Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Looking for the Spark of Leadership ....

“Looking for the light-switch of leadership” ~Jeb Bush, speech 2/18/2015

Isn’t that the truth … A truth currently sweeping its way across the nation, according to numerous independent polls addressing the nation’s confidence –or rather a lack thereof—of President Obama’s handling of the global threat terrorism now poses to our nation.

I’ve heard the following line of thought from several prominent foreign policy and news analysts over the course of the last few weeks (and I happen to wholeheartedly agree): As long as we are having a discussion focused around semantics we don’t have to address the real problem, with respect to ISIS and other Islamist extremists, in any immediate or substantial matter. In that respect the Obama Administration's non-approach to tackling the real issues concerning the threat of terrorism, and the ISIS movement in particular, has proved to be a rather successful demonstration of spin-action? Perhaps this Administration –-with the aid of a blatantly biased liberal media—thinks "we can even spin this narrative of “naming conventions” and “tolerance” right up until the very end of our administration’s ‘reign’; then it will become someone else’s problem"?

“Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue." ~La Rouchefoucauld

I find it rather hypocritical that President Obama continually goes out of his way to speak of tolerance towards those who practice the faith of Islam, citing the fact that the majority of Muslims are peace- loving and not terrorists, claiming that “religions don’t kill, people do” when the President had no problem explicitly calling out the wrongs committed by a minority of Christians –albeit centuries ago-- in the name Christianity, during his address to the “National Prayer Breakfast.” While I happen to agree that the majority of those practicing the faith of Islam are non-violent, this acknowledgement fails to address the violent minority who are outright dangerous to all within their grasp who oppose the ISIS world-view, be it by their choice of faith or ethnic heritage. And interestingly enough, what do suppose brought about a final end to the misdeeds committed by rouge Christians during the Crusades? The original Crusade campaign came about in the late 11 century, when Christian forces were called on by Pope Urban II --at the behest of Emperor Alexius I, ruler to the Byzantium throne-- to protect Christians and Christian lands being attacked by Muslim (Turkish) forces in the Middle East. There were successive Crusade campaigns over the course of the next several hundred years, but of note is the fact that it was these same Crusaders, called to action at the request of their Pope, who stepped in to police their own in order to put an end to the injustices being carried out by a minority of misguided Crusaders. But it would seem as if these truths somehow eluded the President when he was skimming through history in order to assemble his ‘facts’ for writing his speech.

The problem with semantic games and the pushing of a repeated narrative of tolerance is that it prevents us from getting at the heart of any meaningful solution towards the very real problem that is the “Islamic State in Syria and the Levant, ISIS” (i.e., mass killings of minority faiths, beheadings, burning people alive, enslavement, rape, torture, harvesting of human organs from captives and the list of atrocities goes on and on). “Nuance it” any way you want: ISIS militants at their very core are driven by a warped interpretation of Islamic ideology. ISIS is a political ideology of oppression, with theological underpinnings based upon a fundamentalist interpretation of the Quran (Islamism), and sadly jobs and educational opportunities*, up front or by themselves, will not eliminate the very real threat these Islamist extremists pose, most immediately to those of different faiths or ethnic heritages presently living within the territories now controlled by ISIS militants, and in the larger picture/longer term to all citizens of western nations, most especially those stationed in or traveling abroad in the Middle East.  By refusing to name "the enemy" we allow uniformed people to make the false association that "we are at war with Islam itself", when we are not; we are at war with a radical faction of extremist Islamists.  When we name the enemy we also pave the way for a discussion to enlist the leading authorities of Islam to denounce this extremist faction and to ultimately accept the responsibility to police their own.

Diane Feinstein, a Democratic Congresswoman representing the state of California, and former head of the House Foreign Relations Committee, said it best “We fight them over there now; or we fight them here later.” The Congresswoman’s words speak to a black and white truth, illuminated by the light of true leadership and foresight … Leadership and foresight we could sorely use among our foreign policy makers in Washington D.C. right about now.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” ~Benjamin Franklin

So semantics aside, what would potentially constitute "immediate and substantial action" in terms of addressing the very real threat posed by ISIS terrorists?
1) Right now: get much needed shipments of arms and weapons supplies over to the Kurds who currently fighting on the ground, in Iraq, against ISIS and who are currently willing and able to engage ISIS on the ground in an effort to hold onto strategic locations, while attempting to regain others.
2) Actually fulfill, in a timely manner, the recent specific enumerations of arms and weapons supplies requested by the King of Jordan --during his visit at the White House-- such that the Jordanian Army may continue to their fight against ISIS on both the ground as well as aerial campaign fronts.
3) Consider the authorization for use of Special Forces Operations on the ground, in Iraq, to assist in the ground campaign against ISIS.
4) Put the mechanisms into place necessary for the retrieval of downed fighter pilots engaged in the coalition’s bombing campaign against ISIS, such that coalition members (United Arab Emirates) who have withdrawn their aircraft from the coalition's ongoing bombing campaign would return to the fight.
5) Step-up the air campaign against ISIS, substantially, such that the number of daily bombing runs truly has the force of power to actually degrade ISIS (per Eric Bolling of "The Five") capabilities as opposed to being the half-hearted token gesture of "action" which this bombing campaign is playing out to be.
6)  Bomb the blazes out the oil fields ISIS currently controls, from which they are generating huge revenues that then go to fund further recruitment!
7) Welcome ALL world leaders to the coalition table (including Israel) who are willing to take a stand against ISIS.
8) Join the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in calling upon leading Islamic authorities (e.g., Saudi Arabia) to denounce the violent extremist actions being undertaken by ISIS (and other terrorist groups) based upon their ‘distorted’ interpretations of the religious teachings of Islam.
9) STOP broadcasting our military strategy to the world!  Let the world think all options are ON the table (just because it's on the table doesn't mean you have to use it, but at least you keep your options open). Stop using public timelines for military movements and don't needlessly eliminate the element of surprise (i.e., March plans to retake city Mosul, in Iraq).  Political expediency shouldn't be "standard operating procedure" for military maneuvers.

Finally, with regards to President Obama’s most recent plan –announced just today-- to combat ISIS by means of “de-legitimizing ISIS”: let me just say that the power to de-legitimize ISIS lies first and foremost with religious leaders of the true Islamic faith. In my humble opinion, based upon their own religious teachings, if the non-violent majority of those practicing the faith of Islam do not denounce the actions of the violent Islamist extremists and then further take action in effort toward “policing their own” then these non-violent Muslims are themselves complicit in the violence being perpetrated by ISIS and the like, in the name of Islam, by virtue of their inaction.

*[Also find it extremely ironic that this Administration, which was once so critical of its predecessor for “engaging in nation-building”is now --in the aftermath of their "violent extremist" summit, held this week in D.C.-- flirting with the “nuanced argument” that the United States should now consider the "root causes" behind the effectiveness of terrorist campaigns in recruiting young followers.]

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