See Something Say Something (about Benghazi)

January 23, 2016

Clandestine Intelligence agents meet with the press for one of three reasons: to betray, to leak in support of policy, or spin the narrative when policy fails. Hard to know what was in play the other day when the former CIA Benghazi station chief, cover name “Bob,” met with two Washington Post reporters, Adam Goldman and Greg Miller. When an administration yarn needs to be spun on the front page, there’s no better venue than the Washington Post.

For the record, the stated purpose of CIA meeting with the Post was to deny the Hollywood version of the Libya fiasco, a 15 February release called 13 Hours, the Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, Michael Bay, director. It is possible also, in fairness, to imagine that John Brennan’s CIA is slipstreaming with the Post and Mrs. Bill Clinton as she approaches her own trial by fire in the 2016 presidential primaries.

The Bay film was based on a book written by four GRS contract soldiers who served under euphemist Bob at the CIA Annex in Benghazi. The former special ops warriors said that CIA choked, Bob ordered a “stand down,” when Ambassador Chris Steven’s residence came under fire. CIA denied this to Post reporters. With Clintonian hair splitting, the agency may be correct,

There were not one, but two stand-down orders, maybe three. The first delayed the GRS team from rescuing the ambassador. A second probably came from a national authority, yet to be disclosed, that prevented American air or ground reinforcements from reaching the CIA Annex when it subsequently came under fire after the residence was abandoned.

When the US ambassador and three other dead were recovered, the body bags were extracted from Tripoli on a Libyan aircraft, not a USAF asset. The third stand down was more about humiliation than failure of national leadership.

No rescue for the ambassador, no reinforcements for the besieged CIA Annex, and no dignified removal of the dead and wounded. Brave men and women thrice betrayed by an administration that released the Taliban high command from Guantanamo in exchange for an American slacker now on trial for treason.  The Bowe Bergdahl deal with the Taliban was rationalized by the White House as a statement of American values (sic), “no man left behind”. Team Obama left more than its credibility in Libya.

Who, what, where, when, and why are the traditional elements of both exposition and fiction. Cinema is often a little of both. A filmed version of history is of necessity a distillation if not condensation. Bay’s Benghazi flic, 13 Hours,                       is all of these things and less. The “what, where, and when” are both good and dramatic, the “who and why” are a little limp. We still do not know what Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, James Clapper, or Martin Dempsey were doing while an embassy residence and a CIA “black” facility in Libya were being sacked by Sunni jihadists. Surely the White House, the State Department, the Intelligence Community, and the Department of Defense were monitoring the Benghazi blitz in real time. The command and control principals are not featured or mentioned in Bay’s epic; a curious omission for a film based on “real events.”

The “why” of Benghazi, that large CIA presence at the “Annex,” gets short shrift too. There is one scene where agents purchase some shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles from nefarious characters, but the gun running operation probably had a much broader charter that had little to do with keeping lethal weapons out of the wrong hands. The CIA Annex was very likely moving all manner of Gadhafi era weapons to Iraq and Syria to other Sunni jihadists. Once Muamar Gadhafi had been lynched in Libya, Bashar Assad in Syria was next on the regime change shit list.

Michael Bay may have whiffed on the “who” and “why,” but he hit it out of the park with CIA trade craft, or lack of it. 13 Hours takes deadly aim at the agency practice of buying local Arab or sectarian tribes and then believing that the perfidious will stay bought. Ambassador Stevens was lost because Sunni Arab “allies” cannot be trusted, especially those who must be paid by Americans to defend their own country. CIA paying for “protection” in the Arab world is a little like some John wearing only a smile for protection after he buys a hooker.

The US State Department is apparently tone deaf on both national and personal security. Sending an openly gay ambassador to yet another failed Muslim state has to be some version of assisted suicide. Sexual orientations are no secret these days at Foggy Bottom; however, that culture plays no part in Bay’s film. Posting a gay man to Libya makes about as much sense as sending a petite blond reporter, Lara Logan for example, to cover an Arab Spring riot in Egypt – reckless endangerment  in both cases.

Chris Stevens, as portrayed in 13 Hours, is a weak sister too; at once naïve, another Foggy Bottom naif, a cowering victim, not a guy in charge of anything. We don’t really know how Ambassador Stevens died. Dead or alive, he was dragged out of the ambassador’s residence and through the streets of Benghazi before being recovered by Americans. The Steven’s autopsy is still a state secret, another CYA caveat designed to protect jihadist and Arab reputation – or keep Americans in the dark.

A gay diplomat in an Arab or Muslim country is not a role model; he’s a magnet, if not a target. Blatant homosexuality in most of the Ummah is a crime, indeed often a capital offense. Sending a gay representative to a Muslim country is an insult to Islam and common sense, a slur likely to be repaid with body bags. Well should we wonder why an American cabinet secretary and her staff could not know how Islamists treat homosexuals. It’s as if putting gay employees in harm’s way has become a closet strategy to poke the Prophet in the eye!

The summary execution of Chris Stevens, a career foreign service officer, is not as instructive about Arab and Muslim culture as it is about the kind of arrogance that thrives at Foggy Bottom, the US State Department. In the main, Americans deployed overseas live in a bubble. Ambassadors, for the most part political hacks, often do not speak the language and/or have little experience with diplomacy, culture, or foreign policy.

The same might be said of pampered embassy staffs that often rely on local or imported contractors. Embassy and consulate employees often live in gated, secured, isolated communities where contact with locals is discouraged, limited, or impossible. American embassies, even in free world countries, have special pay allowances, servants, pools, gyms, commissaries, liquor stores, chauffer services, and other perks that replicate or surpass the amenities of a Washington, DC posting. The ugly American is not just a metaphor; it is the reality of most American ambassadors and now an established culture in the Foreign Service.

We might add that the title “ambassador” today is another word for political baksheesh. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump take a candor bow here. If a government post can be bought, so can the appointee. The State Department is one of those American institutions where most of the principals are naive amateurs by design. Chris Stevens discovered the truth about his fey colleagues the hard way.

CIA, NSA, and DIA are embedded in the same bewildered bubbles where State Department vacuity flourishes. The cluelessness of Benghazi “Bob,” is of a piece with the legendary George Cave at the US embassy in Teheran in the 1970s. It’s not just that these guys couldn’t or wouldn’t see what was coming. When “it” got there, they didn’t recognize the threat, suffered indignities gladly – or were more concerned with covering their asses than they were worried about saving the day.

The theocratic coup in Iran was a landmark victory for the Shia jihad and theocracy, just as 9/11 was a benchmark triumph for the Saudi/Sunni jihad. Benghazi is just the Libyan feather in the Islamist keffiyeh. Thanks to regime change folly and blowback, Libya may now fall to ISIS just as Persia fell to the Ayatollahs.

The venality of CIA’s Benghazi station chief is an eerie echo of Barbara Bodine’s arrogance after the USS Cole disaster in Yemen, another jihad triumph. In both cases, US apparatchiks on station didn’t play well with real men carrying real guns. Both Ambassador Bodine, and now agent Benghazi Bob, were more concerned with Muslim sensitivities than they are with American lives. In both cases, Washington deferred to fear, flaccid diplomats, and timid Intel pukes, not real warriors. Foreign policy is not a team sport anymore.

The message to Americans abroad today; for citizen, soldier, and diplomat alike is clear now. Washington does not have your back. You are expendable.

The film 13 Hours gets it exactly right with “Bob,” the CIA apparatchik in Benghazi. Bob is timid by his own admission, he can’t make a timely decision in a crisis, and when things go south, he looks for someone to blame. In the Washington Post piece, CIA has Bob saying that he was waiting for help from Arab “locals.” Hard to believe that CIA has yet to admit that the locals in Benghazi were the problem all along. Muamar Gadhafi used to claim that so-called freedom fighters in Libya were jihadists. Now we know that he was correct. The Benghazi fiasco is just one symptom of chronic national security stupidity about small wars, Islam, jihad, and terror in the Obama era.

The very fact the CIA and State must rely on contractors gets to the heart of bureaucratic darkness. Every contractor attached to every embassy or CIA station abroad must ask the same question every day: “If we contractors are paid to do the heavy lifting, what are all these government slugs getting paid for?”

Withal, those CIA/State “contractors” at Benghazi, all former warriors, were patronized if not abandoned by their government handlers. Now those heroes have come home and returned the contempt in kind – in a book and on film. Two thumbs way up.

Where there is no justice, getting even will have to do. See something, say something, indeed!

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  1. Murphy Donovan, erstwhile military Intelligence officer, writes about the politics of national security. Colonel Donovan is a Vietnam veteran and was an Intelligence director under James Clapper when Clapper ran USAF Intelligence.

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Key Words: Washington Post, CIA, GRS, US State Department, Foreign Service, Benghazi, Chris Stevens, Adam Goldman, Greg Miller, Michael Bay, John Brennan, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Bodine, 13 Hours, national security, Islamism, and foreign Policy.

 

 

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ISIS and Obama

December 15, 2015

We could begin with: “ISIS comes to America.” But that would suggest that the latest mutant strain of Muslim terror is somehow new or unique. The sad truth is, alas, that contemporary imperial Islam, a kind of cultural sewage, has been flowing just beneath the veneer of civilization for decades now. You might think of the San Bernardino massacre as merely another one of those urban pipes that bursts from time to time and becomes a public nuisance. Blood and gore in the name of religion is now routine by repetition.

Those who work inside the Beltway rationalize lethal religious mayhem as workplace violence, “junior varsity” pranks, or better still, an opportunity cost of gun sales. Gun control is to terrorism now as public schools are to education. Nonetheless, taxpaying hermaphrodites and voting masochists can rest easy. The Islamic State is “contained” we are assured. There are no “credible” ISIS threats to America or Americans.

Clearly, religious executions today have political utility. Slaughter in God’s name is a terrible thing to waste. For potential victims, when you see something, please say something. Call a cop and see what stops. After all, in a “long game,” only soothing rhetoric really matters.

Say something useful too, like HELP – OMG or WTF! Then throw your panties, or your smart phone, at the hirsute dude with the AK-47 or the burka bimbo with the bomb.  If your phone doesn’t kill or pacify those “nefarious characters,” hit your knees, face Mecca, tuck you head between your knees, and kiss your timid ass goodbye. After all, we will always have Paris and 9/11 and the kind of “hope and change” that is beginning to look like a train ride to the ovens.

Alas, religious affiliations of victims and perps alike are irrelevant yet again! Not just Jews, Christians, Copts, or Yazidi this time. The target in San Bernardino was a government sanctioned secular humanist Christmas bash, an infidel cum apostate California bulls eye laden with symbolism, indeed a threefer: Jerry Brown, baby Jesus, and alcohol. The latest Islamic free-fire zone is more evidence of the need to restrain infidel excess and the need for new mandates to control speech, partying, guns, Santa Claus, and “islamophobic” Christmas.

Holiday eggnog, after all, is one of those gateway drugs that provokes Muslims and inspires genocidal rage.

Alas, the sharia and jihad ambitions of Islam in America might be too modest. Muslims merely want to return to the 7th Century and Mohammed. To stay in that race to the past, agnostic America might give Stonehenge and sun worship another whirl. Say “salve solstice,” not merry “you know what” this year.

The latest Muslim assault on the 21st Century has put “Berdoo” in the Quintin Tarantino hall of shame too. Until jihad came to town, San Berdoo, we should note, was known best on the left coast for biker bars and awesome weed.

The 4 December bloodbath in California is both sequel and prequel of dystopian Christmases to come.  Take that FBI news conference two days after as evidence, a kind of costumed, choreographed public relations porn flic.

PR is now the first federal line of defense against shooters, bombers, terrorists, and religious fascists. Yes, here again soothing, albeit empty, words are best. San Bernardino was no exception.

One jihadist was a native, the other was an import via Saudi Arabia. Not that any of that mattered to clueless centurions. Both shooters were Muslim and both had roots in Pakistan. Doesn’t matter! Both were equipped like Kevlar ninjas. Doesn’t matter either! The ISIS wannabes wasted a Christmas party. Group kill is not that relevant either in traditional Hollywood oeuvre! The FBI and a constellation of “four star” cops could not, or would not, say anything specific about the obvious: race, religion, arms, ideology, motives, or affiliations.

If you are a government flake and you know something these days, your job is to say nothing. You know the drill. Muslim feelings trump public safety, national security, and all vestiges of common decency – or uncommon sense. In contrast, everyman on the street is enjoined to see and say something. Yes, but good grief not about immigrants, terrorists, Muslims, or Islam.

Word of Donald!

The best parts of the masque in Berdoo were those stars. No fewer than eight, yes eight, blue groupies in the FBI entourage wore four stars on their lapels. Who knew that a city of less than 250K had so many four star lawmen keeping us safe? How, you might ask, did Wyatt Earp ever tame Tombstone with just one star and a scatter gun?

Four star cops in urban America are similar to all those fruit salad generals at the Pentagon, impotent mannequins, hangar queens grounded by political correctness.  Uniform garnish matters more than results in public safety/national security sinecures these days. Policing and soldiering in America is starting to look a lot like ghost of Orwell’s future – or scoreless soccer and kindergarten T-ball.

The obligatory press conference that quickly follows any gory Muslim rampage in America is now a kind of civic cult ritual.

To start, American Islamist front groups (CAIR for example) launch the spin, while a day or two later the FBI and a local chorus sugar coats the infidel dead, apostate lame, and agnostic maimed.  These televised spin cycles are usually orchestrated by the Feds, echoed by the national press, and back lit by a host of mute locals that might include zaftig crossing guards with stars on their epaulets. The elected Commander-in-Chief usually leads from behind, keeping his peace until moral equivalence, mental health, gun control, melting icebergs, or carbon credits can be worked into the post mortems.

Why it is, by the way, that Bernie Sanders still doesn’t have a Cabinet post? Surely, the Islamic State could be brought to heel by carbon credits or an NSA all-access peeping pass.

After seven years, team Obama still doesn’t get it. If ISIS implodes tomorrow, Islamism, like the Big Lebowski, still abides.

The Islamic State, a big slice of the Ummah similar to Boko Haram and al Qaeda, is a new symptom, not a new disease. The civic cancer is, and always has been, the rapidly metastasizing global ideology of sharia and jihad, in short, religious fascism. Like National Socialism, it’s the ideology, stupid! The predicate of all fascism is coercion, indeed the kind of sick terror now playing in a domicile near you, places like Paris, Mali, and San Bernardino.

American tactics and strategy may appear feckless, but the Clinton, Bush, and Obama regimes are united by the belief that Muslim reputation is more important than American lives. Both major political parties in the US are aping European quislings for fear that things might get worse. The public too are patronized with fears of fear; indeed admonished to expect and accept both immigrants and serial depredations indefinitely.

All the while, the Oval Office is mocked by a religion it dares not name. John Kerry is characterized as an “uncircumcised geezer,” an ambiguous slur that surely assumes too much about men who work at Foggy Bottom. By some bizarre mutation of values; the White House, ayatollahs, mullahs, imams, and assassins all have similar goals – a passive if not submissive America.

Al Baghdadi is also annoyed that Obama trivializes ISIS, aka the Islamic State, as Daesh or ISIL. According to a poorly sourced MOSAD report, the Caliph is considering rebranding ISIS, or jihad, as “Global Warming” in order to get better ink at the New York Times. Islam and Armageddon seldom appear above the fold these days.

Beltway apologists respond in kind by claiming that the answer to ISIS, like warm weather, is in “the long game.”  You could read such bravado as an endorsement of the status quo, kick-the-can, surrender, or all three.  The long game strategy is a comfort much like knowing that in the end we are all dead anyway. Team Obama’s most cherished ambition now seems to be to limp out of Dodge ahead of the apocalypse.

When we see something, we should say something! Say something like, “What were Americans thinking when they put Steve Quincy Urkel in charge of the world’s most confused democracy?”

Indeed! Never mind Bashar al-Assad in Syria or Vladimir Putin in Russia; regime change in America can’t come soon enough.

Insh’allah and allah hu akbar!

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This article appeared in the 15 December edition of American Thinker.

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Tags: Barack Obama, John Kerry, American politics, Islam, Islamism, Islamofascism, the Islamic State, ISIS, ISIL Daesh, Syria, terrorism, San Bernardino massacre, and appeasement.

 

 


Brian Williams and NBC: No honor, No shame. No future

February 9, 2015

“I became a journalist because I didn’t want to rely on newspapers for information. “ – Chris Hitchens

Brian Williams has been the face of the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) and now he seems to be the face of shameless too. Williams has regaled his gullible Media colleagues for a decade or more about a brush with death in Iraq that never happened. The Stars and Stripes, not the NY Times or the Washington Post, busted Mr. Williams. According to the chronology revealed in the Stars and Stripes, the false tale of near death in combat was embellished over time, becoming more heroic with each telling to audiences like David Letterman and Alec Baldwin.

Blowing a fairytale past Deborah Turness, Baldwin, or Letterman is no surprise, but hockey fans are another matter. Seems that somewhere out in flyover country, some 3rd Infantry Division veterans saw Brian’s fatal, and hopefully final, version of stolen valor – and dropped a dime to the newspaper of record for American GI’s.

Williams was at the Ranger’s game in New York burnishing his “I support the troops” facade by posing with a disabled veteran and spinning another “combat” yarn about himself at the same time. The William’s ego spot at Madison Square Garden was never about the sacrifices of real veterans.

The cameo was about hubris, worse still, stollen valor.  Real veterans, real heroes, and real combat casualties languish in the parking lots of an inept Veterans Administration, while poseurs like Brian Williams try to bask in reflected glory. The charade continued for more than a decade, abetted by the silence of network colleagues. Williams was not alone on that trip to Afghanistan. Who checks the fact checker?

NBC and Williams were exposed by ordinary soldiers in a GI newspaper.  Such   duplicity says everything about federal standards and the national Press today. Williams was not outed by the White House.  A President that consistently apologizes for terror culture is unlikely to criticize an ally like NBC. Williams was not outed by other Media regulars like network crew members and colleagues at Public Television, ABC, or CBS. Williams was not exposed by the brass at the Department of Defense either, the institution with the true record of aircraft movements and combat incidents. Williams was outed by the very grunts he pretends to support. In short, the most popular network anchor in America was exposed by his antithesis – real soldiers telling the truth.

According to eyewitnesses, Williams and his entourage did not arrive at the scene of the Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) assault until an hour after the shooting stopped. Williams apparently seized an opportunity to exploit their grace under fire. The helicopters and troops involved were then stranded for two days by a sandstorm. The worst of William’s experience was a weather delay, an event more common in Chicago than Iraq. Chicago might be more dangerous too.

Hilary Clinton spun a similar “combat” fiction in Bosnia when her husband was dismantling Yugoslavia. Yet, with professional politicians, nobody expects the truth. A better comparison would be with Dan Rather, another celebrity anchor formerly over at CBS. Recall that Rather used forged documents to try to discredit George Bush’s Air Guard service. Like Williams, Rather tried to spin his fraud with “the fog of memory” excuse too. Rather got fired for his stunt. Williams is still on the NBC payroll.

No surprise then that the first Media standard bearer to come to the defense of Brian Williams was “Gunga” Dan Rather. What’s to defend?  A lie?

Becoming the news is a fatal flaw for any objective journalist. Brian Williams is now the news – and a serial liar to boot. His integrity is forfeit. Just as any CBS coverage of the military is suspect, NBC now labors under the same cloud. If you are supposed to be in the fact finding business, credibility is the only currency. NBC and Brian Williams are now bankrupt.

Rather and Williams at the top of their networks is a symptom of more fundamental Media problems: the conflation of news and entertainment, sub rosa anti-military sentiment, and political pandering.

Clearly, Williams like so many of his colleagues are more Kardashian than journalist, professional celebrities. Williams is the most popular of all news anchors, a one man advertising revenue rainmaker.

Let’s not kid ourselves about poseurs like Rather and Williams, their spin on things military is patronizing, revealing an underlying contempt for the real sacrifices made by soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen.

Media coverage of war itself is now a fraud. The President, Secretary of State, and Secretary of Defense will not name the enemy nor call the ideological struggle with Islam and the battles with Islamists a war. Good men and women are maimed and killed in wars where generals and politicians have no intention of winning. Death without strategy or purpose is the dirty little secret yet to be covered by what critics like Limbaugh rightly calls a “drive-by” Media, a pandering Press corps.

Some of the worst today are the political spinners on Public Radio and Television, taxpayer funded propagandists. The News Hour on 6 February featured Mark Shields and David Brooks commentary on President Obama’s appearance before the National Prayer Breakfast. On that occasion, Obama lectured Christian and Jews about the Crusades, Inquisition, and the European slave trade. More White House excuses just after ISIS beheaded two more journalists followed by the incineration of a live Jordanian pilot with a video feed to the internet.

Both Shields and Brooks endorsed the President’s message. Never mind that all three histories cited are irrelevant to the Islam problem and associated terror. Never mind that these very same justifications are used as propaganda by al Qaeda and ISIS. And never mind that Obama, Shields, and Brooks forgot to mention that today’s slave trade is almost exclusively a joint black-African/Muslim enterprise (see Boko Haram for just one example).

Journalism is literally losing its head. On a global scale, Islamists decapitate the very Media cowards who apologize for Muslim behavior. At the same time, too many reporters at home are willing to commit professional perjury, frequently in the name of Islam. Withal, the message is clear. Neither side can trust journalists these days.

Williams has taken himself off the air for a few days while NBC does some internal navel gazing. The longer the network dithers, the worse this soap opera becomes. Williams has created his personal Katrina. Now he needs to fall on his sword, behave like a man. Surely Public Television has a slot for Williams.

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If Ash Carter and Martin Dempsey at DOD want to do something serious about stolen valor, they might start by revoking the military Press credentials of NBC and Brian Williams. Media jock sniffers don’t deserve a free ride on any military conveyance or protection in war zones at taxpayer expense. If sanctions can be imposed on Russia, Iran, and Cuba; surely, sanctions against a dishonest journalist and a network that defends frauds is not too much to ask. American warriors and veterans deserve to be covered by men like Ernie Pyle, not by liars and milksops like Dan Rather at CBS and Brian Williams at NBC.

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Murphy Donovan writes about the politics of national security. GMD is a veteran of the East Bronx. He also served in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive (1968) and the Invasion of Cambodia (1971).

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ISIS and Islam

October 30, 2014

Barack Hussein Obama is given to making extraordinary pronouncements. Many of the more dramatic assertions are seldom based on facts, reason, or reflection.  Put aside, if you can, the domestic hyperbole which often accompanies wishful thinking about social problems; poverty, public education, and public health. The President’s public rhetoric on foreign policy, questions of national security, is unique, bordering on the delusional. To paraphrase Jack Kennedy; getting it wrong at home might be tragic, but getting it wrong abroad could be fatal.

The other day, President Obama claimed that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was not Islamic, a little like claiming that Catholicism has nothing to do with the Vatican. Put aside for a moment the illogic of using the phrase “Islamic State” and then denying the adjective in the next breath.

If ISIS is not Islamic then the Crusades and the Reformation were not Christian. If ISIS is not Islamic then the French had nothing to do with the Great Terror. If ISIS is not Islamic then Russians had nothing to do with totalitarian Communism.  If ISIS is not Islamic then Germans had nothing to do with National Socialism or the Holocaust. If ISIS is not Islamic then behavior has nothing to do with beliefs!

Surely beliefs and actions are different things, but the cause-and-effect relationship between ideology and acts is well established by science and history. If Muslims cannot agree on the particulars of Islamic legitimacy, who is some American politician from Chicago to claim to know what is, or what is not, Islamic?

There is no Muslim Pope or baptism. If ISIS zealots say they are Muslims, they should be taken at their word – especially if they submit, grow a beard, don a burka, and subscribe to jihad (holy war). If terror and religious fascism is anything today, it is as Islamic as any mosque.

Blatant, now flagrant, attempts to separate Islam from the acts of its adherents, terror and jihad, is now an American national mantra. The ad vericundium spin began early with John Brennan. As White House advisor, now CIA Director  Brennan’s  propaganda defined jihad as ritual cleansing, twisting or minimalizing the more obvious and lethal meaning of holy war.

How is it that team Obama feels compelled to contradict the confessions of Islamic terrorists? Jihadists are very candid about their motives, quoting the authority of the Koran, the Hadith, and Mohamed with predictable regularity. Terrorists are open about their ideological/ religious inspirations. Why should we not believe what they say about themselves?

The Brennan/Obama spin seems to be a kind of prophylactic denial – denying the worst, and motive, before it happens. ISIS is clinical proof that denial does nothing to halt the spread of viral ideology, toxic hate, or barbarous terror.

There is some method to the madness and mendacity of Brennan’s self-serving appeasement. Severing the connective tissue between ideology and atrocity in advance allows terror to be treated as unrelated incidents; random criminal behavior not acts of war. Fidelity to the criminal charade, allows the Oval Office to avoid tough choices like a declaration of war against ISIS – or Islam.

Different notions of globalization separate the democratic West and the theocratic East today. For Social Democrats, the global village means civility, cooperation, and commerce. For Muslim thugs, globalization means Islamic imperialism: beards, burkas, and bigotry.

Administration spin would have you believe serial beheadings in Mosul are not much different than a mugging in Central Park; or have you believe that mass murder by an Islamist at Fort Hood, Texas is simply another case of workplace violence.

Separating ISIS, or any other Islamic terror group, from Islam sends the worst possible message to all Muslims.  Excusing or absolving the elusive “moderate” Muslim (49 nations, 1.5 billion adherents, the Arab League, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference) from responsibility or needed reforms is madness. How does the global Ummah qualify as a “great” culture when the radical minority acts like barbarians and a passive majority behaves like children? Islam is responsible for itself or it outside the community of civilized nations; indeed, beyond the pale by any metric.

ISIS is the linear, if not logical, descendant of two modern phenomena; imperial Sunni Islamic dogma (Wahabism / Salifism) and misguided allied support for the Arab Spring/awakening.  America and the EU still cling to the canard that democracy is the default setting for Muslim states if and when autocrats are toppled. In fact, in nearly every case, theocratic Islamic social pathology has filled the void created by the “regime change” follies. Listing the number of failed Arab states at this point would be tautological.

Islamist ideological exports from Arabia, like the Ebola virus to the south, are now global threats. Egypt has finally seen the light with the Muslim Brotherhood and the generals in Cairo are again in the process of attempting to eradicate al Ikhwan within its borders. Ins’Allah and Godspeed!

The sheiks and princes of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, however, are still working both sides of the street, dancing with the devil; providing refuge, ideology, financing, recruits, and weapons to a host of Sunni jihadists including ISIS.

ISIS is now the literal cutting edge of Sunni Islam, at once a defining movement and a cultural acid test. Of 49 states with Muslim majorities, only five pathetic Arab oligarchs, ten percent, have offered to enter the ISIS fight. And even these are doing little or nothing.

Such evidence suggests that the Muslim majority is either a co-conspirator, cowardly, or too bovine to make either team. The lack of a global Muslim response to ISIS puts the lie to the “great religion” and moral equivalence shibboleths that the Obama/Brennan/Kerry team has sought to pedal for six years.

We should note here that the American Secretary of State, John Kerry, now claims that Jewish or Israeli behavior is helping to recruit ISIS foot soldiers. Again, anti-Semitism is ever the canary in the geo-political sewer.

Blaming Jews is sport for the foreign policy establishment in the West. Vichy and Quisling ride again! Alas, Scandinavia is once more in the vanguard of the bigot brigade. Sweden has recognized the Fatah/Hamas caliphate in Palestine.

Traditional anti-Semitism on both sides of the Atlantic is now augmented with Muslim migrations to the campuses and capitals of the democratic world. Sadly, the social democratic Left is just as good at excusing bigotry at home as it is at rationalizing Islamism and terror abroad.

Self-interest might suggest that Islam would smite ‘apostates’ like bin Laden and al Baghdadi. Not likely! Bin Laden sought and received sanctuary in Afghanistan and Pakistan for a decade. He was killed by Americans not Muslims. Similar Islamic miscreants now luxuriate and fester in the Emirates and the Levant.

If the Arab League and the OIC is expecting the Kurds, Turks, or NATO pilots to crush ISIS, the greater Muslim world is truly delusional too.

ISIS is Islamic precisely because the silent, passive aggressive, Muslim majority makes ISIS possible. Just as Islam originated in Arabia, ISIS is the linear descendent of the militant, imperial, now fascist quarter of the Ummah.

Surely acts are more significant than ideology, but the ideological roots of irredentist Islam are clear. The poisoned tree is rooted in historical Mohamedism, more recent imperial Islamism (aka Salifism), and all those oil oligarchs wealthy enough to provide sanctuary – and buy policy, politicians, and academic apologists in Europe and America.

Despite Barack Hussein Obama’s pandering, a preponderance of evidence suggests that ISIS is as Muslim as Mecca. The immediate future and that passive aggressive Islamic mainstream will determine whether all of Islam becomes ISIS. Short of a declaration of war, it’s hard to know what side of history the fearful West and the theocratic East will favor.

Truth doesn’t care who she offends. History is written by winners. A declared war will eventually be necessary and even then only a total victory will be sufficient to end the pandering in the West– and end caliphate fantasies in the East.

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This essay appeared in the in the 29 October edition of American Thinker.

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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!

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This essay appeared previously in the American Thinker and the Iconoclast

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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.

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

 

 


Checkmate in Baghdad and Geneva

October 4, 2013

“Domestic policy can only defeat us; foreign policy can kill us.” – JFK

War is a messy business. Serial wars get even more untidy over time. Often, it’s hard to know where one begins and another ends. Such is the case today as the Arab spring looks like another Muslim winter. America and Europe stumble from one conflict venue to another wondering what happened to all those rosy assertions about jasmine, justice, moderation, and modernity. The Islamic world is a mess and no one has a clue as to where or how the sequential mayhem ends. In Syria, the nanny states of the West are again perched on the brink of another sectarian and/or tribal abyss.

Nonetheless, the optimism of intervention still prevails. Today you hear argument after argument about the responsibilities of power and success – or preaching about very selective humanitarian concerns.  If you read enough foreign policy analysis you might come to believe that someone has the answer, or that somehow Europe and America have the “responsibility” to make the Third World well. Never mind that the very words “developing” and “emerging” have become geo-political oxymorons, triumphs of hope over experience.

Ironically, the grand strategy, if there is one, when you strip away the boilerplate, can be summarized with a single word – that word is “more.” More is the mantra of imprudent expectations; bailouts at home and flailouts abroad. If one “investment” doesn’t work, surely the original sacrifice wasn’t big enough. No thought seems to be given to developing a new game plan. More aid, more pandering, more troops, more drones, or more missile strikes; but never more common sense. It’s always more, and more is never enough.

And now ‘more’ is accompanied by “red line” moralizing, the color coded version of chicken. Alas, the no-fault/default cultures of Europe and America are unlikely enforcers of any kind of norms and standards in the less civilized world. The West insists, ironically, on measures of accountability and restraint that have been abandoned in Europe and America. Political decay, especially in the First World, has consequences.

All the rhetoric about global responsibility is a rehash of the “white man’s burden” trope. Worse still, the hand-wringing and preaching seems to validate “orientalism,” guilt driven theories that excuse and forgive Muslim pathology because the chaos is thought to be the results of European racism, colonialism, or exploitation.

Ironically, much of the confused strategic rhetoric originates with senior military officers and the Intelligence Community.

Since Vietnam, the Pentagon has sought to redefine most wars as either guerilla, insurgent, or conventional conflicts. Conventional conflict is a distant third in most deliberations. Real wars might have to be declared and put to a vote. Unfortunately, the accepted taxonomy ignores ground truth and the worldview of likely opponents.

Most wars in the troublesome Muslim world are in fact religious wars, conflicts where the nexus is a clash between religious and secular values. The most obvious evidence of religious war, external to the Muslim world, occurs at the tectonic plates of religion, those borders where Muslim and non-Muslim polities meet. South Asia, North Africa, the Balkans, the Caucasus region, Thailand, and the Philippines are obvious examples. Even China has pockets of Muslim irredentism.

When ayatollahs and imams rant about “jihad,” or holy war, they have few illusions about the nature of contemporary conflict. Indeed, most Muslim clerics seem to grasp global strategic reality better than American generals who insist on parsing various Muslim wars into local insurgencies with local motives. Religion has become the invisible camel in the infidel tent.

The most celebrated version of the official US military view in these matters is contained in Army Field Manual 3-24; Counterinsurgency, the doctrinal bible that David Patraeus helped write and subsequently rode to four star notoriety. Unfortunately, like too many of his over-schooled peers, General Patraeus is more likely to be remembered for his social life than his military insights or battlefield achievements. Equally misguided was the US Marine Corps decision to adopt the Army manual in the interests of tactical ecumenism.

Religious war is now a global phenomenon, thanks in part to the failure of flag officers to acknowledge that threat. The Pentagon doesn’t have any official guidance for religious war beyond political correctness.

Within the Ummah, modern wars are of two types; civil and proxy. Contemporary revolutions in Iran, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, the Sudan, Somalia, Mali, and Egypt are religious civil wars. These in turn are of two classes; sectarian (i.e. Shia vs Sunni) or secular/sectarian. Secular military dictatorships, Egypt today for example, have been in the clerical crosshairs since Mohammed’s time. Libya and Syria are examples of secular oligarchies where tribal rivalries created opportunities for Islamists.

Syria is a prominent example of modern proxy war, where principals (Russia and the US or Iran and Israel), once removed, are attempting to settle old scores or exploit a regional opportunity. Any notion of moral “red lines” or WMD thresholds in Syria is just another flight from reality, a veil for political egos and hidden agendas.

The American Ranch Hand campaign (1962-71), which poisoned Southeast Asia for nearly a decade, was the most egregious, sustained modern use of chemical warfare. Granted, the putative aim of the Agent Orange campaign was defoliation; still, the net effect was to poison civilians and water sources under the canopy. No American administration is well-positioned to point fingers at Syria when the US Air Force, the Pentagon, and the White House have yet to acknowledge or accept responsibility for the mutilation of a generation of American GIs and several generations of Vietnamese children.

We might also recall those gassed Kurds and Persians (1988) of recent memory who perished from indifference if not complicity. Or we could mention the million or so Rwandans (1994) who fell to tribal clubs and cutlery. Such events barely make the evening news in the West. With these and Vietnam, ‘moral’ superiority about chemical warfare or genocide, if it ever existed, is a void not a high ground.

The recent gas attack in Syria is not an exception, nor is it a rule. Identifying culprits is probably irrelevant.  Nations adhere to international conventions or “norms” as it suits their interests. Credible force is the only reliable sheriff or deterrent. And a false flag prologue is often the pretense for the use of force.

Clearly there is more than a little overlap in any conflict taxonomy. Nonetheless, the need for a new vocabulary for the age of intervention is underwritten by two indisputable facts: religion underwrites much of the typology and too many conflicts are misrepresented as insurgencies when they are in fact civil wars. If Libya or Syria were true insurgencies, America should have sent guns to Gaddafi and Assad.

The ‘insurgent’ paradigm suits the politics, not the reality, of modern war. Terms like Islamic, religious, or “civil” war are avoided because the US military has no charter, doctrine, or legal authority for intervention in overseas internal disputes; and surely no moral authority for taking sides in religious rivalries. The Sunni tilt in American foreign policy since 1979 speaks for itself, a grim litany of blowback and failure.

At a minimum, you could argue that American intervention has made Shia fanatics, Hezb’allah, the Taliban, and now a global al Qaeda possible. Recall that America helped create a vacuum in southern Lebanon for Hezb’allah to fill. Recall also that clandestine support to the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the Soviet era made the Taliban possible. Imprudent signals to Islamists made the recent Muslim Brotherhood electoral success possible in Egypt too. In the geo-political arena, unqualified support for Saudi and Emirate oil oligarchs makes Salifism and related religious fascism possible worldwide.

The incompetence of intervention has more than a little to do with the caliber of American generals since Korea. Surely, David Patraeus was no guerilla fighter like Joe Stillwell and Martin Dempsey is no cavalry officer the equal of George Patton. At Benghazi, American military honor was compromised by timidity, if not bureaucratic cowardice. General Dempsey claims that he did not act because Mrs. Clinton didn’t give him a green light. Under Dempsey, the military ethos changed from “no man left behind” to “cover your behind.” Victory is no longer a staple of any flag officer’s resume or vocabulary.

The Intelligence Community is also part of the rhetorical decay. While at the White House, John Brennan literally scrubbed any reference to Islam, Islamists, jihad, or holy war from public and administration conversations about national security. He actually convinced most government departments, contractors, and the Press to delete any language that might suggest linkage between terror, religious war, and Islam. The Director of National Intelligence now refers to Islamic terrorists as “nefarious characters.” At CIA, Brennan is now well placed to police the language and analysis of National Intelligence Estimates.

And the chickens of strategic decline are home to roost as America again sides with the Sunni in Syria. Dithering in the West for two years has allowed Bashar al-Assad to regain the tactical advantage on the battlefield. And strategically, the Alawite regime now has a clear victory.  American gun sights have been lowered from regime change to “let’s make a deal.” Never mind that time is as good a gift to Assad as any aid from the Persians and Russians.

And the proxy war is a disaster. Vladimir Putin throws a ‘Hail Mary’ in Syria, and Foggy Bottom and the White House morph into cheer leaders. Worse still, the American administration embarrasses itself by trying to take credit for the Russian initiative. Say what you will about Putin, he is a better friend to Syria than Obama is to Israel. When the next “red line” is in the works, it might have to be drawn around Israel.

The Russian strategy may look a little like a deus ex machina, but compared to the Obama amateurs, Putin plays the great game like Winston Churchill. And putting John Kerry in  a diplomatic cage match with Sergei Lavrov is like watching  a bear  toy with a cocker spaniel. Checkmate in Baghdad and Geneva!

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The author provided intelligence support to Ranch Hand at Tan Son Nhut AB in 1968 and 1971. He writes occasionally about the politics of national security.