Day: August 9, 2018

China's Marathon to Take Over America


The Chinese are intent on rehabilitating their old empire.  Once Beijing has achieved this lofty goal (which it is closer to achieving than any care to admit), the Chinese hope to displace the United States as the world’s dominant power.  Many analysts – particularly Western ones – scoff at this notion.  Whatever China’s ultimate intentions are, it is clear that China intends to radically reshape the world order to benefit the Chinese.  This is the nature of international relations.

Looking at the growth of China from its beginning to the present time, one sees that China has ceaselessly expanded from beyond its cradle along the Yellow River to encompass a large chunk of territory in eastern Eurasia.  Initially, Chinese expansion emanated outward from the Yellow River area, moving north and west.  Slowly, Chinese expansion pivoted and began moving south, toward the ocean.  It now stretches from Afghanistan to North Korea.

Matching Capabilities to Intentions

The reason so many China-watchers have been skeptical about China’s intention to become a great power – a truly global empire – is that China’s capabilities have not been commensurate with such a goal.  For most of China’s history, the country has been a continental power.  China eschewed major military commitments at sea (with the notable exception of Zheng He’s Treasure Fleet in the 15th century).  The skeptics assume that this will always be the case in China.

In other words, China is a continental power, like Russia.  Therefore, China will remain dominant on land and weak at sea.  Yet, unlike Russia, China has a long coastline touching highly important waterways.  Its wealthiest provinces disproportionately benefit from maritime trade.  Besides, the notion that a continental power, like China, could never pivot and become a maritime force is absurd.  After all, the United States did just that!

As a settler nation, the United States began its existence as a predominantly continental force.  Sure, America had a navy and a long coastline touching the Atlantic Ocean (and it relied heavily on global trade to sustain the country economically).  However, from the time of the American War of Independence until the Spanish-American War, the United States was concentrated on expanding – and controlling – the entirety of the North American continent.  This was, by definition, a continental policy.  Inevitably, the country pivoted and became a naval force used to push out the Spanish Empire, which had long controlled the small island-nation of Cuba to the south of the United States.

What began as a somewhat unbelievable effort to warp the American military away from a continental force – focused on protecting settlers in the frontier – eventuated in the creation of a magnificent navy.  The U.S. navy was able to assist in the invasion of Cuba (and the toppling of the Spanish Empire’s position in the New World).  It also resulted in the United States taking over Spanish colonies in the Philippines – thereby making the United States a key player in the world from then on.

Necessity is the mother of all innovation.  The United States believed it had conquered the continent by the close of the 19th century.  Rather than simply demobilize its small military force, Washington repurposed it for maritime-heavy operations and began looking farther afield.

This is precisely what the Chinese are doing today.  Should Beijing dominate its near abroad, it will turn its gaze toward America’s sphere of influence.

Chinese Imperial Ambitions  

Where China was once a continental power, Beijing is methodically enhancing the country’s naval capabilities.  Just like the United States before it, the Chinese naval expansion is meant to displace what Beijing perceives to be a hostile, foreign empire (the United States) supporting an island that has menaced China – since 1949 – from within China’s purported sphere of influence.  In this instance, Taiwan is to the budding Chinese empire what Cuba in 1898 was to the United States.

Observers are quick to point out that even at its height, the Chinese Empire was only ever a regional power.  What few understand is that globalization – and China’s sheer size – has led to China becoming a key player in the international system.  In fact, since the Sino-Soviet split in the 1970s and the subsequent entente between the United States and China, American money and knowledge has been used to effectively build up China into a major player today.

At one time, the Chinese-American relationship was dubbed “Chimerica.”  Ever since the 2008 Recession, however, it appears as though the two groups have suffered a divorce (or at least a separation).  As old rivalries are inflamed, many soothe themselves with notions that China can never be a threat to the pre-eminent United States.

It is true that China is staring down some major problems: demographic woes, slowing economic growth rates, fallout from an overly centralized government.  However, with the exception of demographic woes, China has long suffered through cycles of stagnating economic growth and political turbulence.

Somehow, China has persisted over the centuries.  China’s return to the world stage as not only a great power, but potentially the greatest power should rouse even the most apathetic American to the nature and extent of the threat.

Unfortunately, like the Spanish Empire in 1898, the United States is ignoring significant threats to itself.

Toward the Chinese Century?

One thing is clear: the Asia-Pacific is a key component of the world economy, and America must have a serious presence there.  For decades, China has indicated its intention to harm American interests while empowering itself.  That alone is reason to build up America’s presence in the Asia-Pacific and to align other states in the region against China.

We continue telling ourselves that China’s military threat will never materialize the way some (like myself) fear.  However, at each moment, the Chinese threat matures.  Westerners said we could impart our industrial capabilities onto Beijing because the West would spearhead the next “knowledge” economy.  Not only did the Chinese absorb our industry (that we willingly gave them in exchange for trinkets), but China also (in the last decade) began pivoting to dominate the knowledge sector as well – which it is doing.

My friends on Wall Street maintain that the Chinese economy will implode.  Maybe.  We’re all still waiting for this to happen.  Even if China’s economy did implode, that would not mitigate the threat.  It would merely change it.  After all, an unstable, decentralized China riven with nationalism is possibly even more dangerous than a united quasi-communist one.

For the first time in decades, the United States is competing against a rival whom, in many respects, it has fallen behind.  First, American leaders must fully acknowledge the threat.  Then the U.S. must move to do what the Spanish failed to do to the rising United States: challenge it early enough to head off any real threat.

Time is not on our side.

Brandon J. Weichert is a geopolitical analyst who manages The Weichert Report: World News Done Right and is a contributor at The American Spectator, as well as a contributing editor at American Greatness.  His writings on national security and Congress have appeared at Real Clear PoliticsSpace News, and HotAir.com.  He has been featured on CBS News.comthe BBC, and the Christian Science Monitor.  Brandon is a former congressional staffer who holds an M.A. in statecraft and national security affairs from the Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C. and is currently working on his doctorate in international relations.

The Chinese are intent on rehabilitating their old empire.  Once Beijing has achieved this lofty goal (which it is closer to achieving than any care to admit), the Chinese hope to displace the United States as the world’s dominant power.  Many analysts – particularly Western ones – scoff at this notion.  Whatever China’s ultimate intentions are, it is clear that China intends to radically reshape the world order to benefit the Chinese.  This is the nature of international relations.

Looking at the growth of China from its beginning to the present time, one sees that China has ceaselessly expanded from beyond its cradle along the Yellow River to encompass a large chunk of territory in eastern Eurasia.  Initially, Chinese expansion emanated outward from the Yellow River area, moving north and west.  Slowly, Chinese expansion pivoted and began moving south, toward the ocean.  It now stretches from Afghanistan to North Korea.

Matching Capabilities to Intentions

The reason so many China-watchers have been skeptical about China’s intention to become a great power – a truly global empire – is that China’s capabilities have not been commensurate with such a goal.  For most of China’s history, the country has been a continental power.  China eschewed major military commitments at sea (with the notable exception of Zheng He’s Treasure Fleet in the 15th century).  The skeptics assume that this will always be the case in China.

In other words, China is a continental power, like Russia.  Therefore, China will remain dominant on land and weak at sea.  Yet, unlike Russia, China has a long coastline touching highly important waterways.  Its wealthiest provinces disproportionately benefit from maritime trade.  Besides, the notion that a continental power, like China, could never pivot and become a maritime force is absurd.  After all, the United States did just that!

As a settler nation, the United States began its existence as a predominantly continental force.  Sure, America had a navy and a long coastline touching the Atlantic Ocean (and it relied heavily on global trade to sustain the country economically).  However, from the time of the American War of Independence until the Spanish-American War, the United States was concentrated on expanding – and controlling – the entirety of the North American continent.  This was, by definition, a continental policy.  Inevitably, the country pivoted and became a naval force used to push out the Spanish Empire, which had long controlled the small island-nation of Cuba to the south of the United States.

What began as a somewhat unbelievable effort to warp the American military away from a continental force – focused on protecting settlers in the frontier – eventuated in the creation of a magnificent navy.  The U.S. navy was able to assist in the invasion of Cuba (and the toppling of the Spanish Empire’s position in the New World).  It also resulted in the United States taking over Spanish colonies in the Philippines – thereby making the United States a key player in the world from then on.

Necessity is the mother of all innovation.  The United States believed it had conquered the continent by the close of the 19th century.  Rather than simply demobilize its small military force, Washington repurposed it for maritime-heavy operations and began looking farther afield.

This is precisely what the Chinese are doing today.  Should Beijing dominate its near abroad, it will turn its gaze toward America’s sphere of influence.

Chinese Imperial Ambitions  

Where China was once a continental power, Beijing is methodically enhancing the country’s naval capabilities.  Just like the United States before it, the Chinese naval expansion is meant to displace what Beijing perceives to be a hostile, foreign empire (the United States) supporting an island that has menaced China – since 1949 – from within China’s purported sphere of influence.  In this instance, Taiwan is to the budding Chinese empire what Cuba in 1898 was to the United States.

Observers are quick to point out that even at its height, the Chinese Empire was only ever a regional power.  What few understand is that globalization – and China’s sheer size – has led to China becoming a key player in the international system.  In fact, since the Sino-Soviet split in the 1970s and the subsequent entente between the United States and China, American money and knowledge has been used to effectively build up China into a major player today.

At one time, the Chinese-American relationship was dubbed “Chimerica.”  Ever since the 2008 Recession, however, it appears as though the two groups have suffered a divorce (or at least a separation).  As old rivalries are inflamed, many soothe themselves with notions that China can never be a threat to the pre-eminent United States.

It is true that China is staring down some major problems: demographic woes, slowing economic growth rates, fallout from an overly centralized government.  However, with the exception of demographic woes, China has long suffered through cycles of stagnating economic growth and political turbulence.

Somehow, China has persisted over the centuries.  China’s return to the world stage as not only a great power, but potentially the greatest power should rouse even the most apathetic American to the nature and extent of the threat.

Unfortunately, like the Spanish Empire in 1898, the United States is ignoring significant threats to itself.

Toward the Chinese Century?

One thing is clear: the Asia-Pacific is a key component of the world economy, and America must have a serious presence there.  For decades, China has indicated its intention to harm American interests while empowering itself.  That alone is reason to build up America’s presence in the Asia-Pacific and to align other states in the region against China.

We continue telling ourselves that China’s military threat will never materialize the way some (like myself) fear.  However, at each moment, the Chinese threat matures.  Westerners said we could impart our industrial capabilities onto Beijing because the West would spearhead the next “knowledge” economy.  Not only did the Chinese absorb our industry (that we willingly gave them in exchange for trinkets), but China also (in the last decade) began pivoting to dominate the knowledge sector as well – which it is doing.

My friends on Wall Street maintain that the Chinese economy will implode.  Maybe.  We’re all still waiting for this to happen.  Even if China’s economy did implode, that would not mitigate the threat.  It would merely change it.  After all, an unstable, decentralized China riven with nationalism is possibly even more dangerous than a united quasi-communist one.

For the first time in decades, the United States is competing against a rival whom, in many respects, it has fallen behind.  First, American leaders must fully acknowledge the threat.  Then the U.S. must move to do what the Spanish failed to do to the rising United States: challenge it early enough to head off any real threat.

Time is not on our side.

Brandon J. Weichert is a geopolitical analyst who manages The Weichert Report: World News Done Right and is a contributor at The American Spectator, as well as a contributing editor at American Greatness.  His writings on national security and Congress have appeared at Real Clear PoliticsSpace News, and HotAir.com.  He has been featured on CBS News.comthe BBC, and the Christian Science Monitor.  Brandon is a former congressional staffer who holds an M.A. in statecraft and national security affairs from the Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C. and is currently working on his doctorate in international relations.



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The Sausage-Making of Wind Power vs. the Military


There have been several years of conflict between military operations (in the U.S. and elsewhere) and industrial wind energy.  There have been multiple types of conflicts, ranging from tall structures obstructing low-level flight paths to weather and navigation radar interferences to specialized cases (like deteriorating the important ROTHR facility and having infrasound compromise sensitive military equipment).

Initially, commanding officers (C.O.s) of affected military facilities voiced their objections, and in most cases, the proposed offending wind project was not approved.

This was unacceptable to the powerful wind industry, and some of its well connected allies.  Their plan was to get military base C.O.s out of the equation – while simultaneously giving the public the impression that military concerns were being fully addressed.  Their end result was to create the DoD Wind Siting Clearinghouse (2011, during the Obama administration), and it accomplished their two objectives.

The clearinghouse was all about expanding U.S. industrial wind energy – not protecting our military or our national security.  The rules and regulations for the Clearinghouse were written to assist the wind industry.  If that wasn’t enough, the initial people in charge of the clearinghouse were unabashed wind energy-promoters.  (Upon retiring, the first head was quickly hired as a wind energy lobbyist!)

Not surprisingly, numerous conflicts continue to exist between wind energy and our military.  The public has little awareness of these issues due to classified agreements, carefully enmeshed in bureaucratic double-speak.  The wind industry repeatedly trumpeted that everything is just peachy.  For those who didn’t bother to closely look behind the curtain, things may well have seemed to be OK.

Following the creation of the clearinghouse, and the dilution of federal protections, military defenders had to then look for some refuge by enacting state-level legislation.  The wind lobby has infiltrated state politics as well, so this was no easy solution.  That said, there have been some major victories – e.g., Texas passing S. 277 North Carolina passing a two-year statewide moratorium (see here, Part XIII) while the state investigated the wind energy military interference issue.

Ultimately, the defense of our military, and our national security, is a federal matter.  Toward that end, in early 2017, I sent to some key legislators an outline of this problem, which included three simple but effective NDAA solutions:

a) substitute a much better word for “mitigate” (like “remediate”), as the current term can easily result in no meaningful changes being made,

b) require that the developer pay for all costs incurred to accommodate them (presently, the taxpayer foots the bill for these accommodations – why?], and

c) broaden the allowable reasons for denying a permit – e.g., if the lives of military personnel are put at risk, a base maybe be affected by BRAC, etc.

The clearinghouse rules basically say that to reject a proposed wind project, there has to be substantial proof that it is an “unacceptable risk to national security.”  (How “national security” is defined has evolved, and is still subject to interpretation.)  This has to be then endorsed by the DoD secretary, etc.  In other words, the bar was purposefully set high so that it was almost impossible to turn down a proposed wind project.  (Note: Only one project out of over 15,000 submissions has been so terminated via the clearinghouse process over many years now.)

One of my three recommendations was to reasonably expand the allowable reasons to deny a wind project.  For example, a wind project shown to threaten the lives of our military personnel (by itself, irrespective of the “national security” part) would be an acceptable justification to deny a permit.  The 2018 NDAA (see section 311) improved the wording in this regard from the original 2011 legislation, but further clarification and more conditions are advisable.  (For example, military lives could be at risk due to the deterioration of the ROTHR signal from wind energy interference, and the current words do not seem to address that.)  This year, both the House and Senate NDAA bills approved improving the clearinghouse rules to add some words to that effect.  That was encouraging!

In later July 2018, this change was removed from the NDAA conference legislation (see page 1951 of 2019 NDAA)!  An experienced D.C. lobbyist told me he could not recall a single case, ever, where an important bill provision agreed to by both House and Senate was then eliminated from the final conference legislation.  The bottom line is that during all this research and negotiation about protecting the military, none of the significant deficiencies of the clearinghouse process was fixed.

As an apparent compromise, our legislators added a new last-minute provision to the NDAA: Section 318 (page 179).  Basically, it authorizes the DoD to engage the National Weather Service (NWS) to do a study about the impact of wind turbines on weather radars and military operations.  It seems as though the intent here is to convey the impression that legislators are serious about our military safety and national security.

The devil is in the details.  From all appearances, this provision amounts to more delays.  Furthermore, nothing in the study will be about protecting the lives of pilots from wind turbine obstructions.  Nothing in the study will be about assessing the impact of wind turbines on navigation radar.  Nothing in the study will be about protecting the exceptionally important ROTHR facility or the military lives impacted by it.  Nothing in the study will be about evaluating the military consequences that turbine infrasound has.  Lastly, who knows what will happen when the study is finished?  In the meantime, our military and national security are being compromised.

What’s disappointing is that several good reports have already been generated on the study issue.  For example, here is a detailed NWS explanation of the problem.  For example, earlier this year, the NWS wrote a blistering report about how wind development in upstate N.Y. was compromising five different important NEXRAD radar facilities!  For example, Fort Drum (N.Y.) issued this official statement about wind energy interference.  What else do legislators need to know? They want more pertinent studies?  How about this, this, this, this, this, this, and this?  We already have solid studies.  We already know what the problems are and what some good solutions are.

The fundamental question is, why would any (even small) wind energy degradation of our military and national security be acceptable?  The apparent reason why legislators allow this is that the wind industry has done a superior job in deceiving the public that wind energy is a good thing (i.e., a net societal benefit).  However, the fact is that industrial wind energy is a technical, economic, and environmental net liability.  Once that understanding were fully absorbed, no reasonable legislator would agree to allow such a detriment to interfere with our military or our national security.

The bottom line here is that the protection of our military (and our national security) is being compromised by powerful special-interest lobbyists – who have undue influence on the government and our lives.  (For more info on that, see here.)

Please contact your federal legislator and insist that the clearinghouse wind energy siting rules be fully and properly fixed (via the NDAA or otherwise).

There’s a well known observation that close inspection of how legislation is made is like watching sausage being created.  In both cases, it’s unappetizing.

This process was on display recently with the machinations going on with the annual federal legislation for our military: the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  To understand the missed opportunity here, one needs to have a bit of background as to how we got to where we are today.

There have been several years of conflict between military operations (in the U.S. and elsewhere) and industrial wind energy.  There have been multiple types of conflicts, ranging from tall structures obstructing low-level flight paths to weather and navigation radar interferences to specialized cases (like deteriorating the important ROTHR facility and having infrasound compromise sensitive military equipment).

Initially, commanding officers (C.O.s) of affected military facilities voiced their objections, and in most cases, the proposed offending wind project was not approved.

This was unacceptable to the powerful wind industry, and some of its well connected allies.  Their plan was to get military base C.O.s out of the equation – while simultaneously giving the public the impression that military concerns were being fully addressed.  Their end result was to create the DoD Wind Siting Clearinghouse (2011, during the Obama administration), and it accomplished their two objectives.

The clearinghouse was all about expanding U.S. industrial wind energy – not protecting our military or our national security.  The rules and regulations for the Clearinghouse were written to assist the wind industry.  If that wasn’t enough, the initial people in charge of the clearinghouse were unabashed wind energy-promoters.  (Upon retiring, the first head was quickly hired as a wind energy lobbyist!)

Not surprisingly, numerous conflicts continue to exist between wind energy and our military.  The public has little awareness of these issues due to classified agreements, carefully enmeshed in bureaucratic double-speak.  The wind industry repeatedly trumpeted that everything is just peachy.  For those who didn’t bother to closely look behind the curtain, things may well have seemed to be OK.

Following the creation of the clearinghouse, and the dilution of federal protections, military defenders had to then look for some refuge by enacting state-level legislation.  The wind lobby has infiltrated state politics as well, so this was no easy solution.  That said, there have been some major victories – e.g., Texas passing S. 277 North Carolina passing a two-year statewide moratorium (see here, Part XIII) while the state investigated the wind energy military interference issue.

Ultimately, the defense of our military, and our national security, is a federal matter.  Toward that end, in early 2017, I sent to some key legislators an outline of this problem, which included three simple but effective NDAA solutions:

a) substitute a much better word for “mitigate” (like “remediate”), as the current term can easily result in no meaningful changes being made,

b) require that the developer pay for all costs incurred to accommodate them (presently, the taxpayer foots the bill for these accommodations – why?], and

c) broaden the allowable reasons for denying a permit – e.g., if the lives of military personnel are put at risk, a base maybe be affected by BRAC, etc.

The clearinghouse rules basically say that to reject a proposed wind project, there has to be substantial proof that it is an “unacceptable risk to national security.”  (How “national security” is defined has evolved, and is still subject to interpretation.)  This has to be then endorsed by the DoD secretary, etc.  In other words, the bar was purposefully set high so that it was almost impossible to turn down a proposed wind project.  (Note: Only one project out of over 15,000 submissions has been so terminated via the clearinghouse process over many years now.)

One of my three recommendations was to reasonably expand the allowable reasons to deny a wind project.  For example, a wind project shown to threaten the lives of our military personnel (by itself, irrespective of the “national security” part) would be an acceptable justification to deny a permit.  The 2018 NDAA (see section 311) improved the wording in this regard from the original 2011 legislation, but further clarification and more conditions are advisable.  (For example, military lives could be at risk due to the deterioration of the ROTHR signal from wind energy interference, and the current words do not seem to address that.)  This year, both the House and Senate NDAA bills approved improving the clearinghouse rules to add some words to that effect.  That was encouraging!

In later July 2018, this change was removed from the NDAA conference legislation (see page 1951 of 2019 NDAA)!  An experienced D.C. lobbyist told me he could not recall a single case, ever, where an important bill provision agreed to by both House and Senate was then eliminated from the final conference legislation.  The bottom line is that during all this research and negotiation about protecting the military, none of the significant deficiencies of the clearinghouse process was fixed.

As an apparent compromise, our legislators added a new last-minute provision to the NDAA: Section 318 (page 179).  Basically, it authorizes the DoD to engage the National Weather Service (NWS) to do a study about the impact of wind turbines on weather radars and military operations.  It seems as though the intent here is to convey the impression that legislators are serious about our military safety and national security.

The devil is in the details.  From all appearances, this provision amounts to more delays.  Furthermore, nothing in the study will be about protecting the lives of pilots from wind turbine obstructions.  Nothing in the study will be about assessing the impact of wind turbines on navigation radar.  Nothing in the study will be about protecting the exceptionally important ROTHR facility or the military lives impacted by it.  Nothing in the study will be about evaluating the military consequences that turbine infrasound has.  Lastly, who knows what will happen when the study is finished?  In the meantime, our military and national security are being compromised.

What’s disappointing is that several good reports have already been generated on the study issue.  For example, here is a detailed NWS explanation of the problem.  For example, earlier this year, the NWS wrote a blistering report about how wind development in upstate N.Y. was compromising five different important NEXRAD radar facilities!  For example, Fort Drum (N.Y.) issued this official statement about wind energy interference.  What else do legislators need to know? They want more pertinent studies?  How about this, this, this, this, this, this, and this?  We already have solid studies.  We already know what the problems are and what some good solutions are.

The fundamental question is, why would any (even small) wind energy degradation of our military and national security be acceptable?  The apparent reason why legislators allow this is that the wind industry has done a superior job in deceiving the public that wind energy is a good thing (i.e., a net societal benefit).  However, the fact is that industrial wind energy is a technical, economic, and environmental net liability.  Once that understanding were fully absorbed, no reasonable legislator would agree to allow such a detriment to interfere with our military or our national security.

The bottom line here is that the protection of our military (and our national security) is being compromised by powerful special-interest lobbyists – who have undue influence on the government and our lives.  (For more info on that, see here.)

Please contact your federal legislator and insist that the clearinghouse wind energy siting rules be fully and properly fixed (via the NDAA or otherwise).



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Pope Francis and Church Doctrine


The fake news media (FNM) lie, through omission and commission, all the time about anything that impacts their political agenda.  Hence, it’s not surprising that they’re distorting what Pope Francis said about the death penalty.

Pope Francis has not changed Church doctrine.  What he’s said does not mean that the Church can change its stance on the morality of the active gay lifestyle or divorce and remarriage.

This is far from the first time that the FNM have distorted what Pope Francis really said.  We’ve all heard a lot about what Pope Francis has said about our responsibility to preserve the environment for future generations, but how many of you have heard that Pope Francis wrote the following?

Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?

That’s right: the pope has said that being “pro-choice” is incompatible with being green.

Similarly, during the election, the FNM told us the pope said Trump isn’t a Christian.  However, when the actual transcript of what the pope said was made available, it was clear that Pope Francis had said no such thing.

To understand what Pope Francis actually said, it’s necessary to know what the Church has always taught about the death penalty.  For 2,000 years, the Church has said society has the right to protect itself from criminals by executing those criminals.  That is, the death penalty, unlike abortion, is not intrinsically and always immoral.

Saint Pope John Paul II said we should reject the death penalty not because it’s intrinsically immoral, which it isn’t, but because in doing so, we make a radical stand against the Culture of Death.  In our world, leftists call for killing the unborn, the elderly, and the differently abled because they are a “burden” on society.  What more blatant rejection of that utilitarian philosophy that treats people as commodities is there than saying we won’t kill even those who are monstrously evil?

Saint Pope John Paul II also said that given the ability of modern society to prevent criminals from killing again without executing them, through life sentences, etc., it’s rare that society needs to execute someone.

It’s important to note that that is what Catholics call a prudential judgment, not a statement of moral theology.  A prudential judgment is where people apply a moral principle to a real-world problem.  Saint Pope John Paul II said that in his personal opinion, modern society can protect itself, in most cases, without executing anyone.  That is assessing the state of the world, not defining what Christ taught about how we are to behave.

For example, Saint Pope John Paul II also taught that we need to have a preferential option for the poor, and the Church has always taught that we have an obligation to help the poor.  But it’s a matter of prudential judgment whether the best way to help the poor is through a massive, inefficient, and costly federal bureaucracy or by reducing taxes so individuals can give more to efficient private charities with the federal government running a minimal safety net, as Ronald Reagan called it, to ensure that no one starves.

On prudential matters, the Church teaches that good people can have different opinions and not be going against the Church so long as they are trying to achieve the moral objective that the Church promulgates.

While Catholics are obliged to listen to and think about what the pope says on matters of prudential judgment, they are not required to agree with him.  Contrary to what many Americans think, while the popes can make infallible statements on matters of faith and morals, they do not do so with any regularity, and they are not infallible on matters of prudential judgment.

What Pope Francis has said about the death penalty is a matter of prudential judgment.  He declared in his revision to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption[.]

Note that this is a prudential judgment.  It’s a statement about what works in the world, not about the relevant moral principle.

Even in the U.S., a prisoner incarcerated for life can be a threat to society.  The person may escape and kill again, or he may kill a guard or a fellow prisoner.  Even worse, he could be a gang leader who continues to order killings from his prison cell.

There is clearly room for discussion and investigation into just how safe life sentences are versus executions.  In the U.S., the pope could be right.  But just as clearly, when one looks at places like Somalia, Libya, and any number of other third-world countries with porous jails and corrupt judicial systems, it’s not obvious that those societies can protect themselves without the death penalty.

It’s obvious, then, that the pope hasn’t changed the Church’s doctrine that society has the right to execute criminals in order to defend the innocent.  Rather, he’s made the prudential judgment that in today’s world, protecting society no longer requires the death penalty.

He may be right, and he may be wrong, but he is not changing Church teaching because the Church’s moral teaching is that society has a right to protect itself.  It’s a matter of prudential judgment to apply that moral requirement to the real fallen world we live in.

When you see an article claiming that Pope Francis’s position about the death penalty means that the Church’s teachings on morality, such the morality of sex outside marriage between one man and one woman, can change, you now know why that’s simply not true.

Pope Francis has not said the death penalty is intrinsically evil or that society doesn’t have the right to protect itself from evil people, which are moral teachings of the Church.

Rather, he’s said that in his prudential judgment, society does not need to execute people to protect itself.  Furthermore, if execution is not needed, then it’s better to allow evil people to live so that they may repent and be saved.

This issue is just one more example of the fact that the FNM can’t be trusted on any issue.

You can read more of Tom’s rants at his blog, Conversations about the obvious, and feel free to follow him on Twitter.

The fake news media (FNM) lie, through omission and commission, all the time about anything that impacts their political agenda.  Hence, it’s not surprising that they’re distorting what Pope Francis said about the death penalty.

Pope Francis has not changed Church doctrine.  What he’s said does not mean that the Church can change its stance on the morality of the active gay lifestyle or divorce and remarriage.

This is far from the first time that the FNM have distorted what Pope Francis really said.  We’ve all heard a lot about what Pope Francis has said about our responsibility to preserve the environment for future generations, but how many of you have heard that Pope Francis wrote the following?

Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?

That’s right: the pope has said that being “pro-choice” is incompatible with being green.

Similarly, during the election, the FNM told us the pope said Trump isn’t a Christian.  However, when the actual transcript of what the pope said was made available, it was clear that Pope Francis had said no such thing.

To understand what Pope Francis actually said, it’s necessary to know what the Church has always taught about the death penalty.  For 2,000 years, the Church has said society has the right to protect itself from criminals by executing those criminals.  That is, the death penalty, unlike abortion, is not intrinsically and always immoral.

Saint Pope John Paul II said we should reject the death penalty not because it’s intrinsically immoral, which it isn’t, but because in doing so, we make a radical stand against the Culture of Death.  In our world, leftists call for killing the unborn, the elderly, and the differently abled because they are a “burden” on society.  What more blatant rejection of that utilitarian philosophy that treats people as commodities is there than saying we won’t kill even those who are monstrously evil?

Saint Pope John Paul II also said that given the ability of modern society to prevent criminals from killing again without executing them, through life sentences, etc., it’s rare that society needs to execute someone.

It’s important to note that that is what Catholics call a prudential judgment, not a statement of moral theology.  A prudential judgment is where people apply a moral principle to a real-world problem.  Saint Pope John Paul II said that in his personal opinion, modern society can protect itself, in most cases, without executing anyone.  That is assessing the state of the world, not defining what Christ taught about how we are to behave.

For example, Saint Pope John Paul II also taught that we need to have a preferential option for the poor, and the Church has always taught that we have an obligation to help the poor.  But it’s a matter of prudential judgment whether the best way to help the poor is through a massive, inefficient, and costly federal bureaucracy or by reducing taxes so individuals can give more to efficient private charities with the federal government running a minimal safety net, as Ronald Reagan called it, to ensure that no one starves.

On prudential matters, the Church teaches that good people can have different opinions and not be going against the Church so long as they are trying to achieve the moral objective that the Church promulgates.

While Catholics are obliged to listen to and think about what the pope says on matters of prudential judgment, they are not required to agree with him.  Contrary to what many Americans think, while the popes can make infallible statements on matters of faith and morals, they do not do so with any regularity, and they are not infallible on matters of prudential judgment.

What Pope Francis has said about the death penalty is a matter of prudential judgment.  He declared in his revision to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption[.]

Note that this is a prudential judgment.  It’s a statement about what works in the world, not about the relevant moral principle.

Even in the U.S., a prisoner incarcerated for life can be a threat to society.  The person may escape and kill again, or he may kill a guard or a fellow prisoner.  Even worse, he could be a gang leader who continues to order killings from his prison cell.

There is clearly room for discussion and investigation into just how safe life sentences are versus executions.  In the U.S., the pope could be right.  But just as clearly, when one looks at places like Somalia, Libya, and any number of other third-world countries with porous jails and corrupt judicial systems, it’s not obvious that those societies can protect themselves without the death penalty.

It’s obvious, then, that the pope hasn’t changed the Church’s doctrine that society has the right to execute criminals in order to defend the innocent.  Rather, he’s made the prudential judgment that in today’s world, protecting society no longer requires the death penalty.

He may be right, and he may be wrong, but he is not changing Church teaching because the Church’s moral teaching is that society has a right to protect itself.  It’s a matter of prudential judgment to apply that moral requirement to the real fallen world we live in.

When you see an article claiming that Pope Francis’s position about the death penalty means that the Church’s teachings on morality, such the morality of sex outside marriage between one man and one woman, can change, you now know why that’s simply not true.

Pope Francis has not said the death penalty is intrinsically evil or that society doesn’t have the right to protect itself from evil people, which are moral teachings of the Church.

Rather, he’s said that in his prudential judgment, society does not need to execute people to protect itself.  Furthermore, if execution is not needed, then it’s better to allow evil people to live so that they may repent and be saved.

This issue is just one more example of the fact that the FNM can’t be trusted on any issue.

You can read more of Tom’s rants at his blog, Conversations about the obvious, and feel free to follow him on Twitter.



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