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  • feedwordpress 07:21:03 on 2015/11/16 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , Syria, Syrian Civil War   

    The Radical Idea to Securely Handle the Middle East Refugee Crisis 


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    There are three major and conflicting problems with the Syrian refugee crisis. The first is the least serious but should be noted: it’s not just Syria. The second is much more important: terrorists are infiltrating the ranks. The third is the most important: people with their homeland destroyed need help or they may die.

    Before the uglier side of my chosen political affiliation barks out the standard response to the last issue by saying, “it’s not our problem,” I will say definitively that the isolationist perspective has merits but in this case it’s simply untenable. It isn’t just that there are tons of American interests in the Middle East. It’s the reality that the Middle East is the primary reason that the United States has not had an economic collapse. With the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency and its petrodollar moniker, there is nothing that can stop a catastrophic economic downturn that would destroy us. The Middle East is our problem, which means that the people in the Middle East are partially our responsibility.

    That doesn’t even take into account the “don’t be a dick” argument. People are dying and we have the means to help them. Ignoring the Middle East would not help those in the United States who are also suffering. In fact, they would be the first to feel the pain from the economic downfall that would hit us if we turned our back to the Middle East.

    Problem #2, the infiltration of the Islamic State and other terrorist sympathizers into the ranks of the refugees and therefore western culture is as big of an existential threat to us as the Syrian civil war is to Syrians. The turmoil and systematic upheaval that they could cause would make 9/11 seem relatively harmless to the overall health of the country. Paris was an example. As tragic as it was, it was potentially only the beginning. A single attack kills innocent people and shakes the nerves of the country and the world. A string of successful attacks would change the face of western culture and establish a civilian counterinsurgency that could destroy the fabric of America.

    As for the first problem, it’s semantics. There’s nothing that can really be done about it, so we should just accept that this is a Middle East refugee crisis. Whether they’re coming from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else in or around the region, we must not get caught up in trying to separate out the needy from the more needy.

    To solve this problem, we have to accept two major changes to our policy as well as the policy in Europe.

    This Must Be Temporary

    Temporary Solution

    Everyone is treating this situation as if the only hope is to bring the refugees into lands where they might have a better chance of prospering. This isn’t World War II. It’s the 21st century and we have to start treating this situation from that perspective. Whatever damage has been done in Syria and other countries in the Middle East can be repaired once the Syrian civil war is over and the Islamic State has been annihilated.

    That means that the refugees shouldn’t be flooding Europe. They shouldn’t be brought over to North America or other continents. They should be given a safe home in places close to their homeland to live until the world can help them return to their lands in safety. I’ll go into more details about that shortly, but let’s first look at the second major change that must be accepted, however reluctantly.

    The Syrian Civil War Must End Even if Assad is Still in Power

    Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin

    Whether Bashar al-Assad remains in power or not is really none of our concern. Again, I’m not siding with the isolationists on this one. I’m simply pointing out that over the last decade and a half whenever we go in and work on regime changes, they don’t seem to end as well for the people as they would had we never gotten involved in the first place.

    What we and the rest of the world must do is to bring about peace in the fastest way possible. This means working with Russia. If they are adamant about keeping Assad in power, so be it. We are in contact with the rebel forces. If we’re not going to give them the real assistance they need and go head to head with Russia in the prelude to World War III, then we acknowledge defeat for our friends and turn our attention to the Islamic State.

    It sounds harsh. Most would admit that Assad is not the right person to be leading Syria, but I’m not completely convinced that anyone we would help to put in power would be any better. Our track record is pretty shabby.

    More importantly, we never committed. Russia has. We had the opportunity to create regime change when President Obama’s red line was crossed. We chose not to take advantage of the situation and therefore we lost the initiative. Now that Russia has committed to his side of the war, we can either back off or escalate. Backing off means that Assad stays in power. Escalating means World War III. Our missed opportunity means that Russia and Assad have won. It’s time for the US to cut bait on regime change in Syria.

    Destroy the Islamic State

    A-10 Warthog

    Senator Ted Cruz is promoting the idea that if we dramatically escalate airstrikes and arm our Kurdish allies to the teeth, we can destroy the Islamic State. I would push it even further by forming a coalition of military forces led by a remarkable alliance between the United States and Russia, but then again I’m sitting in an office and Cruz has access to real intelligence reports, so we’ll go with his plan.

    Regardless of how it’s done, the #1 military goal for the entire world should be to utterly destroy the Islamic State. They have demonstrated a willingness to do anything, kill anyone, and use the types of tactics that demonstrate the evil in their collective hearts. They cannot be contained. They cannot be negotiated with in humane terms. The only way the Middle East and the world could ever be safe is if the Islamic State ceased to exist.

    In the Meantime…

    Saudi Arabia Refugee Camp

    Back to the Middle East refugee crisis. We’ve established that they need to be kept close enough to their homeland where it’s easy for them to return once the wars are over. Then, the world can assist them in rebuilding their homes, cities, and way of life.

    That means that Saudi Arabia is the ultimate answer for “temporary refugee housing.” Germany is accepting tons of refugees while having 17 times higher population density than Saudi Arabia. There are 232 people per square mile living in Germany compared to 14 per square mile in Saudi Arabia.

    Much of the land is uninhabitable. Make it inhabitable. Considering the tens of billions of dollars that the refugee crisis is going to cost many of the countries of the world just to cover the logistics, why not simplify the process and build the ultimate refugee camps. Install security, schools, opportunities for employment, healthcare, sanitation, and everything necessary for indefinite living. It won’t be indefinite, but make it last just in case.

    Currently, Saudi Arabia has 100,000 air-conditioned refugee tents that are not being used. Imagine if they had the world’s support to set up 20 of these quickly. It would still be cheaper than what European countries are going to have to pay with the current situation.

    Saudi Arabia Refugee Tents

    Some will argue that it would take too long. Again, this is the 21st century and we’re talking about tens of billions of dollars that countries are already going to have to spend. Why spend the money destroying cultures and creating an atmosphere of chaos that allows incidents like Paris to happen when we can use fewer resources to make a stable atmosphere close to their homeland?

    Others would argue that it takes away from the human spirit, that giving them opportunity in Europe and the United States is better for them. That is one of the most presumptuous arguments that anyone could make. Giving them opportunity elsewhere is a consolation prize to many of these people. What most of them really want is to return to their homeland once order is established so they can rebuild and move on. They aren’t seeking our way of life. Those who did could have left long ago. They’re seeking safety in desperate situations.

    The last argument is that Saudi Arabia won’t do it. At some point, we need to stop treating Saudi Arabia as the people with all of the oil and start treating them as the people who need other countries to buy their oil. This is their opportunity to further solidify their status as the leader in oil exports in exchange for cooperation with the refugee crisis. They can make out very well if they play ball. If they turn their back on their brothers in the Middle East, they could turn out like Venezuela, the country with the largest oil reserves. I’m sure Venezuela would be willing to take on the refugees in exchange for Saudi Arabia’s oil contracts.

    This is a complex situation, but that doesn’t mean the answers to the problems have to be complex as well. The safety of the refugees and the safety of the countries that take on the refugees do not have to be mutually exclusive goals.

     
  • feedwordpress 08:06:44 on 2015/11/15 Permalink
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    Accepting Syrian Refugees Now is Irresponsible 


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    Before liberals start their attacks on the concept of closing the borders or not contributing to the aid required to help those who are truly in need in the Middle East and Europe, let me state up front that I’m sympathetic and that the United States should help. With that said, accepting refugees into the United States under anything short of completely controlled conditions is ludicrous.

    Nothing has changed with regards to the threat. The attacks on Paris by radical Islamic terrorists is something that many have anticipated even before the refugee crisis swelled to the point that it’s at now. The Islamic State has influence over innumerable people across the world. That includes France. That includes the United States.

    The refugee crisis offers a way for terrorists and handlers who have been directly influenced by the Islamic State to meet and coordinate with those who have already sworn allegiance in other countries. They also offer a hands-on, face-to-face way to recruit, nurturing the seeds that have been planted but that haven’t fully budded yet.

    Now, the United States is bringing in these refugees. The Obama administration claims that they will go through an exhaustive screening process. This is, of course, a naive statement. You cannot screen ideology any more than you can screen someone’s favorite color. If they don’t want you to know that their favorite color is blue, they will tell you their favorite color is yellow. If they don’t want you to know they plan on shooting people at a concert, they won’t tell you they’re sympathetic to the Islamic State.

    The United States is the country that is most capable of helping those in need. We should find a way to help. That way should not include bringing the 200,000 refugees that President Obama has invited to the country. Unless we’re willing to build controlled environments like the alleged FEMA camps to house them, it makes no sense whatsoever to bring them to the country. We don’t have to give them access to commit terrorism in order to help.

    Some would say that the number of Islamic State sympathizers would be very small. They’re right. If 1% of 1% of those who come over are terrorists, that’s 20 men intending to do harm. There were likely fewer than that involved in Paris and they had help from French citizens.

    I’m compassionate towards their needs and I realize that the vast majority of refugees are people who need help. Unfortunately, the Islamic State has infiltrated them. If contaminates are found in a few packages of cheese, all of the packages made in the same facility are recalled, even if it’s hundreds of thousands. Even if it’s millions.

    The Islamic State proved in Paris that the flow of Syrian refugees into Europe has been tainted. We wouldn’t import food if some of that food was known to have killed people. We shouldn’t bring in Syrian refugees until the Islamic State is wiped out.

     
  • feedwordpress 19:23:57 on 2015/10/09 Permalink
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    Putin, Like Obama, Underestimates ISIS 


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    If anyone doubted Vladimir Putin when he said that his only goal in Syria was to crush the opposition to Assad, the latest military strikes should clear that up. Russia’s intention would be questionable if we thought it was there to do anything else other than keep Assad in control. However, he may have bitten off more than he can chew.

    Russia will soon have to face the threat of ISIS not only controlling Aleppo, but the entire region. The question is whether Russia is aware of how dangerous the group actually is.

    Make no mistake, Putin is not targeting ISIS. If you follow ISIS then you find rebels. Any strike that happens to knock out some ISIS fighters would only be a bonus, although Putin doesn’t want to get rid of ISIS too soon.

    In other words, Putin wouldn’t kill off ISIS before taking out the rebels, because the rebels would then have the upper hand. So, Putin’s current interest in ISIS is only to lead him to the rebels. It’s like catching a mouse with cheese.

    The problem is that the strategy poses a huge risk, one that may require International intervention. However, Russia doesn’t play well with others and any entity that thinks of going in more aggressively will have to remember that the only goal for Russia is keep Assad in power. Anyone who interferes with that goal will find a huge headache, and potentially a much bigger problem.

    Russian Jet

    There’s one other scenario that should be considered however unlikely it seems at the time. If facing certain destruction, the rebels may turn to ISIS to form a more powerful front. ISIS may consider this a strong strategic move since they would be the next targets once the rebels are eliminated. There’s an old Beouin Arabic proverb that says, “Me and my brother against my cousin, but me and my cousin against a stranger.” Right now, ISIS and the rebels are fighting cousins, but if they have to unite to fight the Russian stranger, they might.

    What that may mean for Russia is taking ISIS head on in Syria, alone. By the looks of it that may happen sooner rather than later. Russia, like the rest of the world, has underestimated the power of ISIS.

     
  • feedwordpress 06:17:17 on 2015/10/05 Permalink
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    12 Christians Brutally Martyred in Syria Without a Peep from US Media 


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    Torture. Rape. Crucifixion. Beheading. These are topics that make headlines in the United States if they’re perpetrated by anyone other than the Islamic State and anywhere other than the Middle East. Americans and other nations have grown so accustomed to the extreme levels of persecution against Christians by ISIS that it doesn’t even warrant a mention in major publications.

    The story of 12 Christians brutally, publicly tortured and martyred is all too common. It’s also extremely disgusting to imagine, so most choose to ignore the situation despite the fact that it represents genocide of Biblical proportions, literally. In the lands where much of Christianity built its roots, Syria, we are ignoring the most heinous persecutions we’ve seen in modern times. It’s so outrageous, so infuriating, that American media, politicians, and the general population have chosen to pretend like it doesn’t exist.

    After all, it doesn’t concern us, right? It’s regional. It’s isolated. It’s not Americans getting killed. It’s not a beloved lion getting hunted. It’s not a Kardashian acting stupid. It’s not a football player getting arrested. It’s not the Pope talking about immigration. It’s not a Presidential candidate being funny or singing songs on late night talk shows.

    It’s simply not the type of news that American media deems worthy of a headline.

    That’s just not acceptable. Read the whole story. Let it sink in. Share it with anyone you can. Send it to your elected officials. Send it to your favorite candidate. These crimes are so heinous that you don’t want to think about it, let alone share it. I don’t care. Share it anyway. This needs to be known.

    Here’s the story:

    12 Christians Brutally Executed by ISIS Refused to Renounce Name of Christ, Died Praying, Reciting Lord’s Prayer

    Twelve Christians have been brutally executed by the Islamic State, including the 12-year-old son of a Syrian ministry team leader who had planted nine churches, because they refused to renounce the name of Jesus Christ and embrace Islam. The martyrs were faithful to the very end; right before one woman was beheaded by the terror group, she appeared to be smiling slightly as she said, “Jesus!”

    According to Christian Aid Mission, a humanitarian group which assists indigenous Christian workers in their native countries, the horrific murders took place on August 28 in an unnamed village outside Aleppo, Syria.

    “In front of the team leader and relatives in the crowd, the Islamic extremists cut off the fingertips of the boy and severely beat him, telling his father they would stop the torture only if he, the father, returned to Islam,” Christian Aid revealed, according to a report from Morning Star News. “When the team leader refused, relatives said, the ISIS militants also tortured and beat him and the two other ministry workers. The three men and the boy then met their deaths in crucifixion.”

    They were killed for refusing to return to Islam after embracing Christianity, as were the other eight aid workers, including two women, according to Christian Aid. The eight were taken to a separate site in the village and asked if they would return to Islam. However, after they refused to renounce Christ, the women, ages 29 and 33, were raped before the crowd summoned to watch, and then all eight were beheaded.

    They prayed as they knelt before the Islamic State militants, according to the ministry leader Christian Aid assists, who spoke with relatives and villagers while visiting the site.

    “Villagers said some were praying in the name of Jesus, others said some were praying the Lord’s Prayer, and others said some of them lifted their heads to commend their spirits to Jesus,” the ministry director told Christian Aid. “One of the women looked up and seemed to be almost smiling as she said, ‘Jesus!'”

    In a manner reflective of Christ’s crucifixion, the bodies of those killed were then hung on crosses for display.

    The twelve martyrs are among thousands of Christians who have been ransomed, tortured, beheaded and killed over the past year by the Islamic State, a hardline Muslim group determined to wipe Christianity off the Middle Eastern map.

    The jihadist group has also destroyed countless time-honored Christian monasteries, manuscripts, and holy sites in an attempt to eradicate the faith.

    In Syria alone, the Christian population has plunged by nearly two-thirds since the country’s civil war started in 2011. In Iraq, the Christian population is teetering on extinction, dwindling from around 1.5 million in 2003 to well below 200,000 now.

    “It is like going back 1,000 years seeing the barbarity that Christians are having to live under. I think we are dealing with a group which makes Nazism pale in comparison and I think they have lost all respect for human life,” Patrick Sookhdeo, founder of Barnabas Fund, a charity which seeks to help Syrian Christians, told the Daily Express.

    “Crucifying these people is sending a message and they are using forms of killing which they believe have been sanctioned by Sharia law,” he added. “For them what they are doing is perfectly normal and they don’t see a problem with it. It is that religious justification which is so appalling.”

    In Defense of Christians, a persecution watchdog group, earlier this month lobbied on Capitol Hill for lawmakers to pass a resolution characterizing ISIS’s targeting of the Christian minority as “genocide.”

    Christian Genocide by Islamic State

     
  • feedwordpress 23:56:38 on 2015/10/02 Permalink
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    In Retrospect, Enforcing the ‘Red Line’ Would have Protected Millions of People 


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    Hindsight is said to be 20/20, but the cliché is not as accurate as one might think. The past can be almost as murky as the future; it all depends on who tells the story. In the case of the current situation in Syria, the past is being intentionally blurred to save face and protect President Obama’s legacy.

    Another pertinent cliché is that history is written by the victors. Again, this isn’t always the case and Syria once again breaks the paradigm. The recent history is being rewritten by the losers. In this case, the losers refurbishing recent history are the same ones blurring the past. Unfortunately, the real loss from these actions are being felt by at least three million people in the Middle East though it’s probably a great deal more than that.

    Russia is doing exactly what we predicted they would do. They’re defending Bashar al-Assad’s position against both types of uprisings: the populists and the savages. The populists are the groups that most coalition nations are calling the “moderate” rebels while the savages are the Islamic State and their supporters around the globe.

    Western media is echoing American talking points that Russia is out of line for using their military might against the “moderate” forces that oppose Assad rather than the Islamic State threat to the east. They are using very harsh words to try to dissuade Russian President Vladimir Putin from attacking the forces that the coalition has supported. It’s accelerating much more quickly than most anticipated with some areas friendly to the rebels demanding anti-aircraft missiles or a diplomatic solution to keep Putin from achieving his goals.

    Good luck with that. it’s not going to happen. The saddest part is that three things could have been easily avoided: Russian engagement in the area, tens of thousands of people killed throughout the bloody civil war, and millions of displaced people flooding into Europe and other geopolitical. All President Obama had to do was fulfill his promise of getting directly involved once his “calculus was changed” by Assad’s usage of chemical and possibly biological weapons.

    He did not fulfill that promise. Had he done so, things would be completely different. Here are three reasons why…

    Assad Would Be Gone

    Invading Baghdad turned out to be relatively easy. Building a working country from the rubble was the hard part and we failed miserably at it. Perhaps the lessons have been learned and we could have done it more easily if we would have acted on the threat that President Obama made. Unfortunately, the Nobel Peace Prize winner had a reputation that he’d failed to live up to at that point, so he backed down.

    The Refugee Crisis would be Much Smaller

    It isn’t just the rise of the Islamic State in the region that has forced people to flee Syria and other places in the Middle East. The destruction and chaos that has been allowed to continue for the last four years would have been reduced dramatically and most would have chosen to rebuild in peace. Instead, we’ve left them no choice but to abandon ship since the fighting has continued without ceasing. Assad had to stop using chemical weapons, but that didn’t stop conflict, death, or destruction. It simply allowed conflict, death, and destruction to continue in a more civilized manner through traditional life-shattering means rather than the unacceptable life-shattering means. We allowed them to continue the conflict in a way that better suited our western sensibilities. The result: millions of people trying to find new homes in the wake of Obama’s inaction.

    The Islamic State would be… Different

    There is no way to predict the actions of a chaos-driven entity like the Islamic State. It’s possible that they wouldn’t have pushed as deeply into Syria as they have. It’s also possible that they would have doubled down on their efforts and pushed towards Damascus while it was rebuilding once Assad was removed from power. Either way, the coalition presence around Damascus would have been better positioned to address ISIS. Instead, we’re relying on Russia to take action, a course that will halt ISIS in Syria but that will do nothing to prevent their expansion in other areas. Russia can push them back to Iraq, but from there they’ll enjoy the same free rein that already possess.

    Normally, it’s not difficult to make a call after the fact, particularly when the results of the actual decision are so clearly bad. In this case, we’re seeing the blame pointed everywhere other than the point when all of this could have been avoided.

    Syria Red Line

     
  • feedwordpress 05:29:41 on 2015/10/01 Permalink
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    Putin isn’t Strong. Obama is Just Weak. 


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    While the United Nations and the United States chitchat about how they’ll try to put together a transitional government once Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria falls, Russia is busy doing everything they can to prevent that from happening. Everyone else seems to understand this other than President Obama’s administration in general and Secretary of State John Kerry in particular.

    Whatever he thinks he’s hearing from his counterpart in Moscow, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, it’s either getting lost in translation or falling to the hopeful whims of an administration that missed their opportunity. You see, Lavrov might be talking hypothetically about what a transitional government might look like once Assad falls, but he knows that his boss isn’t going to let that happen. Russian President Vladimir Putin has no intentions of allowing a populist rebel uprising to take down another Middle Eastern nation, particularly an ally.

    This doesn’t reflect a love for Assad. It’s Putin’s passionate hatred for populist uprisings in general. He views Syria as a great place to get entrenched in the Middle East, but more importantly he wants to maintain a stability that has been systematically destroyed by the United States and United Nations for the last decade.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not supporting Putin by any means. Rather, I’m pointing out how he feels in regards to intervention. He gave the United States the opportunity to get involved when Assad crossed President Obama’s “red line.” To understand this, we have to speculate intelligently about how all of that went down.

    Intelligent Speculation

    Vladimir Putin Barack Obama

    Let’s look at a hypothetical but very likely scenario that probably unfolded in 2013. When it became very likely that the red line was crossed by Assad’s use of chemical weapons, President Obama’s phone rang. It was Vladimir Putin. He said that he frowned upon any use of force on Assad. He promised that he would work with Assad to get rid of any remaining chemical weapons.

    He probably threatened Obama with “supportive action” if the Americans got involved.

    Let’s look at the two primary red line statements by the President:

    “I didn’t set a red line. The world set a red line.”

    — President Obama, news conference in Stockholm, Sept. 4, 2013

    “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.  That would change my calculus.  That would change my equation.”

    — Obama, remarks to reporters, August 20, 2012

    Somewhere along the lines, his calculus was changed, but not by the red line. It was changed by Vladimir Putin. The Russians made a threat and the Americans blinked. That was the beginning of the end for the rebels. All Putin needed was a valid excuse to save Assad’s regime. The Islamic State gave him that excuse.

    Obama’s JFK Moment

    Obama's JFK Moment

    This was it. This was the time for President Obama to do what other Presidents had done. He was virtually face-to-face with an enemy in the form of Russia and he had every right to initiate another regime change in the Middle East. Assad used chemical weapons on its citizens. Russia threatened. Obama was poised to show his strength and the might of his country by opposing evil and the monsters who defended it.

    When John F. Kennedy faced a similar situation, one that posed an existential threat to the United States in the form of the Cuban Missile Crisis, he acted decisively. When Ronald Reagan faced a Soviet Union that wanted very much to destroy him, he was bold and allowed the strength of the United States to stare down the arguably more powerful USSR. The Cold War ended as a result.

    President Obama had less on the line. The enemies were weaker. The direct threats to the United States were minimal. The importance was high for both the Syrians as well as our Israeli allies. Most importantly, he had the mandate of the world that was outraged at Assad and ready for the United States to save the day.

    Instead, he caved. He demonstrated a weakness towards the Russian interests that has resulted in tens of thousands of additional deaths, a crisis that is now spreading to Europe and other countries in the form of millions of refugees, and a gift wrapped base through which the Russians can now influence the entire Middle East.

    After much thought, it’s impossible to claim that this is pure weakness. President Obama is without a doubt the worst foreign relations President in recent history, possibly ever, but this particular scenario goes beyond his failings. There are only two plausible possibilities and one of them is pretty crazy.

    The first possibility is that his Nobel Peace Prize has never really been earned and he’s been trying desperately to live up to it ever since he won it.

    The other possibility is more of a conspiracy theory – he’s under orders from someone else to not act when action was clearly warranted. We’ll go ahead and dismiss that option as paranoia and focus on the overly-peaceful option.

    Earning His Peace Prize

    Obama Nobel Peace Prize

    The President has a legacy domestically. He forced Obamacare through and he painted the White House with rainbow colors. While both will go down in history as tragedies, he’s happy with what he’s built. On the foreign relations side, his best claim to fame is that he was in office when Osama bin Laden was killed. Otherwise, the world around us has fallen apart on his watch and in many ways as a direct result of his actions… or inaction.

    In the hypothetical situation above, I would imagine that Putin invoked the Nobel Peace Prize in his appeal to prevent Obama from acting on his threats. He doesn’t want the world to regret his Presidency any more than it already does. This more than anything is what prompted him to take such a weak stance on Syria.

    Keep in mind that he expected aid to the rebels to do the trick. He didn’t anticipate the rise of the junior varsity Islamic State. He didn’t realize that leaving Iraq would open the doors to the worst turmoil the region has seen in decades. He didn’t think that the Arab Spring would result in the chaos that has ensued nor the rise of Islamic extremists pulling the strings and forming makeshift theocracies where once there was secular stability.

    Vladimir Putin has learned that Barack Obama is weak. He didn’t anticipate that the US President was incompetent as well. That was just a bonus. Now, Assad’s regime will remain indefinitely, Russia’s position in the Middle East will be solidified, and ISIS will flourish outside of Syria as a result.

     
  • feedwordpress 17:45:17 on 2015/09/30 Permalink
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    Destroying ISIS isn’t Putin’s Goal. It’s His Excuse to Stop Uprisings. 


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    The amount of admiration that is being lobbed towards Russian President Vladimir Putin is sickening. The media is doing it. He’s the new darling on social media posts Americans. There’s even a Presidential candidate who seems to admire his strategies.

    Let’s take a closer look at Putin’s actions and the motivations behind them. He’s being glorified by the masses as a strategic genius who pulled a successful end-around on US President Barack Obama and the western political establishment. That assessment is understandable, but the boldness with which he’s acting is artificial. He’s not brilliant. He’s playing the only role he really knows: fear, accuse, and react cautiously while masking it all in bravado and strength.

    Fearful of Western Influence

    This is something that we started seeing in 2011 with the Libya situation. He was in quiet but not silent opposition to the support of ousting dictator Muammar Gaddafi, but he didn’t react.

    As   astutely pointed out in her article, it was his fear of two things – western influence and populist uprisings in general – that caused the stance he’s had for years and the actions he’s taken in the last week in Syria.

    The one thing Putin fears more than western influence is the possibility that the people he governs will do what others around the world are doing. He’s fearful of Islam, not as a religion but in the way that it replaces secular governance with theocratic rule. He doesn’t love Bashar al-Assad or the Ayatollah Khamenei, but he needs both of them to be the stable partners for maintaining a semblance of influence in the Middle East.

    Air Strikes are Coming, but They’re Just an Excuse

    To the international community, Putin will talk about the Islamic State as an existential threat to the people of the Middle East and the world. He will bolster his position by being the man of action that President Obama has conspicuously avoided being. He will have his Air Force hit targets to drive back the Islamic State and they will by strangely more effective than anything that the United Nations or other countries have been able to accomplish with the same strategy.

    Behind the scenes, he will be fighting the rebels that truly oppose Assad. They are his bigger fear. They are the ones who can take out Assad with assistance from the west and that’s something Putin absolutely does not want.

    Vladimir Putin Hat

    Further behind the scenes in the darkest corners of Syria, Putin will work with the Islamic State to embarrass the United States, solidify their position in Iraq, and even hold their positions in eastern Syria. This will give him victories in western Syria that will justify his presence while the Islamic State grows in influence outside of Assad’s portion of the country.

    More importantly, this will give him leverage to keep Assad in power against the wishes of Saudi Arabia, to keep Hezbollah in play against the wishes of Israel, and to keep his presence in the Middle East growing over time.

    These are bold, even wild accusations against a man that some Americans have grown to admire. These accusations would be borderline insane if they weren’t likely true.

     
  • feedwordpress 19:43:28 on 2015/09/27 Permalink
    Tags: Afghanistan, , , , , , , , , Syria,   

    In the Middle East, Unnecessary Show of Weakness as Bad as Unnecessary Show of Force 


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    The way we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan were asinine. The debacle of our Middle East policies the first decade of the century created a terrible atmosphere. Rather than correcting it, we’ve decided to make it much, much worse the last five years.

    Let’s look at the situation in reverse order. The conclusion is that we messed things up by going in and then we made it worse by getting out before the job was done. Too much unnecessary force followed by excessive demonstrations of weakness did not cancel each other out. The combination established the worst possible situation in the Middle East.

    Things are only going to get worse from here if we don’t act decisively very soon.

    Now that we have the conclusion, let’s look at the rant about poor choices followed by a rallying call for the only possible solutions.

    The Middle East Rant

    Barack Obama George W. Bush

    It’s with soberness and no feelings of pride that I recall debates I used to have when I opposed the wars. Back in the days when even a good number of liberal lawmakers followed President George W. Bush into misguided demonstrations of force, I was labeled as unpatriotic. My arguments that we were creating instability for no reason by going after people who had nothing to do with 9/11 fell on deaf ears.

    These policies helped to arm the enemies of our enemies. Doing so arguably helped in the short term but led to the creation of enemies who have the potential of being far worse than anything Osama bin Laden ever dreamed. It helped to bring about the Arab Spring. It weakened Iraq to the point of dependency and turned Afghanistan into the ultimate spawning point for radical Islam to build roots.

    The only thing worse than starting a fight that should never have happened is to not finish it. It’s the worst possible scenario – destabilize and weaken those who were holding the Middle East together, then abandon the mission before it’s done. It doesn’t really matter which was worse. We shouldn’t have gone in and we shouldn’t have left when we did. These are concepts that the US government doesn’t seem to understand and that the American people have chosen to ignore.

    There are two different factors at play, here. For the people, it’s a matter of conflicting politics. We went in with the approval of citizens and we pulled out at the request of citizens. With that understood, this is one of those all-too-common situations where the citizens have been manipulated to believe what the agenda wanted us to believe.

    In essence, our accumulated efforts for the last 14 years have had the opposite effects of what we were told. Iraq wasn’t liberated. It was harmed beyond repair. Afghanistan wasn’t cleansed of dangerous enemies. It was built up as the safe haven for emerging enemies.  Peace and Democracy weren’t established through the Arab Spring. A crumbled semblance of governance was inserted to disguise the unpopular truth that the previous secular regimes, while obtuse to our western sensibilities, were better for the people than the turmoil that has followed.

    President Bush lived up to his hawkish reputation. President Barack Obama is trying to live up to the Nobel Peace Prize he never earned. The results have been catastrophic for the Middle East and it’s now spreading around the world.

    Weakness Invited Russia and Pushed the Migrant Crisis

    Vladimir Putin Watching

    It would be easy to write a detailed book about how the Bush/Obama policies have created the atmosphere conducive to Russia’s emergence as the rising force in the Middle East. They are rapidly taking the role that the United States has abandoned. We talk. We frown. How could we have expected anything else, particularly after the Syrian red line was crossed without repercussions?

    The Obama Administration has demonstrated so much weakness that we’re on the verge of losing all influence in the Middle East outside of Israel and Saudi Arabia (even though the Iran Deal has changed the calculus with both of those relationships). It’s as if we barged into the Middle East unwelcomed, made a mess of things, and departed like a bad party guest who made a mess and bailed out.

    The migrant crisis is a direct result of these combined policies. Those who are fleeing righteously feel like they have no choice based upon the atmosphere we created. Those who are “fleeing” with them to plant seeds of the caliphate in western culture are laughing at the situation knowing that we laid down the elements that could lead to our own demise.

    Strength and Decisive Sensibility is Required

    Voting

    There is a good chance that by January 20, 2017, it may already be too late to salvage the situation. Russia may be so entrenched that they’ll essentially replace the United States as the dominant force. We have to act now.

    Unfortunately, that may not be possible. The President is in legacy-building mode. The chances of him addressing Russia, the Islamic State, or any of the other players in the region are slim. That’s not to say that the citizens shouldn’t act; if it’s possible at all to create enough awareness of what’s happening, lawmakers may be forced to take the actions required over the next few months. It’s highly unlikely but if we don’t try, it definitely won’t happen.

    Plan B is to push for the right person to take over the White House and bring the appropriate level of strength to our Middle East policy. The last time I worked on a Presidential Election was as a College Republican in 1992. Since then, I have only loosely endorsed or attacked candidates. It’s not that I didn’t care. It’s that I’ve always understood the power of the President rests in the sentiment of the people and the situations we’ve faced for the last two decades were minor.

    9/11 changed that. Now the situations are dire, but I had nobody to support. Bush was wrong. His opponents were wrong. John McCain didn’t offer a strong alternative. Mitt Romney never had a chance and his opponents in the GOP weren’t much better. Despite the importance of the situations we’ve faced over the last three election cycles since 9/11, I allowed futility to push me towards addressing the issues in other ways.

    This election cycle is different. We are in the middle of the most important primary season since Ronald Reagan fought George H. W. Bush for the nomination in 1980. Who the Republicans choose as their nominee will have a dramatic effect on the course of the world. We are facing multiple existential threats and the right person must be nominated.

    After carefully weighing the opinions, track records, and abilities of the major GOP candidates, I’ve come to the conclusion that Ted Cruz is the only one who will handle foreign affairs properly in the coming years. There are other good candidates; four or five of them would have been a better choice than anyone in the field the last two election cycles. However, for America to sensibly and appropriately utilize our strength to address the tumult that surrounds us, Cruz is the most qualified by a long shot.

    On January 20, 2017, certain things have to start happening for our country to move forward and for the world to not fall apart. If the right actions aren’t taken, we will be seeing a much worse situation before the 2020 election. We may even see a world that has crumbled.

     
  • feedwordpress 06:32:20 on 2015/09/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , Syria,   

    Russia’s Middle East Presence is President Obama’s Fault 


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    The Middle East has been essentially under United States control since the second Gulf War. Then, we gave up control two years ago when the red line was crossed and President Obama chose to do nothing about it. His weakness, and ours, was placed in clear view for the world to see.

    Nobody stepped up immediately and we were given another unfortunate opportunity to reestablish control with the Islamic State. With ISIS, we have the most valid reason to go in and fix the situation than we’ve ever had in the past. Unfortunately, the disastrous aftermath of the invasions of Iraq and Syria under the Bush Administration made it more politically correct to essentially ignore the Islamic State and give them free reign over the region. We went in when we shouldn’t have and we didn’t go in when we should have.

    Now, Russia is making a play to be the dominant superpower in the region thanks to our Nobel Peace Prize winner’s inability to act for peace.

    Perhaps more telling of this administration’s failures is the fact that Israel, our longtime ally and a country that has been worried about Russia since before the USSR fell, is actually stepping in to talk to Vladimir Putin and put their concerns at ease. According to Newsweek, they felt that they had to do it since President Obama wasn’t apparently not going to.

    Netanyahu may have thought that Russia was no worry, given simple geography and the fact that American foreign policy and military strength had kept the Russians out of the Middle East for a half century. But then along came Barack Obama, and now the Russians have made a major move in Syria.

    The American reaction—thus far, one phone conversation by John Kerry and one by Ashton Carter—will not have deterred Putin, so Netanyahu on September 21 flew to Moscow to talk with the Russians.

    I’ve resisted being critical of President Obama because there has never been a shortage of voices speaking out about him, but this is different. This level of weakness by an American President is unprecedented. He’s making Jimmy Carter seem like a pit bull by comparison. The end of this disastrous Presidency cannot come soon enough.

    President Obama Middle East

     
  • feedwordpress 00:32:30 on 2015/09/22 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , Syria   

    Is It Me or are Most of the ‘Refugees’ Young Men? 


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    A couple of weeks ago, I chastised someone on social media for pointing out that the pictures coming from Europe seemed to show men, mostly young and able-bodied, as the bulk of the refugees coming over from the Middle East. I pointed out that what we see is through the eyes of the journalists, may of whom I assumed were promoting an agenda of some sort.

    Then, I started looking at more. And more. And more. When my wife pointed out the same thing, it made me curious, so I started watching videos. And more videos. And more videos.

    By golly, they may have a point.

    Here’s an image from yesterday’s NY Times, a publication that is known for left-leanings and not known for promoting conspiracy theories.

    Male Syrian Refugees

    We’re not into conspiracy theories, either. I’m going to stick (loosely) to my original premise that there are plenty of women and children in the mix. To say otherwise would be erroneous even if we believe that there definitely seems to be a lot of men without wives or kids tagging along. It got me thinking, though. Would I leave? If America was ruled by an unpopular dictator (no need for jokes – I know what you’re thinking), had a rebel group fighting for freedom, and had an extremist army trying to muscle in, would I run? Would I try to fight my way across the border if I didn’t have a wife or kids?

    It’s futile to try to compare situations. I’m not walking in their shoes and I’m living in a country that has taken great care of me over the years. However, I do know that I’d rather fight to secure the future of my family and country rather than opportunistically try to impose myself on others.

    To clarify (before I’m called a bigot), I’m describing one very particular demographic and situation: young enough to fight, healthy, unmarried, and without children. I’m not saying this because I’m some macho man. It’s a matter of practicality. Knowing that there were women, children, elderly, and other more needy types of people fighting for limited space in countries that don’t really want us, I couldn’t imagine imposing myself or taking away someone else’s spot.

    One can say that the current regime is bad, the rebels are bad, and the Islamic State is worst of all and therefore there’s no opportunity in Syria. Fine. There’s apparently very little patriotism in Syria and understandably so. However, I cannot imagine being in that situation and wanting to go to Europe where the majority is against my presence unless I wanted to change the status quo in their…

    Ahhhh. I get it.

     
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