11 September 2012
opening round in the West's war with extremism played out. At the time we
were hosting a conference near Norfolk, Virginia of a number of
international technicians who found themselves trapped in the Chesapeake bay
area. As the nation closed its airspace, people struggled to do what their
instincts told them to do, get home. A friend of mine, a Japanese national,
rented a U-Haul truck and drove from North Carolina to his home in Atlanta.
He was stopped by law enforcement at least three times enroute.
Watching the video remembrances of the event, it is sobering to realize just
how little we knew about what was going on at the time. Images of the White
House emptying out and Capitol Hill police officers warning off news crews
in anticipation of United flight 93 making it to its target in DC make for a
stark contrast to our present state.
It is important that we reflect on the state of the world and the progress
in the war against Al-Queada. In eleven years the nations of Iraq and
Afghanistan have been liberated (although our poorly executed departure from
Iraq, due to the current administration's inability to negotiate a proper
Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA)) has likely caused more damage to the
The nations of Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Morocco and Syria are in
various stages of the Arab Spring. So called in that they represent the
hope of an abandonment of oppressive regimes and an emergence into a period
of open, tolerant governance. Whether this is the final outcome remains to
be seen. Syria is ruthlessly clinging to its criminal form of government
and Egypt is struggling to avoid devolving into another Iran.
Iran is perched on the precipice of confrontation with the rest of the globe
over its relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons. Despite computer viruses,
magnetic assassin bombs and international condemnation, it seems clear that
Iran will achieve the development of nuclear capability. What transpires
after that is anyone's guess.
At the heart of this conflict is a fundamental disagreement about the role
of religion in governance. The forces of Al-Qaeda seek a return to the
Caliphate and law based upon Sharia. Their philosophy is regressive and
narrow. The rise of this philosophy has been aided by many of the
governments which have fallen in recent months. Their repressive approach
has reinforced the beliefs of adherents to an Islamo-centric mindset and
provided easy recruiting for new members. Nations which have more liberal
approaches to governance, Indonesia, have seen less of a rise of such
The war continues, even today. There are few in the United States who truly
feel its effects of seem to grasp its implications. It is too soon to know
how the Arab Spring will affect its outcome or the ready availability of
domestic fuel via gas shale and other sources.
There is one thing certain, however, the outcome of this conflict will only
be determined by the adherents to the Islamist philosophy. It is they who
must decide if their obedience to a stagnant set of beliefs is worth
remaining outside the community of the planet and as pariahs in modern
society. We can only stand by with an open hand of welcome paired with a
gripped sword of defence.
23 August 2012
Just as the GOP will use the non-issue of gun rights to inflame their base, the democrats are using the settled abortion issue to rev up their connection with women. From the DNC’s view, the GOP will immediately drop burkhas over women and require them to be subject to arranged marriages and victimized by honor killings. This is the same fantasy rhetoric the GOP uses in regards to the present administration’s supposed plan to confiscate firearms and subject citizens to twenty-four hour surveillance. The sheer absurdity of these arguments ignores the fact the in Roe v Wade and Keller (in DC) these portions of law are largely settled and it is only the outlier states and municipalities which are holdouts against universal reproductive and gun rights.
The problem this causes is that it creates a film though which rational people must battle in order to have any discussion about real issues. These are issues over the size and role of government, the type and scope of fiscal policy and whether the USA will be a nation engaged with the world from a position of strength or an isolated country. Personally, the social debate is absurd in my mind on its face. No president has had any influence on social issues as these are almost always driven from the population and routed through the courts.
Good and intelligent friends of mine will wind themselves up over these issues with seeming amnesia over the actual impact over the past 20 years. None of these rights has eroded, in fact they have expanded and become more established.
The economy, however, is another matter entirely.
07 February 2012
Prior to 2001, it was the training haven for Al Qeada. It afforded numerous secure locations to prepare for global jihad against the forces of the West and internal enemies of a future Caliphate. Our success in Afghanistan hinges solely on our overwhelming ability to delivery lethal force to any part of the nation within minutes. This ability, however, will not convert an eleventh century culture into a modern society.
We are now facing peace talks with the Taliban, as we inevtibaly must and a likely premature exit in 2013. This will result in Afghanistan devolving back into sectarian violence and partitioning. It will also mean our presence wil be limited to a base in Khandahar or one of the -Stans from where SOCOM units will act to kill any coalescing threat which may spread outside the borders of the nation.
Michael Yon has written extensively about our challenges and now we have an Army O5 reporting his frustration with the truth on the ground. The truth on the ground in Afghanistan is the summary of his article.
Let's just hope we can maintain that ability to decisively deliver necessary force to preserve our own security. I fear that the security for the Afghans will remain elusive.
19 January 2012
January 18, 2012
Online Piracy Act Loses Support
After an unprecedented day of Internet-based lobbying, a proposal to clamp down on online piracy lost support Wednesday.
The Stop Online Piracy Act and a Senate companion, the Protect IP Act, were criticized by websites such as Wikipedia and Google as being written too broadly.
Hollywood took a different view, arguing the measure is necessary to stop online pirating of movies, TV shows and other copyrighted material.
But Silicon Valley appears to have won this round, with several lawmakers backing away from the bill.
Congressional Websites Go Dark
It wasn't just Wikipedia that went dark Wednesday.
Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Earl Blumenaeur (D-Ore.), Mike Honda (D-Calif.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) showed protest messages on their House.gov sites on the same day as link aggregator Reddit and online encylopedia Wikipedia.
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01/05/2012 12:43 PM CST
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