Tag Archives: political speech

A Time to Heal

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our

heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove

ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will.

Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and

pure manners.  Save us from violence, discord, and confusion;

from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend

our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes

brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue

with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust

the authority of government, that there may be justice and

peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we

may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth.

In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness,

and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail;

all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 

From the Book of Common Prayer

 

The tragic events of Saturday January 8th 2011 have revealed the best and the worst aspects of our society. From the heroism of individuals and the kindness and prayers offered by many in this time of darkness to blame being spread about by those seeking to demonize their opponents once again.  The tragedy was scarcely hours old when partisans on the left and the right without any real evidence sought to blame the actions of Jared Lee Loughner on those Americans that have become their enemies.

In the midst of a real war against enemies that attacked us we have engaged in a political civil war that is only equaled in hatred, bitterness and rancor by that which consumed the nation in the years preceding the Civil War or in Germany’s Weimar Republic. Led by a new class of take no prisoners’ political pundits and talk show hosts politicians of both major parties have allowed the tenor of political debate in the land to descend to the crassest, hateful and even violent rhetoric imaginable.  Ordinary citizens now see those that disagree with their party or ideology as enemies and not fellow American citizens worthy of their respect and forbearance.  Both sides have had elements resort to physical violence and intimidation at polling places, local party headquarters and political rallies.

Preachers of many faiths and opposing ideologies have allowed their pulpits to become bastions of bombast and do all that they can to ensure that others know that God is on their side and not the other.  By doing this they make a mockery of faith before a watching world and all for the sake of a share in the spoils of hard wrought political victory.  The words of Jesus to “love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you” are lost on such preachers who are no better and perhaps worse than the pundits, talk show hosts and politicians that have done the same. Men and women of faith should know better. It seems they forget the passage of Isaiah quoted by Jesus “Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick until he brings justice to victory. And in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

Quite simply while our military wages a war abroad and police agencies seek to prevent more attacks we have allowed ourselves to declare war on each other.  Without a shred of evidence from the accused as to why he committed this crime we have labeled the other side responsible for the attack of a madman based on hearsay while ignoring the few things that the accused had communicated. This isn’t public debate or political discourse it is civil war.

In fact the verbiage used by the political combatants is that of war. There is a culture war, a war against the family, a war against the elderly, a war against the poor, a war against immigrants, a war against workers, you name it the terminology is there, it is if we are waging a Jihad against each other. People talk of armed revolution, the shedding of blood or military coups and some actually pray prayers for the death of political leaders of whom they disapprove. The difference in 2011 than in 2007 is that the ideologues making these statements are from different parties; now the target of the anger is President Obama rather than President Bush.

What it all comes down to is that it really doesn’t matter if Jared Lee Loughner is a liberal or conservative. We have strong reason to believe that he is mentally ill. But even still his ideas that he espoused on his web posts didn’t occur in a vacuum.  Loughner’s may be mixed up and at times nonsensical but they still come from somewhere because as screwed up as some of his ideas are they occur in saner form on a daily basis.  In our hate filled political and social climate where adversaries don’t measure the impact of their words on the maladjusted or the mentally ill Loughner probably picked up a mixed bag of hatred and make it his own.

On Wednesday night President Obama gave what I thought was the best and most thoughtful speech of his Presidency. He made the speech about the people not him and he brought words of comfort to a hurting community. He mentioned the political climate in passing in these words referring to the hopes and dreams of the youngest victim Christina Green:

“If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point-scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle…. I want us to live up to her expectations.  I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it.  All of us – we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.”

The speech was in my view having always admired President Ronald Reagan was “Reaganesque.”  I have not shed a tear during a Presidential speech for a very long time, perhaps dating back to the Challenger speech.  I was touched by the President’s words and have included the link here.
http://www.nowpublic.com/world/barack-obama-tucson-speech-transcript-video-arizona-memorial-2747009.html#ixzz1AxvgVzXg

I think it is fitting that we also remember the closing words of Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address given not long before he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln knew that the great divisions in the country that resulted in the Civil War would not go away with the defeat and dissolution of the Confederacy as they were too deep and in fact in some ways still with us today.  But with words seldom equaled by an American President he said.

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

It is time that we choose to work to heal our divisions as Americans, as people of faith and people that believe we have been and still can be that shining city which has been a beacon to freedom loving people of all races, nationalities, creeds and colors. We are better than what has been represented by members of the media, pundits, politicians and yeas preachers.  I hope we can again learn to love and respect one another again even though we may not agree and may we lay down the language of hate and replace it with love.

In the words of this prayer from the Book of Common Prayer:

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us

through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole

human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which

infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us;

unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and

confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in

your good time, all nations and races may serve you in

harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ

our Lord.  Amen.

 

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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Filed under faith, philosophy, Political Commentary

The First World Wide Cyber-Insurgency

In the past week we have entered the first true cyber-insurgency being waged by the Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks and its various supporters worldwide. Experts have been debating if the actions of WikiLeaks and their confederates constitute a cyber-war or simply a form of protest and demand for openness on the part of governments and corporations.

This is an entirely new twist on the traditional concept of insurgency as it is not limited to an attack on a single nation but numerous nations, businesses and financial institutions as well as individuals.  It is also being conducted by a loosely international organized alliance of individuals and groups with overlapping or identical political goals which have an almost cult like reverence for Julian Assange, who they defend as if he were the Prophet himself.

Those who say that this is not a war rely on a definition of war as something that is conducted between nation states which is now an antiquated concept and not reality based. What is called “conventional” warfare is a misnomer and conventional conflicts are the exception to the rule. Australian counter-insurgency expert David Kilcullen notes that according to the Correlates of War Project that of 464 wars fought in the Modern Era (1816-2000) that on 79 were conventional “interstate” conflicts “fought between the regular armed forces of nation states, while 385 (just under 83%) were civil wars or insurgencies.[i]

One such expert told CNN: “

“Calling the WikiLeaks back-and-forth a cyber war is “completely idiotic,” said Bruce Schneier, chief security technology officer of BT, a communications company.”War. W-A-R. It’s a big word,” Schneier said. “How could this be a cyber war? It’s certainly a cyber attack, right? It’s certainly politically motivated. But this stuff has been going on for a couple of decades now. Do you mean there have been thousands of wars that haven’t been noticed? It doesn’t make any sense at all. If there was a war, you’d know it, and it would probably involve tanks and artillery — as well as cyber weapons.” Only cyber attacks between two warring nation-states count as cyber war….” (author’s emphasis) ”[ii]

Unfortunately such “experts” know nothing of modern war, to paraphrase General George Patton’s speech: “The perfidious experts who wrote that stuff about what modern war is for Time Magazine don’t know anything more about modern war than they do about fornicating.” Quite bluntly Mr. Shneier is as ignorant as they come and while he may be a “cyber security expert” he has no clue about modern war. It is possible that nation states can wage cyber war as part of a broader war, undoubtedly, but to limit one’s definition of war to such encounters when only 17% of modern wars fit the definition is ignorant.

“Insurgency is defined as an insurgency is an organized, protracted politico-military struggle designed to weaken the control and legitimacy of an established government, occupying power, or other political authority while increasing insurgent control.”[iii] While the WikiLeaks is not using traditional arms their tactics which include participating in espionage which is defined in the U.S. Code as:

“The act of obtaining, delivering, transmitting, communicating, or receiving information about the national defense with an intent, or reason to believe, that the information may be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation. Espionage is a violation of 18 United States Code 792-798 and Article 106, Uniform Code of Military Justice. See also counterintelligence.”

In addition to this the WikiLeaks confederates in making cyber attacks against governments, corporations and individuals that take a stand against them are using methods which are best described as asymmetrical warfare which stand outside of convention and are designed to destabilize the existing order for the political intent of the actor conducting it.

In today’s world non-state actors to include traditional terrorist organizations as well as organizations such as WikiLeaks which are non-state networked actors.  Martin Van Creveld notes: “In today’s world, the main threat to many states, including specifically the U.S., no longer comes from other states. Instead, it comes from small groups and other organizations, which are not states.”[iv] Such actors in the technological world can develop networks to further their cause.

Major William J. Hartman notes in his article Globalization and Asymmetrical Warfare that:

“Technology and the internet have allowed them to become globally netted players.  The basic function of a network is relatively simple.  A chain network is used when goods or information move along a network or series of hubs until reaching a final destination.  This type of network is normally used by pirates and smugglers where there is no central figure controlling the overall operation.  The hub or star network is what we would normally recognize as a terrorist group, drug cartel or crime syndicate.  In this case nodes operate separately, but must coordinate activities through a central node or leader.  The all-channel network is a shared network of numerous groups loosely connected for a common cause.” [v]

While Assange’s WikiLeaks once was considered a legitimate media source in the “new media” it has crossed a line between internet freedom and freedom of speech to political espionage and it his supports from financial and information support to targeted cyber terrorism against political, governmental, business organizations as well as individuals.  WikiLeaks and Assange still claim the journalistic mantel and they are supported by many in that claim, but their recent actions serve to undermine their credibility and while they will have supporters any sense of journalistic ethics has been lost and probably cannot be recovered.  WikiLeaks began their irresponsible actions with the release of unredacted documents on the Afghanistan War and the released diplomatic cables do not seem to serve any purpose except to embarrass governments.  The threatened release of a massive amount of unredacted documents as an “insurance policy” against being shut down is simply extortion and can rightly be labeled an act of cyber terrorism.

As most people know information is power and those that can harness it for their purposes. The U.S. Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency manual states

“Interconnectedness and information technology are new aspects of this contemporary wave of insurgencies. Using the Internet, insurgents can now link virtually with allied groups throughout a state, a region, and even the entire world. Insurgents often join loose organizations with common objectives but different motivations and no central controlling body, which makes identifying leaders difficult.”[vi]

The way that WikiLeaks supporters are organized and the manner in which they have posted the information that they have illegally obtained provides an amazing information pipeline for other non-state actors, especially terrorists groups that will be able to use that information to conduct deadly attacks which will as they always do target directly or indirectly innocent civilians of many nations. The attacks that supporters mount on those that criticize Assange stand a good chance of causing even more financial hardship to the customers of those institutions.

This is an insurgency of a new type, one without borders which though it claims noble goals of justice, freedom and transparency willingly places information in the hands of terrorists who have stated that they will use it. This has and is occurring with the Taliban in Afghanistan and will happen elsewhere as terrorist organizations both national and international use the information to create chaos.

Welcome to warfare in the 21st Century. It’s not your grandfather’s war.

Peace

Padre Steve+


[i] Kilcullen, David. Counterinsurgency Oxford University Press, New York 2010 pp.ix-x

[ii] Sutter, John D. Is WikiLeaks waging a Cyber War?” retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/innovation/12/09/wikileaks.cyber.attacks/index.html?hpt=T2 9 Dec 2010

[iii] Field Manual No. 3-24 Headquarters Department of the Army Washington, DC p.ix

[iv] Van Creveld, Martin, In Wake Of Terrorism, Modern Armies Prove To Be  Dinosaurs Of Defense, New Perspectives Quarterly, Vol. 13, NO 4, Fall 1996, 58

[v] Air Command and Staff College Air University Globalization and Asymmetrical Warfare by William J. Hartman, Major, US Army, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama April 2002 pp. 19-20

[vi] Ibid. FM 3-24. p. 1-4

 

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Filed under Foreign Policy, national security