Tag Archives: Islamic terrorism

Obama’s deadly compromise


President Barack Obama confirmed in his press conference Thursday that he has accepted as unavoidable the recurrent, periodic Islamic terrorist attacks in the U.S. and abroad. That was the import of his answers to questions wherein he indicated that he would not modify what he considers his winning policy in the Mideast to “degrade and destroy” Daesh [ISIS or ISIL].
His response to criticism and demands that the U.S. should undertake a more aggressive policy toward the Mideast source of Islamic terrorism was to warn about additional civilian casualties from any such American action. Yet he acknowledged that Russian intervention in the Syrian conflict is accompanied by massive attacks on the civilian population. He mocked spokesmen, including inferentially the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who have called for the kind of all-out military effort against ISIS that destroyed Nazism and held the Communists at bay during the 35 years of The Cold War. Obama’s response is despite the fact that most American military commanders and planners argue that ISIS falls only behind Russia as Washington’s principal threat.
In effect, Obama’s program of action accepts an unspecified duration when the current worldwide wave of terrorist activity would continue. His rationalization for accepting such a level of violence against the civilian population was that there has always been terrorist activity from many different quarters over the past decades and that it was therefore not a new phenomenon. The implication was that terrorism is a natural phenomenon and may not ever be completely eliminated.
Obama outlined at some length the failure of his continuing negotiations with the Russians to end their support of the Basher al Assad regime in Syria. However, he took no note of the limited Moscow commitment in Syria today compared with Soviet times because of Russia’s diminished military capacity. Admitting that negotiations with the Russians have not produced any diminishment of Moscow’s activities in Syria, he offered the admonition that should such activity continue, it would condemn Russia as an international pariah in world opinion. That such an epithet would have already been accepted in most democratic circles around the world did not seem to reduce for him the importance of such additional evidence coming out of the Syrian civil war. Nor did Obama’s concentration on the Syrian conflict take account of Russian aggression in the Crimea, its subversion among Russian-speakers in the eastern Ukraine, and its continuing threats to the Baltic states.
The President did argue that the U.S. military activity against Daesh in the Mideast, however successful, would require a more comprehensive program to meet ISIS’ ideological concept. Yet, he failed again, to grapple with that very problem, that is to meet the challenge of the terrorists’ allegiance to Islam which forms their ideological framework. Obama continues, as do most observers, to acknowledge but intellectually ignore that however perverted and distorted their view, the terrorists base their creed on their own version of Islam. Obama ignores that a discussion of Islam and its relation to the terrorists is critical to any examination of their ideology.
Like other important international spokesmen, in fact Obama refuses to advocate that the world examine and discuss whatever tenets that religion holds which produce the current wave of terrorism. Instead, he like others fall back on such clichés as “Islam is a religion of peace” and the obvious conclusion that most Moslems are not advocates of terrorism. What Obama and his supporters ignore is that the terrorists are not Christian Scientists nor Mormons, but while all Moslems are not terrorists, all terrorists are Moslems. They ignore the long history of Arab and Moslem holy war [jihad] to force non-believers [kafirs] or face death or enslavement.
Obama’s acceptance , in effect, of the current level of world terrorism will lead to further augmentation of ISIS as it spreads it network around the world, gaining psychotic and fanatical adherents of an aggressive version of Islam because of its “success” in terrorizing the civilized world.

sws-08-04-16

A sad tale


The current dispute between Republican candidate for president Donald Trump and the family of a Moslem American soldier killed in combat in Afghanistan is a losing proposition for both sides.
When Khizr and Ghazala Khan decided to appear to tell their story of their son’s sacrifice for his country on the Democratic Convention broadcast, they were making it a political issue. They then cannot claim immunity when Trump attacks them for doing that.
Their excuse, of course, is that Trump’s earlier pronouncements on Moslems, his initial advocacy of banning all Moslem immigrants, had called them into the debate. They argued they had no alternative but to rebut the accusation that Moslem Americans were not loyal citizens. And the fact that they, as well as their son, were born abroad strengthened their argument with Trump.
The discussion has gone downhill ever since. Trump questioned the position of Mrs. Khan who did not speak initially, in effect, hinting it was the traditional repression of women in Islamic societies. Her physical aspect in the initial interview, including wearing a traditionl hijab [partial veil] seemed to confirm Trump’s hint. But she has since responded denying her submission to any restriction but offering the credible argument that any mention of her son made it almost impossible for her to control her emotions.
The whole affair, of course, points up the extreme difficulty of dealing with the problem of Moslems, most of all American Moslem citizens, in the current atmosphere. Any criticism of them is taken in some liberal quarters, including the Clinton presidential campaign, as islamophobia, a blanket prejudiced attack on a religious group.
But the fact remains that in the several instances of terrorism in the U.S. perpetrated by Moslem immigrants, often citizens, the question has hung in the air about how much their family and friends knew about their activities. Blanket denials that anything remotely connected with their terrorist acts was unforeseen seem dubious; can bomb-making and weapons practice take place in a home without the other members of the family knowing it is happening?
We can only guess that the source of much of the information which the FBI tells us has come into their hands and prevented many other attacks likely has come from fellow Moslems. They would be the first to sniff such activity. It is also apparent that what could be construed as sentiment among Moslems for the traditional acts of violence against kafirs [unbelievers or non-Moslems] which traditional Islam justifies is not shared by most American Moslems. But they are also likely to be intimidated if their lives are not actually threatened by the terrorists.
As the terrorists continue to strike out, not only in their base areas in the Middle East, but increasingly in Europe and the U.S. as they are being hammered by American and allied forces, this problem will become even more difficult. An honest discussion of Islam and whatever justification the Islamic terrorists claim derives from its ancient tenets is absolutely necessary.
It requires the kind of intellectual discrimination and honesty which paralleled The Cold War and the long fight to defeat Communism. The Communists claimed a progressives” role as sponsors of solutions to the contemporary world’s many problems, many of them part and parcel of the capitalist system. Often those arguments for reform appeared the same – if originating in quite different logical concepts – as those proposed by American liberals [not to be confused with European “liberals”]. It was always a moot point whether liberal spokesmen were indeed simply expressing similar goals or using subterfuge to cover their real loyalty to Communist goals.
The appellation of “McCarthyism”, the blanket condemnation of opponents as Communists simply because of their difference of opinion, has become a part of our political language. And not so unusually its origin is confused and its meaning misinterpreted. The fact is that many of Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s targets were indeed Communists who concealed their real identify. His excesses arose in no small part precisely because of that fact.
Today terrorism, Islamic terrorisms and Islam present elected officials and their supporters with a similar set of subtleties. But ignoring an open discussion of Islam and its relationship to the Islamic terrorists is not the answer to the problem.
sws-08-01-16

Mr. Trump and the Moslems


The leading candidate for the 2016 Republican nomination – at least for now – has done it again.

He has taken a growing concern of the American people, not adequately met by the Obama Administration, and blown it into a bombastic slogan which benefits no one but the most vociferous of Donald Trump’s supporters.

The Donald is absolutely correct in suggesting that there could well be a security problem of admitting more Syrian refugees and economic migrants from other Mideast and South Asian countries. There is already enough serious reporting of the efforts of Daesh [or ISIl or ISIS] and other Islamic terrorist groups to infiltrate the flow of migrants reaching Europe and welcomed by Pres. Obama. It is also clear, from the horrendous event at San Benardino that the U.S. government and local police do not have an adequate vetting procedure for sorting out who is who. A point, again, well taken by Trump in his fiery statement.

But by taking the issue and turning it into another stadium rousing shouting match, Trump has done two things: he has made it more difficult to examine an exceedingly complex problem with serious and quiet undertaking. And he has given those who argue that any effort to examine the Islamic origins and connections of the current world terrorist threat is “Islamophobia”.

Some have argued that it is unfair to the great mass of the estimated less than thee million American Muslims and their coreligionists throughout the world to even examine the relationship despite the fact that the terrorists claim their allegiance to the faith. Perhaps even worse, Trumps’ blast – backed by repeated warnings of spokesmen for the Obama Administration against any evidence to the contrary – has exaggerated the possibility of a backlash against our innocent Moslem population. And, again, that contributes to the inability to examine the origins of the terrorists and their motivations.

It’s never going to be easy. But if the growing threat of homegrown and foreign directed and inspired terrorism is going to be met successfully, its origins in Islam are going to have to examined clinically. And the Moslem community, who knows better than any outsider can hope to learn the intimacies of conversion from law-abiding to “radical”, are going to have to be enlisted more successfully in its uprooting.

Trump’s blanket call to eliminate all Moslem immigration into the U.S.  is an unlikely gambit at best. Such outright discrimination violates the spirit of the Constitution and many of our laws which insists on no favoritism for any religious concept – although accepting the role of belief in God.

It is valid, as others have argued that our vetting of the immigrants at this moment is not sufficient and successful. And until a more systematic way of looking at migrants, sorting out true refugees from economic migrants and possible terrorist suspects, a “pause” may be necessary. Others said this quietly long before Trump took up his rabblerousing cry.  Somehow we are going to have to get back to that very difficult task.

But whatever onus lies with The Donald for demagoging an issue, responsibility certain lies with the Obama Administration spokesmen who have refused to recognize publicly the growing threat to our stability, and have, instead, raised the specter of anti-Moslem prejudice and violence where none has existed since the events of 9/11 and subsequent terrorist episodes involving Moslems.

We are still a long way from the November 2016 polls. The heat of the current exchanges suggest that it is going to be a long and difficult debate, especially after it assumes its next dimension, the struggle between Republican and Democrat nominees. Unfortunately, Obama’s role as president rather than leader of his party, has not always been evident. Perhaps the most important next step is for the President, himself, to lean back and accept his role as moderator and keeper of the public order and drop the role of partisan leader so evident in his most recent speeches and statements. After all, as he has said, he has no more elections to contest.

sws-12-09-15

The importance of labels


The refusal of Pres. Barack Obama to explicitly name terrorist acts goes far beyond style; it increases the danger to American security.

Calling the massacres of innocent Americans by deranged followers of the Mideast fanatical regimes by any other name than Islamic terrorism not only confuses the issue of who and what they are but also inhibits efforts to prevent their attacks.

The spectacle during the last 48 hours of obvious pressure from the White House on the FBI and local police to avoid naming the violence as terrorism was outrageous. But more important it could make it less likely that these officials would pursue and expose all possible links as quickly as possible to the international terrorist networks. In the last few hours, it has, indeed, become clear that such links do exist – if, perhaps for good and adequate security reasons, officials do not want to reveal their details.

Obama’s obfuscation becomes increasingly difficult to explain, and certainly to rationalize. One can only speculate on its origins.

By not labeling these outbreaks against law and order, perhaps he thinks he reduces their importance. But calling attacks based on twisted religious prejudice workplace violence does not change their character.

Perhaps even a greater purpose behind Obama’s strategy is an attempt to deflate any characterization by the terrorists and others that there is a conflict between the West and Islam itself. After all, whatever the character of its multitudinous sects, the “umma”, the body of Moslem believers, constitutes a huge segment of the world’s population, perhaps now more than 1.3 billion. Unfortunately it also parallels our effort to help raise a large part of the world still mired down in ignorance and poverty.

A third and exceedingly important aspect of Obama’s tactics could well be his fear that by naming the terrorists for who they are would increase the possibility of a backlash against those Moslems living in the West who do not identify with the terrorists, and, indeed, their fellow Moslems throughout the world who are striving for a peaceful existence. Yet, as the latest horrendous episode in San Bernardino so dramatically demonstrates, it is important to name these events for just that reason. If they are to be prevented, it is important that their origins in Islam are examined with intense scrutiny, and despite the general consensus that the radicalization of the individuals involved are often inexplicable, it is important to try to deduce their origins in order to prevent further occurrences.

In fact, however twisted from the thinking of the mainstream of Islamic philosophy and practice, these individual lunatics derive their inspiration from their adherence to what they consider religious principles. That makes it exceedingly important that other members of the Moslem community be mobilized to the fullest extent in combating these outbreaks. For it is they, if not alone certainly because they are more knowledgeable about their coreligionists than others, who could be the most effective in exposing them before their attacks.

By attempting to break the link between Islam and the terrorists, Obama is contributing to a not surprising reluctance of the greater Moslem community to take up the fight – for their own safety, and alas! often for rationalizations which deny the roots of the whole aberration. It is disheartening, for example, to hear one California Moslem leader publicly accuse the U.S. government of being in part responsible for creating these terrorists. True enough, past American support for reactionary governments in the Middle East has contributed to the lack of their modernization and the welfare of their people. But there is no justification much less explanation in this line of reasoning. That is true even though, the fact that the terrorists’ trail so often leads back to the theology of the supporters of the Saudi Arabian regime and often to financing from those quarters must be taken into account in any effort to stamp out this scourge.

The silence which has fallen on the White House in the immediate aftermath of the San Bernardino event is, hopefully, a sign that Obama is about to make an about face in his and our fight against the terrorists. Only an all-out campaign to destroy Daesh and other centers of terrorism in the Middle East, with their inevitable psychological, propaganda, and perhaps direct links, to their collaborators in the West, is a defense against this major assault on American stability. But the phenomenon here must first be identified.

sws-12-05-15

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Limping alliance


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under siege on several fronts.
At this critical moment, the traditional close collaboration of the U.S.-Israeli alliance is troubled, not least by Obama Administration’s pettiness. That’s been characterized by vulgar leaks from the White House and the recent staged absence of senior American officials for Netanyahu’s UN speech. Such designated protocol lapses are bound to have an impact on the kind of intimate relations the alliance has always had.
On the home front, there has been the outbreak of what appears to be “lone wolf” violence by Palestinians against Israeli individual civilian and military targets. [In one recent case there was interception of a badly prepared car bombing in Jerusalem that would have cost large casualties.]
The knife-wielding attacks are often perpetrated by young suicidal fanatics reared in United Nations-supported refugee schools where hatred and violence against Jews is indoctrinated. Unlike the two earlier intifadas [Arabic for shakeup, uprising], there appears to be no central direction. But the Moslem terrorists Hamas, Islamic Jihad and once Soviet-supported Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, have publicly acclaimed the attacks.
Given their nature, the defense often results in the death of the Arab attackers, leading to new accusations in the Western media and among Palestinian sympathizers of Israeli “overreaction”. At the same time, Israeli authorities find defense difficult given the spontaneity of the terrorists in civilian settings, including for example, using an automobile to run down groups waiting at bus stops. Some attacks inside the so-called “green line” [Israel before the 1967 conquest of East Jerusalem and the West Bank] suggest support may be coming from Israeli Arabs as well as those living in Occupied areas.
With 60% of Israelis telling pollsters they fear for their personal safety, the government is being pushed toward more stringent controls. And the outbreak has found an echo among Jewish fanatics, sometimes in attacks on innocent Arabs.
In a sense, the attacks, while encouraged by statements of Arab “moderates”, are an evidence of the disintegration of the secular Palestinian leadership and the growing influence of Islamicists. That will inevitably lead to more linkage to the Islamic terrorists ravaging the whole region, particularly in neighboring Syria. There, its growing professionalism with heavier armament supplied by Iran, the Lebanese Hezbollah, an important ally of the al Assad regime, is a growing menace on Israel’s northern border. That is coupled with renewed missile shelling from Gaza and border incidents by Hamas-organized protesters crossing into Israel.
When Netanyahu flew to Moscow Sept. 20 for a one day meeting with Putin, he apparently wanted to eliminate any possibility Israeli aircraft intercepting arms transfers Hezbollah would engage the growing Soviet presence. It seems clear he foresaw the growing Moscow effort to prop up the al Assad regime, tighten its de facto alliance there with Iran. [The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani had made two Russian visits himself shortly before].
The Israeli prime minister’s highly advertised concern highlights the equally publicized Obama Administration surprise at the sudden Russian Syrian buildup. That suggests Netanyahu’s bitter and public opposition to Pres. Barack Obama’s “deal” on Tehran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and Washington’s response may be eroding intelligence liaison. That’s despite the Obama Administration insistence new military aid and cooperation with Israel would be order of the day after the successful completion of the pact with Iran.
With the Obama Administration admitting that its nuclear arms deal with lifting of sanctions, whatever else it has done, will provide new financing for Tehran’s worldwide terrorist activities, the situation can only get worse. It’s time the Obama Administration, as the senior partner in the alliance, and particularly Susan Rice, national security adviser, ends her childish antics and tightens the alliance and its intelligence liaison in the face of a growing regional crisis, now involving the Russians as well as the bevy of Arab antagonists.
sws-10-11-15

A call to arms


A call to arms
Everything surrounding the terrorist incident in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Thursday dramatizes virtually every aspect of our failing national strategy to meet the threat of Islamic terrorism.
Not having the common sense to arm our military working in a civilian environment when Daesch [or Islamic State of Syria [ISIL] and Lebanon or Islamic State [ISI] of Iraq] has called for “lone wolves” to assassinate them is absurd. That has followed the string of attacks on American [and British] military which the Obama Administration insists on calling “workplace violence” rather than their real definition as Islamic terrorism.
Politicians of all persuasions have continually recited mantras saying that we are under attack and that there must be a virile American response. But the Obama Administration’s efforts in the Mideast have been at best anemic; for example, even the bombing attacks have been much weaker than those during the Iraq wars, either because we do not have sufficient ground spotters for proper targeting or because of the White House’s peculiar political restraints.
The killing of four defenseless Marines, following earlier attacks on our military, is a call to arms.
We believe the only way to respond to it is a formal declaration of war by the Congress against Daesch. Under the usual protocols, that call has always come from the chief executive-commander-in-chief. In fact, such declarations have been ignored in the recent wars for more convenient and convoluted use of legislation such as the War Powers Act.
But in this instance, we believe that both the people and the Congress are far ahead of the leadership and Republicans and like-minded Democrats in the Congress should seize the initiative through a formal declaration of war.
Such a pronouncement, meaning the destruction of Daesh in as short a time as possible with the full force of American arms rather than the current goal of “degrading” it over time, would set the stage for what is likely to be a longer war against Islamic terrorism. The rapid growth of Daesh itself in Syria and Iraq, but even more the growing affiliation at least in name of Islamic terrorist organizations from Central Africa to Indonesia is a warning. Unless that bandwagon effect is scotched and quickly, Daesh with its peculiar abilities to use the most modern technologies such as the social media, will become a monster mobilizing vast rogue elements of worldwide Islam.
The President’s reluctance to name the enemy is a growing threat to U.S. security. The very fact that polling and the anecdotal evidence shows that despite its barbarism Daesh has an appeal to some young Moslems and converts cannot be denied. That the phrase Islamic terrorism hives too close to a denunciations of Islam itself is unfortunate. But it points to the necessity to mobilize those Muslim leaders who oppose the radicals, but too often are either ignored by our mainstream media or intimidated by the violence within their own community. It is unfortunate but some mosques under renegade imam are a nurturing institution for radical Islamic violence and their surveillance by police and their disciplining by responsible Muslim leaders must be a part of any campaign to protect American security.
During the long Cold War, it was the mobilization of all our resources – including intellectual – that with Ronald Reagan’s forthright opposition finally won the day. The struggle against radical Islam will not be easier, and can only be shortened by a new and extensive mobilization which a declaration of war would bring into focus.
ss-07-16-15

Rebuilding America’s role


The growing clash between the Presidency and the U.S. Senate– including prominent Democrats as well as Republicans—is the opening guns in an effort to restore American world leadership. After the aberration of the Obama renunciation and repudiation of American world dominance, Washington has little choice but to return to its role of world leadership. The growing chaos engendered by the Obama withdrawal is all too apparent.
Spokesmen for the parallel themes of decline and fall of American power are already retreating in the face of the catastrophes brought on in various regions by the willful withdrawal of U.S. power. [Fareed Zakaria, with his “Nationalist” Muslim Indian background so appealing to the Obama camp, whose book The Post-American World {2009} was prominently displayed by a campaigning Barack Hussein Obama, is now making a quiet if unannounced intellectual retreat. However, his hypercritical views of a U.S. past as CNN’s principal guru sets the tone for its worldwide coverage, in a sense ranged against the beneficent general influence of such international media conglomerations which form such an integral part of American “soft power.”]
Anticipating such a development, the return of an aggressive U.S. foreign policy, must include an analysis of a series of world strategic developments, some anticipated and others growing out of largely unanticipated changing conditions. But the obvious concern over arming the Iranian mullahs, leaders of world terrorism, with nuclear weapons becomes the totem of the emergence for a new American strategy.
The transformation to a new more sophisticated role from the long and costly Cold War had already been anticipated but effort to meet it was interrupted even before it could begin by the dramatic events of 9/11. Then there was the miasma of two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq fought inconclusively at Washington’s choice as much as by conditions on the ground. All this has been followed by whatever lasting effects the Obama interregnum– still to be evaluated as it winds down in these last two years—will add to the additional challenge.
But there is plenty of evidence everywhere that the vacuum created by a supposed lead from behind U.S. role over the last six years has led to near chaos in many regions of the world. And neither the increasingly benign attitudes of the Europeans nor the overestimated power developments in China and India would substitute for the application of U.S. power and strategic calculation to maintain world peace and stability. Nor, the Obama Administration’s hopes and efforts notwithstanding, can the corrupt and bloated UN bureaucracy be a substitute as world government.
For those still unknown leaders who will have to reformulate American leadership in the relatively near future, the task is as large as it is at the moment indefinable.
For one thing, there is every expectation now that a new, cardinal enemy has presented itself: Islamic terrorism. But unlike the Soviet threat, it may well not be targeted in a single capital, and in fact, may present different levels of threat in different parts of the world– not excluding domestic terrorist operations in the U.S. itself.
But the initial victories of the terrorists—to what extent aided and indeed abetted by the Obama Administration’s policies history will have to determine—is going to accelerate as is always the case with a ruthless new force in the world. That will be a scene including the allegiance of young recruits. They lend the Islamic terrorists a powerful if uncontrollable weapon against the West generally and especially Europe, in particular. Its very existence, however, the so-called lone wolf terrorist, will pose a particular and peculiar new problem for American strategists as well.
At the same time, Vladimir Putin’s old-style 19th century aggression in Crimea and eastern Ukraine and his feints against the Baltic States mean that the promise of the Soviet collapse was not fulfilled. True, there is no longer a centrally directed world Communist movement with its constituent states—some of them formidable such as East Germany. But a “normal country: has not taken the place of the old Soviet empire. Moscow can and does in the face of a disunited Europe and with its nuclear arsenal present a continuing major challenge to American policymakers. [Ironically, the attempt, still in its early stages, of Putin to rebuild Russian conventional arms and its military industrial base could reduce the threat of a Moscow fallback on nuclear weapons in any unforeseen crisis.]
The remarkably effective North Atlantic Treaty Organization which played such a pivotal role in the defeat of the Soviet threat is now up for grabs, ironically having survived its critical test—at least nominally– by its commitment to routing out al Qaeda in Afghanistan post-9/11. It thus fulfilled the commitment of an attack on one as an attack on all but may have been the final flowering of a brilliant strategic concept.
The continuing irresolution in Western Europe—with falling military budgets and hesitation in the face of Putin’s challenge—presents Washington with a new strategic environment. Nowhere is it more demonstrable than in the case of Turkey, the geographically critical NATO ally on whom the alliance also had depended for its large human reserves. Ankara leadership flirts with the Islamicists and purchases Chinese weaponry while at the same time demanding NATO support for its defense on its fragile Syrian-Arab border. [One could make the case, of course, that for much of its life, France played a similar divisive role inside NATO with its flirtation with the Soviets and nominal withdrawal of its forces from NATO command. Yet there was never any doubt of Gen. Charles de Gaulle’s dedication to a Europe independent of Soviet control, whatever its relationship to the U.S. At the moment, Turkish Pres. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan does not give an equal assurance of his opposition to the Islamicists.]
China, with its ambitions to redress twohundred years of colonial subjugation, is an unknown quantity. The remarkable economic progress, earned through an open door for foreign capital and technology, is nevertheless fragile. Its collapse could produce total disorder in China and now would have a huge effect on the world economy.
The reconstruction of American post-Obama leadership will have to take place on three different levels. The continued maintenance and rapid technological progress of weaponry, which may have slowed during the Obama years, will have to be restored. Given the level of American military technical sophistication and its worldwide leadership that may be the least difficult of the new challenges, working with dual purpose activities throughout the economy.
More critical and difficult will be the apportionment of resources to the various elements of the worldwide threats to peace and security. Traditional military balances, as with a possibly resurgent Russia, will have to be juxtaposed against the growing threat of Islamic terrorism. Despite optimistic predictions in many quarters – not the least among the Obama Islam experts with their generally minimal view of terrorism [including a woeful effort to avoid conflict with the greater Islam by identifying the problem directly] –the threat of Islamic terrorism may take on aspects of the Cold War. The very fact that the threat is so diverse and at different levels of violence will make for more difficult formulation of counter strategies.
One important asset in the American effort will be the use of “soft power”, often applied to the world scene even without Washington orchestration. The dominant cultural role of the U.S.—often underestimated if sometimes at odds with Washington policy—is so great that its effect and implications are often underestimated in any effort to achieve the worldwide geopolitical balance. At the moment, for example, the Chinese Communist leadership is waging a bitter if nebulous campaign against the employment by Chinese intellectuals and state institutions of Western [read American] methodology in studying, analyzing and finding solutions to political, economic and social problems. That sort of intractable U.S. influence, while often not an instrument guided by American policy, will be critical in the restoration of Washington’s worldwide leadership.
Perhaps the greatest handicap to the resumption of the U.S.’ world role will come—as it so often has in the past—from the competition of unresolved domestic issues. Ironically, the heritage of American racial conflict and discrimination has received a fillip from the Obama years with the U.S.’ first black president’s narrow effort to exploit rather than heal outbreaks of racial tension. Growing income inequality, as a political rather than an economic problem for U.S. society, appears to be rearing on the American domestic scene for the first in the 200-year history of the Republic.
The accidents of the American domestic political scene may or may not throw up leadership capable of meeting these challengers or at least striking a balance between them as the U.S. almost inevitably reassumes its world leadership role.
sws-03-9-15

Semantics? Not on our lives!


Yeah, it’s a big joke!
The most amateurish hacks performing as government spokesmen, whether it is an arrogant but totally incompetent campaign apparatchik at the State Department, the White House’s befuddled spokesmen, or the embarrassed uniformed presenter at The Pentagon, we have public figures stumbling all over themselves. They are trying to follow President Barak Hussein Obama’s dictum that there is no relationship between Islam and terrorism — and even if there were, it shouldn’t be named. Furthermore, the Administration insists the war on terrorism is winding down because of precipitant withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan. And, anyway, the world situation is better than the President found it six years ago. So there!
Never mind that on a daily basis the public – and the kept Washington capital media – have abundant proof that this just isn’t the case.
At almost the very moment the White House spokesman was declaring that the Afghanistan Taliban – against whom the U.S. went to war after 9/11 – were “armed insurgents” and not “terrorists”, just such a terrorist act took place. Two American airmen were killed in a suicide bomber attack at Bagram on the largest U.S. base in Afghanistan. But, after all, a similar attack in 2009 at Fort Hood by a member of the U,.S. military itself is listed still no more than “workplace violence”.
Obama holds that these are criminal acts by which definition the Administration seeks to shepherd captured perpetrators to arraignment in Stateside courts if they are not wiped out by drones [with their intelligence harvest]. Incarceration as prisoners of war at Guantánamo is said to inflame terrorist — woops! – further criminal activity, even though , of course, the Cuban internment base did not exist on 9/11.
There is the slight problem that almost as the White House spokesmen spoke, two American soldiers were killed at Bagram, the largest base of retreating American troops in Afghanistan. But by some incredible sophistry, they could not have been killed by terrorists.
It could be argued that this scene is so farcical that it is irrelevant. What difference does it make that the Administration refuses to use “Islam” in relation to “terrorists” it denies exist?
There are two critical sets of arguments for why these semantics are more than phraseology of poor wordsmiths in the rarefied otherworldly Inside the Beltway Washington environment. They will cost further American lives.
1] To defend the U.S. against either “lone wolfe” attacks such as occurred at Fort Hood or in Boston at the Marathon, U.S. officials must know as much as possible about the potential enemy. Discovery and dismantling his plots – whether they be shoesole bombs on a plane over Detroit or a car-bomb aimed at Times Square – demand a vast array of information and access to the innermost mental processes of the plotters.
That is only possible with intellectual integrity as well as pursuit of information through the normal means of “intelligence gathering” wherever it may lead. The terrorists are not just any political, economic or social group. What they have in common is a dedication to what they believe are the principles of Islam. Recognizing that and understanding as much as possible about it requires a frank assumption that Islam does play a role in their conceptions and actions. That has to be identified and pursued if a maximum effort at protection, defense and ultimate destruction of the threat, is to be assured. Calling it by misleading equivocal terminology is not only useless but it tends to deflect what must be the most serious and thorough investigation of motivation as well as method for terrorist acts.
2] A second and generally unrecognized aspect which even the President’s critics often ignore is that in the long run, a solution to Islamic radicalism and terrorism must come from the 1.3 billion Muslims themselves. As in any other society – does one have to recall Nazi Germany? – it can well be argued that most Muslims oppose the terrorists. But to take up arms, either intellectually or physically, against them, is to expect what rarely happens in any society under siege by a ruthless internal enemy. To continue to ignore this aspect of the fight against Islamic terrorism is to limit any struggle’s effectiveness and to postpone the day when it will at last be defeated. The long struggle against Soviet Communism, despite Pres. Ronald Reagan’s ultimately determined and public effort to stigmatize and isolate it, finally came as an implosion inside the Russian, East and Central European societies themselves.
The analogies to Communism’s relatively short history, of course, are deeply flawed. For we are talking of returning Islam to a debate which it abandoned a thousand years ago when it, like Judaism and Christianity, came up against the secular learning and liberation of Greek and other Western philosophical thought. But there will be no end to Islamic terrorism until there is a return to that debate among Muslims with a modernization of their thought and practices which abandons the totalitarian aspects of their religion.
However the West may lament the absence of more voices in the umma, the community of Islamic believers, publicly taking on this debate, there are lone courageous critics who call for just such a reformation of Islamic thought which would doom the terrorists. The remarkable call by Egyptian Pres. Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, delivered personally, to the religious leaders of Al-Azhar University, the traditional intellectual center of the Islamic world, was one of those. Not only was it generally ignored in the West, but official Washington continues to flirt with the Muslim Brotherhood, el-Sisi’s bitter enemies and the one-man-one-vote-one time regime he overthrew with the general support of the Egyptian people.
By refusing to name names and discuss the struggle inside Islam – which must begin with the proper identification of the terrorists – the Obama policy is ignoring if not abandoning those critics of the terrorists inside Islam who must in the end defeat it. There are few if any Muslim leaders in whatever country who do not understand that U.S. policy has thus far left them to their own devices in any such internal conflict, whether in Iran during the 2009 Green Movement or now in Egypt.[Yes, el-Sisi is religious and runs an authoritarian government, but so much the more reason for the U.S. to befriend him and seek to modify the nature of the regime which, ipso facto, it must now give tacit support to in the Mideast chaos.]
Just as it took a vast intellectual war from beyond its borders to bring down Communism and the Soviet Bloc, it takes a clear-eyed intellectual and propaganda effort from the West and the non-Islamic world in a similar campaign if Islamic terrorism is to be defeated. A part of that effort must be straight talk from U.S. spokesmen.
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The end of a geopolitical model


Whether Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan survives the current crisis, the legend of “The Turkish model” is dead. The implications of the loss of Turkey’s image abroad, particularly in the Islamic world, may be far more important than the explosion of corruption scandals which always cynical Turkish voters may take in their stride.

But the possibility that Turkey could be the template for a predominantly Muslim, democratic, prosperous, stable society has failed after more than a half century when it was a highly vaunted prototype. The longer-term implications of that failure reach far beyond what happens to 70 million Turks and the 10 Turkish million immigrants to Europe. It goes to the heart of what Samuel P. Huntington called the clash of civilizations, and the long sought modernization of Afro-Asian societies where 1.3 billion Muslims live.

Erdogan, without daring to acknowledge it publicly, turned his back on the top-down secularization of Mustafa Kemal, the general-politician-philosopher who founded the modern Turkish state after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in World War I. Over the past decade, Erdogan nibbled at Atatűrkism’s basic building blocs – political authoritarianism, state capitalism and anticlerical tenets. He even edged into recognizing the multiculturalism of the Anatolian peninsular instead of Atatűrk’s Ne mutlu Turküm diyene! [How happy is he/she who calls himself/herself a Turk!]. That included not only the ancient, cosmopolitan megametropolis Istanbul [Constantinople] [14 million] at the crossroads of Europe and Asia where Erdogan’ S political career began as mayor. He also hesitantly recognized the identity of Turkey’s 15 million Kurds who have waged guerrilla war and terrorism for autonomy or independence for more than three decades. But simultaneously he moved toward more and more conservative Muslim concepts, appealing to rural Anatolia which had given him his big parliamentary majorities. That process is seen as a threat by the Alevi sect, another disproportionately wealthier 20 percent of the population, whose Sufism is considered apostate by many in the orthodox Sunni majority.

Erdogan’ policies – particularly his continued economic liberalization –ushered in a period of growing prosperity and optimism about the country’s future with continued if diminishing hope of entering the European Union. Most critically, he adroitly broke the hold of Atatűrk’s secularist heirs in the military. He probably ended the possibility of another of the half dozen coups by the military whose intervention had prevented political chaos and kept more outspoken Islamic forces at bay.

But in the process – and not least because of his egotism – his tactical skills were less than a strategy, bereft as it has been of consistency and integration. His foreign policy aiming at neo-Ottoman regional leadership has collapsed. Overall progress has been at the expense of growing destabilization Perhaps much of that was inevitable in a rapidly growing and changing society. But now the exploding corruption scandals and more importantly, the in-fighting inside his Justice and Development Party [AKP], a coalition of Muslim-oriented political groups, could bring down the regime as well as his administration.

But the culmination of these Turkish events has much larger implications:

  • ·        The increasing instability and possible collapse/transformation of Erdogan’s administration again puts the question of whether there can be a modern state in Muslim-majority lands without a formal break with traditional Islam.
  • ·        Pres. Barack Hussein Obama’s reliance on Erdogan – in 2011 more telephone conversations with him than any other foreign leader except British Prime Minister David Cameron – is another sign of the failure of the American administration’s Mideast policies.
  • ·        The growing economic crisis in Turkey, a result of reaching a development plateau and the growing political instability, puts into question for other Muslim states economic liberalization which permitted growth but [as in Iran] fed a new reactionary Muslim-oriented middle class..
  • ·        Turkey’s growing instability is writing finis to its effective participation in NATO, and may, indeed, point to the growing inability to turn the spectacularly successful anti-Soviet alliance into a broader security and peacekeeping coalition.
  • ·        Turkish instability is going to further imperil assimilation of the 10 million Turkish émigrés in Western Europe, recruited, especially in Germany as gastarbeiter, but who now constitute a growing European social and political problem in a period of extended high unemployment and growing Muslim fanaticism.

Islam has never had its Reformation or its Counter-Reformation paralleling Christianity in the West. Its religious thinkers for at least a half millennium have largely been ignored Greek logic and philosophy and its Roman progeny, the foundations of Western – and increasing universal – law. Orthodox Islam calls for no separation of church and state. In fact, orthodox Muslims demand the reestablishment of a worldwide ruling religious leader such as the Ottoman Empire’s sultan who also as caliph was the commanding religious figure. In majority Muslim countries, both Sunni and Shia ecclesiastics refuse the hard fought fundamental of Western democracies, equality of all religions before the law – including minority Islamic sects. Turkey’s role as the most successful example of a predominantly Muslim country advocating that concept – and rejecting much of sharia, traditional Islamic law — is now crumbling. Advocacy by Asian and African leaders of emulating Ankara’s road to modernization is not likely to be heard in the future.

That has implications for American policy. Obama had accepted that old hypothesis and said that Erdogan was one of his closest friends. It was to him in part that the Arabists surrounding the U.S. president sought counsel. But Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman dreams of becoming the go-to for the area’s regimes, has gone a glimmering. Instead, Turkey is at odds with virtually all its neighbors, especially Egypt and Israel, and, of course, Syria. There the al Assad regime now under siege after Erdogan effusively courted it only a few years earlier is driving tens of thousands of refugees into Turkey as well as the surrounding countries. Furthermore, the corruption accusations link some perpetrators to the mullahs of Iran – the Turks’ historic competitor for influence through the Mideast and Central Asia. As the internal conflict among Turkish Islamicist groups likely intensifies, Now Washington will find itself hard put – if it already has not done so – to pick sides.

Abetting the crisis is the rather sudden turn in Turkey’s economic outlook, after its gross domestic product more than tripled during Erdogan’s office. Now the trade deficit is widening dramatically, the lira is devaluating at a rapid pace, unemployment is increasing, and the political turmoil has taken a toll of the stock market, discouraging foreign investment as well as fueling a capital flight.

What may be even more significant longer term is that the liberalization of the economy which began in the 80s before Erdogan’s arrival at the helm has produced a new and growing class of entrepreneurs. They, like their Persian counterparts as a result of reforms by Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, seeking a new orientation from their peasant backgrounds, tend toward religious obscurantism.

The growing Islamicist sentiment of the Erdogan administration itself – including accusations that growing opposition to his government among Turkish groups is plotted by kafir [unbelieving foreigners] including the Americans – is distancing Turkey from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It will add to NATO’s renewed conundrum of its future role with the messy U.S.-led alliance’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. Erdogan’s threat to go to the Chinese for new weapons, which would create security lapses in integration with NATO, has further put into question the allegiance of one of the alliance’s most loyal members in time past. With Western Europe’s dramatically falling birthrates, Turkey’s army was seen in Washington and European capitals as an important element in any NATO peacekeeping effort. Given the growing decline in most of the European military budgets, Brussels had looked to Turkey’s young population [more than a quarter under 14] as a stalwart partner. That hope vanishes as the political crisis matures.

Although a first generation of immigrants to Western Europe seemed to be assimilating, their offspring have in more than anticipated numbers turned to radical Islam. There is a growing number of second and third generation Turks [and European-resident and native Arabs] who have joined the jihadist-led opposition to the ostensible secular regime in Syria’s civil war. Mosques in Europe, many supported by the militant Wahabbi sect of Saudi Arabia, have become hot houses for the spread of radical Islamicism and recruitment for jihadist terrorism. If the once secular regime of Turkey continues to move away from its Atatűrk traditions, as seems likely whatever the result of the current political crisis, it will have an adverse influence on assimilation of these immigrants.

Overall, this Turkish crisis inevitably becomes an integral part of the instability sweeping the Muslim umma [world] from Casablanca to Zamboanga, an accelerator in the age-old struggle for modernization in that impoverished and retrograde cultural environment. At the moment, the forces of reaction [and terrorism] are winning in the face of the incapacity of Muslim modernists [or “moderates”] and the Obama Administration to offer an effective counter to a romantic call for a return to simplistic, medieval orthodoxy [Islam=”submission”]. That, unfortunately, as 9/11 tragically proved, produces a growing threat not only to the future of Muslims themselves but to peace and stability throughout the world.

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