark.  By our “we are right in the latest incarnation of whatever we do in the US at the moment” standard this might sound negligent, but it’s more similar to the way my generation was raised than not, plus our project had a pretty good reputation.  For the most part the mothers in the village sincerely care about their children, fathers typically less so, considering so many of them are absent from their children’s lives, which is pertinent to Milton. 

Briefly, the last full session of the kids’ program was in 2011, for a variety of reasons we did not leave the US in 2012, and beginning in 2013 I (now with my wife staying at home) began spending about two months a year in the village, not doing a program for kids per se but more young adult and adult oriented, especially teaching English, carpentry, and sewing.  Not surprisingly on each trip down there I catch up on the latest, especially asking about how the kids we had gotten to know quite well in past years are doing.  This past March (2019) upon my arrival I inquired as to Milton’s status and learned he had recently gone to los Estados Unidos illegally, which was unexpected.  In learning the details I was told his father had taken him.  I mentioned that to the best of my knowledge his father was never part of his life, and this was confirmed, i.e. Milton simply became a pasaporte for his hitherto absent father.

We are funny in America in regards to children, at least the left is. In any social policy, or political debate, invoking “the children” is supposed to stifle the other side and assure their acquiescence (which unfortunately has often proven to be true, at least in pre-Trump times).  Though the left gleefully ends the lives of children by the boatload under the guise of “women’s rights,” they seem to drip with compassion for non-aborted children as long as it advances their narrative.   This has very much filtered down to the villages in Honduras in the form of, “if you show up at the border with a kid you will get in.” This explains Milton’s father’s newly discovered love for his dear son.  It also explains why 13 year-old Julia’s aunt was planning on returning to the village and drag her with her to the border (“remember Julia, I’m your mother!”).

We hear a good deal about child/human trafficking these days and what I’m describing is at the lower end: certainly the parents aren’t knowingly giving up their children to be sex slaves, and not even selling them per se. There is simply an implicit understanding that “when you get into the US using my son or daughter as your passport, I will expect to be spending time at the Western Union office to receive remittances from you.”

Although I could fill pages talking about immigration, I merely want to end this section with a few thoughts. First, our progressive Democrat policy, which is essentially in effect Trump or no Trump, turns children into commodities, and indeed makes them susceptible to full-blown exploitation.

Second, our policy ignores the most basic and humane (though most difficult) solution, which is to improve the situation in the countries of mass emigration.  This should not mean everyone has to have the American middle-class standard of SUVs, big screen TVs, streaming video, smart phones, wine coolers, and air conditioning, but there are basic modern comforts that, if more universally available, would certainly improve living standard.

Third, a common aspect to the immigration debate is the idea of assimilation, and there seems to be a reluctance to embrace this ideal culturally and linguistically, at least when compared to the widely held narrative pertaining to prior immigrants.  The concept of assimilation simply doesn’t exist in the minds of the current wave from Latin America: there are no tired, huddled masses yearning to breath free.  They are not refugees with legitimate asylum claims planning to assimilate, but rather have seen plenty of Hollywood movies with all the glitter and materialism and say to themselves, “I want that.”  And you can’t really blame them.

Part 2, The Blind Girl

In modern progressive Western culture the most odious creature is the white male Christian conservative, even worse if they are from the South, and even worse if they are credentialed as a Baptist pastor- the horror! I will call him Leonard, and yes, he is all of these things.  Around 15 years ago his fictitious (I am a non-believer) God called him to Honduras to help children, and eventually he, along with his Christian Mexican- American wife (I forgot to mention he is also a dreaded heterosexual), established an orphanage.  It wasn’t your typical orphanage, however, with cottages and hired caregivers, but rather the kids were their kids, and they lived with the kids.  They peaked at perhaps 20-some children, lost a few for a variety of reasons, and now have about 15.  Needless to say, these kids were from the worst situations of neglect, abuse, and abandonment imaginable, for the most part have been with them since infancy, and they are “children of color.” More on this shortly.

About 13 years ago a baby girl was born, named Xiomara who was obviously blind, and there was some concern she had a “syndrome” that would make her mentally retarded, deaf, or what have you.  During the time the baby was a neonate an American physician (OB/Gyn, who traveled on a somewhat tortured road that led her to Honduras, then back to the US) happened to see this baby and declared it would be better off if she were simply left to die.  This did not happen, and shortly she was taken in by Leonard.  She grew and thrived and a couple of years ago she was adopted by, yes, a despicable Christian, conservative heterosexual American couple from, Lord help us, Texas.  I’ve known Xiomara since she was a baby and had the chance to see her this past March (the adoptive parents bring her back to Honduras to visit her siblings, i.e. the kids she grew up with until her adoption), and she was everything wonderful in a child- happy, vibrant, engaging, etc.

Not to long ago the Democrat Governor of Virginia became embroiled in some controversy, especially in terms of a black face/KKK medical school yearbook photo.  Though this has faded away (together with a sexual assault accusation against the Democrat Lt. Gov. it was conceivable a Republican could have ascended to the VA executive office, so the initial progressive outrage had to be quelled), there was a lesser-reported controversy that reminded me of Xiomara.  The Governor, who graduated medical school and is a soft-spoken progressive extremist, was prompted to muse about a bill to end any restrictions on abortion, to include allowing the abortion of baby while the mother was in natural active labor.  In the event the child survived the abortion and continued unwanted by the mother he suggested “comfort care,” in other words putting a blanket over the infant and allowing it to die from dehydration or starvation. He added, “And it's done in cases where there may be severe deformities.”

My primary career was as a medical provider, Physician Assistant (PA), and I worked or associated with many physicians over the years.  I can say some of the finest people I’ve known were physicians, many were of average integrity, and too many were disingenuous reprobates, the kind of people like VA Governor Dr. Northam who couch barbarism- starving and dehydrating babies to death- in feel-good terms such as “comfort care.”  Needless to say, under Dr. Northam’s professional and august guidance, Xiomara would have died an agonizing death.  It’s ironic to note that it would be less cruel to simply use a pipe or hammer and smash the baby’s skull, but with all the blood, bone fragments, and brain tissue it would be less sophisticated and less quaint, and wouldn’t qualify for the soothing term “comfort care.”

The children under the care of Leonard and his wife, their children (the oldest are now 15) are a true joy to know.  They are kids and have all the normal concerns and problems of kids certainly but are pretty well adjusted, enthusiastic, and are also truly fluent in both Spanish and English- and it’s quite a bit of fun to watch them switch back and forth with ease as the situation requires.  Less than two years ago Leonard (known as Papa to the kids), was diagnosed with an adult form of muscular dystrophy and can no longer walk or stand, and is losing the use of his arms.  As much as the left finds solace and satisfaction in ridiculing Christians, Leonard endures and even thrives because of his Lord and Savior and because he believes in something greater than himself.  I doubt very much that those who would call him a racist bigot simply because he’s a Christian could bear riding in his wheelchair: they wouldn’t sacrifice materialistic comfort for a moment to care for “children of color,” no matter how much they claim to love them.

by Reid Fitzsimons

The worldwide annual rate of motor vehicle related deaths is apparently 17.4 per 100,000. The highest rate is in Africa at 26.6, Honduras at 17.4, and the US at 10.6 per 100,000. In general, and the reasons are numerous, there is a higher rate in so-called third world countries than in the “first world.”

So what does this have to do with anything? I know Honduras very well, and can state unequivocally that it is common and typical for any number of people to hop in the back of pick-up trucks and go barreling down the pothole laden two-lane corridors of death which is their national highway system. I’ve done it myself enough times and it is probably one of the worst practices in regards to vehicular safety, but no one bats an eye, including the cops. It is, however, illegal in Honduras to drive while smoking, using a cell phone, and to not wear a seatbelt. For those who know the New Testament this might bring to mind the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:3, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

I am, of course, not privy to the legislative machinations of governments that are perpetual recipients of foreign aid but have a theory when it comes to laws that concentrate on a speck of dust but ignore the gaping eye wound. Somewhere in the comfort of the US or European Union there are politicians or non-profit progressive special interest groups who can’t imagine the entire world doesn’t share their concerns and values, anti-smoking activists for example (what enlightened person doesn’t want to have a group for whom they can show contempt?). While somewhere there is perhaps a legitimate goal of improving health, their focus becomes the means, not the result, and even the most oblique attack on their target is justified. Hence, a well-funded organization can perhaps influence the pertinent foreign policy people and say, “It would be a righteous thing if we could demand other countries pass anti-smoking laws.” Attach a little bit of foreign aid, ostensibly to help enact the law and, Que Bueno, the money goes into some corrupt politicians pocket and there is an essentially meaningless new law just waiting to be broken.

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by Barry King, 28 November 2015

After the recent terror attacks in France, the instinctive response of people of faith all over the world was to pray for Paris, and to encourage others to do so. For others, who consider religious faith problematic, the response was different: “Don’t pray for Paris”. The subtext to those opinions was clearly: religion is part of the problem, so it can’t be part of the solution.

The first of those responses (prayer) has deep historical roots. Thoughtful people will wonder about the second: is it a new idea, or has it been tried before? If it has been tried before, what were the results of the earlier trials? Hearing news of the Paris attacks, many of us remembered John Lennon, who wrote 40 years ago: “Imagine…no hell below us, above us only sky.” John identified the objective of that dream as “..all the people living life in peace.” Clearly, if John were still among us, he would have been among those saying, “Don’t Pray for Paris”.

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by Barry King

This is a waypoint on the path of the devolution of the USA towards becoming a police state. I heard some of this low-information hysteria first-hand on the car radio while driving through Indiana recently, in a snowstorm. Putting "religious freedom" inside scare quotes like that, in order to condemn it and suppress it, moves the USA away from the principles of the American revolution and toward those of the French. Diderot said "Let us strangle the last king with the guts of the last priest." He would have gladly joined the current campaign from the American left against Indiana's perfectly reasonable Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

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by Barry King

The acronyms mean: Liberal White European Nonsense about the Institute Congolais pour le Conservation de la Nature.

Here I sit in Uganda, just back from a visit to the Virunga National Park in Congo. After reading this article in Foreign Affairs  I have figurative steam rising from my ears, like the volcanic smoke from Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira. I'd like to offer my observations about it. Disclosure: I advise and assist ICCN with the operation and maintenance of their airplanes, so I may have a bias in favor of the work they are doing with those planes. I'll insert my own comments between quotes from the article, which is a critique of the recent Oscar-nominated film "Virunga", and implicitly, of ICCN.

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by Barry King

President Obama called recent years of record federal spending, including billions of Keynesian "stimulus" using borrowed money, "mindless austerity" - as though if he had his way such spending would be even more prodigal. That's hard to imagine, but he can apparently imagine it. Americans are consuming all of their income, and then consuming more and spending more long after they should stop, They are able to continue that for now only by borrowing from China, leaving it to their grandchildren to repay those loans to China with interest. That can't continue much longer, and the only reason it can happen at all is because 21st-century Chinese, unlike 21st-century Americans, produce more than they consume and save the difference, so that their net savings are available to be loaned to Americans - and invested in Africa.

If the President thinks current US federal spending can be described as "mindless austerity", that means he wants to spend even more, in support of American consumption of goods and services. And of course there may well be enough American voters who like that idea, to keep him and politicians like him in power for a while longer. In that milieu, China's surpassing the US as the world's largest and most powerful economy is not only inevitable: it will happen very quickly now, more quickly than almost anyone expects. Here in Africa, that process is more clearly visible - I have been meaning to write up a report of what I saw during a recent visit to Beira, Mozambique - but I suppose there in the USA it might remain out of sight and out of mind for a little while longer. ...continue reading

by Barry King

On June 4, 2009, only a few months into his presidency, US President Obama gave a major speech about US relations with the Muslim world, at Al Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt. Reuters reported that the President’s objective in the speech was to “repair ties that were severely damaged under his predecessor George W. Bush.” One sign of that damage was that at the end of Bush’s term, only 27% of Egyptians reported having a favorable view of the USA. Today in 2015, after the first six years of President Obama’s tenure, that approval rating in Egypt has dropped an additional 17 points, to the current abysmal 10% (according to Pew Research). That’s the real-world result, so far, of Obama’s pressing of his metaphorical “reset button”.

On January 1, 2015, only a few months into his presidency, Egyptian President Al-Sisi gave another speech in the same venue, at Al Azhar. ...continue reading

drone result edit

During the Bush administration, suspected terrorists were captured, imprisoned and interrogated. Some critics (including Obama) argued that it would be better to view terrorist acts as crimes needing prosecution and punishment rather than as acts of war needing retaliation. Now the Obama administration, eschewing American soldiers on the ground and imprisonment or interrogation without “due process”, is relying instead on blowing up the terrorists in drone attacks. There is a tactical difference, and a legal similarity, between the two approaches. The difference is that the live prisoners at least had the possibility of revealing important information, whereas the corpses at the drone attack site do not. The similarity is that the death penalties meted out to the drone attack targets and their friends also lack legal “due process” and trial in a civilian court with lawyers present. To me those were, and still are, interesting topics, but it seems that many who found them interesting during the Bush administration are not interested in thinking and talking about them now. Why is that? Forward progress in developing our morality and ethics seems to be stalled.

However, progress in science and technology continues. (Actually, it seems to me that that disparity is at least 500 years old now. During that period, progress in science has been real, whereas progress in ethics has been mostly imaginary, existing mostly in human imaginations as an artifact of human narcissism.) Because of aerospace science, the US President will soon be able to deploy a small fleet of Lockeed-Martin / Kaman “K-MAX” unmanned external-load helicopters “as-is”, carrying a squadron of weaponized Lockheed-Martin unmanned “SMSS” vehicles The K-MAXes will drop the SMSSes near the target, and they will carry out their attack against a terrorist wedding, or whatever. After the “battle”, the K-MAXes will be able to go in to retrieve the surviving SMSSes and airlift them back to base, with no American humans being physically present for any of it. The unrecovered vehicles will be taken by the “enemy” to Iran for reverse-engineering, to discover and duplicate the latest tech secrets used in their design. However, one capability is still missing: that tactical plan does not yet include the option of capturing any suspects alive, imprisoning them, and interrogating them. Aerospace science "progress" means for military applications what it has meant for the last 100 years: increased ability to kill along with reduced risk of dying. But Augustine and Aquinas, cited by Obama during his Peace Prize acceptance speech, would not view that as "progress" at all. Hundreds of years ago, both of those guys viewed killing as far more problematic than dying.

Maybe all of that is OK from a “liberal” point of view, as long as no American soldiers are killed or injured, and none of the corpses are at any point subject to imprisonment or interrogation without due process. Maybe the meaning of the term “liberal” is changing over time, like everything else.

I suspect that living in Africa has enhanced my ability to imagine an attack like that from the point of view of the targets, and to extrapolate from that viewpoint what the long-term impact of it might be on America’s reputation in the world, and American success in the global war on terror. An obvious part of it will be the spread of the sentiment: those Americans who just send their demonic death machines to kill us, and are afraid to come out and fight us themselves, are the worst kind of vile cowards. But I’m just an ordinary guy, whose viewpoint does not matter much. For Samantha Power, current US Ambassador to the UN, it matters a lot, when she finds herself (for example) recommending to the President and to the UN that we keep soldiers out of Libya, but launch air attacks against one side in the Libyan civil war. From a distance I watch Samantha and try to see what she is seeing, but my perception of it remains unclear.



Imagine a cathedral crammed with 2000 unarmed civilians, all terrified that they are about to be killed by the screaming crowd outside, who are waving the machetes which they intend to use for the killing. Then imagine a thin line of 20 armed UN peacekeepers, equally terrified but well-equipped and well-commanded, dispersed around the entrances to the cathedral, carrying out their assignment to protect the people inside the cathedral from the ones outside. Understand this about the protesters outside: they believe that they are there protesting for social justice, and that they mean to correct the injustices and oppression accomplished by the people gathered inside the cathedral, and their ancestors. The worst crime of which those “oppressors” stand accused is “racism”, yet the protesters themselves have selected the targets of their current anger based on “race” as they understand it. It may sound absurd to American ears, but the moral and ethical arguments of those protesters is sufficiently compelling, that many of their country’s liberal and social-justice minded Catholic priests support them (although of course the priests are always careful to say about that support, that they would “never condone violence”). The US ambassador in that country is a pacifist-minded Quaker, but he also feels a great deal of sympathy for the plight of the “oppressed” protesters. The government of France also generally supports them. ...continue reading