Category Archives: Terrorism

Don’t like reality? Just make up a new one!

Read this post now on The Daily Caller!

http://dailycaller.com/2017/07/24/dont-like-reality-just-make-up-a-new-one/

******************************

.

When OJ Simpson was granted parole in Nevada last week, I was reminded that reality is a malleable construct in politics. Whether OJ really killed his wife and her companion in L.A. back in 1994 didn’t concern people fed up with a justice system sticking it to black America. Back then, protesters celebrated his acquittal. Many really believed he was innocent.

A result of strained race relations in Los Angeles? To be sure. An anomaly for the professional protester class? Hardly.

Consider the debunked cases of rape by the Duke lacrosse team in 2006 and then the University of Virginia Phi Kappa Psi fraternity in 2014. Proponents of the campus rape “epidemic” had no trouble presuming the guilt of the accused, marching in the streets and venting their rage across social media. It fit neatly into their narrative of white men abusing their privileged status.

Now the latest example of pre-fabricated protected class outrage comes courtesy of Islamist agitators and their apologists in the “international community”.

Last week the Israeli government, reacting to the July 14 murder of two police officers keeping the peace over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, installed metal detectors to screen entrants to the holy site.

A reasonable measure to keep weapons out of a sensitive place of worship? Not according to a Palestinian leadership which incites, emboldens, and rewards acts of terror. On Sunday Palestinian Authority President Abbas reiterated his objections:

“We will not allow the electronic gates to continue [to be placed] there,” he told a convention in Ramallah. “Sovereignty is our full right, and we need to supervise Al-Aksa and stand guard at its gates.”

Violent protests have begun, and international condemnation is sure to follow.

To Abbas, the scandal is not that his constituents gunned down police officers in cold blood. It’s not that the Palestinian Authority continues to use U.S. tax dollars to compensate the families of jailed or slain Palestinian attackers. It’s not that Palestinian media and educational curricula proselytize Jew-hatred in every corner of Palestinian society.

No, the injustice of the magnometers is the challenge to Islamic supremacy. Seizing on an ordinary and customary security device, Arab and Muslim leaders have found another convenient hook to hang their anti-Israel propaganda. It makes no difference that such devices are used at the Vatican, during the Hajj in Mecca, and of course, for entrance to the Western Wall plaza below the Temple Mount. (I’ve been screened every time I’ve entered Judaism’s holiest site.)

Why can’t the Arab world be fair-minded and rational about the whole affair? If people can endure metal detectors at airports and shopping malls, why not at a holy site? I’m afraid it has little to do with sensible policy, and everything to with political power.

Rationalizations for violence, abdication of due process, and moral double-standards obscure a wholesale lack of self-criticism. It’s easier for the Arabs to blame Israel than it is to assess their own political and cultural shortcomings. Likewise, progressive activists blame law enforcement, firearms, the religious right, and “patriarchal society” for the ills of American society. Few acknowledge fault in the decline of marriage, lack of accountability in the welfare state, or the glorification of violence in popular culture.

Across the battle lines for taxpayer dollars, regulatory control, and levers of multilateral institutions, the means always seem to justify the ends, facts be damned. It’s always been about power, not truth.

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Justice, Middle East, Terrorism

Time to step it up

151113175559-paris-attacks-france-shooting-president-obama-tsr-00001723-large-169

I would like to be debating policy issues that are close to my heart, like reforming the tax system, increasing competition in education, and yes, addressing claims of human-induced climate change.  Unfortunately, the recent events in Paris have reshuffled my sense of priorities.  When someone is trying to kill you, it gets your attention.

That is, of course, unless you are President Obama.  Like the hysterical protesters on college campuses from coast to coast, our professor-in-chief senses danger in the principles and practices of our free society, but he remains nonchalant about the clear and present threats of Islamic terror.  Because the president is afraid of offending Muslims who disavow violence, he continues to drone on about Islam-inspired violence being unrelated to Islam.  Democratic officials and candidates likewise go to great politically correct pains to avoid using the words “Islam” and “terror” in the same sentence.

It is awkward enough to hear an American political leader offering opinions about the meaning of a religion to which he claims no personal connection.  But even if President Obama were an authority on Islamic teachings, the alleged distortion of Islam by terrorists is besides the point.  Of course there are millions of Muslims who reject terrorism and despise ISIS and who can justify their opposition with bona fide Islamic principles.  Many are oriented to Western liberties and are counted among our most loyal citizens.

But millions more are absolutely, positively not aligned with the American way of thinking.  They reject our liberal society as a wellspring of corruption.  And they base their attitudes, like it or not, on the religion and culture of Islamic societies.  For this reason, Obama warned us of exercising our constitutional (dare I say, God-given?) rights to freely criticize Islam and its sacred prohibitions.  Why else but for fear that practitioners of Islam would not tolerate our free speech and would be provoked into acts of violence?

Witness Secretary of State Kerry’s recent gaffe acknowledging justification — er, rationale — for the Charlie Hebdo massacre.  The left will bend over backwards to accommodate the illiberal mentality of our Islamist enemies, but it will take Americans to task for defending our fundamental liberties.  All one has to do is look at the rising tide of commentators linking last week’s attack at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs to opponents of abortion.  No, it was not an unrelated “violent extremist” at fault for the senseless murders.  It was the “inflammatory rhetoric” of the pro-life Republicans that set events in motion.

Why does it matter that we define our enemies by the Islamist ideology which motivates them?  It is not to appeal to base prejudices among our citizenry.  It is not to create a clash between Muslims and the West.   To the contrary, as Gov. Chris Christie explained last week to the Council on Foreign Relations, “if you say that you’re going to war with radical Islamic terrorism, then by definition you’re not going to war with the rest of Islam… Confusion is only created by the use of euphemisms.”

We must define the enemy correctly to enable a debate about the strategy most likely to succeed in bringing this global menace to its knees.

Like Churchill who foresaw the perils of appeasing Hitler, we must be willing to take our enemies at their word.  When they say they want to kill us, they mean it.  And like Hollywood’s nefarious Terminator, ISIS can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with.  It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

Faced with such an enemy in Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, the Allies of World War II waged an unrelenting battle on multiple fronts.  We must do the same, using strategies and technologies which are suited for our generation.

While that does not mean we can defeat the enemy with military might alone, air strikes and infantry are essential for success.  We must unhinge rules of engagement that limit the force and breadth of our firepower.  Likewise, we must crush the spirit of ISIS with propaganda that humiliates them.  For every tweet glorifying terror, we need to respond 100-fold with words and images that expose the emptiness of jihadist rhetoric, shining a light on the daily misery and deprivation experienced by the foot soldiers of ISIS.

There are complexities to the multi-pronged conflict in Syria.  The enemy of our enemy is not necessarily our friend.  But we must not let the complications of future governance prevent us from acting decisively today.  Anything else is better than ISIS.

2 Comments

Filed under Foreign Policy, International, Terrorism

What’s in a terrible name?

terrorism

With little fanfare on Friday, Secretary of State Kerry signed an order removing Cuba from our list of state sponsors of terrorism, leaving only Iran, Sudan, and Syria with the odious designation.

Because the change reverses a number of financial and trade barriers imposed by statute, it paves the way for additional steps toward normalization being negotiated by Washington and Havana.  Opponents have railed against what they view as another unjustified concession to a recalcitrant adversary, but no one in Congress took material steps to block this latest move by the administration.

The point of the state sponsor list is to sanction countries that facilitate terrorist activity directly or indirectly.  On that count, Cuba’s continued inclusion was tenuous at best.  Cuba’s efforts to foment violent revolution abroad are largely a thing of the past.  Its presence on the list has persisted due to Washington’s animosity with the Castro regime rather than any continued material links to terrorist organizations.

So while there may be good reasons to isolate Cuba, and I have weighed in on their respective merits previously in this space, it is also a good thing that we have stopped calling Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism.

One can only hope that the rest of the world begins to show a similar fidelity to labels which are fraught with political meaning.

Let’s begin with “terror” itself.  World leaders and activists regularly throw around the terrorist moniker to discredit anyone who uses force in a way that conflicts with their political agendas.  Since March 2011 Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has denounced the popular uprising against his government as a terrorist enterprise requiring violent repression.  The actor Morgan Freeman decries the terrorism of police against blacks in urban America.  Even Israel, which should know a thing or two about the importance of political language, regularly conflates Palestinian guerrilla attacks against soldiers with terrorism.

Playing fast and loose with claims of terrorism undermines efforts to build a consensus among civilized people against its use.  We should be clear what terror is and what it is not.

Terrorism means intentional violence against non-combatants to further political, religious, or other ideological aims.  If the targets are soldiers, attacks may be loathsome, but they are not terrorist.  If an action is cruel or repressive, but not violent, it is not terror.  Wanton bloodshed without a political purpose may be criminal, but that does not make it terror.

When we heap derision on conduct by attaching a despicable but inappropriate label, it serves no purpose but to dilute the meaning of the label and to create daylight for justification.

Put another way, if one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, then we have opened the door for political sympathizers to rationalize — or at least accommodate — the indefensible.  If terror is permitted anywhere, it will be possible everywhere.

For years irresponsible petrodollars have funded Islamic terrorist organizations.  Now the Gulf states are seeing how shortsighted it was to enable jihadist violence. With the rise of ISIS, the chickens have started to come home (to Saudi Arabia) to roost.

Ignorant activists, well-meaning or otherwise, stumble into this semantic sinkhole whenever they lash out at their villain of choice with reckless accusations of rape, genocide, Naziism, Apartheid, and the like.  When facts do not match the rhetoric, words lose their force, and moral boundaries become matters of opinion.

Leave a comment

Filed under Terrorism

Why Obama won’t (or can’t) protect us

obama

What is President Obama thinking?

Both supporters and detractors of the president struggle to rationalize his approach to the threat of global jihad. Why can’t he call it what it is? Why does he discount the religious underpinnings of Islamist terror? Why does he lecture the American people about the “root causes” of “violent extremism?”

The answers matter because the West is losing ground in this battle. While the U.S. government fails to orchestrate — or even articulate — a coherent strategy to combat the followers of radical Islam, their population, political power, and capacity to harm us surge.

The simplistic explanation is that President Obama, like President Bush before him, fears alienating the millions of Muslims who forswear violence. He uses politically correct language to avoid adding fuel to the fire. Were this the only rationale, we might take comfort that he understands the crux of the problem. We might assume he is choosing his language as a calculated tactic.

Obama’s choice of language is more than rhetoric, however. He really seems to believe what he is saying. And initially, at least, we might have attributed such naiveté to his personal history. After all, the president can claim little “real-world” experience outside of politics. A community organizer and college professor before entering public life, he never had to manage a large organization or meet a payroll, let alone address matters of national security.

The record reflects as much. Since he came into office, Obama has presided over geopolitical disasters across the Middle East and elsewhere around the globe. Yet none of these failures appears to have chastened him. Surrounding himself with loyalists, the president presses on with a doctrine of vague declarations and non-intervention, unbothered by the diminished credibility of America among both allies and adversaries. So something deeper must be at play in the president’s political philosophy.

It comes down to ideology. Barack Obama is a product of the progressive movement and its champions in liberal academia. This community embraces a rigid view of the human condition, where race, wealth, and power engender social divisions and perpetuate oppression of the weak. In its paradigm, most conflict, poverty, and social dislocation result from avaricious capitalist and corporate interests. Only enlightened governments and intergovernmental institutions can restrain these interests and rectify the imbalance.

There’s no room in the progressive model for baser pathologies such as tribal enmity or the medieval barbarism of the Islamic State. Progressive thinkers simply deny or overlook historic events and present-day behaviors which fail to align with the patterns of race and class warfare they deem universal. For this reason, activists in the 1980’s raged over the racial injustice of Apartheid South Africa while completely ignoring the vicious brutality of the African National Congress and of black-ruled regimes in neighboring Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Angola. It’s why the supposedly liberal advocates for Palestinian independence today pay no mind to the illiberal treatment of journalists, Christians, women, and gays in the Palestinian territories.

Viewed in this light, it’s not surprising to hear President Obama and his team focus on the economic deprivation across Muslim societies, as if a jobs program would stem the tide of radical Islam. President Obama may not “blame America first” as his most ardent critics assert, but he eschews the notion of American exceptionalism. At the National Prayer Breakfast last month, he admonished Americans and Christians, “lest we get on our high horse… remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.” As far as he is concerned, the moral deficiencies of Muslim and Arab societies are not materially different from the imperfections of Western societies.

If we are all one imperfect world laboring under universal burdens of sin, then of course there is no point in singling out radical Islam. To combat our enemies, we must combat ourselves and do penance for our own failures. In Obama’s warped alternative reality, NATO defense of Eastern Europe is the source of resurgent Russian aggression, global warming is the most urgent threat to humanity, high unemployment in French suburbs is the “root cause” of anti-Semitic rampages, and Jewish settlements in the West Bank are the obstacle to Middle East peace.

President Obama never truly concealed this radical mindset during his pursuit of the White House. He was mentored by the likes of Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright. Their ideas were on clear display for anyone who chose to look closely. With two years left on the president’s term and critical military and security policies still in flux, the public should wisen up to a fearful reality. The man charged with leadership of the free world is not equipped to address the clear and present dangers to our civilization.

3 Comments

Filed under Foreign Policy, Terrorism

What is really beyond the pale?

speak-no-evil_design (1)

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, many were quick to affirm the sanctity of free speech rights.  Je suis Charlie campaigners online and in the streets of Paris promoted the idea that people should be free to say whatever they wish.  Without legal sanction and without violent reprisals.

Not everyone signed on.  Conservative Muslims tempered the view that speech should be unfettered.  They cautioned that some speech is too offensive to be protected.

Americans by and large have sided with freedom.  While some have doubted where our president stands, most in our society have steadfastly disparaged the violent furor over cartoons that upset Muslim sensibilities.

But is the Western world intellectually consistent in its defense of free speech? Do we walk the walk when it comes to speech that offends our sensibilities? We’re all for “ridicule rights” so long as the target is a traditional religious point of view.  (I certainly haven’t noticed anyone among our political and cultural elite wagging a finger at the producers of the The Book of Mormon, the Broadway musical which mocks The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.)

How about something that counters liberal norms about race, gender, or sexual orientation? Or sacred historical memory of epic injustice, such as black slavery or the Holocaust?

In Europe there are laws forbidding denial of the Holocaust.  Europeans are in a particularly tough spot about resurgent antisemitism, and the more responsible political leaders among them understandably want to tamp it down.  It is certainly upsetting to observe neo-Nazi sentiments surfacing amidst radical political and Islamist movements.  As with so many other social and economic maladies, however, the Europeans rely too heavily on government solutions.  Constraints on speech in France eliminate discredited ideas about as well as constraints on commerce reduce their high levels of youth unemployment.

You’d be mistaken if you hoped to find relief in the sanctuary of a college campus.  The Free Speech Movement may have originated at UC Berkeley 50 years ago, but that university long ago sacrificed its integrity on the altar of political correctness.  Nationally recognized speakers at Cal who fail to toe the politically correct line have been “disinvited” to speak or shouted off the podium when they do.  Just last fall the student committee organizing graduation ceremonies withdrew its offer to HBO comedian Bill Maher (until the university overturned its decision).

It would be comforting to write off this pattern as another example of “Bezerkley” politics.  Unfortunately, Cal is not exceptional in its treatment of speakers who stray from orthodox positions.  The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has tracked dozens of similar incidents taking place at public and private universities across the nation.  Victims span the political spectrum.

Anti-Israel dogma has particular resonance in the academy as an excuse to suppress the free exchange of ideas.  The most recent and perhaps the most egregious Israel bashing emerged last month at The Durban University of Technology in South Africa, where student leaders demanded that Jews, especially those who decline to “support the Palestinian struggle,” be kicked out of the university.

Although we may disagree on the specifics, many ideas are genuinely offensive.  We have phrases like “the n-word” which are so inflammatory they can only be uttered without opprobrium by foul-mouthed black comics.  If a position is so fundamentally objectionable, however, it should not require the force of law or the threats of violent mobs to suppress it.  Any idea that is beyond the pale of civilized society we can and should refute with reasoned discourse.  To do otherwise is to undermine what should be the purpose of opposition:  to persuade.

1 Comment

Filed under Education, Human Rights, Terrorism

No strength no peace

timthumb.php

The world is awash with troublemakers testing our resolve.  Is our president up to the challenge?

When it comes to national security policy, the administration seems adrift on so many levels.  Most alarming is President Obama’s outright disregard for real threats, chief among them the menace of Islamist terror.  He has alternately compared the jihadists to “a jayvee team,” “violent extremists,” and most recently, random urban criminals.  His unwillingness to identify — let alone combat — the scourge of radical Islam as a festering global challenge is bewildering, irresponsible, and insulting (not just to our intelligence).   Congressional leaders on the right and the left are simply exasperated.  Were it only a cynical ploy to avoid responsibility for policy failure, his dismissive attitude would be scandalous.  That he really seems to believe what he is saying is simply terrifying.

Where the White House does acknowledge a challenge, it is notoriously late to the game.  The Arab Spring, the civil war in Syria, the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, the Russian annexation of Crimea, the emergence of ISIS, and the unraveling of the government in Yemen — all seemed to catch the president off guard.  Advisors and spokesmen were then left scrambling to explain the government’s positions and strategy.

One instance where President Obama did try to get ahead of a global security challenge was the escalating brutality of the Assad regime in Syria.  Against the use of chemical weapons, the president famously drew a (red) line in the sand.  As we now know, when Assad called his bluff, Obama was unable or unwilling to follow through.  The rest of the world took notice, allies and foes alike.

Threats of force from this administration simply do not pass muster unless we can “lead from behind.” Or at least from the safety of a remote base piloting a drone.

Obama is so fearful of replicating the perceived overreach of his predecessor that he simply refuses to project strength.  Confession, conciliation, and concession are the standard features of the Obama doctrine (if you can call it that).  In Iraq and Afghanistan, we pre-announced our scheduled withdrawals and did little to protect the military gains for which we had sacrificed so much.  In the face of Russian intransigence — later to become belligerence — we unilaterally disarmed by unwinding commitments to place antimissile batteries in Eastern Europe.  And regarding ISIS, we take options off the table, such as “boots on the ground,” even though we lack the intelligence needed to sustain an effective campaign against the would-be totalitarian caliphate.

You don’t have to subscribe to the foreign policy principles of Senators McCain and Graham to realize how much we are dropping the ball.  Our adversaries can either ignore our demands and threats outright, or they can simply wait for them to pass and wither.  While President Obama slow-walks offers to bolster the army of Ukraine with lethal weaponry, the rest of Eastern Europe is getting anxious.  It’s only a matter of time before Vladimir Putin identifies Russian speakers elsewhere in the region who require protection from some contrived injustice.

So when it comes to negotiations with Iran, is it any wonder that leaders of Congress doubt the White House?  Why should anyone trust that diplomacy engineered by this president can keep the Iranian nuclear program in check?  Iran is at the table of under the strain of a vigorous sanctions regime.  Obama seeks to curtail further moves in this direction, threatening to veto legislation that would tighten economic pressure.

Sadly, it seems this is the only kind of threat from President Obama one can believe in.

1 Comment

Filed under International, Terrorism

Strategy without deserts

“Would you send your son to go fight ISIS?”

That was the provocative question posed to me over dinner last week.  Of course, I wouldn’t be keen to send my children to fight in any war, but my dining companion wasn’t really arguing that point.  Instead he was charging that we don’t own the problems of the Middle East.  His was another flavor of the cliche that “America isn’t the world’s policeman.”

Pundits and politicians step over one another to assign blame for the world’s problems.  It does not serve our national interest.  As Peggy Noonan wrote last week, “you have to unhitch yourself from your predispositions and resentments and face what is happening now.”  Normative judgments are fine and good as a way to defend policy prescriptions, but they do not address the problems at hand.  People are rightly exasperated with President Obama’s reluctance to admit how Islamic thought is motivating today’s biggest security threats.  That said, we are not in an existential war against political correctness.  Our clear and present danger arises from a growing set of deranged actors.  The president’s primary fault is his failure to articulate a coherent strategy and lead the fight against our enemies.

Obama set off a firestorm in his homily at the recent National Prayer Breakfast, where he ostensibly likened the crimes of the medieval crusaders to those of modern day jihadists.  Without debating the historical merits or otherwise of his comments, it’s unsettling how much this president moralizes about metaphorical stone throwing instead of orchestrating a global campaign against the sadists who are literally throwing stones as he speaks.  Being action-oriented and practical minded doesn’t make you a practitioner of realpolitik.  We should lead where we can — not because we caused a problem, but because we fear the alternatives to our leadership.

When I travel in pro-Israel circles, it’s not uncommon to hear advocates recite a laundry list of transgressions by the Palestinian people and their leadership.  The Arabs have rejected compromise, fomented hatred, celebrated violence, and glorified murderous suicide.  It’s impossible to defend such behavior with a straight face.  It gives context to Israeli policies which vex the liberal conscience.  What your adversaries deserve, however, is not the foundation of a strategy to deal with them.  The most persuasive proponents of a two-state solution in Palestine are those who enumerate the practical risks of denying civil rights to an occupied population.  Palestinians need an independent state as a way to resolve Israel’s continuing security and diplomatic challenges of the conflict.  It’s not that Palestinians “earned” independence by their conduct.  Israel must stay the course of negotiations because it serves its best interests to do so.

Which brings me back to the thorny question of ISIS and its fellow travelers across the globe.  Do Americans want another military incursion in the Middle East?  Not very likely.  Do Americans want battle-hardened jihadis hitting our shores to blow up subways in New York or scatter bullets across newsrooms in Washington, DC?  Also not very likely.  We own the problem of radical Islam whether or not we share some responsibility for its incarnation.  What we need is a clear-headed strategy for countering the threat.  Let’s back up the comparatively civilized front-line fighting forces (e.g., Jordan’s army and the Kurdish Peshmerga) with arms, resources, and unhindered logistical support.  Let’s use our best diplomatic and intelligence capabilities to rally the like-minded against a metastasizing global menace.  I shudder to think of those I know and love suffering at the hands of jihadi terrorists.  Washing our hands of the problem won’t make it go away.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under International, Terrorism