As the United States continues to be enthralled in hugely domestic issues like Immigration Reform, the Keystone XL Pipeline, and Net Neutrality, there is an ever increasing threat growing behind the former Iron Curtain that many Americans may not be aware of. Russia, that age old foe of capitalism and democracy, is growing in strength and International power. Not since the days when President John F. Kennedy sat behind the desk in the Oval Office, has Russian military advancement been so proliferate, and all while America seemingly sleeps.
With ever increasing tension between Russia and the West over Ukraine, Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu announced earlier this year that the Russian military was negotiating with eight governments from around the world; Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Algeria, Cyprus, the Seychelles, Vietnam and Singapore, for access to military facilities, to enable it to extend its long-range naval and strategic bomber capabilities.
Already, during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s trip to Cuba in July of this year, Putin and Cuban officials reportedly reached a provisional agreement to reopen the signals intelligence facility in Lourdes, Cuba, south of Havana. “A framework agreement has been agreed,” an unnamed Russian source told Reuters. The Lourdes base was first opened in 1964 and was used to intercept communications in the U.S. and throughout the Western Hemisphere. Some estimate that as much as 50 percent of the radio-intercepted intelligence that the Soviet Union collected on the U.S. during the Cold War came from Lourdes. According to The Guardian, “the Lourdes facility was the Soviet Union’s largest foreign base, a mere 155 miles from the U.S. coast. It employed up to 3,000 military and intelligence personnel to intercept a wide array of American telephone and radio communications.”
Russian President, Vladimir Putin seems to have an agenda that involves rebuilding the former Soviet-era influence throughout much of Europe and assuring the success of that venture by strategically “boxing-in” the United States with Russia’s military might, while at the same time U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration’s continuously failing foreign policy is sending America’s international influence on a downward spiral. Where American strength abroad at one time instilled a healthy fear in her would-be adversaries, weak policy and lack of “carry through” on the part of the U.S. President in regard to threats made to Syrian President Bashar Assad in 2012 for his use of chemical weapons, as well as cut-backs made to weaken U.S. military strength have in fact emboldened our enemies.
Russia has been testing the resolve of the United States for many years now, but in recent months has significantly increased its level disregard for both the U.S. and NATO. Russia has repeatedly flown military aircraft very near or into restricted U.S. airspace multiple times in the past few years, with the most recent taking place in September of 2014 when two U.S. F-22 fighter jets intercepted two Russian IL-78 refueling tankers, two Russian Mig-31 fighter jets and two Russian Bear long-range bombers (Russian Bear aircraft are capable of carrying AS-15 “Kent” long-range cruise missiles designed to be fitted with nuclear warheads). According to an official at NORAD, as many as 50 Russian aircraft have been intercepted near restricted airspace by U.S. jets over the past five years. What is more concerning is the fact that analysis of the long-range bombers flight patterns indicated the aircraft were conducting practice runs to a pre-determined “launch box” — or an optimum point for firing nuclear-armed cruise missiles at U.S. targets.
Considering everything that Russia seems to be doing around the globe to gain power and influence, the question as to why now may come to mind. Why, after so many years of global stability have we seen a shift in the way Russia is acting? I believe that it can be summed up in just a few words: “Lack of credibility.”
We have a very serious weakness in this nation right now; a weakness of leadership. Barrack Obama showed weakness in Syria when he threatened action if Assad used chemical weapons but never followed through. He showed that same level of weakness toward Russia as they provided weapons to Assad’s forces in Syria this year. There is also the lackluster effect that U.S. sanctions have had against Russia over their support of separatists in Ukraine. Russia has dismissed Barack Obama’s attempts to bring economic sanctions directed toward energy and finance sectors and against those close to Putin, through executive order, as paltry at best. Russia is now capitalizing on the weakness that our current leadership has displayed countless times. It is also emboldened by the fact that the abilities and current combat readiness of our Armed Forces has been undermined and weakened by the current administration’s failed policies.
“If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for war.” – George Washington
As the Obama administration has basically dismantled the U.S. missile defense posture through a series of budget and policy changes carried out over a four year period between 2009 and 2013 that has largely gone unnoticed by the American public, a defense that had been in place to help the U.S. negotiate for arms control and global stability, just last week a Russian Senior Defense Ministry official, Gen. Yuri Yakubov, was quoted as saying that Russia’s 2010 military doctrine should be revised to identify the United States and the NATO alliance as enemies, and clearly outline the conditions for a preemptive nuclear strike against them.
In the event that Russian forces actually teamed up with the Chinese in an attempt to gain more control throughout the world, where would that leave the United States? Certainly not in a good place. It would be unlike anything seen since World War II. The age old adage about those not learning from the past being condemned to repeat it comes to mind. The U.S. is still trying to regain economic traction after suffering a major recession, coming out of two separate wars, and possibly being on the verge of entering into another conflict with ISIL. One thing is certain, we cannot attain or retain peace within our borders by showing the world weakness. Our military strength is what assures us our safety, and to deny that would be a very foolish mistake.
Christian Pastor Behnam Irani was sentenced to six years imprisonment in 2011 for his Christian activities. He led a 300-member evangelical congregation in Karaj. He is now suffering from serious health problems, including internal bleeding, according to the advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
Pastor Irani now faces the death penalty after having been charged with “spreading corruption on earth”.
Iranian President Hasan Rouhani has led a brutal crackdown on Iran’s Christian community, he and the religious mullahs are concerned about the spread of Christianity and the numbers of its Muslim community that have been converting to the Christian faith. The oppressed people of Iran seek hope, and the message of hope offered by the Christian faith is something that the Iranian government fears.
The treatment of Pastor Irani is nothing new by the Iranian government. Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is actually a U. S. citizen, and whose wife and two young children remain here in the states, has been imprisoned in Iran since 2012 – sentenced to eight years in prison, reportedly on charges of undermining national security through his Christian evangelistic activities in Iran. He too has suffered at the hands of his captors, most recently having been beaten unconscious by Iranian guards when they came to a hospital where Pastor Abedini was being treated to return him to prison.
Hundreds of thousands of Christians around the world continue to pray for those being held in Iran’s prisons because of their faith. Pastor Abedini’s wife has spoken openly about her husband’s imprisonment, and has asked the federal government for help in attaining his release, even going so far as to meet with State Department officials personally. So far, Iran has indicated that they have no intention of releasing either Irani or Abedini from custody.
I hope that the Christian community here in the United States, as well as around the world, will continue in their prayers for these brave men and all of those who face persecution and death while standing firmly on their faith in Jesus Christ. Please, remember there families as well.
In Iran, a part of the world where Islam is recognized as the main religious belief, apostasy – or turning from Islam and converting to Christianity is considered a crime punishable by death.
For the past five years; tumultuous years, our nation has been through economic crisis, war, racial division, terror assaults, and social discourse along with countless other upheavals. We have seen Americans slaughtered by our enemies, Christian’s persecuted for their beliefs, and our allies turn a distrustful and apprehensive eye toward our nation.
Some may say that these things have always existed. That they have, at one time or another, always been a part of our culture and that they ebb and flow much like the tides that wash upon our beaches. This, I do not disagree with. For there has not been, nor will there ever be, complete peace upon our land – at least not until Jesus Christ returns. Some may believe differently than I on this matter, and to you I say that is what freedom is all about – the right to disagree. I do believe that the past five years have been unusually turbulent as compared to years past, and my fear is that this tide of uprising by forces set on the destruction of our great nation and its freedoms will not soon recede, but rather it will crash down upon us like a great wave of calamity. We, as Americans, will do what we have always done at that time – we will fight back, but at what cost then?
To wait; to ignore what is taking place within and without of this nation in regard to the brazen hostility and attacks of our enemies upon our own people and our allies, is to invite destruction upon us that might be averted, yet only if we act with the full measure of our resolve, that we will not be stripped of those things that we hold to be right and true. Do we wait until dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of our fellow Americans fall beneath the blade of extremists who do not hold the same regard for human life as we? I certainly hope that we have not become as complacent as such!
Our nation has been, and still remains a beacon of hope for many. The colors of our flag still stand out, strong and proud, amid the setting of the sun; a symbol of freedom fought for and purchased with the blood of so many brave who have secured that freedom at the ultimate of costs. It is not to be squandered by those eager to attain power or money. Yet, even now many Americans are beginning to see through the seemingly constant barrage of media hype and political melodrama being performed at our expense, while those in positions of power – responsible for taking action – remain steadfastly unwilling to act.
Ours has been a country described as a sleeping giant. For how long will that giant remain at rest when it realizes that those who have sworn allegiance to protect and defend her, to govern her economy with the interests of its citizens at heart rather than their own self interests, not only failed to honor that pledge, but have no intent of ever doing so? Our political leadership has faltered! I dare say, they have not acted in earnest in the positions for which they have vied to achieve and retain, and yet they ask repeatedly that they be trusted.
Congress has failed to secure our nation’s future financially, and continues to waste more and more money each and every year. The Senate refuses to act on bills that might better this nation because they cannot find agreement with Congress. The President flirts with violating the very laws of our nation by taking action on his own to achieve what he believes is right for our nation, while at the same time threatening to veto any bill out of the Congress that reaches his desk to which he does not wholeheartedly agree with. This is all unacceptable in the eyes of the very people they are supposed to be in office to serve, and yet they continue on as though they are on the side of right. Meanwhile, our enemies grow hungrier for our blood each day. They grow more emboldened and more defiant in the face of inconsistency, indecisiveness, and inaction.
Our nation is one without true leadership. Why? I believe that it is because those in power have been permitted to grow without boundaries. They have not forgotten who they serve, but rather no longer care. There is no excuse for the course that our nation’s government has chosen to take – bickering much like children and refusing to do what they have been elected to do! Those in all levels of government have sworn to do their duties according to the articles of the Constitution, and they must act, not only to secure our nation but to defend her as well.
I am not eager for war. I consider the risk of our young men and women in uniform to be something that should never – never be taken lightly. We have lost so much already, and yet I also know that there is never going to be an end to the tyrannical upheaval that the enemies of freedom continue to pummel at us! War was declared long ago by these people, and they will never rest until they are victorious or defeated entirely. To think otherwise is foolhardy and dangerous.
The United States of America must remain a leader in the constant quest to secure freedom and defend what is right and good. Our nation’s leaders must do their jobs, setting aside personal bias and without seeking personal or political-party satisfaction, so that our nation will begin to heal itself of its wounds and will once again be proud and strong. We must be a lion in the face of adversity, not seeking to destroy, but to defend and secure that which we all hold so dear.