Wednesday, June 30, 2010

General Patraeus

General betray us?

Remember this one?

President Obama is bringing in the very man who many called ‘General betrayus". The violence had gone way up in Iraq back in ’06 and ’07 and many who believed that we were losing the war blamed our general Patraeus. He was a major part of the ‘surge’ strategy, which we are attempting to graft into a victory in Afghanistan. So we can withdraw (‘Peace with honor’) beginning in July of 2011. This is another example of how President Obama is attempting to re-fight the war in Iraq.

It is natural to re-fight the last war. Things that worked the last time are used again. This is a natural human pattern. A problem here is that every war is different. I am certain that General Patraeus knows this and will take a different approach in Afghanistan. However, his boss today is a very different person from President Bush and has a very different agenda. Our President today has a political deadline that I doubt will be adjusted very much, no matter who is in charge in Afghanistan. Unless the time limit is removed we will be unable to achieve anything but short term gains. At best enough to allow us the excuse to make a quick exit. Which is the overall idea, particularly before the presidential election cycle begins in 2012. Another issue is the rules of engagement.

Maybe General Patraeus can get President Obama to alter the rules of engagement in Afghanistan, but I doubt any changes will be significant. Between the limited timeline and the limited rules of engagement, we have serious problems. Not to mention that the terrain will not allow for anything like the encirclement strategy that we were able to employ in Iraq. We will be hard pressed to isolate the battlefield with anything like the effectiveness we were able to employ in Iraq. We do not control the countryside like we did in Iraq, simply because of the terrain.

General Patraeus is a good soldier. He is also a better political choice than General McChrystal was. General Patraeus will probably be more successful, but I doubt that we will obtain anything long-term. His boss believes that we should not be there in the first place. We will be leaving at the first opportunity.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

General McChrystal and Afghanistan

It really does not matter if general McChrystal is fired or not. (It matters greatly to him, of course.) I am referring to winning (Or losing) the war in Afghanistan. The stated goal is withdrawal from Afghanistan beginning in July of 2011. I expect that the U.S. will be for the most part fully out of Afghanistan before 1/1/2012. This is a political deadline because of the Presidential election in November of that year.

This all goes along with President Obama’s stated ideas that the U.S. is causing more trouble by our presence ‘over there’ than we are solving. If he stays true to his beliefs, he will have the U.S. out of both Iraq and Afghanistan before he has to run for re-election. This way he can say that he ended BOTH wars.

In any case, it really does not matter who is in charge of the war in Afghanistan simply because it will be going away anyway. The part that bothers me is that we are losing people TODAY. Why not just leave now? Why have more of our people killed and wounded if we are leaving anyway? The ‘surge’ is just killing more people, more of the Afghans and more of our own soldiers.

I am guessing that the ’surge’ was never expected to work, but President Obama believes that it is a good idea because it ‘worked’ in Iraq. This way, he can honestly say that he attempted a similar strategy in Afghanistan. After careful thought and consideration, it did not work. So we can then leave. Something that President Obama wanted to do anyway, so it is a win-win situation for him. (Politically)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dangerous times

The U.S. Congress and President Obama overrode the U.S. public when they passed Health Care reform. I am certain that the motivation was that this is in the best interest of the country. The health care system in the U.S. was in such a state that desperate situations call for desperate measures. Seeing as the health care in the U.S. is the finest in the world, I see this view as being extreme. I have noticed in many of President Obama’s views, he is not anywhere near what I consider to be moderate.

I view politics as a pendulum. The public swings back and forth, preferably more in the middle. The great dangers lie in the extreme. A swing to the far left (As I see we are in today) would naturally be followed by an extreme swing to the right. I can see that if Republicans became a substantial majority, they could now pass a law that would privatize Social Security because it is in the national best interest. How about privatizing the Postal Service? Even though I believe that these would be in the national best interest, the extreme swing would NOT. I believe that change of this type is neither healthy nor good for our country.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Christianity versus Islam

God, grant me the serenity to accept those things that I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I am not a religious man. However, I believe that religions serve a vital human function. They give us all hope. I will speak of Christianity primarily because I am most familiar with it, although much of what is taught is similar to that taught in many other religions. Christianity strives to bring out the best in people, as do many other religions. Christianity was spread by many means, the sword included. However, forced change of that type is inherently against many, if not all of Christianity’s teachings. Besides, it was discovered that other ways were far more effective. Christianity is focused upon the individual and how he/she can make himself and herself a stronger, more humane person. Treat others as you have them treat you. Christianity talks mainly about life. Christianity evolves because it was designed based upon human nature. We do evolve, but our nature does not. Christianity takes this into account.

Islam is about as different an approach to life as you can imagine compared to Christianity.
Hassan Nasrallah, Leader of Hezbollah "We love death more than you love life." What an example!

Christianity teaches much about life and helping others. Islam speaks of warfare, booty and dying for Jihad. How much more different can you get? No wonder the two are at war, although Islam has the upper hand simply because it is fielding an army directly into the field, whereas Christianity seeks to persuade. Remember what Osama said? "We will back the stronger horse." I can see why so many Muslims worldwide see Islam as the strongest ‘religion’. Significantly, Christianity has no authority to enact it’s own laws as compared with Islam. In a strait up fight, Islam wins hands down. This is not where the war is being fought.

The modern national government began to become common only within the past few centuries. Islamic governance is in direct conflict with so much of the basic authority of the national government that even where Islam is used as a basis for government laws, modern governance cannot be anywhere near the governance model that is set up by the Koran. This is one of the larger reasons as to why so much conflict is present throughout the Islamic world. The ‘terrorist’ enemy is seeking to establish more ‘Islamic’ governance. However, many Muslims are against it.

Even with the divisions within Islam about their own ‘religion’, what concerns me the most is that so many favor many of the Islamic teachings that are still openly hostile to just about everything that is worth fighting for, from the American point of view. This makes war inevitable. This can only end when one of two things happens. The world adopts the Islamic faith and governance, or the Islamic world terminates the concept of Islamic nationalism.

The large concern for me here is that either way, it will most likely take a World War to reach either solution. The sad part here is that if Islam won, the wars would not end. (War would not end in either case, I refer to war concerning Islamic nationalism) Islam is so divided that it would turn upon itself. One of the major structural problems within Islam is that the penalty for leaving is death. This issue is one of the major reasons why Sunni and Shiite have been unable to resolve their relative minor differences for more than 1000 years. This is another difference between Islam and Christianity. This is also another reason why I believe that Christianity will win, even if it is not as strong as Islam. Forgiveness allows humans to move past dreadful things. Islam has great difficulty with forgiveness and moving on. This is one of the reasons why Islam has such great difficulty evolving and adjusting to the modern world. And those who believe in it will fight. Like defending slavery, the people who hold these views will fight violently. This has been shown time and again throughout history.

The basic idea that I am attempting to present is that this ‘war’ is not about Islam against Christianity. It is Islamic governance against the concept and authority of the modern national government.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Islamic nationalism is the root cause of Islamic terrorism

Islam is not just a religion. Islamic law has been established and legal rulings issued for some 1400 years. Islamic legal scholars have issued legal rulings based upon the Koran in a way that is similar to our legal system ruling upon the Constitution. The present day president of Iran is internationally considered an authority on the Koran and Islamic law. As within our own legal system, disagreements exist. However, because Islam has no national entity, many differences are unresolved.

The Koran and Islam were started long before the concept of the nation-state. Islam was built as a religion with the authority and functions of the modern national government. Islam has an entire legal system. It has a foreign policy. For example, the rules for declaring and ending wars. Islamic law has many of the rules for entering and honoring treaties with other states. Islamic law has rules for commerce, including a prohibition on earning interest. It contains rules for divorce and inheritance. These are some of the reasons why the Islamic world has such difficulty with the modern idea of nationalism for the nation where they reside. The very culture is much more loyal to Islam and the clan than any concept of an independent nation-state. After all, the national government is a relative newcomer. Many Middle Eastern governments were only established in the 20th century. In contrast, Islam has been around for more than a millennium. On top of this, the very idea of separating the ‘religion’ from the state is an anti-Islamic concept. You would have to leave Islam to even consider this concept. 1400 years of legal rulings have made it VERY clear that the penalty for leaving Islam is death.

In Afghanistan in 2007, a man was sentenced to death for converting to Christianity. To not enforce this penalty would be considered apostate by Islam. This is similar to the issue that triggered the riots that broke out in Nigeria in 2006 when the court refused to have a convicted adulteress stoned to death.

The overall point is that Islam is much, much more than just a religion. It is not only a way of life (And plenty of death penalties) but also a governmental system complete with enforcement mechanisms. Islam can field an army, and has done so countless times throughout its history. It is doing so now. All of these Islamic terror organizations seek to install Islamic governance complete with Islamic law. This concept of Islam as a nation-state is still common throughout the Islamic world. That is where the enemy army comes from.

At the end of March, 2008 a group of Muslim leaders met and issued a declaration: "The obligation of the Islamic Nation [is] to regard the sending of foreign warships into Muslim waters, claiming to control the borders and prevent the smuggling of arms to Gaza, as a declaration of war, a new occupation, sinful aggression, and a clear violation of the sovereignty of the Nation. This must be rejected and fought by all means and ways."

These guys are speaking as if they represent a nation. This is a declaration of war, but without a nation-state to hold accountable? Only governments can declare war. Islam is not a nation-state. Muslim waters? Only the modern national government has the authority to defend ‘waters’ or ‘lands’. Modern political thought since the rise of the nation-state has determined that only a national government can be in ‘occupation’ of another governments ‘land’. This type of issue is of the type that wars are fought over. Such as the state of Virginia leaving the Union in 1861. The Confederacy claimed that they defended that land. The Union disagreed. Or France being ‘occupied’ by Germany 1940-1944. The United States disagreed with that one. An additional problem is that Islam has been built to expand at non-Muslim expense.

"The presumption is that the obligation of Jihad will continue (Interrupted only by truces) until the entire world converts to Islam or is subjected to Muslim rule." "Traditional Islam views the world as belonging to one of two houses, the house of Islam and the house of war". (Bernard Lewis 2003)

No wonder the culture is so easily insulted. Just about any claim that in any way contests Islamic law or rules is a just cause for open warfare. This is an important, additional reason why separation of the "church" of Islam from any and all governance will be fought with violence. Yet in order for the Muslim world to enter the modern world, this MUST occur. Or else we can all become Muslims and live under Islamic rule.

This can be seen as a major contributing cause of the Arab-Israeli wars. Seen in this way, it is no wonder that no peace has been obtained. The best hope for true peace is change within Islam. The very idea of a ‘Nation of Islam’ must change to the point where Islam is a religion that has no power to enforce its rules or ‘laws’. An example is the Catholic Church and abortion. The Church cannot enforce its prohibition of abortion upon those that live in the United States. The Church can attempt to persuade people to see its side, but it has no enforcement authority. Similar to the Mormon prohibition on drinking booze. The law in Utah allows people to purchase alcohol. The Mormon Church discourages this, but cannot enforce its own law. This is not the case with Islam. This is what the wars in the Middle East are really all about. This is the root cause of Islamic terrorism. In a way that is similar to the issue of slavery in the U.S., the war is well worth fighting, for both sides. As with fighting slavery, this will be resisted violently and with organized warfare. As we are seeing today with Islamic terrorist organizations. The real trick will be to see if we can accomplish this without a terrorist organization obtaining and deploying any weapons of mass destruction.

I find this unlikely unless the United States was far more aggressive prosecuting Islamic governments that are supporting the armies of this "Nation of Islam".

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fairness doctrine

I understand why the desire to have a ‘level playing field’ is so prevalent in U.S. society. We Americans like to believe that anyone can rise to his/her highest level of ability if given the opportunity. A major problem with this ideology is that life is not even, nor is it fair. Not that we can’t live in a society that offers more opportunity than any other and that this system can’t be improved. However, to make anything but the most basic attempts is foolhardy as it goes against human nature. We are NOT equal. None of us are. I would like to take this to an extreme.

To really, truly implement ‘fairness’, we will need to supply all other countries and organizations the equipment and training that our armed forces receives. This would come much closer to making the battlefield a more ‘level playing field’. So we would lose far more personnel in any future war than we would otherwise because we fight ‘fair’. That type of self-sacrifice is admirable, if it were not so stupid. Clearly, fairness must have limits.

Today, we have the most extreme President that has ever held the office. One of his most ambitious goals is to remake American society so that it is more ‘fair’ and has a ‘level playing field’ for everyone. From what I have seen of his foreign policy, I believe that he is attempting to do this with the rest of the world as well. The result can only be a massive deterioration in the position of the United States relative to the rest of the world. I am certain that our President does not see this as being bad. It is actually just and will ‘level the playing field’ to everyone’s advantage. Maybe some will not be so well off in the near future, but the overall effect will eventually be to the majority’s benefit.

I just hope that we can get through the next 3 years without this blowing up in our faces.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The excuse

The confrontation between the Israeli blockade and the ships that are attempting to run through it is the type of incident that can be the match that lights a much bigger war. Many times, issues that are important enough to fight a war over are suppressed until a match sets off the actual shooting. In numerous cases, the actual incident that starts the shooting is something that can have very little to do with the actual issues at hand. The incident itself is an excuse more than an actual reason. In many cases, the actual reasons may not be so apparent, particularly if propaganda is effective. I am using the term propaganda but I include unintentional bias. I say this because I believe this is what is going on within the U.S. concerning what the real issues are that are at the cause of the war.

News reporting of all types is very biased toward political analysis and/or political events. This is simply because they are so good at it. However, politics and warfare do not mix well. In general, news reporting does NOT understand the fundamentals of warfare of all types. This includes the issues that can be the real causes of conflict.

This confrontation with the Israeli blockade is an excellent excuse to begin any general conflict. I believe that it is to early. I expect the war to become much larger than even a regional conflict, but I expect economic conditions to deteriorate more on a world wide level before we see anything this large. The wild card is WMD and Islamic terrorism. I doubt that any will wait once the opportunity to deploy a weapon presents itself. I don’t think that we are there yet. However, we are getting much too close for comfort. Change indeed.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Israel and Islam

The recent violence on the ship that was attempting to enter Gaza brought back some ideas that I expressed in this post that I had made on 3/15/09.

One of the many root causes of the conflict between Arab and Israeli is the fact that Islamic law is hostile to Israeli law. The two legal systems are not compatible. Naturally, everyone likes the system that they are familiar with and grew up in. And when push comes to shove, you would side with your view of the laws of the legal system that you favor.

From the Arab side, Israeli law is the problem. Israeli law gives far too much choice to the individual. These choices are explicitly and implicitly forbidden in the Koran. Given the ability to choose, many people will chose things that are considered ‘evil’ and ‘not modest’ by the standards in the Koran. Take the dangers of drinking booze. Islam bans what we believe to be the choice of the individual. The effects of drinking were well known in the 7th century, and are actually far better known today. Although it is harmful to you, we in the ‘West’ accept that you can decline. Islamic law does not want Muslims exposed to it at all. This is not unknown in the rest of the world, as various bans against drinking booze exist in many places and some religions. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) prohibits drink, although it is legal within the state of Utah. In addition, the religion had to drop its allowing polygamy when the state of Utah joined the United States. And herein lies another major problem. Islam has great difficulty with this concept.

Islam is designed as a nation-state. It has foreign policy, economic policy and a legal system with jurisprudence that goes back 1400 years. The legal system itself has great difficulty assimilating with other systems. Part of the problem here is that Islam is so restrictive in so many ways that this requires an authoritarian system just to enforce. In addition, Islam overrides the very function of a nation-state. Islam is much more lax when specifying executions and waging war. This type of power should only be held by a nation-state. Attempting to rid Islam of it will trigger open warfare. This is a war that MUST be fought.

The legal system of the U.S. is far more similar to Israeli law than to Islamic law. The culture of accommodation and acceptance of others is far more advanced in Israel and the U.S. than in Muslim lands. This is demonstrated time and again. Generally, we do not become violent when we are ‘insulted’ nor are we inclined to become violent when threatened by change. Israel, like the U.S. acts militarily in self-defense. In a way, Arabs do also, but they are defending their ways of life, which allows a far more liberal interpretation for justification of who attacked first. This is why Arabs see Israel as the attacker in all of the conflicts that have taken place between them.

The constant low-level warfare that exists between Israel and Muslims has expanded to the United States. The U.S. has always supported Israel and is seen as being far more similar to Israel than to them. Many Muslims see the U.S. (also correctly) as being the driving force behind modernization and worldwide acceptance of many issues that are forbidden in the Koran. Thus, the primary enemy has evolved from Israel to include the U.S. As the constant warfare between Israel and Islam has demonstrated time and again, peace will not be a short-term cease-fire. Nor will peace be a realistic goal until Islam either wins outright by having both Israel and the U.S. adopt Islamic law, or Islam changes to the point where it is by today’s standard, barely recognizable. As history has shown time and again, these types of issues trigger warfare EVERY time. This is a very large war indeed.