A Tale of Two Embassies… and two Presidents.

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US Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, burning on September 11, 2012, following attack by Islamic militants that killed four Americans, including the Ambassador.
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U.S. Marines assigned to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command (SPMAFTF-CR-CC) 19.2, prepare to deploy from Kuwait in support of a crisis response mission, Dec. 31, 2019.

This was originally written for my Facebook timeline, and is posted here with minimal editing.

Benghazi, Libya, September 11, 2012. Under attack by Islamic militants, the US Embassy requests assistance. None is forthcoming.

As a result, four Americans die, including the Ambassador, Chris Stevens – the first U.S. Ambassador killed in an attack since 1979 – along with Information Officer Sean Smith, and two CIA operatives, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, both former Navy SEALs, who fell trying to defend the Ambassador against overwhelming odds. The Embassy is burned.

Baghdad, Iraq, December 31, 2019. Under attack by Islamic militants, the US Embassy requests assistance. Within a matter of hours, 100 Marines are airlifted into the Embassy grounds via Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, supported by Apache attack helicopters; further air assets are reportedly overhead.

Shortly after, 750 soldiers – an infantry battalion from the Immediate Response Force (IRF) of the elite 82nd Airborne Division – are wheels-up on their way to Kuwait, with an additional 4,000 troops gearing up to follow, in case additional support is needed.

Now, it’s possible to argue that we shouldn’t be there in the first place, and I might agree with you. But we ARE there: that’s the reality of the situation; American lives were in danger, and the response was quick and, so far at least, has proven effective.

Do some of y’all understand, now, why some of us support President Trump, despite the fact that we might not like or agree with everything he says or does? He puts America first, as an American President should, and when Americans are in danger, he protects them to the best of his ability.

Based on past history, if Hillary Clinton was President currently, we might be looking at another dead Ambassador and another gutted Embassy. That is the difference. You either get it or you don’t. If you don’t, I quite honestly feel sorry for you…

Hundreds of Christians killed in Nigeria attacks | ABC Action News

 

People react as a truck carries the coffins of people killed by the Fulani herdsmen, in Makurdi, Nigeria January 11, 2018. | (Photo: REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde) Image linked from an article in The Christian Post, as no photograph provided with ABC article. The CP article is also worth a read. This has been going on for a long time.

Source: Hundreds of Christians killed in Nigeria attacks | ABC Action News

I know I said I was going to try to avoid political postings during Lent; but I also said I would make exceptions for exceptional events.

With all the coverage given to the reprehensible attack on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand last weekend, it was easily lost that the same week had seen attacks killing at least as many Christians in Nigeria, with comparatively little media coverage or attention. What reporting there was came from Christian organizations, although some mainstream media outlets did pick up the stories (albeit “below the fold“).

I am sorry if this sounds cynical or snarky, but how much do you want to bet the current spate of attacks on Christians will be largely ignored by US/Western media – and in particular, that the celebrities, political pundits, and media talking-heads who are quick to claim “Islamophobia” and oppression of Muslims will have little to say about “Christophobia,” and oppression of Christians by Muslims?

Certainly there will be no denunciations, outrage, or calls for re-education of Muslims to make them more tolerant of Christians, as there have been in the other direction. As my dear late mother used to say, “it all depends upon whose ox is getting gored.”

But violent persecution and oppression of Christians is a very real issue, in these times. Even Newsweek, hardly a right-wing rag (!), recounted a January report by a Catholic charity organization, which found that

“The persecution and genocide of Christians across the world is worse today ‘than at any time in history,’ and Western governments are failing to stop it, a report from a Catholic organization said.

“The study by Aid to the Church in Need said the treatment of Christians has worsened substantially in the past two years compared with the two years prior, and has grown more violent than any other period in modern times.”

And Open Doors USA, which publishes a World Watch List of the 50 countries in which it is most difficult to be a Christian, reports that 215 million Christians experience high levels of persecution, a number which represents 1 in 12 Christians worldwide; that during 2018, 3066 Christians were killed, 1252 were abducted, 1020 were raped or sexually harassed, and 793 churches were attacked; and that although the #1 most dangerous country for Christians is atheist, communist North Korea, Islamic oppression fuels Christian persecution in 8 of the top 10 countries.

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy!

Strasbourg shooting: Police appeal to find Chérif Chekatt – BBC News

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Police notice for Chérif Chekatt

Source: Strasbourg shooting: Police appeal to find Chérif Chekatt – BBC News

According to the BBC,

“French police have issued a call for help to find the man suspected of opening fire near a Christmas market in Strasbourg. Hundreds of police, soldiers and border agents on both sides of the Franco-German border are trying to find Chérif Chekatt, 29.

“Two people died and 13 were injured in the gun attack in the eastern French city on Tuesday evening. The gunman shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ (‘God is greatest’) as he opened fire.

“Chérif Chekatt was already known to the French authorities as someone who had been radicalised into following an extreme form of Islam while in prison for crimes including robbery.”

Charles Martel, where are you…???

Blackburn Cathedral is Muslim territory after Islamic call to prayer | ‘Rebel Priest’ Dr Jules Gomes, Columnist for Republic Standard

When an Imam recited the Adhan in the consecrated space of Blackburn Cathedral the night before Remembrance Day, he was claiming it as Islamic territory.

Source: Blackburn Cathedral is Muslim territory after Islamic call to prayer | ‘Rebel Priest’ Dr Jules Gomes, Columnist for Republic Standard

This is absolutely appalling. How can we – by which I mean Western society in general, and Christians (or people claiming to be Christian) in particular, not, I hope and pray, readers of this blog – be so blind, and so foolish?

The charge of the Winged Hussars: the lifting of the Siege of Vienna

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Some further details on the lifting of the Siege of Vienna:

On this day in history, September 12, 1683, the combined forces of the Holy Roman (German) Empire and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (the Holy League), under the overall command of King Jan III Sobieski of Poland, moved into position to engage the Ottoman Turkish besiegers outside the walls of Vienna. Fierce clashes followed. Imperial / Holy League forces made headway against the Ottoman invaders, but were unable to conclusively defeat them.

At around 3:00 in the afternoon, King Jan began to move his cavalry into position. As they came out of the woods and began to form up, they were greeted with enthusiastic cheers by the allied troops. An hour later, about four o’clock, the Polish Winged Hussars launched an attack which battered the Turkish lines, causing great consternation and forcing the Turkish general to retreat to a more favorable position. Infantry forces continued the fight against the Ottomans.

At six o’clock came the final blow. In the largest cavalry charge in history, King Jan Sobieski launched 18,000 cavalry, led by his 3,000 Winged Hussars, against the Ottoman lines. They clove through the Turks like the proverbial “hot knife through butter,” breaking and scattering them completely and driving them from the field. As the attack crested, the Austrian defenders of Vienna sallied from their city to join in, adding the crowning blow.

The siege of Vienna had been broken, and the decades to follow would see the Muslim Turks driven almost completely out of Christian Europe. After the battle, King Jan III Sobieski (who would receive the title Defensor Fidei – “Defender of the Faith” – from Pope Innocent XI) reportedly announced, in an intentional modification of Julius Caesar’s famous phrase, “Veni, vidi, Deus vicit” — “I came, I saw, God conquered.”

Footnote: the Lithuanians have not been mentioned. That’s because King Jan left his kingdom almost completely undefended, bringing his entire army to the relief of Vienna! As a result, the Hungarians decided to take advantage of the situation and try to take Polish territory. The Lithuanians, also marching toward Vienna, turned aside to counter-attack the Hungarians. They were successful in driving them back, but it meant that the Lithuanian army did not arrive at Vienna until several days after the siege had been broken.

Sabaton – Winged Hussars (Lyrics English & Deutsch) – YouTube

The Winged Hussars, led – as was the entire relief force sent by the Holy League to lift the siege of Vienna by the Ottoman Turks – by King Jan III Sobieski of Poland, was a relatively small force: 3,000 out of the 18,000 cavalry that swept down the Kahlenburg and through the Turkish lines, shattering and scattering them (they were an even smaller portion of the overall army of the Holy League, which consisted of some 70-80,000 troops, vs approximately 150,000 Ottomans). But they were the point of the spear, the elite heavy cavalry of all Europe at the time.

This historic cavalry charge, the largest in history, served as the inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Ride of the Rohirrim,” as the Siege of Vienna served as the inspiration for the Siege of Minas Tirith. More importantly, it also marked the end of Ottoman domination of southeastern Europe, and of the Muslim Turkish attempt to invade the European heartland. Had the battle not ended as it did, the history of Europe, and of the world, might be very different than what we know today. Enjoy this awesome musical tribute to the Winged Hussars, by Sabaton!

“We remember, in September, when the Winged Hussars arrived!”

BOATLIFT, An Untold Tale of 9/11 Resilience | YouTube

Source: BOATLIFT, An Untold Tale of 9/11 Resilience – YouTube

On 9/11, we had our own version of Dunkirk.

In the words of the inestimable Tara Ross, who posted the link to this on her Facebook page,

“Seventeen years ago today….. life as we knew it changed. Have you heard the story of those who escaped from Manhattan by boat?

“When the Coast Guard called for help, hundreds of ferries, private boats, and party boats all leapt into action. Their crews knew they might not come back if New York came under attack again. They went anyway.

“This is the story of the Great Boatlift of 9-11. Get out your Kleenex for this one.”

I remember hearing about this for the first time, a few years ago. It seems to have kind of gotten lost in the general chaos, at the time it happened. But that’s a shame, because this was a truly epic accomplishment. When Tara calls this “the Great Boatlift,” she’s not kidding: it was the largest seaborne evacuation in history. Nearly 500,000 civilians – half a million souls – were rescued from Manhattan by boat… in nine hours.

As Mr. Rogers used to say, “look for the helpers…”

And Tara’s also not kidding about the tissues.

Two Kings and “The Lord of the Rings” [on King Jan Sobieski III and the Lifting of the Siege of Vienna, 1683) | The Imaginative Conservative

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The romanticism in Tolkien’s great saga was inspired partly by the actions of King Jan Sobieski during the Battle of Vienna in 1683, when Christian Europe stemmed the advance of militant Islam… (click the link below to read the full essay by Dwight Longenecker)

Source: Two Kings and “The Lord of the Rings” – The Imaginative Conservative

Although the battle which ultimately lifted the Siege of Vienna – capital of the Holy Roman Empire, and the gateway to Europe – by the Ottoman Turks in 1683 began on the 11th of September, I want to use the date to highlight primarily the tragic, yet also at times heroic, events of 9/11/2001. Nonetheless, because the great battle that saved Europe from domination by the Muslim Turks did begin on this day, I am posting this “teaser” on the event! I’ll post more on it tomorrow.

The author of the article quotes historian and biographer Militiades Varvounis:

“Jan Sobieski was one of the most illustrious rulers ever to command an army. He gained glory and fame in his thirties through his exceptional military skills and he was acknowledged as the greatest warrior-king of his time throughout the rest of his turbulent life. His patriotism, his strong faith and hope in God, his military reputation, his taste for arts and letters, and his talents—all these were legendary in his lifetime. Since World War II, no English work has been published about the king who saved Europe from the warriors of Islam at the Battle of Vienna (1683); a battle which was the inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic cavalry charge of the Rohirrim that lifted the Siege of Minas Tirith in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.”

Since my undergraduate, and a great deal of my graduate, studies were focused on the Middle Ages, I was not until fairly recently familiar with this battle, except as a name for an historical event. And so it was not until fairly recently that I came to realize that it was the Siege of Vienna (1683) – not the Siege of Constantinople, as I had originally thought – that served as the inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien’s Siege of Minas Tirith, and the Ride of the Rohirrim (who, though portrayed as mounted Anglo-Saxons, filled the role of the Polish Winged Hussars which were King Jan Sobieski III’s elite shock troops) which broke it.

Of King Jan of Poland, the original poster of this link had this to say:

“Jan Sobieski was one of the most extraordinary and visionary monarchs of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1674 until his death. He was a man of letters, an artistic person, a dedicated ruler but above all the greatest soldier of his time. Popular among his subjects, he won considerable fame for his decisive victory over the Ottomans at the walls of Vienna (1683). For defeating the Muslim invaders, Pope Innocent XI hailed Sobieski as the saviour of Christendom.”

Indeed! Had not King Jan Sobieski succeeded in lifting the Siege of Vienna, the history of Europe, and indeed the world, would have worked out far differently. The first among equals among our own Founders, George Washington, Father of our Country, frequently credited Divine Providence with intervening in our struggle for independence. I agree, but I also think that one of the chief agents of that intervention was George Washington himself. I think that much the same could be said of Jan Sobieski! But it was not the founding of a new nation that was the goal and the outcome, but the preservation of Christian civilization, and of the West itself.

His story should be known and recounted much more widely, in my opinion!

“Where were you when the world stopped turning, that September day…?” (Alan Jackson)

 

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9/11 – September 11th, 2001

Never forget.

Never.

From a YouTube comment:

“6th grade. Science class. I remember turning to my teacher when he put it on the big screen and asking ‘How long ago did this happen?’ He looked at me with the saddest, terrified look I had ever seen in a 65 year old Vietnam veterans face and said ‘Son, this is happening right now.'” 

I’m not 65, nor am I a Vietnam veteran – or a veteran of any sort; my military service is limited to a year in ROTC and a rather inactive stint with the US Coast Guard Auxiliary – but I, too, was teaching a 6th grade class: at the Carroll County Outdoor School. And I will never forget that, either…

Octave of Prayer for the Defense of the West

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We are approaching the anniversary, later this month, of the Battle of Vienna, 1683, in which the army of the Holy League, lead by King Jan III Sobieski of Poland and his Winged Hussars, broke the siege of the Imperial City by the Ottoman Turks – ending, for several centuries, the Muslim threat to Europe.

It is, perhaps, especially fitting, between now and 12 September (the anniversary of the breaking of the siege) that we pray for the awakening both of the Church and of Europe to the danger posed by Islam to Christianity and the West in this century: an Octave of Prayer for the Defense of the West.

Here is a suggested form which might be used each day between today, September 5th, and the 12th, which comprise eight days, or an octave:

An Octave of Prayer for the Defense of the West

Minister. O God, make speed to save us:

Answer. O Lord, make haste to help us.

Minister. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Minister. Praise ye the Lord.
Answer. The Lord’s Name be praised.

Psalm 2. Quare fremuerunt gentes?

WHY do the heathen so furiously rage together? * and why do the people imagine a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers take counsel together * against the LORD, and against his Anointed:
3 Let us break their bonds asunder, * and cast away their cords from us.
4 He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh them to scorn: * the Lord shall have them in derision.
5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, * and vex them in his sore displeasure:
6 Yet have I set my King * upon my holy hill of Sion.
7 I will rehearse the decree: * the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

The Prayers

In Time of War and Tumults.

ALMIGHTY God, the supreme Governor of all things, whose power no creature is able to resist, to whom it belongeth justly to punish sinners, and to be merciful to those who truly repent; Save and deliver us, we humbly beseech thee, from the hands of our enemies; that we, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore from all perils, to glorify thee, who art the only giver of all victory; through the merits of thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In Time of Calamity.

O GOD, merciful and compassionate, who art ever ready to hear the prayers of those who put their trust in thee; Graciously hearken to us who call upon thee, and grant us thy help in this our need; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Missions.

O GOD, who hast made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on the face of the whole earth, and didst send thy blessed Son to preach peace to them that are far off and to them that are nigh; Grant that all men everywhere may seek after thee and find thee. Bring the nations into thy fold, pour out thy Spirit upon all flesh, and hasten thy kingdom; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Conversion of Mohammedans and all who know not Christ.

Let us pray for the conversion of Mohammedans, and all who know not Christ.

V. Let thy way be known upon earth:

R. Thy saving health among all nations.

ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, who in thy goodness hast caused the light of the Gospel to shine in our land: Extend thy mercy, we beseech thee, to the nations of the world that still walk in darkness. Enlighten the Moslems with the knowledge of thy truth; and grant that the Gospel of salvation may be made known in all lands, that the heart of the peoples may be turned unto thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Family of Nations.

ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, guide, we beseech thee, the Nations of the world into the way of justice and truth, and establish among them that peace which is the fruit of righteousness, that they may become the Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

¶ Then may the Litany be said, or at least this portion thereof:

¶ Minister and People.

O Lord, arise, help us, and deliver us for thy Name’s sake.

Minister.

O GOD, we have heard with our ears, and our fathers have declared unto us, the noble works that thou didst in their days, and in the old time before them.

Minister and People.

O Lord, arise, help us, and deliver us for thine honour.

Minister.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
From our enemies defend us, O Christ.
Graciously look upon our afflictions.
With pity behold the sorrows of our hearts.
Mercifully forgive the sins of thy people.
Favourably with mercy hear our prayers.
O Son of David, have mercy upon us.
Both now and ever vouchsafe to hear us, O Christ.
Graciously hear us, O Christ; graciously hear us, O Lord Christ.

O Lord, let thy mercy be showed upon us;
As we do put our trust in thee.

The Concluding Collect.

O GOD, who knowest us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright; Grant to us such strength and protection, as may support us in all dangers, and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

2 Cor. xiii. 14.

THE grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen.


Nota Bene: The prayer “For the Conversion of Mohammedans and all who know not Christ” is taken from The Book of Common Prayer of the Scottish Episcopal Church (1929). The “Concluding Collect” is that appointed for the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, according to The Book of Common Prayer 1928 (U.S.).