Category Archives: Defense & Military Affairs

A “Broken Windows” Foreign Policy

A review of America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder by Bret Stephens

Bret Stephens is certainly not the first journalist to note that America seems to be in decline. Some who have made this observation couch their analysis in terms of domestic economics, or rule of law, or moral fiber, or even faithfulness to the ideals of the nation’s founders. Stephens’ main thrust is in terms of foreign affairs, international diplomacy, and national power and defense. But even in these aspects, Stephens is not the originator of the observation. What is unique and fascinating in Stephens’ book is the context in which he places the so-called decline – specifically, a clever analogy between Pax Americana and a certain US domestic policing philosophy.

The latter is the notion of “broken windows” policing. This idea, usually attributed to James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, grew popular in response to the dramatic increase in crime in the US over a quarter century (roughly 1960-1985). The theory runs as follow. The police, for example in a metropolitan area, are not only responsible for preventing crime and catching criminals, but more generally with maintaining public peace and order. Traditionally, they did that by concentrating their attention on serious crime and violent criminals – often to the extent of minimizing, even ignoring minor public nuisances like panhandling, loitering, vandalism and even non-violent burglary. The theory of broken windows holds that neighborhoods in which broken windows go unattended invite criminals to commit more serious crimes. The lack of attention to order and lawfulness – manifested by relatively trivial things like broken windows – says that the police are paying no attention to quality of life in that neighborhood and so more serious violations are likely to go undetected – and even when detected, unprosecuted.

Under the leadership of Mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg and Police Commissioners Bratton and Kelly, New York City forcefully enforced a policy to combat broken windows. Minor crimes, neighborhood vagrancy and vandalism, and low-level disturbances were dealt with vigorously and swiftly. And lo and behold, crime fell drastically in the Big Apple – so much so that New York attained the status of one of, if not ‘the’, safest major cities in the nation, indeed the world.

The method was copied around the country and crime rates plunged throughout the United States. The broken windows policy has its critics, but the numbers don’t lie; by any objective measure, it has been successful in curtailing crime and maintaining law and order in the nation’s cities.

Stephens’ theory is that exactly the reverse has happened in the world over the last two decades and especially since Barack Obama ascended to the residency. The global order – such as it was – enjoyed by the world since the end of WWII was a direct, predictable and verifiable consequence of the role America played in world affairs. Pax Americana was assured by the willingness of the US to take on the role of a benign superpower. We kept the world’s sea lanes open and safe for international commerce; we shielded our allies from Soviet aggression; we struck down tin pot dictators (Hussein, Milosevic, Gadhafi, and Noriega) that threatened regional peace; and we punished rogue organizations (e.g., al Qaeda and Columbian drug cartels) that attacked the West. We weren’t perfect and we made some mistakes. But overall the large presence of American forces, diplomacy, trade and aid assured a more orderly, peaceful and tranquil world than would have been present without our hands-on power.

Stephens suggests that our efforts to “police the world” involved a broken windows philosophy. Of course we dealt with major challenges to world peace – such as the Soviets. But we also paid attention to the broken windows – the relatively minor assaults and transgressions that if left unchecked would signal that no cop was on the beat and thereby engender major breaches of the peace. Examples include: Granada, the Falklands and Libya. In fact, America’s benevolent responses to natural disasters like the Indian Ocean tsunami and the Haiti earthquake fit into this pattern. When, on the other hand, we refrained from interceding in minor conflagrations (Lebanon, Afghanistan, Somalia), the local population and the world paid a heavy price.

But now, as Mayor de Blasio abrogates broken windows in New York, President Obama is abrogating it worldwide. America is, if not in decline, than certainly in retreat. Moreover, according to Stephens, it is a bipartisan retreat. The sentiment for retreat is very strong on the left because of its classical pacifist tendencies, its sense that America has not been a force for good in the world, and its strong egalitarian sympathies. But says Stephens, the retreat is also finding favor on the right – among the libertarian wing of the GOP, among “realists” who sense we are incapable of continuing to police the world, and among isolationists who trace their lineage back to Senator Robert Taft. Stephens sees a very precise analogy between America’s attitude today and what existed in the country in the 1920s and 1930s.

Stephens points out that America suffered for more than a decade from Vietnam Syndrome – the idea that our intervention in Vietnam was catastrophically wrong and our recognition of that “mistake” was spot on. However, our desire not to repeat it crippled our nation. We retreated from and abrogated our international responsibilities. The Soviets advanced and our knee jerk reaction was simply summed up in: “We don’t want another Vietnam.” Now many feel similarly about Iraq. Indeed, there are strong signs of an Iraq Syndrome – the feeling that our intervention there was a catastrophic mistake of the order of Vietnam and we should never repeat it. Again, this is crippling our ability to respond – this time to the Islamist menace.

At the conclusion of the book, Stephens lays out a scenario for a resumption of Pax Americana; albeit more modest in its goals. However, he does not strike a very optimistic note.

The strengths of Stephens’ book are many. He writes clearly, with great moral clarity. The historic parallels are carefully and cleverly drawn. And as mentioned the analog he uncovers between the broken windows policing philosophy and America’s role in Pax Americana is brilliant. Here are some representative samples of Stephens’ extraordinary prose:

No great power can treat foreign policy as a spectator sport and hope to remain a great power. A world in which the leading liberal-democratic nation does not assume its role as world policeman will become a world in which dictatorships contend, or unite, to fill the breach. Americans seeking a return to an isolationist garden of Eden—alone and undisturbed in the world, knowing neither good nor evil—will soon find themselves living within shooting range of global pandemonium. It would be a world very much like the 1930s, another decade in which economic turmoil, war weariness, Western self-doubt, American self-involvement, and the rise of ambitious dictatorships combined to produce the catastrophe of “World War II. … To say America needs to be the world’s policeman is not to say we need to be its priest, preaching the gospel of the American way. Priests are in the business of changing hearts and saving souls. Cops merely walk the beat, reassuring the good, deterring the tempted, punishing the wicked. Nor is it to say we should be the world’s martyr. Police work isn’t altruism. It is done from necessity and self-interest. It is done because it has to be and there’s no one else to do it, and because the benefits of doing it accrue not only to those we protect but also, indeed mainly, to ourselves. Not everyone grows up wanting to be a cop. But who wants to live in a neighborhood, or a world, where there is no cop?

Since World War II Europeans have relied on U.S. security guarantees to make up for the inadequacies in their own defenses; they have been able, as Robert Kagan suggested a decade ago, to live in a Kantian world of “perpetual peace” because the United States was rooted in a Hobbesian world of power. But U.S. security guarantees are no longer what they once were. If the result of the Retreat Doctrine is an America with entitlement programs that resemble Europe’s, it will eventually have a military that resembles Europe’s too. And it will have the same reluctance to pursue military options to deal with geopolitical crises. European policy makers need to begin thinking about their long-term security outlook in a world in which Uncle Sam has decided to take a European-style vacation from history. In the meantime, Americans may consider that the reason Europe was able to afford that long holiday from history is because a friendly power across the sea was prepared to devote immense resources to its defense. When Americans go on that holiday, who will be minding the store for us?

Barack Obama loves to talk about rules. When North Korea launched a ballistic missile in 2009, he warned that “rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something.” When the regime of Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons to murder more than one thousand people in Damascus in 2013, he insisted that “what happened to those people—to those children—is not only a violation of international law, it’s also a danger to our country.” After Russia seized Crimea in 2014, he denounced the Kremlin for “challenging truths that only a few weeks ago seemed self-evident, that in the 21st century, the borders of Europe cannot be redrawn with force, that international law matters, that people and nations can make their own decisions about their future. The language is elegant; the words are true. Yet the warnings rarely amount to very much….This is how we arrive at a broken-windows world: Rules are invoked but not enforced. Principles are idealized but not defended. International law is treated not as a complement to traditional geopolitical leadership but as the superior alternative to it… One window breaks, then all the others. The old expectations for order and the perpetuation of order no longer hold. If the American president lacks the moral will or the political stomach to enforce his chemical red line in Syria, what dissuades Tehran from marching across his nuclear red line? If the United States will do little more than wag its finger over Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian territory—an act the Kremlin justifies with reference to historic and ethnic claims—what stops China from behaving likewise with Taiwan? If the United States won’t honor the 1994 Budapest Memorandum by which Kiev gave up its nuclear weapons in exchange for a guarantee of its borders, why should Japan or Israel trust similar paper promises?”

On the down side, I believe that there are also some flaws and gaps in Stephens’ analysis:

  • I believe he makes too much of his perceived bipartisan nature of the choice to retreat. There is definitely some of that on the right (as pointed out), but the overwhelming impetus comes from the left. Stephens is not always clear enough about how Obama desires this course of action and how the left does not care at all about the deleterious effects Stephens outlines. The left welcomes them. It believes that America has no moral right to lead the world; that our past leadership has resulted in more harm than good; and that we deserve to be just one among the nations of the world – not exceptional.
  • Stephens also focuses mostly on the US, whereas the retreat is really a concerted action of the entire West. The countries of Western Europe began their retreat almost a half century before we did and the state of their decline is much further advanced than ours. Although, Obama seems determined to catch up.
  • Stephens also doesn’t really point out that our global retreat is paralleled by an equally dangerous domestic retreat. Again, like the countries of Western Europe, we seem to be losing confidence in – indeed abrogating the founding ideals of our nation. The moral rot in America may not be as advanced as it is in France or Italy, but we’re headed in the same direction. The decline and retreat of America is national as well as global.
  • Finally, he doesn’t focus enough on the subversive elements in the country that foster the retreat – leftists, Muslims, much of the mainstream media and America’s hyper-partisan public educational system. Americans didn’t wake up one morning and decide to retreat. We are being programmed by domestic subversive elements that welcome the prospect.

However, overall, Stephens has written a powerful book with a compelling message and a dire warning. Americans should take his message to heart.

This review also appeared in The Intellectual Conservative

What’s the Difference Between a Gunman and a Terrorist?

Compare the following reports – the first from the Ottawa Sun describing the recent terrorist attack in Ottawa and the second from the Jerusalem Post detailing the also recent terrorist attack in Jerusalem:

Two people are dead after at least one gunman stormed Parliament Hill on Wednesday morning. One of the dead is a soldier, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24, a reservist with Argylls of Canada – 91st Canadian Highlanders in Hamilton, Ont., who was standing guard at the National War Memorial. The other is the gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, born in 1982, who opened fire in Centre Block across the street. Two U.S. officials said that U.S. agencies have been advised that Zehaf-Bibeau was a Canadian convert to Islam. One of the officials said that the man was from Quebec. Police continued to search vehicles in downtown Ottawa, where blocks of the city’s core were locked down all day. Gunfire exploded shortly before 10 a.m., just outside where the Conservative caucus was meeting. The shooter was met with return fire — dozens of shots were heard — and was killed outside the parliamentary library.

A three-month-old girl, identified by her grandfather as Chaya Zissel, was killed and several US citizens and Israelis were wounded Wednesday evening when a convicted Palestinian terrorist from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan rammed his vehicle into a crowd of people in the capital. The attack, which was captured by a security camera, took place at the Ammunition Hill light-rail stop a few hundred meters from Israel’s national police headquarters, situated across a densely traveled thoroughfare, shortly after 6 p.m., a senior police official said. The terrorist was shot by police and late Wednesday evening he died in hospital.

In both instances, a lone-wolf terrorist, motivated by his rabid Islamist ideology, committed an act of wanton and indiscriminate murder of an innocent person and then was killed by authorities. In the Canadian account, the perpetrator is identified as a gunman, as might be an armed intruder in a bank robbery. In the Israeli account the perpetrator is clearly identified as a terrorist. In the Canadian report, the murderer’s Islamist background is handled gently and nonjudgmentally. In the Israel report it is made clear that the murderer’s background included previous violent attempts. In the former, it is never stated explicitly that the gunman killed the victim; only that “two people are dead.” Whereas in the Israeli report, it is abundantly clear who killed whom.

The behavior of Muslim terrorists in the United States is treated even more gingerly by the American media than by the Canadian press. And in fact, the Israeli report is if anything on the more circumspect side than is usually seen in the Israeli press. All of us in the West are the object of a holy (in fact, unholy) war perpetrated by radical Islamists. Terror is the main weapon they deploy. If we cannot recognize that – as the Israelis do, then we are going to have a very difficult time galvanizing ourselves to fight and obliterate the Islamist menace that threatens our countries and our lives.

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was not a gunman; he was a terrorist, on a mission to murder and maim in the name of his religion, or at least in some bloody interpretation of it that he had in his mind. Unfortunately, there are literally millions of his ilk out there. They have declared war on the US, on Canada, on Israel and on the entire West. The longer we try to pretend that this is not so, the longer and more costly will be our ultimate battle to defeat them.

This post also appeared in The American Thinker

Who is More Evil: Al Qaeda or Islamic State; and Which Poses the Greater Threat?

Whether you seek its definition as an adjective or noun, you will find in any reputable dictionary two identifying components of the term evil: morally reprehensible and causing immense harm. The problem is that the first component and, to a lesser extent, the second are both relative terms. Whether an action is morally reprehensible depends on the moral code used to judge the action. And too often, one man’s assessment of damage is another’s evaluation of progress. According to the centuries-old moral code of Western Civilization, the actions of both Al Qaeda and Islamic State are morally reprehensible. Moreover, their deeds have resulted in enormous harm to Americans, Europeans, Christians and other non-Muslim communities in the Middle East, and even to numerous Muslim groups in that troubled region. Ergo, to those of us residing in the West, both are evil organizations.

Now, although it is natural to ask the first question in the title – especially as the answer might inform the answer to the second – it is also a bit silly. It reminds me of a childhood game that I recall playing – namely, who was more evil: Hitler or Stalin? In an attempt at an answer, I and my boyhood friends would compare: the number of people each had killed, how many countries they conquered, and the nature of their butchery – gassing victims in a concentration camp versus purposeful mass starvation in an artificially induced famine. Suffice it to say that both Nazism and Communism were maniacally evil systems that unleashed unimaginable misery upon millions of people.

The same is true of Al Qaeda and Islamic State. Fortunately for mankind, the extent of the misery that their evil deeds have caused has nowhere near the scope of the Nazi or Communist Parties. But it has not been for lack of trying. The barbarism, savagery and cold-blooded ruthlessness exhibited by both organizations is more than enough to qualify them as evil – comparable to the standards, if not the scale of Nazism or Communism. I have no doubt that should either acquire the power that the Nazis or Commies had at their respective zeniths, the carnage would be comparable.

Which brings us to the second question in the title – which of these malevolent organizations poses the greater threat? To whom? I will consider the object of the threat to be the United States. In that case there are four types of threats that we must consider. Here they are in increasing order of severity:

  1. The conquest, domination or subversion of one or more states in the Middle East – or elsewhere – that causes severe damage to the economic or political interests of the US.
  2. Phenomenal growth in strength and adherents such that the organization becomes a force that can project power worldwide.
  3. Serous covert or overt attacks on the US homeland.
  4. A mortal threat to the existence of our country.

I find it very hard to believe that either Al Qaeda or Islamic State will rise in the future anywhere close to level 4 – however, see below. Al Qaeda has already proven that it has achieved level 3, and similarly Islamic State has demonstrated that it has reached level 1. Moreover, given the rapid and sweeping rise of Islamic State, it is not at all beyond the realm of possibility that it can reach level 2. If one accepts the threat levels as I have assayed them, then Al Qaeda remains the greater of the two threats. It does not have the safe haven that it had in Afghanistan to plot and prepare attacks on US soil. But it has established substantial cells in many other places – for example, Yemen – and the will and determination of members of Al Qaeda to hit us remain undiminished. They have not succeeded in the last decade because we are better prepared and because we’ve been lucky. We would be fools to assume that they won’t keep trying.

Islamic State seems more concerned with establishing its caliphate than with attacking the US. But they have announced their intention to strike us. If they should succeed in capturing and domineering sufficient territory to (temporarily) satisfy their lust for expansion, they may very well turn their sights on us.

Having answered the title’s questions, let me turn to America’s ambivalent attitude toward evil, to what extent that played a role in our struggles against Nazism and Communism in the last century, and what role it plays today in our confrontation with radical Islam. Our historical attitude can be summarized in the following points:

  • America tends to be slow in recognizing evil intent on the part of hostiles.
  • Even when acknowledged, the US is hesitant to label it as such. We persist in seeking alternate explanations for evil behavior. We question the reality of evil as it conflicts with our reflexively benign interpretations of the nature of mankind.
  • Even when accepted, we are hesitant to act against evil forces. We see their behavior as so contrary to the manner in which we expect humanity to behave that we irrationally expect it will peter out or run its course.
  • Finally, even when we decide to act, we couch our actions in logistic rather than moral terms. Our counterattack becomes just another routine military mission, carried out judiciously and somewhat reluctantly.

All of this was evident in our battles with Nazism and Communism. I would say more so in the latter than the former. It took us more than eight years from the inauguration of Hitler to enjoin the battle against Nazism. And if the Japanese had not attacked Pearl Harbor, who knows how much longer it would have taken. However, once we decided to fight, we fought ruthlessly and mercilessly to rid the world of fascism. In this case, we completely overcame our inherent reluctance and we smote the evil force with overwhelming firepower.

The delay in engaging Communism was substantially longer. Roughly 30 years passed from the Bolshevik Revolution until the Truman administration initiated the battle. Moreover, the battle was not fully engaged until another 25 years later when Reagan entered the scene. Furthermore, throughout the long struggle, a substantial portion of the country refused to acknowledge the evil nature of the Communist menace and attempted to temper the country’s actions against it. To this day, many refuse to label Communism as evil and question whether we needed to, or actually did, smite it.

Alas, our ambivalence in the face of evil seems to be growing. As I observed earlier, the Islamist menace is as evil as Nazism or Communism. Like them, it aspires to world domination and implementation of a totalitarian system. Furthermore, unlike Nazism or Communism, it does not have a central font from which the evil flows. Instead, lethal branches have spouted spontaneously all over Africa and Asia (Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram, the Taliban and dozens more.) Yet the proportion of our population that recognizes this danger appears to be quite limited. From our leaders to our policy makers to the general public, the reluctance to engage this mortal enemy is palpable. In the past, had we not overcome the twin evils of Nazism and Communism, the consequences for us and the free world would have been cataclysmic. The consequences of defeat by this new twenty first century evil force would be just as dire. Will we wake up in time?


This essay also appeared in Canada Free Press and in The Intellectual Conservative

Is Islamism a Totalitarian System Like Nazism and Communism?

The concept of a totalitarian state was an invention of the twentieth century. The notion of a state or nation whose government could control virtually all aspects of its citizens’ lives was not conceivable in prior times. It is certainly true that in monarchies throughout history, the average subject had little capability to individually alter his finances, geographical mobility or political status. But the monarch’s reach into the personal life of his subjects was largely restricted to the upper aristocratic coterie that surrounded him. Tradition, religion, ethnic constraints and geographical proximity were far more influential in determining the beliefs and behavior of the average subject than were the machinations of the king.

However, in a modern totalitarian state, technology, advanced communications and sophisticated surveillance techniques endow a relatively small ruling class with much more extensive powers. In the totalitarian state, the government completely controls the political, economic, social and cultural life of almost all its citizens. Such a level of control has actually only been achieved in two twentieth century nations: Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. Although strongly authoritarian, heavily centralized and equally war-like, Imperial Japan wasn’t really a totalitarian state in the same sense as the other two. The lives of its citizens were determined more by rigid cultural and “religious” rules than by the exhortations of the Emperor and his court. There were also a few mini totalitarian states in the last century – for example: Albania, perhaps Burma and a few wannabees (Nicaragua, Belarus). But Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia are really the only examples of major nations that qualify as totalitarian states.

As is well-known, the rulers of such nations have an appetite for control that cannot be sated only by its own citizens. The urge to conquer other nations is overwhelming. And, alas, the history of the two twentieth century totalitarian regimes is replete with invasion, mass murder, concentration camps, gulags, occupations and unimaginable barbarism. It is to the eternal credit of the United States that it refused to be cowed by these murderous regimes, led international coalitions to combat them and – in the words of Ronald Reagan – dispatched them to the ash heap of history.

But, to the sorrow of the civilized world, the twenty first century seems to have coughed up a third major totalitarian system – Islamism or radical Islam. There is absolutely no question that the sponsors of this ideology have in mind a totalitarian system for all regions in which that ideology will rule. It may be that the prime motivating factor in this third case is religion – unlike Nazism, in which it was race or volk; or Communism, in which it was economic or class. Nevertheless, according to the self-professed intentions of the Jihadists who espouse Islamism, the goal is to create a society ruled absolutely by Sharia Law. Based on prior experience in Afghanistan and those few despoiled spots in the Middle East (Iraq, Syria) and Africa (Sudan, parts of Mali) where rule by Sharia Law has been implemented, one must conclude that it is a political system, which seeks to control all aspects of the lives of those under its domain. Ergo, a totalitarian system.

However, there is a major difference between radical Islam as it is developing and Nazism and Communism as they existed. While in all three cases, the goal was/is worldwide domination; in the twentieth century variety, the focal point for the system and the font from which all the branches were directed, was a single nation state. That is far from the case with radical Islam. For the latter, we are witnessing far-flung eruptions – like pimples on an ugly face – all over Africa and Asia (with tentacles all over the world). Although they are only loosely aligned with each other, each is guided by the same ideology and employs the same tactics. All seek to create a worldwide totalitarian system based on radical Islam that would totally dominate the lives of all who live under it.

Here is a partial list of the blemishes: Al Qaeda (AQ), AQ in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), AQ in the Maghreb (AQIM), Islamic State, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Boko Haram, Abbu Sayyaf, Al Shabaab, Jabhat al Nusra, Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Taliban. Breathtaking! The cancer is metastasizing all over the world and new mutations spring up regularly. Incidentally, some would add the state of Iran to the list.

The West in general and the Unites States in particular are now confronted by a lethal threat from this metastasizing totalitarian system. The system’s adherents – in every case – have declared that the West and the US are indeed the mortal enemies of Islam and that the peoples of those entities must be converted or killed. That is not a negotiating position on their part. It is their hardcore belief – one on which they have acted and on which they promise to continue acting. We in the US (and in the West) do not have the luxury of dismissing their intentions as ludicrous and not worthy of our attention. They have declared war on us and even if we pretend it is not so, it does not change the fact that we are in their crosshairs.

Part of the reason that we have not taken the threat with the seriousness that it warrants is indeed the diffuse nature of the enemy. There is no single nation state that is its chief sponsor and upon which we might concentrate any ire that we could work up. (Again, some consider Iran to be a candidate, although we are extremely reluctant to confront them as such.) Another reason is the fatigue we feel – first from our two heroic struggles to overcome the twentieth century totalitarian systems; and second, from our halting and unsuccessful efforts to engage the Jihadists in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last decade. But I think the main reason is that, since the threat emerged (roughly 20 years ago), all of our leaders (Clinton, Bush, Obama) have been loath to identify it for what it is. They tell us that Islam is a religion of peace and that the practitioners of Jihad are a small minority that has hijacked the religion. In fact there is no objective evidence for that claim and much to support its refutation. Moreover, I doubt that our leaders believe their own words. Instead, the emergence of the third totalitarian threat does not conform to their vision of the twenty first century as the West foresaw it developing following the collapse of the Soviet Union. “Another totalitarian monster? No way! Been there, done that. It’s so twentieth century.” The eruption of radical Islam just doesn’t square with the “end of history” theme to which they subscribe, and so Islamism must be a passing or insignificant trend that does not command the attention, resources and drive required of us that were needed to combat the evils of the twentieth century. The West just doesn’t want to go down that road again.

And so we call Jihad in Fort Hood “workplace violence”; we refer to terrorist actions against us in the homeland as “man-caused disasters”; and we label the limited sorties against the Jihadists that we have permitted ourselves “overseas contingency operations.” We strive mightily to fool ourselves so as not to recognize that, for a third time, a brutal and murderous totalitarian system has emerged to threaten the civilized world and that if we don’t confront and destroy it, the fate of mankind is bleak indeed.

But we are not fooling anyone. Islamism is indeed a totalitarian system. The way it has emerged and the nature of its existence differs from those of Nazism or Communism. That should not prevent us from a clear evaluation of its nature and the threat that it poses. We defeated Nazism by building and deploying a mighty military force that bludgeoned the Nazis into submission. We defeated Communism by building a mighty economy and social engine that exposed the hollow and false nature of Communist ideology – so that the Soviet Union collapsed on its own. We clearly have not settled on a strategy for confronting and defeating Islamism. It might be that we haven’t even begun looking for one. But we better get busy. The Islamists are coming for us. For them, it’s a fight to the death. The sooner we recognize that, the sooner we can get to work arranging for their death.

This essay also appeared in Canada Free Press as well as in The Intellectual Conservative

For the US, there are No ‘Good Guys’ in Iraq-Syria

Now we learn that Syrian warplanes are attacking ISIS in western Iraq. There is no end to the flavor of Muslim forces that are battling Assad’s government in Syria. But it is certain that among any of their arsenals, warplanes are not accounted for. The aircraft that are attacking ISIS definitely emanate from Assad’s air force. That would be the Assad about whom President Obama has said: “he must go.” Well, according to the well-worn concept of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’… So which among these two blood-thirsty combatants – Assad’s genocidal, chemical weapons-toting troops or ISIS’s beheading-inclined, Islamofascist warriors – is the enemy and which is the friend?

How blind does one have to be not to see that neither side is a friend of the United States of America!

The Muslim world is aflame with sectarian violence. Much of it originates in the centuries-long enmity between its two main branches – Sunni and Shia. But it is also reflected in Arab vs Persian, fundamentalist vs ‘moderate,’ Muslim vs non-Muslim neighbor (e.g., India, China, black Africa and of course southeastern Europe), and Muslim vs any non-Muslim minority that has the misfortune to reside in the Muslim Umma. In all of these disputes, there is no Muslim component that supports the ideals and values which characterize the US, and western civilization, more generally – that is, religious tolerance, human life and freedom, rule of law, free markets and minority rights. There are no true friends of the United States to be found anywhere in the inferno that plagues the Muslim world today. There are some entities with whom we have struck temporary and convenient alliances – for example, Saudi Arabia. And we should continue to pursue such alliances if they serve our interests – and if our ‘partners’ do not give succor to those who mean us harm (fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers were Saudi). But the thought of spilling another drop of American blood to protect any of these medieval combatants is sickening.

One must recognize that, as happened in Afghanistan fifteen years ago, if an outfit such as ISIS is able to create a region in which they are free to plan horrific attacks on the US, then that eventuality cries out for our a priori intervention. In such cases, I have no problem with massive air strikes, covert special forces operations and cyber and other remote warfare on the devils. But another intervention – such as we engaged in in Iraq and Afghanistan – seems likely to result in thousands more dead and wounded American GIs, with no satisfactory endgame. We have no real friends in the Muslim world. We should formulate our plans to protect and defend ourselves accordingly.

This post also appeared in The Ameican Thinker