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“When To Draw The Line?”

February 1, 2015 Leave a comment

The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” is quite poignant right now. In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo assassinations the world is engaged in a conversation of how to deal with terrorism some say originate from an extremist interpretation of Islam, and some say is a bastardization of a religion practiced in peace by 1.5 billion people; thugs making an excuse. Editors from Charlie Hebdo say they will continue to satirize the prophet Muhammad, and other religious prophets as they see fit; if the times call for it, they will do it. The rest of the journalistic world is not so sure about that course of action. Is that because of respect for a figure 1.5 billion people hold sacred, or the fear of the retaliation by a small number of people who have a warped mentality strong enough to carry out murder in the name of defending Islam? There are debates taking place about when to draw the line; when to push the envelope further; how to “take back” a religious faith; the meaning of humanity.

In squaring this circle and coming to grips with the reality that people do heinous things in the name of something else, personally I feel awarding these terrorists the mantle of Islam, and religion in general, is ill-advised. ISIS/ISIL are like Boca Haram who are like the Klu Klux Klan, thugs who hate and want power. These people want neither religion or faith or peace or to govern. They want to rule and destroy. They are gangs of thugs and need to be treated as such, which means denying them agency; denying them identity; denying them power. Does Islam play a role in the conversation? Maybe, but to condemn Islam would be to attach the peaceful majority who practice it to a corrupt few who claim the same. I do not believe the Klu Klux Klan represent the broader Christian view. The people who drape white cloths over their bodies in order to terrorize people “different” than them by lynching innocent people and burning the very symbol of their supposed faith do not represent the Christian faith I was raised with. I believe the same goes for Islam.

These may be difficult times, and as such difficult conversations need to be had, but I think we can separate the thugs from the faithful; the murderers from the healers; the minority from the majority. The Charlie Hebdo satirists, I think, have shown us where and when to draw to the line. Now maybe journalists of their ilk can give the 1.5 billion Muslims that practice Islam some space to have their difficult conversations. One that will lead to resounding actions to separate the violent extremists who use terrorism to preach their words from the peaceful observers who pray for prosperity and respect toward their fellow persons who share the same Earth as one.

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Categories: Islam, Religion, War

Another Proper Use of the Military – Blowing-up Drug Cartels

Last year I posted an article, “The Proper Use of the Military – Killing Pirates.” Some might argue that using trained soldiers to kill outlaws is not a job suitable to their qualifications. Well given how the pirates were running ransack over ships and what not, and considering how much valuable cargo was involved, I think using trained killers was a good way to stop amateur ones.

Well, you don’t read much about these pirates anymore, at least in U.S. newspapers. Don’t know if using U.S. Navy forces combined with other nations has worked, or not, but I don’t see pirate stories on the news. Now you read about the violent drug war. Mexican drug cartels are really upping the levels of violence being used against foes – government and criminal. The traditional police are definitely not up to this war. And the Drug Enforcement Agency, Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, FBI, Mexican military, whoever, seem to be overwhelmed. You’d think with all the highly trained agents, getting rid of some drug cartels wouldn’t be a problem, but not so. These cartels are well financed, and have the guns to protect themselves, as well as inflict severe punishment on those who stand in their way.

So, my recommendation to the U.S. government, use the full ability and force of the United States Department of Defense. Send in the unmanned drones and blow those cartels off the map. We know where they are, so lets get ’em. Let’s use that “winning hearts and minds” strategy in Mexico. Given the damage that hard drugs are doing, why not pull out all the stops? What do we have to lose…some might argue we are losing already.

I really think how the U.S. military is organized needs to be re-assessed anyway. It is bloated and way overdone. We could slim it down so much. It seems China is way ahead of us in this respect. They announced their defense would grow only by 7.5% this year. That is down from 14.5% last year. This is according to the China Daily. On top of that, the Chinese have announced that their military is strictly defensive in capability. Critics will contend that statement, but they haven’t attacked anyone.

Instead of military spending China is spending money on infrastructure – transportation, agricultural, communications, you name it. The goal is to connect China from one end to the next and make sure people can physically access China. I don’t know if that will stem the potential social unrest that is the backdrop of Chinese development, but fixing and upgrading buildings, bridges, rail, and roads probably won’t anger people. As long as it is done well.

The U.S. needs to optimize the military more efficiently, and put the muscle where necessary. Get those F-35s (whenever they are finished) over Mexico and take out the drug cartels. Use the drones to bomb drug lords. Use those Navy Seals in Coronado Bay to run some assassination operations in Mexico. Those would be overnight deployments. Not to mention it would give the Mexican government some relief, and help them regroup. They are using their military, and seem a bit overwhelmed. The U.S. should bring the noise because this drug war is just as much our problem as Mexico’s; We are the marketplace. So, here is another good use for our military. Instead of fighting endless wars in far off lands. Let’s protect our backyard.

Peace

Russian Bear Not Hibernating

January 10, 2009 Leave a comment

Aside from the fact that Russian bears at the Moscow Zoo really were not hibernating because of the lack of snowfall in Moscow, Russia seems to be gaining headlines for other “more serious” reasons (at least where the Europeans are concerned). In a show of power, the Russian government shut down natural gas lines running through the Ukraine, which cut off natural gas supplies to much of Eastern and Central Europe. According to Russia the government the Ukraine was “stealing Russian gas destined for Europe.” The BBC has been reporting on this, and says that since Wednesday, when the pipelines were shut down, European countries like Serbia, that run almost exclusively on gas from Russia, had been severely affected.

Apparently though, Russian and the European Union have signed an agreement that will secure the flow of gas to Europe. The only catch is that the Ukraine has to sign the agreement. But since the relationship between Russia and them have deteriorated so, I wonder if they will sign the agreement (a bit of posturing for face saving is in order here). Maybe under the weight of the European Union the Ukraine will come round and sign the agreement, thus opening up the flow of gas from Russia.

This growl by Russia just underscores why we need alternate fuel sources. How can Europe be at the mercy of Russia? It’s like The United States and oil from The Middle East. We are addicted like a junkie to heroin. Use natural gas, but don’t be a slave to it.

This is not the first time Russia has done this, and Prime Minister Vladmir Putin has asserted that the days of cheap natural gas are over. He is obviously laying the rhetoric for more gas wars with the Ukraine, Europe, and the rest of the world; agreement or no agreement.

I wonder when the growl of the Russian bear will be actively heard in the United States? And how will the U.S. government respond to such growls because this Russian bear’s growl comes with a pretty stunting bite…this is no cub we’re dealing with. Beware.

Peace

Letters to Leaders – Obama

January 6, 2009 Leave a comment

In reviewing some headlines I figured on writing to the incoming president. Of course that prompted me to put the letter on my blog, so I figured why not just make a page out of it and continue to update it. Here’s the first. Some will be hard criticism, but hopefully many will be more cheerful praise. We’ll see. Anyway, check out the first one.

Peace

Kristof Gains Attention From White House

January 5, 2009 Leave a comment

Nicholas Kristof, columnist for The New York Times, seems to have gained the ear of the outgoing administration. The folk at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue released a statement regarding the situation in DARFUR, and U.S. efforts to bring a resolution to the tragic and dire events on the ground.

Apparently the statement mentions Kristof by name, “Today’s announcement is further evidence that Nicholas Kristof’s portrayal last week of this Administration’s response to the genocide in Darfur ( A New Chance for Darfur, December 28, 2008 ) was inaccurate.” I guess Kristof ruffled some feathers because it wasn’t just some chop-shop Assistant to the Assistant Deputy Assistant Press Secretary that bylines this statement. The press release is entitled “Statement by National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley .” By my simpleton reading and comprehension I deduce that DARFUR is a national security concern since the National Security Advisor is commenting on it.

As painfully delightful as all this may be it does underscore a lack of action with regards to DARFUR, and a sense of urgency to put a nice stamp on a Presidency that some people consider a failure (only history will make that judgement).

After reading the press release I think the sentence that is the most educational/controversial is the first sentence of the last paragraph – “Unilateral pressure alone cannot be our policy.”

When oil interests were threatened in the Middle East and a dictator thumbed his nose at us it was okay to take unilateral action, even though the international community was against it. But when a humanitarian crisis of historic and epic proportions faces the world; when we are reliving history all too soon; and when the people of a dejected continent call for the leadership of the United States in order to bring them out of a darkness, what do we say – “going in alone is not the right course of action.”

Maybe the Bush administration did learn from Iraq. Too bad they are applying that lesson at the wrong time.

Peace

For a full reading of Nicholas Kristof’s article in The New York Times, click here.

From The Mind Of “K”

If I ever had an alter ego this would be it. This is the voice of a deep consciousness within. You could say this is my ‘Dark Angel’ riding on my shoulder keeping my senses sharp.

Quite regularly I converse with “K” about issues pertaining to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Here is an excerpt from a conversation we were having during the past Memorial Day weekend (Memorial Day is a U.S. holiday where we pay tribute to our war dead, and the families and friends they left behind).

This Memorial day makes me think about all the dead and injured in Iraq and what they sacrificed. I’m really not sure what these lives changed. It’s bad enough now that its on-going, but what will the future be for these individuals and their families when they return home. This war is something that the country is uncomfortable about, so it will not be a victorious welcome home for people who risked their lives, and that’s a shame. I think the U.S. could have applied itself better when you examine recent concerns regarding the natural disasters in Myanmar and China. It would be great to extend our impact on the world when we provide assistance with acquiring materials for immediate relief efforts, helping and supporting displaced and distressed children, rebuilding damaged schools and animal reserves. I think that makes a bigger impact then all the bullets wasted in Iraq. What is up with the government presenting challenges of getting emergency relief aid into Myanmar? I think that their military is benefiting from the international support and that is why they deny direct support to the country. And don’t get me wrong a response to terrorism is warranted but more aptly in Afghanistan. It seems that we have really let that situation and Bin Laden slip away.

Just a thought from “K.”

We always talk about the war dead with great admiration, and rightly so. They gave the greatest sacrifice – life. We should stand up and salute them. After that, we should turn to those political leaders who put them in harms and ask the questions – “Why did you do this? And, what has it done for our country? ” And we shouldn’t stop pressing for answers until satisfactory ones come. World War II was necessary. Hitler had to be stopped. Albeit we got into the whole thing too late, but we did what we had to do once we were there. Iraq, is a much different story. A personal vendetta that has left over 4,000 people dead (many many more injured), a nation’s economy ravaged, and the reputation of a great country in the toilet. I ask, “President Bush, why did you do this? And, what has it done for our country?” I’m still waiting for those satisfactory answers.

Peace

Categories: Polemics, War Tags: , , , ,

All New The Weekly Rant – “When Invasions Are Necessary”

Just FYI, The Weekly Rant will be posted by Midnight-Sunday Japan Standard Time.

So, last weekend there was a huge cyclone, and it devastated Myanmar. Just wondered when the international community would get involved in Myanmar in a more militarily-focused way. When I say “militarily-focused” I mean using the military to protect aide shipments and personnel, rebuild homes and towns, and keep the population alive. This is how military power should be used, but powers like the U.S. Government seem very ready to just wait while someone gives us orders on what to do. Why didn’t we do that with Iraq? Here is Sunday’s, The Weekly Rant – “When Invasions Are Necessary.”