Category Archives: Israel

Commentary: To Drone or Not to Drone

If you log on to Amazon and type in the word “Drones”, you are given an arms-length list of items you can purchase– from games involving the use of drones to flying your own drone. If you have watched enough episodes of your favorite spy thriller, such as “Homeland”, you will see at least one short scene of two American pilots sitting behind what appears to be a mocked flight simulator, but in fact, it is a replica of the equipment utilized to fly armed drones that may be thousands of miles away from the control center. This was an accurate portrayal of reality: the targets were initially suspected high-level terrorists speeding in a car caravan across a remote desert area or in a hut in the middle of a village. Today, the target of armed drones goes beyond that limitation, but as I write this commentary, Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Nasir-ul-Mulk, described the killing of Pakistan Taliban chief, Mullah Fazlullah, in a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan as a “significant development in the fight against terrorism.”

And the American pilots presently controlling our armed drones, dressed not in a fighter pilot’s high altitude flight gear but in tailored non-flight uniforms, receive information from observers possibly thousands of miles away or by high power cameras attached to a drone. What has recently been reported is that many of those who pilot drones, far from harm’s way, have never seen combat because of the necessity of having combat trained men and women needed in the “real” battle zone.

Drones are low on the list of our daily vocabulary, but they are an integral part of our daily living to check the viability of utilities lines, to site checking long miles of above ground oil pipe lines to flying toy drones, as we did with model airplanes with tiny gas motors. Today, drones also play a decided role in one of our many ongoing wars. Most of which we are totally unaware of. The list of areas of the world that face drone warfare keeps expanding, as we sit basically ignorant of the government’s involvement with armed conflict from Islands in the pacific to the Mid-East and now being revealed in many parts of Africa.

For me, it was a quiet labor day weekend when I read an article by Rebecca Gordon that enticed me to go further to learn of our expanding use of this very singular weapon. My research led me to discover buried articles, describing the involvement of U.S. troops, arms and, most important, drones in Africa. Prior to the ultimately extensive revealing of the ambush of our troops in Nigeria, when four U.S. soldiers died in an October attack, if you were to give me a blank map of Africa, I would be hard-pressed to fill in eighty percent of the names of each nation-state. What surprised me was the extent of the use of drones beyond the Mid-East into Africa. The Pentagon’s Africa Command is presently building a facility named “Air Base 201” in Agadez, a town in Niger. Your taxpayer dollars will support this $110 million installation and will be the base of operation for MQ-9 Reaper armed drones. As reported by the US Air Force it will soon become the new centerpiece in an undeclared U.S. war in West Africa. The Air Force describes this drone as “…an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft that is employed primarily against dynamic execution targets and secondarily as an intelligence collection asset. Given its significant loiter time, wide-range sensors, multi-mode communications suite, and precision weapons — it provides a unique capability to perform strike, coordination, and reconnaissance against high-value, fleeting, and time-sensitive targets. 
Reapers can also perform the following missions and tasks: intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, close air support, combat search and rescue, precision strike, buddy-lase, convoy/raid over watch, target development, and terminal air guidance. The MQ-9’s capabilities make it uniquely qualified to conduct irregular warfare operations in support of combatant commander objectives. “

What gave me pause was that this new base of drone operation is not the only base of U.S. involvement in that part of Africa. It turns out that the ambushed troops weren’t the only U.S. soldiers involved in firefights in Niger. The Pentagon has recently announced very quietly that there had been another clash in December of last year between Green Berets and a previously unknown group identified as ISIS-West Africa. This is not the only area of Africa that is subject to attacks. There have been at last count at least eight incidents, most of them in Somalia. Mz Gordan tells us, in her report, that U.S. drone strikes on Libya targets have increased under the present administration and, are usually launched from a secure non-combat base in Sicily. The new air base in Agadez, it is reported, will be able to strike targets in all these countries.

But this is not the end of the story, and what is missing from our daily sources of news is that the United States presently has another major drone base in Africa, in the tiny country of Djibouti which you will find on your map just across the Gulf of Aden and war ravaged Yemen. It is from that base that the U.S. has been pointing its strikes against targets in both Yemen and Somalia.

While looking at the newly created tariff trade war escalating between The United States and China, it is not surprising that the Chinese have recently established their first base in Africa in Djibouti, which is physically quite close to the US base of operation. China, as noted below, is also selling its attack drones to other countries.

The Times points out that this “approach (to the use of drones in combat)… for possible strikes in countries where Qaeda- or Islamic State-linked militants are operating, from Nigeria to the Philippines” is evolving. And under the Trump administration, it is no longer necessary that drone attack decisions only be made at the highest levels of government. “The requirement for having a “near certainty” of avoiding civilian casualties’ ― always something of an inter-governmental friction ― officially remains in place for now.” This march, Fox News (not a prime source of information for me) reported that the marines are planning to build a highly new and multipurpose drone, called the MUX, for Marine Air Ground Task Force Unmanned Aircraft System-Expeditionary. “The MUX will terrify enemies of the United States, and with good reason. The aircraft won’t be just big and powerful: it will also be ultra-smart. This could be a heavily armed drone that takes off, flies, avoids obstacles, adapts and lands by itself ― all without a human piloting it.”

The time for the widespread use of some form of military drone has arrived, not merely on the battle field by nation states but also by terrorist groups, and it appears that it is an underreported present threat world-wide. One report has stated that nine countries have used armed drones in combat: the United States, Israel, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Iran, Turkey, and Azerbaijan. Those are the ones that have reported their use, but we can safely guess that there are other countries that are in the process of developing the armed drone. And similar to the traditional piloted operated fighter, the military drone falls into categories dependent upon how high they fly, their armament and their endurance of flight. Not surprising is that the United States and Israel are the top sellers of military drones with China following closely behind. What did surprise me was that India and the UK are among the largest of the purchasers.

On 9/11, after leaving my law school and prior to catching the last subway out of Brooklyn to Manhattan, I spent an hour on a high floor in a Brooklyn apartment overlooking the East River toward a large heliport jutting out into the river in the Wall Street area of Manhattan. Within minutes private planes disappeared from the landing site and a number of combat army helicopters appeared. It was my assumption that they were going to be utilized to evacuate high level government personal from the City. The late, brilliant Ian Cuthbertson set me straight: What was feared was there would be a follow-up attack by small, comparatively slow one engine planes that could not be intercepted by fast moving fighter jets and, thus, the use of the slower attack helicopters.

Which brings me to today: attack drones are not the little toys, similar to those one can purchase on Amazon. They are large enough and capable of transporting a large assortment of weapons including rockets. Why not explosives? Why not steal, manufacture or have them purchased by Iranian agents from China and then innocuously shipped in multiple stripped down parts to the waiting terrorist in the U.S. They could then be secretly reassembled and armed with explosives to be flown under the radar screen at numerous soft targets in New York, Washington or any other high value targets. Not unreasonable and real.

Richard Allan,

The Editor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commentary–the Fate of Luca

On a day that we have been introduced to Luca—you don’t know Luca? The New York Times tells us that we have been provided with a “surprising specific genetic portrait of the ancestor of all living things…” Its name is Luca. Luca, the living thing that started the ball rolling until we stand tall on two hind legs throwing bombs at each other. That news stopped me dead in my tracts. Not that I am in any fashion a science buff, but that fact –Luca–examined by itself –is startling when juxtaposed to the chaos surrounding us at all levels today.

We are now learning how we started out on this planet-earth at the same moment we are in the process of self-destroying our very being. It is not some massive volcano whose fumes are blocking the sun; nor is it an alien planet that will slam into us and take us back to the time of the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Nineteen are killed and twenty-nine are injured by a man wielding a knife, not at some military installation, but a facility for the disabled In a Tokyo suburb. Long from the center of Paris, a terrorist attacks a village catholic church, takes hostages and kills a priest. And half-way round the world the President of Turkey is moving further and faster in destroying the democratic fiber of his country in the name of restoring order. If that Country were not vital in the multiple wars in Syria and against ISIS, I doubt if we would tolerate his moving the clock back in a part of the world that should be moving forward. This democratically elected president has begun a witch-hunt, a systematic campaign of violence against those who hold a different view from his own. Not only has he arrested thousands accused of having a connection, however tenuous, to the conspiracy to overthrow his non-democratic regime, but he has fired tens of thousands of teachers, bankers police officers, soldiers and others. Now his vile conduct is directed against journalists for possible criminal conduct allegations. That could only mean: to curtail their writing the truth.

Turkey, under his autocratic leadership has moved to crack down on the freedom of expression, and to do that one announces a state of emergency for however long one wants to reign in the usual civil rights of citizens. When one announces a state of emergency one provides an unbound hand to a handpicked government to create whatever legislation its autocratic leader demands. There is no oversight and there is no democracy. This is Turkey today. And more than likely this is Turkey for tomorrow because of its linchpin status in the Mid-East.

Less than ten days ago a young man stormed through a train outside of Wurzburg, Germany. Crying “Allahu Akbar,” (God is greatest) he brandished an axe high into the air, then slashed at the men and women seated around him. Within minutes, the car,” looked like a slaughterhouse.” Then he fled. In a 2007 report from the Council on Foreign Relations it was noted that “security professionals see trains as some of the likeliest targets.”

And to close the circle, the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas has issued a formal request asking his neighboring Arab states to help in the preparation of a lawsuit against the UK over the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which established Britain’s support for a “national home for the Jewish people”. His goal is simple and direct: to delegitimize the State of Israel.

To discuss the possible success of such a move is wasted energy, but it does underscore the hypocrisy of Abbas and those around him who speak for “freedom” and the brutality of those he so violently opposes. His call for the callous attacks on civilians or those teens sleeping in their beds at night is beyond imagination. Beyond imagination because silently, unheard, he wishes the people and, in particular, the health workers of Israel good health and good hunting in their war against cancer. In recent years and until this past week, Omar, Abbas’ brother, traveled not to Iran, not to Syria, not to Egypt, not to the Saudis, not to any other Arab country in the Mid-East, but he traveled on a regular basis to the enemy of his people and his country—Israel. For medical treatment that was never denied to him.

Richard Allan,

The Editor

Comment: Terrorism and Coups

Terrorism and Coups

On the morning of Bastille Day (July 14th) I sat in a meeting with our children and wanted to complain that instead of bottled water on the conference table there should have been champagne in celebration of the French holiday. We are not French; I am a Francophile. By the end of the day the celebration and fireworks turned horrific and deadly — not in Paris but on the idyllic coast of the Mediterranean Sea in Nice. And, days later there was an attempted coup in Turkey. Unlike early commentators, to me this was not unexpected if you had studied the last months of the present regime and its ever increasing curtailment of anything resembling democratic rights and open voices. But more of that later.

These two incidents – terrorism in one country and the violation of civil rights in another– while in some instances are not related, do form a scenario. They provide us with a picture that the world is becoming edgier, angrier and employing extreme violence as a mode of expression. Years ago I would write that I fear for my children. Now I am much more concerned with the life my grandchildren will face. I am not optimistic.

A boyhood friend of mine, and no friend of Obama, believes the President is a failure when it comes to our national security. He asks in an accusatory tone: “Why hasn’t he stopped terrorism? And usually follows that with: you’re the expert; what should we do? In a New York Times op-ed article some days ago, the author, a former F.B.I special agent, writes that when “the Islamic State and Al Qaeda are finally defeated” we can prevent the next attack.

Two thoughts come to mind: Both my friend and the former FBI agent are denying reality, and equally important, ignore history and a world that has changed drastically in the last twenty-five years.

Terrorism has been with us for more than multiple decades, well before any present day mid-East conflicts, civilian revolutions and revolts in multiple countries across the globe and before the “dreaded” creation of the State of Israel. Terrorism and its operations are not new. The only thing that is new is their message, methods of operation and their targets.

Technology and history bring new methods, new goals and objectives and different issues. From the terrorist who initiated the fight against the Russian monarch in 1917 to today, there is a long list of terrorist groups around the world each holding a different banner and ideology.

So let us stop all the finger pointing, hype and chest thumping and false promising and understand the basic fact: No country can stop either the scope or depth of terrorism. Terrorism is a fact of life. To think otherwise is foolish and dangerous. The best we can accomplish is to interdict any attempt at its inception or to blunt its impact. You cannot wish terrorism away. You cannot legislate it away. You cannot bomb it away.

Most of us are locked in a memory curve of the past — attempting to understand the present. And this is true regardless of one’s age. I used a typewriter when I was twenty years old and it took me fifteen hours to fly to Paris; my grandsons use the most advanced forms of communication and fly around the world without thought of distance or time.

Notwithstanding Mr. Trump’s claims, we cannot control what occurs beyond our boarder, even as those events have a direct effect upon our lives. We cannot control the quiet, lonely, angry person who seeks any cause to elevate their psyche; we cannot control the small groups of people within the U.S. who feel the government conspires against their individual rights; we cannot regulate the fear or stupidity of those who need an AK45 to protect their home and, last, we cannot build a wall around our apartment and grow tomatoes in our window boxes to sustain ourselves.

What occurred in Nice was shocking only because it occurred in an unexpected place. But that is where the lone terrorist lived, and his anger evolved. What occurred in Paris earlier in the year was not shocking because that City, as is New York and London, is a natural “target” for any terrorist. By their very nature they invite the terrorist to demonstrate their skills.

What is playing out in Turkey is not unexpected. Not terrorism but because what might have started out as a democratic election process that elected its President he has turned that nation into a budding dictatorship that is stifling all forms of civil rights and dissent. It ceased being a democratic country after its most recent election and after its president began his dismantling of its democratic structures. When it comes to silencing the press, Turkey lands third place after Russia. In the latest move, after the mid-level military coup was brought to heel, the government has arrested 6000 people. You need a stadium to contain that many people and under what conditions?  President Erdogan’s swift roundup of judges and prosecutors (along with nearly 3,000 military plotters) after the failed coup indicated to the EU commissioner reviewing Turkey’s bid to membership that the government had a prepared a roundup list prior to the upheaval.

And the president of Turkey now publically demanded that U.S. merely “handover” a cleric who resides in the United States and, who he “believes” instigated the attempted coup. And Erdogan would like to bring back the death penalty. The failed, poorly executed coup will only lead to greater authoritarian control with the autocratic President Erdogan pushing his nation to a more Islamist position both locally and internationally.

Today, Turkey is an ally of convenience, because we need to have an airbase on its territory as close as possible to launching our air-strikes against ISIS. Our relations with that country will begin to slide toward its negative side with the failed coup. Last evening, one expert told me that he believes Erdogan orchestrated the failed coup to gain greater control of his country in the guise of attempting to protect his country in a state of a national emergency. You can be sure that greater reins will evolve and be imposed with the crushing of the coup and the massive arrest of suspects.

Obama cannot stop “Terrorism”, and Trump cannot seal us off from the rest of the world, because there are persons born within this Country who will commit acts of violence to express their anger. We, as a nation, cannot dictate the rule of law in other sovereign states. We can support the attempt at true democratic rule, we can’t impose it. But we must act honestly. As the Turkish coup initially unfolded, there were American diplomats who referred to Turkey as a democratic country. Clearly, today and the day before the failed coup it was not. And it will not be for the foreseeable future.

The inquiry then facing all sides to this conversation– from the time of the French Revolution until today: Who are we attempting to protect– the state or the individual? And my response is: wrong question! The question is how are we to protect both the state and the individual simultaneously in response to threats and acts of terrorism or infringements upon our individual civil rights. There is a method to balance the integrity of each without the usual cries of “slippery slope” legislation. [Terrorism: Pragmatic International Deterrence and Cooperation. Institute for East-West Security Studies, Occasional Paper Series #19, 1990] The ideas proposed in an important section of that paper are pragmatic and possible. They require only the will of Congress to enact them.

If there is one clear lesson today, and clearly it has not been learned, the death of one violent movement (and this is true in all countries) does not put an end to all violence but often inspires a successor that is more often much deadlier.

Richard Allan

The editor

 

Deceit and Fact

Much of life depends upon which end of the binoculars you view the world; which talking heads provide you with your bible lessons; and which news print you wrap your fish. In other words, what is it that forms your perception of anything? A dear friend once said to me, in half-jest, that he reads only one newspaper so that he doesn’t get confused by the facts. I have one relative who gets his news by listening to talk radio, and hasn’t read a newspaper in years. His reason he gets his news at no cost.

And then there are those of us who surf the web for whatever options are available. Some of us are more additive to surfing than others. And in surfing I ran across a news items posted by the Dailey Alert, a site I often glance at. It wrote of a “High Level Military Group” (HLMG) report that triggered no memory. So I googled HLMG and that in turn led to other sites and to a widely different perception of Israel’s 2014 Gaza campaign. Again, it is which end of the binoculars you employ to view events. And it is disturbing.

Three bench marks then came into clear focus for me in reviewing the responses to the 2014 Gaza campaign: “perception”, “how” you view an “event”, and “facts”. The first two are easily manipulated; it’s the third factor that gives one pause.

As a former litigator and Assistant District Attorney, and then professor of law, I am only too aware of how facts can be viewed, presented and interpreted to fit one’s own agenda. In other words: how facts can be distorted; what facts you include and what facts you exclude to create your own narrative.

Part of the overall problem in reading a report or analysis is having some understanding of the background of the authors of a study, or “findings of fact”. The first thing that must be done is to target the author, his or her experience, training and most important his agenda. I am not inferring that we are all inherently liars, but we do slice and paste to fit the world to the mold we want to create.

And so we return to the international flurry over the 2014 Israeli Gaza campaign and the uproar and bias created. It all began shortly before the UN’s Human Rights Council began their inquiry into the actions of both Hamas and Israel during that conflict and immediately thereafter. The United Nation’s Human Rights Council immediately appointed their three hearing commissioners. What is incomprehensible is that the United Nation’s HRC appointed as their Chair, to conduct this type of highly sensitive inquiry into the conduct of these two fierce advisories, a person who had publically declared, well before the inquire ever began to hear any evidence, that it was his personal desire to see the prime minister of Israel in the criminal docket at the International Court of Justice. He also admitted that he, William Schabas, had been on the payroll of the Palestinian liberation Organization!

That is perfect justice through the wrong end of the telescope. Unbiased? Due process? Let’s all forget about “the facts” and get right to the guilty verdict, and, also, let’s save some time and garden some headlines in the process. We know “they” are guilty—it’s Israel. Obscene!

This gives you some idea of why the United States refused, for so many years, to be a member of the United Nations Council on Human Rights. The Gatestone Institute described the council’s work most apply: “Expecting the UNHRC to carry out a fair, balanced or accurate investigation of anything involving the State of Israel is rather like expecting the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to carry out investigations into persecution of Christians in Muslim countries. “ And, indeed, one need not wonder why the Human Rights Council’s work is so suspect. And, conversely, it is why so many people in the Mid-East laud their work and distort their own work to fit their agenda and passion.

The 200-plus page report of the Council was ultimately submitted to the United Nations, through their two remaining commissioners. It held they could not find clear evidence of why Israel targeted residential buildings in Gaza late at night, risking mass civilian casualties. By the way, no evidence was provided by the Israeli government to this inquiry. Where then did they get their information/facts? Obviously, it was from Palestinian sources.

Before moving on to the work of the High Level Military Group, I would like to focus for one short moment on a popular voice of the British press.
The UK Media Watch has reported that the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent was not only interviewed at great length on his biased reporting on the war from Jerusalem, but on the in-depth analysis of his articles which were even more disturbing.

In his writing from the area during the Gaza conflict (some twenty reports and many thousands of words back to his London readers) he detailed in horrific detail the death of Gaza citizens, but not once did he comment, analyze or criticize Hamas’ use of civilians as human shields. To be clear, and this is uncontroverted, the use of human shields is not merely morally reprehensible; it is a war crime punishable under international law.

Let us turn to a less publicized report, and less publicized for obvious reasons: It does not fit the agenda of The Guardian and UN Council on Human Rights and persons of that “persuasion.”

The High Level Military Group was formed in the aftermath of the Gaza conflict. It consisted of retired generals and defense officials from Germany, Colombia, India, Spain, Australia, the U.S., France, the UK and Italy. NATO and beyond. This panel consists of nine very different countries, nine different cultures, and nine different national historical pasts, five different parts of the world. The very first critic of its report complained that it was made up of all white males and no humanitarians. What an absurd complaint . When determining whether or not a conflict/war was conducted in a “legally prescribed manner”, one looks to the accredited, accepted and adopted International Rules of War and not to the further musing of a humanitarian.

If we have accepted the Rules of War, and they have been processed, created and accepted by all the enlighten nations of the entire world for more than mere decades. It is not the “humanities” of war we look at (they have been incorporated into the treaties, conventions that comprises the Rules of War). We certainly would not seek the humanitarians on the payroll of Hamas to determine if a participant of hostilities is guilty or not of its violations. Second, these particular generals and defense officials, from nine very different countries, are not the political voice of one of the combatants as attempted by the UN’s HRC. And third, and possibly the most important, the High Level Military Group observations were made with the combined experience and wisdom of many years of war from nine very different perspectives, cultures and political positions—and most important, they viewed evidence produced from both sides of the conflict.
The HLMG found:
• That Israel not only abided by the laws of armed conflict, but far surpassed their requirements.
• Armies of the world would be rendered far less effective if they were forced to operate under the same restrictions as the IDF during Israel’s 2014 Gaza campaign.
• The report found that the UN accepted Hamas’ figures for combatant vs. civilian casualties, while the HLMG found Hamas’ numbers to be widespread with contradictions and flaws. For example: the insertion of identical names, incorrect ages, combat-related deaths caused by Hamas itself or its associated groups, the case of misfired rockets, and deaths not related to the hostilities but classified as such.
• And last, and extremely important when civilian casualties are high– The HLMG laid the blame for a majority of civilian casualties as the direct result of Hamas’ measured policy of having the military embedded within civilian compounds and areas in order to increase the chances of greater civilian casualties as another method of conducting its highly successful international war of propaganda.
• Not to be ignored was the Israeli use of “banging on roofs”. A short-hand term of advanced warning to civilians before a military strike was to occur giving them ample time to evacuate before hostilities began.

I understand hypocrisy, I understand being passionate about ones beliefs. I understand loyalty. I understand going the extra mile for the Gipper. On the world stage, I cannot accept deceit or an excuse for deceit. Take the consequences for your misstep, and move on. No one, nobody is innocent from birth to death for something done at one time in our lives. In the Mid-East, to continue the lie to any and all mistakes- and let me emphasize this is true on both sides of the equation — puts more rather than less lives into the nameless trenches of the dead.

We cannot carpet bomb or lie our way to success; we can no longer bring the Atomic bomb to the table; my rifle stays at home when we meet; to negotiate, to bargain for, to discuss is not a matter of –all or nothing.

Facts are facts. It is totally untrue, and clearly unacceptable, that one person’s hero is another’s terrorist. A protagonist does not kill innocent people; a “soldier” knows his enemy is and who is not. A freedom fighter does not firebomb a bus with civilians. Civilians are not combatants. A child and its mother is never, ever the enemy –no matter through which end of the binoculars you view the world.
Richard Allan,
The Editor

Connected Unsystematic Thoughts

The U.S.-led air campaign against the Islamic State began more than a year ago, and then chaos set in. The confusion on the ground and in the air over Syria is only becoming more of a night- mare, caused in part by too many fingers in one pot with no recognition of each other. Two months after Putin’s physical entry to shore up Assad’s regime, there have been too many close calls in the same air space between the fighters and bombers from Russia and the United States. To add to the confusion and disarray is Turkey’s shooting down a Russian bomber that strayed into Turkish air space. The crises continue with questions concerning the Turkish control of its boarders and ISIS. And now the present outcry: which country bombed a friendly Syrian army base? The first accused was the United States, but forced to reveal its evidence, the American intelligence confirms it was Moscow’s “Blackfire” bombers that killed three soldiers, wounding at least 13 and destroying vehicles and equipment. And yesterday, a Turkish fishing vessel came within 1600 feet of a Russian destroyer playing a dangerous game of “two close to call navigation” with Russian firepower used to make a military point and Turkey said its losing patience with the Russia.

As we flip to the other side of the world, China continues to pile sand and rocks on reefs to build islands to extend its territorial claims further into the South China Sea and to add its military strength to be piled higher on newly created islands. This is not only an attempt to control so much more of free sea lanes of navigation but to cut heavily into the control and power of China’s many neighbors, especially Japan and the United States’ long reach of its naval might. All this adds up to a new strategic imagery: Japan is moving rapidity away from its post WII pacifism, communist Vietnam is purchasing arms from the United States, and the Philippines is inviting the U.S. Navy back to its ports, some twenty-five years after asking them unceremoniously to leave. And even if you have never visited the tiny island nation Singapore, it is not hard to understand why the United States and Singapore have signed an agreement to provide a launching pad for the United States to monitor the South China Sea. Also, as reported, not only has Malaysia called for the United States to work out of its bases, but I am informed that the United States has added to its aircraft force in the area the P-8 Poseidon thereby putting greater spying know-how ability into play to monitor the Chinese adventures and capabilities in that part of the world.

Two items have become clear since my last comments concerning the Iranian Nuclear deal (JCOP). First, Iran is moving internally further in the direction against the “American Enemy” with greater political movement toward the ideological base of its Supreme Leader and non-adherence to the JCPOA , and, second, my mistrust of Iran’s intentions have become more evident. We have just learned that notwithstanding UN Resolution 2231, which was passed just one day after the nuclear accord was signed and which compels Iran to restrain from any work on ballistic missiles for 8 years, on November 21, in breach of that resolution, a missile known as the Ghadr-110, having a range a little over 1200 miles with the capacity of carrying a nuclear warhead, was tested by the Iranians. So much for international agreements, international resolutions, and international oversight and enforcement.

About three months ago I asked one of my grandsons: What’s the Dark Web? Without hesitation he shot back: “Why? Why do you want to know? You shouldn’t go there!” Since the shooting in San Bernadino with the death of 14 and the injury of scores of others, there is talk of encryption (normal text into code) and the Dark Web. It is on the Dark Web that terrorists communicate, utilizing encrypted messages. The Dark Web is a semi-technical term that refers to a collection of websites that, although they are publicly visible/available, the IP address of the servers that run them is hidden. You and I can utilize the Dark Web with any web browser, but it is more than problematical and ultra-challenging to determine who is behind the sites.

On December 8th the French newspaper, Le Monde, reported that France, not nearly recovered from the ISIS attack last month in Paris, may seek to ban the infamous Tor browser, used to namelessly surf the Dark Web. The French Parliament may also ban use of public Wi-Fi during periods of emergency. But, at this writing, Paris seems to be turning away from those options. The UK has launched a dedicated cybercrime unit to tackle the Dark Web, with a particular focus on cracking down on serious criminal rings and child pornography. This very week the FBI has admitted that they can determine who is “speaking” to whom, but cannot crack the encrypted messages, so what it hears is “noise”, without understanding. Of course, only one country has been able to successfully block Tor: China, with its great “other” wall, the firewall.

As reported in the Jerusalem Post, a spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on December 6th that she supports labeling of Israeli settlement products from the disputed territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Israel had sought Germany’s help in convincing EU member states to reject the implementation of this type of labeling as it has done for many other countries. It refused. So much for a balance, even-handed international policy, and from a person just named TIME’s—Person of the Year in a country synonymous with holocaust.

Each of these random thoughts carries a connecting tissue. The obvious fact being that the United States sits geographically between the conflicts in the east and the west. These conflicts share potentially devastating consequences to its national security not merely abroad but at home, on our own shores. We are also in the midst of a race to the White House in a manner and style never before witnessed, filled with extreme rhetoric and personal vindictive hate. We have seen pictures of foreign parliaments whose member have been moved beyond words to extreme physical conformation. We are not like that; but what have we become?

To live in fear is not acceptable. But to live without care is imprudent and unrealistic. Today, as I write this blog, Americans’ fear of terrorism is as high as immediately after 9/11. Do we cry “ouch “only when we are personally affected? There have so many lessons available to us over the last 75 years, why are we ignoring them and to our peril? What do we teach our children, and why does a grandchild have to become fearful because his grandfather queries about the Dark Web?
Richard Allan
The Editor

Appeasement–It Never Works

Two events, not seemingly connected, suddenly brought clarity in the heated discussion that followed the horrendous attacks in Paris. I shall try to keep it simple.

The ISIS attack earlier this year in January targeted individuals associated with a political magazine and people shopping in a Jewish supermarket. The targets were symbols unmistakably identified: Those who were anti-Islam and those who were Jews. The attacks this month were far more treacherous and repugnant: at the heart of the citizens of France. Ordinary people, not symbols; people who were indiscriminately chosen to die merely because they were congregating in large numbers, in one place and so easily murdered.

When a person enlists or is drafted into an army during a war, there is the “possibility” they will be killed if they go into a conflict area. When a person enlists into the ranks of ISIS, there is the “likelihood” that they will be ordered to wrap a bomb around their bodies and die. There is an enormous difference in the mentality and focus of each of these warriors. One is a soldier, the other is a terrorist. ISIS is many times larger and stronger than al Qaida and its focus is more vast and horrific. They are barbaric.

To understand the political climate of appeasement in Europe today, and not often discussed, one need only exam EU (European Union). Founded in 1948, in the aftermath of World War II, it has as its mission the guarantee of peace, stability and economic cooperation in Europe. Today, the EU membership has risen to include 28 European countries. The EU does not recognize the annexations of territories by several world governments. And although it’s  barely been heard in the discussions in the aftershock of the Paris attacks, its members choose to demand special labeling of products produced from only one region in the world—products from the Golan Heights and the West Bank—Israeli products.

The reason is clear: it is the EU’s hope that the world would boycott products from Israel. All in the aim of forcing the State of Israel to choose between facing an economic boycott and a possible financial crises or bending to the will of the Islamic world. A somewhat round about way of saying: look what we’re doing for you so please keep your terrorist at home. Appeasement did not work to stop WWII and will not stop ISIS.

The EU’s act is so clearly overt that it reminded me of Hitler directing that we should identify the Jews to isolate them from the rest of the German community and then the world by wearing the Star of David on their clothing. The EU order is no different. Label a person, label a product–to discriminate.

In addition, if one were to look at the internal social structure–the voices of the people in England, France and Germany, one identifies the rising violent voice of anti-Semitism –anti Israel. Yet being anti-Israel has not helped the following nations from attack: Academia in England is as anti-Israel as one can get, and still they haven’t secured a safety net from the Islamic terrorist. Hate crimes against London’s Jewish minority have surged over the last 12 months with an increase of 93.4%, according to figures from the Metropolitan police. In the 12 months from July 2014, police recorded 499 anti-Semitic crimes in London compared with 258 in the same period the preceding year.

In Germany Scrawling swastikas on synagogues, Jew-baiting during demonstrations, desecration: Seventy-five years after the Holocaust, hatred against Jews is taking place openly in Germany, even in schools. The number of crimes linked to anti-Semitism in Germany increased dramatically over the past year. While 788 cases were registered in 2013, there were 864 cases registered in 2014 a 10 percent increase. The most famous department store in Germany announced its agreement to labeling products produced from Israel.

In Rome, more than 70 disturbing hate messages were scrawled with black and red paint on Jewish businesses and throughout the so-called Jewish Ghetto around the city’s main synagogue. Phrases like “Anne Frank Was A Liar,” “Dirty Jews,” “Jews your end is near,” and “Israel executioner” were written in spray paint.

Sweden’s Foreign Minister came out strongly in support of the EU’s boycott attempting to link the issues in Israel with the ISIS attack in France. And in the United States, the American Anthropological Society (an academic institution), in what can only be described as an infamous vote, resoundingly approved a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions by a vote of 1040-136. We can only wonder how we are to define the word “academic” in the future?

Given the nature of ISIS, there is no method to reach a system of negotiations nor to employ appeasement strategy. ISIS is a cancer that has metastasized, and the mere snipping at its surface does not impede its growth. Isis is an amorphous enemy state, not a terrorist cell. It has enormous capability and controls large swaths of territory.  It has supreme success in recruitment among the young, and therein lays a great deal of its strength. And yet in France, with the strictest security apparatus in place, which would make the ACLU cringe in despair, its attack was not prevented.

To be Anti-sematic/anti-Israel is not sufficient to fend off an ISIS attack and hatred. To attempt to financially cripple Israel is not sufficient to appease ISIS. There is no appeasement and, therefore, we cannot mince words in describing, without political correctness, those who support the idea that the world would be better off without those—whomever “those” might be who do not follow the ISIS dogma.

In the past few days, at a soccer stadium in Turkey, as the announcer asked for a moment of silence for those who had died in the Paris assault, there were those who booed and chanted “Allahu Akbar” –an Islamic phrase meaning “God is Great”, the very words chanted by those who attacked the innocent people of Paris with their guns and vest bombs. In addition, politeness is no longer an acceptable method in dealing with those who passively support this reign of terror.

One last thought: On the world stage, the more the United States waffles, hesitates and ignores its own “lines drawn in the sand”, the weaker we become and not only endanger our own security but lose the moral leadership in the world. We need straight talk and affirmative action. We can no longer afford to do anything less.

Appeasement, in whatever form, to whoever offered, invites greater violence not peace.

Richard Allan
The Editor

————————————

[1] The Kashmir region is defined by the international community as a disputed territory. Tibet was occupied by the Chinese army in 1958 and unilaterally annexed by Beijing.  Morocco invaded the Western Sahara region and unilaterally annexed it. The Turkish army invaded Northern Cyprus, expelled hundreds of thousands of Greek speakers, and established the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. In 2014, Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula

“Occupation”: Whose Definition

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), IraqSyria, 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 historyJune 5–10, 1967. The famous Six-Day War witnessed the capture by the Israeli army of the Sinai PeninsulaGaza StripWest 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 SyriaLebanon, 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 illegaloccupation” 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.

Richard Allan,
The Editor

 

Who Are These People?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Richard Allan,
The Editor

The Silence is Deafening

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Richard Allan,
The Editor

It’s an ugly world

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