Well, at long last the holiday festivities are coming to an end. The champagne corks have all been popped, the midnight fireworks all exploded, the Christmas lights and ornaments are being stuffed back into cartons, the trees have been taken to the curb for trash pickup, and most Americans are soberly returning to work or school. Is there any more mournfully sobering day of the year than the Monday after all the holiday festivities are over with. New Year’s resolutions, most dealing with diet and exercise, go into play now on this Monday. Have to try to take off that excessive weight gained by eating every piece of crap put in front of us from Thanksgiving thru New Years. To say nothing of the calories consumed by binge drinking. Unfortunately, if the experience of past years is any indication, most of these good intentions regarding the reduction of calorie intake and working out harder, will crash and burn before the end of January, or during February at the very latest. Has to do mostly with that “talking to the man in the mirror, and asking him to change his ways” thingy that Michael Jackson sung about. Not an easy task to accomplish.
In any event, as American soberly get back into the groove of their normal lives, the world remains an exceedingly dangerous place, populated by a lot of exceedingly bad people anxious to create further murder, mayhem and destruction. While the rest of us were partying and not paying attention, these people and groups have, if anything, grown stronger and more murderous. So perhaps, as part of the sobering up process, we need to start focusing on these groups, and maybe, actually, do something about them. I thought, therefore, I might mention just a few contingents and what they are up to.
Let’s start with an Islamic fundamentalist group of Jihadists operating out of Nigeria called Boko Haram, which loosely translated, means “Western education is forbidden.” They became prominent on the world stage, when, in 2014, they kidnapped 200 Nigerian school girls to great global consternation. Boko Haram attacks towns and villages with impunity, and murders many its residents. Its specialty is mass kidnappings of boys and young men that can then be brainwashed into joining their ranks and become Jihadist warriors. And of girls to become the wives/slaves of these warriors. Just this past week they abducted 40 hostages from a town in Northeast Nigeria. Unfortunately, the Nigerian government and military are too hopelessly corrupt and incompetent to effectively deal with these Jihadist cutthroats. A multi-African task force consisting of troops from Chad, Niger, and Nigeria recently did battle with, but were soundly defeated by Boko Haram. Which indicates that the Jihadists are confident and strong enough to take on even an organized military force and beat them.
So Nigeria has, of course, asked for U.S. assistance. As I’ve said, the Nigerian government is hopelessly corrupt and inept, but the U.S. has no good alternatives. A collapse of of Nigeria’s military, as bad as they are, would virtually turn the whole country over to Boko Haram. The calamity of human suffering and death, in such an event, would be on a par of what’s occurring in Syria these days. So far the U.S. has made only token commitments. In actuality, it would take U.S. boots on the ground in Nigeria to wipe out this vipers nest of Jihadists. A commitment that our present Administration would highly disfavor. After all, who wants to view Americans coming home in body bags from fighting in some jungle hellhole in Africa. So we essentially do nothing while Boko Haram grows stronger by the day.
An almost identical scenario is playing out in the Mid-East where a group of murderous cutthroats called ISIS has now taken over major portions of Iraq and Syria, and is on the march. ISIS came on the scene also in 2014, with its speciality being cutting off the heads of innocent victims they had captured. Originally an off-shoot of Al Qaida, ISIS displays the same fanatical Islamic Jihadism as Boko Haram in presenting the world with its unique brand of death, destruction and misery. In this instance, our present Administration has engaged in a daily air campaign of trying to bomb ISIS out of existence, but has experienced minimum success. It’s almost impossible to defeat a determined enemy such as ISIS with air strikes only. Once again it would take a large infusion of American ground forces to win this war, because, as in Nigeria, the Iraqi and Syrian governments are too hopelessly corrupt, inept, and pathetic to decisively engage ISIS. But, since putting American boots on the ground in the Mid-East will not happen because Americans are too fed up from previous wars such as these, ISIS will keep expanding, as thousands more die from their barbarism.
In the late 1930s, as the the Nazi war machine in Europe was growing more powerful with each passing day, as was the Japanese imperial military as it rampaged through the Pacific, Americans sat back and stated there was no need for the U.S. to get involved in all this messiness. After all, we had 2 huge oceans to protect us from all the nasty businesses of war taking place throughout much of the rest of the world. Then the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and we were sucked into 2 wars, like it or not. We were so militarily unprepared, that if Japan had followed up bombing Pearl Harbor by invading our west coast, the Roosevelt Administration believed we couldn’t defend this country, until we would possibly make a last-ditch stand at Chicago. About two-thirds of the country would have automatically been ceded to the Japanese in order to possibly defend the remaining third. And even that was likely to fail. Japan didn’t realize, until after the war was over, what a golden opportunity it had to defeat us right after Pearl Harbor, had it been more adventurous. But because the U.S. had taken an isolationist stance and didn’t get involved early on, over 60 million people died in Europe alone from Nazi fanaticism and brutality. To say nothing of the millions that were killed in the Pacific by the Imperial Japanese military.
Today, we still have the opportunity to take out, relatively cheaply, the fanatical Islamic Jihadists on the march in Africa, the Mid-East, Asia and other locations. But do we have the necessary will to initiate unpopular war-like actions. Apparently not. Such messiness, with all those American young men and women coming home in body bags. Who needs it? After all, we’re protected from all those nutcase terrorists by 2 huge bodies of water. Aren’t we?