Posts Tagged With: ISIS

PEARL HARBOR REMEMBRANCES

It was on this date, 74 years ago, that the pristine, idyllic island of Oahu, in the Hawaiian island chain, was shaken to its very foundation. A sneak bombing attack by 360 warplanes of the Japanese Imperial Air Force on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor on Oahu, decimated virtually the entire U.S. Pacific naval fleet. Only the U.S. carrier force, which was, fortunately, out to sea at the time, was spared. There was a horrific loss of U.S. lives as thousands of sailors died trying to save their ships. U.S. Army and Air Force bases on Oahu were also bombed, adding further to the loss of U.S. lives and military equipment. It was a day, as President Franklin Roosevelt stated in a following day radio address, “that will live in infamy.”

Until then, the U.S. had remained primarily isolationist in a war begun in 1939 by the Axis powers of Germany and Japan. Although President Roosevelt had wanted us to become more heavily involved, the feeling in Congress was that the U.S. was protected by 2 large oceans, and we could, therefore, follow a policy of strict isolationism regarding all the messiness of WWII. Even as Hitler and his Nazi thugs had gobbled up almost all of Europe, and Imperial Japan was conquering one country after another in the Pacific. Finally, with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the blinders were removed from the isolationists eyes, and the U.S. went all in. It was a time to face reality.

A draft was enacted, and millions of young men were inducted into the U.S. military. Factories that had been producing consumer products had to be converted, almost overnight it seemed, into the production of military hardware and supplies. Food and gasoline became strictly rationed. Marginal tax rates on the wealthy were raised to 91% in order to pay for the war effort. It became everyone’s patriotic duty to buy war bonds. Even grade school children such as myself were enlisted to buy these bonds. Us poor kids would bring nickels and dimes to school each week to purchase stamps that were pasted into a bond book. When the stamps in that book totaled $18.75, we would be issued a war bond worth $25, cashable in 5 years. No one was immune from contributing to the war effort.

Such all-out effort finally paid off although it would take several additional years. It wasn’t until 1945 that the twin hellish evils of Nazism in Europe, and Japanese Imperialism in the Pacific were thoroughly destroyed and discredited. It would take two atomic bombs dropped on Japanese cities to finish the Pacific war. Also discredited was the U.S. policy of isolationism, as it became abundantly clear that the U.S. was the one indispensable nation on this planet. Tens and tens of millions of lives had been lost during WWII and it took the U.S. entry into that effort to save the world and stop the carnage. Unfortunately, the lessons of WWII have not taken deep enough root and the old discredited yearnings of isolationism have now crept back into the American psyche. 

Today the world is witnessing the same type of Fascist evil that propelled Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan during the 1940s. Today, such horrific evil is taking the form of Islamic-Jihadism. The barbaric atrocities being inflicted on helpless human beings by groups such as ISIS, Al-Qaida, and other lunatic Jihadist groups bears testament, once again, that evil is a bottomless pit, and must be torn out by its roots if it’s to be destroyed, discredited, and buried. And once again, the U.S. is the one indispensable nation that has to be called upon to undertake this effort. Unfortunately, the efforts the U.S. has thus far taken have been meager to say the least. They are grossly insufficient to do the job that needs to be done.

Yes, I get it that Americans are sick and tired of war, and just want to be left alone. Yes, I understand that Americans are no longer willing to make sacrifices similar to those made during WWII. Yes, as I’ve said many times, war is the ultimate failure of the human condition. But if we don’t destroy every vestige of this new Fascism, tear it out by its roots, it will continue to metastasize like virulent cancer. It will continue to attract new recruits by maintaining its credibility. If we no longer have the will power to fight off these modern day barbarians, we eventually will succumb to these modern day forces of evil. Much like the ancient Roman Empire became too weary to fight the barbarians at its gates many centuries ago. Rome was eventually destroyed and the world was plunged into the dark ages for a very long time.

Perhaps its in the nature of the universe that great civilizations rise to an apex, and then over time, begin to crumble. When life at home becomes too cozy and comfortable, thereby sapping the will of its citizens to fight and die on some foreign battlefield, in a struggle between good and evil. When we’ve reached that point, the U.S. will no longer be the one indispensable nation on Earth.

 

Categories: Economics, human affairs, Isis terrorist attack in Paris,, politics, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

DEVISING AN EXIT STRATEGY

In my last posting I described how the United States has been the sin eater for the rest of the planet during the past century. How the U.S. has come to the rescue of everyone else, over and over, when the world appeared to be overtaken by some very evil forces. And how most Americans are becoming sick and tired of sin-eating the rest of the world’s most dire problems. Yet with the rise of ISIS and other Islamic terrorist groups, as they continue to gobble up more chunks of territory and expand their caliphate in the Mid-East, as well as commit the most heinous of crimes while doing so, there are renewed calls from powerful figures in this country  and elsewhere, for the U.S. to once again initiate military action against these jihadists. And not only against jihadism. Many militarists would have us go to war with Iran by bombing their nuclear facilities, since they have no faith that current negotiations with Iran will lead to a cessation of that country’s nuclear weapons ambitions. For example, our illustrious former Vice-President during the Bush Administration, Dick Cheney, has come out with a new book recommending the use of military force in both situations. As well as in the Ukraine, where Russia’s Vladimir Putin seems intent on taking over huge chunks of territory through military means. The problem is that the U.S. has become like a person treading water while stranded in the ocean and waiting for rescue. Our arms are getting tired.

So let us see if the U.S. can devise an exit strategy from it’s role as the world’s sin eater. First, it should be noted that more and more Americans are having less and less interest in the U.S. becoming involved in foreign entanglements, much less being involved militarily. When the I-Phone 6 came on the market not that long ago, huge, hour-plus long lines formed at Apple stores around the country. Those on line just had to be among the first to acquire the new cell. I guarantee that everyone standing in those lines already had an I-Phone 5, but thought that by acquiring the new model, their lives would somehow be magically transformed from the pathetic existences they actually were. Same situation when the Apple Watch started being sold. Does anyone think that even one person on those lines had any interest for the U.S. to engage in militarily adventuring overseas. Of course not, since that would not increase their instant gratification impulses. Same is true for those worrying about who the next American Idol will be or those keeping up with the Kardashians, etc. The U.S. has become too soft and mushy to even consider the sacrifices needed and the costs incurred in going to war overseas.

Those that would have us militarily engage ISIS point out that the U.S. was steeped in isolationism when Nazi Germany was on the rise during the 1930s; and that by the time we did enter WWII the Axis countries had become so powerful that the cost in lives alone was unspeakable. Which is all very true. But it was a different time and a different  country. Americans at the time were willing to make sacrifices if it enabled the war effort. Food was rationed by giving every family a book of stamps that limited the amount of goods that could be consumed each week. Such basics as meat, sugar, dough, baking powder, etc. were only available in very limited quantities. Consumer products were virtually nonexistent, as factories around the country were transformed into producers of military hardware. You think consumers today, contemplating their next purchase of a top of the line Lexus or Mercedes, would be willing to make similar sacrifices. It’s almost laughable.

Also to be considered is the fact that if we did engage Islamic-Jihadists on the battlefield, it would not be the same conditions as military operations against Germany and Japan during WWII. The jihadists know that they would be no match for superior American forces and equipment, and that they would be slaughtered in a head-to-head battlefield confrontation. Most would, therefore, slip away and meld into the local population and bide their time. Some might stand their ground and would likely be killed. But, as I’ve said, most would avoid such a scenario. Unlike WWII battlefields where each side had huge tank forces that sought to destroy the opposing forces tanks. If we engaged militarily today, once we cleared the area of terrorists and the like, we would eventually have to leave. The terrorists are quite patient at waiting us out, and would simply re-organize and move back in when the U.S. left Dodge City.

So how do we get out of this mess. Is there an exit strategy short of war? I believe there is. The key is in understanding what motivates young men, and some women, to likely sacrifice 60-80 years of their lives by joining organizations like ISIS in the first place. While some recruits may be true believers in the cause of Jihadism, most come to join because they’re from poverty-stricken backgrounds with little or no skills, and virtually no prospects for a better future. So what if they’re gunned down while in their twenties. Their lives are filled with nothing but misery and poverty to begin with, and none of that is likely to change. ISIS likes to boast that it doesn’t matter how many of their members get slaughtered, because thousands of new recruits are willing to join their ranks every month.

Thus the key to ending the terrorist initiative is to convince would-be recruits that they do have something to live for, and that it’s myopically brainless for them to throw their lives away in such meaningless fashion. We need to fight ISIS on-line, where much of its recruitment efforts and propaganda take place, rather than fight them on the battlefield. Only when we can convince those that are down-and-out even at a young age, that their future is not as bleak as they imagine, will the terrorist thrust begin to wither.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

THE SIN EATER

Many of you are not likely to be familiar with the role of the sin eater in ancient tribes and societies, and more recently in some 17th and 18th century places such as Scotland and Ireland. But the sin eater was thought to play a vital role as one approached his or her death. For a very nominal fee, a designated sin eater was called in by the family of someone on his or her death bed, or someone who had just died but had not yet been buried. The sin eater was then served a sumptuous feast or perhaps just a few slices of bread depending on the wealth of the family in question. The sin eater would then consume the food presented to him, and by doing so, would absorb all of the dying person’s earthly sins. Those sins would then belong to the sin eater, and the dead could then enter the afterlife completely absolved. Pure as the driven snow. The problem was that when it came time for the sin eater to die, no one would be willing to absorb the huge tonnage of sins that the sin eater had taken upon himself over a lifetime. Most of the time, other sin eaters were too frightened to take on this burden. The sin eater, upon his death, was then doomed to roam the alleyways of Hell for all eternity. The relevance to today’s world is that the United States has been the sin eater for the rest of the planet for a century now, and the burden is beginning to become too heavy.

Just about a century ago, WWI broke out between the Allies and Germany; and  quickly bogged down into a stalemated exercise of trench warfare. More soldiers died from the filth and disease inherent in these trenches then from being shot. It wasn’t until the U.S. was persuaded to enter this fray that the stalemate was finally broken and the Allies were able to push on toward victory. Twenty years later history repeated itself, as a more vicious and evil war machine in Nazi Germany set out to conquer Europe while their counterpart in the Pacific, Imperial Japan, sought total dominance in that part of the world. Again, our desperate allies called upon the sin eater to save them from total destruction. It wasn’t until the U.S. entered that battlefield that the tide of war started turning in the Allies favor. Just a few years after the end of WWII, North Korea invaded South Korea, and the U.S. was again called upon to save the day. It did free South Korea, but could not do the same for the North, which today remains a giant concentration camp, under the heel of a ruthless and tyrannical dictatorship. As in the previous wars, the U.S. once again experienced a huge loss of life.

Not long after the Korean fracas, the sin eater allowed itself to become enmeshed in the hellhole jungles of Viet-Nam, in a war where the U.S. had no vital or essential interests. There was a huge loss of American life, over 58,000 dead, to say nothing of the hundreds of thousands of Viet-Namese deaths. It was a war the U.S. lost, in time, and it took the much maligned Richard Nixon to extract us from that fiasco. It also soured the desire of most Americans from entering into any further military engagements. After another decade or so, President George Bush, the Elder, got us involved in another shooting match, this time in the Mid-East, by coming to the rescue of Kuwait, which had been invaded and conquered by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. We were successful in that venture, and Bush the Elder was smart enough to walk away after Kuwait had been freed.

Not so smart was successor George Bush the Younger. On the pretext that Saddam Hussein was in the the process of acquiring weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear bombs, Bush the Younger decided that once again, the U.S. would be the world’s sin eater by initiating another war against Iraq. Now unquestionably, Saddam Hussein was a very, very bad guy who had slaughtered tens of thousands of his own countrymen, because he believed they opposed his dictatorship. But the problem was that Iraq had not acquired WMDs. There were no nuclear or other deadly weapons to be found. But, on the theory that once you break something in the china shop you own it and have to pay for it, the U.S. has now, and it seems, will for evermore, be responsible for the events unfolding in Iraq, and indeed, the entire Mid-East.

As we all know, a ruthless band of cutthroat Islamic Jihadists known as ISIS has come on the scene and taken over  huge swathes of Iraqi territory, as well as large chunks of Syria, and lately Libya, and is active in other Mid-Eastern countries. In actuality, they are murderous serial killers on a grand scale, and bloodthirsty killings are the name of their game. But they seem to be gaining in both territory and power. So once more, voices in this country and the rest of the world, are pleading with the U.S. to be their sin eater. They want the U.S. to put boots on the ground and go to war in Iraq for the third time. ISIS must be stopped now, or like Nazi Germany, they will become too powerful to take on. However, most Americans are now too tired and weary of becoming the world’s sin eater. The U.S. has now been pretty well drained of any desire for foreign adventurism.

Next time I’ll explain why it would be a bad idea for the U.S. to put boots on the ground in fighting ISIS, and that another option exists outside of a shooting war. Remember that while things may turn out well for the sinners, they seldom turn out well for the sin eaters.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN

That famous quote from 1961 belongs to Yogi Berra, all-star catcher for the New York Yankees, and was made in the context of on-going baseball events. Yogi had a way of mangling the English language, (or in this case, the French) but in a humorous fashion that sports writers loved to quote. If you’re interested, you can Google for other Yogisms. The trouble is, however, when deja vu keeps occurring in the unfolding events of mankind, it no longer becomes funny, but instead takes on tragic proportions. And the funny part is how it keeps happening over and over and over again.  Today, we have history repeating itself, with devastating consequences, but with hardly anyone seeming to learn from the lessons of the past. Let us then try to understand how and why this is occurring.

I’ve written many times before about how Adolf Hitler and his Nazi thugs came to power in Germany in the the 1930s, and the ensuing consequences  for the rest of Europe; but the 1930s so closely parallel today’s world events, that it bears repeating. Hitler became chancellor of Germany in 1932, largely through the democratic process. But upon taking office in 1933, Hitler swiftly abolished all semblances of freedom and democracy in Germany, as well as any future elections, and became dictator for life. If you opposed his regime, it was off to the concentration camps, or you were just simply executed. In contravention of the Treaty of Versailles which ended WWI, Hitler started to militarily re-arm Germany, soon after he took office. If the French had sent troops into Germany at that point, as they were legally obliged to do by the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler could have been quickly deposed, WWII could have been avoided, and 60 million deaths in Europe as a result of that war would have also been avoided. But the French did nothing but just stood by as the Nazi military grew in strength. After all, who wants to undergo the messiness of war when one could luxuriate in peaceful endeavors. So, seeing that both France and England were essentially paper tigers, Hitler made his next move in early 1938 by invading and swallowing up Austria. The pretext was that Austria was a German speaking nation, so they should have belonged to Germany all along. Never mind that Austria was a separate country with its own government; it now became part of the Third Reich. That event came to be known as the Anschluss, as the Allies (France, England, and now the U.S.) rationalized Hitler’s aggression as being no big deal. A policy of appeasement with Nazi Germany could forestall military engagement. Or so it was thought.

Hitler, now convinced that all of Europe was his for the taking, in 1938 moved his Nazi war machine into northern Czechoslovakia, again on the pretext that most of its inhabitants were also of German ethnicity. This time, the leadership of France and England started to become “concerned.” A conference was arranged in Munich, Germany between Hitler and Prime Ministers Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier, of England and France respectively. The Munich Conference, as it came to be known, would go down in history as the ultimate failure of a policy of appeasement when dealing with aggressor tyrants.  A pact was signed there in Munich on that day in 1938, that allowed Hitler to retain the spoils of his adventurism in Austria and northern Czechoslovakia as long as he committed no further acts of aggression. After the conference, Chamberlain came home to cheering crowds in London and proclaimed he had achieved “peace in our time.” The British were in ecstasy because they wanted so much to believe this was true. Daladier also returned to Paris and was similarly greeted by mobs of elated Frenchmen at Orly Airport. But Daladier didn’t delude himself. He knew that a long, bloody war was just around the corner. Looking haggard and sleep-deprived as he gazed upon the cheering mobs, he was heard to mutter-“the damn fools.”

The ink was no sooner dry on the Munich pact than Hitler moved his troops into the rest of Czechoslovakia and gobbled up the entire country. Might as well, since nobody was around to stop the Nazi war machine. France and England continued to look the other way. The U.S. Congress continued to follow a policy of strict isolationism, despite President Roosevelt’s desire to become militarily engaged. It wasn’t until 1939, when Hitler formally invaded Poland, that the Allies were forced to come to terms with the fact that WWII was officially underway, and they had better deal with it quickly. By that time, it was almost too late. In the East, the Nazi army drove to the very gates of Moscow. If Russia had fallen, all of Europe would have been under Nazi rule, except for Britain, and the British were hanging on by their fingernails. The German Luftwaffe was bombing London on a daily basis, until it was mostly a pile of rubble. It was only the long, bitter cold Russian winter that stalled the Nazi onslaught in the East, and allowed the Red Army to regroup and begin to push back against German troops. In England, Neville Chamberlain was quickly thrown out of office and replaced by Winston Churchill who rallied the British to engage in a stout-hearted defense of their homeland. But it wasn’t until U.S. forces finally entered the war in late 1941, that the tide began to turn in favor of the Allies. At the height of WWII, the U.S. would have 10 million troops fighting in both Europe and the Pacific, at an horrendous cost of lives and treasure. So much for waiting until the last minute to do what has to be done.

Now comes the deja vu part as we fast forward to present day. In Europe today, there is another tyrant who is on the move against his neighboring countries. This time it’s, of course, Vladimir Putin, the Godfather, or Boss of Bosses who rules Russia with an iron fist. For over a year now, he has decided to slice and dice neighboring Ukraine, annexing chunks of it into what he hopes will be another Russian or Soviet empire. The first chunk he bit off was Crimea, a sizable portion of what was once the Ukraine. France, Germany, Britain and the U.S. pretty much stood by and proclaimed that well, that’s how the cookie crumbles. The Allies did put into effect some mild economic sanctions against some of Putin’s cronies, but none have had any significant results. Next, Putin began supplying Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine with heavy weapons as they battle government forces that are trying to prevent the eastern part of their country from falling under Russian domain, as the Crimea has. Russian troops, undercover, have also joined the battle with the separatists.  Thousands have already died as the war continues to rage. So last week, the PMs of both Germany and France, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande, schlepped to Moscow to sign a peace accord with Putin that was supposed have put an immediate cease-fire into effect in the Ukraine. But once again, the ink was was barely dry on the accord when vicious fighting broke out and hundreds of government forces were slaughtered. Sounds a lot like Munich to me. Deja Vu. All over again.

All the while, the consummate evil of terrorism in our time continues to spread. Isis, Al-Qaeda, Boko Harem, Taliban or whatever you want to call these mass serial killers, are on the march and growing stronger. They’ve officially spread their wings in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Somalia, Nigeria, and to a some extent in Jordan and Egypt. If the U.S. and its European allies struck militarily against these barbarians now, i.e. by putting boots on the ground, instead of just engaging in token bombing raids, destruction of these terrorists is within reach at a relatively small cost. Every day that we hesitate, however, they grow stronger and the cost of confrontation becomes more expensive and deadlier. But, after all, who wants to become engaged in an all out war. It’s so much messier that the peaceful pursuits we’re all engaged in. Who needs that. As I said, it’s deja vu. All over again.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

RE-LEARNING THE LESSONS OF HISTORY

When Jesus walked the Earth over 2000 years ago, the Roman Empire was at its zenith. Ruled by its emperor Augustus Caesar, (who was ultimately responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus), the Roman Empire covered virtually all of Europe including England, North Africa (now called the Mid-East), and Western Asia. Its power and military might was considered almost invincible, as it mercilessly and brutally ruled over conquered lands. To challenge the mighty Roman army was considered a suicide mission. Rebellion against Rome in in countries they ruled was often brutally suppressed with the opposing fighters usually crucified or slaughtered outright, or captured and sold off into slavery. Women were also put on the market for slaves or as concubines and prostitutes. In essence, conquered lands were considered primary sources of free labor or sexual slavery.

Rome, as the most advanced civilization at that time, also had acquired superior technology that was unknown by  other nations on this planet. The Roman government had built an extensive system of aqueducts that brought purified water to the homes of mainly the rich and elite. Advanced plumbing systems, roads and bridges were also being put into place. The Roman Colosseum was built to provide entertainment, such as watching gladiators being torn to shreds by hungry lions, again, primarily for the amusement of the upper classes. (Parts of the Colosseum still exist today as a tourist attraction for visitors to Rome.) But even at the height of its power, cracks began to develop in the foundation of the Roman Empire. Romans started to become soft and lazy, fixated only on the indulgence of usually depraved pleasures and sensuality. An estimated 32,000 prostitutes littered the streets of Rome. Subsequent emperors to Augustus Caesar, over the centuries, such as Nero and Caligula, became infamous for spending huge amounts of resources on lavish parties, where guests drank and ate themselves into almost a coma-like state. Diseases became rampant because of all the prostitutes and beggars living on the streets. Alcoholism was at epidemic proportions. So was political corruption. New, incoming emperors had to bribe the Army for a chance at the throne. If the bribe wasn’t enough, they would be thrown out of office or just murdered outright. During the 100 years starting in 186 A.D. Rome had 37 emperors, 25 of whom were assassinated.

Economic problems also started to multiply. Business owners who had to hire workers couldn’t compete with those that were able to acquire slave labor. Inflation started to skyrocket because once Rome ran out of nations to conquer, the supply of gold into the economy began to sharply decrease. The government had to lessen the amount of gold being put into its coinage, which made the coins less valuable. Eventually, the coins had so little gold that most merchants began to use a barter system. Then there was a growing disparity between the powerful and rich elite, and the rapidly disappearing middle class. (Sound familiar.) In addition, military spending to defend the Empire’s vast borders from barbarian hordes also greatly drained government resources. Finally, the government could not provide sufficient goods for its growing population. It was no longer conquering other civilizations and using their technology as well as their people for slaves. In fact, Rome began actually losing territory it could no longer maintain with its legions.

The final nail in the coffin came from the barbarian hordes I just mentioned. They consisted primarily of the Huns, Vandals, Goths and Visigoths, that came mainly out of what is France and Germany today. They were the terrorists of that era, envious of Rome’s wealth, (compared to the miserable poverty they were forced to live in), and determined to destroy the Roman Empire. The barbarians knew they couldn’t defeat the powerful Roman army in a face-to-face battle; so, as is the case of today’s terrorists, they resorted to acts of sabotage and gratuitous murder. They would attack outlying villages in remote corners of the Empire, that Rome could no longer defend, and murder all the men and children, and carry off the women as sexual slaves. At least those women they were attracted to; the others would also be killed. Then they would sack the village and burn it to the ground. While this was happening, Romans, over the centuries had become soft and lazy, with the rich being so heavily involved in debauchery that they had lost all desire for war. There was no will left to even defend themselves from the oncoming barbarian hordes that were marching toward the gates of Rome. So the government began the practice of hiring mercenaries to wage war on these various germanic and franco tribes. The trouble with using mercenaries, however, is that they’re usually willing to offer their services to the highest bidder. Thus, it was not unusual for these mercenaries to switch sides once they got a better offer from the barbarian terrorists  they were originally sent to destroy.

Finally after centuries of economic dysfunction, political corruption, eroding social conditions,  debauchery among the rich and powerfully connected, and a plain lack of will toward self-defense, the Roman Empire collapsed before the invading barbarians hordes. Historians put the final overrun of Rome by germanic and franco tribes as occurring in 476 A.D. From then on, roads and bridges throughout the former Roman Empire were left in disrepair and fields were left untilled. Pirates and bandits made travel unsafe. Cities could not be maintained without farm products, as trade and businesses began to disappear, because the Roman Empire was no more in the West. Europe then fell into the bleak and sorrowful period known as the Dark Ages, that lasted more than a thousand years, before reformation finally began to put civilization on a path to recovery.

So how is this relevant in today’s word. Today, we have a new set of barbarians at the gates of Western civilization, known as the Islamic-Fascist Jihadists. I’ve written previously and extensively before about the bottomless pits of evil that terrorist groups such as Boko-Haram, ISIS and Al-Qaida crawl out of to commit murder and mayhem. The latest outbreak being the murder of 17 innocent people in Paris last week, supposedly because of religious offense to unflattering cartoons of the prophet Muhammed. Think about it. People are actually being slaughtered because of cartoons in a newspaper. But the key question is whether the U.S. and its allies have the will to take on these present day barbarians and destroy them while it can still be done on the cheap. Or have we become too soft and lazy, or too intoxicated by our current pleasures and indulgences to wage meaningful combat against these cutthroats. Have our political and economic systems become too corrupt to engage in a meaningful battle to protect the gates of civilized behavior. Perhaps we should hire mercenaries to do our fighting since it worked so well the last time.

Every day we fail to take meaningful action, the Jihadists become stronger and the battle becomes more costly. The token bombing raids we initiated against ISIS in Iraq and Syria have had virtually no effect as the terrorists have expanded the territory they now occupy. Present leadership in the U.S. appears to be too dysfunctional and polarized to initiate a meaningful war against Islamic fascism, while Europe appears to have the same level of corruption and malaise, or lack of willpower, about going to war, as the Romans did when faced with their terrorism threats. If Western civilization falls again to the barbarians, the Dark Ages will reappear for at least another thousand years. Will you still be playing with your I-Phones when that takes place?

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A BOTTOMLESS PIT

In May 1974 a group of Palestinian terrorists entered Israel from Lebanon, and made their way to the Israeli town of Ma’alot. Over a period of days they murdered several Israelis and then entered an Israeli public school. Heavily armed with grenades and bombs as well as guns, they took 115 hostages, mainly school children, and demanded that a bunch of Palestinian terrorists sitting in Israeli jails be released. Israel refused to accede to their demands and the hostage crises dragged on for 2 days. Finally an elite squad of Israeli troops burst into the school and killed the Palestinians; but not before the terrorists had murdered 25 hostages, 22 of which were school children. Proving once again that the capacity for evil in the human condition is a bottomless pit.

I was reminded of this event when a couple of weeks ago, Taliban terrorists burst into a Pakistani school and slaughtered 150 people, a 132 of which were also school children. The concept behind this act, according to the Taliban mindset, was to have the parents grieve and suffer miserably for the rest of their lives, due to the loss of their most precious loved ones. Here it was a case of Muslims killing other Muslims because of ideological differences. The Taliban are fanatical Islamic terrorists, and those that don’t share their lunatic religious beliefs are fair game for slaughter. It’s the type of religious fanaticism that has given the world the recently formed ISIS terrorists who now control large swaths of Iraq and Syria, and are on the march to expand their empire. They love to feature beheadings of civilians they consider apostates, all in the name of being faithful to Allah. How many people over the centuries and millennia have lost their lives in the name of religion, by those who believe they’re invoking God’s will here on Earth.

So here we are on Christmas Eve when the world is overflowing with bright lights and gifts and all sorts of merriment and festivities, to say nothing of goodwill toward man. At least that’s the way it’s portrayed in most of the Christian world where Christianity is heralded as a religion of peace and love. And today, that religion that was begun by a  young Jewish Rabbi and his impoverished disciples over 2000 years ago does, for the most part, preach peace and love. But it wasn’t always so. One only has to go back to the Spanish Inquisition a few centuries ago when mostly Jews, but some Muslims also, were tortured or burned at the stake, in the name of Jesus, in order to save their souls. After all, isn’t that what God would have wanted.

Actually, Europe has a rich history of Christian hatred toward Jews going back  almost two millennia since the Roman Empire destroyed the state of Israel and dispersed its Hebrew residents into mainly various European countries. Almost from the beginning of the rise of Christianity in Europe, Jews were called “Christ-killers” and subjected to intense hatred and discrimination throughout the continent. Never mind that Jesus himself was a Jew, and had always preached a philosophy of peace. “Love thy neighbor as thyself” I believe is one of his more famous proclamations. All this was obviously ignored, as a series of pogroms against Jews throughout most of Europe was begun and continued through the centuries. Pogroms were where people got up in the morning and decided it would be great sport to set upon the town’s Jewish population, either killing or robbing them, or sending them into exile. It was rare to find a European that wasn’t anti-semitic, and persecution of Jews was the name of the game.

The end result of all this anti-semitism throughout the ages was finally the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich in Nazi Germany and the ensuing Holocaust. Hitler, and his band of Nazi thugs, could not have thrived as well as they did had not Europe experienced a rich heritage of hatred toward Jews. The Holocaust could not have been as successful as it was, i.e. the murder of 6 million innocent people, had not hundreds of thousands of Germans, as well as people in the conquered countries, participated so willingly in the logistics of shipping millions of people to death camps, and manufacturing the chemicals necessary to cause their deaths. Indeed, Hitler’s intense hatred of Jews was itself a product of the anti-semiticism and persecution of Jews that Europe had experienced since the rise of Christianity. Virtually all Europeans had been brainwashed into believing that anti-semitism was really a good thing.Talk about the bottomless pit of evil in the human condition.

With the destruction of the Nazi empire in 1945, Europeans were supposedly being cured of of their anti-semitic beliefs. After all, they had experienced, first hand, the death and destruction those instincts had caused. But Jew-hating amongst Europeans never really went away; it just became more covert. It was no longer fashionable for Europeans to express out loud how much they despised Jews. But those that were able to overhear conversations among young like-minded Germans or other those in other countries, recognized that the affliction of anti-semitism was still thriving in the European blood-stream. In recent years, anti-semitism has moved from the shadows into the open once again in Europe, especially since the disparate number of deaths that occurred in the latest shootout between Israel and Gaza. Several European countries have now called for boycotts of all Israeli products as well as other harmful sanctions. Mass protests against Israel in most European countries have become routine.

For anti-semitisim, or any hatred toward any religious or ethnic group to thrive, two things have to occur. The first is that the group you’re venting your hatred for has to be a small minority, and thus, incapable of defending itself in the long run against the larger, more powerful majority. The second thing is that the hater must despise some aspect of him or herself, and thus seeks to deflect that self-hatred by seeking vengeance against a relatively defenseless minority. Thus, the bottomless pit of evil begins with self-loathing.

In any event, it’s Christmas Eve, so by all means go out and have your Christmas dinners, drink to excess, exchange gifts and party on. For some people, however, this won’t be possible. People that are lying in hospitals, too sick to get out of bed. People that will die tonight. And people that are unfortunate enough to live in those parts of the world overrun by by religious fanaticism and terrorism. The very bottomless pit of evil.

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM

At the heart of religious fundamentalism is the unquenchable thirst to dominate other people’s lives. To dictate to the populace what it can and cannot do. The self-gratifying, lustful power to reward or punish others based on how they respond to religious edicts. That power to include torturing, imprisoning or out-right killing other human beings should they disobey those edicts. This has been on-going for tens if not hundreds of thousands of years, or ever since mankind began forming into various types of societies such as tribes or clans. Most early tribal leaders had the power to destroy the lives of their fellow clansmen should they disobey the craven idols they had carved and called gods. Such power has always been too intoxicating for most leaders to ever relinquish.

Which brings us to the events going on in most Arab countries in the Middle-East. It was only a few years back that the world was enchanted by what was called the Arab Spring. Ruthless dictators that had been in power for decades, such as Muammar Gaddafi in Libya and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, were being overthrown and the prospects of freedom and democracy throughout the Mid-East seemed to burn brightly. Today those dreams have turned to ashes, as most Arab countries have become hollowed-out shells of their former beings. You can thank religious fundamentalism for most of this, including the fact that people all too often make incredibly bad choices and turn out to be their own worst enemy.

In Egypt, after the fall of Mubarak, Egyptians were allowed to hold free elections that would determine their next government. In an act that can only be described as incredible stupidity, the people chose leaders of the Moslem Brotherhood to run their country. The Moslem Brotherhood had, over many decades, openly espoused and advocated for the imposition of strict Islamic fundamentalism for Egyptian society. Once in power, that’s exactly what they began doing. Who could have guessed? When those very same Egyptians that had voted the Moslem Brotherhood into power, began seeing the ugly face of Islamic fanaticism being put into practice, they cried and begged for relief. They held massive demonstrations and prayed that the military would intervene and save them. Fortunately for them, the Army did come to their rescue and overthrew the Moslem Brotherhood. Today, there’s a new Army General in charge of a government that allows and tolerates secularization in Egyptian society.

Most other Arab countries, however, are not as fortunate. It was not long after the Prophet Muhammed established the Moslem religion that two factions of Islam suddenly sprung up. Both factions pray to Allah, both recognize Muhammed as the prophet, so that the religious differences among the two sects are relatively minor; yet the two have created a chasm between themselves that’s deeper than the Grand Canyon. One faction is called Sunni and the other Shia, and their hatred of one another has led to deaths among Arabs in the hundreds of thousands or more. It’s all about the power and the ability to impose one’s religious beliefs on often unwilling populations. All this division and dysfunction has led to terrorist organizations being created, such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS who view killing people and instigating atrocities to be such jolly good sport. Ostensibly their intentions are to kill western heathens such as Americans and Europeans. And, of course, Israelis and Jews. That goes without saying. But in the end, they wind up slaughtering  their own fellow Arabs and Muslims by the thousands. Much easier to kill Arabs since they’re right there in the Middle-East and so readily available. Today, Iraq, Syria and Libya have been almost totally destroyed by terrorism, while Jordan and Tunisia are tottering on the brink. The terrorists have carved out a huge hunk of territory in Iraq and Syria, with stated intentions of taking over the whole Mid-East. And somehow, all this derangement, slaughter and destruction, in the name of Islamic-Jihad has proved to be an attractive recruiting tool for hundreds of young Europeans, and even some Americans. They have gone over to the Mid-East to join the terrorists on their murderous quests. After all, why should only Arabs have all the fun.

In a way, it’s a bit unfair to cite Islam as the only example of religious fanaticism, since Christianity has its own bloody history. From the time that Roman emperors allowed Christianity to become the official faith of the Roman Empire, (a few centuries after Christ’s death), the Papacy was established and became a dominant power in the affairs of almost all European nations. Europeans that deviated from various papal proclamations were often imprisoned or burned at the stake. One of my favorite episodes on the top ten list of religious fundamentalist hits was known as the Spanish Inquisition. Started in Spain in the late 15th century, the Inquisition sought to convert mostly Jews, but some Muslims also, to Christianity in order to save their souls from hell and damnation. Those “heretics” that refused to convert were often tortured and then murdered. The religious theory behind the killings were that since these Jews and Muslems would be dying at the hands of God’s children, (Christians), their spirits would be pervaded by the wisdom and knowledge of God’s followers, and they would therefore be spared from the fires of hell, and be transported into heaven. The old kill the person to save their soul gambit. This practice went on for centuries before some semblance of reason and sanity finally did away with the Inquisition.

Today, Christian fundamentalism, at least in the U.S. and elsewhere, takes the form of trying to forbid a woman’s right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, or seeking to deny homosexuals their basic rights such as marriage. Certainly a lot tamer than beheading those that are considered unholy heathens. But sort of the same mentality of trying to force their fundamentalist view of life and religion down the throats of people that don’t share their beliefs. As I’ve said before, religious fundamentalism is all about the power to foist one’s beliefs on everyone else. After all, wouldn’t God want it that way?

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

THE TERRORIST MINDSET

Not too long ago I was walking across a large intersection buried deep in thought and oblivious to surrounding conditions. Sort of standard operating procedure for senior behavior these days. Suddenly I became aware of a large truck bearing down on me, full throttle. It was readily apparent that I had but the smallest fraction of a second to leap out of the way, or be flattened like a latke. I didn’t have time to deliberate on the fact that I’ve lived a long time, and with all my aches and pains and other assorted maladies, did I really want to continue being in this lifetime. Nor did I have time to ruminate over what horrible shape the world is in these days, and getting worse all the time. Who needs it all? In fact, I didn’t have time to think at all. The natural instinct toward self- preservation kicked in, and I jumped to safety in the nick of time. But for some people the instinct toward self-preservation seems to be in short supply.

I’ve written before about living in a seniors community here in Las Vegas, and about all the foibles of senior behavior. One frequently observes seniors with canes, or walkers, or in wheel chairs, or hooked up to oxygen tanks while in wheel chairs, frequenting smokey Las Vegas casinos seeking some diversion. As physically impaired as they might be, the quest to hang on to what’s left of their lives remains as powerful as ever. A few years ago a man we knew  in our community, in his mid-60s, who had led a highly robust life, came down with pancreatic cancer. An extremely nasty business, that pancreatic cancer. He fought it tooth and nail for almost 2 years before succumbing. Toward the end he could have gotten a part as one of the zombies on the TV show, “The Walking Dead.” Due to the ravages of cancer, no make-up would have been required.

So, if the natural human instinct is to preserve life at all costs, why do some men in their twenties (once in awhile there’s a female, but it’s almost always men) strap on a belt of dynamite and seek to blow themselves up, thereby destroying about 60 or 70 years of future life, as long as they can kill others they perceive to be their enemies. Welcome to today’s modern terrorist, whose mindset revels in death rather than life. While there have been terrorists throughout the ages, (in ancient times they were called barbarians,) modern day terrorism’s evil registered in everyone’s consciousness with the tragedy of 9/11. Nineteen young Islamic-Jihadists pulled off the feat of destroying almost 3000 American lives, bringing down the twin towers of the World Trade Center, and damaging part of the Pentagon in an act of vengeance against hated Americans. Of course, they destroyed their own lives in the process, but that apparently seemed to be of little concern on their part. Interestingly, shortly before 9/11, these 19 men visited Las Vegas, apparently to experience a taste of the decadent life style they were committed  to destroying. And, as we all know, there’s been a slew of terrorist acts throughout the world, resulting in death, destruction and misery, in the ensuing 13  years since 9/11. The most recent being the beheading of 2 American journalists by a particularly vicious set of psychos known as ISIS.

It’s probably pointless to attempt to understand the psychology that goes into the terrorist mindset, but I thought I’d give it a shot. The first thing you need to understand about the terrorist’s thinking is the joy they derive from killing other human beings. It’s not unlike the serial killer who murders just for the pleasure and ecstasy (often sexual in nature) of snuffing out an innocent human life. Only the terrorist does it on a much grander scale. In other words, if you’re applying to join Al-Qaida, its probably not a good idea to check the “Yes” box on the application form where it asks-“Do you have any qualms about killing large numbers of people?” One is not likely to be accepted if they’re not willing to murder with impunity. If one is to be a terrorist, killing is the name of the game. Then there’s also the brain-washing factor to be considered.

A whole slew of radical Imams have sprouted up like poisonous weeds, not just in the Mid-East, but throughout the world. They preach intense hatred toward the West, toward Israel and Jews, and especially toward the U.S. They preach that it’s a moral imperative to kill and destroy all these heathens. Allah commands that the enemies of Islam should be destroyed. That a young man will curry great favor with Allah by sacrificing his life to kill those that would defile the Moslem way of life. He would, forever be considered a holy martyr, and his family would hold a place of high honor and distinction in Allah’s eyes, and in the Moslem world. And, sadly, to many young men, not only in Arab lands, but throughout the world, this is an appealing message. To young men, who at an early age are already down and out, with no prospects for any happiness or prosperity in their lives. Whose existences are already dismal and hopeless. Million and millions of such men populate this planet. This gives you some idea of what the world of sanity and the proponents of peace, are up against.

A couple of weeks ago there was a story about a young man from Minneapolis who despite being born and bred in the U.S., wound up joining and fighting for ISIS. Those that knew him said he was fun-loving and enjoyed pulling practical jokes. But most of all, he particularly enjoyed playing and watching basketball games. Basketball was his passion. Somehow though, along the way after high school and college, he met up with Islamic Jihadists and became brainwashed into joining their cause. Two weeks ago he was killed on an ISIS battlefield, at age 31. How many more Americans have gone over to the really, really dark side? Britain estimates that at least 500 of its citizens have joined ISIS. Almost all are of Moslem descent. Other European countries also have their citizens fighting and killing for terrorist causes. And there doesn’t seem to be any viable plan to cure this spreading disease.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.