One Sunday morning, I realized that I was slowly but surely being sucked into a vast spinning ball where the speed and collision of events were beginning to scatter my brain. What I am referring to, obliquely, is the multiple wars and collisions of facts and interests in the Middle East and across a significant span of North Africa. Our Government is not only deeply divided on how to defeat or even contain the major threats of terrorism, but as one commentator said, how mired we have become in this thing called “the war on terrorism”.
Superimposed one upon the other are the volatile issues created by the proposed Iranian Nuclear Agreement before Congress and the violence in the Middle East that has metastasized, creating complex contradictions.
I have never before prefaced any of my writing by stating my avowed political position. Since I have been able to vote in a presidential election, I have voted Democrat. I voted for Obama. Having made that statement, Obama’s nuclear proposal is a disaster for today and tomorrow and for America. I speak seeking to protect nothing beyond the borders of the United States.
Prior to entering politics Obama taught constitutional law; he would be better prepared today if he had studied and taught “contracts”. The art of contract drafting has as one of its first axioms: Don’t create ambiguity in the use of language. To do so will ultimately create conflict.
Certainly, the Iranian nuclear agreement is far from being a joking matter, but at least one person (Jackie Mason) has quipped that New Yorkers” know that in the restaurants of New York, they have an inspection system. You can surprise any restaurant without notice to walk in and inspect them… So we are protected in this city from a bad tuna fish. We’re not protected from a bomb, but we’re protected from a bad quality of a tuna fish.”
My opposition to the Nuclear Agreement is the untenable consequences that flow from it, which are not readily visible, glossed over, and ignored to our peril.
A few examples are:
* There are phrases in the agreement relating to the inspection of important facilities which read: “where necessary, when necessary.” The Administration alleges this means “anytime, anywhere”. That is nonsense, and more important, totally misleading. The Iranian Government can hold off inspection for months after a demand is made. Iranians can begin the long process by asking: “Why is this demand necessary?” Someone said that if the marshal knocks on your door with a search warrant, it means you do not get an invitation to return in two weeks to search for the items in your warrant. “Assurances” between the parties to an agreement are as good as the persons who make them, and it seems that we should have learned by this time that Iran, who seeks our death as it signs the agreement, should not be trusted. Not now and not tomorrow. Why embrace a person who has a knife in their hands.
* When sanctions are lifted (at the time of complete execution by all the parties), the Agreement will provide Iran with as much as 150 billion dollars in sanctions relief, which will permit Iranian companies (or their hidden middlemen) to have total commercial access to the world. It will become all but impossible to prevent Iran from buying whatever it wants, wherever it wants. Despite a ban on arms shipments to Iran under international sanctions, Russia is proceeding with the sale of their advanced S-300 surface-to-air missiles. This weapons system has the ability to bring down, among other planes, US jet aircraft. A number of significant events signal that Russian and Iran now appear to have closer ties both diplomatically and militarily in the weeks since the announcement of the nuclear accord in Vienna. Keep in mind that Iran supports terrorist groups and proxy forces in Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq. And like its Russian friends, supports the regime of al-Assad’s Syria. There is talk today that the only way “out” for Iraq is partition.
* The question of Syria’s future was nowhere presented in the talks with Iran. And this connects to the previous paragraph. The results are predictable: the flow of fighters, weapons and money fueling the devastating conflict in Syria will only worsen. Iran will now have greater financial resources to protect and help their proxies to gain the advantage on the field of battle. The very groups with whom we are “at war”. It has been announced that Russia has delivered six MiG 31 fighter jets to support al-Assad.
* Since Obama withdrew our entire troop presence from Iraq in 2011, the country has moved further into sectarian fighting. The lifting of sanctions will only escalate that conflict, as arms may readily be purchased and will be freely transmitted to those groups backed by Iran.
* With the lifting of sanctions (at the date of execution of the Agreement) and then a possible “snap back” (on the breach of the terms of the Agreement), those arrangements between Iran and any group or nation executed between those two dates will not be affected.
* Although the President has readily admitted that Iran supplies both Hezbollah and Assad in Syria and Hamas in Gaza, he quite amazingly implies there is nothing the Allies can do about it. It is worth repeating in opposition to accepting the Agreement that we are not faced with only two options: the Agreement or war. Nonsense. Heavier and tighter sanctions would have a crippling effect in Iran and the Iranians are more than aware of their implication.
* Tehran has consistently violated the UN arms embargo and missile sanctions. Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi made crystal clear last month that Tehran had no intention of complying with any arms embargo, saying “Whenever it’s needed to send arms to our allies in the region, we will do so.” And they will have the $150 billion in sanction relief to do just that.
* Most upsetting, and the nation only learning about it after an Associated Press “bomb shell”, was the revealing of the existence of the Parchin Settlement (named after the Iranian military complex, being the home of Iran’s nuclear-weapon and ballistic program). This Settlement was worked out between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran. The United States and the five other world powers that negotiated the Nuclear Agreement were not a party to this agreement, but were allegedly “briefed” by the IAEA. When confronted by this news, the Obama administration described the document as nothing more than a “routine technical arrangement”. One cannot image that this Settlement is anything but routine when it allows the Iranians (taking into account its own military concerns) to provide the location and photos of suspected sites to the IAEA”. The Iranians have not been known for their honesty, so why now. Congress, under present legislation, enacted this year, must receive all documents entered into between Iran and any third party. Which includes IAEA Settlement. Congress has been provided nothing.
In addition, we have presently enforced United States’ legislation that Iran not be granted any relief until there is “a certification by the President that Iran is no longer a financier and sponsor of terror. That presidential certification has not been satisfied.” During all of this the White House remains silent.
As I previously mentioned, entwined with the Iranian Nuclear Agreement and at the vortex of the Mideast catastrophe are two countries vying for supreme domination for decades to come: Saudi Arabia and Iran. Parenthetically, while neither of the potential winners is a friend Israel, one overtly seeks its total destruction.
Viewed from afar, one sees the principal objectives of Iran and Saudi Arabia: First, Iran seeks to replace the United States’ control and influence in the Sunni world led by Saudi Arabia, second, to bring to fruition the preaching of Ali Khamenei: destroy Israel.
One of the pieces of supporting evidence is the 2015 report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom which documents that since Hassan Rouhani assumed the office of the president of Iran in mid-August 2013, the number of people from various minority communities who imprisoned has increased. In 2014, it was reported that religious minorities Baha’is, Christian converts and Sunni Muslims, along with dissenting Shi’a Muslims, are deteriorating and face increased harassment. Today’s news brings horrifying pictures of the treatment of Catholics in the region.
On the other side of this hostile equation, Saudi Arabia and Israel will never be “friends” and do not have any diplomatic relations (playing to its constituents) and probably never will. Nevertheless, both countries are allies of the United States in opposition to the expansion of regional influence by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
News reports, not yet confirmed, indicate that behind-the-scenes diplomatic and intelligence cooperation between the Saudis and Israel have taken place. One public gesture was that Israel had offered Iron Dome technology to the Saudis who publically declined the offer. That does not mean the technology will not be transferred.
This layer of conflict is very much straight forward. It becomes more complex as we examine the surrogates of Iran and Saudi Arabia who seek to destroy each other with impunity.
But first simple mathematics: Sunnis outnumber Shias by nine to one. Those are the simple numbers; least we forget there are other smaller numbers of tribes whose allegiance shift with the wind and bribery. Today there are one thousand organized, armed sectarian militants in the region. Well in excess of 100,000 people who form alliances with other similar thinking groups.
The entire picture becomes more complex when one studies the generally accepted map of the region. At first blush, nothing unusual comes to the fore, there are straight lines forming different countries as one would expect to see on any map of the Mid-East. The problem is that those lines do not represent the reality of what is on the ground. The map lines were drawn and then imposed by the super nations of the world after wars and conquests and do not take into consideration the multiple tribes and diverse groups that have resided separate and apart for generations across the region. Today, there is talk of the partition of Iraq.
Over decades, the cost, in lost lives and dislocation to vast numbers of individuals is incalculable in this intractable, ongoing conflict. The cost in dollars is staggering. For example, the U.S. has spent in a very short period of time over $2 billion on the air campaign in Syria and Iraq alone.
I recall reading that the King of Jordan had warned the international community that with America’s toppling of Saddam Hussein (clearly, a bad guy) in Iraq, a void would be predictably created and with that an unappealing opportunity would arise for an Iranian-influenced Shia expansion. His words evaporated into thin air. Then as the voids through the Muslim world were being created by one failing government after another, with civil war and protests one after the another, the voids quickly were filled with transnational Shia forces backed by Iran and by violence.
First thing first: In this arena of not merely political posturing but supporting that posturing with weapons, we have been faced with a lot of double talk. Complicating matters, those groups or tribes who seemed not to play any major role in the ongoing conflict are now involved in in the regional violence as they change sides. This complicates the overall picture; weapons that we had sent to help overthrow Assad are now, because of a shift in alliance, being employed against our interests and troops.
While the West extends nuclear negotiations and agreement with Iran, the Islamic Republic continues to enhance its international terrorism infrastructure through its proxies. Hezbollah has operatives in the Western European states while Hamas maintains its operatives, according to a German intelligence reports.
Turkey, a country with one foot in Europe and one in Asia, is viewed as a stable nation in the area, has recently undergone its own political upheaval. This Muslim nation until recently run by a strong man, who had turned this historically democratic, nonsectarian nation into a Muslim stronghold, had his political base damaged severely in recent elections. Under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan– the Turkish government forcibly opposed Kurdish independence – and at the same moment had been tacitly permissive of ISIS. Erdogan deliberately withheld support from the Kurds, whose troops have been successfully opposing ISIS in the north of Iraq. What changed the dynamic of the regional politics was the political blow to Erdogan following his most recent elections, with the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party entering the Turkish parliament for the first time, thus creating a political crisscrossing of political wires. Erdogan then entered into an agreement with the US and ordered the commencement of vigorous bombing of ISIS strongholds, but, to everybody’s astonishment, also launched bombing Kurdish centers. I guess “duplicitous” is the word for his actions. He now alleges that both the campaigns (US warplanes striking ISIS from Turkish bases and his own jets) are really one fight against the terrorism in “his” region, equating ISIS and the Kurdish centers in the north. Viewed from afar there is no moral or ethical reason for these actions. This has had sever political consequences in Turkey as I write these words: the Turkish prime minister failed to form a coalition government, plunging the country deeper into political uncertainty with the President calling for yet another election. In stepped the voice of ISIS, taking advantage of another political crisis in this region urging Muslims in Turkey to rise up against their “infidel” president and “to capture Istanbul”.
The US is not immune from this sort of ambiguity. We find the US bombing Iran’s enemies in one country and helping to bomb Iran’s allies in another. This Gilbert and Sullivan travesty, played out as Sunni-Shia loathing, can indeed give way to marriages of confusing convenience, all while the world watches as the US debates whether to enter into a Nuclear Agreement with a nation who seeks its destruction.
The Nuclear Agreement discussion in the United States has reached name-calling status, affecting not only our natural allies and those we should engage, but our presidential political election process. The violent conflicts in the Middle-East bring continued killings that are reckless and unnecessary even in wartime. In some instances they are horrific by any standards – beheadings, mustard gas and rape. And the immigrants of all descriptions, of all ages, suffer beyond imagination as they flee their homeland and seek solace by placing their lives in unworthy boats that ply across the Mediterranean only to die at sea or face empty, blank and sometimes hostile stares upon their arrival. The civilized world appears to be in a state of physical paralysis and fills their created void with empty gestures. World leaders are more obsessed with the political implications of their pronouncements than the human implications caused by their inaction.
There is a price to pay for all of this and its cost is “human lives”.
It appears at first glance that we have lately become a nation of protests. Whenever I hit the “enter” key on my computer or turn to the news print or to television, there is, in some part of the nation a protest, and always with the hope that it will be nonviolent.
What appears to be in the forefront today in the United States is those protests “demanding justice” for a slain black person killed by a white officer. What appears to be in vogue today in Western Europe are the protests against the flooding of immigrants into France, German, and England. To those in the United States all the European immigrants are the same. We don’t have an immigration problem that can’t be fixed with rational politicians listening to the vast portion of our population. But that is another article.
One of this nation’s pressing issues is how we cope with extremists. A serious issue that has been silent long enough. Al Qaeda and ISIS and their violent, gruesome, inconceivable evil are paraded over and over again across the top of Africa and the Mideast. And their barbaric acts are shown in great detail in every home in the United States.
The evil they commit in the name of Islam is unspeakable in its raw images.
Our president does not want to talk about Islam, the “religion”, when he condemns the heightened form of terrorism; on the other hand, anti-immigrant groups want to paint an entire religion with the deeds of ISIS; the rest of us voice our concerns by yelling at Congress, writing op-ed pieces or mumbling with our elbows on the bar tops across America.
When all of this began to push my pen, I learned that we have always been a nation of protests and marches on our nation’s capital from the late 1800s until today. There have always been marches for or against something. In 1894, there was a march on Washington to protest unemployment. In 1913, there was women’s suffrage, and in 1925 the KKK marched in support of its activities. In 1948, Rabbis marched to stop the destruction of European Jewry. Think of a topic and there has been either a march or protest in some town or city or calls for mass protest in support or against “something”. Bus caravans are organized; huge numbers of people are organized for trains to carry protesters to Union Station in central Washington.
The Million Man March in 1995, caused untold complaints from the discredited person who organized the march to the petty conflict as to how many persons actually attended. But the March did take place and was seen across the nation. Notwithstanding a fusillade of criticism, it did not stop the marches to end the war in Vietnam, against the Iraq war, against guns and for gay rights. Protests are the voice of a community of like thought.
There is one mass protect or collective outcry that I am waiting for. There is one group of Americans whose voice is silent. In January, I was in Europe when sixteen people were slain in attacks which were carried out by Islamic extremists. I was in London and felt the public blunted with the announcements of the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris. Not a sound out of White House, not a sound in America. I still wait for that one crucial march in my own country. In a recent Atlantic article, its author said that ISIS is no mere collection of psychopaths. If not that what are they? They are not as the President initially defined them.
I still wait for that one group in America that truly counts in this fight against extremists in the name of Islam, and they have remained strangely silent. A group of persons who profess to be Americans, who profess to be loyal Americans, who profess to be patriotic Americans. Americans period.
Almost one year ago the Washington Post published an article by Yasmine Bahrani, a professor of journalism at American University in Dubai, she is a native Iraqi who calls herself an American Muslim. She notes in her article that Muslims have marched across London, Paris and other major cities protesting the treatment of Muslims by the Israelis. But there have been no large scale, significant demonstrations –anywhere in the world — by Muslims against the violence committed by ISIS against Christians, Yazidis and other Muslims, especially the beheadings of non-combatant innocents. If Muslims can organize, she wonders, with relative ease as they have demonstrated in their protests against Israel, why not against ISIS? It is not as if they are impotent as a society. Why not in the United States, the home of over six and half million Muslims, a number greater than the entire population of Arizona? A nation that provides them with the democratic process, citizenship, education, health, the ability to vote and grow and in a country that has provided a safe haven. Sure there are instances of bigotry—no group is immune to that fact of life, but as a pragmatist factor, the Muslims are the third largest religion in the United States and prospering. They have the freedom to protest, they have the freedom to march on the White Houses, they have the freedom to vote for the President of the United States, they have the freedom to send their children to school. Why not protest the atrocities of ISIS?
Here and there you do hear an isolated Muslim voice denouncing the violence of Muslim extremism. But that is not the voice of a people.
You do hear the rejoinder that ISIS is not Islam. But that is an excuse not to face reality of who and what is ISIS, what it represents, how it conducts is rhetoric. Professor Bahrani wrote: “Don’t Muslims have a responsibility to speak out more loudly than others? We need the world to see anti-Islamic State marchers taking to the streets with the passion that we saw at the Gaza rallies in London and Paris….To much of the world, the Islamic State, Nigeria’s Boko Haram and other such groups do represent the Muslim community. Today, say the word “Islam” and few think of the glories of our history and culture. Rather, they picture masked men with knives.” Sadly, a poll conducted by the BBC in England found that more than a quarter of British Muslims sympathized with the terrorists who committed the atrocities at Charlie Hebdro in Paris.
Who is the face — who becomes the poster image—of Islam? The key question: Where is the shame and anger within the Muslim population in the United States against ISIS? Where is the communal anger –the million person march –of the Muslims in the United States against the violence of ISIS? When will they standup, with one voice, and condemn ISIS? Their silence is deafening.
Could there be some primal, unrealized connection seeking vindication for some past wrongs? Unhappily, is the answer that there is no anger at these extremists?
There is prompt, vocal and united anger at the reach of Israel. Those protests are large in number, seemingly spontaneous and carry the full banner of the Muslim world and Islam. Is the failure of that Muslim voice allowing ISIS to become the face of Islam?
The Paris mass murder, followed by the kosher market killings in France, was long in the making and predictable. Pointing to the Mohammad cartoon creators as the evil targets was an excuse, a pretext, a smokescreen. Evidence: Only days later, ordinary civilians shopping in a supermarket, in a Jewish neighborhood, who did not draw images or defile Mohammad, were murdered with the same precision and brutality as those at Charlie.
We have just return from an aborted trip to Europe. The plans were to spend some time in London, a Chunnel ride to Paris and all the pleasantries in-between. Then, all conversation turned to the reasons for not continuing our trip. Not merely from those at home, but strangers in London and many from France.
Once the tension became almost tangible, I began to notice more closely those I came in contact with during the course of a day in London. Immediately, I noticed the accents of those about me as we wandered about London, from the theatre to dinner to shopping to walking in the streets and pubs. The accents were not those of a people whose home was London nor were they cockney nor even American but from lands not in close proximity to the United Kingdom.
In 2005, I read a book by the late Tony Blankley, then an editor at the Washington Times, whose book “The West’s Last Chance” in which he argued that if the West did not halt the slide of an ongoing Arab (Muslim) immigrant invasion, there would be a takeover of Europe, turning the continent into Eurabia. His thesis was that with the decline in population among ethnic Europeans, coupled with the surge in Muslim immigration, the demographics of the continent would see a Muslim majority by the end of the 21st Century. He alleged that “Europe’s forty to fifty year experiment with multiculturalism has been a dismal failure. While some Muslims have integrated, many have not. Indeed, growing numbers of Muslims in Europe do not want to integrate but to dominate.” He even had the “nerve” to allege, ten years ago, as “fact”, that “many European cities contain no-go zones in which ethnic Europeans, even armed police, dare not enter” with no blow-back until today. That claim, alleged today, has now produced a cry “outrage” and “slander” with threats of legal action even by the mayor of Paris.
The question today is where have all the Europeans gone?
While Germany and France have the largest Muslim populations among the European Union members, France, while having less in numbers than Germany, has a larger percentage of its population from that group of people. If you look at Europe over all, it is Russia with the largest in both total numbers and percentage of Muslims at about 14 million persons.
Tony Blankley was correct in 2005, when he predicted that the Muslim share of the population across the European continent had grown and will continue to grow at a significant rate and is expected to do so through 2030 to make up more than eight percent of Europe’s population. That is a lot of people with a great deal of extraordinary cohesion in family, cultural and economic ties. Its political potential then becomes enormous. That power converts into enormous ability to impose its cultural and religious persuasions upon the majority, because of its united drive and convictions. In certain regions, they have attempted to do just that.
Strangely enough, and I do not know how to account for this, the median age for all Europeans is older than the median age of all Muslims, and this too will morph into greater leadership roles across the continent. Today, the Muslim population across the EU is far greater than the thirteen million counted in 2005. In turn, the favorable opinion of immigration and the Muslims has turned from positive to negative. The anti-immigration feelings in France, German, England and Belgium have increased with the attacks in France and the attempted terrorist’s activities in Belgium in January 2015. In the UK in January 2015, the prime concern in the upcoming election is not the economy but immigration.
When you have forty percent of the population of Rotterdam being Muslim, and a survey, that is not new, found that sixty-one percent of British Muslims wanted sharia law; that 26 percent of British Muslims believe that they have had much too much integration into British society, and only seventy percent would report a fellow Muslim they believed to be a terrorist, you have a perfect scenario for an immense immigration backlash, violence and extreme terrorism.
One can argue that both England and the Continent did not heed the import of the threat terrorism of 2004, when there was the horrific Madrid train bombing in March, the Beslan, Russia massacre in September and the shocking assassination of Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam in November. For those who do not remember the Beslan massacre, it started on September 1 and lasted three days and involved 1100 hostages including 777 children, and ended with the death of 385 people. The terrorists were a group of Islamic separatists. So were those who committed the coordinate attacks on the London transportation system below and above ground.
What did the EU lean? Not very much. Immigration continued and with it and the porous borders that permitted the relocation of individuals who imbedded themselves into society, quietly, slowly and steadily. Presently, there is the distinct possibility, without aggressive efforts to integrate and neutralize those who enjoy a position of safety, of the threat and escalation by an immigration population who believe in violence and whose political and religious demands exceed local custom and rationality.
There is another component to the violence/terrorism problem that creates additional and complex issues: anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism has always boiled below the surface in France, although vigorously condemned by the Government. Only four months ago, the German government began positing armed guards at synagogues. Chants of anti-Semitism are being heard in Germany that echoed the days of concentration camps. “Jew, Jew! Cowardly pig” is the chant. The victims in the January murders in France, those at the kosher market, were killed because they were Jews and had no connection to the Mohmand cartoons.
Steve Emmerson writes that a reporter (a non-Jew) in the Swedish city of Malmo experimented by walking through the city with a hidden camera to gage the level of anti-Semitism by wearing a skullcap normally worn by religious Jews. Aired on Swedish national television, he is shown being attacked and called “Jewish Satan”, while another called him a “Jewish shit”. In another portion of his video, he is shown being threatened by a gang of people who verbally abused him. Malmo “boasts” of the largest number of anti-Semites in Sweden and usually voiced by the Muslim population. With only 600 Jews left in the third largest city in in Sweden, with a population that has 20 percent of its residents Muslims, it is no wonder that the police have shown a tripling of anti-semitic attacks over the previous year.
In France at the end of World War II, anti-Semitism was vitriolic, and increased in intensity with those who denied the Holocaust. At the beginning of the 21st Century, there was a new element and that was with the Muslim immigration and the geo- political alignment of the right with Palestine. Today, the President of France said those internet service providers who ignore anti-Semitic, holocaust-denial theories will be regarded as accomplices, and urged that penalties be imposed. And although the Jewish population in all of France is only one percent, they represent 51 percent of all racist attacks in the country.
One French minister has said a “France without Jews is not France”. But that remark without more will not stem the fear or reduce the number of persons fleeing that country. The exodus from France has doubled since the beginning of this year, and if there were to be a mass exodus one would see up to 600,000 Jews affected in a country with the largest Jewish population in Europe.
Tony Blankley was correct in 2005, but only partially. He did not see the major consequences of a non-integrated society in Europe. If counties fail to integrate a new culture, if an immigrant culture fails to integrate itself, if tolerance is neither buttressed nor taught, then answering the question of where have all the Europeans gone is simple: They have been overwhelmed by the birth rate of the immigrant population or violence or both, or departed to other lands. Eurabia?
I am concerned that the domestic security of the United States is being undermined. This is the result of the increased intensity of the vitriolic nature of the racial war of words and activities being thrown-about, stemming from the anger arising from the killing of unarmed black men.
If we undermine, in the process of venting our anger, the necessary foundation of our faith in those who are sworn to protect us, will the “police” (whatever they may called in your city, county and state) hesitate, stop, reconsider their actions, as a means of self-protection, to maintain their job security and their lives? Do less while on duty in order to avoid your (and mine) constant supervision of their performance.
Somehow, it seems to me that we expect law enforcement to have emotional instincts that are better tuned, advanced and a natural part of their special DNA than the average person. In a sense that is true, it’s part of the job description. On the other hand, you and I don’t know how we will behave in a crisis situation until we find ourselves in its midst. So if we tell law enforcement that if they can’t do the job, as we describe it, and as we will be monitoring on a daily basis, they shouldn’t be in the job. Who among us is willing or able to line up to take that spot on the street? A positon (at no great salary) that carries with it potential danger each day while walking the beat? I would not want that job. I like my life and love my family.
A dreaded though of mine as I write this blog, is what if law enforcement holds back, in the light of all the emotion in the streets “demanding justice”. What if, when the police walk the streets, the new tendency will be to look the other way; what if the potential defendant is of a different color, does law enforcement turn away and walk in a different direction; can an officer, when reporting a suspicious person as one of color (so that those joining the chase know whom they seek to arrest) being racist? And please, give them the ability, the intellect, the emotional stability, and the sharpened instinct to make that decision in a split second or two.
Saturday, December 13, has been proclaimed a “Day of Anger”. May I suggest that we all should be angry at the amount of killing in this country– period.
There is racism in the country; but the statistics indicate that the murder rate is color blind.
In the television series, Dragnet, the leading character keeps repeating to each of the witnesses to a particular crime: “Just the facts mam, just the facts.”
The 2013 FBI Uniform Crime Report, a compilation of annual crime statistics, shows the following FACTS:
83 percent of white victims were killed by white offenders (not law enforcement);
90 percent of black victims were killed by black offenders (not law enforcement);
14 percent of white victims were killed by black offenders (not law enforcement);
7.6 percent of black victims were killed by white offenders (not law enforcement).
- The rate of black homicide victims and offenders (not law enforcement) were disproportionately represented, compared to the general population the 2011 Bureau Justice Statistics report found.
- The black victimization rate (27.8 per 100,000) was six times higher than the white victimization rate (4.5 per 100,000).
- Black offending rate (34.4 per 100,000) was almost eight times higher than whites’ (4.5 per 100,000), according to the report.
- In 2012, it was reported, 386 whites and 140 blacks were killed by police, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control data on causes of death.
- According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, the rate of black officers who kill black felons is 32 per 100,000 black officers, which is more than twice the rate of white officers who kill black felons – 14 per 100,000 white officers.
- Although blacks account for disproportionately more violent crimes, the rate of black felons being killed by police (of whatever race) has actually declined.
- From 1980 to 1998, young black males made up about 1% of the national population. BUT 21% of those young black males killed a police officer. Young white males made up about 8% of the population but 20% of them murdered a police officer: So 1% of young black men killed 21% while 8% young white men killed 20%, which averages out that young black men murder a police office at a rate almost 6 times that of young white male.
A growing percentage of people killed by police are white, and a declining percentage of those killed are black. With all this background, and as I will repeat, I do not support the status quo. Change must come but it must be balanced and rational.
For example: Let me propose, while we were marching on our Day of Anger, let us also carry a banner for Dillon Taylor. Who you ask? I haven’t heard about him. True, his name is never mentioned at any of the rallies or on sensational cable news reports. His mother is not among those who appear with their attorneys on CNN. Only last night, on a major cable news outlet, eight or ten black mothers appeared as a group to speak about their murdered children. Mrs. Taylor was not among them, nor was she mentioned. Nor was Dillon’s picture shown on my television screen with the other young men who had been killed by a police officer. Senseless killings. There is a reason.
I learned of Dillon by coincidence. Buried after the last page of news reporting and therefore unseen by you and me, the police in Salt Lake City have concluded their probe into an Aug. 11 shooting outside a 7-Eleven convenience store, when a black police officer, whom local media strangely referred to as “not white,” shot and killed an unarmed 20-year-old Dillon Taylor. Dillon was shot once in the stomach and once in the chest. This 20 year old was both white and unarmed at the time, but he didn’t put his hands up fast enough for the officer. The police officer is still on the job and no warrant or bill will be issued. Case closed; no national protest; no cable coverage. His family does not get to march in the Day of Anger.
Oh yes, when each of the young, unarmed black men were killed by a white police office, it was argued by their protestors that each man’s social activities and physiological make-up were immaterial to the investigation into the validity of the shooting by the police. Not so with Dillon, a white unarmed kid shot by a black policeman. His life was dissected publicly.
First and foremost, as I have written: I don’t advocate the status quo. It undermines the very nature of our democracy. Democracy evolves, it does not remain stagnant.
Second: Please let’s do march! Please let us end the vicious cycle of all manner of discrimination in this country. This is too long overdue in this country.
And please let us hire law enforcement officers with something more than a rudimentary education and certainly with emotional maturity. These traits are easily identified. And most important in the discussion — Let us focus on the facts—all the facts– and not just the ones you like or of those persons with a suspected agenda.
Fascinating— I have just returned from a conference at a think tank where I had been the American Scholar- in-Residence a number of years ago. The topic of the round table discussion was a book of essays posing a series of questions -“out of the box”- in an effort to move toward a peaceful settlement of the Israeli/Palestine disputes.
After an introduction to the assembled group by the two editors of the book (one clearly neutral and the other not), we heard from two of their many “experts” who had written chapters. The two experts that participated at the conference each represented one of the two sides in this ongoing war of words and rockets. One was an Israeli security expert and the second a Palestinian activist, policy coordinator, and practicing law in Palestine.
During the entire two plus hours of discussion and some questions from those who were present and those who had joined internationally by telephone, it became more apparent that those on the side of the Palestinian cause constantly referred to the Israeli “occupation” of the Palestinian’s and “their” land. Namely, by their unspoken definition: the forceful, illegal occupation of the land of another.
At times, words just floated by, and then at an odd moment my thinking about the language being employed by some of the participants in this tense setting, there was a revelation. I realized for the first time that the word “Occupation” was such a powerful, pejorative, buzz word. Especially if uttered over and over again until it becomes by mere repetition and inflection a proven fact and thus true. For those of us who lack that little nugget of history that created the word and it’s evolution in that part of the world, let me remind you of the following:
In May of 1948, when the United Nations voted for the creation of an Israeli statehood, the Arab states began their first attempt to not merely forestall but destroy the creation of what was a legally created, sovereign area, and to do so by an immediate, armed attack. Not by one country but by Arab forces from Egypt, Transjordan (Jordan), Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. In the process, they captured East Jerusalem, including the Jewish quarter of the old City. This war lasted into 1949. Then let me skip one war and go to the third conflict, the more famous one—The Six Day War.
The Third Arab-Israeli War or the Six-Day War or the June War or the Third Arab-Israeli War was short, decisive and with a continuing contentious history —June 5–10, 1967. The famous Six-Day War witnessed the capture by the Israeli army of the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank, Old City of Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. Prior to the start of the war, attacks conducted against Israel by Palestinian guerrilla groups based in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan had increased, leading to high volume of Israeli reprisals. In November 1966, Israel launched an air strike on the village of Al-Samūʿ in the Jordanian West Bank that left 18 dead and 54 wounded. In April, during an air battle with Syria, the Israeli Air Force shot down six Syrian MiG fighter jets. Then in stepped the Soviet Union once again, after supplying the MiG fighter jets, with a created so-called intelligence report that indicated that Israel was planning a military campaign against Syria. Obviously, this further sharpened the tension between Israel and its not friendly Arab neighbors.
In the midst of all of the heightened tension, the Egyptian president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, had come under regional, scathing criticism by his Arab neighbors for his failure to aid Syria and Jordan against Israel; there was also increased accusation that he was hiding behind the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF), stationed at Egypt’s border with Israel in the Sinai as a means of non-engagement. Nasser then did a 180 degree about face and mobilized Egyptian forces in the Sinai in support for Syria. On May 18th, he formally requested the removal of the neutral UNEF stationed in Egypt and on May 22nd, he closed the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping, blockading the port city of Elat in southern Israel. On May 30, King Hussein of Jordan arrived in Cairo and immediately signed a mutual defense pact with Egypt, placing Jordanian forces under Egyptian command; shortly thereafter, Iraq, too, joined the alliance.
In response to the mobilization of those who sought to terminate Israel’s existence, early on the morning of June 5, Israel staged a sudden, preemptive air assault and destroyed Egypt’s air force on the ground; later that day, it incapacitated a great deal of the Jordanian and Syrian air power. All the Arab air cover was then lost and, with it, their armies were left to a strategic and brutal attack by Israeli armed units.
The war was stopped by a United Nation’s demanded cease-fire on June 10. The international community was fearful of an Israeli march toward Cairo. At this point Israeli, units had driven Syrian forces back from the Golan Heights, taken control of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt and driven Jordanian forces from the West Bank. Notably, the Israelis were left in sole control of Jerusalem. And so we come to the claim of an illegal “occupation” by Israel from June 1967 to December 2014; – a total of forty-seven years that Israel has occupied certain portions of the captured land.
It is still, today, the aim of those who abhor Israel to eliminate its existence or to overrun its population with a forced flood of non-jews, namely Palestinians. The purpose is to eradicate, by one means or another, both the concept and physical existence of Israel. Today in Turkey, once a moderate state, once a temperate calm voice in the region, now chants for the death of all jews and acts as an echo of Hitler’s Nazi mantras. [As reported “On November 9, 2014, a sign [in Turkey] reading “This Location To Be Demolished” was hung on the entrance to Istanbul’s Neveh Shalom Synagogue; the synagogue has already been the target of two major terrorist attacks in which many congregants at prayer were killed and wounded.” ]
If the voice of Turkey is so stringent one need not have a great imagination to hear the voices of Israelis’ other neighbors, whose belligerency has been supported by continued armed violence all these years.
Let me digress for a moment to make an important historical point: It is now forty-seven years since the end of the Six Dar War. Those with the little knowledge of the history of World War II will know that there was a Pearl Harbor and the German invasion of all of Europe, The Bataan death march, and the concentration camps and the utter brutality of the European World War that ended in 1945. Germany and Berlin were then “occupied”. The last American occupation troops departed from Germany, when the Russian presence was terminated in 1994. That is a total of 49 years of Allied occupation of Germany; 47 years of Israeli “occupation.”
At no time during the allied occupation of Germany did the Germans shoot, bomb, and yell for the obliteration of America, France or England. Nor did they chant for the obliteration of Christianity. Nor did they support terrorism in the land of its occupiers. We did occupy Germany in the fullest sense of the word. And nobody, including the Germans, called it illegal. But, possibly more important, the individual German did not attempt to irradiate their occupiers.
Germany started the war and they lost the war. There is a penalty for that, and especially if you do not “surrender” even when “hostilities”, have been terminated.
Do I need to draw a clearer distinction between the “occupation” of Germany and the present state affairs in Israel? Let me repeat: When you start and lose and yet continue hostilities, there are consequences. You are not entitled under any international, moral or ethical rules to the return of your weapon, and you will, if you continue the hostilities, be considered to be dangerous, aggressive and at war. There is, at that moment, however long, a reason for occupation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.