Monday, June 16, 2014

I'll See You in New York

Those chilling words from the leader of ISIS tell you all you need to know about what this group plans for America

Before last week more than likely you’d never heard the name Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.  Now they’re calling him the most dangerous terrorist leader in the word.  This guy makes Osama bin Laden look like a  chant-chanting, incense-burning, flower-passing-out pacifist.  Al-Baghdadi and his ISIS followers are so brutal that al-Qaeda fears them and has disavowed them.   Right now, thanks to inept, confused, and incompetent U.S. foreign policies, this man and his bloodthirsty fighters control huge swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria and are steadily capturing more.  

The brutality of these people is mind-boggling.  This week they’ve been mopping up in the newly acquired territories, digging ditches, lining up prisoners, shooting them to death, rolling the bodies in, and then posting videos bragging about it on the Internet.  This is a technique Nazi Germany helped bring to the big time during World War II, except that back then they had to make do with still photographs and movie film when documenting their handiwork.  I wrote recently that the goal of ISIS is to take the world back to the Dark Ages of the 7th century.  Apparently they’re looking further back even than that.  The Washington Post reports that this merry band has brought back crucifixions. 

Will it surprise anyone to know that al-Baghdadi was once in U.S. custody?  Oh, yeah.  In 2009 we released him from a U.S. detention facility in Iraq called Camp Bucca, which I’m pretty sure is an Arabic word meaning “How long you gonna keep us in here, anyway?”  The camp’s commandant, Army Col. Kenneth King, told the Daily Beast that on release, al-Baghdadi said jovially, “I’ll see you in New York.” 

In light of recent events, if those words don’t cause chills to pass down your spine, you might want to check to see if you still have one.

This also provides a pretty handy answer to the question a lot of news media and some of our political leaders are asking right now, will ISIS plan a 9/11-style terror plot against the U.S.?  Well, no, not right away.  They’ll have their hands full with executions and torture in the captured territories, and with the busy work required in establishing Sharia law—you know, group activities like passing out burqas or whatever they plan to make their enslaved women wear, burning books, destroying CD’s, busting up TV’s, computers, and mp3 players—that sort of thing.  But they’ll get around to us sooner or later.

On the one hand, it’s hard to be too angry with the decision makers who released al-Baghdadi.  After all, we can’t keep every enemy combatant in captivity forever, can we?  (Actually, we could, but it wouldn’t be consistent with our modern sensibilities, under which we recognize that war is not a pleasant thing, and that if we must engage in such a distasteful endeavor, at least we ought to be as nice about it as we possibly can).  So it makes sense to reserve long-term detention only for the most brutal—you know, men like the Taliban Five that we just traded for Bowe Bergdahl.  At the time he was in custody, al-Baghdadi didn’t seem to fit that kind of profile.  He was a swell guy, apparently, as enemy combatants go.  “Go on, get on out of here, you, and behave yourself.”  Sheesh.  Terrorists.  What are you gonna do with them?

But on the other hand, doesn’t our misjudgment in this case tell you all you need to know about the similar judgment the Obama administration just made in releasing The Taliban Five?  The White House promises us the threat from these newly-freed terrorists will be neutralized.  One liberal columnist recently assured us all that because these guys have been in captivity for so long, it “defies credulity” they’ll be any kind of a threat.  Oh, please.  What a load of horse you-know-what.  Senator John McCain, who was a POW for many years, might take issue with the idea that released prisoners of war are doomed to lives of irrelevance.  But even if he didn’t, the government itself has admitted that upwards of 1 in 4 prisoners released from Guantanamo wind up returning to terrorism.  If the Taliban had to pick just 5 of the 150 killers we still have locked up in Guantanamo (to the continued irritation of our president), which five would it choose?  This five.  Perhaps you think the Taliban simply thought these dudes were deserving of a peaceful retirement after years of faithful service?  Not likely.  The fact that it chose these five for release over all the others makes them the worst of the worst of the worst—by our enemy’s judgment.  But don’t let that worry you; our home-grown liberals, who obviously know better than the Taliban about which of our detainees might be most useful to the enemy, assure us it’s all good.  And obviously our government must know what it’s  doing, right?  After all, this is not the kind of administration that would mishandle anything big or tell you something that’s not true, is it?  Of course not.

President Obama hasn’t said what he’ll do about the surging ISIS threat in Iraq, but he has said what he won’t do:  there will be no more U.S. boots on the ground in Iraq.  Now the high foreheads running our country say they’re open to the idea of sucking up to Iran for assistance in solving the ISIS problem.   According to CNN, even without any such agreement Iran has already sent hundreds of its troops into Iraq’s Diyala province.  As recently as two weeks ago this would have been called an “invasion” and we’d be screaming bloody murder about it.  Now it’s “assistance,” even though Iraq has not formally asked Iran for any such thing as far as we know.  The White House and our state department have said diddly about it as of this writing.

One of our motivations for going into Iraq in the first place was to counterbalance Iran’s ambitions in the region.  In case you’ve forgotten (some of our leaders clearly have), Iran is our implacable enemy.  Our own state department has labeled it an “active state sponsor of terrorism.”  Its aim is to destabilize the Gulf states and replace U.S. allied governments with new regimes made over in Iran's image.  Almost any terrorist group aligned against the western democracies and their allies is a friend of Iran’s.  According to media reports it has provided direct training to the Japanese Red Army, the Armenian Secret Army, the Kurdistan Worker's Party, the Iraqi Da'wah Party, the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain, Hezbollah and Hamas.  It’s sent weapons to the Taliban in Afghanistan.  It’s sponsored cyberattacks against U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf.  Right now it's also supporting the brutal Assad regime in Syria against that country's rebels.  Given that one of those rebel groups happens to be ISIS, this is the one place where the two countries’ goals would appear to overlap.

That appearance is deceiving.  Iran’s vision of the future is inimical to ours.  Its immediate past president was a Holocaust denier who vowed to erase Israel from the map.  Its current supreme leader has called Israel a “cancerous tumor” that must be removed.  Many if not most of the arms in the hands of Islamic militants in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon came from Iran.  The country has nuclear ambitions that we have not yet succeeded in stifling despite years of yak-yak.  Right now a missile fired from Iran would need about 13 minutes to reach Israel.  Control of Iraq would cut the flight time even further.  Iran is behind many of the IEDs that have killed and maimed so many of our soldiers and those of our allies. 

There is a reason we don’t have diplomatic relations with these people.  They hate us, and any notion that this might change any time soon is wishful thinking at its finest.  In Iran’s eyes, we’re the “Great Satan.”  In 1979 Iranians stormed our embassy and took our diplomats hostage for 444 days, a barbaric act in violation of every kind of international law, norm and custom.  Basically, anything the U.S. is for, Iran is against.  And now we’re going to ask these people to pretty please take over Iraq for us?  Please, Mr. Fox, guard this henhouse for us.  We’d be grateful.  In fact, why don’t you keep it?  We have other chickens.

The idea of suddenly embracing Iran is beyond insane.  Iran is the enemy.  Aiding and abetting it in any way would be a betrayal of our soldiers, our citizens, and our allies.  How would any of us ever trust our government again?  How would other governments trust ours?  And more to the point—how would we keep ourselves safe in the kind of world this would create?  The fact that our government and some of our political leaders are even talking about this out loud, as a substitute for doing the job ourselves, shows you how far things have slid. 

Resolving the situation in Iraq isn’t just in our national interests, it’s our duty in light of previous actions we’ve taken and commitments we’ve made.  Maybe President Bush’s Iraq adventure was a “dumb war” as President Obama has said.  Maybe it wasn’t.  Perhaps we shouldn’t have done it, at least without greater international support.  But we did do it.  Now we can’t just wash our hands of it, especially if doing so puts the region under the thumb of U.S.-hating homicidal maniacs such as ISIS, or even slightly more rational enemies such as Iran.  Even if our national security interests were not at stake—which they are—our national honor is.  I have to believe that still matters to at least some people.  I know it does to veterans.

I haven’t been particularly proud of our leadership in Washington since well before Mr. Obama.  But I’ve never before felt embarrassed for our nation.  I do now.  The country is not in good hands.

But what worries me most is the huge yawn all this is provoking from my fellow Americans.  When I posted a blog entry last week stating why I’ve had it with President Obama, it got so many clicks that it pushed my blog readership to a whole new level.  But when I followed up with a post suggesting that we can add Iraq to the list of grievances—not so much.  No one seems to care, except for maybe a few Republicans.  My liberal friends have been posting messages on their Facebook pages congratulating the president on keeping a calm head and resisting the hawks. 

Fine.  But it’s not always so great when “cooler heads prevail,” not even when it’s the popular thing to do.  There is a parallel to the Europe of 1938.  The world was still recovering from the most brutal war in the history of man, and wasn’t willing to contemplate having to do it again to counter the new threat from Nazi Germany.  When British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain agreed to the historic appeasement of Adolf Hitler (in which the British threw him a steak in the form of an entire sovereign nation), so many cheering, adoring and grateful people flooded into the streets that it took him 90 minutes to navigate down 9 miles of pavement so that he could report his triumph to the king.  History reflects that the media supported him uncritically.  But we all know what happened next.  The Munich appeasement is now viewed as an historic moment of national shame, not a triumph, and it led directly to a war from which the British Empire would never fully recover.  But at the time it could not have been more popular.

Our enemies know the American people are tired of war.  Do you not think that getting us to this point has been part of the plan all along?  This is precisely how a determined, smaller foe achieves victory over a vastly superior enemy.  It wears the bigger opponent down.  That’s where we now stand.  We’re sick of war even though the truth is that we haven’t been at war.  Note that after Pearl Harbor, we threw our entire economy onto a war footing, put 16 million men and women in uniform, and didn’t stop fighting until we’d achieved the unconditional surrender of our foes, at a cost of 400,000 war dead and another 600,000 wounded.   9/11 killed more Americans than Pearl Harbor.  But the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that followed did not come close to matching this level of commitment, not by a long shot.  Nor did we assemble the truly international support needed for our efforts.  Now world terrorism is stronger than when we started.  Yet we’ve grown weary of the effort.  We’re ready to come home and are planning to shrink our military to its lowest level of strength since the 1930’s.  Recently the House voted to scrap the A-10 Thunderbolt ground-support fighter, which will be utterly necessary to the successful prosecution of any future ground war.  No one cares.

ISIS reportedly has only a few hundred fighters.  Beating it now will not require a great deal of effort.  Beating it later certainly will.  Inviting or allowing Iran to do it for us would be an historic, tragic mistake, one from which we and the free world might never recover.  Fast-forward a few months or years down this trail, and it’s not hard to imagine a Middle East dominated by Iran, Israel on the ropes or gone, and an Afghanistan back in the hands of its good buddies, the Taliban. 

Meanwhile, we’re putting the finishing touches on the replacement for the Twin Towers.  That’ll be something to witness.   See you in New York. 

By the way, did you know that a lot of the ISIS fighters have valid passports?


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©2014 by Forrest Carr.  All rights reserved.

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