1. “Towards a Christian Zionist Foreign Policy
Countries frequently define themselves by what they believe to be true. When reality and belief conflict that definition might well be referred to as a “national myth.” In the United States many believe that there exists a constitutionally mandated strict separation between religion and government. In practice, however, that separation has never really existed except insofar as Americans are free to practice whatever religion they choose or even none at all. The nation’s dominant religion Christianity has in fact shaped government policy in many important areas since the founding of the republic. Tax exemption for the churches would be one example of legislation favoring organized religion while in the nineteenth century the governments of a number of American states had religious clauses written into their constitutions and also collected special tithe taxes to support the locally dominant Christian denomination. The practice only ended with the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868.
Christian Zionism is not a religion per se, but rather a set of beliefs based on interpretations of specific parts of the Bible – notably the book of Revelations and parts of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Isaiah – that has made the return of the Jews to the Holy Land a precondition for the Second Coming of Christ. The belief that Israel is essential to the process has led to the fusion of Christianity with Zionism, hence the name of the movement.
The political significance of this viewpoint is enormous, meaning that a large block of Christians promotes a non-reality based foreign policy based on a controversial interpretation of the Bible that it embraces with considerable passion. Christian Zionism by definition consists of Christians (normally Protestant evangelicals) who believe that once the conditions are met for the second coming of Jesus Christ all true believers will be raptured up into heaven, though details of the sequence of events and timing are disputed. Many Christian Zionists believe that the Second Coming will happen soon, within one generation of the return of the Jews to the Holy Land, so they support the government and people of Israel completely and unconditionally in all that they do, to include fulfilling the prophecy through encouraging the expansion by force into all of historic Judea, which would include what remains of the Palestinian West Bank.
One other aspect of Christian Zionism is the belief by some that the end times, as they refer to it, will be preceded by world government (conveniently seen as the United Nations) and years of war and turmoil with a final enormous battle pitting the forces of good against the forces of evil in which all the evildoers will be destroyed and the righteous will be triumphant. The battle is supposed to take place at Armageddon, an undisclosed location in the Middle East that some believe is derived from the name of the ancient Hittite capital Megiddo.
Most evangelicals, even if they do not share all of the detailed CUFI agenda, favor Israel and have made Israel’s enemies their own. This focus on Israel coming from possibly as many as 60 million evangelicals is seen most powerfully in the Republican Party, which caters to their views, but it also has a certain appeal among Democrats. It is concentrated in a number of southern and border states, the Bible belt, which has meant that few congressmen from those states feel it to be in their interests to question what Israel does. In fact, they find it in their interests to do the contrary and frequently express loud and long their love for Israel, which may or may not be genuine. Some congressmen, including former Speaker of the House Dick Armey of Texas, embrace the full Armageddonist agenda, leading one to wonder why anyone would vote for a politician who fervently desires to bring about the end of the world.
This powerful block of pro-Israel sentiment provides a free pass to the illegal Israeli settlements and also to Tel Aviv’s brutal foreign policy vis-à-vis its neighbors, which has damaged other American interests in the region. It also means that any consideration of Arabs as aggrieved parties in the Middle Eastern fandango is seldom expressed, even though many of the Arabs being victimized by the Israel-centric policies are in fact Christian.
So the bottom line is that the Christian Zionist involvement in American politics on behalf of the Washington’s relationship with Israel does not serve any conceivable U.S. national interests unless one assumes that Israel and the United States are essentially the same polity, which is unsustainable. On the contrary, the Christian Zionist politicizing has been a major element in supporting the generally obtuse U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East region and vis-à-vis other Muslim countries, a policy that has contributed to at least four wars while making the world a more dangerous place for all Americans. Christian Zionist promoted foreign policy serves a particularly narrowly construed parochial interest that, ironically, is intended to do whatever it takes to bring about the end of the world, possibly a victory for gentlemen like Pastor John Hagee if his interpretation of the bible is correct, but undeniably a disaster for the rest of us. ”
2. “Can Internet Technology Destroy the Financial Monopoly?
Will bitcoin break up the big bank monopoly destroying our country?
It remains to be seen whether this is an advance of democratic self-determination. At this stage I would be optimistic, especially if Bitcoin’s proof-of-concept encourages others to develop distinct, communicating architectures that would create not just a digital currency but a digital currency exchange. There are some fascinating possibilities here:
We may soon not need banks to carry out monetary transactions or keep our money. The benefit in terms of near-zero transaction costs, nearly immediate confirmation of payment (are you still waiting 4 days for your cheque?), reduced credit risk, security and resilience would be immense.
Credit creation becomes an activity not linked to the transaction-handling franchise. It is also no longer underwritten by taxpayers. Inflationary behaviour requires public consent – not the taxpayer or voter public but the public that uses the particular currency.
Because all transactions are peer-to-peer, people can switch their currency holdings at will and costlessly. How much people trade, if at all, depends only their beliefs about the riskiness of the currencies on offer.
If peer-to-peer currency becomes mainstream, governments will have to decide whether to accept it and put the banks out of business, or refuse it and drive it underground. Either way, the relation of state and citizen in economic management is likely to be radically changed.
France has recently granted Bitcoin permission to act as a real bank.”