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 dot.com 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 dot.com 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!


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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).