The U.S. and its allies are faced with four major threats, and they are as diverse and yet as akin as the proverbial apocalyptic horsemen.
Vladimir Putin has a tsarist idea that he can reclaim insidiously the periphery of the old Soviet Union — Georgia, Crimea, Ukraine, the Baltic states — on the principle of protecting Russian-speaking minorities in these breakaway republics. More practically, he feels that any security guarantees extended by the West to these entities are about as valid as an Obama red line or a Greek assurance of financial reform.
In the ongoing debate (or debacle) concerning free speech/expression and Muslim grievance—most recently on exhibition at Garland, where two “jihadis” opened fire on a “Prophet Muhammad” art contest organized by Pamela Geller—one thing has become clear: the things non-Muslims can do to provoke Islamic violence is limitless and far exceeds cartoons.
“Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” – W. B. Yeats, “The Second Coming”
Things are starting to collapse, abroad and at home. We all sense it, even as we bicker over who caused it and why.
ISIS took Ramadi last week. That city once was a Bastogne to the brave Americans who surged to save it in 2007 and 2008. ISIS, once known at the White House as the “Jayvees,” were certainly “on the run” — right into the middle of that strategically important city.
President Obama’s proposed Authorization for the Use of Military Force against ISIS comes at a time when Iran and ISIS are fomenting disorder and destruction throughout the Middle East. Despite the enmity between these two species of jihadism, both pose serious threats to our interests and security and those of our allies in the region. The president’s stubborn refusal to strengthen his dubious negotiations with Iran by approving Congress’s more punishing sanctions, along with his pledge not to use force against the mullahs, is guaranteed to make Iran a nuclear power that will dominate the region. And nothing in the AUMF will achieve his alleged “core objective” to destroy ISIS. Quite the contrary–– it will squander an opportunity to concentrate and eliminate tens of thousands of jihadists.
Not too long ago, most Russians were reportedly unhappy with Vladimir Putin. His crackdown on freedom and his kleptocratic economy were hardly popular. Most likely, given theirdruthers, Russians were not all that interested in Putin’s risky and costly dream of gobbling up former Soviet Republics to create some grander version of Russia’s mess.
But now? As the ruble crashes, as Russia’s oil income dives, and as sanctions start biting the man in the street, Putin, in counterintuitive fashion, is apparently more popular than ever.
It is disheartening to listen to Obama and his administration voices childishly reiterating that ISIS has nothing to do with Islam because it does not represent the majority of Muslims or what Westerners perceive as normative values distilled from the Koran.
No radical ideology, religious or otherwise, starts out coherently, much less representing the majority; but it eventually can if appeased and left unchallenged.
World War II was the most destructive war in history. What caused it?
The panic from the ongoing and worldwide Depression in the 1930s had empowered extremist movements the world over. Like-minded, violent dictators of otherwise quite different Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Imperial Japan, and the Communist Soviet Union all wanted to attack their neighbors.
Yet World War II could have been prevented had Western Europe united to deter Germany. Instead, France, Britain, and the smaller European democracies appeased Hitler.
How can we account for the apparent flip-flopping of the Obama administration about what we are doing, or might do further, to the Islamic State?
At times the secretary of defense seems at odds with the secretary of state. The administration seems not to be reacting to its own intelligence information about the Islamic State. Nor is it heeding the professional advice of the Joint Chiefs or top-ranking military officers in the field. Instead, in the run-up to the midterm elections, Obama appears to be guided largely by a stubborn adherence to his own past political truisms, and that explains the current inability to articulate a strategy or craft a coalition.
In anti-empirical fashion, the following axioms must be true — and thus the facts on the ground in Syria and Iraq must be massaged to reflect these beliefs.
The unfolding collapse of Iraq’s government before the legions of al Qaeda jihadists is the capstone of Barack Obama’s incompetent and politicized foreign policy. The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), armed with plundered American weapons and flush with stolen money, is consolidating a Sunni terrorist state in eastern Syria and northern Iraq, replete with mass executions, sharia law, and the beheading of violators. With revered Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani calling the Shia faithful to arms, a vicious civil war between Shia and Sunnis will likely intensify in the coming days. But whoever wins, the fallout for our security will be disastrous – a Shiite “crescent” from Aleppo to Mosul allied with Iran, which looks ever more likely to be nuclear armed, and a safe haven for terrorist training camps to prepare “martyrs” for attacks against the West. And our allies Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Israel all will to various degrees find their own security and interests impacted by this administration’s criminal foreign policy negligence.