Tuesday, November 17, 2015


With the November 13th massacres in Paris still fresh, a small part of me wonders if it seems wrong to mention the politics involved. But again, it's only a small part, because the massacres were political and that was the terrorists' choice, not mine.

To nobody's surprise, the terrorists belonged to the religion of Islam and were either affiliated with ISIS or part of ISIS. At least one of them is reported to have entered the European continent as part of the refugee wave that has recently been gobbling up news space.

Over in France, President Francois Hollande responded by declaring that his nation is "going to lead a war which will be pitiless," and has followed up by launching air strikes against jihad training grounds in an ISIS-controlled part of Syria.

Meanwhile, Marine Le Pen -- the allegedly xenophobic leader of France's National Front -- has called for "urgent action" to "ban Islamist organizations, close radical mosques and expel foreigners who preach hatred," all while declaring it "absolutely necessary that France regains control of its borders."

Over here in America, one can practically hear the rattling of Donald Trump's keyboard as he hammers out a speech explaining how the massacres prove it is: 1) necessary to erect a wall along our Southern border all the way from Chula Vista, CA to Brownsville, TX; and 2) necessary for our federal government to undertake the kinds of mass deportations it proactively carried out in the 1940's and 1950's.

Also over here, President Barack Obama, par for his course, floats around looking clueless and impotent in the face of evil.

Oh, all right. To his credit, Obama apparently green-lighted the sharing of intelligence that showed the French where they should bomb, but that only begs the question of why we never took action against those targets ourselves before it was too late. After all, ISIS declared war on us quite some time ago and has been targeting our interests,  assaulting our creed, and carrying out jihad against Western civilization in general.

Plus, intelligence-sharing does not change the fact that in Obama's public statements, all he does is refer to the massacres as a "crime" and mutter vaguely about helping bring the perps "to justice," whatever that means.

In legalese, terrorism and mass murder fall under the broad and nebulous umbrella of the word "crime," but in reality, which is all that matters, they are not mere crimes and should not be described as such. To puff on a joint while walking alone in the woods is a crime. To receive cash tips while working as a waitress and under-report their total by a couple hundred bucks is a crime. To place a $25 bet on Thursday's Titans-Jags game is a crime, assuming you do so with your local bookie instead of the officially smiled-upon Vegas sports books.

When a statesman takes the same word that is used to describe those things and publicly uses it to describe wanton killings that are based on bigotry, and which are intended to terrify the remaining innocents into relinquishing their freedom, it represents a dereliction of duty.

Keep in mind that Obama continues to assert his nonsensical claim that we "have contained" ISIS -- a claim which, ironically enough, he made just hours before the massacres.

The problem is this: Although ISIS existed a few years ago only in the Western Asian countries of Iraq and Syria, it now exists in Africa and Europe as well and is credited with mass murder in all of those places. The murders include a slew of beheadings of non-Muslims that neither we nor any other Western nation tried to avenge. In other words, ISIS has extended its reach from one continent to three; commenced genocide using the most barbaric of means; and struck a blow to the heart of a city that is arguably the most prominent in Western civilization. Does this sound like an organization that has been contained?

A major reason for the spread of ISIS in particular, and violent jihad in general, goes back to the old saw about power abhorring a vacuum. The United States has essentially removed itself from one of the most consequential confrontations of the last 2,000 years, and therefore others have maneuvered to take its place. Bad actors are seeking to fill the void because that is what bad actors do, and unless they are stopped they will eventually be calling the shots at everyone else's expense.

The United States has been far from perfect at many turns in its history and at some points has behaved outright bad. But compared to any other powerful nation (and in my opinion, compared to any other nation at all), it has been by far the greatest force for good in the history of the world. Remove our hand from the last 400 years (which includes the long run between the Pilgrims arriving and the colonies declaring their independence) and today's world would be far grimmer than it is.

Without the United States, most Enlightenment ideals (individual liberty, individual property, religious freedom, not being subservient to other humans who are no better than you) would likely have remained confined to the dusty writings of John Locke. But with the advent of the United States they became enshrined in men's souls and put into practice, and thus freedom has become reality on Earth and continued to expand its reach.

Without the United States embracing and enacting those ideals -- and taking them seriously enough to tear itself asunder and engage in a war that pitted half of itself against the other -- slavery would have continued on our shores. Those who consider slavery a particularly American evil should bear in mind that slavery was the world norm until recently and is still practiced in many parts of the planet.

Without the United States, Japan's military dictatorship would likely have won the Pacific Theater in World War II, and Hitler and Mussolini would have had at least an even shot of winning the European Theater. If either or both of those outcomes had come to pass, what would the state of the human race be like today?

For the last few generations France has been the butt of jokes when it comes to military endeavors, and God knows I have enjoyed participating in the mockery. But the truth is that its behavior over the last decade or so diverts from the "Arc de Capitulation" storyline that has dominated since World War II.

Through much of the War on Terror, France has operated as one of our most dependable allies and provided more than mere moral support. It has honored NATO's precept that an attack against one NATO nation is an attack against all, and that the "all" must work to defend the "one." This should remind us that it is our oldest ally and that it gave the Statue of Liberty to us as a gift.

In short, we have a moral obligation to get deeply involved in the response to November 13th and in helping crush ISIS. After all, ISIS is our enemy as well as France's, so acting alongside France has a practical aim as well as an ethical one.

I do not pretend to know precisely what "deeply involved" means in this context, but I do know that semantic blubbering about "crime" when we're dealing with terrorism will backfire... I also know that dispatching 50 military men to Syria -- not even to fight, but to "advise" -- looks flaccid and will therefore embolden an already emboldened enemy... I know that hamstringing our troops with politically correct rules of engagement (which we have been doing for some time) increases the risk to their lives and decreases our chances of victory... And while I am not calling for us to press the nuclear button tomorrow morning, I know that declaring in advance that we won't use nukes against our enemies (a declaration we've been making for some time) not only lessens our chances of victory, but increases the chances of bigger and deadlier terrorist acts being inflicted on our civilian population.

I know that when an American president faced with an existential crisis against an evil adversary publicly says he is "not interested in pursuing some notion of 'American leadership' or 'America winning,'" that president has placed our soldiers afield at greater risk; and placed our homeland at greater risk; and told the country he leads that he doesn't give a crap about it; and signaled to our allies that he doesn't give a crap if they lose their sovereignty and freedom, nor does he care if their citizens get slaughtered.

Obama spoke the above words yesterday. I hope he is engaging in some grand rope-a-dope which echoes Churchill's warning that "in war, truth is so precious she must always be protected by a bodyguard of lies." If that is not the case, I hope sounder minds and stronger hearts are able and willing to prevail upon him to change course. Otherwise, it is almost inevitable that civilian death tolls will continue to rise not only in other civilized nations, but in ours as well.

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