Monday, March 23, 2015

ISIS top 100, World War III?

Stories have been breaking over the weekend that Daesh has posted a list of 100 troops names and addresses.  The terrorist group was able to comb press releases and compile information from social media to come up with the names.  "The US Marine Corps urged personnel to ‘check their online footprint’ after the so-called Islamic State released the alleged identities and addresses of 100 staff officials, calling on adherents to kill them."  (RT)  Want a sure fire way to neutralize this threat?  The Sec Def should immediately require all active duty personnel to be issued and wear their sidearms at all times.  Up the rhetoric to the terrorist levels by adding that "any military personnel (including those who have separated or retired) will be found NOT be charge with any crime as a result of shooting and/or killing who was in the midst of committing an act of terrorism as defined by the Department of Defense or FBI."

While the Americans are being led to hate one another because of race, they are too busy to notice that Daesh is getting very serious about operations outside their own area:

"Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon believes that every British ISIS fighter will have been given chemical weapons training in the hope they will come back to launch an attack.

The retired head of chemical and biological weapons for the Army believes the Tube or sporting events could be the target."  (Daily Mail)

Daesh does not give a damn about if you are white, black, Latino, Asian or any other flavor of American.  Be at the wrong place at the wrong time and they will kill you just as soon as anyone else.  The only way to counter this culture of fear is to empower Americans to defend themselves.

During the early days of the Cold War, the government decided the best way to manage widespread fear of nuclear war was to convince the public they could survive it.  Hence "Duck and cover" was released and while we can now see how patently ridiculous this campaign was, the interesting thing is the government back then wanted Americans to be responsible for their own safety.

Today's White House pretends to be about empowerment (kids eating healthy, race relations, rights for illegal immigrants) but the effect is just the opposite of "duck and cover".  Americans don't trust the police, don't' trust the government and increasingly don't trust other Americans that don't look like them.  The creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was supposed to symbolize American's renewed focus on defending the homeland but recent stories (such as Ferguson, Eric Brown, hiring immigrants as police officers) has made Americans feel less safe.

Focusing on keeping Iran from developing nuclear weapons is also making us less safe.  The headlines and Washington sound bytes assure us that a nuclear armed Iran is unthinkable and the President has to put all of his focus on this issue (and somehow not Daesh?).  It's fascinating to watch how Iran's potential, not actual" nuclear capability is of far more concern to the White House than is Russia's actual nuclear inventory.  Or China's.

In the not too distant past, there was much press about the "Pivot to Asia" under then Secretary of State Clinton.  The policy supposedly recognized that by focusing on defeating terrorism, the US had taken its strategic view away from an ever expanding China.  The "pivot" was supposed to get US efforts refocused on containing China (especially in light is its rapidly expanding economy and surging military).  But Clinton and then Kerry became kiddy at the thought that they could use the Arab Spring to gain US advantage in the Middle East.  Their lack of focused has introduced a different scenario to World War III than most people think.

The most obvious and alarming scenario to the next World War is with Russia over something like the anti-missile system in Europe or if Russia expands their buffer zones via the areas in Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania.  But a wholly different scenario has been developing eerily similar to the days prior to the First World War.

The Economist's "Look Back With Angst" from 2013 shows how pre-war Europe believed "Globalisation and new technology—the telephone, the steamship, the train—had knitted the world together," much as we view smart devices, social media and the Internet today.  For all of the good that has come as a result of these latest technologies, we need only look to how one shooting in Ferguson was able to set race relations in the US back decades (would the reaction have been the same without social media?).  Like in the early 20th Century, many are still of the delusion that war that globalization eliminates the possibility of a global war.  John Maynard Keynes has a wonderful image of a Londoner of the time, “sipping his morning tea in bed” and ordering “the various products of the whole earth” to his door, much as he might today from Amazon—and regarding this state of affairs as “normal, certain and permanent, except in the direction of further improvement”.--The Economist

Instead of Britain, France and Germany, the essay sees China as in the role of pre-war Germany, Japan in the role of pre-war France and the US playing the role of a fading British Empire.

"Yet the parallels remain troubling. The United States is Britain, the superpower on the wane, unable to guarantee global security. Its main trading partner, China, plays the part of Germany, a new economic power bristling with nationalist indignation and building up its armed forces rapidly. Modern Japan is France, an ally of the retreating hegemon and a declining regional power. The parallels are not exact—China lacks the Kaiser’s territorial ambitions and America’s defence budget is far more impressive than imperial Britain’s—but they are close enough for the world to be on its guard."--The Economist

It may often seem that the Middle East will lead us into a major conflict and it is tempting at times to reminisce about the days of the Cold War and try to cast Russia in the role of its former self but the Economist makes some truly valid comparisons.  The comparisons of which the current occupants of the White House and State Department are even less concerned with than Keynes portrayal of a pre-war Londoner.

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