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Acts of War: Terror in Brussels

belgium attack

Victims

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Yesterday another act of terrorism and war was conducted by the self-described Islamic State. Islamic State suicide bomber terrorists set off three bombs in the Belgium. They attacked the international airport in Brussels as well as the Maalbeek metro station. It is still early and casualty figures are still going up, but at least 34 people have been killed and over 200 wounded. Frech President Hollande called it an “act of war.” He is absolutely correct. As I looked at the images of this latest attack, especially the victims, I was moved to tears, and I know that it will happen again and again 

  The Belgian Flag at Half-Mast at NATO in Norfolk Virginia



The Islamic State has issued a statement claiming responsibility in which they claim the attack was in response to Belgium “participating in the international collation against the Islamic State.” My friends if you haven’t been following the activities of the terrorist thugs of ISIL, or the name that they really hate, DAESH, in the Middle East. Africa, and Europe you need to. They are also operating here in the United States but so far have not succeeded in launching any significant terror operations on American soil, and there are reasons for this. The biggest reason is that the vast majority of American Muslims are relatively well integrated into this country, most see themselves as Americans. Admittedly there are some that do not and they are the most at risk to fall for the hatred promoted by DAESH. In Europe it is different, large numbers of Muslims, crowded into ethnic-religious enclaves are not integrated into society. They are outsiders, and are a breeding ground for terrorism. This has not been helped by the Syrian refugee crisis that DAESH has helped make worse, in which God knows how many DAESH operatives crossed into Europe among their victims, legitimate refugees. Sadly, the real refugees never get a break, whether they are victims of DARSH, Bashir Assad, or Al Qaeda’s Nursa Front in Syria. 

Having lived with terrorism as a daily part of my life in Europe in the 1980s when the Red Army Faction was bombing and killing in Germany, I am all too aware of what will come next. There will be more attacks in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, and they will happen in the United States. The remorseless savages, and I do say savages, for these people who burn captives alive in cages, who behead hostages on video, who kidnap, rape and brutalize women, who commit acts of mass murder of innocent civilians in airports, train stations, cafes, schools, theaters, and shopping centers are savages, they are men and women who have given up any semblance of humanity, and they must be stopped. This is war, and this war will last generations.

Reza Aslan, the noted Islamic scholar understands the type of individuals fighting for DAESH batter than most people. His words are on target, and the attacks in Paris and Beirut, and the bombing of an airliner in the Sinai last year, not to mention the hundreds of lesser publicized attacks on innocents in Africa, Asia and the Middle East last year, and Brussels today, his words need to be heard. He told CNN last year, “Number one, you do have to respond militarily to ISIS soldiers and fighters. These guys are fighting a war of the imagination, a war that they think is happening between the forces of good and evil. There is no negotiation. There’s no diplomacy. There’s nothing to talk about with these guys. They have to be destroyed.”

Yes, we must do all in our power to spare innocent people suffering, yes we must also do our level best to ensure civil liberties in our own countries, we cannot label ever person of Arabic origin, or Muslims of any ethnic origin as the enemy. That plays into the hands of DAESH, they want that. But, that being said, Reza Aslan is absolutely correct, the fighters and terrorists of DAESH must be hunted down and destroyed and international law and conventions which were written long before anything like DAESH was imagined, must be revised. The DAESH terrorists are not your father’s “freedom fighters” nor are they patriotic insurgents trying to free their country from foreign occupiers, they come straight from Hell, and they need to be sent back. Don’t forget what Osama Bin Laden said in his 1998 Fatwah against the enemies of his version of Islam, “The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies — civilians and military — is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it…” DAESH is now motivating their people to kill with much more impunity than Bin Laden ever did.

This is war, and as William Tecumseh Sherman said, “War is Hell.”

That being said there is a warning that we must heed. With the war against DAESH now entering an even more troubling and dangerous phase we should remind ourselves of the words of Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events…. Always remember, however sure you are that you could easily win, that there would not be a war if the other man did not think he also had a chance.”

Ironically, after all I have said and witnessed I end today’s post in my usual manner, because honestly, I only want people to be able to live in peace.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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A New Grand Alliance to Defeat DAESH

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Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

We are now waking up to the fourth day in the next phase of a war that began too long ago, a war that too many people have been victimized by, which only is getting worse and more widespread.

Winston Churchill wrote, “If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.” That may seem an odd statement, Churchill made it in reference to the alliance with the Soviet Union to defeat Hitler in World War Two, but it bears a particular relevance to the situation that we find ourselves in with ISIL, or as they are also known, DAESH.

This is a follow up to my posts of the last few days regarding the attacks of Islamic State supporters in Paris and it will not be the last. French President Hollande has correctly noted that the attack was an act of war, and he promised that the French campaign against DAESH would be ruthless. Hollande and other leaders, including President Obama are now beginning to plan a coordinated strategy to defeat DAESH. That being said, any real strategy to defeat DAESH has to include more than a few partners, it must be truly a grand alliance. 

I am a career military officer, an Iraq veteran and an anti-war liberal, but I am also a realist in terms of the world. I have no illusions about the world. I do not believe that the United States always acts with honor and I know in my heart of hearts that much of the chaos that we are seeing in the world, particularly the Middle East comes from years of misbegotten American intrigue and intervention. Of course the Americans were not the only ones involved in creating this mess, we can thank the French and the British for the Sykes-Picot agreement. That agreement and the subsequent post-war agreements artificially divided the Middle East based on British and French colonial interests and disregarded the traditional and historic interests of the people in the region. Those agreements also handed the Arabian Peninsula over to the House of Saud, rather than the more moderate Arabs that fought alongside the British against the Ottoman Empire. We can also thank the Russians for their contributions to the instability of the region, as well as the Israelis who in defending their interests have often made things worse. Finally we cannot forget the role played by many corrupt and despotic Arab leaders who have oppressed their people, and exploited their countries riches for their own gain. Finally, back to the Americans it was the ill-advised and criminal invasion of Iraq by the Bush administration that opened Pandora’s Box and unleashed what we now know as the Islamic State. Sadly, almost all the countries currently involved have had a hand in creating the monster that we know as DAESH and the Islamic State, and all should bear part of the responsibility for defeating it.

That being said, whether any of us like it or not we are at war, a war that has been going on in earnest since 2003. This is not a new war, it is simply DAESH’s continuation of the war that was declared by Al Qaeda, and that Al Qaeda Iraq fought against American, allied, and Iraqi forces from 2003 through 2011.

The genie of war is out of its bottle and it will not return on its own accord, and it will create more chaos, death and destruction, both in the Middle East, but also other parts of the world. The threats of DAESH need to be taken seriously and countered.

We have to understand that this war is not a movie, it is not a video game, and it has the potential to change all of our lives, and not for the better.

Likewise, the fight against DAESH will not be solved or won by military action alone. The falsehoods of the warn porn addicts who believe deploying ground troops without the support of the people in the region, nor dropping more bombs will win the war. President Obama noted correctly, in response to suggestions that large numbers of ground troops be deployed, “that that would be a mistake, because we would see a repetition of what we’ve seen before, which is if you do not have local populations that are committed to inclusive governance and who are pushing back against ideological extremes, that they resurface….” He is right for saying this because those who propose sending in large numbers of ground troops are not committed enough to the hard thing and fully mobilize the nation for war. Instead they would as they always do, put the burden of the war on an already worn out professional volunteer military force without being willing to work with other powers, even rivals that have an interest in defeating DAESH.

The full spectrum of national and international power must be deployed to fight DAESH. This includes the U.S., NATO, Russia, China, Japan, the Arab world, and even Iran. Yes, some of these nations are competitors and rivals, but all have a vested interest in defeating DAESH and all have capabilities that would be helpful in the fight. In the Second World War the President Franklin Roosevelt United States and Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill allied themselves with the Josef Stalin and the Soviet Union in what was then known as the Grand Alliance to defeat Hitler. The Grand Alliance was a real world demonstration of the art of realpolitik. Realpolitik demands compromise and finding common ground with nations that we may not like. Those that practice realpolitik also understand that almost all alliances are temporary. This may be unsavory to idealists, but it is reality, and it is the only thing that will defeat DAESH. It is high time the world leaders to get real in combatting DAESH.

Military force seems always to be the first thing that people think of, and while important, it is not the only kind of power that must be used. If we are going to use military force, we need to work with our allies and commit ourselves to a massive use, on the order of World War II, and coupled with a massive new Marshal Plan for the Middle East. We must use diplomatic and economic power, intelligence and information, coordinate national and international law enforcement efforts, and seek to redress many of the wrongs committed against the people in the region.

Since I am a realist, I understand that whether I want it or not, that this war will most likely remain part of our lives, maybe for a generation or more. Honestly, if we do not make a full effort, I expect that a hundred years from now that young men and women will still be fighting this war. Most will have no idea how it began, even as their governments, corporations, and others make a steady profit off of the war.

I will continue this tomorrow with some thoughts on the civil liberties that we will undoubtedly lose as this war progresses. I think that I will write about the dangers of how xenophobic racists, and others who demonize all Moslems, and who want to punish all Moslems for the actions of DAESH, especially those who are the victims of DAESH who have fled to Europe and other areas to escape them. That is already beginning in this country. 

But that is all for today,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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