Lessons from Rev. Moon’s Trip to Pyongyang 25 Years Ago

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By Mark P. Barry

mark-barryThis week marks the 25th anniversary of Reverend and Mrs. Moon’s trip to North Korea from Nov. 30 to Dec. 6, 1991. The key principle and motivation he followed in his visit to Pyongyang and meeting with the late President Kim Il Sung is that war must never again erupt on the Korean peninsula. It would be wise for policymakers in the U.S., South Korea and Japan to be reminded of that lesson today.

For Koreans old enough to remember the devastation of the Korean War, the importance of avoiding a new Korean conflict is very understandable. In fact, at the height of the original North Korean nuclear crisis in June 1994, when President Clinton was ready to dispatch advanced fighters and bombers plus 10,000 American troop reinforcements to South Korea, the person who stopped him was ROK President Kim Young Sam. His memories of the enormous tragedies of the Korean War were quite vivid (including the loss of his mother). The South Korean leader reflected that no major power, even an irreplaceable ally, can be permitted to provoke another outbreak of war on the Korean peninsula.

Today, despite all the rhetoric about North Korea’s five nuclear tests, numerous missile tests and general bellicosity, the principle of finding a peaceful solution is as relevant as in 1991. To continue on the path of increasing UN and bilateral sanctions, and even entertain talk of preemptive strikes against DPRK nuclear facilities, is a formula that will fail to get the North to back down or cooperate. Rather it increases the chances of escalation in which even a small action might be misconstrued and inadvertently trigger full-blown hostilities.

Twenty-five years ago, Rev. Moon demonstrated an approach towards a resolution of the North Korean issue in which all other parties would avoid backing the North into a corner where there would be no other option for it but resort to violence.

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God and Politics

By Scott Simonds

SSimonds_1The old adage that polite conversation should avoid politics and religion to maintain friendly relationships has never proven to be truer than during this election season.  Rather than civil discourse about the issues of the day and better approaches to addressing them, the election has become a mudslinging contest over which candidate has the most baggage and would be most disastrous in office.

Worse yet, anybody who speaks on behalf of, or against, one of the candidates is branded a bigot, a misogynist, a hog at the public trough, un-American, a fool, atheistic, even satanic by guilt through association.  Friends and relatives easily get caught up in the fray and even religious communities, Unificationism included, have become deeply divided.

As tempting as it is to base a decision on who has the better character in this election, no candidate rises to the level of a Washington, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt or Reagan.  At this crossroads in the American narrative, this crucial moment of decision, it behooves us to look at contemporary issues in a very broad historical context — that is, a providential context, past, present and future. The theme of the ever progressing nature of God’s providence is expressed in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (KJV):

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;…
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

The political pendulum swings back and forth.

Government grew, during the Great Depression and World War II, for example.  And it receded, during the 1990s under the Republican Congress.  Often, the economy grew together with government expansion.  Automobile and airplane manufacturers exploded in the aftermath of the military buildup of the Second World War.

Although government grew after the Depression and during the war, so did private industry.

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Unificationists in the Voting Booth

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By Joshua Hardman

hardmanThe 2016 presidential election is just six weeks away, and American Unificationists appear evenly split between the nominees of the two major political parties, with many believing they must decide between two highly imperfect choices. In a survey of 208 Unificationists I conducted in March, only 17% of respondents said Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump was their first choice.

Respondents were asked to rank their number one and two choices for the presidency from the five remaining major party candidates: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and Donald Trump. The survey also included questions presenting respondents with general election hypotheticals.

Survey respondents were first procured by posting a message on the Facebook group “UC House and Travel Network,” a platform used by thousands of people around the world. I then had the help of pastors in major communities who made announcements and/or put a link to the survey in their community emails. Most respondents were from the East Coast, California and the Midwest.

This survey is not a perfect sample of the voting Unificationist population, and it is important to keep in mind that much has happened since it was conducted. The survey, therefore, is best taken as a snapshot in time, while its predictive value for the general election is limited.

With this in mind, I will mainly focus on the questions about the primary elections. Every state has different rules about who can vote in a party primary, complicating any nationwide analysis. The purpose of the survey, however, was to gauge voters’ inclinations rather than how they would, or could, actually vote.

Fifty percent of respondents identified as Republicans, 25% as independents, 16% were Democrats, 8% had yet to register to vote, and less than 1% were registered with a third party.

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A European Earthquake of Epic Proportions

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By Graham Simon

gs-1308On June 23, Britain held a referendum in which the public voted whether to remain part of the European Union (EU) or leave. While 48.1% chose to stay, 51.9% chose to leave.

The result reflected deep-seated frustrations within the British people, which had built up over an extended period of time, that neither UK politicians nor the leaders of the EU had fully recognised or made any meaningful attempt to address.

To grasp the truly momentous significance of this decision to leave the EU and its implications for Britain, Europe and the rest of the world requires some understanding of the political, economic and social history of Europe since the 1950s.

Following the Second World War, there was a resolve among mainland European leaders, particularly the French and Germans, not to allow the rivalries that had devastated the continent over the previous decades to occur again. In 1957, six nations — France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg — signed the Treaty of Rome with the aim of creating a single economic market for the free movement of goods and services, capital and labour.

The economic union known as the European Economic Community (EEC) came into force ten years later in 1967. In 1973, Britain joined the club along with Denmark and Ireland. By 1986, the nine had become the twelve, bringing in Greece, Spain and Portugal, and in 1995, they were joined by Austria, Finland and Sweden.

In 1991, with the passage of the Maastricht Treaty, the EEC dropped the word “economic” from its name and soon thereafter became commonly known as the European Union. The Maastricht Treaty also heralded the formation of a common currency bloc, with member countries adopting a single currency, the euro. Britain opted out and kept its own currency, sterling.

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The Best Policy Ideas of the 2016 Presidential Candidates

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By Gordon Anderson

GordonThe 2016 Presidential Election has raised a number of good policy ideas for the improvement of American society and government. Unfortunately, no single candidate endorses all of the best ideas, and, more unfortunately, every candidate who has good ideas seems to have more bad ones. Part of the reason is the development of a system that encourages candidates to be loyal to political parties and large campaign contributors rather than to middle-class citizens and the nation as a whole.

In my view, the best candidate would be one who supported all of these policies:

  • Bernie Sanders’ revival of the Glass-Stegall Act
  • Hillary Clinton’s call to overturn the Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision
  • Rand Paul’s foreign policy that is against U.S.-imposed regime change
  • Donald Trump’s middle-class tax policy
  • Carly Fiorina’s reforms of government bureaucracy

None of these policies are promoted by the establishment, which is why there is increased criticism of existing party platforms and why “outsiders” are polling so well with voters. Even most candidates that seek party endorsement are promising to reform the system.

The explanations for the value of my list of the best policies I describe below are adapted from a longer post on my blog, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, Version 4.0, which includes further critique and commentary on the candidates and their policies. I have not discussed all candidates, only selected the most constructive policies being promoted.

Preparation to vote knowledgeably is an important role of the citizen in a democracy, and I encourage everyone to read through all the policy positions on candidates’ websites before their vote. A responsible voter will compare the strengths and weaknesses of a candidate in all areas of governance, and not just find agreement with a candidate’s rhetoric on a single issue.

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The Mission Butterfly of Early Christianity and the Nature of Unificationism

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By Rohan Stefan Nandkisore

EditorLooking at history, we see that the rise of democratic societies — some of which even base their constitutions on the ideology of Jesus Christ — has brought about freedom on a scale never before experienced. Yet, we also witness an erosion of those highly treasured values.

Countless people, mainly Christians, died to attain these values that we take for granted today; this includes underground missionaries of the Unification Church in the former Soviet Union and East European countries, whose sacrificial missions sometimes led to imprisonment and even death, and was referred to as “mission butterfly.”

We need to revitalize these virtues as expressed in Reverend Moon’s peace messages in order to not lose them. As a journalist, I discovered interesting aspects of early Christianity that offer valuable lessons from the past.

There is a basilica in Fulda, Germany, which contains the relics of Boniface, given the honorable title “Bishop of the Germans.” I was wondering for a long time how come a missionary from Wessex (England) Christianized the German lands in the 7th century? Geographically, Britain is much further from Rome and the Mediterranean than Germany.

The answer to this riddle dates back to the times of Emperor Augustus, 9 A.D., during the childhood of Jesus. Augustus mourning “Varus, Varus, give back my legions” is still remembered today. Arminius, a Cherusk, caused the annihilation of three Roman legions in the Teutoburger forest. Subsequently, the Romans withdrew from large areas of German lands and never returned. As a result, it did not become Christianized, but Britain did after it came under the control of the Roman Empire at least until the Hadrian fortress fell.

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“Bridge of Spies” and Teachable Moments

By Kathy Winings

kathy-winings-2I was just a small child when the Berlin Wall and Cold War took center stage in the news. Though my parents did not speak of such things while I was growing up, my father did talk about the “Red Scare” and “those Communists.” Of course, I would not understand what that meant until I was much older. I could not even imagine the level of fear that many people must have felt during this period of American history with its talk of spies and counterespionage.

I do remember hearing about a pilot, Francis Gary Powers, who was shot down and captured by the Russians. But I did not know the full story and had no idea of the maelstrom that surrounded this episode in history – at least not until I saw “Bridge of Spies.”

Director Steven Spielberg, together with writers Matt Charman, Ethan and Joel Coen, has captured the intense feelings of the Cold War era and the issues surrounding the trial of a real-life Russian spy, an American U2 spy plane pilot, and an American student caught on the wrong side of the Berlin Wall in his latest movie.

This excellent film tells the story of a successful Brooklyn, NY, insurance attorney, James B. Donovan (played by Tom Hanks), who is asked by the U.S. government to defend captured Soviet spy Rudolf Abel, who was tried for espionage in 1957. In the minds of many Americans, Abel is the personification of all that was evil in the Soviet regime. In this post-atomic bomb era of fear, the average American citizen is certain their government will do the right thing and simply sentence Abel to death, teaching the Russians a lesson they would never forget.

However, the American government sees it differently. As a potential powder keg, it is believed Abel should receive the best defense possible, or at least have the appearance of a strong defense to guard against any retaliation from Russia. What the government does not account for is Donovan’s strong sense of right and wrong. Though it is a foregone conclusion Abel will be found guilty, Donovan has the foresight to convince the presiding judge to sentence Abel to prison rather than condemn him to death.

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Book Review: “The Koreans: Who They Are, What They Want, Where Their Future Lies”

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by Mark P. Barry

Mark Barry Photo 2The Koreans: Who They Are, What They Want, Where Their Future Lies, rev. ed., by Michael Breen, New York: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Griffin, 2004. Adapted from the Journal of Unification Studies, vol. VI, 2004-2005, pp. 165-68.

Although originally targeted for foreign business readers, Michael Breen’s The Koreans has emerged as a modern-day classic on the Korean character and culture. It is often recommended by Korean studies scholars, alongside such earlier general works as the late Donald S. Macdonald’s Koreans: Contemporary Politics and Society (now in its third edition, revised by Donald Clark). In its 1999 Korean translation from the original 1998 UK edition, The Koreans rocketed to the top ten list of Korea’s bestsellers, revealing Koreans’ own enthusiasm to understand themselves from an outsider’s perspective. The U.S. hardcover edition also appeared in 1999, and the 2004 paperback edition reviewed here is slightly revised with a new chapter on events since 2000.

Breen, a British journalist, originally went to South Korea as The Washington Times’ Seoul correspondent. He ended up living there, during which time he also served for three years as president of the Seoul Foreign Correspondents Club, and wrote for The Guardian and The Times of London. He later became managing director of the Seoul office of public relations firm Merit/Burson-Marsteller, and now runs his own company, Insight Communications Consultants.

Unificationists will remember him authoring in 1997 the meticulously researched Sun Myung Moon: The Early Years, 1920-53, based on in-depth interviews with early followers of Reverend Moon. No book has appeared in English since to rival it.

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The Long Trek Home: Resolving the European Refugee Crisis

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by Kathy Winings

kathy-winings-2Thirty thousand, 12,000, 21,000, 3,000, 150,000, 442,000. . . These are just some of the refugee numbers connected with the current humanitarian crisis facing Europe. 30,000 – the number of refugees who have entered Croatia. 12,000 – the number of migrants who have entered Slovenia. 21,000 – the number who have been accepted by Sweden.  3,000 – the number who have drowned at sea while attempting to cross into Europe. 150,000 – the number who made it to Greece. The last number, 442,000 – the number of refugees who have arrived in Europe by boat.

Thousands are continuing to cross borders into Europe on a daily basis. Germany expects 800,000 migrants to reach its borders by year’s end. Each number represents a hope,  dream and vision for a better life, one safe from physical and emotional violence.  Even the United States is considering raising its annual ceiling of 70,000, the total number of refugees it accepts on an annual basis, to 85,000 in 2016 and 100,000 in 2017.  But that is a drop in the bucket compared with the vast numbers of men, women and children fleeing to Europe from Syria, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Eritrea, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere for a better life.

This is being hailed as a “humanitarian crisis of epic proportions.” What does it represent? What are the issues involved? Can it be effectively resolved? We have seen mass migrations before; what makes this one different?

First, this migration is occurring in the 21st century. It means more communication is taking place among the migrants by cellphones. As families and groups of migrants move, they are in constant contact with those who have gone before them, learning where to go, what to avoid and what to expect on the road ahead of them. Digital technology also gives them access to GPS, web maps and news.

Second, the reasons why people are migrating are diverse. Previous migrations were often defined by major or cataclysmic events such as war, devastating natural disasters or religious/cultural upheavals. This resulted in mass migrations defined by singular issues.

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