Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

Battle of Lepanto

The Battle of Lepanto – Podcast, by Buck Sexton

A little over a week ago I posted a historical perspective of how Western nations in conflict with the Islamic Caliphate have led us to where we are today, with ISIS on the march in the Middle East, once again seeking to regain a Caliphate.  I get that many people find history to be boring and to have little relevance in today’s world, but regardless of American’s non-existent attention span, these events, lead us directly into the events we face today.  Some may say that things were different in the 1500’s.   This is very much a true statement, yet the overall sweep on history is undeniable.   We live in a modern world, and in the West, at least, citizens are typically quite tolerant.  In contrast however, Islamic extremists are killing men, women, and children on a daily basis, in pursuit of a world that is very based on the primitive societies dating back to the beginnings of the Islamic world.

As I noted in previous articles, while all Muslims are certainly not radical extremists, radical extremists exist in every corner of the world, including in the United States and Europe.  The notion of Muslim conquest in today’s world is just as real as in centuries past.  In fact, Jihad by Muslim radicals, is historically undeniable.  Christianity has it’s own brutal past, but the difference today is that Muslims have yet to have a reformation, moderating primitive instincts.  While listening to Buck Sexton’s rendition of the Battle of Lepanto, one cannot help but see the similar imperatives Jihadist seek today.  This is truly a wonderful bit of very relevant history.

Enjoy!

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Demonstrators celebrate in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Friday Feb. 18, 2011. Tens of thousands of flag-waving Egyptians packed into Tahrir Square for a day of prayer and celebration Friday to mark the fall Hosni Mubarak.(AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

If one recalled nothing else about the Roman Empire as it began to decline it was this, Roman citizens loved a good show. The spectacle and the grandeur of gladiators battling to the death, or perhaps the horror of watching Christians being eaten by lions was nothing if not visceral and gripping.  The escapism offered by up by Roman rulers to quell public appetites were as epic as they were debauched, assaulting the senses, tearing at people’s emotions.  Today’s debauched drama is about ISIS and the war in the Middle East.  It is a serious business, and certainly not orchestrated by the President, but like the Roman spectacles held in the coliseums of antiquity, today’s spectacle is nothing more than theatre to make Americans believe that their government is doing something about this planet’s decent into chaos.

In this modern world, Americans are all busy with their lives. Today, Americans go to work, care for the families and do their best to raise their children and expect government to protect its citizens, but what if the government is either unwilling or unable to confront the evil consuming the lives we witness on television?

ISIS Fighter on Sykes-Picot Agreement  – Warning!  Graphic content.

President Barack Obama claims the atrocities committed by ISIS, (Islamic State in Syria) or in his words, ISIL, (Islamic State in the Levant,) are unacceptable and will be resisted. What the president will not say is what he really means.  The truth is that he is categorically unwilling to do what would be required to end the atrocities by ISIS.  The truth is the US population, like the populations in many Western nations is deeply divided on most issues concerning the Middle East.  Citizens in Western nations are war-weary; still, the vast majority of people in the West are horrified and sickened by the brutality displayed by ISIS.  When ISIS beheads a Western reporter or aid working and posts the video for everyone to see, it shakes civilized people to their core.  When we hear that thousands of women and children are being raped, crucified, and beheaded it shocks us to such a point we demand action.  What is a president to do?  Short of all-out war akin to the effort of the Allies in WWII by a united and committed West on the Middle East, nothing will change.  There are hundreds of millions of people in the Middle East.  Regardless of sect, tribal, or ethnic divisions the vast majority of this population is antagonistic to the West.  It has been this way for centuries.  As Americans, we think we are so modern, and we are by comparison, but the world-view of the West is only half of the equation when discussing violence in the Middle East.  There over three-hundred-million people in the Middle East who look at things very differently.  While Europeans and Americans think about the problem in terms of years or even decades, for Arabs, the perspective is much longer.  Last week ISIS put out a video talking about the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 during WWI.

This agreement was designed to accomplish one important goal, to divide Arab tribes and to keep them fighting amongst themselves, so that the imperial powers could maintain their trade routes. At the same time Colonel TE Lawrence, (Lawrence of Arabia) promised the Arabs that the West would support them in their goal to replace the Caliphate ruled by the Ottoman Empire with a new Caliphate centered in Syria, if these tribes would fight with the British and the French against Germany, Austria-Hungary, and The Ottoman Empire. Obviously, the West lied.  The ISIS fighter in the video pointed to one of the artificial national boundaries created by the French, Britain, and Russia.  He pointed out that the border no longer exists.  In other words, ISIS is erasing the Sykes-Picot Agreement on the ground.

Sykes Picot Map 1916 - worldbulletin.net

Sykes Picot Map 1916 – worldbulletin.net

These facts on the ground bring us up to the term ISIL that President Obama uses instead of the more common ISIS. The term ISIL, (Islamic State in the Levant), includes territory all along the eastern end of the Mediterranean.  The Levant is the territory once ruled by the Ottoman Empire.  It includes Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, and parts of Egypt.  It also precluded the existence of Israel.  Look at those names on the map.  How many of these countries have already been destabilized.  President Obama, Senators like McCain, Graham and others from both parties spoke in such glowing terms about the Arab Spring.  These men couldn’t wait to go to war in Lybia.  Just this year, Mr. Obama pronounced a red line related to Libya’s chemical weapons and moved to go to war over Syria, only to be rebuffed by overwhelming opposition by the American people.  A CNN/ORC International poll written about in September of last year shows that eighty percent of Americans believe that regardless that Bashar al-Assad was gassing his citizens, a strong majority opposed Congress passing a resolution authorizing a military force against him.  The article states that over seventy percent doubt that such strikes would accomplish the goals set out by the administration and believe it is not in US interest to get involved in the Syria’s civil war.

Now, after the barbaric beheading of two Americans and the atrocities being committed daily, the President has what he wants, a pretext to arm the so-called moderate Syrian rebels.  In all honesty, Americans know that there is nothing moderate about the groups fighting in the Levant.  Mr. Obama and his Republican friends are bending over backwards to give weapons and support to people whose primary goal in life is to put an end to Bashar al-Assad and to promote the reestablishment of the Caliphate.  Consider this, after Bashar al-Assad has been deposed in the coming months, how likely it is that these so-called moderate Syrian rebels will fight ISIS?  How sure can American leaders be that these so-called moderate Syrian rebels are not themselves sympathetic or actually part of ISIS?  How likely is that they might make an accommodation with ISIS or perhaps then turn on Jordan?  After all, Jordan is the only remaining state in the Levant other than Israel that hasn’t yet been destabilized.

Most Americans realize that Islamic extremism has been a reality for as long as Islam has existed but whether radical Islam is an existential threat to Western Culture has been as dependent on the West as it is on radical Islamists. In other words, when Western Culture is strong and Islamic extremism is disheartened and without support, the threat is more of an irritant than a fundamental threat to other cultures.

What popular culture fails to make common knowledge is that while typical Americans think of North Africa as being the seat of Islamic culture, it was home to Christianity, with some of the oldest Christian communities in the world. Obviously Islam not only dominates the Middle East, but has spread in force to the Pacific Rim in countries like Malaysia, and into Europe, South America, and even into the United States.

While there are millions of Muslims who are happy to live and let live along side of other cultures, Islamic extremism is a constant aspect that goes wherever Islam goes. One can go back centuries into the past, even before the Pope Urban declared the original Crusade in 1095 to see Islamic conquests.

Islamist, like their progeny today held prisoners for ransom and beheaded their enemy’s. During the late 700’s Muslim conquests had pushed almost as far as Paris and might well have taken over Europe had Charles Martel and his son Charlemagne not repelled them after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.  It’s fair to say that the Islamic threat was nothing if not an existential threat to the European way of life.   As history continued to unfold, the West, fueled by technology and a culture of enlightenment outpaced the extremists, becoming relatively stronger than the Muslim states opposing them.  While Islamist extremists attacked Christians visiting the holy sites in Jerusalem during the High Middle Ages, leading to the Crusades, the conflict in no way threatened the way of life in Europe.  Jihadists have always been a threat, but only in recent years have they begun to become a threat to Western Civilization.  The United States faced radical Islam for as long as we have been a nation.  President Thomas Jefferson oversaw the creation of the first American Navy because our sailors were being captured and the Jizyah, (ransom) was just too expensive for the young nation to afford.  President Jefferson sent the United States Marines to crush the extremist.  Even as a young nation, America was able to keep the Islamists at bay.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Barbary_War

In our world today, whether to obtain cheap oil, to buy off Arabic leaders from whom we wanted something, or to buy friendship from Arabic leaders to promote us in our dealings on the world stage, we have transferred trillions of dollars in wealth to the Middle East. These dollars have then in turn been used to fuel radical Islam all over the world.  Considering Western dependence on oil, and the debt levels in the West, how secure to you currently feel that Europe and America remains capable of a robust defense of our culture?

Considering where the world is today, the West has fueled Islamic extremism with petro-dollars and economic aid for decades. While the world has witnessed, or if you prefer Mr. Obama’s term, “managed” Islamic extremism throughout history, the real question is this: Are Europeans and Americans too war-weary, too divided, and too in debt to repel the current conquest by Islamic extremism?  No one wants to consider if radical Islam is coming for them, but if one considers the radical Islamist’s perspective, is there a time in recent history when the West was weaker or radical Islamists were stronger?  If you are the enemy and want to see a Caliphate come to pass, if not now, when?

Yes, the West has seen Islamic extremism before in the world, and the West was able to defeat it. However today’s world is different.  Today Western nations are all but bankrupt, and like Rome in antiquity, the West has over extended itself.  Americans and Europeans do not wish to engage in a battle of civilization.  For this reason, instead of facing the world as it is, Mr. Obama choses to put on a dog and pony show.  He puts on a play for the world stage designed to give comfort and to assuage Americans demand for justice.  Unfortunately, if you look at the world from an Islamist’s point of view, Islamic extremists have never been stronger, and the West is divided and weak, unwilling to do what it takes to defend itself.  If the American way of life is to survive, Western nations will have to become serious about the threat we all face.  Western nations must become energy independent, and we must be realistic about the threats we all face.  To win a battle for civilization, the West will have to find a way to unite on key concepts, namely that a battle for civilization is being waged and to retain freedom the West will have to fully engage in the battle to win it.

Additional Resources:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/09/18/the-100-year-old-agreement-you-need-to-know-about-if-you-want-to-understand-whats-driving-the-islamic-state/

http://www.ancient.eu/article/635/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWHn96DXRDE.  Warning – Graphic Content

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/09/politics/syria-poll-main/index.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Barbary_War

 

 

 

Christian child

(AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

People occasionally tell me that what I describe as an upside down crazy world is nothing more than me overreacting to everyday events.  Maybe so…  I am passionate about what I believe and about caring for others.  My thought however is that if news stories were puzzle pieces that fit together to form a larger picture, that picture would not be a pleasant one.

My problem in today’s upside down crazy world is that too many of the normal stresses and strains on the cultural fabric that makes up our civilization have been exacerbated by corporate greed and government malfeasance as is exhibited by the reckless borrowing, foolish spending, and cultural degradation of today’s world.

While these trends are not new and have been out of control for decades, the ever increasing rate of deterioration is increasing at an increasing rate.  We are literally witness to a nexus in history, I think.  Americans have been blessed and live comfortable controlled lives, largely protected from the worst tragedies in life.  My concern is that we have surpassed a breaking point and our comfortable existence is now at risk.  None of us care to acknowledge just how serious things like the national debt, an uncontrolled border, corporate theft, or a lawless government are.  We just go on with our lives and hope that things will get better.  Even my family continues to go to work and pay the mortgage.  I am still even contributing to my 401K regardless that I have very little faith that 401Ks will survive what may be coming.

I guess, like many people, I hope I can make it the five and a half more years I need so that I can get my money out of the system and use it to set up the economy I will depend on in retirement.  Sure, I have taken steps to mitigate the risk, but as my characters Catherine, Megan and Annie learned in Phoenix Republic when their comfortable world simply ceased to exist, collapse builds for a long time but takes place in the blink of an eye.

Consider, if you will just a sample of news stories from the past week.  A caliphate now exists in the heart of the Middle East.  Syria, Iraq, and Now Israel are embroiled in fighting.  If you don’t believe that this is a battle for civilization you are living in denial.  Again today another story talks about Christian’s being threatened with the worst possible fates.   ISIS Has a Deadly Ultimatum for Christians

Gov. Rick Perry Says Texas May Soon Take Steps to Secure the Border — With or Without the Federal Government’s Help

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Tens of thousands of desperate people are flooding across the US southern border all but unchecked.  The United States government not only refuses to enforce the law, but is actually encouraging the situation.  States like Texas are now forced not only to careg for the illegal immigrants, but to take extraordinary steps to try to stem the flow by guarding their borders on their own.

Gov. Rick Perry Says Texas May Soon Take Steps to Secure the Border — With or Without the Federal Government’s Help

We have The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) talking about the increase in income disparity between investment holders and wage earners.  As most of us earn and live off of wages in the USA and in Europe the vast majority of citizens are finding it more and more difficult to maintain their standard of living.  The problem is an increasingly out of touch elite class continue to talk about taxing their citizens while ignoring the other half of the equation which means reducing the cost of government.  All the while, the economy continues to decline which also puts pressure on average citizens.  As the article points out there is a point where civil unrest is unavoidable.  The only question is where is that redline?

When life is too broken in too many places it is easy to just give up, but my thought is that even now one must prepare and try to be a blessing for others.  Life will go on even if the current paradigm fails.  All that giving up means is that one will be more dependent and more at risk than otherwise they might have been when that time comes.  Even in a crazy upside down world there are things to live for.  We have family and loved ones to cling to and to protect.  We have faith and we have hope.

What will your world look like in a year, or two, or five?

 

Resources:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/07/19/isis-to-christians-convert-to-islam-pay-us-leave-or-die/

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/07/17/gov-rick-perry-says-texas-may-soon-take-steps-to-secure-the-border-with-or-without-the-federal-governments-help/

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-07-18/oecd-fears-middle-class-civil-unrest-coming

As another weekend winds down I find myself looking ahead to the new week ahead.  For next week, congress will be back in Washington DC and sadly, President Obama is still trying to make the case for a strike against Syria to defend is ego after the anointed one failed to make anyone in the Middle East take him seriously.  It looks like he will speak to the nation in the next couple of days.  I wonder what can be said to justify the terrible risk that the President wishes to take.  No doubt Mr. Obama will talk about human suffering.  I am in fact sympathetic to that argument.  At least I would be sympathetic to that argument if it happened prior to the brutal killings of over one-hundred-thousand people by other means.  Is a chemical attack terrible?  Of course, but so are the numerous gruesome deaths inflicted on innocent civilians by both sides since this crisis began.  This is not an easy situation regardless of how things play out.  I just know that economically, the United States is in no position to be burning through our make-believe cash for a risky adventure in Syria.
While I am hopeful that the US will not launch a strike, the fact that the establishment GOP and the Democrats seem to be hell bent on such action make it seem likely.  There is a fair amount of resistance to such action in congress and from the American public but only time will tell if cooler heads will prevail.  Responsiveness to the public will has not been all that evident in Washington D.C.  If this strike does happen, be sure to make note how your representative voted.  It is our job to hold them accountable.  The impacts could be unpredictable.
As usual, Stratfor does their usual amazing job of analyzing the economic costs.  What is interesting in the video analysis however is that while Stratfor does a solid job talking to the immediate concrete repercussions, they didn’t really cover the possible unforeseen impacts that are at the very least possible, if not likely.  Sure it’s obvious that the stock market and the price of oil would be impacted, but what happens if things spiral out of control.   In other words what happens when Iran, Russia, or even China respond to a US led attack with some form of retribution?  Does such an event make a serious economic impact more or less likely to occur?  Does the war escalating to include Israel make the world more or less stable?  As I recall the economy is really fragile.  How much pressure would it take to really put the kibosh to the so-called recovery?Warfare is never a sure thing.
Phoenix Republic is a fictional story based on a economic collapse.  Unfortunately, In today’s world verisimilitude for the story is sadly, far to easy to achieve.

World War I Trenches

As Americans watch the breathless news coverage of Mr. Obama’s impending attack on Syria, it occurs to me that regardless of pundits on television debating endlessly about what the possible goals Mr. Obama hopes to accomplish through military action, he cannot control the reaction to such an attack.  It could well be that missiles will fly in the next day or two and nothing much will change.  Mr. Obama can claim that he is a serious man that means what he says, regardless that the facts on the ground will remain largely unchanged.  Perhaps his strike will degrade Bashar Al-Asad’s military capability.  What is also possible, if not probable, is that Mr. Obama will provide the excuse Islamist extremists in the Middle East have been waiting for.  Iran has stated for years that they wish to eliminate Israel from the face of the earth.  The Muslim Brotherhood, who Mr. Obama has supported at every turn, likewise has a similar goal.

This week Iran and Syria have both pledged to attack Tel-Aviv, Israel if the United States should attack Syria.  Russia, and as of yesterday, China have both warned of serious consequences if Mr. Obama insists on backing up his foolish pronouncements of a so-called red-line with military force.  Although progressives have a hard time accepting it, these nations do not care about American political calculations.  They are only concerned with obtaining power and maintaining their strategic interests.  Is it tragic that hundreds of thousands of people have been butchered by both sides in the Syrian Civil War?  Yes.  Would it be preferable if the United States could provide a stabilizing influence on the region?  Yes.  Unfortunately, there is little that the US can do to help any innocent victims living in Syria.  America has squandered any credibility it may have once had on the altar of American domestic politics.  Put simply, Middle Eastern leaders know well that American leaders cannot be trusted.

One might simply be tempted to believe that the President and his administration are just naïve.  I don’t think so, however.  Regardless of strongly disagreeing with his policies, I believe these people may be arrogant, but they are far from stupid.  If that is so, why would educated and experienced people make such poor decisions?  There is very little to be gained by the United States from military action in Syria, so why allow the US to be backed into this corner?  It is inexplicable unless there is another goal all together.

What if there is an upside the President and his progressive supporters would like to achieve?  What goal might progressives in the United States and around the world have that would benefit from such action?  To answer this, consider our world from a very macro point of view.  Progressives and Islamists too, for that matter, clearly would like the world to be re-ordered.  While these groups may not agree with each other on what the world should look like, they do agree that “capitalism” is the root of all evil in the world.  The problem from their point of view is how to destroy capitalism so that they can replace it with their system of choice.  As the Fabian Socialist’s Window depicts, (Fabian Socialist Window is a stained glass depiction of a man beating the earth with a hammer.  On the window is a caption: “remold it nearer to the heart’s desire”), the only way to achieve this goal is to create chaos in the world.

Fabian Window

As was the case a century ago, the Fabians almost achieved some of these goals after WWI.  Like today, the status quo, simply didn’t sufficiently meet the needs too many people.  Also, like today, progressives believed the way to overcome the overly class oriented system of the day was to destroy the system and replace it with a “New World Order”.  Like President Obama, President Woodrow Wilson was a committed progressive, and like today, leaders foolishly stumbled into a tragic world conflict that resulted in the deaths of millions.  While I don’t think that progressives want to see people’s lives destroyed, I do believe they are willing to break a few eggs to achieve their utopian vision.  Ask yourself this question:

“Should a terrible war rage across the Middle East, accompanied by the inevitable economic disaster that would go with such a conflict, how willing would you be to accept any proposed solution that would end the destruction?”

In Phoenix Republic, Americans are faced with the fundamental question, what is individual freedom worth?

Additional Resources:

http://www.wnd.com/2013/08/iran-thousands-of-missiles-to-rain-on-israel/

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/199691/Fabian-Society

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2013/08/the-debate-over-intervention-in-syria.html

An Israeli soldier helps a citizen fit a gas mask (File photo: IDF Spokesman)

World War III for Dummies

A key component for war comes from leaders who misjudge their opponent’s intentions and or capabilities.  Take Saddam Hussein, for example.  He simply could not imagine that self-indulgent Americans would be willing to spend the blood and treasure it would require to dislodge him from power.  Today we have leaders who, like Saddam, arrogantly think they are the smartest people in the room.  That would be great except that is just isn’t even close to true.  Arrogant American Progressives from both political parties continually misjudge the world and what wags it.

Only two years ago Progressives in the political elite circles of Washington DC and New York proclaimed how marvelous it was that the so-called Arab Spring was wiping away the brutal dictators of the “Cold War” era.  It was heralded as a triumph of American foreign policy.  George W. Bush, Mr. Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and of course Mr. Obama, along with the progressively minded elite media all support the idea of unlimited democracy in the region.  Bill Kristol even remarked that those who disagreed with this assertion were “overly pessimistic.”  Currently, Mr. Obama is going out of his way to promote the Muslim Brotherhood, regardless of their threatening allies, or committing genocide against the Coptic Christians, who are approximately 10% of the Egyptian population.  Only when the images of these rapes, murders, and the destructions of hundreds of churches did Obama give a tepid admonishment.  For weeks now Washington DC has debated whether or not to cut aid to Egypt.  Now we are hearing from the media how Bashar Al-Asad has crossed Obama’s so-called “red-line” by killing a hundred people or so with a chemical attack.  Seriously?  This monster has killed ninety-thousand people and committed atrocities against countless others, and we are talking about a military response over one hundred more?  Perhaps, it is secretly Obama’s guilt that a chemical attack may well have utilized the disappearing chemical weapons that magically vanished from Iraq.

(Please ignore the convoys of semi-trucks that crossed the Iraq – Syria border on the eve of the Saddam’s fall from power.)

Well, here we are in late 2013 with close to if not already over one hundred thousand people dead across the region.  In Syria, Bashar Al-Asad – backed by the Russians and Iran is brutally murdering civilians in droves.  In Egypt, we have now come full circle, with Hosni Mubarak, out of jail and the Muslim Brotherhood pushed out of their democratically elected posts.  In Egypt, the old alliances are splintering.  Israel and Saudi Arabia, who have been traditional supporters of US Middle East policy, are now promoting the military coup by the Egyptian military.  Turkey and Qatar, on the other hand support the Muslim Brotherhood.  One might recall that Saudi Arabia and Qatar currently host US military bases.

My point, you ask?  My point is that it is my belief that the political class, although too arrogant to ever admit being completely wrong and is deeply misguided in their understanding of the world.  The United States has never exactly been popular in the region, but now we find ourselves to be a laughing stock.  Why should a Middle Eastern leader believe anything the US says?  Washington DC only cares about politics, what party will win the next election, and how political opponents can be discredited.   In this environment, do you think it is likely that leaders from the Middle East are more or less likely to misjudge American intentions?  Recall who the key players are in the Syrian conflict?  Russia, Syria, the USA, are facing off in a bitter civil conflict that is far deeper than whether a dictator will remain in power.  Russia wants access to Syrian ports.  Iran wants to eliminate Israel, and in my opinion, achieve a caliphate.  It will be interesting to see what Obama does here.  Who would bet against him believing he can lob a couple of missiles or implement a no-fly zone with little consequence?  How a horrific world war begins is simple, it starts by accident, because deeply rooted animosity comes to the surface because leaders misjudge each other.

My novel, Phoenix Republic tells a story about three sisters as they come to grips with economic disaster and turmoil overseas that changes everything.  Our ordinary world is so fragile, yet we are often so careless in it’s care.

Additional resources:

http://www.heritage.org/research/commentary/2013/7/obama-administration-lags-behind-the-curve-on-syria

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/08/26/how-bad-could-syria-get-what-israelis-are-flocking-to-snatch-up-could-be-a-clue/

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/08/24/u-s-attack-would-spark-ball-of-fire-in-whole-middle-east-syrian-official-warns/