Twerking at the Pentagon

December 11, 2016

Call it karma, but the 2015 Super Bowl was a tribute to the virtues of modesty, experience, and ultimately, poetic justice.  The Carolina Panthers were led by an obnoxious bore that never missed an opportunity all season to twerk like a teen on the playing field or gloat like a fool at interviews.

The Denver Broncos, in contrast, were led by a mature and modest adult on the cusp of retirement. On Super Bowl Sunday, the old man from Colorado wiped the gridiron with Carolina. Lessons in humility continue today, the Panthers are last in their division in the 2016 season.

Presumption comes before the fall in sport and war. Trash talking never won a real fight in the real world. Adult leadership always matters.

Success in sports, business, statecraft, and war is a function of quiet confidence. Gloating motivates the competition. An overestimate is a no-lose hedge. An underestimate is a fatal flaw. And if you’re in it to spin it, you are probably not going to win it.

At the moment, team America is losing five hot wars and one cold war, all in slow motion.

Somehow, such ground truth is lost on the virtual generation of politicians, diplomats, and generals. Indeed, if you follow the national security monologue today, you would be led to believe that spin, propaganda, public relations, and bombast are substitutes for actual success.

Resume and political twerking seem to be the new measures of accomplishment for national security professionals.

America might be bleeding, yet generals, for example, wear so much fruit salad camouflage than no one notices the hemorrhaging. Indeed, ignoring deficits and defeat is now a DOD meme. The Pentagon is a bull pen for oft promoted and often decorated underachievers.

Contemporary operational art, if it can be called that, is to do just enough to keep Muslim small wars going but never enough to win.

The only true victors in the matrix of military mediocracy seem to be Beltway bandits and the chaps who make and sell gadgets, bombs, and bullets to DOD.  Dwight Eisenhower is probably spinning in his grave today. Hot “long wars” and long cold wars are good news for the military/industrial complex. Not so much for the taxpayer or true security.

Few, at this point, can argue that Eastern Europe, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, or Yemen are better off after American meddling. Let’s review the bidding.

Eastern Europe

The Clinton era campaign to dismantle Yugoslavia is still playing out. Civil war in the Balkans began with agitation in Muslim Kosovo which quickly escalated to other Yugoslav provinces. Pushback from Christian Serbs degenerated into a sectarian blood bath. The EU and America sided with Muslim factions, bombed Serbia into a cease fire, and the rest is history. EU and NATO helped to create two radical Islamic sanctuaries in the heart of Europe, ignoring the toxic record of Muslim fascism in Kosovo and Bosnia Herzegovina.

When an objective history of 20th Century Balkans is written, Kosovo and Bosnia Herzegovina will not be in the win column.

It’s probably no accident that the EU sought to dismember a former Soviet client state whilst the USSR itself was racked by political revolution.  NATO and the EU filled the Warsaw Pact vacuum by pulling former Moscow satellites into the Brussels orbit. Absent the Warsaw Pact buffer, Russia found itself with both the EU and NATO as hostile neighbors.

The Cold War with the Soviet Union, and now Russia, was never far removed the turmoil in the Balkans. Say what you will about Vladimir Putin, but he has stabilized Rodina within. His pushback in Georgia and Ukraine is understandable too from a Russian security perspective. Surely, no rational Kremlin leader could let the naval and nuclear weapons at Sevastopol fall into the hands of neo-Nazi crazies in Kiev.

These days, it’s probably not difficult for the average Russian to believe that the Kremlin is the ultimate regime change target for Brussels and Washington.

Afghanistan

Afghanistan began as another proxy war with the Soviets; an early clandestine success that morphed into a nasty guerilla war with the locals. The Kremlin was prudent enough to cut its losses in 1989. When the Russians departed, the Americans stepped in for a quarter century of humiliations. The Taliban (nee Mujahedeen ) now have a secure theocratic naro-state in most of the countryside. Sovereign Afghanistan barely exists outside of Kabul.

The Afghan War used to be known as the “war of necessity’ when bin Laden was alive. The 9/11 mastermind is dead now for five years, but al Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIS still flourish and one of the three is likely to eventually seize Afghanistan.

When Afghanistan succumbs, whither nuclear Pakistan?

Iraq

At the beginning of the Obama administration, Iraq was known as the “war of choice,” implying that America didn’t need to be there. After the initial Schwarzkopf  blitz of 2003, America is still in Iraq, albeit with fewer allies. Indeed, America, a “coalition of one,” is currently fighting its third Iraq war in 13 years. Iraq is now the DOD poster child for battle fatigue and mission creep. No end in sight for either.

Having reversed the sectarian poles, Sunni to Shia, and cashiered Sadam Hussein’s army; America now finds itself as a proxy ally to Shia Iran, mired in a ground war with a growing Sunni Islamic State.

Former Bath Party soldiers fight for the Levant jihad. After rearming Shia Iran by “deal”, America now sides with a Persian client state that one day may be the Shia counterpart of Sunni ISIS. Yes, Iraq and Iran used to be irreconcilable enemies. Naive American policy blunders gifted Baghdad to the ayatollahs.

The rise of the Islamic State in Iraq provided an opportunity for the kind of executive twerking that minimizes Muslim imperialism to this day. Team Obama mocked ISIS as the “junior varsity.” What the president failed to say was more telling.

Presumably, the Muslim “varsity” is the larger global jihad. According to intelligence estimates, ISIS alone now has a presence in 40 states and attracts recruits from 90 countries, including America.  And ISIS is just one of dozens of global jihadist armies, Sunni and Shia, with similar religious/political agendas. Islamist foot soldiers are supported directly or indirectly by both Arabs and Persians.

The blow back from three American campaigns in Iraq is now threefold:  ISIS, a Shite Iraq, and a new vassal state for Iran.

The quagmire in Baghdad is starting to make ten years in Saigon look like money well spent.

Syria

Hard as it is to imagine, Syria is a bigger mess than Iraq, although it’s difficult to believe that either state will survive in its present configuration. Syria is the exemplar of “humanitarian” folly, although Libya might be close second.

The Syrian campaign began as another anti- regime fiasco, underwritten by the simplistic belief that democracy is the default setting for failed Muslim states. Sovereign failure and collapse, alas, is engineered by sponsored assassinations, coups, civil wars, or “humanitarian” interventions.

The decades old campaign to unseat Bashir Assad has now degenerated into another proxy war with the Kremlin. In this case, Moscow has the moral high ground. Unlike American, the Russian intervention in Syria is at the request of the host. The Kremlin is actually defending, not destroying, Syrian sovereignty.

Indeed, the Russian Air Force, Kurd, and Persian militias seem to be winning in the north. If Aleppo falls, Russia and Iran will have scored a major victory over the Sunni jihad in Syria. If and when the Russian led coalition drives ISIS back into Turkey, expect John Kerry and Ash Carter to be the first to take a bow.

The valiant Kurds, unfortunately, are unlikely to benefit from any al Nusra/ISIS defeat in Syria.

The Kurds are the largest, if not only, demographic of genuine Muslim “moderates” in the world. Caught between duplicitous Turks and feckless Americans, the Kurdish quest for a national sovereignty is likely to be kicked to the curb by a US defense establishment that prefers to pander to Ottoman theocrats in Ankara.

The Kurd quandary is just a facet of the larger dilemma that dogs US foreign/military policy in the Ummah. Few if any Arab, Persian, or Muslim factions trust the White House or the Pentagon after decades of spastic policy.

Libya

Libya is another tragic case of regime change folly embellished with callous adolescent taunts. Once the most affluent nation in North Africa, Libya is now reduced to barbaric free fall and religious civil war. The ISIS “junior varsity” has more than a toehold in yet another failed Muslim state with oil wealth. Mission creep proceeds apace in North Africa too. US air strikes have begun in Libya – again.

With Libya, gloating reaches new juvenile lows. Mrs. Clinton twerked: “We came, we saw, he died,” after the sponsored Gadhafi kill. Clearly, the US State Department was driving the Libya putsch.

Mrs. Clinton was cackling an artless replay of Julius Ceasar’s cryptic report (47 BC) to the Roman senate: “Veni, vidi, vinci; I came, I saw, I conquered. The very phrase has come to mean quick, successful victory. The American sponsored implosion in Libya is neither.

Subsequent to the Libyan collapse, which included the assassination of the US ambassador, the then Secretary of State concluded: “What difference, at this point, does it make?” Assessing the post-Gadhafi meltdown in North Africa; President Obama trash-talked the misadventure as North African “tribalism;” indeed calling erstwhile prosperous Libya, another “shit show.”

Vulgarity is often the lingua fanca for national security amateurs, as when State Department official Victoria Nuland chortled “fuck NATO” because some Europeans failed to endorse the US sponsored coup in Ukraine fast enough.

Yemen

The war in Yemen is another proxy fight, Saudi Arabia against Iran, Persian against Arab, and Sunni against Shia. In this case, America and England side with the Sunni. The wealthiest Muslim nation in Africa is trying to bomb the poorest Muslim nation back to the Stone Age.

Unaided, it would be impossible for the corrupt Emirates or a theocratic Saudi Arabia to fight their way out of a harem. The Saudi free-fire zone in Yemen is impossible without British and American weapons and munitions. Any moral argument about “indiscriminate” Russian bombing in Syria is undermined by the Saudi/American/British aerial blitz in Yemen.

A casual observer would be hard pressed not to see the Yemen and Mosul, Iraq fronts as distractions, if not diversions, from humiliations in Syria and Libya.  Lame ducks, seeking legacy, often morph into black swans.

As we speak, the American navy is exchanging missiles with Shia gunners in Yemen. American and Iranian flotillas are doing a martial pas de deux at Bab al Mandeb, a maritime standoff that could go hot with a single stray round.

Cold War with Russia

Just as the Shia/Sunni rift underwrites much of the mayhem in Muslim small wars, civil and sectarian; the proxy war between America and Russia compounds Ummah instability. Kremlin bashing now seems to be a staple for both American political parties. Even Hillary Clinton was fond of Anti-Putin twerking with Pussy Riot

Much Russophobia is also a diversion too – or whistling in the dark. Picking a fight with Moscow, whilst Muslim small wars abide, is a just twitch short of strategic insanity. Making matters worse, the trash talkers now accuse the Kremlin of meddling in American elections.

If the Russian FSB is capable of tampering with American elections, then the problem is the FBI and the National Security Agency, not Vladimir Putin. Russian and American Intelligence operatives do pretty much the same things, all of which are probably illegal somewhere. The difference between the two is that the Kremlin doesn’t seem to confuse effective tradecraft with adolescent loose talk.

If there’s a legitimate threat to the integrity of American elections from Intelligence operatives, the immediate danger comes from partisan American, not Russian, officials. Michael Morrel, former deputy at CIA, and Michael Hayden, former director at NSA, take a bow here.

And if America is as weak and vulnerable as officials like Morrel and DNI Jim Clapper claim; what does that say about the 17 plus Intelligence agencies and the myriad of DOD agencies that are supposed to provide security?  The problem with national defense may be the same as the problem with domestic social programs. Spending has been divorced from results – and solutions.

The only defense thread with a plus vector is funding, especially in the “wilderness of mirrors,” the Intelligence Community. National security today, for both political parties, is more business than security.

The more America spends on Intelligence, the less the White House seems to know about threats. Bigger Intelligence has never been better, especially if the need is objective analysis. The best technical Intelligence collection in the world is now undone by cooked books and asserted conclusions, especially specious analysis about Russia or Islam.

Much of the associated political twerking is a toxic remix mandated by Beltway thought police.  The worst invective is now reserved for “Russians,” when we actually mean the Putin administration. No such blanket bias is permissible for Arabs, Persians, or Muslims where the preferred terms for culprits are undifferentiated euphemisms such as “criminals, radicals, or extremists”.

Or to borrow a gem from DNI James Clapper, Muslim shock troops and terrorists are called “nefarious characters.”  If you listen to the Orwellian verbiage approved by fiat for America’s Muslim wars, you might believe that race, country of origin, and political theology had nothing to do with the ongoing Muslim jihad or the larger “clash of civilizations.”

The Russian Shibboleth

The specter of the Russian bear haunts those many inconclusive Muslim wars. From Afghanistan in 1978 to Syria today, the perception of the Kremlin as a manipulator of dark forces continues to haunt the American foreign/military policy establishment. It’s as if all the baggage of the Comintern , the Soviet Union, Warsaw Pact, and the Cold War were still with us.

Blatant contradictions abound. American foreign policy assumes that Putin’s Russia is Stalin’s Soviet Union. With Islam, a culture barely altered in 1400 years, we assume democracy follows autocracy. In fact, theocracy is the default setting for a metastasizing Ummah. And Russians, since Yeltsin, are models of tolerance and democracy when compared to recidivist Persians and Arabs.

After the Ayatollah’s revolution in 1979, the vector of Shia and Sunni political cultures is race to the barbaric bottom, or the 7th Century, whichever comes first.

Russophobia is now aggravated by Pentagon generals with political agendas. NATO and CJCS brass provide two recent examples.

Former NATO Supreme Allied commander, Philip Breedlove, USAF, was exposed, thru hacked emails, beating the drums for confrontation with Russia. At the JCS, Army Chief of Staff, Mark Milley engaged in similar chest thumping, claiming that Russia was “an existential threat,” a menace that the US Army would “destroy.”

Breedlove and Milley should be careful about what they wish for. Some sense of history might help. The Soviet’s did most of the fighting and took most of the casualties in the last European war. Today, Russians are no longer dependent on the largesse of Lend-Lease. And the Kremlin still has the home field advantage.

Russia isn’t Panama and the Russian Army isn’t anybody’s “junior varsity.” A cynic might conclude that the Kremlin shibboleth is not as critical to US national security as it is for DOD budgets and federal spending.

Efforts to separate Russia from Europe are not in the best interests of Europe or America in any future. Playing a highly personalized version of nuclear “chicken” with Vladimir Putin is not much of a game plan either.

Russians were an indispensable ally for the defeat of 20th Century secular fascism in WW II. Russia may have to play a similar role if 21st Century Islamofascism is ever to be beaten. Unfortunately, the kind of spin and twerking that characterizes State Department rhetoric has migrated to the Department of Defense.

Alas, trash talk and adolescent posturing doesn’t win cold or hot wars. American politicians and generals who can’t acknowledge failure are unlikely to recognize success in any case.

Martial malarkey is especially ironic because DOD is clearly subordinate to the cookie pushers at Foggy Bottom these days. Recall that the former CJCS, another Army general, Martin Dempsey, testified that he didn’t send help to Benghazi because Hillary Clinton at the State Department didn’t ask him for help.

Girls and gays with guns in the ranks is one thing. Girly men on the E Ring is another problem altogether. The mufti militia at the Pentagon needs to think long and hard about getting back to what real warriors do best.

        

                                                                            What Is To Be Done?

 

Stand Up or Stand Down

The bell whether event of the 20th Century was the 1979 religious coup in Iran, the significance of which was largely lost or ignored by most observers under the smoke screen of the hostage crisis and Carter/Reagan era bumbling. The truth about the ayatollahs is that they played America then as well as they played team Obama more recently in 2016.

The advent of Persian theocracy was seismic for two reasons. Religious rule was legitimized in an erstwhile secular state and theocracy in Tehran, rule by clerics, provided both a role model and spark to the fire that still rages in the Sunni world today. Indeed, if you consult narratives for the period, theocracy and the Shia /Sunni rift are largely ignored. The headlong civic plunge backwards is still called, ironically, a “Jasmine Revolution” or an “Arab Spring.”

Alas, the subtext of the global jihad is religious war, an imperial campaign that targets non-Muslim infidels and apostate secular Muslims alike. Now that Shia and Sunni nuclear weapons are part of the equation, Koranic prophesy about Armageddon becomes more relevant to true believers.

Indeed, the “great game” in the Mideast and North Africa is not between East and West; the true nexus of jihad is the antipathy between Arabs and Persians, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Washington has inserted itself on the median strip between these 1400 year old religious road warriors. Before the Shia/Sunni rift is resolved, something more than American naiveté might become road kill.

The rationale for war is often the same as the rationale for the death penalty. Some miscreants are so evil; killing is the only sensible solution. America needs to acknowledge the primal threat of Shia and Sunni Islamism or stand down.  Half-measures and futile appeasements are variants of a death wish actualized in slow motion.

America will not defeat Islamism alone either. A bloated NATO has done little or nothing to restrain the jihad. Indeed, the one unique European policy response to the Ummah hemorrhage is “open borders.” Who in their right mind believes that the answer to jihad and terror in Europe, or America, is more Muslims?

Non-contiguous Islamic nations do not accept Muslim refugees or migrants for good and prudent reasons. Only infidel morons invite ideological, religious, or kinetic threats into the homeland?

Pay and Play

America must insist that Muslims fight and finance their own wars, rescue their own refugees/migrants, and reform a toxic religio/political ideology tomorrow, if not sooner. If the Ummah is content to succumb to Shia and Sunni fundamentalist theocracy, so be it. A unified Muslim threat simplifies the targeting problem for any future “coalitions” that will have to deal with Islamism.

NATO “partners” too must pay their own way and fight as required or resign themselves to the tender mercies of a European caliphate. The EU is already on a slippery slope if Brexit is any clue. Crash Islamization just accelerates the slide.

Humanitarian Intervention?

Social democratic imperialism, or globalism, is the single political canard that underwrites most recent American and European foreign/military policy disasters. Alas, justifying violations of national sovereignty with good intentions is a little like trying to rationalize rape as speed dating.

Unsolicited intervention is usually propelled by special interests, hidden agendas, or colossal arrogance. Armed assault is a hermaphrodite too; an “intervention” for the aggressor is an invasion for the victim. Worst of all, “humanitarian” intervention, as justified by globalist polemicists like Samantha Powers at the UN, is often a euphemism for coercive “regime change.” There’s nothing legal, democratic, moral, or “humanitarian” about any sponsored coup, insurrection, sectarian or civil war.

Nations are sovereign or they are not.

Recent evidence is conclusive.  Regime change is an act of war sponsored by naive nitwits who have no intention of winning the fight or dealing with consequences of predictable chaos.

The Virtual Illusion

If the policy, plan, or strategy is hair brained, tactics and operational arts are unlikely to compensate. So it is with fifty years of Muslim small wars where much American “combat” is fought by arm chair warriors in air conditioned aircraft, “situation” rooms, Pentagon suites, or mobile trailers. We are told that the American President personally selects drone or cruise missile targets. Small wonder then that American tactics echo round the world before strategy can find its big boy pants.

Virtual warriors are not unlike video gamers, nerds far removed from the blood and guts, but dangerous nonetheless. There’s little evidence to date to suggest that air power alone wins any war, large or small.

Indeed, precision guided weapons had little to do with big kills. Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and Muamar Gadhafi were all killed the old fashioned way, with boots on the ground.  An airstrike, unfortunately, seldom provides an opportunity for gloating or twerking.

Body count is never as important as bodies that count.

The bin Laden execution has become such a staple for political demagogues that a generation of children might come to believe that the Saudi villain was shot by Foggy Bottom fairies, not a SEAL team. The American State Department is fond of taking bows for the achievements of others and equally adverse to accepting responsibilities for any failures.

New Alliances

If you compare religion, politics, culture, and praxis; there’s not much of a difference between the Islamic State, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. All lope off limbs or heads as public spectacle, each is the leg of a backward triumvirate metastasizing into the past in a quest for monolithic Islamic theocracy. Turkey is now a prime candidate to make the irredentist trio into a quartet.

When democratic socialists pander to clerical thugs; theocracy is validated. Freedom and democracy are suborned.

After 50 years of humiliations, if not defeat, the much vaunted NATO and the EU condominiums have proven to be paper tigers. Europeans, again taking cues from Berlin, believe that Islam will be appeased if Muslim migrants are pacified with open borders, subsidized hots, cots, and unlimited blond girl friends. Most Muslim immigrants and refugees are single males.

Here again, history is instructive. When secular fascism threatened the world in the 20th Century, most of Europe rolled over, north to south, like cheap tricks. There were a few noble exceptions at the margins in London and Moscow that made a difference. Now that religious fascism again stalks the continent, the usual European suspects again play the catamite.

There’s no chance that America alone saves Europe or the Ummah from their worst instincts. Defeating Islamofascism will require stout partners. Few social democracies in continental Europe are up for that challenge today. For too many Europeans, losing a war is the fastest way to end a war. Hat tip to Orwell.

If the conflict with Islamism is to be won, new thinking, less twerking, and new alliances are crucial. Any secular autocrat is a better ally than any Muslim theocrat. Russia and China are ruthless with home-grown Islamists. Moscow and Beijing have no illusions about the meaning of jihad and the threat posed by fascism, secular or religious, abroad or at home.

“Cowards die many times before their actual deaths.”

Julius Caesar

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A Sucker Punch

February 19, 2015

“I can think of no better way for the Congress to join me in supporting our nation’s security than by enacting this legislation, which would show the world we are united in our resolve to counter the threat posed by ISIL” – Barak Obama

Leading with your chin is always bad form, especially in politics. The newly minted Republican Congress is just about to step into a sucker punch from the White House. The President claims that he needs a new authorization from Congress to pursue the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS); an authority the President didn’t think he needed for the last six years.

Mr. Obama prefers to call the al Qaeda doppelganger, the Islamic State in the Levant (ISIL). At the same time, he denies the adjective, claiming that ISIS is not Islamic. Such semantic shenanigans are designed, among other things, to avoid illuminating Iraq and Syria, two of the more notable strategic failures on Obama’s watch. The Levant can now be put in the loss column like Iran, Libya, Egypt, and Yemen. And the “war of necessity” in Afghanistan now looks like a skidaddle too, just as the war in Iraq now looks like the new “war of necessity.” Follow closely, this gets worse.

The troops that remain in Afghanistan and Iraq somehow are not “boots on the ground,” the same kind of boots that bled in the same theaters previously during the Bush administration. Repeat deployments under the Obama regime don’t seem to qualify as combat tours. Does an all-volunteer force deserve such patronizing babble from the Commander-in-Chief? With administration spin, we are lead to believe that American troops deployed to the Ummah in the future will be more schoolmarms than warriors – in little danger of becoming targets.

Such absurdity might be new insult, but not new injury. The Obama regime and the Pentagon have insisted for years that America is not at war. You could be led to believe that all those body bags and wounded warriors passing through Dover AFB for the last decade were simply casualties from workplace violence. If America is not at war, why then is there a need for any new Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), nee “war powers” legislation?

For the good part of a decade, the Oval Office has cultivated strategic failure in South Asia, the Mid-East, and North Africa with the Bush charter. Would another AUMF bill from Congress change the effectiveness of heretofore failed leadership?

The paper drill on Capitol Hill and the semantics charade at the White House may not be coherent strategy but these things do have purpose. The Obama legacy and the 2016 presidential election come to mind.

To date, the Obama foreign policy record is a litany of serial fiasco, indeed the ISIS crisis abroad and the AUMF feint at home serve only to divert attention from the engineered chaos in places like Yemen, Libya, and Afghanistan. If the White House can persuade a Republican Congress to sign on to a new war powers resolution, then Democrats will surely argue in 2016 that the foreign policy record for the Obama years is a shared or “bipartisan” failure. The Muslim wars are already bipartisan bungles, why give the next fiasco a legal imprimatur?

Mister Obama’s strategic concerns for the next two years are likely to be focused on personal legacy and blame shifting not defeating ISIS or any other Muslim army in detail. Calling for bipartisanship at this late date has little to do with foreign affairs and everything to do who pays the political piper at the ballot box.

The emerging Islamic state now displacing Iraq and Syria is symptomatic of another imperial Muslim success in the East and another allied failure in the West. In 2016, the Democrats would like Republicans to share blame for the foreign policy and military mess that the next American president is likely to inherit.

Betrayal is the unintended consequence of such venality. Tactical incompetence and strategic impotence is measured in lives. Those who have been killed or maimed may have suffered in vain. The best trained and equipped military in the world has been squandered in small wars that the Oval Office and the Joint Chiefs, by their own admission, have no intention of winning. Half-measures and stability seem to be the new strategic euphemisms for defeat or surrender.

Mister Obama doesn’t need any new authorities, nor does he need obvious Republican collaborators. He might, however, need some cover for Hillary in 2016 and that’s what any new war powers resolution is all about.

Alas, if any new paperwork is required, it should be a declaration of war against a named enemy before another soldier is deployed. The alternative might be a presidential finding of surrender. Surely Abu Bakr al Baghdadi would give a brother like Barak Hussein Obama the best of terms.

Withal, team Obama is beginning to lose its chokehold on the American Left and a pandering Media. Stalwarts like NBC and The Atlantic are finally giving Oval Office foreign and military policy some serious scrutiny. Richard Engel and James Fallows are recent examples, although in both cases you might wonder where they’ve been for the past two decades. Fallows, in particular, has become a skeptic but still has trouble distinguishing between “can do” and “should do.”

Still, Fallows is correct to the extent that feckless European and American politicians, Right and Left, continue to dither with timid policies while Islam is spreading the fires of religious recidivism and barbarity. By now it should be clear that the so-called “moderate” Muslim majority is either passive aggressive, cowardly, or suicidal – maybe all three. If Islam will not fight to save itself from Islamists, why not let the apathetic Muslim majority experience the inevitable? Then allow Allah to sort the rubble.

At this point, for America and Europe, doing little or nothing might be the most prudent economy of force option.

………………………….

Keywords: Islamism, ISIS, ISIL, terror, war powers, Obama, al Baghdadi, Richard Engel, James Fallows

Baghdadi,


Regime Change in America?

November 18, 2014

Hold the champagne!

The recent mid-term election in America is not a sweep, a wave, or a revolution.  The same president is still in the Oval Office and the usual suspects still reign in the House and Senate. Sure, Harry Reid might get a smaller office, but his successor as House Majority Leader is not necessarily an improvement. In Congress, the most important values are stasis and tenure. Leadership on the Hill is usually an inherited position not a virtue like character. Pragmatically, you probably couldn’t slip a two dollar bill between the Republicans and Democrats on any major domestic or foreign policy issue.

Yes, that now includes health care too. Once a large government program is underway none dare assault the leviathan.  No matter how bad the program, the civil service jobs are always good. Both political parties agree the least that you can do for any social problem is to throw money at it.

The foreign policy planks of both major parties might be captured in two neologisms, Russophobia and Islamophilia. Republicans and Democrats are in a foot race to the right when the subject is Vladimir Putin and a mad dash to the left, can’t genuflect fast enough, if the subject is Mohamed or Muslims. Never mind that America has everything in common with Moscow and near nothing in common with Mecca.

There were two clear messages from election night, ennui and apathy. Americans are fed up with both parties. If there had been a “none of the above” box to check, nihilism might have won in a landslide. Again, as in almost any American election, apathy is the loudest voice in the public square.

Overall, about 35 percent of eligibles voted. Turnout was down in all states but twelve. If you think of an election as an opinion poll, we don’t know what most folks think. Those unwilling to say or play are a cipher, a true silent majority.

The mid-term elections might not be a champagne moment, but looking towards 2016, we can see the specters of three political futures: the Boehner/McConnell tag team, the Christie/Clinton tarantella, and the Obama legacy quest.

Boehner and McConnell on the bridge

Let’s not kid ourselves about the leadership in Congress.

If John Boehner wasn’t a congressman, he would probably be tending bar in Ohio. He has been a professional politician for nearly thirty years. He might be most notable for tearing up whenever he hears the words, “Mister Speaker.” Boehner is third in line of succession to the presidency.

Mitch McConnell is another professional politician who has served in the Senate for longer than Boehner has been in the House. Like Boehner, he is another invisible man with tenure. McConnell might best be known as “let’s make a deal” Mitch, the go-to-guy for collaboration on deficit spending.

Neither of these two would be thought of as leaders or visionaries in any forum where tenure was not the dominant value. And neither of them has shown the courage to think outside the box. Like most sinecures, a Boehner/McConnell stewardship represents more of the same, business as usual; profligate spending at home and Moscow bashing abroad – complimented by half-measures or appeasement with the Islamist menace.

The mid-term election in any case was not about Republicans, it was about failed leadership, the lack of tactical and strategic vision in Washington. Most Americans obviously would rather not vote than pick from the lesser evil. Such elections might change things at the margins, but that kind of change is never progress.

The Christie/Clinton Dance

Unlike Hillary Clinton for the Left, Governor Chris Christie on the Right is by no means a shoo-in as the next Republican nominee for President. However, as Chair of the Republican Governor’s Conference, Christie picked up some markers in the recent mid-term election. His guys won. The New Jersey governor may be an early front runner also because he is the most visible, and eager, aspirant in what appears to be an attempt to stake out the ‘moderate’ middle of the road. Hopefully the road will not be the New Jersey Turnpike again.

Surely there will be a host of other Republican candidates, but for the moment, among party stewards, Christie seems to be the guy to beat in the next national primary.

Unfortunately, if Mrs. Clinton runs, the optics for Christie are all wrong. The governor is large, loud, and conspicuously rude. He looks and acts like a bully, a macho stenotype that plays into the ‘war on women’ meme. If Hillary runs, she campaigns on her genitals. ‘First woman’ is going to be a lot more persuasive than ‘first black.’ People vote for images not issues anyway. A Jersey Shore heavy gives a liberal Press too much ammunition. Rude will not play well in flyover country.

The only way for Republicans to neutralize the genitals factor is to put a woman, a brown male, or both, on the ticket. Alas, the pale southern specter of the Bush clan is again in the mix. Any Clinton/Bush remix is sure to look like a rerun of Dynasty.

Still, Mrs. Clinton is the formidable politician for the moment. American voters are pregnant with the sentiment that the time has come for a woman – and that time is now.

Hillary has already outflanked clueless conservatives on foreign policy. She is running to the right of all comers in the race back to the Cold War in Europe. When Republicans trot out Russian stereotypes, it’s old hat. In contrast, Putin bashing by the Left reinforces the ‘tough broad’ persona that Hillary seeks to cultivate.

Mrs. Clinton may have blown Benghazi, but that’s of a piece with similar Bush era Republican pandering to Arabs and Muslims after 9/11. Russia and China on the other hand will be a free fire zone for both American political parties in the next two years. Hillary is knocking over straw men early.

Neither party is willing to recognize, nor confront in any meaningful way, the real security challenge of the 21st Century which is a 3rd World War which has already begun, the blitzkrieg of imperial religious fascism. All that Salifi cash doled out to former American officials, academia, and think tanks is insulating the Arabian sanctuary – and making Islamic swords like ISIS possible.

Qatar is hosting the next World Cup, the kind of validation that makes Islamism possible. Sanction Russia! Contain China! Where are the sanctions and restraints for irredentist if not barbaric Islam?

Expect Hillary to run against the Obama record in any case. If the Clintons can hold most women, most minorities, academics, and folks collecting a government check, her bandwagon starts to look more like a freight train – and conservatives start to look more like 2016 road kill.

Surveying the political landscape realistically, Hillary Clinton is already playing man-to-man with a full court press.  Conservative leadership, if we can torture a noun, is still in the locker room backslapping – or just snapping towels.

Legacy Quest

Playing the clock for legacy is all that remains for President Obama, a self-defined victim just a half step from ignominy.

Alas, the eggs of a lame duck are fertilized with ego, dangerous hubris indeed. The peril lies in any 11th hour foreign policy Hail Mary that might come at the expense of the American economy or allies like Israel. Surely there are few legislative miracles to be had with Congress now in Republican hands.

To date, Obama foreign policy is a tale of serial incompetence. Yet the White House still blows in Sunni and now Shia ears as we speak. Cutting Shia Iran some slack on nuclear programs might serve two purposes, Obama legacy and another eye poke for Benjamin Netanyahu. It’s the Chicago way.

With Obama, foreign affairs, as with most of his politics, are personal. National apologists have blithely ignored the Islam bomb in Sunni hands; why not rationalize a level Ummah playing field by appeasing the Shia at the expense of Israel? Desperate deeds and smaller men are constant companions. Or as another Kris used to sing, “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.”

In the beginning, Barack Hussein Obama was thought to be the post-racial, millennial man. Indeed, Obama was the first world leader to get a Nobel Prize for wishful thinking about peace and arms control.  The president has delivered neither. Indeed, he has been so much worse than his two predecessors that the Obama era beggars comparison.

Legacy speculators are already claiming that Obama might be the worst president in modern history. Paul Krugman and Rolling Stone might disagree, but such debates are irrelevant for the moment.

Even a wounded politician is dangerous. Two years is a policy eternity. Weakness, compounded by ego, makes for a perilous mix. Misuse of executive orders puts the rule of law and separation of powers at risk at home. In the national security arena; the next 9/11, ISIS, or Ukraine fiasco could be a tipping point. A damaged president, an inert legislature, and a passive nation are as likely to be undone by ego, apathy, or enemies.

Both parties now elevate the Russian to ogre yet haven’t a clue about what to do with Islamic wolves. And the irony about economic sanctions against Moscow is that American Russophobia is damaging European allies too. The EU is not just on the brink of another Cold War; it’s more like the threat of another ice age in Game of Thrones. Winter in Europe comes early this year.

Irredentism seems to be a war of necessity for Islam. Going backwards with Europe and Asia is still an option for the West too. Myopic politics have no term limits.

Team Obama squanders energy on Russian and Chinese misdemeanors instead of cultivating a grand coalition of secular, dare we say rational, nations to focus on the war against imperial Islam – a war that civilization now seems to be losing in slow motion. If Islam were only a religion, it might be odious, but not necessarily dangerous. Unfortunately, Islam is largely a political construct where religion is not just inseparable from the state, but the mosque is too often a toxic well of imperial inspiration compounded by the regression of reason.

For the next two years Barack Hussein Obama, as the world’s most visible apologist for Islamism, will still be the most dangerous politician on the planet.

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This essay appeared in the 11/16/14 edition of American Thinker

 


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.

 

 


Thanks For What?

December 3, 2013

“For all sad words from mouth or pen, the saddest of these are, what might have been.” – Whittier

Thanksgiving was always the best of Yankee holidays; indeed, unlike most things we celebrate, a unique occasion, a special American institution. In its original incarnation, the last Thursday in November was set aside to thank God and our ancestors for the blessings and bounty that make America what it is.

Somehow the institution has become the enemy of the original idea.

The cynic sees Thanksgiving as just another paid holiday; but the optimist knows better. Thanksgiving is a starting gun, advent for a Christmas shopping orgy. “Black Friday,” is the spending riot that follows turkey Thursday, eclipsing the day before – and preventing acid reflux.

How much Americans consume between the end of November and the first of January is now both an annual economic metric and a cultural marker. Spending on turkey day is the jingle that stimulates Kris Kringle. More spending every year is good; less spending than last year – not so much.

If you like your shopping; you can keep your shopping – 24/7. Commerce never takes a holiday anymore.

Forget those tedious turkey dinners with riotous kids and obnoxious in-laws. Hit the mall before last call. Give thanks to Uncle Sugar for the day off and give thanks to the big boxes for giving us a place to go besides home, some place other than a hot kitchen and a noisy dining room on a weekday.

Speaking of government, let’s not forget to give thanks for that too. Withal, like consumption, more government does not necessarily make for happier campers.

Take the new healthcare circus. Watching Obamacare (nee Hilarycare) blow up on the launch pad might be a blessing too. It’s not just the prospects of a new regime; more significant is the possibility that implementation equals implosion. But for the moment, if you like the Affordable Care Act, you can keep it – and all those “navigators” that will help sign you up for new taxes.

While you’re in the queue, take comfort in knowing that Congress and staffs have special access to the exchanges and special subsides for their healthcare plans. Those between the ages of 18 and 64 might also send a tweet to individual representatives and wish them all the best in 2014.

And while the subject is politics, give thanks for another pair of breeding lawyers in the White House. The Clintons were a hard act to follow, but the Obamas are doing them proud. Hard to believe that Barak Hussein could out fudge William Jefferson. Facts don’t lie; but lawyers can factor by God.

When the subject is mendacity, the Clintons and Obamas are mirror images. Bill lied to a grand jury and Barak sold snake oil to tomorrow’s patients. One was diddling the help and the other was screwing the Hippocratic Oath. Deficits of candor and surpluses of pander make for a thoroughly modern commander.

If you like your politicians; you can keep your politicians! Hilary and Howard Taft are waiting in the wings. Yes, Hilary – hands down favorite to give Bill another chance with the interns on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Did we say Howard Taft? No, no; Taft was another Republican where girth might have been a measure of worth. It’s Jersey not Ohio that we’re thinking of. Chris Christie is likely to be Hilary’s opposite number a few years hence.

Before the Jersey shore comes south, Christie may have to squeeze past the titular head of the Republican Party, John Boehner. You might recall that Boehner is another Ohio guy who starts to weep every time someone shouts, “mister speaker!” Never mind, give thanks anyway for a polity that is about to cough up the most entertaining political dog fight of the new millennium.

So let’s raise a glass to the loyal opposition too, Boehner’s Republicans. Party tenure is the political stream that keeps deadwood afloat. Politicians and academics are alike in that regard. If either stays around long enough, they get promoted to their level of incompetence. The Speaker of the House does have one thing going for him. He’s not a lawyer.

And while the eggnog lasts, let’s give thanks for shysters too. Indeed, the legal profession is our 21st Century oligarchy, clever authors of the invisible coup- and the seamier side of democracy. Nearly every ambulance chaser dabbles in politics now. All three branches of government are dominated by the legal profession. When it comes to public office; cowboys, plowboys, and plumbers need not apply.

Seems only lawyers are fit to rule the modern social democracy. Ironically, when it comes to public approval, politicians and lawyers rank somewhere between cat scat and the curb. Not that this is an impediment. Surely the differences between Democrats and Republicans in America are obliterated by the standards of a common profession. We all have needs, we are all plaintiffs. Without lawyers how could we cope?

The purpose of social democracy after all is to insure that every citizen gets three hots, a cot, a laptop, condoms, a significant other, a Stairmaster, an allowance, health insurance – and daycare until mom and dad hit menopause. Ask not what you can do for yourself. Ask what your country can do for you. Happy 50th anniversary Jack!

Thanksgiving is like the Academy Awards, when you give thanks you need to make sure that you don’t forget anyone.
Alas, let’s not forget then to give thanks to the new Janissary on the E-Ring. Pentagon peacocks have come a long way in the last five years too: from helmets to hijabs,” from victory to “transition,” and from no-man-left-behind to “cover-your-behind.” “What does it matter?” says Mrs. Clinton on behalf of the JCS. Indeed!

The general officer corps (or corpse as the president might put it) is now on the cutting edge of social progress and fashion. Diversity is the best defense. Ambiguity is the best offense. Unisex puts the moxie in slogans like “An Army of One.”

And if you like silly hats on your head and fruit salad on your chest; you can keep them too, thank you. The Pentagon is not unlike T-Ball today. Win or lose, everybody gets a ribbon. Why reward performance or battle field victories when appearances will do?
So there you have it; a litany of thanks for another year in the world’s foremost social democracy. Happy holidays!
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American Thinker did not publish this assessment as part of their holiday fare. Too tart perhaps.