Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Ten Point Plan to Defeat ISIS. By K.T. McFarland.

A ten point plan to defeat ISIS. By K.T. McFarland., November 17, 2015.


While Paris was still reeling under a state of emergency, President Obama took to the stage at the G-20 conference in Turkey to declare his policy to defeat ISIS a success. He had no plans to change course and no time to deal with critics who disagreed. Just days after ISIS ratcheted up their ambitions to conduct mass casualty attacks against the West, the president persisted in claiming his policy was working. President Obama continues to show a stunning and willful blindness to the tragedies all around him.

Meanwhile, the Russians and the French have started fighting back, launching airstrikes against the ISIS capital. As the days go on, more and more nations feel radical Islam’s sting and struggle with how to respond. The world is screaming out for U.S. leadership, but the president just isn’t up to the job.

It is slowly dawning on the West that radical Islam is the existential threat of our times, as fascism was in World War II, as communism was in the Cold War. We can’t cooperate with it, we can’t convert it and we can’t contain it. We must defeat it.

But so far we have no Churchill or FDR, no Reagan or Thatcher or Pope John Paul II. Obama has made it abundantly clear that he’s not budging. He says the U.S. will not send troops into the region, and he uses that as an excuse to do nothing. He says critics have suggested things he’s already doing. He says if anybody has a better plan, he hasn’t seen it.

Mr. President, here is what a better plan looks like. It’s the same plan that won World War II and the Cold War. The U.S. led in both victories, and the U.S. is the only country than can lead this time.  Those victories were multifaceted and multinational.

To defeat radical Islam, the United States should bring together all of Western civilization, combining our economic, political, ideological and diplomatic weapons, our intelligence and cyber capabilities, and our armed forces. No one country acting alone can defeat radical Islam. Everyone has his own role to play. But it won’t happen without America taking the lead.

First, assemble an alliance of nations that are threatened by radical Islam. We may have to hold our noses and work with leaders and countries we have differences with, as we did with the USSR during World War II. But we can put aside those differences temporarily to deal with the immediate threat. Putin, Assad, even the hacktivist group Anonymous could play a role.

The president insists the U.S. won’t send ground forces back to the Middle East. But this is still a military campaign. There is collateral damage in war.  We can try to minimize it, but not at the expense of losing this war.

Second, cut off ISIS’ funding. Bomb their oil fields and refineries. Destroy the pipelines, trucks and tankers taking ISIS oil to market. Use the U.S. banking system to track and freeze ISIS’ assets and sanction any country and company doing business with them.

Third, get tough with our Arab allies. Many Gulf Arab states have wealthy citizens who support radical Islamist groups. Tell those leaders they should police their own and shut down the funding streams. If they don’t, we won’t lift a finger to help them when radical Islamist groups bring the fight to their lands.

Fourth, launch a propaganda war to win the hearts and minds of those whose minds are still open. Use social media for disinformation campaigns. Counter every ISIS video of beheadings with videos showing jihadists blown to bits. – Showing terrorists committing unspeakable acts of violence doesn’t turn recruits off, it attracts them. The only way to discourage new followers is to show ISIS as weak, confused and in decline.

Fifth, encourage Islam’s leading clerics to speak out against the extremists.  Two of the most respected and important leaders in Islam, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar University and Cairo’s Grand Mutfi, have taken strong stands. We can help spread their messages.

Sixth, launch cyberwarfare against ISIS. Invade their safe havens on the Internet. Disrupt their networks. Radical Islam has dominated this space while we play catch-up.  Even worse, we have tried to conduct our efforts with one hand tied behind our back.

Seventh, arm our allies. We should give anyone willing to stand up and fight ISIS whatever he needs. Arm the Kurds and the Anbar Sunni tribes directly. Give weapons and aid to Jordan, Egypt and Israel.

Eighth, discard political correctness. We reacted to September 11 by treating everyone alike. The grandmother traveling with her grandkids to Disney World was given the same level of scrutiny as the young man with multiple visits to North Waziristan who traveled without luggage on a one-way ticket he paid for in cash. A better way to use our resources efficiently is to profile for terrorist behavior patterns. If we focus on everyone, we focus on no one.

Ninth, Don’t accept refugees we can’t vet. ISIS has already announced it will hide terrorists among the hordes of refugees flooding Europe and hoping to enter the U.S. The directors of the FBI, the CIA and the National Intelligence Agency have all issued warnings about the difficulty of vetting refugees headed for the U.S. Americans can help best by offering humanitarian assistance to keep refugees in the region, helping those of fighting age to stand and fight ISIS.

And finally, 10th, accept that we will constantly need to adapt our strategies and tactics to deal with radical Islamists. President George W. Bush tried to destroy radical Islam by sending in hundreds of thousands of troops to fight in Iraq, and failed. Obama tried withdrawing from the region, and that failed, too.

Yet the threat continues to grow. It has taken different forms over the years – Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, al Nusra front – and it will no doubt wear other faces in the years ahead. But it’s the same enemy: religious fanatics driven by the core belief that they have been chosen by Allah to establish a caliphate that rules the world. They will kill any and all who stand in their way – Christians, Jews, Muslims – in the Middle East and worldwide.

Since they’re convinced they will prevail in the inevitable clash of civilizations, they’re not worried about the scope of the battle, or the levels of destruction, or even dying in the process. In fact, they are eager to bring on the end times, since they believe their triumph over the infidels is preordained.

We can laugh at the absurdity of their goals, or dismiss them as the “JV team,” or try to win their hearts and minds, or divert their anger with a jobs summit.

This is an enemy we can defeat. But our efforts need a leader. It can’t be Putin, and it can’t be Hollande. America is the only nation with the bandwidth, clout and power to assemble Western civilization and unite us in this long war.

Now all we need is a leader who is up to the task.

The GOP-ISIS Nightmare Coalition. By Andrew O’Hehir.


Terrorists and the far right both see democracy as a decadent failure; at least ISIS admits they want to destroy it.

Amid all the terror and panic and xenophobic hysteria of the Paris aftermath — which seems to have set the dial on the political Way-Back Machine to about 2002, at least for now — Republicans actually have a point. Maybe it’s half a point, because when Donald Trump or Ted Cruz (or Marine Le Pen) raise the contested question of whether Islam is compatible with democracy, they don’t really understand the basic terms of the question, let alone where it leads.

I will jump ahead here and suggest that you don’t get to ask that leading question about Islam and democracy, which has been the subject of considerable scholarly debate, without asking a number of corollary questions. What do we mean by Islam, and what do we mean by democracy? Is “democracy,” as we currently understand it and experience it, actually compatible with the idea of democracy as it was handed down from antiquity and reconceived by the Enlightenment? But it does no good for people on the left who claim to stand for democracy, and for its associated values of human rights and civil liberties, to pretend that the questions about Islam and democracy do not exist or do not matter, or that they have been settled. The killings in the 11th arrondissement, and the reaction throughout the West, should be enough to tell us that isn’t so.

It gives me absolutely no pleasure to insist that on this question, as on others, the Islamist militants of ISIS and the anti-Islamic Western right have reached the same conclusion. To put it more bluntly, every major Republican presidential candidate (excepting one or two of Jeb Bush’s multiple personalities) largely subscribes to the political and philosophical worldview of ISIS, except when it comes to final eschatological questions about who ends up in Paradise.

Indeed, in both cases the idea that Islam and democracy are incompatible is more like an essential premise than a conclusion, and the kinship goes much deeper than that. Both sides begin with the same diagnosis, which is that Western civilization faces a fundamental, existential crisis, and arrive at closely allied prescriptions aimed at producing closely related outcomes. In one case, Western democracy is seen as a corrupt and decadent sham that will simply be destroyed (and perhaps, in some fantasy future, subjugated to Islamic rule). In the other, Western democracy is corrupt and decadent and so on, and it must be destroyed in order to save it.

This meeting of minds and convergence of interests is not good news for the future of Islam or the future of Western democracy or the future of the human species. Personally, I’m not interested in the left-liberal tendency to use this for partisan political purposes: There are more important things at stake here than winning the next election, and in any event this issue feels like a lose-lose for everyone. It’s definitely not good news for those who want to resist both militant Islam and right-wing bigotry, as witness the political gymnastics performed in recent days by French President François Hollande and Hillary Clinton and even Bernie Sanders.

Clinton’s post-Parisian lurch to the right is obviously a strategic maneuver designed to fend off charges that she’s a terrorist-coddling crypto-Muslim in the mold of Barack Hussein Obama. It should also serve to remind both Clinton’s fans and detractors who she really is: a classic “Cold War liberal,” progressive on domestic social issues (at least within the frame of neoliberal economic and fiscal policy) but supremely hawkish when it comes to foreign policy and national security. Whether that combination reflects genuine principle or sheer political calculation I couldn’t say, and with Hillary Clinton I’m not sure there’s a difference. In her best possible incarnation, she might be President Hubert Humphrey, albeit imprisoned by a political climate HHH could never have imagined.

This point about the ideological marriage of ISIS and the Republicans has been made in various ways by various commentators since the Paris attacks — I made it myself in the immediate aftermath, even if I “buried the lede” — but I don’t think it can be restated often enough. Strategists of the Islamic State want Western regimes to persecute and marginalize Muslim citizens, crack down on immigration and squander their financial and political capital on a military response that is unlikely to produce a clear-cut victory and highly likely to harden anti-Western attitudes in the Islamic world. A similar approach worked brilliantly for Osama bin Laden in 2001 — better than he expected, I would guess — and ISIS possesses a far more sophisticated understanding of Western politics and culture than Osama and the old-school al-Qaida leadership ever did.

ISIS has repeatedly made clear, in its own English-language publications, that it seeks to divide the world between the infidel Crusader West and the purifying force of radical Islam, and to destroy any “gray zone” of accommodation or détente that lies between those stereotypical extremes. As scholar Bernard Lewis explained in an extended discourse on this subject back in 1993 (long before he suckered himself into becoming a war cheerleader), the most important target of Islamic fundamentalism was not the West itself but “pseudo-Muslim apostates” who had abandoned the true faith and become corrupted by secular foreign ideologies like liberalism or socialism or nationalism. This also could not possibly be clearer in the case of ISIS, which has murdered many times more Muslims than Westerners and whose ideological outreach is all about providing unemployed and disaffected Muslim youth in Europe and North America (many from secular families) a renewed sense of identity and community.

Some Republicans and European right-wingers are intelligent enough to understand all this, one must assume. It’s not some breathtaking new analysis to assert that the conflict between the West and violent Islamic extremism — and the conflict within the Muslim world itself — has more to do with ideology and economic conditions than with bombing sorties and “boots on the ground.” Either the leaders of the xenophobic right do not agree that they are doing exactly what ISIS wants them to do or they don’t care, and both possibilities are equally puzzling. My conclusion is that some don’t know and others don’t care, and that none of them can help themselves. They are driven forward by larger forces they cannot resist or control — by the populist upsurge of fear and animosity that is driving the No Syrian Grandmas movement, and by their not-so-secret conviction that the Islamist militants are right about the decrepit condition of Western civilization and democracy.

For at least the last 20 years and arguably closer to the last 50, the Republican Party has bet its future on appealing to a constantly shrinking electoral quadrant of exurban whites, largely in the South and Southwest. Throughout that period, the basis of that appeal has been the idea that America and Americanism (as core Republican voters understood those things) were in critical danger and under constant attack from within, from feminism and multiculturalism and the P.C. thought police, from Adam-and-Steve wedding cakes and the “war on Christmas” and white people who drove Volvos and wore funny glasses and drank chai lattes. Drive through any rural region of the United States — in my case, the impoverished hinterlands of central New York State, barely three hours from Manhattan — and you’ll encounter those “Take Back Our Country” lawn signs. No one on any side of the question needs to ask from whom.

It’s glaringly obvious, or at least it should be, that those are exactly the same tendencies that the leaders of ISIS and Osama bin Laden and the Taliban perceive and despise in the West. Much of that derives from Sayyid Qutb, the intellectual godfather of modern Islamic extremism, who published his influential critique “The America That I Have Seen” after spending two years in various parts of the U.S. in the late 1940s. Qutb excoriated America for its “deviant chaos” and its focus on “animalistic desires, pleasures, and awful sins.” He probably never imagined the prospect of same-sex weddings, gender-neutral bathrooms or Kardashian-centric reality TV, but would have perceived such outrageous developments as logical results of America’s fundamental depravity.

Some of Qutb’s complaints about materialism, consumerism and economic inequality, in fairness, are more redolent of left-wing moralizing, and those elements too can be found in contemporary Islamist rhetoric. But he was especially obsessed with the widespread secularism of American life, with the growing cultural influence of black people (whom he described as “bestial” and “noisy”) and with the sexual and intellectual freedom of women. Remember, this was 1949! He sounds like a horndog Baptist preacher out of some overcooked satirical novel when he inveighs against the “seductive capacity” of the American female, found in her “expressive eyes, and thirsty lips … in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs.” Whatever research Qutb may have undertaken on that subject during his time in Colorado and California was for the benefit of Islam, to be sure.

My point is not merely that puritanism of all stripes has common roots and common goals, and always calls for a return to some bygone era of virtue that almost certainly never existed. That’s a point worth making, but here’s the real secret sauce that binds the insane doctrines of ISIS to the Republican Party madhouse of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz: They both perceive all this decadence and moral relativism and loss of faith as the consequence of 200-odd years of democratic malpractice. One side has the decency to say openly that the legacy of 1776 and 1789 was complete bullshit from the get-go, nothing more than a high-minded pretext for imperial conquest and endless self-indulgence. The other side — and I think you know the one I mean — must pretend that democracy is or was a good idea, at least until it was distorted by Communist mind control or the Black Panthers or the 14th Amendment, while doing everything possible to undermine it.

I don’t suspect I need to lay out here all the ways that the American right, faced with an evident demographic disadvantage, has sought to disenfranchise its opponents, poison the political and legislative process and transfer power to the super-rich. As I and others have repeatedly observed, the great victory of the Koch brothers and the Republican brain trust in the 2014 midterm election lay not just in the GOP’s huge congressional majority but in the shocking 36.6 percent turnout, the lowest in any national election since World War II. The American right cannot return to a system where only property-owning white men are allowed to vote, at least not without visibly ripping up the Constitution. But it has gone a long way toward creating an environment that discourages and disheartens everyone else, and where the Angry White Male vote is coddled and inflamed and privileged in numerous ways.

As strange as this may sound, I do not doubt the faith that lies behind the right-wing distaste for democracy, or at least no more than I doubt the conflicted zealotry that lies behind militant Islam. Both sides correctly observe that the various strains of post-Jeffersonian democracy in the Western world have been plagued with problems from the beginning, and now face a dire crisis. Both the Western right and fundamentalist Islam yearn to pull their societies back toward a purer distillation of faith and a collective sense of purpose, and what could serve that purpose better than an apocalyptic “clash of civilizations”? They see the salvation of their respective societies in the rejection of the flabby ideal of democracy, explicitly or otherwise, and its replacement with a more virile, more godly and more effective system.

Is Islam compatible with democracy? Scholars have batted that one around for decades without arriving at a clear yes-or-no answer. Roughly 40 percent of the world’s Muslims live in nominal democracies now, for whatever that’s worth, and the popular appetite for democracy demonstrated by the Arab Spring was unmistakable, if also unfulfillable. But it strikes me as the wrong question. We might as well ask whether capitalism is compatible with democracy, or whether human nature is. As Justice Louis Brandeis may have said (like so many famous quotations, this one is tough to pin down), we can have democracy or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both. By that standard we have never had democracy, and quite likely never will.

Dealing With the Islamic State Demands Patience, Not Panic. By Fareed Zakaria.

Dealing with the Islamic State demands patience, not panic. By Fareed Zakaria. Washington Post, November 19, 2015.


Henry Kissinger has noted that in his adult lifetime, the United States has fought five major wars and began each one with great enthusiasm and public support. But in each of them, Americans soon began to ask, “How quickly can you withdraw?” In three of these conflicts, he says, the United States withdrew its forces unilaterally. Today we are watching a similarly powerful, and understandable, enthusiasm for an expanded war against the Islamic State. Let us make sure we understand what it would entail not just to start it but also to end it.

One place to learn some lessons might be from a strategy that has been relatively successful: the war against al-Qaeda. As Peter Bergen noted in 2012, a year after Osama bin Laden’s death, the group’s leadership had been destroyed, its resources had disappeared and its support among the Arab public had plummeted. It has not launched an attack on Western soil since the London bombings 10 years ago.

The picture did not always look like that. After 9/11, officials and experts spoke of al-Qaeda with the awe and fear they now reserve for the Islamic State. Once the United States and its allies began battling the group, it inspired or directed several attacks across the globe, including the bloodiest in the West since 9/11, the 2004 Madrid train bombings, which killed 191 people. But those attacks did not mean al-Qaeda was “winning” the war on terrorism any more than the attacks in Paris last week mean that the Islamic State is winning. In fact, it’s possible that as the Islamic State loses territory on the ground, it is resorting to terrorism abroad.

What explains the success against al-Qaeda? Many experts point to the genuinely global counterterrorism operations, especially the sharing of intelligence. Others note that the group overplayed its hand in Iraq.

In one of the best books on the topic, “Hunting in the Shadows,” Seth Jones concludes that whenever the United States adopted a “light-footprint strategy” — Special Operations forces, covert intelligence and law enforcement — it did well. Whenever the United States and its allies sent troops into Muslim countries, he notes, “al-Qaeda has benefited through increased radicalization and additional recruits.” This is why from the start, the Islamic State has sought to bait Western countries into sending troops to Syria.

Defeating the group militarily would not be difficult. But to keep it defeated, someone would have to rule its territories or else it, or a variant, would just come back. The Islamic State draws its support from Sunnis in Iraq and Syria who feel persecuted by the non-Sunni governments in both countries. In addition, the group has created a functioning state that provides some measure of stability for a population that has been battered over the past decade.

In this sense, the Islamic State is more akin to the Taliban than al-Qaeda, which was a gang of foreigners lodged in Afghanistan as guests of the Taliban. But the Taliban itself is a local group, with support in the Pashtun communities of Afghanistan and Pakistan. This explains why the United States has not defeated it, after 14 years of warfare and tens of thousands of American soldiers and now many more Afghan troops. Keep in mind that in Afghanistan, the United States has a decent local ally that has considerable legitimacy. In Syria, it has none. The Kurds are a crucial ally and should become even more important in the months ahead. Still, as an ethnic minority, they cannot govern Arab lands.

Politicians call on the United States to build up an army of moderate Syrians. It is a worthwhile endeavor. But historically, when foreigners have helped put together local forces, those forces have usually lacked legitimacy and staying power — think of the Cubans who landed at the Bay of Pigs, the South Vietnamese regime or Washington’s favored Iraqi exiles. This essential problem — the lack of a credible local ally — makes ground operations in Syria harder than in Iraq, Afghanistan or Vietnam.

This is not to counsel despair but to suggest “strategic patience,” as President Obama rightly says. The Islamic State is not nearly as strong as the hysteria of the moment suggests. It is surrounded by deadly foes. Many countries are fighting it — Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran, the United States and Vladimir Putin’s Russia, neighboring Jordan and faraway France. Its territory is shrinking, and its message is deeply unpopular to most in its supposed “caliphate” — witness the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing its barbarism.

Counterterrorism, intelligence, airstrikes, drones and Special Operations are arenas where the West has the advantage — it has the money, technology, know-how and international cooperation. And it can hammer away for months, even years. If instead, panicked by terrorism, we were to send American soldiers into the deserts of Syria, we would enter the one arena where the Islamic State has the decisive advantage. And after a few inconclusive years, people would start asking, “How quickly can you withdraw?”

The End of Obamaworld: A Failed President. By Patrick J. Buchanan.

The End of Obamaworld: A Failed President. By Patrick J. Buchanan. Human Events, November 20, 2015. Also at Townhall, WND,

Malzberg | Patrick J. Buchanan discusses the terror attacks in Paris and Obama’s response. Video. The Steve Malzberg Show. NewsmaxTV, November 18, 2015. YouTube.


Nations have a right to preserve their own unique identity.

In denouncing Republicans as “scared of widows and orphans,” and castigating those who prefer Christian refugees to Muslims coming to America, Barack Obama has come off as petulant and unpresidential.

Clearly, he is upset. And with good reason.

He grossly, transparently underestimated the ability of ISIS, the “JV” team, to strike outside the caliphate into the heart of the West, and has egg all over his face. More critically, the liberal world order he has been preaching and predicting is receding before our eyes.

Suddenly, his rhetoric is discordantly out of touch with reality. And, for his time on the global stage, the phrase “failed president” comes to mind.

What happened in Paris, said President Obama, “was an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share.”

And just what might those “universal values” be?

At a soccer game between Turkey and Greece in Istanbul, Turks booed during the moment of silence for the Paris dead and chanted “Allahu Akbar.” Among 1.6 billion Muslims, hundreds of millions do not share our values regarding women’s rights, abortion, homosexuality, free speech, or the equality of all religious faiths.

Set aside the fanatics of ISIS. Does Saudi Arabia share Obama’s views and values regarding sexual freedom and the equality of Christianity, Judaism and Islam? Is anything like the First Amendment operative across the Sunni or Shiite world, or in China?

In their belief in the innate superiority of their Islamic faith and the culture and civilization it created, Muslims have more in common with our confident Christian ancestors who conquered them than with gauzy global egalitarians like Barack Obama.

“Liberte, egalite, fraternite” the values of secular France, are no more shared by the Islamic world than is France’s affection for Charlie Hebdo.

Across both Europe and the United States, the lurch away from liberalism, on immigration, borders and security, fairly astonishes.

But again, understandably so.

Many of the Muslim immigrants in Britain, France and Germany have never assimilated. Within these countries are huge enclaves of the alienated and their militant offspring.

Consider the Belgium capital of Brussels. Belgium’s home affairs minister Jan Jambon said his government does not “have control of the situation in Molenbeek.”

Brice De Ruyver, a security adviser to a former Belgian prime minister says, “We don’t officially have no-go zones in Brussels, but in reality, there are, and they are in Molenbeek.”

According to The Wall Street Journal, after the Paris attacks, “French security forces … conducted hundreds of antiterror raids and placed more than 100 suspects under arrest. … France has some 11,500 names on government watch lists.”

How many of those 11,500 are of Arab descent or the Muslim faith?

The nations of the EU are beginning to look again at their borders, and who is crossing them, who is coming in, and who is already there.

And the world is reawakening to truths long suppressed. Race and religion matter. To some they are life-and-death matters. Not all creeds, cultures and tribes are equally or easily assimilated into a Western nation. And First World nations have a right to preserve their own unique identity and character.

When Obama says that to prefer Christian to Muslim refugees is “un-American,” he is saying that all the U.S. immigration laws enacted before 1965 were un-American. And, so, too, were presidents like Calvin Coolidge who signed laws that virtually restricted immigration to Europeans.

Barack Obama may be our president, but who is this man of the left to dictate to us what is “un-American”?

Were presidents Harry Truman and Woodrow Wilson, who called ours a “Christian nation,” un-American? Did the Supreme Court uphold our “universal values” with Roe v. Wade in 1973 and the Obergefell decision on same-sex marriage last June?

The race issue, too, has returned to divide us.

Half a century after Selma bridge, we have “Black Lives Matter!” on college campuses claiming that universities like Missouri, Princeton, Yale and Dartmouth are riddled with institutional racism.

Attention must be paid, and reparations made, by white America. And a new generation of academic appeasers advances to grovel and ask how the university might make amends.

In Europe, tribalism and nationalism are on the march. Peoples and nations wish to preserve who they are. Some have begun to establish checkpoints and ignore the Schengen Agreement mandating open borders. Eastern Europeans have had all the diversity they can stand.

With Syrian passports missing, with ISIS besieged in its Syria-Iraq laager and urging suicide attacks in New York and Washington, we may be witness to more terrorist massacres and murders in the States.

The time may be at hand for a moratorium on all immigration, and a rewriting of the immigration laws to reflect the views and values of Middle Americans, rather than those of a morally arrogant multicultural elite.

Obamaworld is gone. We live again in an us-versus-them country in an us-versus-them world. And we shall likely never know another.