December 15, 2015
There’s a lot of talk these days about how to defeat ISIS and keep America safe. I for one am not one of those people who buys into the argument that what we need to do is send thousands of our soldiers to Syria and Iraq in a modern day crusade to destroy radical Islam at is core. Whether politicians like to admit it, everyday ISIS is losing territory and seeing its top leadership killed off. Sure ISIS remains a major international terrorist threat with the capability to recruit new suicide bombers, but this is going to be a long war won incrementally, not with one major attack on the capital city of the caliphate, Raqqa.
What I am more concerned about is the growing level of fear within American society and the fear-mongering of our leaders. Rather than educate the citizens of this country on how to develop their skills at spotting a threat or alerting the authorities to suspicious behavior, what is happening is the beginning of a bunker mentality mixed with old-fashioned bigotry and stockpiling guns. You don’t defeat ISIS by destroying their capital, buying your kids Kevlar backpacks, attacking innocent Muslims, or staying at home rather than enjoying life in a free country.
ISIS will be defeated when we show resolve as a nation to protect the homeland; when we don’t stand idly by when we see something that just doesn’t seem right; when we fail to understand that just because someone dresses differently or prays differently they somehow become the enemy; and when we forget that as citizens we have the responsibility to always remain vigilant.
There is not a sane person who doesn’t know fear; in fact fear is a good thing as it keeps us from falling prey to danger. But fear that overcomes one’s daily life, fear that generates hatred, fear that follows blindly those with easy answers, this is the fear that is frankly un-American. True American patriots are not flag wavers or bombastic blowhards. True American patriots become involved in protecting their community, taking reasonable precautionary measures, and never falling prey to those who promise a solution without any answers. In short American patriots always remain vigilant.
November 19, 2015
In the wake of the Paris massacre and the yet unproven link between one of the terrorists and Syrian migrants, the Congress, most of the nation’s governors and the American people soundly reject President Obama’s decision to take in 10,000 refugees next year. The opposition to Obama’s promise is based not just on national security concerns and a lack of faith in the vetting process of the Syrians, both legitimate reasons, but a more sinister rejection of Islam and those people who hold to that religion, no matter what hardships they have endured.
When Ben Carson uses the term “dogs” in reference to the Syrians. Donald Trump pledges to close mosques, Jeb Bush wants only to protect Christian Syrians, and Ted Cruz talks makes off handed remarks about internment camps, it becomes quickly obvious that stopping Obama’s plan is more than just about national security and bureaucratic incompetence.
To use a word often used by former president George H.W.Bush, it would be prudent to delay any Syrian refugee resettlement program until the United States and its allies get a better handle on terrorist sleeper cells and lone wolf fanatics, and construct a comprehensive international strategy to destroy ISIL and its caliphate that bridges Syria and Iraq. It is just common sense to sort out the threat, build better intelligence networks, beef up security and go after ISIL where they live.
But because we are in an election cycle of enormous importance to the nation, fear too easily overwhelms reason and common sense. Let’s not forget that the 1st Amendment protects the ” free exercise ” of religion, Lady Liberty welcomes the oppressed – ” give me your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.” and we as a people have always taken pride in the long and proud tradition of tolerating differences, ( and oh yes, Steve Jobs’ father was a Syrian immigrant).
It is important that we as a people not let fear take over our lives and religious bigotry rule the day. The prudent course of action is to fashion an entry system for Syrian refugees that is not haphazard and filled with bureaucratic exceptions. This will take some time. But let us not as a nation fall prey to those who are anxious to make this an anti-Muslim crusade and make the all the followers of Islam into terrorists.
February 26, 2015
If you really want to be scared, take a gander at the recent issue of The Atlantic and the article by Graeme Wood ” What ISIS Really Wants and How to Stop It.” Wood has caused quite a storm among liberals and the Muslim community because he states emphatically that the doctrine and practices of ISIS are indeed Islamic, ” Very Islamic.”
Wood delves deeply into the beliefs of the Islamic State and its leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi and finds that the beheading, crucifixion, slavery and mass murder of those who are deemed apostates, Muslims and non-Muslims, are deeply embedded in the writings of the Prophet Muhammad and his followers. The establishment of a caliphate in Syria and Iraq is part of their apocalyptic vision as their forces will battle the armies of the west and then destroy them; it is then that they will wait for the end of times. There is even a place where all this end of times will occur, the Syrian town of Dabiq, which is mentioned by Muhammad in his writings.
While Wood readily admits that ISIS has attracted a weird bunch of psychopaths and delusional religious fanatics, he emphasizes that the leadership of the caliphate is applying the most harsh version of Islamic law and cannot be viewed as acting devoid of religious beliefs. Of course the vast majority of Muslims do not hold to the values and vision of ISIS and its apocalyptic doctrine, but to say as President Obama and others have said that ISIS is not Islamic is a misreading of their beliefs.
What is really scary, other than the fact that ISIS is well led, well armed and adept at social media propaganda, is that they are in a real sense a death cult that is following to the letter the dogma of Muhammad. They are ready to die and the killing of apostates is normal operating procedure. There is thus no interest in working toward a diplomatic solution or abiding by international agreements or implementing a cease-fire. In fact the goal of ISIS is to spread the caliphate throughout the Middle East and wait for the war with the west that will usher in the end times.
Wood agrees with President Obama that it would be a huge mistake to put thousands of US boots on the ground and take on the Islamist fighters head on; that is exactly what they want as a way to fulfill their apocalyptic vision. The best strategy is to contain them and let the caliphate die off from a lack of fanatical energy and the disillusionment of the fighters as time will eventually weaken a state that is not expanding and attracting more support.
The take away from the Wood article is that not only is ISIS Islamic, but also that it holds beliefs most in the Muslim world reject( which is why ISIS fighters have no problem killing so-called Muslim apostates). It may be politically convenient for some to get involved in word games about what to call ISIS but the key is to understand what their end game is and what they are willing to do in order to bring about the apocalypse. Religious fanatics eventually destroy themselves from within rather than through a modern day crusade. This will be a long war against ISIS but like the containment policies of the Cold War, eventually a warped ideology will implode from within.