Democracy Cannot Thrive In The Middle East

By Sal Bommarito

For many years, the U.S. has been trying to convince despotic regimes around the globe to bestow democracy on their subjects. For the most part, autocratic rulers either flat out reject or disregard the suggestion that every person on earth longs to be free and wants to elect his leaders.

 

Maybe democracy is not the best governmental system for some (or even most) nations. The reasons for this are numerous. For instance, in China and Russia, the differences (language and culture) between citizens along with distances between them would make it nearly impossible to conduct a fair national election. Communicating the positions held by candidates to all voters would be a monumental endeavor.

 

In other places, like the Middle East, educational limitations, tribal customs, and more importantly, religion make democracy a dream and not a reality. The Arab Spring made some westerners believe that humans may have an innate desire for self-rule. Rebellions occurred and regimes toppled. But, democracy, real democracy, did not materialize anywhere. Radical ideology filled the governmental vacuum and anarchy ensued. The importance of the separation of church and state has been in full bloom.

 

A Wall Street Journal article suggests that the passing of “strongmen” has led to the current tumultuous environment in the Middle East. Certainly, the death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah after 20 years of leadership has inspired this assessment.

 

Frankly, the reign of strong, despotic rulers in the region resulted in a period of relative peace. Surely, some leaders have been cruel and ruthless and some cajoled (or bribed) their subjects to be cooperative. In any regard, radical Islam was contained for many years, or at least bottled up. Some say that this process resulted in a powder keg environment: the desire for stronger Islamic influence has exploded now that most of the strongmen are gone.

 

The list before Abdullah is long and includes: King Hussein- Jordan 47 years, Moammar Gadhafi- Libya 42 years, King Hassan- Morocco 38 years, Hosni Mubarak- Egypt 30 years, Hafez al Assad- Syria 29 years and Saddam Hussein- Iraq 24 years.

 

These men were not interested in democracy and proved that autocratic rule, at least in the Middle East, is the best way to keep the peace. True, some were very aggressive and all were able to temper the clergy. Perhaps a lesson to be learned from history is that democracy will never flourish in the Middle East.

 

Finally, we must consider how will the Middle East find peace? History suggests that peace will not be possible without very strong dictatorial leadership.

Recent Issues Exacerbating Middle East Problems

By Sal Bommarito

The bad news emanating from the Middle East and neighboring countries has been non-stop for quite some time. At first glance, the events seem unrelated and pose little risk to those of us who live thousands of miles away. Recently, there have been new developments, which demand closer scrutiny because they could destabilize the Middle East further along with many nations throughout the world.

 

Essays published by this blog have analyzed every conceivable issue relating to the ISIS conflict. For those of you, who need background, please click here to access Softball Politics. You may read earlier articles of interest to you.

 

It’s time to once again reconsider the implications of the ISIS conflict from a global perspective. Initially, a group of unorganized bandits ravaged large tracts of land in Iraq and Syria. The leaders indicated their objective is to establish an Islamic caliphate. In fact, the group immediately began to murder innocent people who were not Arab, were Shiites or did not ascribe to the most fundamental precepts of Islam.

 

During their reign of terror, the renegades absconded more and more land along with oil reserves and antiquities, which they sold to finance their fighting force. ISIS uses social media to broadcast their propaganda and to recruit new fighters. Yet, most world leaders did not consider ISIS a great threat, including President Obama. Soon, the president changed his perspective and initiated a bombing program intended to stem the tide of ISIS.

 

ISIS has held its own while fighting against an inferior Iraq army, “moderate” rebels in Syria and Kurds near the border of Syria and Turkey. The latter group has had the most success to this point. American bombing sorties have been relatively unproductive, as many planes return to base with all their munitions because the pilots have not been able to find suitable targets, or they could not obtain permission to drop their loads.

 

ISIS has been fortifying its position in populated areas. This will hamper the current bombing tactics, as the U.S. is concerned with collateral damage. The need for qualified ground forces has never been direr. Most experts believe that the Iraqi army will never be able to effectively deal with the ISIS force embedded in cities and towns, even after the U.S. trains them.

 

More importantly is the fact that the ideology of ISIS is becoming more popular every day. The rebels have been boasting about their ability to withstand American assaults, made possible because assaults are exclusively from the sky. Recruits have been streaming in, as disenfranchised young people want to become affiliated with a winning group that defies the international establishment.

 

An outgrowth of this phenomenon is the continuing lone wolf threats popping up around the world, such as the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, and more recently bomb threats to commercial airlines. A global destructive revolutionary spirit is growing rapidly, which is so diverse and widespread that it will be difficult to fend off.

 

After following events in the Middle East for an extended period of time, many have concluded that the hostilities between the two major sects of Islam (personified by Iran and Saudi Arabia) are the most perverse cause of conflict in the region. This is not a new development, however, three issues have caused the relationship between Shiites and Sunnis to deteriorate even further.

 

The first relates to ISIS and Syria. Even though Iran and Saudi Arabia are fighting ISIS, Iran continues to support the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, while the Saudis are dead set against it. This is a part of a growing and continuous indirect confrontation between the two most important countries in the Middle East that represent opposing Islamic perspectives. Further, fighters backed by Iran have just toppled Yemen and the Saudi-backed (and U.S. backed) government has been deposed. Iran and Saudi Arabia are forever supporting provocateurs in countries that are Sunni and Shiite, respectively.

 

Another development is the decline in oil prices. Saudi Arabia in effect controls the lion’s share of oil exported out of the Middle East. Its policy is to maintain current levels of production even if they foster lower oil prices. This has a serious impact on all of the oil producing countries around the world, especially Iran.

 

Some are speculating that the Saudi strategy is to severely damage Iran economically by keeping prices low. This will ultimately affect the ability of Iran to buy the loyalty of other Arab nations and conduct covert operations in Sunni controlled states. The Saudis are in a much better financial condition and can easily weather lower oil revenues.

 

Exacerbating the oil issue is Iran’s obsession with producing a nuclear weapon. This ambition causes great consternation in Saudi Arabia. It is likely that Iran will bully other Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, when and if it can deliver a nuclear device.

 

On the other side of the coin, the Saudi’s are certainly pressuring the U.S. to maintain sanctions against Iran and to not allow the Iranians any flexibility in their nuclear program. The sanctions will weaken Iran.

 

The dynamics of the Middle East are becoming more complicated every day. There are many similar, but less strategic issues facing other Arab nations, most notably are Egypt, and its new secular government, and Turkey, which has been tepid in its response to ISIS. Other problems have been caused by U.S. policies.

 

 

 

Obama’s Inappropriate Relationships With Arab Nations

By Sal Bommarito

President Obama is finding himself on the wrong side of several critical issues in the Middle East. They include his ambivalence towards Egypt under its new secular president, encouragement of secret negotiations that may lead to an Iranian nuclear capability and animosity towards the State of Israel and its Prime Minister.

 

The Counter Jihad Report” discussed a speech by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in which he “attacks the root causes of continuing conflict between certain adherents of Islam and freedom-loving secularists . . .”

 

The Muslim Brotherhood, a theocratic based political group, took control of the country in 2012 under the leadership of former President Mohammed Morsi. He was subsequently deposed in 2014 by el-Sisi, a secular leader, who imprisoned his predecessor along with many of his followers.

 

President Obama has been supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2009, he made a speech at the University of Cairo and lauded President Morsi and his organization. Since Morsi’s incarceration, Obama “has seemingly turned his back on Egypt . . .”

 

“It is truly fascinating that here is the one leader in the Muslim world who has the courage not only to confront the enemy, but also its ideology.” El-Sisi has been “calling out Islamists and the clerics, mullahs [and] imams who are causing strife globally.” Yet, Obama has not been responsive to him.

 

“ . . . we cannot shy away from defining this enemy . . . It is unbelievable that anyone would refer to the Islamic terrorists who wrought savage carnage this week [in Paris] as activists.”

 

At the same time, President Obama is staunchly defiant of Congress’ suggestion that more conditional sanctions against Iran should be enacted. In fact, he threatened to veto any laws to that effect during his State of the Union address.

 

Many in Congress, including powerful Democrats such as Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) are uncomfortable with negotiations relating to the development of an Iranian nuclear weapon. The president believes that his closed-door meetings will be negatively impacted if Congress moves to introduce new sanctions. The opposition to these negotiations does not believe Iran can be trusted, and the country has been an impediment to peace in the region.

 

On a related note, the New York Times reports that Iran’s supreme leader released a letter to “youths in the United States and Europe imploring them to learn about Islam from original sources . . .” The Ayatollah is concerned about the image of Islam on the heels of the Charlie Hebdo attack. The cleric indicated, “ . . . researchers and historians are deeply ashamed of the bloodshed wrought in the name of religion between the Catholics and Protestants or in the name of nationality and ethnicity during [WWII].” The intent of the letter was to transfer blame for current hostilities to the west.

 

Obama is determined to appease Iran during the negotiations even as the vast majority of Americans and Congress are becoming more uncomfortable with the potential of Iran having a nuclear weapon.

 

Israel considers the development of nuclear capability by Iran to be an existential problem. It is inconceivable that any person could come to another conclusion, particularly the man who is the leader of Israel’s most important ally. Time and again, Obama has not supported Israel to assure its survival. His attitude has made the Jewish state all the more vulnerable during his tenure.

 

In an act of defiance, Congress invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to address the body without endorsement of the administration. The story is reported in the New York Times. The topics dearest to Netanyahu are Iran, its ambition to have a nuclear weapon and implementation of more sanctions. The Prime Minister’s appearance flies in the face of the president who objects to any interference of his negotiations with Iran.

 

The writing is on the wall. President Obama is regularly kowtowing to the interests of Muslim countries that are hostile to the U.S. It is a mystery why he has adopted this tactic. We should expect Congress to delve deeply into Obama’s motivations in the months ahead and to obstruct many of his initiatives.

 

President Obama’s diplomacy relating to the Islamic world needs to be vetted by his critics. Apologists of the president should stand aside and give politicians and leaders who disagree with Obama a chance to express their views.

The U.S. Is Not Responding To ISIS Threat

By Sal Bommarito

While President Obama jabbered about a myriad of progressive and unattainable entitlements during his State of the Union address, ISIS and affiliated radical Islamist groups were creating havoc. World leaders should set aside petty and/or longer-term issues and double down on efforts to fight global terrorism.

 

The horrible tragedy at Charlie Hebdo in Paris has increased awareness, not that any world leader needs to be prodded about the potential of ISIS and Al Qaeda. But all the solidarity, arm clasping and marching is not going to solve the problems created by radical religious groups.

 

For months, this blog called for increased military action against ISIS forces. For months, the U.S. has bombed ISIS targets with very little success. We can be confident that this is the case because Obama would be on television praising his military achievements if he had anything positive to report.

 

When will the president realize that ISIS is a threat that could become as lethal as any other in history? The demographics and attitudes of Islamists tell the whole story. About 1.5 billion people practice the religion. Most are poor, unhappy and very bitter towards more affluent nations. The Arab Spring added to confusion as many were given false hope that they could be free and able to increase their socioeconomic status.

 

Ironically, the despots that the Arab Spring deposed were the ones who kept peace and shielded their countries from religious fanatics. Rebels proceeded to dismantle governments throughout the region and the result has been anarchy, fertile ground for radical ideology.

 

The situation was destined to spin out of control regardless of the response to ISIS aggression. But enabling ISIS to achieve military success fighting against world powerhouses like the U.S. and other western countries created new hope for the downtrodden and unhappy people in the region and all over the world.

 

ISIS is able to boast on social media outlets that it is successfully fighting the U.S. The result has been more recruits who want to be a part of this new sensation.

 

Westerners know that ISIS is no match for American firepower, but our president unilaterally decided to be overly cautious about deploying ground troops, a necessary tactic to fight this type of war. He believes bombing and training a dilapidated and uninspired army in Iraq and rag-tag anti-Assad rebels in Syria will lead to victory over ISIS. He was and continues to be dead wrong. This strategy might prove to be one of the greatest U.S. military blinders in history. By refusing to use appropriate force to defeat jihadists, Obama enabled ISIS to become formidable, and worse, it is now the prototype for terrorists in other places.

 

In spite of all that has transpired, President Obama still does not recognize Islamic terrorism and would rather debate with Congress about global warming and new entitlements. Time is wasting, and ISIS is a growing. It needs to be squashed immediately with overpowering military action.

 

Compounding the reticence of the U.S. are the actions of other nations in the region. Iran’s main objective is to dominate the Middle East and spread its Shiite form of Islam by provoking violence against Sunnis. To expedite this process, it expects to negotiate a favorable nuclear arrangement with a weak American president. The only thing more frightening in the Middle East would be a nuclear Iran. Yet, this seems to be the course of the Obama administration based upon comments made during his speech this week.

 

The Turks are distracted by the nine lives of Bashar al-Assad of Syria. They want him out, but Russia and Iran support him. The Turks are also worried about the growing presence of the Kurds who want an independent state. The last thing concerning Turkey is the imminent threat of ISIS, which is currently on its border.

 

The other nations in the region have been less than helpful in the fight with ISIS. The leaders are principally focused on retaining power. The result is that ISIS continues to prosper and fortify its positions.

 

The global community had better stop and take note of the potential danger of radical Islamists. Throughout the world, jihad has become a great fad. Disenfranchised people are joining the cause, which will result in more innocent deaths and further destabilization of the Middle East.

 

For the U.S., it can either act now while ISIS is relatively localized or wait for it to achieve epic proportions.

The State Of The Union Address: What A Disaster

By Sal Bommarito

Last night, President Obama declared war on everyone except radical Islamists. His animosity directed at so many Americans was clearly on display as he continued to polarize America. History will not be kind to this president as he escalates his reputation as the great divider.

 

The president attacked many of the same groups in his speech that he has during his tenure in office. Conservatives and Republicans are, of course, his favorite target. The bad feelings that exist between the left and the right in our government are, to a great extent, based upon Obama’s attitude towards the opposition party from the moment he first became president.

 

Democrats controlled the Executive and Legislative Branch (the latter with a filibuster-proof majority) in 2008 after Obama was elected. From the get-go, the president made no effort to work with those on the other side of the aisle creating great resentment that exists to this day. During the next six years under Obama’s leadership, Democrats have been reduced to observers in Congress, the latest blow occurring in the 2014 mid-term elections. Effectively, the president has no power to govern other than through executive orders, which will be addressed later.

 

Obama’s demonization of the most successful people in America, commonly referred to as the 1%ers, has been an abomination. It is puzzling from a logical perspective, yet perfectly clear from a political/progressive perspective why the president feels it is so important to disenfranchise affluent citizens.

 

Effectively, the president has abandoned an important segment of our population. He believes he is a modern day Robin Hood stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. He fails to recognize that the rich in the Robin Hood metaphor stole from their subordinates while the affluent today have earned their wealth legally.

 

Alternatively, Obama should be trying to close the income gap by raising opportunities for all Americans, not by absconding from one group and paying it to another. He should be encouraging all those without jobs to find one and ensuring that jobs be made available to all able-bodied individuals. Those that have fallen behind can earn their way to a better life rather than living off of the munificence of government.

 

Businesses and banks are another favorite target of the administration. Why would the president attack two of the most important engines for economic growth and creation of new jobs? The country needs higher paying jobs to mitigate the inequality that has evolved over the years. Businesses create jobs. And, banks enable businesses to grow by providing capital. Excessive regulation (as opposed to reasonable regulation) will be counter-productive in the long run to an improved economy.

 

Obama wants to help the middle class. He is focusing on this group because it is the largest in the country. Suggesting new entitlements at the expense of the affluent is a strategy that will likely be popular among Americans. But many Americans do not want a larger, more intrusive government, or more taxes that give it too much power over the people. In fact, many people appreciate that government has been wasteful ultimately resulting in the need to increase taxes regularly.

 

Middle class individuals want an opportunity to increase their lot, but every time they earn more, they are taxed at a higher rate. In effect, workers are earning more money but not putting it all into their pockets; Uncle Sam must get his cut. At some point, liberals will come to the realization that waste, tax cheating and gaming the system illegally are the real villains, not those who have made a comfortable life for themselves by working hard.

 

Obama is, rightly so, becoming seriously concerned about his legacy. Frankly, it is too late for him because he has not been able to shed his combative attitude going into his last two years. The only chance the president has to earn a respectable place in history is to demand comity and effectively lead the nation domestically and internationally.

 

There are issues that naturally unite Americans including homeland security and the threat of radical Islam. If Obama would have showcased a more aggressive attitude towards the real enemies of America, he could have gained a lot of support from all corners. John McCain (R-AZ) has enumerated this on many occasions.

 

The U.S. needs more jobs and jobs that pay higher salaries. This is a winning objective for any president. Yet, Obama chose to give more money away for a variety of uses that the Republican-controlled Congress will eschew. He missed a wonderful opportunity to unite the nation with a jobs program.

 

The ability to work with the opposition sets some presidents apart from others. Many former presidents had to deal with hostile political environments. Obama has done less than most to foster a good working environment in Washington.

 

In fact, he has also declared war on the Constitution by circumventing the responsibility of Congress to enact laws. Executive orders are more rightly applicable to existing law; they should not replace the enactment of laws by legislators. This tactic has made Obama’s job of bringing the country together more difficult.

 

To make matters worse, he began the new legislative term by threatening vetoes on every new initiative by the new Congress. Does this man understand the meaning of leadership and compromise? I don’t think so.

 

In the meantime, Congress will pass laws and the president will veto them out of spite. The only salvation for congressional Democrats is to work with the majority to overcome the vetoes of a very confused and unproductive president.

Terrorism: France, Belgium And Where Next?

By Sal Bommarito

Governments throughout the world are unsure how to combat the rash of attacks sponsored by ISIS, Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. The latest situation just occurred in Belgium on the heels of Charlie Hebdo in France. The police thwarted an operation, killed two and wounded a third would be perpetrator according to reports. ISIS allegedly trained the terrorists. This latest plot foretells of more lone wolf intrigue in Europe and possibly the U.S.

 

Terrorist events appear to be linked. The West and non-Muslims are engaged in a covert war with radical Islamists, in which innocent people are being targeted. To make matters worse, jihadists from the Middle East are being supported and supplemented by western nationals who are being trained/brainwashed in Syria, Yemen and nearby environs.

 

Security officials are at a loss about how to deal with this growing phenomenon. My suggestion is to fight fire with fire. Extraordinary intelligence gathering and draconian responses to threats should include confiscation of passports and a halt to the return of travelers from hot spots in the Middle East.

 

In the days of red alerts at American airports, millions of travelers were inconvenienced and subjected to invasive searches in an effort to head off any plots to attack aircraft. No one was immune; every one was checked to ensure the skies were safe. It is this type of focus that is needed at every point of entry into the U.S. Police and military organizations should be rounding up people on watch lists along with suspicious foreign students and visitors from the Middle East. In fact, our borders should be temporarily shut down to visitors from dangerous places globally.

 

The days of stop and frisk, profiling and aggressive observation are back. The result of not being more diligent, even if we hurt some people’s feelings, will be more attacks. Political correctness needs to end.

 

Attackers are of two types- Middle Eastern nationals entering the country as students or for sham business purposes, and western nationals that have enlisted with jihadist groups to create havoc in their homes states. These groups should be profiled, harassed and observed.

 

Any westerners traveling to Syria or Yemen or any other dangerous place should not be granted visas and not allowed back into the U.S. if they violate any regulations. The problems are at our gateways. Security needs to be bolstered.

 

All congregations of persons that are suspected of plotting against any country should be monitored closely. If they are peaceful, authorities can apologize after the fact. No groups should get a pass without scrutiny.

 

Terrorists are turning our world upside down. We are all living in fear of young, inexperienced troublemakers. Our police and military capabilities are surely strong enough to protect us from lone wolves and sociopaths from the Middle East. Authorities must be aggressive to protect America.

The Fight Against ISIS Is A Disaster And Ineffective

By Sal Bommarito

The disgraceful and inefficacious response to the ISIS threat has led to an unfortunate worldwide phenomenon. Thousands of disenfranchise and unhappy young people have found a cause celebre. It is an opportunity to stick it to all those who have ignored the needs and dreams of the discontented and made their lives intolerable.

 

When Barack Obama decided to finally enter the ISIS conflict, he indicated that the U.S. would only drop bombs and advise ground combatants from other countries. He must know that effective ground support is critical to defeating this enemy, and most enemies for that matter. Yet, the president said the U.S. would fight from 20,000 feet and train others to do the work on the battlefields. This has been and continues to be a huge strategic mistake, if for no other reason than it allowed ISIS to build itself into a mythical powerhouse in the deserts of Iraq and Syria.

 

The rag tag army has minimal command and control and no heavy weapons. Yet, it is defeating local forces regularly. ISIS employs the cruelest tactics to build its reputation, recruit new fighters and terrorize all those with different ethnicities and religious preferences. Young people have been impressed by ISIS’ courage in standing up to western and Arab forces. For them, it must a great experience to have to have women and children grovel at their feet and to murder them.

 

The regimes in surrounding Middle East countries have done little to ensure that the marauders are stopped. Arab leaders are frightened by radical elements in their own countries, so they joined the hapless U.S coalition with little fanfare and even less manpower. Now, the “ISIS Spring” is far more powerful than the Arab Spring. Sovereign nations are being overthrown right before our eyes and many others are threatened by lone wolves who transport death and destruction to innocents in the Middle East and throughout the world.

 

The ISIS threat could not have been handled any worse by current world leaders. The potential of ISIS was totally underestimated and further, world leaders still have not responded with greater force after seeing the potential of this terrorist group. The greatest blame falls on the U.S., which should have acted alone to stop the ISIS incursion. If the U.S. had relied upon others to deal with the growing threat of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, the terrorists would have thrived and done much more damage to the free world. George W. Bush recognized the potential of Al Qaeda and attacked killing thousands of dangerous terrorists in the process.

 

The Afghan saga is different than the ISIS adventure because the U.S. did not step up and deal with the terrorists in a more confrontational manner. The president took the easy way out, but it has not been effective. Bombing alone will not defeat ISIS; his generals have told him this repeatedly. And now, ISIS is a mythical tsunami as it fights against the greatest nations in the world.

 

In Paris, millions gathered to show solidarity against the interlopers and their imported form of terrorism. The extremists must have been laughing as all the people tried to be brave while their leaders locked arms and spoke tough words. What should have occurred was the planning of a new ground force initiative against ISIS to put the rabid dog to sleep. Oh, but I forgot, the U.S. was too busy to attend so no such meeting took place, other than those by the global murderers planning the next sneak attack on a peaceful country.

 

What our leaders don’t seem to recognize is that the things happening today are interrelated. Western countries have allowed lone wolves to travel freely across their borders. They have formed sleeper cells preparing to attack the helpless. The same countries allow citizens to travel to Syria and Yemen to be trained to carry out attacks. All the while, in the interest of political correctness, western countries placate Muslims, even though their organizations are either directly or indirectly involved with murderous attacks. The U.S. does not even call the current activity “radical Islamic terrorism.” Why are we so delicate with those who may be fomenting violent actions against us? This is not to say that all Muslims are anti-American. But many of the problems in recent years have evolved from the most radical elements of Islam.

 

And finally, the humanitarian problem is growing exponentially. Millions of refugees and displaced Arabs are in jeopardy. ISIS is creating thousands more refugees every day. Yet, the U.S. continues to respond to ISIS benignly.

Security At The Expense Of Civil Liberties

By Sal Bommarito

What should Americans expect from their government? Without a doubt, security is the most important service provided by federal, state and local officials. Ever since the 9/11 attacks, living in America has become more dangerous, so much so that the tradeoff between civil liberty and security must be recalibrated.

 

George W. Bush’s response to 9/11 was to declare war on those who perpetrated the greatest incursion on American soil since Pearl Harbor. All avenues were available to bring the terrorists to justice, or to their Maker. The citizens of the U.S. were totally supportive of their leader, and a great spirit of nationalism overwhelmed the country. Since the attacks, a false sense of security has evolved because terrorist events have not been so prevalent domestically. The hypersensitivity of 2001 has turned to ambivalence, and the left has orchestrated a push for greater emphasis of civil liberty at the expense of security.

 

I suppose it is human nature to overreact in crisis and underreact when conditions are benign. Unfortunately, the current president has led the charge towards civil liberty while the threat level increased; frankly, his response to terror has been tepid and America is more vulnerable than ever.

 

Radical Islamists are the true perpetrators of terrorism. They have proven to be resilient and an attractive alternative to disenfranchised young people throughout the world. Social media enables the evildoers to make contact with those who have little to live for. The result has been deadly bombings in peaceful urban places like Boston and vicious attacks on any group who dares to challenge the supremacy of Islam like Charlie Hebdo.

 

The U.S. greatly increased the status of jihadists by taking a tepid role in the ISIS war enabling a rag tag group of malcontents to control vast areas in Iraq and Syria. This has exacerbated the terrorist situation exponentially as ISIS has attained mythical status throughout the world, which has been a boon to recruitment of fighters.

 

The U.S. cannot control what happens in every place around the world. Yet, it can take actions domestically and internationally to thwart attempts to export terror to America. Civil liberty fanatics have done us all a disservice by pushing back against sensible and effective ways to control the forces that want to destroy our culture. Lies about the ultimate benefits of tight security and the intelligence available from aggressive interrogations have created an untenable situation. We have effectively yielded to those who think that security is a dirty word.

 

The nagging question is whether western governments including the U.S. are doing everything possible to prevent terrorist attacks; not responding to terrorist threats is a recipe for disaster. My answer is no because there is an over concern about liberty at the expense of security. This is exacerbated by an aversion towards identifying the real enemy, radical Islam. America should not be hesitant in recognizing this fact and acting to protect itself even if innocent Muslims are insulted by this not so insightful realization.

 

Frankly, the response of peaceful Muslims in response to atrocities worldwide has fallen far short of what we should expect from a peace-loving group. Condemnation of terror by the Muslim community should be loud and clear. Is it possible that are they afraid of a backlash from the radical elements in their own communities? Even worse, some Americans are beginning to think that moderate Muslims are in favor of violent protest and terror operations even if they do not play a direct role.

 

It is time for the west to protect innocent people at any cost. Peaceful nations should not continue to turn away form the obvious places that foment havoc, death and fear. Political correctness does not matter when uncivilized jihadists are slaughtering innocents. Civil liberties are not relevant when there is a backpack near you loaded with explosives and shrapnel like in Boston, or when free speech is attacked in Paris. People died and families were ruined in each of these events. We can no longer make excuses for the organizations that breed such contempt for human life.

 

Our nation needs to adopt the Bush worldview relating to terrorism. As it turns out, the president was ahead of his time recognizing the true potential of radical Islam. Americans need to sacrifice some privacy, endorse systematic data gathering, approve of long-term imprisonment and interrogation (short of torture), limit immigration and visits by people from certain parts of the world and institute many other restrictions in the interest of protecting our way of life.

Charlie Hebdo: The Civil Liberties vs. Security Debate Revisited

By Sal Bommarito

In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, it is reasonable to rethink America’s attitude towards civil liberties and security. The Paris event was so dramatic and brazen that many people around the world who have moved left on this issue since the 9/11 attacks may now be amenable to giving up some privacy if it helps to prevent similar inhumanities prospectively.

 

This subject is extraordinarily sensitive to people in America and around the world. It is a debate that will likely ebb and flow as terrorism increases throughout the world. My initial response to recent terrorist activity is that many western nations have overemphasized civil liberties at the expense of ample security. And, political correctness towards the Muslim community is increasing exponentially the risk of future attacks.

 

Before the liberals and libertarians jump out of their skin, I should indicate that I am not in favor of torture, but have no problem with aggressive interrogation, especially when innocent lives are at stake. I find it hypocritical that these techniques and the application of capital punishment for crimes against humanity are any different than unleashing drone strikes on “suspected” terrorist enclaves that always seem to involve innocent bystanders.

 

Also, I am not indicting the entire Islamic world for the deeds of a small group of them. Yet, radical Muslims, some of whom preach their warped brand of religion in the U.S. and other western countries, are allegedly participating in horrific acts.

 

It is unsettling that very few Muslim leaders publicly condemn acts of violence against innocents. This behavior can only be based upon one of two things: either these leaders are frightened by the more radical elements of their communities, which causes them to be silent, or they implicitly favor violent protest against the west. This being the case, I think that not targeting suspected terrorist activity by clerics is negligent; we can no longer bow to political correctness when it comes to the security of our nation.

 

During the multi-year debate about privacy, I often wondered why some Americans are so sensitive about surveillance of telephone calls, emails, and tweets, for cause. Daily, Americans initiate billions of the aforementioned. It would be impossible for the authorities to sift through even a small percentage of these communication events. Specific targets based upon probable cause are the only ones investigated. Even morons who document their illegal activities or marital indiscretions on the Internet have little to worry about.

 

I believe terrorists should be treated differently than criminals. Terrorism is an act that involves inflicting death and/or harm on innocent people by non-Americans or Americans trained by outsiders. Non-citizens and those trained by foreign groups should be subjected to capital punishment for their crimes. Individuals like the surviving Boston Marathon bomber should not have an opportunity to spend the rest of his live in jail; he should be dispensed with quickly. For the record, I have been against capital punishment for many years, but experienced a change of heart after so many terrorist atrocities.

 

The most sensitive issue is the profiling of Muslims by law enforcement officials. If we assume that a greater and greater amount of violent behavior is being encouraged in Muslim places of worship, it makes sense to observe the actions of suspicious Muslims. America cannot allow any organization or religion to foment violence against its citizens. If the facts show that mosques or temples or churches are places where individuals conspire against America, they should be observed and prosecuted.

 

The alternative to greater security and surveillance is a greater risk of another 9/11 attack on our homeland. Having lived through that experience first hand, I would strongly recommend the U.S. do everything reasonable to uncover plots to kill innocent Americans.

 

 

 

 

 

President Obama And Mayor Bill de Blasio Prove That Aggressive Leadership Is Counterproductive

By Sal Bommarito

Two of the most important elected officials in the U.S have proven that aggressive leadership tactics are not in the best interests of their constituencies. President Obama and Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City have taken an ultra progressive approach to governing that has alienated them from their political opponents, many working class Americans and even those in their own party.

 

The president decided to rain on the Republican take over of Congress. Republicans now control both houses and have the largest majority in the House of Representatives than anytime since World War II. The voters sent a strong message to Washington that they wanted a change in leadership, but some Democrats, led by Obama, are resisting. The president drew a line in the sand relating to the first item on the Republican agenda, the Keystone Pipeline.

 

A huge majority of Americans across party lines favor the construction of the pipeline. It will increase U.S. access to a reliable source of energy, increase employment as the pipeline is built and bolster the economies of the cities that will be refining and transporting the oil. It should be noted that Keystone is not a huge project, so its construction should never have become a firebrand for either political party. The objection to its completion revolves around its environment impact, which has been overstated.

 

Obama’s signature on the Keystone law would be a wonderful start to the new Congress. He would not be compromising any of his most important principles, and it could serve as a peace offering that would lead to more productive government in the next two years.

 

But the president never compromises. He has proven to be a street fighter during his tenure when diplomacy and comity would have meant so much to the nation. The American people are disgusted with the back and forth jockeying by both parties and so Keystone has become an important symbolic issue.

 

It is possible that fellow Democrats in the Senate will abandon the president and help override a promised veto. This would be a slap in the face to Obama, one that might knock some sense into him. But, based upon his performance and attitude for the last six years, we have no reason to believe Obama will do the right thing for the country. I just wish the president’s advisors had some positive influence over their leader.

 

Bill de Blasio has created an outrageous dilemma for himself and for New York City. He has been dead set on beating down the brave men and women of the New York Police Department, notwithstanding the dramatic decrease in crime in the city over the past several years. Given that the job of the NYPD is to protect the citizens of the NYC, it is hard to understand why the mayor thought it necessary to attack the cops. For some reason, de Blasio does not seem to understand that his primary concerns (the lower classes and minorities) are most dependent upon the group he has decided to antagonize.

 

Exacerbating the problem are the incredibly inane comments by the mayor. He should never have involved his family in the dispute with the police. He should at least try to make peace with the NYPD who have performed so well in recent years. But no, he explicitly said the police were too aggressive and urged protest by race-baiters like Al Sharpton. In fact, Sharpton appears to be one of his important advisors, a man despised by most cops in NYC.

 

It is true that things need to be changed at the NYPD to make it more community friendly. Personally, I thought stop and frisk could have been altered and not virtually eliminated. Police do not do very much stopping and frisking in affluent areas of the city because there is little crime and few weapons in these places. Stop and frisk helped protect people in high crime areas, the areas that protest against it. Why would any mother in a high crime area object to the police looking for weapons that might some day be used to kill one of her children? Yet, I understand the issues and perhaps stop and frisk had become too intrusive and demeaning.

 

De Blasio has proven to be the worst mayor in crisis. In fact, he can’t even get to meetings or funerals on time. He has agitated the most important group of city employees with his progressive claptrap. Now the cops are blaming his demonization of the force for the recent assassinations and assaults on the police. De Blasio needs better advisors to help him weather this storm.