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The elections in Israel: What Christians need to know

An Israeli youth waves a national flag during a rally in the coastal city of Ashkelon showing solidarity with the country's armed forces, June 6, 2010 (Credit: Reuters/Amir Cohen)(Note: this essay is part of an ongoing series on national metanarratives and their significance for our culture and faith.)

David Brooks, my favorite New York Times columnist, began his March 20 essay:

National elections take place within a specific global moment.  In the 1990s, there was a presumption that we were living in an age of rapid progress.  Democracy was spreading.  Tyranny was receding.  Asia was booming.  The European Union was building.  Conflict in the Middle East was lessening.  The world was cumulatively heading toward greater pluralism, individualism, prosperity and freedom.

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The United States and China: it’s complicated

The People's Republic of China flag and the U.S. Stars and Stripes fly along Pennsylvania Avenue near the U.S. Capitol in Washington during Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit, January 18, 2011 (Credit: Reuters/Hyungwon Kang)On Tuesday, the tide turned against the United States when Germany, France, and Italy joined Great Britain by pledging to be founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Pleading with Europe's biggest economies to concentrate their efforts and direct their funds to the already established World Bank, the United States found itself on the losing side of this issue.

China deployed a different strategy in the genesis of this new organization. Instead of going to the consortium of economic powers known as The Group of 7, China approached countries individually to solidify this new venture.

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The Battle for Tikrit: war and peace

Shiite fighters known as Hashid Shaabi walk as smoke rises from an explosives-laden military vehicle driven by an Islamic State suicide bomber which exploded during an attack on the southern edge of Tikrit (Credit: Reuters/Thaier Al-Sudani)"They have two choices, surrender or death." Ameri's words give voice to the new mentality in the fight against ISIS in Tikrit. He represents the organization known as Badr, one of the largest Iranian-backed Shia militias in Iraq.  His words communicate a new way of thinking, wherein it is no longer sufficient to contain ISIS in the city, but destroy ISIS's presence in the city. After that, the journey moves from Tikrit to the pivotal city of Mosul.

The battle for Tikrit, which is a largely Sunni territory, has brought together the minority Sunnis, Iraq's Shi'ite-led government military forces, and Iranian military advisors. This city is seen as a crucial barometer for future military operations in Iraq. Bringing together diverse military forces to fight a common enemy, ISIS, they are putting aside differences temporarily to hopefully extinguish ISIS permanently from the region.

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