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Spendin’ the Nighttime Reminiscing: Padre Steve Remembers the Music of the 1970s and Early 1980s

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I don’t know about you but the music that I really enjoy is the music that was popular when I was in Junior High, High School and College.  For me that period spanned the years 1971-1983.

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It was a turbulent era. The Vietnam War was ending and Nixon was resigning due to the Watergate break in cover-up despite going to China and establishing the beginning of detente with the Soviet Union.  Assassination attempts on political leaders, successful and unsuccessful, were common. Two attempts were made on Gerald Ford.  Prime Minister Aldo Moro of Italy and President Anwar Sadat of Egypt victim fell to terrorists while President  Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II were felled by bullets which did not prove fatal.

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The Cold War was tense despite the beginning of detente and signing of Nuclear Weapons treaties between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Middle East was in turmoil even as Egypt and Israel hammered out a peace treaty withe the help of US President Jimmy Carter. In Iran a revolution swept the Shah of Iran out of power bringing the Ayatollah Khomeini into power.  The seizure of the US Embassy and the 444 day hostage crisis punctuated by a failed rescue attempt demoralized the United States. In October 1983 247 Marines were killed in a terror bombing of their barracks at the Beirut International Airport.

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The Soviets invaded Afghanistan which would become their Vietnam, as part of the Cold War this lead to US involvement with Mujahideen. The US support with the Mujahideen was a fateful alliance that brought the Taliban to prominence and introduced the world to Osama Bin Laden. The Cubans were fighting in Angola while the Anti-Apartheid movement struggled with its leader Nelson Mandela languishing in a South African prison.

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High profile terrorist attacks became common. The Palestinian terrorist group Black September killed Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. European terrorist organizations including the Red Brigades, the Red Army Faction and Bader Meinhof gang, the Irish Republican Army and the American Weather Underground provided a constant string of terrorist attacks even as Middle Eastern terrorist groups highjacked airliners in daring fashion, matched at times by equally rescues by Israeli and German anti-terrorist units.

The American and the world economies were in a state of recession much of the era. There was a major recession, the American auto industry needed bailouts, inflation was running in double digits as was the unemployment rate. The dollar was weak and OPEC wreaked havoc on world oil markets with embargoes in 1973 and 1979.

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However it was music in the 1970s and early 1980s that provided a diversion for many people looking for respite from all the bad news that echoed around the airwaves and in the newspapers.  Thankfully there wasn’t a 24 hour cable news cycle yet otherwise people would have probably been jumping off of buildings.  It was the heyday of AM Top 40 type stations and the beginning of rock oriented FM music stations. Kasey Kasem gave voice to the hits with American Top 40. As for me I had countless 45s and LPs of my favorite groups and artists.

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I listened  Doctor Donald D Rose of KFRC in San Francisco and my car, a 1966 Buick LeSabre 400 had a retro-fitted 8-Track tape player and speakers.

Great groups and artists ruled the pop and rock airwaves and the era produced some of the best rock, pop, R&B, soul, country-rock, disco and new-wave music ever done. It really was an amazing era both in quality and diversity of music .

It was not “message music” like much 60’s music but focused on entertainment.  Power groups like Journey, Starship, REO Speedwagon and Boston made power ballads, while AC/DC and KISS shocked and entertained at the same time.  Groups like the Blondie, the Eagles, Chicago, Paul McCartney and Wings, Abba and the Commodores dominated the pop charts while individual artists such as Olivia Newton-John, Elton John, Carly Simon, John Denver, Lionel Ritchie, Barry Manilow and others satisfied the more mainstream pop crown.  Disco enjoyed a brief heyday with the popularity of Saturday Night Fever and the Bee Gees.  R&B enjoyed a renaissance due to the unlikely duo of the Blues Brothers who helped re-launch the careers of Aretha Franklin, Johnny Lee Hooker, Cab Calloway and a host of others. Country crossovers became big with Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton and Glenn Campbell leading the way.  As the 80’s came along new groups and styles were introduced including New Wave and Rap. It was music that helped us through those times.

I listen to that music all the time and remember those turbulent days well. It certainly wasn’t the fact that things were great in the world. That being said despite bad news there was still some sense of that things would work out okay.  Music helped provide part of that sense of hope. It was an escape and the music of that time is still with us. Many of those those groups haven’t gone away and people look back with fondness to the music of the era even as the artists age and pass away.

Here are some of my favorites with links to the videos, they are in no particular order nor are the representative of all the groups that I have in my library of CDs and DVDs, but I enjoy the heck out of them.  Have fun and enjoy.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

Little River Band “Reminiscing” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ_3G4xqSDQ

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Olivia Newton-John “Magic”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7WPwH8Rd6g

and “I Honestly Love You”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zGLSnZGZts 

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The Commodores “Sail On” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zg-ivWxy5KE

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The Eagles “Hotel California” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnkJcjBCG88

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AC/DC “You Shook Me All Night Long”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lo2qQmj0_h4

KISS “I Was Made for Loving You” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7fxN3g5sLw

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton: Islands in the Stream http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=recWNQddJeE&feature=related

Rupert Holmes: Escape (The Pina Colada Song) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaOXWJKsX-U

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Donna Summer: Last Dance http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cPIT_T3mYU

Roberta Flack: The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9jmusgMgro&feature=related

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Bee Gees “How Deep is You Love

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpqqjU7u5Yc

Dr Hook “Cover of the Rolling Stone” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJu6Up9w2Hc

John Denver: Take Me Home Country Roads http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukUL_I14GPw

Three Dog Night, Joy to the World http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2x3af_three-dog-night-joy-to-the-world_people

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The Carpenters “Rainy Days and Mondays” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPmbT5XC-q0

Paul McCartney and Wings  “Band on the Run http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Qx2jEfBsqY

The Trammps “Disco Inferno” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_sY2rjxq6M

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Rod Stewart “Tonight’s the Night”

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1p96h_rod-stewarttonights-the-nightgonna_music

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Abba “The Winner Takes it All” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92cwKCU8Z5c

and “Waterloo” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sj_9CiNkkn4

Elvis Presley: Suspicious Minds

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBmAPYkPeYU

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Elton John “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kMVdazvII4 

Journey “Don’t Stop Believing” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcjzHMhBtf0

Albert Hammond: It Never Rains in Southern California http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pyC7WnvLT4

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Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ9rUzIMcZQ

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Blondie “Heart of Glass” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGU_4-5RaxU

Neil Diamond: Sweet Caroline

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vhFnTjia_I

Boz Skaggs “Lido Shuffle” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIu0jQ5TaRQ&feature=PlayList&p=8201408B8B6E42C8&index=2

Katrina and the Waves “Walking on Sunshine” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPUmE-tne5U

Billy Joel “Piano Man” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxEPV4kolz0

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Barry Manilow “Mandy” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AM7SQzq3yHQ

Heart: Crazy on You

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gpNqB4dnT4&feature=related

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Village People: YMCA

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CS9OO0S5w2k

Fleetwood Mac “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8arvEzHsA8

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Laura Branigan “Gloria”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tVutw8rjFk

Carly Simon “You’re So Vain”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQZmCJUSC6g

Chicago “Saturday in the Park”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWxA3e9f6rY

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Linda Ronstadt “When Will I Be Loved”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmE7tTzJkbU

Foghat “Third Time Lucky”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fj1O2KtH4kE

The Captain and Tennille “Do that to Me One More Time”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNHcgk5bf7o&feature=related

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Finally, the Blues Brothers “Everybody Needs Somebody”

http://www.mojvideo.com/video-the-blues-brothers-everybody-needs-somebody-to-love/ac0b631b54ff095fd5c0

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A Bombing in Boston: Terror Returns to the United States

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The 117th Boston Marathon was drawing to an end as Boston celebrated Patriot Day. The winners had finished their races about two before and those men and women still on the course were those doing this for the simple fact of conquering a marathon, a famous marathon at that. At about 2:45 PM a large explosion went off near the finish line followed shortly by a second. Initial reports claimed dozens injured, some seriously and several deaths.

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When I first heard about the attacks I was waiting to board a flight from Chicago to Norfolk. My mind flashed back to 9-11-2011 and for a few minutes I wondered if something might also be going on with attacks on aircraft. I was glad to arrive home safely and as I heard the updated reports about the attack and was stunned. As I saw the video of the attacks I felt emotions that I had not felt since 9-11-2001. As I saw those images for the first time when we stopped for dinner felt tears come to my eyes.

We now know that 3 people were killed and around at least 113 wounded in today’s attack. It is the biggest terrorist attack in the United States since 9-11. Certainly it is not the most deadly in recent years, the mass murders at Virginia Tech, Aurora Colorado and Newtown Massachusetts took more lives but were not the result of a terrorist attack and each of those attacks were committed by lone gunmen with reported psychiatric problems.

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In the initial reports there was no indication of what had caused the explosions but all eyes focused on terrorism. Police are now reporting that small Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were used in the attack. Other reports state that police may have defused a number of other devices. Those reports are still unconfirmed.

No group has yet claimed responsibility but there are some reports that a “person of interest” has been taken into custody. Of course speculation runs rampant as to who or what group might have orchestrated this attack. My guest is some Islamic extremist group but I could also see a domestic terrorist group, possibly of the neo-Nazi type being behind the attack because of how international the event is in regard to the actual racers. Of course some conspiracy theory types, notably Alex Jones of the Prison Planet website believes it is an event orchestrated by the government. I think that Jones’ theory is the least credible. I believe that if the attackers are of an Islamic group that they will make a public announcement sooner rather than later, a domestic terror group will more than likely try to remain under the radar.

The possibility of a terrorist group attacking a sporting venue has long been on my mind. I have wondered why international or domestic terrorist groups have not attacked such venues simply because they are relatively soft targets where large numbers of people congregate. Attacks on aircraft, transportation and government buildings have been done but I think that many people almost assume that possibility now. What most people do not anticipate are attacks on sporting, entertainment, retail businesses like malls, educational facilities or even places of worship.

Ever since the 9-11-2001 attacks I have feared that terrorists, foreign and domestic would adjust their tactics to hit a major sporting event, but I did not believe that it would be a marathon, I expected a college or high school football game in the heartland of the country, far away from where most people expect terrorists to strike. A place that would show how vulnerable such events are and bring terror to people that have only known it through what they have seen on the news.

Such attacks if they do become the new normal for terrorist tactics could strike unimaginable fear across the country because these places a supposed to be safe. They are places where we can reasonably expect to take our families for enjoyment and recreation. One only has to remember the Washington DC Beltway sniper rampage in 2002 to see the kind of fear that such attacks provoked and how disruptive they were. Those attacks took place over a period of 23 days and sent an entire region into a state of shock and terror. In the 1980s while stationed in Germany we lived with the constant threat of terrorism conducted by the Baader-Meinhoff Gang/ Red Army Faction and State sponsored Islamic terrorists from Libya. On more than one occasion we just missed being at the sites of bombings at the Frankfurt PX and Airport in 1985.

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Red Army Faction Bombings in Germany

As we learn more about who or what group conducted this attack, the types of explosive devices used and the motivation and rational given for the attack we will be able to respond. Terrorists make their living by terrorizing people, breaking routine and destroying the feeling of security of those that they target. Even small attacks can disrupt open societies. Such attacks do not have to use explosives. Since weapons, including weapons that are military grade assault weapons are readily available a group willing do die for their cause could launch commando type attacks on public places where police and security officers, or even armed citizens would be badly outgunned until SWAT type units arrived. The attacks of Pakistani Taliban militants on an Indian Hotel in Mumbai a few years ago are indicative of the carnage that such attacks can inflict before the attackers are killed or captured.

It is quite possible that this could be the new normal for how terrorists attack the United States. If so we will have to learn how to best provide security without becoming a police state. I would hope that it is not, but I would not be surprised if it is. If it is the beginning of a new wave of terror we have to be ready.

I do hope that this is an isolated incident and that the perpetrators are found and swiftly brought to justice. Likewise I pray for the victims of this attack and their families and friends, people whose lives will not be the same after today. That being said it is very possible that these attacks are the opening salvo in a terror campaign that we have not experience before in the United States, but which has been common in Europe and the Middle East over the past 40 years.

Sometimes an event like this reminds me of just how isolated we are to this kind of terror. In Iraq today several dozen people were killed and close to 150 others wounded in terrorist attacks. In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s the Irish Republican Army terrorized Britain, in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s the Red Brigades and Baader Meinhoff Gang did the same in German. I remember the terror of the Baader Meinhoff Gang when I was stationed in Germany including just missing being at the site of a terrorist bombing. In the Moslem world there are varying reactions. The leader of a Jordanian terror group expressed no remorse while there’s prayed that the culprit would not be a Moslem.

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Pray and prepare because we do not know what will come next. President Obama has promised that the guilty will face justice. That being said, I do believe that the perpetrators will be found and brought to justice. Even so I wonder if there are others that will continue this kind of terror attack now that they know that it can be done.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Olympic Forecast: Clouds Rain and a Chance of Scattered Terrorism

I don’t know about you but it seems rather odd that the 2012 Summer Olympics is being held in a wonderful Kingdom that knows not summer.

I love England and the United Kingdom. I traveled extensively in the country for a three week period during the summer of 1979 and have been there a number of times since. Wonderful people, wonderful Indian food and a grand tradition of pomp ceremony and celebration of long lost empire. Back in 1979 I had the pleasure of being hosted by families across the UK. I even learned how to pronounce my last name correctly in Scotland.

I love visiting London, I can wander about the city taking in the great historical sites for weeks on end. If I had the time and money I would spend a year walking about the city and traveling around the country taking pictures and writing about every site that I visit. I would hang out in pubs and go to places that normal tourists don’t go. I would visit British friends and as I said before hang out in pubs. Since I am already banned from giving blood because of living in Europe in the 1980s due to fear of the Mad Cow I would eat lots of Bully Beef and maybe even try Haggis in Scotland.

Olympic Village

I love the British military and have worked with the members all branches of the British Armed forces during my 31 years in the military. That being said, the mission of the military is not police work.

In spite of all my Anglophile tendencies I still wonder about the wisdom of London hosting the Summer Games. Not that I doubt the city’s warm hospitality, charm and history but rather due to its usually un-summer like summer weather. In fact I would day say that unless an athlete comes from Northern Europe or the northern coastal regions of North America, or perhaps from down under where it is currently winter that many athletes will wonder what happened to Global Warming. The weather in the U.K. is like a big version of San Francisco weather of which someone  (but not Mark Twain as legend says) wrote “the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”  Even the Queen upheld by the prayers of the Archbishop of Canterbury had her parade rained on, but I digress…

Land of the Soggy Summer

One of the other reasons, besides the predicted crappy English summer weather that I wonder about the selection of London is the threat of terrorism. London has been the target of more than one terrorist strike over the past number of years and a number of terrorist groups ranging from the Irish Republican Army to Al Qaida have targeted London and its citizenry.

Anti-aircraft missiles in London

Security experts around the world are concerned. There have been problems with the security firm that was to provide 10,000 guards leading to the hasty drafting of thousands of troops from the Royal Army to provide protection for event venues and the Olympic Village. Even before that the unprecedented military preparations to defend against multiple types of terrorist threats was astounding. For the first time since the Luftwaffe Blitz of the Second World War there are air defense batteries in London. Some countries such as Israel, are so concerned that they have their own security detachments watching their athletes.  The fact that this is the 40th anniversary of the Munich Massacre of 1972 causes the Israelis additional concern.

1972 Munich Massacre 

London also calls itself home to some of the most militant Islamic hate preachers in the world and was the target of a devastating terrorist strike on July 7th 2005. Those attacks were carried out by four home grown militants and killed 52 people.  They would not be hard to repeat or eclipse in a city swollen with millions of visitors and more VIPs than one can shake a stick at including much of the British Royal Family.

Bombed out Train in the Tube, 2005

While the Olympic venues will receive a lot of security, soft targets including buses, trains, the famous “Tube” and large shopping and tourist areas are hard to defend. It is not unreasonable to assume that attacks will take place, and that some could be quite lethal.

Blown up Double Decker Bus from July 7th 2005 attack

Personally I want the Olympics to go off without a hitch. I want them to be a celebration of sportsmanship, competition and friendship. I want to see athletic and personal greatness displayed. I want to see records broken and underdogs to win sometimes. I want it to be like Jim McKay would say on ABC’s Wild World of Sports “the thrill of victory… and the agony of defeat… the human drama of athletic competition.” I want them to be an island of peace in a world filled by war. That being said I will be holding my breath for the next couple of weeks as the competition begins even while I cheer on the members and teams of Team USA in their quest for Olympic Gold. After all I have to channel my latent nationalism into something peaceful.

That being said. May the Olympics be blessed with good weather and no terrorist violence.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under national security, News and current events

Fighting a World Wide Insurgency: The Problem Fighting Revolutionary Terrorists and Insurgents- Part One

Taliban Insurgents

“Warfare is now an interlocking system of actions political, economic, psychological; military that aims at the overthrow of the established authority in a country and its replacement by another regime.  To achieve this end, the aggressor tries to exploit the internal tensions of the country attacked ideological, social, religious, economic, any conflict liable to have a profound influence on the population to be conquered.” Roger Trinquier Modern Warfare

The United State and our allies have been at war with Islamic terrorists as well as nationally based insurgencies for over nine years.  The war that we are fighting is not like the Second World War where we fought a conventional war against enemies that were defined by national, political and geographic boundaries.  That war as well as the First World War and most recently the 1991 Gulf War but rather is a global insurgency in which we are pitted against a number of sometimes disparate groups One of the things that seems to be misunderstood by much of the media as well as the public

Muslim terrorist groups they use some tenants of Islam, mostly from the Wahabi school that emerged on the Arabian Peninsula in the late 1700s to justify what they do. Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard use the Islam taught by the school of the Ayatollah to do the same.

However that being said there are a sizable number of Muslims worldwide that oppose the terrorists and their brands of Islam but still can be offended and driven to the other side by Americans doing just what pastor Jones got started. The radicals take this and use it as propaganda against us.

The fact is that it is all about using propaganda effectively and not giving the terrorists the grist they need to use against us. The terrorist or the insurgent has no need to tell the truth and usually will not and will twist any “truth” to his own end. This is true in every revolutionary war, which is what all of these groups are waging. They are fighting to turn all of Islam and anyone else they can against us. This is the case since the beginning of time and not limited to Muslims.

We as Americans have been pretty lousy at this except when we were the revolutionaries. It is a fact, not just with the Muslims but all revolutionaries that since they are on the weak side of the military equation that they use propaganda, especially what any of our people do to radicalize people on the fence against us. Jones and others played into their hands and by doing so jeopardize the mission and endanger our troops. The fact is that we neither have the resources or people to allow this to become a war against all of Islam. Thus we have to exploit natural divisions and cultural divides in the Moslem world to isolate and neutralize the radicals of Al Qaeda, Hamas, the Taliban, Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

It may seem on the surface to be politically correct appeasement but a true strategic purpose is served. The counter-insurgent cannot do what the insurgent can as they will lose the propaganda war and with it the broader war. We are fighting a world-wide revolutionary war against Moslem fundamentalist extremists that want us to make it a war against all of Islam. If that were to be the case we would have to go to a total war footing, ignore our own economy renew the draft and prepare for a war that in the long run we cannot win and will leave us as broken as Germany after WWII.

The problem with Islam as that for the most part much of Islam especially in the Middle East still lives in the 14th century with fancy technology. They did not have the Renaissance, Reformation or the enlightenment thus the appeal of the fundamentalist sects and radical Islam. That makes our job hard and that of Bin Laden easy as their world-view  promotes a black and white understanding of the world which makes recruitment of youthful idealists easy especially when the conflict is framed as against “Crusaders” or “Imperialists” opposed to Islam.

The war that we are engaged in is not conventional and we do not have a good record in recent times of fighting this kind of war. We lost in Vietnam because we ignored this. We won all the battles and lost the war. Despite what some pundits believe this is not like WWII and no new incarnation of George Patton will win it.

As I said we are engaged in a revolutionary war which is different than other types of war. In revolutionary wars the revolutionary no matter what his cause is able to use propaganda to influence opinion, usually of people that they are trying to bring to their side. Our founders were very good in portraying the British as violent and brutal occupiers. We used British excess especially in Boston and in the South against them very well. The Jihadists are promoting a revolutionary cause, that cause being the overthrow of established governments in the Middle East and bringing about a radical and fundamental brand of Islamic rule. This happened in Iran and after 30 years the young people are beginning to revolt against the Ayatollahs. It is also revolutionary because they are actively promoting the overthrow of established states and have a goal of establishing their brand of Islam over the entire world. The use revolutionary techniques and strategies used successfully by other revolutionaries attempting to control the populations where they operate through both terror and by discrediting unpopular or corrupt governments.

One of the problems that we in the United States have in understanding Al Qaida and other Islamic groups that rely on terrorism as their primary means of conducting warfare is the nature of the terrorist himself.  Roger Trinquier who observed and fought against such groups in the 1940s and 1950s wrote one of the fundamental books on this type of warfare.  Trinquier said something that will undoubtedly be taken wrong by some readers of this essay but if one understands the nature of Revolutionary war has been true going back for centuries and is not confined to militant Islamic Fundamentalism.   Trinquier observed that “the terrorist should not be considered an ordinary criminal.  Actually he fights within the framework of his organization, without personal interest, for a cause he considers noble and for a respectable ideal, the same as soldiers in the armies confronting him.”

One can see how this is demonstrated in history in such disparate groups as the Israeli Irgun fighters who used terrorist tactics from 1931 until the founding of the state of Israel in 1948 against the British occupiers, the Irish Republican Army.  This is even part of the American experience in the post Civil War South of the Reconstruction era.  Then many Southern whites organized into guerrilla terrorist units such as the Klan in Tennessee, the Red Shirts in South Carolina, the Knights of the White Camellia in Louisiana, the Young Men’s Democratic Club in Florida in order to attack anyone associated with Reconstruction. Their targets included newly free blacks, carpetbaggers, Scalawags, teachers from the North, Freedmen Bureau officials, northern troops, and Republicans.  If you read their writings or even query their current day descendants you will find that none believed that they were criminals and their actions, while unacceptable to many were justified.  One does not have to agree that the terrorists cause is right to acknowledge that terrorists believe this to be true.  Thus in fighting the terrorist organizations one has to employ a wide variety of tactics to protect the populations targeted by terrorists to include police, limited military involvement, the use of propaganda, and “soft” methods to provide aid to these populations and isolate the terrorists from them.

The current batch of Jihadists are actually fairly disparate and not necessarily allies as we found out in Iraq where Al Qaeda and the foreign fighters turned the population of Al Anbar Province against them and brought that Sunni population to our side. They also have sometimes conflicting goals or limit their cause to local areas. The Sunni and the Shi’a have a hard time working together so while this is a global revolution it is not monolithic. Thus if we are smart we can exploit natural divisions in these groups. To do so we have to play smart in how we fight them recognizing that the “soft” approach often is better as the French found out too late in Vietnam but did well with in Algeria. See books by David Galula “Counterinsurgency in Algeria 1956-1954” “Counterinsurgency Warfare”, Roger Trinquier’s “Modern Warfare” as well as the book by Alister Horne “A Savage War of Peace” all are excellent reads. Bernard Fall’s book “Street Without Joy” is a good study of how this happened in French Indochina. The US Counterinsurgency Manual is available online or in bookstores as is “Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife” by John Nagl, a major writer of US Counterinsurgency doctrine.

US Advisors with Afghan Army Officers

In a world-wide insurgency even actions which seem logical to Americans at home can be detrimental to US Forces and political goals in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq and throughout the Muslim world. I’m not a fan of the Mosque near the World Trade Center even though it is the equivalent of 6 normal city blocks away and not visible from the site. Many Americans if not an outright majority oppose this building project yet the builders don’t seem to understand the raw wounds that the project has opened for many Americans. I’m sure for them that much of it is a business, they are developers in New York City and the land was available. Yet the project can quite rightly be seen as insensitive because of what it means to the victims.

At the same time politicians and protesters by naming it the “Ground Zero Mosque” has raised its propaganda value exponentially, that is why Hamas and Hezbollah have also raised the ante in their talk about it. Thus what was an annoyance and hurtful to the victims has become a propaganda victory for the terrorists. In a sense we have let our collective outrage play into the terrorist’s hands. When he pastor of a small church in Florida threatened to burn a large number of copies of the Koran he helped ignite a firestorm of protest in many parts of the Islamic world especially in the epicenter of our current struggle in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan.

We are at war with the warlike highly militant strains of Islam and trying to keep the more Western leaning peaceful variants on the sidelines or enlist them to our side. This is a hard path for our leaders to walk as President Bush found out and President Obama is finding out is that most Americans don’t see it that way.  To many Americans all of Islam is the enemy and nothing can change that and the heated passion of our population often plays into the hands of our enemies.  Thus both Presidents’ comments about Islam have usually fallen on deaf ears and both have been excoriated for straddling this fence.

Anyway as you gather I have spent a considerable amount of time studying this type of warfare. I admit that this is pretty unusual for a chaplain, but I also have a Masters degree in Military History as well as the Marine Corps Command and Staff College. When I was in Iraq I knew more than many Marine and Army officers about fighting this type of war. Kind of weird I know but what can I say?

One of the most famous and successful practitioners of Counterinsurgency Warfare was French Colonel David Galula.  Galula in a sense is the “voice crying in the wilderness” of counterinsurgency doctrine and his methods have been used with some measure of success during the “Surge” in Iraq and the “Anbar Awakening” which turned the tide of the Iraqi insurgency.  Galula commented about terrorist tactics, tactics that have not changed in either Iraq or Afghanistan:

“The rebels realized that they could achieve the greatest psychological effect on the French and on world opinion at the cheapest price by stepping up terrorism in the main cities, notably in Algiers, which served as headquarters to most French and foreign correspondents and thus acted as a natural amplifier. A grenade or a bomb in a café there would produce far more noise than an obscure ambush against French soldiers in the Ouarsenis Mountains.” Galula “Counterinsurgency in Algeria”

One of the most frustrating aspects for military and police personnel fighting insurgencies that employ terrorist tactics is that quite often superior forces cannot finish off the insurgents. Galula provides an answer to this question.

“Our forces were vastly superior to the rebels. Then why couldn’t we finish with them quickly? Because they managed to mobilize the population through terror and persuasion . . . It was therefore imperative that we isolate the rebels from the population and that we gain the support of the population.  This implied that under no circumstances could we afford to antagonize the population even if we had to take risks for ourselves in sparing it.”

This is a lesson that we have not always learned as incidents such as the Abu Ghraib torture and most recently a series of targeted killings of Afghan civilians by a squad of Army Soldiers in Afghanistan in which they allegedly planned the killings in advance and kept body parts of their victims.  Unfortunately atrocities like this as was demonstrated at Mei Lai in Vietnam do little to the enemy and everything to turn the populations that we are trying to protect and world opinion against us. It also provides grist for the terrorist propaganda purposes and aids him in recruiting more insurgents to his cause.

Galula recognized the quandary that commanders of police and military units involved in counterinsurgency operations face when dealing with populations where terrorists operate. Galula was a realist about this and noted “If we distinguish between people and rebels, then we have a chance. One cannot catch a fly with vinegar. My rules are this: outwardly treat every civilian as a friend; inwardly you must consider him as a rebel ally until you have positive proof to the contrary.” This may seem contradictory but the concept was used by Ronald Reagan during the Cold War using the term “trust but verify” in relationship to the Soviet Union and arms control.

David Kilcullen an Australian Army Lieutenant Colonel and counterinsurgency expert and advisor to General David Petreus noted

Colonel Dennis Drew writing in 1988 understood the linkage of all parts of insurgency and how well an insurgency represents the essence of the thought of Prussian theorist Carl von Clausewitz: “Although theorists consider insurgent warfare to be anti-Clausewitzian, such warfare is the very embodiment of the Prussian master’s most famous dictum. Insurgency represents the total integration of political and military factors, but with political factors always in complete domination.” (INSURGENCY AND COUNTERINSURGENCY American Military Dilemmas and Doctrinal Proposals- Air University Press Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama 1988)

Thus attempting to fight an insurgency and terrorist groups thinking that one can defeat them in the style of world War Two, as is so often espoused by pundits and amateur military theorists that crowd the airwaves and cyber space is foolish and only leads to the defeat of the counter-insurgent and the loss of the population targeted by the insurgent. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are not conventional wars and the political outweighs the military in every respect.  As Drew noted:

“Although the military aspect of the struggle may ebb and flow, the source of insurgent strength–a covert political infrastructure–remains constant. This infrastructure, the bitter fruit resulting from the perceived political and economic inequities sown much earlier, is the most important ingredient in the insurgent recipe for success. The political infrastructure performs at least six major functions vital to the survival, growth, and eventual success of the insurgency: (1) intelligence gathering and transmission; (2) provision of supplies and financial resources; (13) recruitment; (4) political expansion and penetration; (5) sabotage, terrorism, and intimidation; and (6) establishment of a shadow government.”

This is exactly what has happened in Afghanistan and why we have such difficulty in fighting the insurgency.

One of the most common tactics that the United States has attempted in attacking the insurgents is the strategy of decapitation. In this the U.S. has attempted to kill the leaders at the top echelons of the insurgency with limited success. Even when we kill off a senior Al Qaida or Taliban leader others rapidly take their place with little affect in their operations against us. Galula recognized the fallacy of this approach in Algeria when the French government succeeded in capturing five top leaders of the Algerian rebellion. “Then, five top leaders of the rebellion, including Ben Bella, had been neatly caught during a flight from Rabat to Tunis. Their capture, I admit, had little effect on the direction of the rebellion, because the movement was too loosely organized to crumble under such a blow.” The lesson here is that should we ever succeed in capturing or killing Osama Bin Laden or Mullah Omar that this will not lead to victory unless we are able to protect the population of Afghanistan.

Protecting the population Iraqi Police and Civilians in Ramadi

To do this the population must come to our side because they know that we will stay the course and that we can be counted on to help them.  This cannot just be the military aspect of protecting them against the terrorists as well as economic and political reforms that is consistent with their traditional way of life which is not necessarily consistent with Western political and social traditions or practices. In fact the difficulty for the United States and NATO in Afghanistan is the political struggle on the home front where as Drew states:

“American military dilemma concerns time, public support, and image. Time is the ally of the insurgent; the longer an insurgent survives, the stronger its chances of growing. Meanwhile, as time drags on, the American military position is weakened by declining support, impatience, and war weariness at home, particularly if there is no perceived progress in the struggle. Maintaining public support is clearly a responsibility of the political side of the equation and involves factors far beyond the battlefield–although military progress is a key ingredient. The connection between the duration of the struggle and public support is the image of the insurgency presented to the American body politic.”

To be continued….

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under counterinsurency in afghanistan, History, iraq,afghanistan, Military, national security, Political Commentary

I Miss the Music of the 70’s and 80’s

The Abbess and I in 1980 at Cal State Northridge

Note: Many of the links on this page are now dead. I have done a new article about this which is linked here: 

Spendin’ the Nighttime Reminiscing: Padre Steve Remembers the Music of the 1970s and Early 1980s

If you like this post please see the sequel:  More about Why I Miss the Music of the 70’s and 80’s unfortunately many of the links are dead on this one too, but the article is interesting.

I don’t know about you but the music that I really enjoy is the music that was popular when I was in Junior High, High School and College.  For that period spanned the years 1971-1983.  For those of that were alive back then it was a turbulent era, Vietnam was ending, Nixon was resigning due to the Watergate break in cover-up, assassination attempts both successful and unsuccessful were common, two attempts on Gerald Ford, Aldo Moro of Italy and Anwar Sadat of Egypt fell to terrorists and both Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II were felled by bullets which did not prove fatal. The Cold War was tense, the Middle East a mess, and the economy…well kind of like now in a lot of ways.  There was a major recession the auto industry needed bailouts, inflation was running in double digits as was the unemployment rate, the dollar was weak and OPEC wreaked havoc on world oil markets. Jimmy Carter was ridiculed worldwide for his “malaise” speech and the Iranian revolution led by the Ayatollah Khomeini swept into power and with it the seizure of the US Embassy and the 444 day hostage crisis punctuated by a failed rescue attempt demoralized the United States.

The 444 Day Iranian Hostage Crisis Helped End the Carter Presidency

The Soviets invaded Afghanistan which became their Vietnam.  In Lebanon 247 Marines were killed in the bombing of their barracks, Cubans were fighting in Angola and well. Terrorist groups killed Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics and the Red Brigades, the Bader Meinhof gang, the Weather Underground and the Irish Republican Army provided a constant string of terrorist attacks even as Middle Eastern terrorist groups highjacked airliners in daring fashion, matched at times by equally rescues by Israeli and German anti-terrorist units. As you can imagine there was a lot to be down about.

Gas Lines 1974

However with the passing of the 60’s the music of the 1970s and early 1980s provided a diversion for many people looking for respite from all the bad news that echoed around the airwaves and in the newspapers.  Thankfully there wasn’t a 24 hour cable news cycle yet and had there been people would have probably been jumping off of buildings.  As for me I had countless 45s and LPs of my favorite groups and artists, Doctor Donald D Rose of KFRC in San Fransisco was my favorite DJ and my car had a retro-fitted 8-Track tape player.

Today while much of the population gathered around TVs to watch NFL Wild Card playoff games, I needed some peace, so I started putting music DVDs on as the Abbess and I worked about the house.  First was Blondie’s Greatest Hits and Abba Gold followed by the Eagle’s Farewell Tour I concert album.

Great groups and artists ruled the pop and rock airwaves and save for the disaster known as disco the 70’s and early 80’s produced some of the more memorable music of a generation.  It was not “message music” like much of the music in the 60’s but focused on entertainment.  Power groups like Journey, Starship, REO Speedwagon and Boston made power ballads, while AC/DC and KISS shocked and entertained at the same time.  Groups like the Blondie, the Eagles, Chicago, Paul McCartney and Wings, Abba and the Commodores dominated the pop charts while individual artists such as Olivia Newton-John, Elton John, Carly Simon, John Denver, Lionel Ritchie, Barry Manilow and others satisfied the more mainstream pop crown.  R&B enjoyed a renaissance due to the unlikely duo of the Blues Brothers who helped re-launch the careers of Aretha Franklin, Johnny Lee Hooker, Cab Calloway and a host of others.  As the 80’s came along new groups and styles were introduced including New Wave and Rap. It was music that helped us through those times.

As I listened and watched I mentioned to the Abbess that I missed those times.  It certainly wasn’t the fact that things were great in the world, but despite all of what was going on there was still some sense of that things would work out okay.  Music helped provide part of that sense of hope, even disco as much as I would hate to admit that. It was an escape and the music of that time is still with us, somehow those groups haven’t gone away and people look back with fondness to the music of the era.

Here are some of my favorites with links to the videos, they are in no particular order nor are the representative of all the groups that I have in my library of CDs and DVDs, but I enjoy the heck out of them.  Have fun and enjoy.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

The Eagles “Take it Easy”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScG0ilS0dgI

“Heartache Tonight”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvJqdudx8cg

and “Hotel California”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbjKMobts5U


Olivia Newton-John “Magic”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7WPwH8Rd6g

and “I Honestly Love You”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zGLSnZGZts

The Commodores “Sail On”


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zg-ivWxy5KE

Rod Stewart “Tonight’s the Night”

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1p96h_rod-stewarttonights-the-nightgonna_music

 

Dr Hook and the Medicine Show “On the Cover of the Rolling Stone”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-XzGOZHYdA&feature=PlayList&p=AF906570E242A626&index=1

and “Sharing the Night Together”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECyAATeNH3E


Abba “Waterloo”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGs7dTjUsXw

and The Winner Takes it All

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92cwKCU8Z5c


Fleetwood Mac “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8arvEzHsA8


Journey “Don’t Stop Believing”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNB1EUJg1-w


Laura Branigan “Gloria”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tVutw8rjFk


Bonnie Tyler “Total Eclipse of the Heart”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=840B27zYfOk&feature=related

Carly Simon “You’re So Vain”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQZmCJUSC6g


Blondie “Dreaming”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIjxGKLTADE

“Rapture”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHPikUPlRD8&feature=PlayList&p=F2ED8F30DB2943CD&index=1

and “Island of Lost Souls”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEpPjBG4CJY


Chicago “Saturday in the Park”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWxA3e9f6rY

Linda Ronstadt “When Will I Be Loved”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmE7tTzJkbU


Air Supply “Making Love Out of Nothing at All”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lE6Htee0sA

Foghat “Third Time Lucky”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fj1O2KtH4kE


Elton John “Bennie and the Jets”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0WCQadt864

The Captain and Tennille “Do that to Me One More Time”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNHcgk5bf7o&feature=related

REO Speedwagon “Keep on Loving You”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-mw1HGJjdA&feature=related

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts “I Love Rock and Roll”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SOJxNOP37I

Starship “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PP1HEFlkdY

and “We  Built this City”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7flrwE-bZVo

Finally, the Blues Brothers “Everybody Needs Somebody”

http://www.mojvideo.com/video-the-blues-brothers-everybody-needs-somebody-to-love/ac0b631b54ff095fd5c0

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Filed under History, music