Bibi Netanyahu’s Lament

October 16, 2014

ISIS and Hamas are fruit from the same poisoned tree.” – Netanyahu at the UN

Benjamin Netanyahu is one of a kind among seasoned politicians. He doesn’t just think outside of the box, the Israeli prime minister makes boxes for men like Barack Hussein Obama. Take the perennial impasse in the Middle East, the so-called Palestinian problem. The atmospherics alone tell the story. Netanyahu has been to America a dozen or more times since Obama came to office. In that same period, the American president has been to Israel once and even then reluctantly.

The Israeli PM addresses the American president as ‘Mister President,’ Obama addresses the Israeli PM as ‘Bibi,’ a diminutive of Benjamin. In this, Barack Obama comes across as petty and immature. Surely, there’s no love lost between the two, their relationship is a little like an experienced adult trying to reason with an insecure adolescent.

My way or the highway seems to be Obama’s petulant premise for any domestic negotiation. In contrast, he seems to think the international world of Muslim pathology is win/win game. Foreign policy naiveté might be an attempt to channel the wisdom urban philosophers like Rodney King, “Can’t we just get along?”

Every time that the Israeli prime minister comes to Washington, he reminds the world, and Diaspora supporters, that Israel alone has been at the front in the fight against Islamic terror for 60 years or more. In contrast, the Mediterranean littoral is now littered with the debris of recent American failure, failures among putative Arab and Muslim “allies” of the Obama administration.

In all of this, the American president thinks he is on the right side of history. He likes to whistle in the dark too, telling the American people that they are safer since his national security team came to town. Netanyahu sees the world as it is, the best that might be said of Obama is that he is naïve, frightened, confused – or in way over his head.

Israel is a sovereign successful nation, a rich culture that predates toxic Islamic monocultural illusions by millennia. Indeed, tiny Israel and the Diaspora have made more artistic, scientific, and cultural contributions to humanity in 60 years than the Ummah has made in 500 years. Unlike Arabs, Ottomans and their historical subjects, Jews never cultivated empire – political, religious, or military imperialism.

Calling parts of the traditional Jewish homeland “occupied” territories is a little like calling New Mexico, California, or Scotland occupied. Land lost in war is often lost to history and the enemy. Israel has been more than generous, by any modern standard, with lands returned to ungrateful Arab neighbors who were defeated in existential wars. For Israel, the alternative to military victory is always extinction.

The Arab population within Israel lives better than Muslims in most any state with an Islamic majority. Indeed, most Arab countries are judenfrie by fiat and that includes the lands occupied by Fatah and Hamas. When the subject is Jews, the progressive West and the Islamic East see tolerance as a one-way street. Indeed, anti-Semitism is the bond that now unites the liberal West and theocratic East, a kind of macabre moral suicide pact.

Israel cannot trust fractious Palestine any more than Arabs trust Palestinians.

Any examination of the history of so-called Palestinians in states bordering Israel tells the tale of Arab duplicity. Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt have been ruthless in suppressing Palestinian militants. Indeed, you might argue that, until the advent of al Qaeda, most Muslim autocrats were happy to have the jihad focused on Israel.  Arabia, especially, was happy to let the Palestine chimera fester in the Holy Land.

Arabs care about Palestinian territorial claims in the Levant about as much as New Yorkers might care about Algonquian claims to Manhattan. For too many Muslims, Palestine is seen as the permanent drip torture that erodes the state of Israel.

Alas, the fascist wolf always goes for the weak and lame. Hence, those plump complacent Arab dictators who supported Fatah, Black September, the PLO, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and predictable grandchildren like ISIS, are now surrounded by Islamist carnivores.  You might buy a wolf, but he will never be housebroken.

For once, Joe Biden was correct when he recently called the Turks on similar double dealing in Syria and Iraq. ISIS is a created problem, a descendant of all the other “nefarious characters” that rampage globally in the name of religious war these days.  Biden conveniently failed to mention America, Europe, and Arabia as early co-sponsors of ISIS in the Levant. ISIS is simply another mutation of the global Islamic  jihad.

Bibi Netanyahu is too diplomatic to use a canine metaphor to describe metastasizing Islamic terror. Dogs are haram for Muslims. At the UN  on 29 September he instead compared religious terror to a tree; indeed, he used a Christian homily, a selection from the New Testament, Mathew 7:18.

Say nothing else about the Israeli prime minister, you would have to admit this guy knows how to work a room.

The prime minister’s simile was creatively ambiguous. Examples of bad fruit, Hamas and ISIS, are specified; however, we are left to wonder whether the “poisoned tree” is Islam, Muslims, or just the twisted beards who would behead infidels, apostates, and oil autocrats.

Nonetheless, beneath Netanyahu’s UN lament lay some new thinking on a new approach to the Palestine pot hole and the global jihad; withal, a new direction for Israel and the West.

Without equivocation, the Israeli prime minister calls Islamism a global fight, a threat to Arab regimes as well as the Ummah at large. He puts the burden for a Palestine solution where it belongs, with the Arab nation. Concurrently, he isolates Iran’s nuclear ambition as a threat to Sunni Islam and Israel. Netanyahu suggests that Shia and Sunni Islamists are branches of the same “poisoned tree.”

Heretofore, Israel and America have tended to atomize the threat, attempting to deal with individual manifestations while ignoring the larger phenomenon. A fractured strategy is manifest in whack-a-mole tactics where each terror group is treated as a local problem.

Yesterday it’s the West Bank, today it’s Gaza. Yesterday it’s Fatah, today it’s al Qaeda and Hamas, and tomorrow it’s ISIS. The anthology of firefights and factions is open-ended and global.

Trying to solve the Palestinian problem by talking to Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas is a little like trying to contain global terror by talking to the Taliban’s semi-literate Mullah Omar. Even if success could be had with one faction, little is done to solve the universal problem.

Without saying so much in so many words, Benjamin Netanyahu seems to be suggesting that Israel ought to be negotiating directly with Riyadh and Cairo, indeed the Arab League, not Ramallah.  By implication, we might also suggest that America and the EU ought to bypass the UN and negotiate directly with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). If the OIC aspires to speak for the global Ummah, the time has come to speak with one voice.

Islamism is now a universal problem, the defeat of same requires a global solution. And if any boots are required on the ground, they need to be on Muslim feet. And the West doesn’t need to offer too many incentives, as Netanyahu says, for collective Muslim action. Without a new strategy or plan, the oft celebrated “moderate” Islamic majority will be devoured in short order by the beasts of Muslim hell. Ins’allah!


This essay appeared previously in the American Thinker and the Iconoclast




Fear, Inertia, and Islam

October 10, 2014

“Veritas odit moras” – Seneca

The conventional wisdom about strategic inertia, doing too little or nothing, is that whatever might be done might make things worse. No proof is ever offered for such reasoning because none ever exists. The future is unknowable.

A forecast or estimate is not a prophecy, and both have shaky legs. Most deductive reasoning proceeds from asserted conclusions or lame assumptions in any case. The conventional wisdom, or beaten path, is often more convenient than it is wise.

Fear of consequence inspires inaction or timidity. Predators and aggressors thrive on panic, indecision, and weakness. The consequences of fear are well known. The associated behavioral evidence is well understood too.

Vertebrates, including humans, usually react to threats one of four ways: fight, flight, freeze, or faint. Autonomic experts now include related responses like arousal and acute or prolonged stress.

Although there seem to be six possible visceral responses to threat, one or more in combination is likely – and fight might be the most unlikely for modern men. You could argue that a typical human response to fear or threat is a series of half measures – some amalgam of indecisiveness that often confuses friend and foe alike.

The Islamist threat, terror and associated small wars, might be a case study of contemporary collective inertia, decades of half measures in the West where candid analysis and common sense policies are hostage to dread, the unreasonable fear that analytical truth or decisive political/military action will make matters worse.

Boko Haram, the Muslim slave traders of East Africa, is an example. Their depredations are euphemized as “child trafficking.” These Sunni Islamists were exempt from a “terrorist” designation for years until their atrocities went wholesale, seizing an entire girl’s school.

Government and academic analyses of the Egyptian based Muslim Brotherhood (al Ikhwan) suffered from the same immunities. Brotherhood affiliates and derivatives now girdle the globe.  Some peddle rhetorical imperialism while others (like al Qaeda and Hamas) are blatantly kinetic. Terror is a function of propaganda, the knife, the bomb – and passive victims.

Threat inflation is a no-lose hedge, underestimates can be fatal.

The Egyptian and Libyan examples are illustrative. Western Media, Washington, and Brussels tried to put lipstick on the Brotherhood pig (nee Arab Spring). A military coup was necessary to restore civility in Cairo. Any Janissary is preferable to every theocracy.

In Libya, a failed state was the price of regime change. Gadhafi doesn’t look so bad in retrospect. Europe and America now pay lip service to democracy in Arabia for all the wrong reasons.

Boko Haram and al Ikhwan are but two of the dozens of Sunni Islamist groups that are treated with deference or kid gloves. Now comes the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The American Commander-in-Chief (CINC) prefers to call the “new” threat ISIL, the Islamic State in the Levant.

Clearly the White House, or John Brennan at CIA, is rebranding another Islamist terror splinter to mask the horrid truth about the latest mutation of Islam. Renaming ISIS also serves to fudge serial military folly and failure in Iraq and Syria. Oval Office spin is an easy sell to a Facebook or Twitter generation that might think the Levant is a hookah bar in Soho.

Indeed, the American air and ground war has now been expanded in Iraq and Syria by fiat, another knee-jerk response to Media, not moral outrage. (Is it possible to stop the “boots on the ground” nonsense? American boots never left Iraq – or Syria, if surrogates and mercenaries matter.)  Nevertheless, if ISIS had not posted beheadings on the internet, one wonders whether the White House or the Pentagon would have done anything differently.

The arts of policy, strategy, and tactics are communal human attempts to anticipate threats and develop political/military options that respond to or eliminate threat. If Washington and Brussels can be said to have any strategy, it is autonomic, reactive only to the moment, the atrocity or regime du jour.

The odd-couple coalition now arrayed against ISIS says all that needs to be said about the absurdity of what passes for foreign/military policy today. Five Arab autocrats are led by a liberal American administration, “flying” against a hirsute nation of Muslim madmen outfitted with the latest American armored weapons! Call it Clinton redux, war from 10,000 feet, two miles too far.

The propaganda war is even more confused than the shooting war. On the one hand the president laments that 80 some odd countries, including America, are sending volunteers to ISIS. Without missing a beat, he holds up an Arab coalition of ‘five’ weak, anti-ISIS autocracies as a solution. A few NATO procrastinators might also join the airshow too. Do the math!

The administration also fails to mention that the American taxpayer has been financing, training, and equipping the very Sunni terrorists who are now beheading Americans. So-called Muslim allies in Syria/Iraq morphed into ISIS just as surely as the mujahedeen morphed into the Taliban in South Asia.  When you consider precedents like Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, and Libya; the Obama national security team seems to have a negative learning curve when the subject is blowback.

An administration that cannot, or will not, define the threat candidly is unlikely to be able to separate friend from foe. Yes, a phenomenon like imperial religious fascism is complicated and sensitive, but it is made more so by apologetics and rationalizations proffered in the name of misguided notions of tolerance.

Terror is often justified as tribal vendetta, a kind an understandable reaction to real or imagined injustice. Such ethical or legal arguments, like Orientalism, drive a stake through the heart of any moral equivalence for Islam. Revenge reduces the Islamist, and their culture, to a lowest moral/legal plane, a universe where true justice and civility is arbitrary if not impossible.

By any moral standard, contemporary Islam is both a growing problem and the unlikely solution. Neither tolerance nor justice is a growth sector in the Ummah. Washington and Brussels seem ready to bleed to death in slow motion before the clear evidence of this threat is accepted. The menace of theocracy is the mimber not the marketplace.

Alas for the moment, there is no plan, no strategic goals, and no consistent policies that might lead to long-term success for the West or reform in the East. Indeed, by his own admission, the American commander-in-chief still insists that we are not at war with a global theocratic civilization. Barak Hussein Obama seeks solutions where there are no “no victors and no vanquished.”

Where victory is off the table, half-measures become the menu. Inertia is always served lukewarm. When Benjamin Netanyahu comes to the UN and tells the world that ISIS and Hamas are “fruit of the same poisonous tree,” he tells a truth that the West does not want to hear.

The threat from the Ummah is atomized in Brussels and Washington because it is more convenient to treat terrorism and religious jihad, wherever it appears, as local “criminal” phenomena with local motives. Acknowledging Muslim Wars as a global, albeit decentralized, existential threat would force the West to admit that Huntington was correct. The clash of civilizations is no longer a speculation. The conflict within and without has been metastasizing globally for 50 years or more.

And civilization is not winning. ISIS is just one more symptom of religious irredentism and cultural decay in the Muslim world, one sixth of the world’s population.  For five decades now, the West retreats fearfully on most fronts behind a smoke screen of euphemism and apology.

Like all illusions of monoculture, Islamism is a greater threat to adherents than it is to infidels or apostates. Muslim “moderates” in such a struggle are mythical, largely an irrelevant, passive, and frightened demographic. If you staged a cage match between a moderate and a fanatic, what are the odds that any smart money picks the moderate?

There are more than a few realists who see conflict as a biological and cultural norm. Darwin, for one, makes a very convincing argument that biological evolution is, in the end, a zero-sum game. Samuel Huntington made a parallel argument for human social or cultural forces, “The fault lines of civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.” Earlier, Douglas MacArthur dispensed similar wisdom about warfare, “There is no substitute for victory.”

Only hubris and fear allow men, or social democracies, to believe that political institutions, especially republics, are now somehow exempt from common sense and the self-evident axioms of military conflict.

If history, or reality for that matter, provides any precedents, war is the human condition past, present, and likely future. And conflict is not immoral by any scientific or ethical standard, nor is it sufficient. But it is often necessary. When war is necessary, picking the right side matters. Historical success, progress, and tolerant cultures are made possible by victors, not victims.

At the moment, the western democracies are both for and against Islam, at once defending the cultural and moral equivalence of Mohammed, the Koran, and Islam and at the same time killing or jailing the imperial Islamic vanguard in the name of saving the Ummah from itself. Playing two ends against the middle in a religious war isn’t strategy; it’s a dangerous game, a kind of Russian roulette.

Such absurdities might mystify even Kafka.


This essay appeared in the October Small Wars Journal, the online forum for Special Forces/Special operations.



Madam Secretary, Front Running for Hillary

October 9, 2014

Long gone are the days when a line might be drawn between art and politics. Today you might argue that that the performing arts, especially, have become a kind of propaganda arm for a promiscuous worldview. The issue isn’t just literal pornography, but the kind of artistic license that lowers all cultural bars.

Manipulation is at the heart of hard sell, the belief that a bovine audience will be too stupid to recognize manipulation. There’s more than a grain of truth here. The rise of social networks, reality cartoons on television, and feature length movies based on comic book characters, are three of the more obvious symptoms. The new destination resort is perennial childhood.

The Simpsons and South Park are examples; both are wildly popular and financially successful by any measure. Both share a common formula. The children are loud, rude, and obnoxious and the adults are passive, stupid, and clueless. These cartoons don’t celebrate youth so much as they applaud infantile behavior. Themes are some variety of instant gratification and the dialogue is often tasteless.

If a vulgar female Assistant Secretary of State can throw the “F” bomb at European allies in the real world, who are we to quibble with how children talk to their parents on television.

And it’s not like youngsters change the world in the name of progress in South Park. Dumbing it down in the name of childish satire or a cheap laugh is more like it. Bart Simpson captures the millennial spirit with bumper sticker/tee shirt wisdom, “Underachiever and proud of it!”

At this point you can stop wondering why a high school diploma or a college degree means less and less in the new century. A piece of paper is education today in the same sense that a tattoo is body “art.”

Indeed, customer surveys confirm Bart’s new urban ethic. The average American adult, women especially, will spend as much as a third of the waking day in front of a television. Bimbo TV targets the ladies because women make most purchasing decisions by a wide margin.  Daytime TV is a chat, cartoon, and soap opera wasteland that caters to women who shop too much and think too little. With such home schooling, children are bred for consumption and instant gratification.

The bimbo tube has become the default babysitter too. When you add phone, laptop, and cinema time; you have to wonder how any household ever gets clean knickers or homemade cookies in the 21st Century.

With Shakespeare, it’s not hard to believe that the performing arts held a mirror up to life. With Hollywood, the looking glass is a one-way mirror. With the assistance of opinion makers like Nielsen and NSA, the 21st Century ethos seems to be a matter of catering to low brows and seining wants at the expense of needs. Vulgarity is part of that art.

The American proletariat doesn’t value manners, privacy, or information as much as entertainment anyway.  Alas, a culture based on selfishness is a society of volunteer victims. Government, Hollywood, and the oligarchs are not about to miss a historic opportunity to abuse a public trust. “Meta data” is another euphemism for manipulation – and very big money.

Control is the wizard behind every hand-held device, every laptop, every flat screen, and every silver screen. And if ‘trending” tells us anything, the moguls of manipulation are a new class of millennial role models.

Manipulation and entertainment are now well matched in Hollywood. The latest entry on the bimbo TV menu is Madam Secretary (CBS) a primetimesoap opera’ where Tea Leoni plays a spook, cum academic, who is appointed Secretary of State by a venal male president who is looking for a cookie pusher who “thinks outside the box.”  If you saw any episode of Madam and thought of Hillary, you already have the message. You heard Barbara Hall’s dog whistle.

Indeed, if you are having a hot flash of déjà vu also, you are part of the Nielsen demographic that stays on message. You get it!

Recall that before the last presidential election, Columbia Pictures optioned  Zero Dark Thirty, another homage to a lady spook who made the world safe from terror midst a gaggle of inept male Intelligence drones. Never mind that, in the real world, an all-male special operations crew actually took the all the risks.

The Oval Office in those days was taking bows for ending terror as we know it with the assassination of Osama bin Laden, the alleged “end” of al Qaeda. Now comes Tia Leone, as Secretary of State, about to smite the likes of similar “nefarious characters,” to use a Clapperism,  before another national election. Not a happy coincidence methinks!

Look at the Madame Secretary story line to date. In Episode Two, the embassy in ‘Yemen’ is attacked by the usual suspects. The ambassador asks for security assistance. White House and the Foggy Bottom nabobs do not want to provoke the Muslim locals. Request denied!

Madam Secretary goes off the reservation and hires mercenaries (think Blackwater). The hired guns rescue the ambassador. Oval Office creeps and State Department sissies have to eat crow. Madam establishes herself as a tough broad midst an ocean of flaccid Beltway girly men.

Benghazi, of the real world, is mentioned in passing in case you didn’t get the analogy. With the Hollywood version of embassy assault, the female protagonist is at once a babe – brave, decisive, and successful too.

Real events, alas the obvious Libyan fiasco, saw an evasive Secretary of State and a dithering President who could not and/or did not make a timely decision – or take post facto responsibility for failure. The US ambassador to Libya and staff were abandoned and subsequently slaughtered in the real world. The best explanation that Hillary Rodham Clinton could muster at the time was, “What does it matter?”

Of course, this transparent rewriting of history in Madam Secretary isn’t Ms. Leoni’s fault. Tea is everything that Mrs. Clinton is not: an attractive, believable actress with great legs and good hair. And Leoni is very accomplished at what she does in the working world of Hollywood.

Sexist you say? Alas, television and politics are visual mediums.

Unlike Hillary Clinton, Tea Leoni looks the part – and she is excellent theater too. Unfortunately, Hollywood is using Leoni to airbrush a dowdy Clinton.

Those who believe that looks shouldn’t be part of the political discussion might want to remind Mrs. Clinton that her mono-couture choice of frumpy pants suits just shouts “legs,” an asset she would have us ignore. For the most part, pant suits on an aging lady pol is the male equivalent of a tent shirt on a chunky New Jersey Governor. If you’re in the public eye, appearance matters, no matter the sex.

Madam Secretary, like Zero Dark Thirty, is getting good reviews at just the right time; months before a national congressional election and a year or so before the Clintons go for a third run at the White House. So let’s not kid ourselves about fictions like Madam Secretary or ripe politicians like Hillary Clinton.

Mrs. Clinton will not be running on her looks, issues, competence, or performance in any case. Indeed, no one will argue that Mrs. Clinton is the next Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher, or Angela Merkel.

Hillary will run on her genitals and Hollywood is happy to provide all the schmaltz and spin about achievement and courage needed to suggest that Mrs. Clinton is a woman ready to take America’s highest office. Past performance will not matter.

“First woman,” not accomplishment, will be the emotional and political sweet spot for the next two years. Hollywood will do its part making sure that soccer moms get that message with fictions like Madam Secretary. Withal, the same demographic that watches soap operas for entertainment, The View for information, and uses Bart Simpson as a babysitter might put Hillary back in the White House.


This essay appeared in American Thinker and the Iconoclast







Political Autism

September 13, 2014

“Jihad is holy struggle, a legitimate tenant of Islam’ – John Brennan

We often think of human behavior as events with boundaries.   Indeed, most contemporary digital choices seem to be binary; either/or, black/ white, on/ off, yes /no, for/against, or the now ubiquitous “like/dislike.” The binary meme is reinforced  by a culture of absolutes, a world where arbitrary, if not smug critics construct lists which presume to tell us about the “best” and “worst” of the animate and inanimate alike.

The prominence of engineered opinion on the internet says volumes about culture, a space where selecting from a list is easier than doing or thinking for yourself.  In many respects, the internet is a closed loop, a humid electronic womb with: membership, special jargon, passwords, and banalities like ‘emoticons.’ The bait for social networks is belonging, a childlike desire to be “liked” or accepted.

The social kindergarten, however, has two facets.  Twitter and Facebook and other forums have become propaganda and recruiting venues for Islamists and terror. Pardon any redundancy.

The very term “social” network is now an oxymoron. The internet is a kind of global village populated by the needy, the greedy, and the seedy- and those looking for an infidel or an apostate to kill.

Best and worst are the most pernicious adjectives because the ‘best,’and related assertions of optimism, is the default setting for all manipulative politics. And the “worst,” or absolute pessimism, may not exist at all – or at least the worst seems to be beyond knowing.  Indeed, Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89) may have captured the thought a hundred years ago midst the Industrial Revolution.

No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief,

                             More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring.

                             Comforter, where, where is your comforting?

                             Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?

Surely, the worst individual, national, or cultural behavior seems to have been removed from the jurisdiction of moral judgment. A spoiled child or an irresponsible adult might be diagnosed, and excused, as victims of some illusive deficit disorders or social ailments like alcoholism or addiction. Giving a drunk, junkie, or criminal a place on the sick list is of a piece with medicating annoying children – or classifying felons as victims.

With individual behavior, notions of discipline, restraint, choice or free will have been disabled by organic, dare we say “scientific,” determinism. Unfortunately, the diagnosis of psychological or social disorder is left to the speculations of crypto-sciences like psychoanalysis and sociology. Errors in these realms are then often compounded, collectively, by other academic fancies like political ‘science.’ The study of politics is rigorous science in the same sense that graffiti is great art.

The general absolution of young and adult is not without cultural consequence. Indeed, wishful thinking seems to be the default setting of all modern politics. Surely, optimism has a place in all eras. Still, history (Hegel and Fukuyama not withstanding) is a palindrome of sorts, a process that runs two ways; both backwards and forward.

Time is not linear. Time is not a one-way street either, nor is time the metronome of progress. Recidivism, not progress or enlightenment, is the true default setting for most cultures.

Contemporary Muslim societies might take a bow here. Were rot not the default setting for political systems, we might all be speaking Greek, Hebrew, or Latin today. History is as much about decay as “progress.”

We need only consider the advent of Islam in the 7th Century to appreciate the recidivist phenomenon writ large.  Those who cannot appreciate the power of apathy, stasis, or religious fascism are the most likely to drowned when the tides of time runs backwards.

Collective reluctance to confront national, if not global, pathology might be described as cultural autism – a kind of infantile defense mechanism. Apathy is loudest voice when culture starts to hemorrhage the values that made success possible in the first place.

Two contemporary examples provide illustrations; the resurrection of the Cold War in Europe and the resuscitation of the global Islamic caliphate. The “End of History” and the “Arab Spring,” in the space of a few years, have morphed into a whiff of nuclear firestorm in Europe and a new Islamic winter in the Ummah. The obvious vector of modern social and global politics is recidivism.

Backwards is the new forward – again.

The new Cold War in Europe and the enduring hot wars in the Muslim world are kissing cousins; the former now a ready excuse to ignore the latter.  Alas, the nuclear tinderbox in East Europe and charnel house in the Levant are both created problems.

Since 9/11, the global Islamist threat has been minimized, rationalized, or addressed with half-measures like rendition, criminal show trials, “humanitarian interventions,” small wars, or drone strikes. Friend and foe are flummoxed.

Throughout, Washington and Europe refuse to identify the threat, refuse to call the menace what it is: religious arrogance. Indeed, words like criminal, extremist, or terrorist are used to obscure the truth of Islamism – a now toxic mix of political imperialism and religious fascism.  The perennial civil war within Islam, Shia versus Sunni, and global terror, in combination, now threaten to suck civilization into the gates of hell.

Had they a strategic map, Joe Biden and Barack Obama might know that highway to recidivist hell runs through Tehran, Riyadh, Mosul, Medina, and Mecca.

The United Nations took two weeks to declare the Ebola virus as a global menace. The European Union took a few months to raise the Russian threat to DEFCON ridiculous. Yet, after 50 years of universal barbarity and depredations, Washington still can’t connect the dots between rot and religion corrupted.

There is nothing new about religious fascism or caliphates. There is nothing new about rape, infanticide, honor killings, genocide, misogyny, slavery – or headless journalism either. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is the logical consequence of recidivism ignored, that rabid dog stalking the civilized world since the mid-20th Century – or since 632 AD, depending on your attention span.

And now we are led to believe that the real strategic threat is Vladimir Putin.  If we are to buy into Russophobia, and another round of nuclear chicken with Moscow, we must ignore more than a bit of modern history: the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, the provocative, some say unnecessary, expansion of NATO; Georgian incompetence and aggression; Victoria Nuland’s meddling in Kiev that underwrote a fratricidal civil war in Ukraine.

And last, surely not least, the humiliating loss of Edward Snowden. The US State Department yanked Snowden’s passport during a Moscow layover; thereby gifting Russia a very valuable involuntary Intelligence defector. Should Snowden feel obliged to repay Russian hospitality, the blowback bill needs to be hand carried to Foggy Bottom and the National Security Agency.

The opportunity costs of isolating Russia again could be catastrophic. Never mind cooperative Space exploration, energy, or European economies at risk. Russia is the one superpower with real leverage in Iran and Syria. Indeed Russia has been very helpful on nuclear and chemical issues in a part of the world where there is little reluctance to use either.

Other than Benjamin Netanyahu, Vladimir Putin also might be the one of few world leaders with the giblets to help eradicate ISIS – and ultimately Islamism. Pushing Moscow into the deep freeze again is nothing short of geo-political, if not suicidal, stupidity.

Without Russia, the hair trigger is back: the nuclear threshold is lowered in Europe – and the Levant is starting to read like biblical prophecy.

Gerard Manley Hopkins was correct. There is no worst. The Free World is led by nitwits with their heads in the sands of Arabia and their asses exposed to nuclear scorch in Europe.

CIA Director, John Brennan, believes that the ISIS caliphate is a “feckless delusion.”  And the President of the United States channels Rodney King, telling the world that he seeks solutions in the Ummah where there are “no victors and no vanquished.” Really?

If the First Family vacationed in Mosul instead of Martha’s Vineyard, Mr. Obama might develop a more adult worldview. The American vector is not better to worse, the tack is bad to worse; or as the poet put it: “More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wringThere is no worst!



We Are Israel

September 8, 2014

“We don’t thrive on military acts. We do them because we have to, and thank God we are efficient.”  – Golda Meir

Almost every news report on the latest Palestinian war leads with comparative casualties; Israeli victims number in the tens while Arabs number in the hundreds. Such stories never fail to report on the percent of women and children injured as if Hamas tactics played no role in the predictable collateral damage of urban warfare.

Back in the day when Communism was a Soviet monopoly, Joseph Stalin is alleged to have said; “One death is a tragedy; a million is just a statistic.” Stalin was, if nothing else, a realist. He knew that numbers, like much statistical evidence, are just as malleable as anecdotal evidence. Objectivity, like truth, is also peculiar to the eye of the beholder. Military disciplines and sciences are no exception.  All wars produce statistics, yet for the most part, battle numbers are most useful as propaganda. Take comparative casualties, the full metal jacket of statistics, a weaponized statistic if there ever were one.

Somehow, for Media apologists, Palestinians terrorists firing from population shields should be immune from counter-battery fire. We are lead to believe that the “disproportionate” number of Palestinian dead or wounded is evidence somehow that Israeli defensive reactions are “excessive.”  Israel is thought to have forfeited the moral high ground. Jews protecting their homes are yet again portrayed as villains.

Never mind the tortured history of Israeli patience or what Jewish casualties might have been if Israel did not maintain a competent defense. If Israel could not defend itself, the price to be paid is another holocaust. Just such a prophesy is part of the Hamas charter.

And never mind that Gaza was given back to the Arabs in what turns out to be naïve quest for peace.  Never mind that Hamas uses hospitals, mosques, and residential neighborhoods as weapons depots, launch pads, and entry points for infiltration tunnels. Never mind that Hamas has used the aid and good will of NGO’s and naïve western supporters to purchase those rockets and fund those tunnels. Never mind that Israeli doctors and hospitals frequently treat Muslim victims in wars that Israel does not initiate. And never mind that Fatah and Hamas are just the most recent examples of the many local and global terrorist organizations with a Palestinian lineage. Let’s leave these facts aside for the moment and speak just about comparative competence.

Jews anywhere, Israelis in particular, are very good at what they do. Indeed, global Jewry is arguably the most successful ethnic/religious minority on the planet. Where Jews live, they make enormous contributions to commerce, literature, science, music, art, and education. Muslims, in contrast, one fourth of the world’s citizens, desiccate in a kind of cultural desert that has persisted since Roman times. Beheading is again one of the faces of Islam. Contemporary achievement and cultural gaps that separate Muslim from Jew are vast by any measure.

And now, of necessity, Jews are also very adept at the world’s oldest profession. The stereotype about Jews being good at everything but contact sports has been laid to rest, yet again in Gaza. Since 1947, Jews have proven themselves to be able soldiers in what, if statistics like population matter, has always been a lopsided conflict, David versus Goliath if you will.

Israeli military efficiency in concert with Arab incompetence alone accounts for disproportionate casualties today, yesterday, and for the indefinite future. There has never been any moral equivalence between the way the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) fight and the abject savagery of historical Jihadists or contemporary Islamists. The Jewish David is every bit the moral superior of the Muslim Goliath.

Indeed, while Israel defends itself yet again, the Muslim world writhes in the anguish of medieval religious genocide – in East Africa, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Indeed, Islamism is advancing globally.

Press and politician alike whine and anguish over mice in Gaza while Jihadist elephants rampage. Any fair observer need only load the word “beheading” or “crucifixion” into their search engine to know the gulf between contemporary Jewish culture and bestial Islamic imperialism.

Horrid videos and ‘selfies’ now taunt the West, a clinical forecast of what awaits Jews, infidels, apostates – Americans and Europeans. Muslims may represent a sixth of humanity, but at the same time Islam seems to sport 90% of humanity’s dysfunction.

In Europe, the traditional hubs of anti-Semitism (France, Spain, Germany, Ireland, and Scandinavia) are now energized too by Muslim immigrants and Islamism.  Jewish victims in Europe, a world away, are blamed for a global social pathology that has nothing to do with Jews, least of all Israel.

Alas, the Obama administration and his uniquely inept national security and foreign policy teams have supported a cascade of regime changes in the Muslim world, from North Africa, to South Asia and now most perilously in the Levant. Imprudence and appeasement has liberated the dogs of Muslim hell.

The so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) rampages through the created chaos in the Levant, a barbarian nightmare that has nothing to do with Jews and everything to do with American and European policy blunders. And now with the Arab and Muslim world aflame; a confederacy of the clueless in Washington and Brussels are picking a new fight with Russia too; a diversion to be sure.

Mister Obama may not be a Koran thumping zealot, yet surely he creates as much suffering as any rabid Islamist. And just as surely, the Obama national security team is a milquetoast ‘ally’ of Israel.

Nonetheless, America should send Bibi Netanyahu and the IDF a thank you note and a case of champagne sometime soon. Here’s what David has done to Goliath in the past few days.

The IDF has put a bullet through the ears of any ‘two-state’ solution. Hamas has been exposed as an unreliable partner for even the likes of Fatah, say nothing of Israel. The Palestinian unity and statehood chimera is the real collateral damage from recent fighting.

The generals in Cairo have been alienated too. Closure of the Israel border might be inconvenient. Closure of the Egyptian border could be fatal for Gaza. Egypt has decades of bad blood with the Muslim Brotherhood. General el-Sisi is not likely to tolerate an al ikhwan stepchild, a terrorist state, on Egypt’s northern border. Hamas may have done a lot more than shoot itself in the foot this time.

Hamas, Fatah, and global Islamism may still have friends in the Media, New York, Brussels, and Washington, but allies that count, local coreligionists, now including the most populous nation in Arabia, appear to be fed up with the idea of “Palestine.” Ins’allah!

The West has been on the wrong side of history since New York was attacked by a Saudi/Arab terror team. Clearly the tactical response of remote air strikes, small wars, and appeasement has failed. Islamists are on the march while free-world allies dither. Europe and America are now perilously close to being on the wrong side of civilization too.

Israel has thrown itself again into the breach, a solitary beacon of courage beset by a nest of vipers. Israel again rises to be the 21st Century metaphor for the Gates of Vienna. Would that America, Europe, and the rest of the civilized world see the example in the most recent Jewish struggle? Religious or political fascism cannot be appeased; it must be defeated in detail at the points of origin, those dark tunnels that riddle the Muslim body politic.

Sponsor states like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Turkey, and Iran must be confronted. Without external ideological/ material support and sanctuary, groups like al Qaeda, Hezzbollah, Hamas, and ISIS would be impossible. Terror is the symptom, cancerous religion abetted by fascist politics in the Ummah is the disease.

Barack Obama tells us that he is seeking a solution where there are “no victors and no vanquished.”  Hard to believe such vapidity coming from the mouth of a man who presumes to lead the civilized world. The historical and real-politic naiveté of such banalities defies explanation.

There is no substitute for victory.   We are with Israel – or we are done!


Colonel G. Murphy Donovan was the last Director of Research and Russian (nee Soviet) Studies at USAF Intelligence. He was also a former senior USAF research fellow at the RAND Corporation, Santa Monica. The author served in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive (1968) and the invasion of Cambodia (1970).






August 3, 2014

“Your body will not absorb cholesterol if you take it from someone else’s plate.” – Dave Barry

Once upon a time, the only question about food was quantity; too much here, too little there. “Here” usually meant America or the free world and “there” was usually the undeveloped or Third World. The clear broth of hunger and poverty has now been muddied by political rhetoric; the “have nots” are now patronized by ambiguous phrases like “the developing world.” Individual victims of poverty are called underserved or less “fortunate,” as if luck or the whims of Gods were in play. If Fortuna plays any role in social improvement schemes, surely she helps those who help themselves.

All nations are developing in one way or another. The problem with the optimism of gerunds is that words like “developing” are meant to suggest a process, positive progress. The alternative, social recidivism is seldom discussed or even expected. The Muslim world and Africa are but two examples of cultures where progress defies aid, assistance, history, and the best intentions. Domestic minority communities have developed similar immunities. Nonetheless, hope and wishful thinking are still the perennial toppings for most international or domestic social buffets.

Alas, the welfare state drains the energy of poverty at the expense of motivation, achievement, and initiative. To mix a metaphor, the wolf at the door has been tamed by national, state, and municipal sugar teats. Yet, poverty is still the rapier of politics. No matter that “poor” in America means subsidized housing, bad food, an automobile, air conditioning, television, the internet, obesity, and a government check.

Cynical politicians are wont to save us from ourselves for a price.   Dependents make for a permanent voting bloc. Political parties give back just enough to pacify, insure loyalty, and stifle ambition.

Rhetoric plays a major role in poverty manipulations. A handout is now a “hand up.” A sorry meal in a feral school is an “investment.” The president’s wife has now commandeered the bully pulpit on poverty; especially, the subordinate issues of diet, nutrition, and exercise.

The idea that the First Lady gardens, goes to the market, or prepares food for her children is an insult to common sense.  Michelle Obama has access to the best take-out, health care, and life-style coaching in Washington, DC – at tax payer expense. Indeed, the First Lady’s posturing on weight control is disingenuous also.

This is not to suggest the president’s wife doesn’t have a little junk in her trunk too, but Michelle’s figure, like that of any American woman, is more a function of genetics, domestic culture, and social class than it is of eating habits. Thin says as much about class as diction.

The fat shaming that comes from the White House is weak gruel, not unlike the personal poverty posturing we hear from Bill and Hillary Clinton these days. Mrs Obama’s insensitivity about the zaftig demographic is of a piece with her ignorance about Gypsies when she or her husband refers to frauds as “gyps’. MS Magazine put it best when they took Michelle to task with an editorial about “Health and Hatred.”

American taxpayers subsidize an overweight demographic and then ultimately pay for the predictable health consequences of obesity. Free lunch and free health care are package deals sustained by social fictions. There are no incentives for restraint with means or ends. Individual intemperance is aggravated by pork barrels, self-serving rent seekers, and lobbyists countrywide.

America has the only obese poor on the planet. Michelle’s target audience isn’t poverty stricken so much as they are victims of affluence. The dependent demographic has access to all things necessary to be fat, dumb, unhealthy, and unhappy. Drugs, alcohol, and a junk diet often make for a critical mass of dysfunction. Government with no sense of restraint is not likely to cultivate that public virtue among the underclass.

The end game is political. A dependent political demographic is a permanent voting bloc.  Democracy always contains the potential to succumb to the lowest common denominators. Modern social democracy, especially, has all the earmarks of an elaborate vote buying scheme. Eric Hoffer put it best: “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”  The poor and uneducated may not have much, but they do have the vote — and the fate of the nation in their hands.

The end game is political. A dependent political demographic is a permanent voting bloc.  Democracy always contains the potential to succumb to the lowest common denominators. Modern social democracy, especially, has all the earmarks of an elaborate vote buying scheme. Eric Hoffer put it best: “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”  The poor and uneducated may not have much, but they do have the vote — and the fate of the nation in their hands.

Everyone seems to benefit except kids. Children in turn do what any intelligent waif does. Kids don’t eat food they don’t like.

Modern palates are educated by fast foods; salt, sugar, fat, and carbohydrates. The junk food industry knows what children like. With the assistance of clueless, lazy parents and venal politicians, the child marketing niche is a free fire zone. Eating in a government financed cafeteria is also an exercise in humiliation, an admission that parents cannot or will not prepare a healthy, edible meal.

More to the point, kids don’t eat government food because it’s awful; ill prepared and badly presented. Most school cafeteria food looks like road kill on a plate. If Michelle Obama wants to understand what’s wrong with the diet of poor children; she, and her daughters, need to try to eat 15 meals a week at a public school cafeteria. Indeed, every school principal, teacher, and education bureaucrat should be forced to eat at public school cafeterias too. If politicians and administrative deadwood ate at the government trough, then and only then, they would know what kids know.

The food stinks!

School cafeteria chow is not just awful. Much of what is served ends up in the trash. Eating is not just another political hustle; it’s a matter of taste and habit. Ignoring qualitative factors (setting, presentation, and taste) in the child diet equation is a little trying to hit a fastball with a jump rope.

The junk food industry may not know much about health food, but they do know everything about setting and taste. How many fast food restaurants are located in basements? And junk food moguls test what they sell too. If a grasshopper burrito doesn’t sell, it’s off the menu.  Only when government food programs worry as much about preparation and taste as they do about poverty propaganda will free lunch be a good “investment.”

Some university presidents make a million dollars or more as public servants. Principals, education apparatchiks, and tenured teachers routinely make six figure salaries with elaborate benefits. What is the average food service manager paid at any public school?

Better still, take a long look at the average school cafeteria worker; overweight, overworked, underpaid, tattooed, and truly scary in hairnets. Have you ever seen Wolfgang Puck, Rachael Ray, or Papa John preparing food in a hairnet?  What’s the point of keeping hair, or toenails for that matter, out of food that’s inedible anyway?

Food in public cafeterias is not just bad; the windowless, basement settings – and the employees – would mute the appetite of vampires. Urban school cafeterias are like municipal post offices, employers of last resort.

The tax dollars that might be saved from waste alone by local school districts could hire the best executive chefs, cooks, and attractive kitchen staffs. A school lunch in could be equal of any Sunday brunch out.

If academic outcomes are a measure of effectiveness, pricey education bureaucrats are a poor investment. A competent chef, cook, or school food service manager is another, indeed an a priori, matter. The proof is in the eating. The effects of good cooking, like good parenting, are measurable.

Parents seem unwilling or unable to prepare food for children. Why not invest in better dining rooms, better kitchens, and only the best food service professionals for schools?  Call it affirmative action eating. We are all, after all, what we eat. Lip service from the Oval Office on hunger and poverty is no substitute for a sunny room and the flavor and taste of a good spinach pie.


The author keeps a garden and cooks nearly every day. He believes that good ingredients and a tasty lunch are national security issues.

Key Words; cooking, school lunch, junk food, hunger, poverty, and public schools.






August 1, 2014

Character is the decisive factor in individuals and nations alike.” – Theodore Roosevelt

So now we have John Walsh. Another flag officer who steps on his crank and then pretends he was ill at the time. Maybe it’s a David Patraeus thing, a kind of self-love, a lust for advancement and the values lost in the heat of that pursuit. Just as the former CIA director gave sexual harassment a boost with Paula Broadwell; the former Montana Adjutant General, now Senator, Walsh is giving Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) a bad name, throwing true combat fatigue victims under the bus in the process. PTSD is already the dubious ‘medical’ default setting for any soldier or veteran who behaves badly.

Modern abuse of a combat vitae dates to John Kerry and Vietnam. Kerry parlayed three months in a combat zone to a chest full of medals and service ribbons which he promptly threw on the White House lawn in a fit of feigned political pique.

Playing both sides of the street, war hero/anti-war hero, Kerry used his Navy service as a stepping stone in Massachusetts’ politics. It worked, it still works for Kerry. Lieutenant Kerry, and allies like Jane Fonda, made allegations about American atrocities that were unsupported by evidence. The Secretary of State is still reviled by many veterans for good reasons. Kerry was no Audie Murphy.

Walsh is a disturbing echo of the Kerry military ethos of the 1970s.

Alas, the real problem here isn’t personal integrity so much as national security institutions at risk. Kerry and Walsh raise questions about the standards in the Army, Navy, and Air Force, the erosion of national military values like “duty, honor, and country.”

With Kerry, where was the US Navy brass when he collected all those decorations, including three purple hearts for trivial injuries? Kerry never lost a day of duty for his “wounds.” Even by Vietnam standards, Kerry’s fruit salad orgy still amazes contemporaries.

Upon coming home, Kerry morphed into a very different, and very politicized naval officer; often half in and half out of uniform, often wearing/not wearing military decorations at anti-war protest rallies. Where was the admiralty then and subsequently when his Swift Boat shipmates challenged Kerry’s Vietnam resume during that pyrrhic presidential bid?

Now we have General Walsh in another political campaign. Put aside the banal stupidity of plagiarism in an era where any high school sophomore can screen a paper for fraud. Put aside also, for the moment, the question of why a US Army colonel can’t write an original 14 page (sic) “thesis.” Put aside also the questions of how this guy got to be a state adjutant, a lieutenant governor, and an appointed US senator.

Instead, ask how did this fellow ever got a military commission, let alone a flag officer slot? He was promoted from colonel to general after cheating at the Army War College (AWC)! Speaking of the AWC, how is an institution credentialed to grant graduate degrees not able to screen for resume hustlers and plagiarists? And how is a fourteen-page cribbed essay a “thesis” in any post-graduate program? On the academic credibility scale, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, now joins the ranks of degree factories.

The Air Force has not escaped the depression in military values. Ninety-two missile launch officers were implicated in a recent cheating scandal associated with procedural competence. Subsequent inquiries suggest that cheating on proficiency tests has been part of the “culture” at all three ICBM bases for years. The USAF men and women with their fingers on the nuclear button can’t be trusted? Good grief, what’s next?

So here we are once again, with the Walsh fiasco, left to wonder about the integrity of Department of Defense leadership and institutions. And predictably, all of the usual suspects are out on soapboxes defending the indefensible. Excuses suggest that Walsh is a stress victim or he was just distracted, or just guilty of trivial neglect. Even the Clinton defense has been deployed again; Walsh’s behavior is likened to small or private matters, not something that could taint his public professional judgment.

Senator John Walsh’s defenders are probably correct in their calculations. Character flaws like cheating or plagiarism do not matter. After all, one of two major American political parties is behind Walsh “100 percent.” Keep in mind that Walsh didn’t fudge the truth as a junior officer, he cheated as a colonel. Cheating doesn’t matter in the officer corps because apparently character doesn’t matter either.  Among politicians, character seldom matters; and now flag officers have lowered that bar too.  Prudens Futuri  indeed!








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