Thursday, November 26, 2015

Turkey-Russia Spat: What goes around....

Erdogan said everyone should respect the right of Turkey to defend its borders while Putin demands an apology and compensation from Turkey because  Turkey exercised its right to defend its borders by shooting down a Russian Fighter crossing into or threatening to cross into Turkish territory as Russian support for the Syrian terror regime. Since this was a clear case of violating the borders of a democracy, in this case Turkey's democracy, in support of terrorism -- President Erdogan has put into place a set of morals and protocols to guide Turkey properly.   It is clear, based on Erdogan's own support of terrorism that Turkey must pay for downed fighter Jet and compensate the family of the Russian pilots because that is what Erdogan’s twisted morality and therefore Turkey’s twisted morality demands.

Just five years ago, Turkey in support of Hamas’ terrorism against Israeli civilians sent the Mavi Mamara as part of a fleet of ships with the mission to violate Israeli territorial waters and the legal blockage of Gaza, this ship had IHH terrorists embedded with civilians who planned and committed violence against Israel. While Israel’s handing of the Mavi Mamara was by all accounts a disaster, then Prime Minister Erdogan’s pro-terrorist attitude took a disaster and turned into a sign that NATO would not be able to fight terrorism, a problem if Turkey could not decide terrorism is a bad thing, a problem NATO continues not to face to this day. The government of Turkey supports the violation of borders in support of terrorism, it demands that terror supporters be paid for any injury, thus the government of Turkey should not now do anything less pay Putin his blood money and offer a sincere apology. Russia supports the terrorist regimes of Iran and Syria just as Turkey supports Hamas but Russia unlike Turkey did not endanger civilians in its support of terrorism or pretend they were not involved in their support at a governmental level. In fact, I recommend that Turkey use the compensation that Israel paid to Turkey to pay off Russia. Once day, the Russian can give it to the Chechen rebels. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Dead ISIS Girls

Samra Kesinovic, 16, and  Sabina Selimovic, 15 were picked up by a whirlwind and deposited in the Islamic State by following a road they may have thought was paved with good intentions.  In war, the primary sacrifice is of one’s body and these two teenagers, as potential breeders, were married off to “fighters” and likely to suicide bombers as those fighter’s personal wife-whores and sometimes as fighters. According to the NY Daily News, “Girls are increasingly being used in the fighting because of a belief that anybody killed by a female would never go to heaven.” According to an unidentified Tunisian women who claims to have lived with both girls, Samra Kesinovic was beaten to death trying to escape ISIS while Sabina was killed in fighting -- which presumes Sabina wasn’t a great breeder.  These girls were manipulated by ISIS propaganda, they were young, to some extent disaffected by Austrian society and did not think enough of themselves to protect themselves from the phalluses and fallacies of evil men.  I can’t help but assign most of the blame to them. Yeats wrote in Easter 1919 of a mourning over an Irish uprising that would presage modern terrorism:

"Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.”

And such was the transformation of these two girls, there was apparently a Yugoslavian recruiter to blame, the ISIS propaganda machine which they would eventually work for as well but ultimately these two girls chose to join the fight in a terror organization which actively engaged in ethnic cleansing, rape and genocide.  I feel sorry for them but their parents more because I understand how a sixteen or seventeen year old could be misguided, might be interested in G-d approved sexed with the bad boys of war and desire to outdo their parents in their ethnocentrism and religiosity, to take an easy way out to feeling  important -- these can be attractive siren calls  but the girls were no idiots. They planned their escape from Austria to Turkey, made propaganda, directly helped murder people at least in the case of Sabina and ultimately paid the price for their brutal ideals by their lives ending brutally. It’s tragic for kids to die at 17 and 16, a mere year later after running away from their homes but I also think of them as newly minted Nazis from Austria who lived two years too long. How many other children and innocent civilians might live if these girls died on their way to Turkey or before could have left? I would wish some other intervention, something that could rescue their minds from supporting intolerance and genocide but they could choose and they chose, Yeats' words are far darker now than they were a century ago as we now see what terrorism really is,“We know their dream; Enough to know they dreamed and are dead” and their dreams bewilder in their mixture and teen angst and murderousness. I am glad that ISIS eats its own, these cute little girls earned their ignoble and savage deaths but they could have been more, they had every chance to have better dreams and there is tragedy for their loss of potential. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

We can get this Syrian refugee situation right

Gov. Bruce Rauner made a reasonable decision in attempting to temporarily halt Syrian refugees’ entrance. Illinois, in cooperation with the federal government, should review how refugees are selected. Refugees who come to America have been referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees before coming here and are far less likely to be terrorists.

What Illinois and the U.S. need to do is review our screening procedures and be able to reasonably increase scrutiny of those refugees we might decide we have concerns about. America is no Europe, where Muslims often live in suburban “ghettos,” but we would be naive to think the extreme radicalization we see in other parts of the world could not happen here. Illinois should do everything in its collective power to avoid xenophobia. Let us make certain we are adequately processing refugees from Iraq and Syria, screening out the likely terrorists and, just as important, taking advantage of any clandestine intelligence opportunities that may arise.

The reason why there are so many refugees is due to the barbarity and evil of our enemies. Let’s make sure we are fighting them and not innocent civilians. President Barack Obama was correct when he said, “slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values.” Let’s make certain we are neither prejudiced nor too credulous in how we choose which refugees to accept.

Originally published in print on 11/18/2015 Chicago Tribune as "Being Reasonable."

Sunday, November 15, 2015

What terrorists mean when they condemn terror

Bashar Assad, Ayatollah Khamenei, Khaled Mashal, Hassan Nasrallah and the dread Dormamu, the leaders of Syria, Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and Dark Dimension all agree that they should condemn the attack on Paris and there are some very good reasons for this. All of these leaders have cults of personality that can get away with treating their followers as mindless ones who murder innocents on command but that magic requires their hordes of dolts to believe they are exclusively on the side of “good.”  Condemning the obvious but very similar evil of others simply makes it easier for these hoary hordes of haggoth to enjoy the truthiness of their comparative moral superiority through the magical joys and wonders of hypocrisy. These wizards of woe cannot turn lead into gold but they carefully turn cold blooded murder into saintliness all the time. Cynical condemnations such as the the condemnations of the Paris attacks simply provide rhetorical cover. These people just want to kill Jews and politicla opponents, so condemning the deaths of non Jews suggests they have such a sophisticated moral point of view that we ought not to question it. 

Nasrallah, who fires and supplies rockets to be fired on Israeli civilians said, "People of the region of Arab and Islamic countries who are living under the brutality of ISIS, including Lebanon which suffered a few days ago from it, are the most aware and sympathetic of what hit the French nation last night,"

With a flawless Jazz-like performance, President Assad riffed on Netanyahu's statements to CNN when Saddam Hussein was reigning missiles down on Israel and said, "France experienced what Syrians live" which is so ironic since Syria has turned its entire terror arsenal on its civilian population. If the government of France and ISIS simultaneously attacked civilian population, only then would the French know what it is to be Syrian.   Assad then got to his real point, the point that has kept retaliation against Syrian terrorism out of Syria proper, for decades. "The flawed policies pursued by Western countries and especially France as regards what is happening in our region ... contributed to the spread of terrorism..." The world will be worse without the Assad terror regime, you need us to kill civilians in the Middle East so that innocent civilians do not die in Europe.  

Eventually, if it has not already happened the Orb Agamotto tells me  Jews and Israelis will be accused of a false flag operation by these same leaders. Underneath their cynicism and manipulations lies an important and sincere message which should not be overlooked; Please don’t fight all the terrorists, just the other guys! 

Paris & the ISIS Razzle Dazzle

The latest attacks in Paris took place in a trendy part of town near the offices of Charlie Hebdo where Al Qaeda had attacked and while the “soft targets” were more in the style of ISIS but the multiple attacks and locations suggest the attackers had logistical support of some kind from Al Qaeda. ISIS needs all the help it can get.  This assist might have been simply personal that switched organizations or somehow work for both or higher levels of agreement could have been reached between the increasingly marginalized Al Qaeda organization the increasingly bruised Caliphate -- perhaps they cooperated because they both needed to make a big kill to impress their world. Al Qaeda needs breathing room and it believes attacking the West at home will make us pull out of the Middle East where they can fester freely despite the opposite that terror draws an attack always being true and a more logical expectation. ISIS is chopping off the heads of defectors rather than gaining camaraderie and more importantly the so called caliphate itself is shrinking and slowly being bisected by Kurdish forces and the American air force while also facing a Russian, Iranian and Syrian terror alliance.

The attack on Paris strikes is a desperate play, no matter how much planning went into it. ISIS is losing yards so it tries to kick a field goal. The West has known for decades that we needed to get rid of the Assad regime and anything that replaced it would be worse and we are seeing even worse consequences than we had imagined because we did nothing but wait for the region to become unstable. Additionally, NATO is the wrong alliance to deal with these problems, we need a new series partnerships to take the lead that include regional actors. ISIS attacked France not because it had anything to gain but because it is losing. Despite all of our mess-ups, ISIS is losing the war. They attacked soft targets in France to fool themselves into thinking they could find victory and to con us into being intimidated, into believing they are winning. While ISIS tactics were surprisingly effective, they are in trouble, all that has been accomplished by ISIS is the West is now only more determined to make them lose faster. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Meditations in States of Emergency like France

Paris has had what will likely be the worst acts of terror on Paris since the occupation. My heart and grief go out to the French people, who do not deserve this. The Middle East is a burning building. Put out the fire of regional turmoil and the smoke of terrorism in Europe and America will slowdown and cease rather than see the fire spread here, as firemen we have to stop treating the present map of the Middle East as though it were a building worth saving. The fire has burned too long, spread too easily and the building was too poorly made to be saved. The West needs to rethink its strategy in the Middle East.

France has long anticipated these kinds of attacks, the Charlie Hebdo massacre was a prologue but terrorism has been coming out of the Middle East since the 1960s. Europe and America has an unfortunate history of not recognizing the evil of terror whether it is Iran, Hezbollah, the PLO, Black September, the PKK, Baathist Iraq, Hamas and Iran and we treat these organizations like they are reasonable. They are not, they seek political profit at the maximal cost of civilian lives which is only reasonable to the David Koreshes and Charlie Mansons of the world. Terror organizations “profit” in their way from being unreasonable.  What happens in Paris will happen in Berlin, in New York, in Washington and in LA and it will happen for the same reasons; the West has been outsmarting itself by seeking a series of political solutions to military and police problems.

US and European foreign policy must recognize there is no point in differentiating between international and domestic security philosophically. We no longer live in a world where we can ignore a genocide or just stand to the side and boo one, we cannot tolerate sustained instability anywhere. What happens in Kabul, Waziristan, and especially Iran and Syria is very relevant to Paris and Washington. France and the EU will have to further increase their security but this is only a costly and temporary solution with diminishing returns. There will always be exploitable gaps in security, this Maginot line cannot be hermetically sealed or made qualitatively better; the West can only try to keep up with the times.  The real ICBMS in the Middle East travel by foot and bear arms, if we do nothing different then real missiles will come later. The civilized world is looking at decades to repair the Middle East but we do not have to be its victim or its colonizer yet we are in a state of war that we did not ask for.

Europe and its allies must stop thinking about security in post second world war terms. Stop trying to solve the riddle of religious extremism and fanatical nationalism as though every crazy problem can be solved with diplomatic therapy and instead work towards resolution – resolutions unlike solutions don’t have to make everyone happy or be reactionary in preserving the status quo. Syria has been a hot bed of terror for decades, a peaceful Syria will have different borders and different rulers. Iran must be contained, Iraq like Syria will likely break up. Yemen may deserve a political solution after the Houthis declare a ceasefire. Gaza is in an unacceptable state not because of the blockade but because Hamas remains in power and it must reform or go. The Arab Spring was about democracy, accountability and personal freedom and most people got Islamism instead and in the case of Egypt this was followed by renewed strongman rule.  That means we may not be popular or a perfect model of how Middle Easterners should self-govern but we are not ideological aliens. The West should support constitutionalism and independent judiciaries and then human rights as training wheels for democracy but in the meantime NATO is not competent to manage American and European interests in the Middle East. For example, NATO member Turkey is a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas and has been accused of being a supporter of the Islamic State until recently and can be easily be seen as sympathetic to Sunni terror and this compromises a NATO deeply concerned by Islamic radicalism. But NATO wants Turkish Airbases and chooses to ignore the obvious logistical and security problems. Unless the current government completely repudiates supporting terrorism, and follows through with policy changes, we must be careful of working too closely with Ankara which is far from seeing NATO’s security or regional stability as being in its interests. For Erdogan’s Turkey, NATO is just a stepping stone to becoming a greater regional power based on the idea that the Middle East and Turkey will be improved if Turkey is the hegemon. There is no reason for the west to support going backward a century in the Middle East. NATO is also unable to expand membership to other states in the Middle East because a European and American organization of democracies founded on European security is not compatible with the Middle East nations that are not democratic republics.  We need an alliance that can embrace more parties and more kinds of parties in the region and turn out those nations that fail us in way that NATO cannot.  We need a security organization that can choose to have direct ties to a tribe if that is what is needed.

Fortunately, Most of the Gulf and the Levant may be ready to form such an alliance, even with Israel due the tremendous instability caused by Al Qaeda, ISIS and Iran.  Such an alliance with a genuine anti-Islamic terror philosophy which has no tolerance for international terror must be translated into practical policy but may also be easily embraced by religiously conservative nations and people who want to differentiate themselves from odium of Islamic terrorism. We need a new alliance of Middle Eastern Nations, Europe and America composed minimally of France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and conditionally Iraq, the Kurds and Turkey.  There might even be room for Russia should it abandon Iran. This security organization must be very clear that the PKK and similar organizations must renounce attacks on civilians, Turkey must renounce support for all terror organizations and if it does not than this new organization bases in Greece, Israel and Kurdish and possibly Gulf and Jordanian areas. Provided the Kurds agree to be pro-western, democratic, anti-terror and flexible regarding borders with Turkey. Turkey will need to recognize the right of Kurds to a nation with Turkey and Kurdistan coming to an agreement on borders and rights of ethnic Kurds.   If Turkey fails either to be anti-terror or pro-Kurdish then Turkey is out at least until Turkey elects a responsible, pro-western government. Similarly if the PKK remains a terror organization then Turkey need not recognize any Kurdistan and the alliance’s work with various Kurdish militias may need to be short term and to the exclusion of the PKK.  Developing flexible relationships that do not overly compromise is not only possible but will be far more effective than applying a European security organization outside of Europe.

Egypt must be supported at the expense of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Hezbollah and all must be given the opportunity to renounce terrorism and must agree not to attack our allies and if they fail then they become potential targets of the alliance and their calls for political power and autonomy go unrecognized and seen as illegitimate.  Lebanese inclusion in this treaty will depend on Hezbollah’s status but the treaty must be as anti-Iran as it is anti-ISIS -- even if we need only contain and constrain Iran. I suggest building on history and call this alliance MEATO as it will be more comprehensive than METO was.

The PLO and PA will be given the opportunity to renounce terror, renounce “the right of return” and renounce claims on Jerusalem, accept Ramallah as their capital and recognize Israeli cities in Judea and Samaria in exchange for a recognized, viable and internationally Palestinian supported state. Should they not agree then Israel should be pressured to declare unilateral borders it can live based on having a hostile neighbor but in consultation with Europe and the UN who will serve as advisors and vote getters for a UN vote of recognition. Then a Palestinian state or two states will be recognized in what is left over.  Either way, a separate organization will be created that is regionally and internationally funded to handle claims of lost property for Jews and Arabs from the Israeli – Arab conflicts and that will end the conflict as we know it.  Obviously this is a big reversal for Europe and Muslims states to embrace but frankly the hour is well past when Europeans at least should have evolved on this issue. If the Palestinians want to be Palestinians and have a state called Palestine there are viable options and if the world can’t make them go that route then it is time their ambitions are routed as the Palestinian cause cannot trump the need for regional security and cooperation. That conflict is far less important than it used to be as the Middle East now faces real regional problems than the mere luxury of Arabs claiming a version of Manifest Destiny in the name of Pan-Arabism at Israel’s expense.

Real challenges are going to be Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria and possibly Egypt. Additionally, Afghanistan and Pakistan may erupt as well as parts of Africa but creating stability in the Middle East will ease a lot of other burdens. Unpacking and Iraq and Syria into political entities with a path for political, cultural and economic stability is the goal of a new alliance. The Middle East needs Europe and America to lend military and diplomatic force while remaining honest brokers towards a series of political solutions that result from liberty created by military intervention against terror organizations that are arrived at in partnership with regional governments when possible and/or tribes and ethno-religious groups. The emergence of cooperation with smaller sub groups will help the Europe and the UN deal with similar problems in South Asia and Central Asia, particularly in the Waziristan province of Pakistan. The difference between this and the Bush invasion of Iraq will be the emphasis on openness, regional cooperation, thoughtful planning and competent leadership.    

The job of this security organization will be to secure the borders of ME states in the organization by stable entities within failed and terror states which will in turn reduce the ability of terror organizations to harm Europe and America. Such a resolution may require redrawing the map for some states in the region who may then join our alliance. In some cases, security and eventual tranquility may require invasions of terrorist strangleholds, or a cold war like containment policy for other places like Iran but the point is Western and Middle Eastern forces will work together to militarily defeat regional terror organizations, create sustainable states, especially of Kurdistan which will help buffer the Gulf and Central Asia against unstable areas but also to create tranquility in places such as Gaza and Yemen. In contrast to the post world war one period, there are now states and groups that can develop realistic solutions to their own problems supported by a world community that respects and find assistance to be in their own best interest.

For too long the world has been too reactionary with the Middle East, wanting all problems to be solved without anything changing.  A few all out Middle Eastern Wars, 9/11, the Madrid Train Bombing, 7/7 (London bombings), Mumbai attacks, Charlie Hebdo and now Paris tell us we must be more invasive at least in the Middle East  before Europe and America face full blown guerilla wars domestically. Conflict at home is the state of emergency that is slowly emerging from successes like the attack on Paris, where we will probably find that ISIS has cooperation in sourcing targets from domestic terror groups or with French citizens who are members of ISIS as the attacks show an intimate knowledge of France, are part of a larger continuity of local insurgency.  So far, Western involvement in the Middle East since the end of the cold war has been accidental, reactionary and often working against our own security. It is past time to revise our strategy and to accept the work before us. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Turkey, ya can’t rig an election ya didn’t win!

I’m proudly from Chicago, a one party government disguised as a democracy and I am proud to see that Turkey joined our club. I congratulate President Erdogan on his stunning victory, people may decide there were voting irregularities, rigging, fake votes and all of that is as true as it is unimportant; Chicago knows a deeper truth, ‘ya can’t rig an election ya didn’t win.’ Supposedly the AKP gained 5 million votes in five months by not allowing a coalition government to form, cracking down on journalism, two major terrorist bombings amid rumors of false flag operations, dragging Turkey into what will become a civil war while the economy is declining and only not collapsing based on US interest rates remaining flat. Every poll in Turkey from June through October showed the AKP in steady decline losing between 8 and 9 points just before the election with all other parties gaining a couple of points. Anyone can see Turkey won those votes, they just not win them from actual voters there’s no reason to complain. The more important truth is the AKP did not lose a lot of votes in consideration of its behavior, they won enough to be a majority party but the margins were adjusted to keep Turkish a one party state. There was not enough opposition to make ridiculous AKP manipulations of the election. 

With deep pride, I  will explain to my new political brothers how pseudo democracy works, there’s a lot of bribing involved but corruption will be regulated because only pro AKP people will be allowed to give and accept bribes while everyone else risks jail. Newbies at “machine politics” as we call it in the windy city, may ask, why have elections at all, or just have really fake elections like they did in the Soviet Union or like they do in Iran and North Korea? The answer is in a Chicago Style pseudo democracy, the corruption of one partly rule only forms a tall and thick crust around the people but people can change the balance of ingredients on top of that pie, which is then sauced in reform political slogans, then local political aspirations are then cooked in the fat of the political cheese underneath. Pseudo democracy will not tolerate an anti-corruption campaign against the AK party but low voter turnout or an increase in the opposition could force the AKP to form a commission that will crack down on other parties while demanding of themselves lower bribes, delicious!  So the people form an advisory role in a pseudo democracy where the party best determines what it can get away with, kicking out and arresting the most egregious political hacks in the anti-corruption campaign du jour and thereby forcing political corruption into a constant state of evolutionary improvement.  The most important and divisive problems that affect that status quo become points the ruling party can pretend to do something about. The biggest issue in Chicago for the last seventy years and longer has been race relations and progress began here by many leaders claiming they were going to do something about race relations. This was a tremendous change from “there ain’t no problem,” the government listened to the people which translated into tiny evolutionary changes at a super slow pace. Now Chicago is the most segregated major city in America but Chicago also defines how bad the bottom is and it is better than it used to be – not in comparison to the rest of country, every major Northern and Southern City and Johannesburg has made more progress than Chicago in terms of race relations but in comparison to yesterday we are a little better than we were. Turkey can have that too, making tiny incremental progress on issues that it is too embarrassed to do nothing about and unlike Chicago which sometimes had to answer to courts, state and national government, Turkish Pseudo democracy is completely free!  Chicago has enjoyed single party rule since 1931 and we’re still going strong. Davatoglu and Erdogan said Turkey wanted “stability,” and nothing is as stable as removing Justice and sound political development from government, so welcome to our club!