COMMENTARY: Who Are These People?

November 7, 2014 Comments off

Many years ago, in what I believe was a movie starring the comedian, Bob Hope, and was set in “very old merry England”, there was a depiction of a public square hanging. My recollection is that it was Mr. Hope who was to be hung along with all its and his silly humor. The scene of the hanging showed a raggedly dressed man walking through the crowd that had eagerly come to watch the hanging and who bellowed to the lynching mob: “Get ya programs, get ya programs. Ya can’t tell whose being hung without a program!”

Today, with all the different terrorist groups, each claiming their rightful place in history and touting their violent claims, the throngs of media specialists telling me which groups I should be most fearful of, I feel as if I was back in time as a child watching that Bob Hope movie. Except, this time it’s not funny.

As we move toward the new year of 2015, our thoughts are being forced to focus toward ISIS (or is it ISIL, or IS) and the surrounding world by every media blast. The problematic issue with a great majority of us is our lack of ability to distinguish between the different groups labeled as terrorist’s organizations ( by the news media and governments and experts), and the criticism that we are lumping them all together in a common sack as being equally dangerous and allied. There are many nuances, some important and others not.

The Long War Journal is an incredible daily source of terrorist activity. From its news blogs, written in a direct, uncomplicated manner, it is clear that with the beginning of the Syrian civil war in early 2011, the Islamic State along with other global jihadist groups – have all become allied in one fashion or another. Some look to launch a global caliphate, others to support local rebellions and still others, as with al Qaeda, to attack the West.

For our time-line in understanding what is being flashed before us today, we must understand its current development and “if” there is a reasonably articulate “why”. Obviously, I am focused not at some long past terrorist organizations from the time of the Russian Czarists, but from a more recent time. I have arbitrarily chosen the terrorist attacks against the United States or United States interests abroad and pared them down to the more significant events:

Between1982–1991: Hezbollah kidnapped 30 hostages. Some were killed and others released.

1983–April. The Islamic Jihad in Beirut, Lebanon claimed responsibility for a suicide car-bomb attack that left 17 Americans dead. Then, in that same year, the U.S. embassy was destroyed in a suicide car-bomb attack; 63 dead, including 17 Americans. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for that attack. In the latter part of 1983, a Shiite bomber killed 24 marines and in December killed 5 more Americans.

1984–September. In Lebanon once again, a truck bomb exploded outside the U.S. embassy annex, killing 2 U.S. military personal. In December, a Kuwait Airways flight was hijacked and two Americans were killed.

In 1985 – Beirut: An American airliner carrier was hijacked by Hezbollah and a navy diver was executed for the news media coverage. The scene was vividly displayed on television. Then in October, an American citizen confined to a wheelchair was executed on the cruise ship the Achille Lauro. The Italian government permitted the terrorist in that killing to escape capture by American forces. In December, in a bombing linked to Libya, 20 people were executed 5, of them Americans.

1986 April– Athens, Greece- a bomb exploded aboard TWA flight 840 killing 4 Americans and injuring 9. Then in April in West Berlin, the Libyans bombed a disco frequented by U.S. servicemen, killing 2 and injuring hundreds.

1988 December 21– Lockerbie, Scotland: A N.Y. bound Pan-Am Boeing 747 exploded in flight from a terrorist bomb and crashed into a Scottish village, killing all 259 aboard and 11 on the ground. Libya admitted responsibility 15 years later for the “Pan Am bombing.”

1993– February. New York City: A bomb exploded in a basement garage of World Trade Center, killing 6 and injuring at least 1,040 others. Two years later the militant Islamist Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and nine others were convicted of conspiracy, and in 1998, Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind, was convicted of the bombing. We begin to hear and read more often the phase: “Al-Qaeda involvement is suspected”.

1995– April 19th, Oklahoma City: car bomb exploded outside federal office building, collapsing wall and floors. 168 people were killed, including 19 children and 1 person who died in the rescue effort. This home grown terrorist act, unconnected to the Middle East, was hatched to avenge the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, Texas. In November, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: a car bomb exploded at U.S. military headquarters, killing 5 U.S. military servicemen.

1996 June 25th, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia: a truck bomb exploded outside Khobar Towers military complex, killing 19 American servicemen and injuring hundreds of others. 13 Saudis and a Lebanese, all alleged members of Islamic militant group Hezbollah, were indicted for the attack. In August—in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dares Salaam, Tanzania: two bombs exploded almost simultaneously near 2 U.S. embassies, killing 224. Four men connected with al-Qaeda were involved in the incident; two of the terrorists who had received training at al-Qaeda camps inside Afghanistan, were convicted of the killings. A United States federal grand jury indicted 22 men in connection with the attacks, including Osama bin Laden.

2000–October–In Aden, Yemen: U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole was heavily damaged when a small boat loaded with explosives blew up alongside it. 17 sailors are killed. This attack was linked to Osama bin Laden.

2001- September 11th, New York City, Arlington, Va., and Shanksville, Pa. This horrendous attack was linked to the Islamic al-Qaeda terrorist group.

2002–June, Karachi, Pakistan: bomb explodes outside American consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, killing 12. This too is an al-Qaeda operation.

2003 May, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: suicide bombers kill 34, including 8 Americans, at housing compounds for Westerners. Again, Al-Qaeda is suspected.

2004 May - Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: terrorists attack the offices of a Saudi oil company in Khobar, Saudi Arabia; the terrorists seized foreign oil workers hostage in a nearby residential compound, leaving 22 people dead including one American. In June, Riyadh: terrorists kidnap and execute an American, Paul Johnson Jr., in Riyadh. Two other Americans and a BBC cameraman were killed by gun attacks. December 6th, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia: terrorists storm the U.S. consulate, killing 5 consulate employees. 4 terrorists were killed by Saudi security.

2005—November- Amman, Jordan: suicide bombers hit 3 American hotels, Radisson, Grand Hyatt, and Days Inn, in Amman, Jordan, killing 57. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility.

2006 September- Damascus, Syria: an attack by four gunmen on the American embassy is foiled.

2007-January- Athens, Greece: the U.S. embassy is fired upon by an anti-tank missile, causing damage but no injuries. December 11, Algeria: more than 60 people are killed, including 11 United Nations staff members, when Al Qaeda terrorists detonate two car bombs near Algeria’s Constitutional Council and the United Nations offices.

2008– May, Iraq: a suicide bomber on a motorcycle kills six U.S. soldiers and wounds 18 others in Tamiya. In June: a suicide bomber kills at least 20 people, including three U.S. Marines, at a meeting between sheiks and Americans in Karmah, a town west of Baghdad. In June, Afghanistan: four American servicemen are killed when a roadside bomb explodes near a U.S. military vehicle.  In July, Afghanistan: nine U.S. soldiers die when Taliban militants attack an American base in Kunar Province. In August, Afghanistan: in a major incident where there were no American casualties, as many as 15 suicide bombers, backed by about 30 militants ,attack a U.S. military base, Camp Salerno, in Bamiyan. In September, Yemen: a car bomb and a rocket strike the U.S. embassy in Yemen, as staff arrived to work, killing 16 people including 4 civilians. At least 25 suspected al-Qaeda militants are arrested for the attack. In November, India: A series of attacks on several of Mumbai’s landmarks and commercial hubs that are popular with Americans and foreign tourists, including at least two five-star hotels, a hospital, a train station, and a cinema. About 300 people are wounded, and nearly 190 people die, including at least 5 Americans. In the midst of the attack, live television brought us pictures of the burning hotels.

2009- February 9. Iraq: a suicide bomber kills four American soldiers and their Iraqi translator near a police checkpoint.

In April 10, Iraq: a suicide attack kills five American soldiers and two Iraqi policemen.  On June 1st Little Rock, Arkansas: Abdulhakim Muhammed, a Muslim convert from Memphis, Tennessee, is charged with shooting two soldiers outside a military recruiting center. One is killed and the other is wounded.

In a January-2010, in a letter to the trial judge hearing his case, Muhammed asked to change his plea from not guilty to guilty. He claimed ties to al-Qaeda and called the shooting a jihadi attack “to fight those who wage war on Islam and Muslims.” December 25: A Nigerian man on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit attempted to ignite an explosive device hidden in his underwear. The alleged underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, told officials later that he was directed by the terrorist group Al Qaeda. December, Iraq: a suicide bomber kills eight Americans civilians, seven of them CIA agents, at a base in Afghanistan. It’s the deadliest attack against the agency since 9/11. The attacker was reportedly a double agent from Jordan who was acting on behalf of al-Qaeda.

2010– May 1st, New York City: a car bomb is discovered in Times Square, New York City, after smoke is seen coming from a vehicle. Faisal Shahzad pleads guilty to placing the bomb as well as 10 additional terrorism and weapons charges.  May 10th, Jacksonville, Florida: a pipe bomb explodes while 60 Muslims were praying in a mosque. The attack causes no injuries.  October, two packages are found on separate cargo planes. Each package contains a bomb consisting of 300 to 400 grams of plastik and a detonating mechanism. The packages were bound from Yemen to the United States.

2011-January, Spokane, Washington: a pipe bomb is discovered along the route of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial march. The bomb, a “viable device”, set up to spray marchers with shrapnel and to cause multiple casualties, is defused without any injuries.

2012—September 11th, Benghazi, Libya: militants armed with antiaircraft weapons and rocket-propelled grenades fire upon the American consulate, killing the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens and three other embassy officials. The U.S. believed that Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a group closely linked to Al Qaeda, planned the attack. This attack is still drawing scrutiny before Congress.

2013–February, Ankara, Turkey: Ecevit Sanli detonates a bomb near a gate at the U.S. Embassy. Turkish officials claim the attack was organized by the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party. April 15th, Boston, Mass.: multiple bombs explode near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Two bombs go off as runners finish the race. Three people are killed. One is an eight year old boy. More than 260 people are injured. The first of two suspects, identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev, age 26, is killed. A suicide vest is found on his body. The other suspect, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, age 19, awaits trial. They had lived in the U.S. for about a decade, but are from an area near Chechnya.

2014– August 19: Members of ISIS behead an American journalist, James Foley, 40, in apparent retaliation for U.S. airstrikes against the group. Foley, who worked for Global Post, went missing in Syria in November 2012. In September–An ISIS militant decapitates another American journalist, Steven Sotloff, 31, who worked for Time and other news outlets. He had been abducted in 2013 in Syria. Then a third beheading was also videotaped for public viewing. A  massive grave is video taped and broadcast during the last week of October.

And then there are those terrorist groups that are off the radar screen for the vast majority of the American population. A Defense Department’s report mentions some of the other al Qaeda-associated groups and others associated with the Taliban. These other groups, are all but unknown by the American public, include the Haqqani Network, Hezb-i-Islami-Gulbuddin and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). The Haqqani Network is itself part of the Taliban. In addition, the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba “targeted ISAF in Kandahar, Nangarhar, and Kunar Provinces.” The LeT, group which has worked closely with al Qaeda, is responsible for the November 2008 Mumbai attacks (which al Qaeda also assisted in), as well as other attacks inside India and elsewhere.

To round out the groups that require our notice is the CNG (Commander Nazir Group) which, according to the State Department, is “behind numerous attacks against international forces in Afghanistan as well as inside Pakistan.” It is also alleged that this group fought for the Taliban since the late 90s and continues to support al Qaeda. “Since 2006, CNG has run training camps, dispatched suicide bombers, provided safe haven for al Qaeda fighters, and conducted cross-border operations in Afghanistan against the United States and its allies,” the State Department said in a recent press release. “In addition to its attacks against international forces in Afghanistan, CNG is also responsible for assassinations and intimidation operations against civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

In September 2010, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates identified these partnerships as an “unholy syndicate.” After a speech at Duke University, Gates said that eastern Afghanistan “is increasingly the host to an unholy syndicate of terrorist groups working together: al Qaeda, the Haqqani network, the Pakistani Taliban, the Afghan Taliban and groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba.”

“A success for one is a success for all,” Gates warned.

Those presently off the radar screen, as noted above and many, many more will eventually come to attack our interests: “A global terrorist group operating out of Sinai is being blamed for injuring two Israeli soldiers patrolling near the Egyptian border. Egyptian authorities say the attack came from Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, which arose from Egypt’s 2011 revolution and seeks to topple President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government. According to the Jerusalem Post’s Yaakov Lappin, the group has links to the Islamic State terrorist group and “has beheaded a number of Egyptians in recent months, accusing them of being spies for Israel’s Mossad.” (As reported by Memri) For example: Among the multitudes of foreign fighters who have turned the Islamic State into the world’s most dangerous terrorist organization, the Chechens stand out. Most of them have unfamiliar names in the West, such as: Shamil Basayev, Ibn al-Khattab, Abu Hafs al-Hudani, Abu al-Walid, Doku Umarov. Many of these fighters joined the fight in Syria early on, as the uprising began in 2011 and mutated into a chaotic and vicious civil war. In addition, some of the less experienced fighters may have been encouraged to gain battlefield experience in Syria, according to seasoned analysts reporting in that area.

The Taliban is a predominantly Pashtun Islamic fundamentalist group that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001, when a U.S.-led invasion toppled the regime for providing refuge to al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. The Taliban then regrouped across the border in Pakistan. The Taliban was formed in the early 1990s by an Afghan faction of mujahedeen and Islamic fighters who had resisted the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. [Remember, we helped them oust the Russians with a massive supply of weapons which were, in time, turned upon us.] The Taliban then imposed its brand of justice as it consolidated territorial control, and granted sanctuary to al-Qaeda. The grant of sanctuary was conditioned upon al-Qaeda not antagonize the United States. Obviously, that did not stop bin Laden, who reneged on their agreement in 1998, when he planned and executed the bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa. Even after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, the Talban rejected U.S. demands that it surrender bin Laden.

Al Qaeda had arrived in Afghanistan from Sudan sometime in the mid-60s. Its membership, it is claimed by some, was not more than 30 fighters. Al Qaeda fighters and its recruits who came to Afghanistan were physically separated from the Taliban fighters, who resented Al Qaeda not merely because of their different philosophical differences– Osama bin Laden insisted that international violent actions against the United States and other countries was crucial to his strategy, while the Taliban opposed such actions. In addition, relationship between Al Qaeda and the Taliban is further complicated by the delicate cultural differences between the two: The Taliban are Afghans, and Al Qaeda are mostly Arab and almost entirely non-Afghan. Most Al Qaeda leaders are older than the young commanders of the Taliban, and many Al Qaeda people are professionals and well educated by western standards. The Taliban, on the other hand, are rural, lacking formal schooling and grew up in places like Kandahar where access to newspapers was absent and radios were only for the privileged few. They were and are cultural worlds apart.

What has evolved is a complicated world of interwoven violent components about which most of us are ignorant, and at the same moment, as they are woven together they seek an independent status and are generally led by charismatic and compelling leaders, each having their own agenda for the future and their own methods to produce and deliver their violence.

Understand that the political and social arena under the microscope for this article – from the west in Tunisia to the east, is in all likelihood far beyond immediate repair. According to some, this part of the world would have to be totally dismantled both geographically and politically, before it could be repaired to something akin to viable intra-state organizations and international normalcy. This geographic area, the Middle East and northern Africa was for too many centuries been under the unyielding yoke of something beyond a mere dictatorship. It has been described by others as “the angry, broken and dysfunctional Middle East. [ed: It is broken far beyond that.] The region is already in the process of melting down for a tsunami of reasons that have nothing to do with the Palestinians.”

Then there we are faced with: IS or is ISIS, or maybe ISIL, or Islamic State or even Daiish? The calling card for this jihadist group is their murdering of dozens of people at any one time, carrying out public executions, public videotaping and broadcasting of beheadings, crucifixions and other inhuman acts that they can conceive. They are not being ignored; they have your utmost attention. They are not a small obscure terrorist group. Well led, well financed, fiercely loyal and focused.

One cannot rely upon common conceptions of who and what constitute the Muslim world. China has more Muslims than Syria, while Russia is home to more Muslims than Jordan and Libya combined. When you focus on the two main sects of the Muslim world, only a small percentage is Shia, while an overwhelming number are Sunni. Most Shias live in just four countries: Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and India. In the United States, the vast majority of Muslims are Sunnis, but it is held that most Muslims in the United States think of themselves as just “Muslims” without any affiliation to either major sect. The state with the highest Muslim population is Illinois.

The idea of the construct of a “Muslim world” began to formulate in 1999, and was the forerunner of a group called “Al-Qaeda in Iraq”. In 2004, the infamous Abu Musab al-Zarqawi formed an al Qaeda splinter group in Iraq. Within two years, al-Zarqawi’s group in Iraq was trying to fuel a sectarian war against the majority Shiite community. In 2006, it joined other Sunni insurgent groups which then consolidated into the ISI. In June 2006, al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. strike, and Abu Ayyub al-Masri became his successor and then fell under the leadership of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. In 2008, its violent methods led to a backlash and temporary decline in its popularity. In April 2013, the group changed its name to the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant”. It grew significantly under its leadership, gaining support in Iraq as a result of perceived economic and political discrimination against Iraqi Sunnis. It then established a large presence in Syria.

The CIA estimated, in September 2014, that IS had 20,000–31,500 fighters in Iraq and Syria. It had close links to al-Qaeda until February 2014 when, after an eight-month power struggle, al-Qaeda cut all ties with the group, reportedly for its brutality and “notorious intractability”. ISIS then proclaimed a worldwide caliphate in June of this year, and the group was renamed the Islamic State. In its self-proclaimed status as a caliphate, it claims religious authority over all Muslims worldwide. Its mission to bring Muslim-inhabited regions of the world under its political and social control, beginning with the Levant region, which covers Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Cyprus and part of southern Turkey.

Meanwhile, as reported on the front pages of the NYT (10.22.14), the undesirable and destructive fallout from what was considered then, as the glorious “Arab Spring”, does not merely continue but escalates. It is now four years since the celebration of the coming of the new birth of democracy across the Middle East and beyond. Now it is clear that the violence has accelerated, and the paths and vision for those who were seeking democracy has deviated to violence and extremism. The extremism of ethnic cleansing has passed the line of barbarism.

What has happened in Tunisia, (where open and free elections have resulted in a non-Islamic government),  a country in the Arab world with the most educated population but that has become an epicenter for the extreme militants to recruit its fighters? Tunisia, as a country, has sent more foreign fighters than any other country to Iraq and Syria to join the extremist group– Islamic State. As a new sovereignty with clear political independence and the freedoms of a democracy that arose with the onset of the Arab Spring, Tunisia has also facilitated and permitted the extreme militants to preach openly and recruit openly, and recruit successfully. How can that be?

The United Nations and Amnesty International have accused the group of grave human rights abuses, and Amnesty International has found it guilty of ethnic cleansing on a “historic scale”. Within the last days of October, the New York Times front pages proclaimed: “Taliban are Rising Again in Afghanistan’s North .…with Rapid Advance.” And “In West, ISIS Finds Women Eager to Enlist.” From the Denver suburbs to north London, women and girls are seeking to join to fight for ISIS or marry an ISIS “warrior”. One wonders what prompts these woman and girls.

I need to conclude with the following, which must be superimposed upon all actions of war or political movements that are propelled by force: In a 1993 report to the United Nations Security Council (during the Bosnian war), ethnic cleansing was defined as “rendering an area ethnically homogenous by using force or intimidation to remove a person of a given group from the area.” To be considered “a crime against humanity,” ethnic cleansing has to be systematic or widespread, carried out against civilians and intentional. To be considered a “war crime”, the situation involving the violence must be defined as war.

Nowhere in Iraq, Syria or the wide path across Africa and the Middle East has there been any “declaration of war”, just horrific, unspeakable violence. It appears to me that “actions” speak louder than creating “labels” and seeking “definitions”. A responsible world, a responsible nation must reply immediately against those who seek domination thru violence, and engage those liable unswervingly and directly with meaningful force –not words that first need to be defined.

Richard Allan,
The Editor

Categories: Uncategorized

Commentary – Looking West

September 25, 2014 Comments off

When I look out my window each morning and think of the world, my mind and my eyes instinctively turn eastward. When I think of “the” ocean, I am referring to the Atlantic Ocean, not thirty minutes from my home. My focus on daily history takes me to the map of Eastern Europe and the Mid-East. When I read translations of comments made by diplomats from those regions, the language utilized comports with the customs and usage that I am familiar with. Then reality arrives.

There are two oceans that bookend the United States. Although the Atlantic Ocean is often referred to as “The Pond”, the Pacific not only seems so much larger and further away but on its far side, it is home to over one-half of the world’s population. I know little of that part of the world. And, probably more important, their customs and language are so much more alien than that of the East. We fought a hard and brutal war with Japan and learned of Kamikazi fighter pilots and Harakiri, the ritual suicide. These were not merely unknown and alien concepts to America and the East, but hard to understand and accept as part of daily human behavior in the late 30s and 40s. China is a far off land that has been, for all intent and purposes, closed to us in the United States. Japan was equally so, until the end of WWII. The many nation-states that border the Andaman Sea are far from our daily thoughts or visits, except for the very few of us who travel to their exotic ports of tourism.

And while China lectures the United States that it should “take a responsible attitude, remain committed to neutrality, speak and act cautiously”, its fighter planes, on four separate occurrences in 2014, have intercepted and buzzed unarmed United States surveillance planes over international waters. As predicted, the Chinese authorities first denied the incidents (“totally groundless”), were shown video evidence to the contrary, and then altered their position that Chinese fighter pilots acted rightfully and “professionally”.

China demands, that the U.S. military “should reduce and ultimately stop close-in reconnaissance”, if it hopes to develop meaningful military relations with China. In other words, China is saying, in colloquial terms, to the United States, in an ever shrinking world, get out of my backyard. In diplomatic language, it is demanding the United States change its positions on regional issues such as Taiwan, the South China Sea (where it has continued to forcefully claim it has indisputable sovereignty), and ultimately the entire Asia-Pacific region. One can say with a certain amount of confidence that demands for America to seed the Asia-Pacific zone of interest to China is not going to happen in our life-time.

Regional peace in the Asia-Pacific zone resembles playing the game of pick-up-sticks. Move one stick a little off kilter, and the whole pile of sticks either collapses or moves, and you lose. A Chinese diplomat told United States Ambassador Rice: “We hope the U.S. can promote the healthy development of new China-U.S. military ties with concrete actions.” David M. Lampton, professor and director of China Studies at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, says an “armed conflict” between China and the United States is “possible” because an “incident” between China and one of American allies like Japan and the Philippines “could drag the United States in”. Japan on several occasions has accused Chinese planes of menacing its aircraft around the Senkaku Islands, the cluster known as the Diaoyu by China. Although it is obvious that both the United States and China are strongly self-motivated to keep their economic and other forms of civil intercourse as frictional-free as possible, those peaceful relations do not foreclose the potential of a military clash between these two giant countries. A peaceful relationship between these two countries is anything but certain.

What is not uncertain, the United States will not idly sit by if Chinese actions affect our strategic interest in that part of the world. For example, Beijing has told Washington, in light of the escalation of friction between Japan and China, that Tokyo “has become a growing liability to Washington’s pursuit of its long term interest” with China. One can only guess what was said behind closed doors when that message was received by the Oval Office.

In September of this year, Tokyo and Washington began preliminary talks of providing Japan with offensive weapons that would permit it the fire power to reach far beyond its borders. The first thought: the North Korean missile system would be an appropriate target. That conversation rattled the military and political sabers of the Chinese ruling party. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said “Asian countries had a right to be concerned about any moves to strengthen Japan’s military considering the country’s past and recent mistaken words and actions about its history.” Note, he did not refer to China’s right but to Asian countries (their claimed zone of interest).

Interesting to note is that Japan has not “fired a shot in anger since its defeat”, almost seventy years ago, at the end of WWII. Equally interesting is the economics of the potential change in Japanese security thinking: It would require that Japan would change from a purely defense military system to the purchasing of billions of dollars of offensive systems and weapons. From whom? The United States.

A yearlong investigation conducted by the Senate Armed Services Committee accused the Chinese Government of supporting the most refined form of hacking into networks of companies retained by the Pentagon on at least nineteen occasions. And it doesn’t stop there: Chinese hackers were able to breach computers aboard commercial ships, logistic companies and uploaded malicious software onto an airline computer. There have been five federal indictments of members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army on charges of cyber theft.

In another part of this strategic area is South Korea, looking north to a much oppressed, undernourished population and over-fed military compound, who announced it would create a combined army unit with the United States, reportedly tasked with destroying North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction in the event of an all-out conflict. Here, unlike the U.S. relationship with Japan, there will be a mechanized unit led by a US major general to be organized in 2015, as part of intricate preparations for any war between the two Koreas. “It will be the first combined ‘field combat’ unit to carry out wartime operations,” a defense ministry spokesman announced.

North Korea has repeatedly announced that in the event of war on the Korean Peninsula, Japan and South Korea would be “consumed in nuclear flames”. China, North Korea and, most recently, Russia (of all countries ) all seem to fear that installation of an advanced missile-deterrence on South Korean soil would increase the danger of a regional war, despite U.S. repeated guarantees that the system would only be to ward off missile attacks on South Korea. One must superimpose that conflict upon China’s escalating economic and territorial disputes with not only Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, and the Philippines and its capability to attack those nations with its fighter-jet the J-20 and the picture is not very bright. The capabilities of the J-20 fighter have been increased by China’s outright espionage/ stealing of design secrets from the U.S. It is claimed by some experts that China is still believed to be a long way from developing a home grown engine systems for its fighter jets. I would not want to count on that assurance in my relationship with a country whose language and customs have nuances that we have yet to master.

There are too many niceties that mask or mislead us in the true meaning of China’s and North Korea’s pronouncements. I think it is fair to say that we, as a nation, are not familiar, fluent or totally comfortable with the inner intrigues of the worlds of China and North Korea. China, in particular, presents multiple customs, not merely in the streets of their many diverse cities, but in the numerous cantons of a very large nation. Nor are we sufficiently attuned to the inner workings of the governments of China and North Korea. We have seen, often enough, that nothing can be taken at face value in the United States’ dealing with China.

So where are we? Violence flourishes up and down the Andaman Sea and we know little of that. China sits a waiting dragon, North Korea is a rogue nation-state, and we know little of either country. In addition, we have few if any, “informants” of significant importance, to aid us in the higher ranks in either in China or North Korea. So we must all start looking more diligently each morning not merely to the east but also the west.

Richard Allan,
The Editor

P.S. On the front page of today’s New York Times, a bold headline blares: “Europe’s Anti-Semitism Comes Out of Shadows”. The article updates, with distressing and chilling details, what I have previously discussed. We are a long way from the atrocities committed during the Second World War, and those we openly discussed after the end of the war. The issue is today is “whether a subtle societal shift is occurring that has made ant-Jewish remarks or behavior more acceptable.” “’Death to the Jews!’ shouted protesters in Belgium and France. ‘Gas the Jews!’ yelled marchers in Germany. But the list does not end with words, it was only the beginning to be followed by fatal shots in Brussels, the bombing of a Jewish-owned pharmacy in Paris, a synagogue in Germany is firebombed, and a Swedish Jew is beaten with iron pipes.

Only the beginning –and where are all those in the United States, whose kin joined the marches against the violence of Israel in Gaza, marching against the violence of ISIS? Today a Frenchmen was beheaded. Tomorrow, who? And the silence, by those in America whose voices should be in the forefront, is not merely deafing it is outrageous.

Categories: Uncategorized

Commentary – The Scilence is Deafening

September 9, 2014 Comments off

I am becoming weary, listening to the same refrain from the President of the United States, down the ladder of talking heads, whenever an act of terrorism is committed in the name of Allah against others whether they be Muslims or other religious or ethnic groups. We are greeted with the same popular disclaimer: “That’s not Islam.” The same refrain was accompanied with the beheading of an innocent western journalist.

If it is not Islam, what is it? Just another act of “ordinary” violence? Secretary of State Kerry called ISIS’ violence “a cancer” in the Muslim world. But there is, at this writing, a more troubling response to these acts of violence that is not being addressed and is very worrisome.

This summer, during the deadly conflict in GAZA, Muslims marched thru the streets of London and Paris , two cities in which there are admittedly a substantial population of blatantly anti-Semitic citizens who cannot accept Israel’s existence. Their march was to protest loudly and passionately the deaths of Gazans “at the hands of Israel”. Of course, it makes sense to protest the bombing of schools and residential buildings so long as they are not utilized as a shield by the militants. And there the truth is clear, self-evident and unbiased. Rockets buried beneath schools and other public facilities were utilized as a shield Hamas.

A further observation before we proceed. Let’s not try to muddy the waters in an attempt to obfuscate our objectivity by tortured nuances in describing who our enemy is and who is not in this present discussion. There is no “legal” difference in form” between ISIS and Hamas. Hamas does not represent the governing political arm of Gaza and ISIS is not the “representative government” of the land it is occupying. Neither Hamas nor ISIS are a state (by any traditional definition) nor are they “rogue states” (however that term happens to be defined at the moment). They are both terrorist groups with enormous physical and political ability and support for them should be condemned without distinction. The act of silence greeting the deeds of either is indistinguishable and not acceptable. Terrorism is never acceptable.

If the human atrocities, worldwide, that are paraded before us each and every day were sporadic occurrences, I would not have begun this article. The concern is that the reported inhuman attacks are anything but rare, and are increasingly more and more often and barbaric. They demand a universal outrage and a voice of disgust. Not simply by the President of the United States, not simply by the Secretary of State and not simply by an isolated leader in the Muslim world. These lonely sound-bites of outrage have led me to the sudden realization that there is a strange and ominous silence that surrounds me, especially in the United States.

The barbaric beheadings, the parading of severed heads by children and the mass murder of innocent civilians has produced a deafing silence in the Muslim community in the United States. That silence is indicative of a state of mind that is troubling in a substantial part of the country’s population. What is the reason for the silence in Muslim-America and how will it be perceived?

It means nothing to claim that violence by a Muslim is not the “voice of Islam”; a cover-up of empty words, a political salve to hide behind. Totally meaningless. ISIS has made it easy for us to understand their focus. The ISIS propaganda apparatus publishes an English-Language jihadist slick magazine Dabiq. In its latest issue, aimed at the English-Speaking world, it rejoices over Foley’s beheading, and it amazingly calls the beheading “a cooling balm for the believers’ hearts”.

Why hasn’t the Muslim community in this country jumped to their communal feet in outrage, as in Paris and London? Equally disturbing why hasn’t the national press, the media and the talking heads not confronted the silence of the American- Muslim population?

Why the fear of national confrontation? Is it the fear that one might be accused of prejudice against those in this country who count themselves as being Muslim? Accused of being racist? Not unexpected, the Muslim population found its marching feet and protested loudly in London and Paris against Israel , but they have seem to have lost that same collective voice, the same passion and dedication in denouncing the atrocities committed by ISIS and other Muslim extremists. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is a self-described group similar, it alleges, to the NAACP, in promoting and protecting the positive image of Islam and Muslims n American. In 1998 a co-founder of CAIR said: “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant.” To be redundant: Where is the collective voice of outrage in the American-Muslim community?

Could the sad truth be that there is an unspoken thread to one’s own religious/secular world that prohibits them from criticizing their own? Are they fearful of retaliation by the extremists in their midst? Why is an entire Muslim- American community paralyzed in expressing what should be their outrage? I would hate to think the worst. Certainly, if the individual Muslim-American fails to join with his neighbor and other Muslim-Americans in protest, their continued shared silence will be perceived, rightfully or wrongfully, as being part of a silent supporter to the horrors of ISIS and those like them.

Richard Allan,
The Editor

Categories: Uncategorized

Commentary — It’s an ugly world

September 4, 2014 Comments off

First let me apologize for not writing for the longest time. I had to deal with a health issue, but that is now history. More important is today’s history. What I am assuming you would want, if there is an international holiday on your agenda during the upcoming fall season, is a place you could travel to and feel secure. You want to find yourself ultimately in a safety zone; also, a zone that does not appear to be seething with trouble. A place that you can enjoy without thought of anything other than the sight in your line of vision. And a plane ride without anxiety.

If you are a Francophile and thought: Paris, there you should worry about those sections of Paris that are truly off limits to a Caucasians. In general, I am not worried about the common pickpocket, and there are plenty of them abound wherever you go (and I have been a victim more than once when I thought I was being careful). I am not worried that my luggage may go “intentionally” astray, and that has happened to me in Germany.

What I worry about is bombs, kidnapping and bedbugs. Without the insight of a local resident, I am worried about the simmering rages that seem to be lingering in the streets of a particular section of a city. I am worried about peaceful protests when the fuse of the initial impetus for the protest can unexpectedly, for a stranger, turn ugly and violent.

I am worried about cities with a shocking financially depressed population and the frustration that must be brewing in their homes. I am worried about visiting a country where you dare not ask a political question of a local due to the fear of putting that person in danger of arrest by the authorities. In Singapore, I was told by an art gallery owner that a question I had posed to him was “inappropriate”. Later he volunteer to answer that same question when we met by accident in a transit air terminal in Japan.

I was appalled when a friend said in passing that the world was ugly. He was not referring to its visual characteristic, but the ugliness of the behavior of its population. And I do not mean politeness or courtesy or even grace. We live in a world whose atmosphere is littered with overhanging hostility at every turn. An Egyptian cartoonist poked fun at the United States during the riots in Ferguson after the death of a young man by an overzealous local police officer. The American press had been critical of the continuing political turmoil in Egypt and, how dare we be so critical when the political and social upheaval in the United States are no panacea.

The National Geographic Channel has taught me that animals only attack other animals for the purpose of food. Many years ago a Russian diplomat told a group of us that a town in Poland, which had been removed from the Soviet orbit several hundred years ago, still “belonged” to the “mother country” and could be “retaken” legitimately . When I responded in amazement, his sharp retort was: “that’s the trouble with you Americans; you have no sense of history.”

Could “our lack of a sense of history” be the cause of our international paralysis or some knee jerk reaction to the political and sectarian genocide across so much of the globe? Where are we as a nation when scores are being slaughtered? It appears we either simply ignore that particular “ugliness” or we send in troops because of our alleged feelings for the “humanitarian claim”.

Or is the real truth that we view all foreign incidents thru a political prism. It seems that our first consideration circles around the question: Is the area engulfed in violence a place that is “necessary” to our wellbeing? Our wellbeing–not the pain of those suffering. And wellbeing is defined for us as either or both the safekeeping of the nation’s financial health or our national security.

We are being faced by those who are certifiable egomaniacs with massive persona who control all those within the sound of their voice. These individuals appear to have a control of human behavior that is by all reasonable standards beyond the pale of decent human conduct. How do you behead a person for world-wide viewing? How do you have people, seemingly rational people, line up asking for the next assignment to assassinate a stranger; and what possesses an individual to volunteer to end their own life, not because of some internal pain, but to kill as many other people as possible in the process. Who are these people? They are barbaric. Why do we tolerate this ugliness?

If you take your eye off the news from Washington for a moment, you will become confused when our supposed allies change sides. Are we really talking to the Syrian government for a “fly-over” so that we may bomb the ISIS troops at the same moment the UAE and Egypt carry out airstrikes against that very same Government? And then in the morning news you read that more than 260 migrants died in an attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Africa to Italy seeking what or more important escaping what? While Germany is outraged that the United States has spied upon it, we learn that Germany has spied on Turkey its ally for decades.

And last, at this writing, reports from all the major news sources –our nations and the world press—herald the news that Hamas and Israel have agreed to an extended Gaza cease-fire. That’s the “Good” news; but we also learn from an exhaustive investigative report by Forbes Magazine how that same universal press and electronic media, especially the NY Times ––the sources we all rely upon each day for all our information –has been terribly and intentionally distorting the facts in favor of the Palestinians.

Whom can we trust in this ugly, not very safe world? Some of us turn to isolation and attempt to ignore the world, and believe we will be safe. During a recent police investigation of police brutality an alleged witness said he was fearfully of the hail of bullets being fired by the police and hid behind a car. Yet in minute detail, with his head hidden, he was able to describe the shooting. How?

A friend once said, and this must have been said countless times by others: “You deal with the hand you have been dealt. “ It’s an ugly world; but let’s deal with it all. And what that entails is that this nation, with our without consultation with its allies, evolves contingency plans for future events well before the need for their implementation. That is what responsible governments do. The potential for horrific events must be anticipated and met head on. That’s what top executives do. We must stop the slaughtering of innocent individuals; the victims cannot wait for endless consultations by the responsible world governments. How can a world leader, with untold resources, publicly admit that his government has no strategic plan in this very violent world?

Richard Allan, The Editor

Categories: Uncategorized

Commentary

December 1, 2012 Comments off

Commentary—Imposition of Democracy

How quickly history may change. The exchange of rockets between Hamas and Israel was documented in great detail especially if you watched the somewhat one sided, minute- to- minute exchange on CNN. Forgetting their then poor attempt to correct their bias, the events of the various parties reaching out to the fairly newly anointed President of Egypt was an impressive showing of international politics in action.

Played out on international television, the proceedings unfolded but were subject to events beyond the battle field and not shared with the viewing public in print or television. A bit over three weeks prior to the Hamas rocket attack, Israeli jets raced to the south west and the far side of the Red Sea to the skies over Khartoum, the second largest city of the Sudan. If you are attempting to visualize its location, it is just to the west of Ethiopia. There, the Israeli jets bombed the Yarmouk weapons factory, which belongs to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. They are the manufactures of those long range missiles with heavy warheads that were propelled toward Israel. They were considered by some as the “game change” weapons. Iran had paid for the rockets and had them smuggled to Gaza for Hama’ use against Israel. For days, those particular rockets, were launched at major cities and intercepted by the defense shield Dome (a product of US and Israeli knowhow and money). When it was clear to intelligence sources that most, if not all, of those rockets in Gaza had been spent and none could be produced because of the destroyed factory, the United States entered the scene.

The United States’ Secretary of State appeared alongside the Egyptian President and the Hamas/Israeli hostilities then halted. The game changing rockets were no longer in Gaza, and the factory that built them was destroyed. There were some sputtering moments of peace which were followed by quiet and international praise for the Egyptian government and its leaders. And that seemed to be the end of the story.

Two days later, it was announced that the cease fire was holding. Then the commentators weighed in on who was the winner of the conflict, and where we were to foresee the future of any new alliances that could be spawned by cession of conflict. With the media focus on the various wings of the anti-Israeli world, a vitriolic campaign erupted over if and when Israeli should “start” any action, “they” would send Israeli back to dust. Considering what had just transpired, one wondered why this verbal barrage suddenly erupted upon the world stage. But those were only bellicose words, and the rattling of swords remained in their sheath.

When the dust finally appeared to be settling down -–the rocket launching had stopped, the verbal threats lost their voice, and regional forces moved toward the negotiation table there was no one who could have anticipated that the newly minted hero of the moment, the president of Egypt, would attempt a clear political misstep and look to seize governing power away from the recently shaped democratic country. By attempting to seize the prevailing power in Egypt, clouded by the Hamas/Israeli crises, the President, one could assume, thought that his enhanced international standing and the emotional heat of the rocket and verbal exchanges would shroud what was clearly an attempted at the grab of power during a domestic constitutional crises.

Once taking that step it was difficult for him to back down (this is sometimes referred to as: loosing face), and his intransigence not only intensified the domestic political crises at a critical moment in Egyptian development, but rallied the people in the street and also those officials within the government. Especially vocal were the Judges. Egypt was once again in turmoil with the familiar rioting and tenting in its most famous square. A constitutional crisis of immense proportions grew, and that does not bode well however the issues are settled for a new country and its attempts at democracy. “Snap” votes cannot determine the breath of a new constitution to protect all the people within one nation.
It was said to me (and I believe I must have written about it) that history over hundreds of years plays an enormous role in how a democracy maybe created. The life and generational history of a people within a particular geographic area play a large role in the creation of a democracy. Under what form of governance have they lived for generations after generations. What has been ingrained, generations after generations, in their understanding and acceptance of governance? The mid-East has never known democracy as we in the West understand it. The question then becomes can there be a sudden and complete upheaval and reordering of life from non-self governance to immediately allowing a population—the individual– the self-governance of democratic choices? What has happened to the DNA of democratic choices within each individual that has never been allowed expression? We are seeing that played out in Egypt. The fear for some is that one form of dictatorship is being replaced by another form of suppression.
Richard Allan,
The Editor

Categories: Uncategorized

Global Incidents and Commentary

November 20, 2012 Comments off

Global Incidents

  • From the FP Situation Report: “The good news? Cyber-security threats are down at DOE. The bad: there are still a lot of them, reports Killer Apps’ John Reed: Although better cyber-security practices have reduced the number of reported vulnerabilities, “22 of those 38 vulnerabilities are brand-new while the remaining 16 went unresolved even after the inspector general noted them in 2011, according to a report released this month. This comes as the department has suffered nearly 3,000 cyber-related incidents’ over the last four years, according to the report.”
  • Homeland Security once again warns us that a terrorist attack on the U.S. power grid could be more destructive than super storm Sandy, possibly costing hundreds of billions of dollars and leading to thousands of deaths, the National Academy of Sciences says. While such an event probably wouldn’t kill people immediately, it could cause widespread blackouts for weeks or months.
  • In New Jersey an investigation by FBI along with the Bergen County Bomb Squad lead to the arrest of a 60-year-old doctor with ties to the Occupy Wall Street movement. He has been charged with possessing a large amount of chemicals commonly used for making bombs and explosive devices, along with assault rifles and other weapons.
  • Iran: Steve Emerson reports that “Iran may be capable of doubling the number of centrifuges dedicated to enriching uranium within days. This was reported by one of three diplomats from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in conjunction with the issuance of the latest IAEA Iranian Safeguards report issued Friday.“An additional 700 centrifuges are believed to have been installed at the Fordow fuel enrichment plant near Qum. That brings the total number of centrifuges at Fordow to nearly 2,800, which would mean nearly 1,400 in operation at a given time at the facility. Fordow was designed to hold approximately 3,000 centrifuges so it is now near its capacity and is buried deep inside a mountain, making it a particularly hardened target.” This not good news!
  • Tablet Magazine’s Adam Chandler exposed one of the propaganda evils of the present deadly clash in Gaza. A photograph with a heart rendering image of a grieving father holding his dead child as mournful doctors look on helplessly was released via Twitter by Hamas’s military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigade. “It’s a dead child all right, but it took place in Syria, not Gaza, and had nothing to do with this week’s violence.” And the list of lying accepted by Western media goes on as reported by Steve Emerson: When Israeli troops entered the West Bank city of Jenin in 2002 to root out terrorists the reports of a “massacre” flowed immediately and true to form were accepted by western media. More than 1,000 people were reported killed the headlines proclaimed. In the end, the death toll was revised to 56. To make matters more unfortunate the Palestinians were caught faking funerals with corpses who weren’t dead yet. During Israel’s 2008-09 incursion into Gaza, reports claimed that a United Nations school building in Jabaliya was bombed, killing more than 40 people. It just didn’t happen. In a broad based attack on the media it has been claimed (by an influential member of the media) that two major networks one being cable (and not Fox) have shown a bias in its reporting building and enhancing the Hamas story.

Commentary: Domestic National Security

I am an admitted Francophile. I say that knowing that there is an endemic overabundance of anti-Semitism in that country. I also know, and can accept, that you may love your country and still be anti-Semitic. No one has ever said that you cannot intensely dislike the Pope and still be a very loyal American in a Christian nation. Still the thought is jarring.

Many years ago (and I had to retreat to my bookshelves looking for a particular hardback to see its date of publication), a book was published entitled The Left Bank, and being who I am, I rushed out to buy it. It was only then that I learned that the book detailed the role of intellectuals in France who not only utilized their extraordinary intellectual talent to embrace Germany and the Nazi solutions but actively helped and conspired to sway and move their own country into Hitler’s arms. I must say, upon reading the entire book, I was devastated. How could it be? Those individuals, with extraordinary talent, heightened and developed logic not merely educated but having their status embrace a cause as despicable as that flowing from the banners of the Nazis. I must admit that the contents of the book have stayed with me, as an annoying splinter, to this day. And it stays with me as I still wander the streets of Paris and see the little bronze markers attached to anonymous buildings that declare who had been murdered in that building by the invited invaders during the German occupation of France.
And today, so many years later, I am reading a historical spy novel that takes place in Paris during the days of Hitler’s annexations, the English government’s fatal political missteps and the fear of exiles in France, with none anticipating the eve of the crushing German army blitzkrieg. The author, Alan Furst, is a meticulous fact researcher and, there near the last quarter of the book is a short paragraph listing a few of those very famous persons in industry who more than collaborated with Hitler. Taittinger, Coty, Hennessy, the Michelin brothers, all names that we readily recognize. Who else, I thought? Which lead me on my own research: Who else in industry and those in the entertainment world in France, who were not German but sided with the Hitler in his march to power? I was not interested in those who collaborated after occupation but only those who facilitated the fall of the legitimate French government.
Then suddenly I asked how all of this fitted into the overarching subject matter of this blog? My response was that security begins not merely at the external borders of the United States, but with a “cold blooded” recognition that there are those who live among us, who sat beside us in grade school, who work in the next office to us and who are now not merely willing to participate but are actively engaged in the undermining of and seeking the ultimate destruction of their own constitutionally created government. What was true in France in the late thirty’s is true today in the United States.
How does one respond when you learn of a young American college woman in 2009 who disappears and then 18 months later rams a car full of explosives into a crowded street killing 28 people? She becomes the first American citizen to become a suicide bomber to act out her belief but not in the United States. Her acts, though, could have easily been translated into action within the States. The FBI has reported that young Somali-Americans in the mid-west have “vanished” only to learn that they have been recruited to start their journey to Somalia. In Somalia they joined a terrorist group with ties to al-Qaida. The question is clear: where do they exploit their new training, and the possible answer is in the United States. Suspected in the recruitment process are two local mosques. There was a similar terrorism case study that has played out near Buffalo, N.Y., known as the Lackawanna Six. Within the last week, Omar Shafik Hammami, formerly from Alabama, who is reportedly a senior leader in al Shabaab, an insurgency group in Somalia, has been placed on the FBI most wanted list. And today the FBI announced Four California residents are suspected of plotting to wage “violent jihad,” by joining forces with al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. They were charged with plotting to provide material support to terrorists. Three of the four are naturalized US citizens one born in Afghanistan, one Philippines and one in Mexico. The third was born in the United States.
And then there are the white supremacist and neo-Nazi organizations: the non-Jihadists. “Outside every major military installation, you will have at least two or three active neo-Nazi organizations actively trying to recruit on-duty personnel,” said T.J. Leyden, a former white power skinhead in the U.S. Marines who now conducts anti-extremism training. The truth of the matter is that since the WTC and Pentagon, attacks 19 civilians have been killed in “terrorist attacks” in Continental United States. These deaths were provoked by belief systems that are not connected to the world of Osama bin Laden. Nor can we forget Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the two main actors in The Oklahoma City bombing were from middle America These non-jihadist deaths were motivated by extreme anti-government views and extreme anti-Semitic/neo Nazi beliefs. None the less, and chillingly so these home-grown Americans are to be characterized as terrorist.
From a New America Foundation study, we learn that law enforcement appears to concentrate its investigations on those groups that can be defined as jihadists (‘“Jihadist” terrorists are defined in their database as those associated with or motivated by al Qaeda, or its affiliates or like-minded groups”) and thus overlook an equally dangerous groups within the United States that are just as as dangerous to our security. Nevertheless, 61% of the 337 people indicted for terrorism-related activities since the 9/11 attacks are jihadists, according to the New America Foundation data.
Not only our inherent nationwide prejudices but also the focal point of law enforcement is that the focus of our national security attention should be aimed at the “foreign” looking, speaking, religious individuals or groups in the United States from one region of the world. The facts speak otherwise and it appears the home-grown terrorist is no less a threat to our wellbeing. The conundrum is how best to secure our safety domestically without become a paranoid, oppressive society.

Richard Allan
The Editor

Global Incidents and Commentary

October 24, 2012 Comments off

Global Incidents
The Syrian government and its opposition were considering a ceasefire for a religious holiday beginning on October 26. The ceasefire had been proposed by the UN and Arab League envoys. But almost immediately the government indicated that the cease fire would probably fail because it claimed there was unified opposition leadership to sit at the opposite end of the negotiation table. Then today the UN special envoy to Syria said that the government agreed to a ceasefire and that “some” opposition armed groups agreed “on principle”.

• The American Civil Liberties United has filed Freedom of Information requests to gain additional information about the American drone program in addition to learning about the alleged drone killing of an American teenager. The claim is that the program and the killing has been kept under a veil of secrecy that is unnecessary to the national security of the United States.
• A mixed bag: The first half of the story is that while new data recently released by the IEA paints a picture that the US and EU sanctions against Iran have been quite successful and have impacted that nation’s oil industry the collateral effect has been that tanker insurance has been crippling for Iran. In addition, Iran’s national currency has lost 40 percent of its value in the last month. As this Editor learned at a presentation at New York University from a U.S. Under-Secretary of the Treasury, the crippling restriction placed upon Iran’s banking and currency system has prevent Iran’s central bank from operating in the world banking system.
The other portion of the mixed bag is revealed in an article in The Atlantic by Charles Recknagel. “The U.S. and European Union have to be very careful in not shooting themselves in the foot about it (the fiscal sanctions), because the global economy remains quite sensitive right now and quite vulnerable to any kind of immediate price shocks.”
• Reuters reports: “Violence is returning to what has long been the most tranquil region of Afghanistan, where fears of a resurgent Taliban are as stark as the ragged holes left by the bombing of two ancient Buddha statues in cliffs facing the Bamiyan valley. Bamiyan had been seen as the country’s safest province due to its remote location in the central mountains and the opposition of the dominant local tribe, the Hazara, to the Taliban.”
• Inside Politics reports: United States Representative Peter T. King a New York State Republican (Editor’s note: who generally speaks in hyperbole ) and happens to have the press at his command because he is the Chairperson of the House’s Homeland Security Committee announced that al Qaeda is a greater threat now than it was before the terrorist attacks September 11, 2011. He went on to say that this was the consensus of most intelligence experts. Editor’s Note: Two things must be noted: first, the Congressman said “intelligence experts” not the US intelligence government, and second his remarks were broadcast on CNN a day before the second presidential debates. One has the right to wonder aloud.
• Steve Emerson’s blog noted that a senior Muslim Brotherhood official denied that the group’s leader called for a holy jihad against Israel even though “strikingly similar language” remains on their website. All this precedes the arrival in Jerusalem of the newly appointed Ambassador from Egypt to Israel who, when presenting his credentials (after an absence of almost 2 years of any ambassador rank person), alleged that all is well between two old friends and agreements between the two nations will be upheld.
• In an area of the world that we in the West rarely looks at the latest news is that Russian security forces have killed 49 alleged rebels in the North Caucasus region.
• A snap shot of Africa reveals that in Nigeria, Islamist militants have once again launched a deadly attach against that country’s soldiers in the north east. While the Argentinean government has older more that 300 of its sailors to evacuate a ship that had been seized by the authorities

Commentary: The Indiscriminate Use of the Word Terrorism

 

The second presidential debates raised the issue –whether intentional or not—of the meaning of the words “terrorism” and “terrorist attack”. Clearly, the President utilized the word “Terrorism” and the counterattack, after the debate in the spin room, was to try to limit its definition. The more important issue today is not that semantic game that took place in the debate but the indiscriminate use of the word “terrorism” in general.

Let me start from an excerpt from the Washington Post: “Americans were shocked to learn that the prime suspects were not foreign terrorists but men from the nation’s heartland. The plot was not hatched in Beirut or Baghdad but possibly in the backwoods of … by a paramilitary cell ….. (The suspects) are products of Middle America.”

 

These words were written 17 years ago in 1995, by Dale Russakoff and Serge F. Kowalski, both then staff writers for the Washington Post. This long article is chilling more so because it was two Americans with terrifying and unpredictable cunning, who after planning for an extended period of time, heaped violence of horrific proportions on other Americans. Their sheer brutality brought alarming headlines across the entire nation. Some of their victims were adults but many, far too many, were children playing in a day care center when the defendants bombed the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. This was not a hate crime. The targets were neither black nor Hispanics nor “foreign” looking. The defendants were not racists.

 

The two killers sought and intentionally murdered citizens of not some distant nation but those who were born and lived within their own country. The incident became domestically and internationally known as “The Oklahoma City Bombing”. No prior set of domestic violence in anyone’s recent memory could have predicted or even explained a domestic act of violence as catastrophic as the Oklahoma City bombing. Until that date one could have predicted how the average reader would have defined domestic terrorism. But to create the mental imagery of such an event was unheard of. We were well aware of and thought we understood the nature of international terrorism. Until that time it was an act of violence far from our shores, attributed to people who hated Americans, American interests and ideals. And then, while not directly articulated, the purveyors of that violence “weren’t Americans…they were foreigners”. Domestic violence of the nature of the Oklahoma City bombing—killing of one’s own —-was an anathema and so much more because of what appeared as a normal or accepted relationship between those killed and the killers.

 

Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the two main actors in The Oklahoma City bombing were from middle America—as describe in the Washington Post article– two “kids from the heartland of America” who met in early adulthood, became obsessed with guns and the enemies of the American way of life, as they envisioned both an enemy and what was to them the “American way of life”. Then a historical event occurred that monopolized the headlines for days across America: The firestorm in Waco Texas and the shootout between federal agents and the followers of David Koresh and the Branch Davidians that left 80 dead. Both adults and children. The attack against the Branch Davidians was touted by many as “instigated” by federal officers—the United States Government— thought by many as oppressors who declared war on innocent people and whose self defined individual freedom had been encroached upon not by some foreign entity but the federal government.

 

That event propelled McVeigh to define who he was and what steps he had to take to defend his country and his sense of individual rights. The question for him was: who was the “wrongdoer” at Waco, and the answer to him was simple and straight forward: The federal government and all it stood for. This conclusion easily fed into his obsession to protect his guns and their use. It is reported that he became enthralled and spelled bound by the Battle of Lexington, which as history has taught us, was the firing of the first shots that began the American Revolution for individual freedom from the tyrannical King of England.

 

The question then becomes how should we characterize or define McVeigh and Nichols? They were not part of a lynch mob in some southern state, they didn’t ride through some slum of a city with a poor immigrant population and throw handmade gasoline bombs, they weren’t high on some potent drug and shot-up a high school prom that they had been denied access to, they weren’t two malcontents who lost control of their emotions. And, equally important, they didn’t fit into any of the usual slots in our statutory criminal justice system. They were terrorists. They were terrorists who were born and raised in the United States. They did not go to some foreign land to learn the art of violence. They were not financed by any foreign nation, religion or foreign political entity. They did not even envision the total overthrow of the United States Government and its replacement, they were eager to “merely” change its structure and definition to fit a less authoritarian and dominating form. They sought a movement which they believed had to be imposed by force in order to attain their model of what they believed to be the original definition of individual liberty. They were terrorists. Terrorists who were born and raised in the United States, whose target was a “federal” office building filled with “federal” employees.

 

The problem in the ensuing years, as we became more accustomed to acknowledging the idea that terrorism in all forms exists, was the overuse of the word terrorism. With the least provocation, the word became an euphuism for anything and anyone who frightened us with violent behavior; we were thus “terrorized by terrorists”. In late 2002, what began as a robbery and a murder of three in Louisiana and Alabama and that initially produced no national headlines, culminated in screaming headlines of “terrorism” in Washington, the Nation’s Capital. During a three week period, following the murder in Louisiana and Alabama, people drove in fear in Washington and suburban Virginia. The headlines spoke of fear and terrorism, as random shots rang out, and one at a time, over 21 days, ten people were murdered and at least three others were critically injured by unknown sniper fire.

 

“Terrorism”, “terrorists” and “terror” were the three main words repeated over and over. All the television networks provided live coverage of each attack, with some broadcasts lasting for hours. The New York Times covered it extensively and as it was discovered later, most of its sensationalized reporting was fabricated to create the aura of a series of terrorist attacks. In truth, it was one man with a teenage accomplice that created the carnage. His aim was to cover his tracks. He had murdered his wife and was now attempting to create a picture that his wife had been a victim of a string of random killings. Did these killings terrorize the inhabitants of the Washington Beltway, and the answer is clearly: Yes. Did the killer attempt to create the aura of terror and fear? And the answer was clearly: Yes. But he was neither a terrorist nor can his acts be described as terrorism.

 

On August 5, a man walked into a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee and killed six people before he was seriously shot and, thereafter, committed suicide. The first words heard on the news were that there was a terrorist attack at a Sikh temple. It was reported that he thought he was killing Muslims. For hours after the attack and the death of the attacker, the local police, speaking to the worldwide news media, talked of and described the incident as an “act of terrorism”. It was not. The killer was a racist not a terrorist.

 

Whether it be the “white warriors”, or a “neo-Nazi white supremacist”, or an “Aryan Nations” member, or an individual connected to the “racial holy war” movement or any generic white supremacist interest group spread across the United States, they are not terrorists…domestic or international. They are racists. Yes, they have committed terrible atrocities by killing scores of people in a day care center or killing a Filipino American postal carrier or in a drive-by shooting in a racial holy war. Or even at a Sikh temple in Milwaukee. These killers were not terrorists, they are racist ideologues.

 

The word “terrorist”, alongside the misguided phrase “war on terrorism”, superimposed with the careless use of the word “terrorism”, has taken on meanings far beyond, not merely what is necessary, but what is misleading and dangerous for the proper platform to discuss how to approach the definition, interdiction and prosecution of certain acts of violence. There has been a world-wide proliferation of definitions for the word “terrorism”, and much of it depends upon who you represent and where you reside. It depends upon your religious bent and your political and cultural motivation. In addition, we—individually, in the media and by some law enforcement authorities, continually employ the word “terrorism” in a dangerously indiscriminately manner. Probably, what is more clearly understood, or should be, is what the word terrorism does not encompass what that emotional word embraces.

 

Richard Allan,

 

The Editor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

World Incidents and Commentary

September 12, 2012 Comments off

Daily Events
* Syria: The ground troops of Syria’s President Assad have seemingly vanished in what is called the rebel-held territory, but that has not prevented the residents from continued aerial attacks.
Afghanistan: The US Department of Defense has announced that because of the rise in “insider” attacks against coalition troops, the United States Government has suspended indefinitely the combat training of a significant number of Afghan Local Police. The number of such trainees is about 1000. In addition, it is hoped that by pre-vetting new participants and re-venting present participants the US will be better able to weed out potential Afghan inside attackers

* The Air force Print News (AFNS) reported that the Iraq Government not only is anxiously awaiting delivery of American F-16 Fighting Falcons but, in what has been described as an “historic partnership”, Iraqis fighter pilots are receiving their flight training pursuant to a unique agreement with the Arizona Air National Guard Fighter Wing. Obviously, as reported in the AFNS, what is being sought is a long-term “war-fighting” partnership for the United States through the year 2020 in a very troubled area of the world. A political/geographic area of uncertainty at every turn.

*Egypt: Front page New York Times is the story of 16 months of intense and frustrating negotiation with Egypt regarding the debt relief we have given Egypt over many years. The United States has through something bordering upon mere tradition provide Egypt with 1.3 billion dollars in military assistance. Then came the spring revolutions and the political upheaval in that country which produced no clear leader and no clear road Egypt was to follow. What was very clear at the State Department was that the United States became apprehensive and mistrustful of the new Islamist government under President Morsi. Egypt on the other hand and in the midst of political uncertainty was faced with a 25 million budget shortfall. Egypt turned to the International Monetary Fund and then for the new president’s first trip abroad he scheduled not a trip to the United States but to China. And while the United States is desperate to have Egypt as an ally and as an ally toward Israel, the Egyptian Government has decreed that all women news commentators and new broadcasters wear the traditional head covering while on air. EDITOR’S NOTE: The country is clearly moving away from its secular past and more toward an Islamist state. How far and how fast will it travel and what will be the United States influence if any notwithstanding its billions in aid?

* Syria: The United Nations has reported deadly and freighting statistics. More than 100,000 people have fled Syria in August alone. And more than 5,000 have been killed in what is probably the deadliest month since the uprising last March. And now it is reported that young rebels have threatened that when they achieve their goals in their struggle to overthrow the present regime, they vow to kill all those who have formed the minority that backed the Assad government.

* South China Sea: The Voice of America has been particularly adroit in following the continued flare-up brewing in the South China Sea. This is not a” he said she said” situation; it is territorial claims by China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei, Japan and the Philippines each claiming parts of the SCS. While the United States has been seeking to encourage agreement along the lines of a code of conduct for all the parties involved inured to establish procedures for resolving these type of international water disputes, it is Indonesia that has been the key play. Also sitting in the background has been Singapore who while having enjoyed close ties to the United States is at the same moment attempting to be an independent local power broker and is willing to play a more active role in resolving area disputes.

* Egypt: Memri reports an excerpt from a lecture delivered by an Egyptian Cleric which gives one additional pause to consider the direction of Egypt under its new government. : “Islam instructs a man to beat his wife as a last resort before divorce, so that she will mend her ways, treat him with kindness and respect, and know that her husband has a higher status than her.”

*Southern California: It has not been widely reported but senior police officials have warned of terrorist attacks in Southern California if Iran is attacked even if the US does not participate in the violence. It is reported by the LAPD that there are a number of “active plots” in the southern regions of the state. They admit they are tracking government operatives from Iran, Hezbollah and the home grown extremists. Fascinating also being watched by the LAPD terrorists unit are the animal rights groups. What is causing some consternation within the entire picture is that the LA Police Commission has approved new guidelines to determine if suspicious behavior is such that would warrant further investigation. The catch word although not employed is “profiling”. The new guideline is that a police office may reported a person whose activity maybe not be illegal but could be linked to terrorism. EDITOR’S NOTE: Frankly that is gobbledygook. If a person’s activity could be linked to terrorism then the activity is illegal.

* Department of defense /American Forces Press Service reported on the progress of this fall’s military exercise conducted between Israel and the United States. The exercise called Austere Challenge 12 and will provide vital defense training for both the Israel and the United States. It is reported at all deployed systems will be in full operation mode which means that the exercise will include missile interceptors (and important item for Israel’s defense).
* More from Al Qaeda: Yet another militant leader from Jordan with links to Al Qaeda has warned that his “extremist” group will began a series of at attack that he describes as deadly in neighboring Syria to bring down its President Bashar Assad. His rallying cry was “our fighters are coming to get you.”

Commentary: The Indiscriminate Use of the Word Terrorism
From the Washington Post: “Americans were shocked to learn that the prime suspects…were not foreign terrorists but men from the nation’s heartland. The plot was not hatched in Beirut or Baghdad but possibly in the backwoods of … by a paramilitary cell ….. (The suspects) are products of Middle America.”
These words were written 17 years ago in 1995, by Dale Russakoff and Serge F. Kowalski, both then staff writers for the Washington Post. This long article is chilling more so because it was two Americans with terrifying and unpredictable cunning, who after planning for an extended period of time, heaped violence of horrific proportions on other Americans. Their sheer brutality brought alarming headlines across the entire nation. Some of their victims were adults but many, far too many, were children playing in a day care center when the defendants bombed the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. This was not a hate crime. The targets were neither black nor Hispanics nor “foreign” looking. The defendants were not racists.
The two killers sought and intentionally murdered citizens of not some distant nation but those who were born and lived within their own country. The incident became domestically and internationally known as “The Oklahoma City Bombing”. No prior set of domestic violence in anyone’s recent memory could have predicted or even explained a domestic act of violence as catastrophic as the Oklahoma City bombing. Until that date one could have predicted how the average reader would have defined domestic terrorism. But to create the mental imagery of such an event was unheard of. We were well aware of and thought we understood the nature of international terrorism. Until that time it was an act of violence far from our shores, attributed to people who hated Americans, American interests and ideals. And then, while not directly articulated, the purveyors of that violence “weren’t Americans…they were foreigners”. Domestic violence of the nature of the Oklahoma City bombing—killing of one’s own —-was an anathema and so much more because of what appeared as a normal or accepted relationship between those killed and the killers.
Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the two main actors in The Oklahoma City bombing were from middle America—as describe in the Washington Post article– two “kids from the heartland of America” who met in early adulthood, became obsessed with guns and the enemies of the American way of life, as they envisioned both an enemy and what was to them the “American way of life”. Then a historical event occurred that monopolized the headlines for days across America: The firestorm in Waco Texas and the shootout between federal agents and the followers of David Koresh and the Branch Davidians that left 80 dead. Both adults and children. The attack against the Branch Davidians was touted by many as “instigated” by federal officers—the United States Government— thought by many as oppressors who declared war on innocent people and whose self defined individual freedom had been encroached upon not by some foreign entity but the federal government.
That event propelled McVeigh to define who he was and what steps he had to take to defend his country and his sense of individual rights. The question for him was: who was the “wrongdoer” at Waco, and the answer to him was simple and straight forward: The federal government and all it stood for. This conclusion easily fed into his obsession to protect his guns and their use. It is reported that he became enthralled and spelled bound by the Battle of Lexington, which as history has taught us, was the firing of the first shots that began the American Revolution for individual freedom from the tyrannical King of England.
The question then becomes how should we characterize or define McVeigh and Nichols? They were not part of a lynch mob in some southern state, they didn’t ride through some slum of a city with a poor immigrant population and throw handmade gasoline bombs, they weren’t high on some potent drug and shot-up a high school prom that they had been denied access to, they weren’t two malcontents who lost control of their emotions. And, equally important, they didn’t fit into any of the usual slots in our statutory criminal justice system. They were terrorists. They were terrorists who were born and raised in the United States. They did not go to some foreign land to learn the art of violence. They were not financed by any foreign nation, religion or foreign political entity. They did not even envision the total overthrow of the United States Government and its replacement, they were eager to “merely” change its structure and definition to fit a less authoritarian and dominating form. They sought a movement which they believed had to be imposed by force in order to attain their model of what they believed to be the original definition of individual liberty. They were terrorists. Terrorists who were born and raised in the United States, whose target was a “federal” office building filled with “federal” employees.
The problem in the ensuing years, as we became more accustomed to acknowledging the idea that terrorism in all forms exists, was the overuse of the word terrorism. With the least provocation, the word became an euphuism for anything and anyone who frightened us with violent behavior; we were thus “terrorized by terrorists”. In late 2002, what began as a robbery and a murder of three in Louisiana and Alabama and that initially produced no national headlines, culminated in screaming headlines of “terrorism” in Washington, the Nation’s Capital. During a three week period, following the murder in Louisiana and Alabama, people drove in fear in Washington and suburban Virginia. The headlines spoke of fear and terrorism, as random shots rang out, and one at a time, over 21 days, ten people were murdered and at least three others were critically injured by unknown sniper fire.
“Terrorism”, “terrorists” and “terror” were the three main words repeated over and over. All the television networks provided live coverage of each attack, with some broadcasts lasting for hours. The New York Times covered it extensively and as it was discovered later, most of its sensationalized reporting was fabricated to create the aura of a series of terrorist attacks. In truth, it was one man with a teenage accomplice that created the carnage. His aim was to cover his tracks. He had murdered his wife and was now attempting to create a picture that his wife had been a victim of a string of random killings. Did these killings terrorize the inhabitants of the Washington Beltway, and the answer is clearly: Yes. Did the killer attempt to create the aura of terror and fear? And the answer was clearly: Yes. But he was neither a terrorist nor can his acts be described as terrorism.
On August 5, a man walked into a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee and killed six people before he was seriously shot and, thereafter, committed suicide. The first words heard on the news were that there was a terrorist attack at a Sikh temple. It was reported that he thought he was killing Muslims. For hours after the attack and the death of the attacker, the local police, speaking to the worldwide news media, talked of and described the incident as an “act of terrorism”. It was not. The killer was a racist not a terrorist.
Whether it be the “white warriors”, or a “neo-Nazi white supremacist”, or an “Aryan Nations” member, or an individual connected to the “racial holy war” movement or any generic white supremacist interest group spread across the United States, they are not terrorists…domestic or international. They are racists. Yes, they have committed terrible atrocities by killing scores of people in a day care center or killing a Filipino American postal carrier or in a drive-by shooting in a racial holy war. Or even at a Sikh temple in Milwaukee. These killers were not terrorists, they are racist ideologues.
The word “terrorist”, alongside the misguided phrase “war on terrorism”, superimposed with the careless use of the word “terrorism”, has taken on meanings far beyond, not merely what is necessary, but what is misleading and dangerous for the proper platform to discuss how to approach the definition, interdiction and prosecution of certain acts of violence. There has been a world-wide proliferation of definitions for the word “terrorism”, and much of it depends upon who you represent and where you reside. It depends upon your religious bent and your political and cultural motivation. In addition, we—individually, in the media and by some law enforcement authorities, continually employ the word “terrorism” in a dangerously indiscriminately manner. Probably, what is more clearly understood, or should be, is what the word terrorism does not encompass what that emotional word embraces.
Richard Allan,
The Editor

Global Incidents and Commentary

June 27, 2012 Comments off

Global Events

    • RFE reports Turkey has called for an extraordinary meeting of the NATO military alliance to discuss what it calls Syria’s “aggressive” downing of a Turkish fighter jet over the Mediterranean. Speaking on his country’s TRT state television, Turkish Foreign Minister said that the Phantom fighter jet was on a routine training mission when it inadvertently strayed into Syrian airspace. The plane carried no weaponry and that its mission, it was alleged, was not related to continued unrest in Syria.
    • MOSCOW, June 24 (RIA Novosti) – A Russian ship carried overhauled disassembled helicopters to Syria and not new gunships as was claimed by western media, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei alleged. “We are not going to make any excuses because we did not breach anything. We violated neither international law, nor UN Security Council resolutions nor our national legislation on export control, which is one of the tightest in the world,” the Minister said in an interview Rossiya-1 TV channel. Western media claimed the Russian ship carried armaments and ammunition to Syria, a circulated a picture of the alleged ship. Editor’s Note: If true it is a tragedy of gigantic proportions in terms of human tragedy.
    • Voice of America reports from LONDON – Ecuador says it is giving serious consideration to giving Julian Assange ( Assange is thefounder of the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, which published confidential files on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and thousands of U.S. cables sent between overseas diplomats and Washington) political asylum, after the founder of the WikiLeaks website made the request at the country’s embassy in London. British authorities say they will arrest Assange if he leaves the embassy. Assange alleges that “Ecuador back in 2010 suggested that perhaps I should come to Ecuador and be given residency, so they are sympathetic over a long period of time so we hope that the asylum application will be viewed favorably,” he said. The Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said his government was considering the asylum application. Editor’s Note: What wonders what Ecuador will extract from the United States to ignore Assange’s request.
    • The Times of India reports from NEW DELHI, that Delhi and Mumbai, two most populated cities of India, will be protected by the missile defense system.“According to media, these two cities have been chosen by the Defense Research and Development Organization for deploying the first national Ballistic Missile Defense system. Editor’s Note: The whole world, it appears, is preparing for armed attack by its neighbors.
    • Iran: Al Pessin of the Voice of America reports from London what could have been safely predicted: “The near failure of talks in Moscow and the pending imposition of a full oil embargo by the European Union have deepened the dispute between Iran and the international community, and increased concerns about military action.“Two days of grueling talks did not narrow the gaps between the West and Iran. The negotiators could only agree to hold lower level talks in the coming weeks. Mark Fitzpatrick at London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies calls the Moscow meetings “a disappointment,” and has little hope for the follow-on talks.” Editor’s Note: Does anyone really believe that Iran will come to the table after repeated false moves. It is a continuing game of diplomatic gamesmanship, buying time for them to develop their bomb making and delivery capabilities. Once accomplished the world would have lost yet another moment to secure some semblance of sanity in the world.
    • Turkish media has reported that several high-level Syrian military officers — a general, two colonels, two majors, and 30 soldiers — have defected with their families to Turkey. They were part of a group of 200 Syrians who crossed the border near Reyhanli and were taken to a high-security camp about two miles from the Syrian border.
    • Syrian president Bashar al-Assad declared to his newly appointed cabinet that Syria was in a “state of war,” and “all of our politics has to be concentrated on winning this war.” Riad al-Asaad, the commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army opposition group, told the Lebanese Daily Star that Hezbollah fighters are involved in battles in Syria. Al-Asaad said “as for the involvement of Hezbollah fighters, we have confirmed that it is involved in events inside Syria, especially in Talkalakh and Homs

 

Commentary: One Person, One Vote, One Time

The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate for Egypt’s 2012 presidential election, Mohamed Morsi, was officially announced the winner after a number of tumultuous days on June 23rd. At a rally before the election, a widely known cleric spoke on behalf of Morsi, who was the Muslim Brotherhood’s second choice as candidate, and drew a huge emotional response from his audience, when he outlined his hopes and beliefs with their triumph of the presidential election. One must remember that the Brotherhood had already secured a strong majority in the parliamentary election; a constitution of their own making was assured. Their only obstacle was (and is) the Army.

The charismatic cleric envisioned a changed world with the election of Morsi. Gaza would be liberated, the Caliphate[i] of the “United States of the Arabs” would be restored, with Jerusalem as its capital. His rallying call to those who were present and those listening to the broadcast was that “our cry shall be: ‘Millions of martyrs march towards Jerusalem.’

Martyrs! To claim Jerusalem! While Morsi himself did not echo these statements, he did not repudiate them, and later, prior to the actual election, promised to stand for peaceful relations with Israel. Yet during his campaign he pledged that his administration would be based on Islam. No mention was made of the fact that he spent years as a member of an anti-Israel group, the Committee to Resist Zionism. At the same time, he is not a stranger to the United States, having received his PhD from the University of Southern California, and he was an assistant professor on their faculty. He had seen democracy in action while living in California.

Not withstanding President Jimmy Carter overarching interest and presence in that part of the world, the Brotherhood’s opposition claimed that the Brotherhood employed “intimidation, threats and violence against supporters of candidate Ahmed Shafik.” Those opposed to the Brotherhood “filed more than 100 official complaints accusing the Brotherhood of ballot rigging and stuffing.”

The National Post reported —“ Egypt’s media are demonizing the Muslim Brotherhood as the state’s worst enemy, claiming the fundamentalist group plans to plunge the country into chaos if its candidate does not emerge as the winner from the presidential runoff.” The question left unanswered is what they will do now that their candidate has won. We now must wait for that answer. One thing is certain, there will be an escalation of tension between the government newly elected and the Military. Tensions are escalating, as in the past, with protesters gathering in larger and larger numbers in Tahrir Square; the power of the Constitution Court will come into question, and the Military protecting its concept of national security will exercise its determination. Each of the multi-sided equations in this battle will be aimed at the sweeping powers assumed by the military and their diminution of the office of the presidency.

International overt condemnation of the rule of the military, with a subtext by those who secretly fear the Brotherhood, will have little impact on the ultimate outcome of the political uncertainty frothing in Cairo. The military will not lightly rescind the role it engrafted upon its own historical mandate—now adding the role of legislator, the right to arrest civilians and control over drafting a new constitution. The military has also taken several steps to shield itself from civilian oversight.

But the most telling sign, as reported on the cover of this week’s edition of the state weekly Al-Mussawar, showed a picture of Morsi placing a kiss on the head of the group’s spiritual leader, or Murshid, Mohammed Badie in a gesture of both reverence and submission. For the world to see: The president/government acknowledging it’s being “submissive” to the supreme Islamic/religious leader of the nation. Within days the articles in Arabic newspapers around the world were speculating who is blinking first in the standoff between the people, the newly elected government and the military. A headline in the United States read: “Islamic Democracy.” That, to my mind, is either a non-sequitur or an oxymoron. Your choice.

“We will not be ruled by the Murshid,” said the magazine in red print under the picture. Inside, eight prominent literary figures known for their liberal views said in interviews that a Brotherhood presidency could change Egypt forever. “I consider the Brotherhood to be a threat to Egypt,” said one of the eight, prize-winning novelist Gamal el-Ghetani. “We are living a moment that may be similar to (Adolf) Hitler’s rise to power.”

A chilling thought: One person, one vote, one time.

Richard Allan,

The Editor

  • Editor’s Note, postscript: Turkey’s uproar over a shot down unarmed fighter jet by Syria while understandably it was an act of aggression, the extent of which is not sufficient to go to war or reign unleashed force on that nation. Turkey’s prime minister has claimed that Syria is a “clear and present threat” to his country. Nonsense! May I suggest that the Turkish government beset with serious financial chaos is attempting to focus the unrest, concerns and anger of its population at the government’s handling of the economy toward a foreign and different enemy: Syria.

 

 

 

 

 

 


[i] Caliphate, the political-religious state comprising the Muslim community and the lands and peoples under its dominion in the centuries following the death (ad 632) of the Prophet Muḥammad. Ruled by a caliph (Arabic khalīfah, “successor”), who held temporal and sometimes a degree of spiritual authority, the empire of the Caliphate grew rapidly through conquest during its first two centuries to include most of Southwest Asia, North Africa, and Spain. Dynastic struggles later brought about the Caliphate’s decline, and it ceased to exist with the Mongol destruction of Baghdad in 1258. Encyclopedia Britannica

 

 

June 21, 2012 Comments off

Global Incidents—
• The chairperson of the US Senate Homeland Security Committee, Joseph Lieberman, has added his voice to those who seek an independent (independent of the White House) investigation of national security leaks to the world media
• Syrian Government Forces continue to escalate their attacks
across the country Sunday, employing artillery barrages in the flashpoint city of Homs, as well as the suburbs of Damascus and Aleppo, and various towns. In addition, the UN News Service reported that the head of the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) today warned that escalating violence in the Middle Eastern country is hampering the ability of UN observers to carry out their work. The UN estimates that more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria and tens of thousands displaced since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began some 16 months ago.
• Frightening news from Egypt: A well know Salafi-jihadi cleric was sought for a ruling on the “status” of members of the Egyptian military. The reply was that Egyptian soldiers “as a collective” are considered infidels, and the preferred manner in “dealing” with them must be left for a later time; presently the battle was ideological. Editor’s Note: Considering the Commentary to the right of this column, conditions in Egypt is uncertain for every segment of its population including its military. The chance of outright civil war is great and that is a tragedy beyond the unnecessary and tragic loss of life.
• Radio Free Europe reported that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Russia has not been taking part in discussions with the United States or other countries about a political transformation in Syria that would involve President Bashar al-Assad leaving office. Then he added, which can only be described as comical, that Moscow does not “get involved in overthrowing regimes.”
• Voice of America: “U.S. military has confirmed it runs ‘broad ranging’ intelligence operations in Africa, though it stopped short of verifying a report that it has set up small air bases across the continent to keep watch on terrorist groups. While the Washington Post newspaper reported that the U.S. military has set up about a dozen air bases in Africa to conduct surveillance, in countries that include Burkina Faso, Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and the Seychelles. Kenyan military officials have denied the United States is using Kenyan territory or airspace to conduct regional surveillance missions, as mentioned in a Washington Post newspaper report describing expanding U.S. intelligence operations across Africa.
• Not surprisingly Swiss ignore new Iran oil and bank sanctions. Benjamin Weinthall of the Jerusalem Post reported from Berlin that the” Swiss government’s policy to reject sanctions targeting Iran’s Central Bank and European oil trade has prompted criticism from the US government. With a new round of EU and US Iran sanctions to be implemented on July 1, there is growing frustration from the American side that the Swiss have failed to join the Western coalition trying to stymie Iran’s nuclear work.”
• You have to be of a certain age to remember the following: They were accused of taking part in the release of sarin gas in train cars on the Tokyo subway system during the morning rush hour on March 20, 1995. Twelve people died and thousands more were poisoned. The cult’s founder, Shoko Asahara (whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto) has been sentenced to death by hanging for those killings and 15 others blamed on the group. Eleven other Aum members have also been convicted of murder and sentenced to die. Asahara, the cult leader, who is legally blind, at one time had a following numbering in the thousands. He told cult members he wanted them to help unleash turmoil that would trigger a third world war so they could seize power and take over Japan. Voice of America announced that Japan was breathing a long-awaited sigh of relief, as newspaper sellers hawked an extra edition with a banner headline that the country’s last remaining top fugitive has been apprehended. The police official said Katsuya Takahashi, 54, on the special Most Wanted list, has been taken into custody following a manhunt that began in 1995 and served with an arrest warrant for murder and attempted murder.
• MEMRI reports– Egyptian cleric Safwat Higazi announced to his followers in Egypt that “Our capital shall not be Cairo, Mecca, or Medina. It shall be Jerusalem, Allah willing. Our cry shall be: ‘Millions of martyrs march toward Jerusalem.’” “The United States of the Arabs will be restored…. The capital of the Caliphate – the capital of the United States of the Arabs – will be Jerusalem, Allah willing.”

• IRIN reports that fears of violence in northern Afghanistan after the drawdown. Recent violence allegedly sparked by the behavior of local police and militia groups in northern Afghanistan has raised fears that the planned withdrawal of international forces could lead to renewed violence even in the generally more peaceful north. “Violence has been increasing. Since the Karzai government has been in power we have not seen such high levels of violence here,” said Nadira Geya, head of the Directorate of Women’s Affairs in the northern province of Kunduz. “Before, we didn’t have cases of militia killing women – not even once a year. This year we have already seen several cases.”

• Global Security reports– what could be captioned as :”More of the same”: that “Iran’s intelligence ministry announced the capture of a number of prime suspects in the killings of two of the country’s nuclear scientists, and claimed the detainees were linked to Israel, IRNA news agency reported. “The main elements behind the killings…were arrested and moved to detention following an investigation of at least 18 months involving surveillance in Iran and abroad,” said a statement from the ministry published by state media.

• In a not good news report for the United States, Reuters’ Brian Ellsworth tells us from Caracas that “Venezuela is building unmanned drone aircraft as part of military cooperation with Iran (including China and Russia). President Hugo Chavez claims that his aircraft only has a camera and was exclusively for defensive purposes. While claiming that “We are a free and independent country” one must wonder why US prosecutors are investigating the drone production in that country.

Commentary: I Told You So: Political Chaos in Egypt
I cannot tolerate people who say: “I told you so!” But I did tell you. The Egyptian Spring Revolution ran its bumpy course and presently has more than its front wheels in an impenetrable ditch. The people, if not the political system, have moved from exaltation to frustration to near exhaustion. This is or has already created a vacuum for the military to once again take control of that nation. In retrospect the reason is clearer, as it always is, as to what the future course of events were to be when the revolution first burst upon the public squares of Egypt.
 

Some write that Egypt has now “suffered a political earthquake”. But earthquakes are not always predictable. One did not need a magic mirror to predict that country’s present political and social chaos. When the slow but predictable outcry of the people in Tahrir Square reach a monumental proportion, the Muslim Brotherhood was all but invisible. It was the black leopard crouching, hidden in a tree, waiting for its prey to meet a moment of vulnerability. Then, the world’s oldest and one of the largest Islamist movements moved to the forefront of the political discussion, and contrary to its public face during the height of street protest and violence, did a double turn and announced through its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), that it would move to fill the political void created by what seemed like the evitable political demise of the Mubarak Government. At that moment and simply stated, its well known positions regarding sharia law, women’s rights, and Egypt’s relations with Israel should have sent a shudder though the West. Most politicians applauded the birth of another democracy. Except that democracy
 

The election process began in a move toward a new government. However, of the newly elected 100 member Egyptian Assembly, there were only six women and six Christians who were elected. Christians comprise about 10 percent of Egypt’s 85 million people. Within all those elected, there were almost none, it is claimed, who could be defined as skillful or knowledgeable in either constitutional or human rights issues.
When, thereafter, the newly elected Assembly convened for the first time to vote for those who would draft the country’s new constitution—it’s very first and most important and substantial act, one quarter of the Assembly (the lower house) walked out in protest. Walked out because they complained that the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the FJP, along with an ultraconservative Islamist Nour Party, effectively froze out of the legislative process a group of liberal and non-Muslim legislators. The liberal bloc of the elected members consisted of three separate parties who, along with the non-Muslim legislators, stated their objection that the Islamist-dominated law makers had imposed their will on the minority in the process of choosing who would draft the new constitution. In other words, no voice was given to the religious and political minority in the constitutional process. The political process then began to tumble almost uncontrollably. Decrees were issued, mediation between groups took place, and peace was brought to create a parliament and draft a constitution. Then the unsettling CNN reports flashed on our television screens: In the midst of electing a new president, after weeks of trying to determine who and who was not permitted or could be considered for that position, there was “sort of a coup”. “Sort of ?” Suddenly I had visions of Tahrir Square at the on start of the Spring Revolution, with the faces of a jubilant and defiant population celebrating the birth of their new democracy. And before most realized it, the new voices of the “new democracy” were calling for end to all relations and treaties with “America” and “Israel”.
 

On June 15th, there was a political bombshell! Egypt’s highest court ruled that one third of the parliamentary seats in the Islamist controlled parliament were invalid. This announcement invited the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces –that country’s interim ruling military council that had been hit with arrests within its own ranks—ruled that if any part of the parliament has been judicially declared illegal, then by “logic” the entire legislature should be dissolved.
 

Al-Jazeera reported that this string of events triggered a new level of chaos and confusion in the country’s leadership and a politically divided country with a population exhausted by the process. By week’s end the Country’s Constitutional Court added additional fuel to the fire by declaring that a law passed by the new Islamist controlled Parliament (that would control the election process and would have barred any member of the Mubarak government from running for office) was unenforceable. That ruling permitted the fallen government’s last prime minister to stand for election as president of the new republic. Parliament, controlled by Islamists who had long been antagonistic to the military, had only been in session for one month before it was dissolved. The end results were that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces was once again in control of the country. It would determine the makeup of the 100 person group to draft the country’s new constitution. By weeks end (June 15) there was a new constitution, as the Muslim Brotherhood announced that they would put “all their efforts” into securing the presidential election.
 

Notwithstanding that a parliamentary government did not exist, having been dissolved by the military, a presidential election was held the weekend of June 16 and 17. Monday morning June 18, the Muslim Brotherhood claimed victory and then, confronting the military head-on, declared that the dissolved parliament would write its own constitution. As I was about to place this Commentary on the blog, the front page of multiple news services ran the photograph of the opposition presidential candidate. The headline was he too was proclaiming victory. Therefore, as of June 19th, Egypt has two constitution, two proclaimed presidents and a dissolved Parliament.
 

How strong will the military stand? Can the Muslim Brotherhood generate sufficient public outcry to overcome the role of the military? In this atmosphere, can there be a compromise between the two? All this while a substantial minority within Egypt has their fate in the hands of competing wills. If the Brotherhood wins the battle, its historical voice is an indicator that the minority will be trampled. Beyond the pyramids, who succeeds in running the government will have an impact on not merely the lives of those that live in that ancient country but on the politics beyond the Mid East.

Richard Allan,

        The Editor