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Voicing the Modernly Unthinkable

Followers of my blog and writing know that I am a huge fan of the private intelligence company, “Stratfor.”  That they are so often right on when even the resources of a governmental intellligence agency fail to deliver functional results is because their clients — international corporations — need to know the truth in order to operate in an increasingly complex world.  Privately CEOs may support one political philosophy or another, but when it comes to business… it is all business.  Only a grasp of the geopolitical realities of the world in which they operate gives them a good shot at the revenue they seek.

Let the politicos duke it out over positions left, right, and in between.  They are all based on theories of how the world OUGHT to operate but rarely on observations of how it actually works.  And at the moment it does not take a deep covert spook to know that the world is in chaos.  Divides of ideology, faith, economics, philosophies, are turning ever larger areas of the planet into bloodbaths.  The promised peace and understanding of the information age  have failed to materialize like the hoped for Arab Spring.

But is there a root?  The often rancorous discord between scientists and social observers about underlying causes brings them to the point of a shooting war itself.  But somethings seem to have become accepted as completely out of bounds.  Our own leaders cannot bring themselves to accept that Islamic Extremist Terrorists even exist… they are now  labeled “armed insurgents.”  And no view bumping into the idea that there are some cultural roots of the discord are allowed, especially in academia where diversity and cultural tolerance are so evolved into an evangelical faith as to bump often into craven cowardice.

THat can work for politicians and sycophantic partisans.  but it cannot work for those whose businesses depend on trying to get to the truth.  And into that fray, marches Stratfor with a typically blunt, no-nonsense inquiry into causality not just correlations.  Reprinted with their kind permission below is such an essay.  It does not pretend to answers.  But answers will never flow from a denial of problems and issues.  Just as you cannot defeat an enemy you will not identify, you cannot solve problems you cannot identify.  Here is an essay asking hard, uncomfortable questions.  But they are questions with which we had better get comfortable.

———— STRATFOR ARTICLE ON CULTURE by JAY OGILVY———-

Mind the Gap

JANUARY 28, 2015 | 09:00 GMT

By Jay Ogilvy

The Charlie Hebdo attack and its aftermath in the streets and in the press tempt one to dust off Samuel Huntington‘s 1996 book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. Despite the criticisms he provoked with that book and his earlier 1993 article in Foreign Affairs, recent events would seem to be proving him prescient.

Or was he?

While I am not about to deny the importance of religion and culture as drivers of geopolitical dynamics, I will argue that, more important than the clashes among the great civilizations, there is a clash within each of the great civilizations. This is the clash between those who have “made it” (in a sense yet to be defined) and those who have been “left behind” — a phrase that is rich with ironic resonance.

Before I make my argument, I warn that the point I’m trying to make is fairly subtle. So, in the interest of clarity, let me lay out what I’m not saying before I make that point. I am not saying that Islam as a whole is somehow retrograde. I am not agreeing with author Sam Harris’ October 2014 remark on “Real Time with Bill Maher” that “Islam is the mother lode of bad ideas.” Nor am I saying that all religions are somehow equal, or that culture is unimportant. The essays in the book Culture Matters, which Huntington helped edit, argue that different cultures have different comparative advantages when it comes to economic competitiveness. These essays build on the foundation laid down by Max Weber’s 1905 work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. It is only the “sulfuric odor of race,” as Harvard historian David Landes writes on the first page of the first essay in Culture Matters, that has kept scholars from exploring the under-researched linkages between culture and economic performance.

Making It in the Modern World

The issue of the comparative advantages or disadvantages of different cultures is complicated and getting more so because with modernity and globalization, our lives are getting more complicated. We are all in each other’s faces today in a way that was simply not the case in earlier centuries. Whether through travel or telecommunications or increasingly ubiquitous and inexpensive media, each and every one of us is more aware of the cultural other than in times past. This is obvious. What is not so obvious are the social and psychological consequences of the inevitable comparisons this awareness invites us to make: How are we measuring up, as individuals and as civilizations?

In the modern world, the development of the individual human, which is tied in part to culture, has become more and more important. If you think of a single human life as a kind of footrace — as if the developmental path from infancy to maturity were spanning a certain distance — then progress over the last several millennia has moved out the goal posts of maturity. It simply takes longer to learn the skills it takes to “make it” as an adult. Surely there were skills our Stone Age ancestors had to acquire that we moderns lack, but they did not have to file income taxes or shop for insurance. Postmodern thinkers have critiqued the idea of progress and perhaps we do need a concept that is forgivingly pluralistic. Still, there have been indisputable improvements in many basic measures of human progress. This is borne out by improved demographic statistics such as birth weight, height and longevity, as well as declining poverty and illiteracy. To put it very simply, we humans have come a long way.

But these historic achievements have come at a price. It is not simple for individuals to master this elaborate structure we call modern civilization with its buildings and institutions and culture and history and science and law. A child can’t do it. Babies born into this world are biologically very similar to babies born 10,000 years ago; biological evolution is simply too slow and cannot equip us to manage this structure. And childhood has gotten ever longer. “Neoteny” is the technical term for the prolongation of the period during which an offspring remains dependent on its parent. In some species, such as fish or spiders, newborns can fend for themselves immediately. In other species — ducks, deer, dogs and cats — the young remain dependent on their mothers for a period of weeks. In humans, the period of dependency extends for years. And as the generations and centuries pass, especially recently, that period of dependency keeps getting longer.

As French historian Philippe Aries informed us in Centuries of Childhood, “in medieval society, the idea of childhood did not exist.” Prior to modernity, young people were adults in miniature, trying to fit in wherever they could. But then childhood got invented. Child labor laws kept children out of the factories and truancy laws kept them in public schools. For a recent example of the statutory extension of childhood known as neoteny, consider U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement that he intends to make community college available for free to any high school graduate, thus extending studenthood by two years.

The care and feeding and training of your average human cub have become far greater than the single season that bear cubs require. And it seems to be getting ever longer as more 20-somethings and even 30-somethings find it cheaper to live with mom and dad, whether or not they are enrolled in school or college. The curriculum required to flourish as an adult seems to be getting ever longer, the goal posts of meaningful maturity ever further away from the “starting line,” which has not moved. Our biology has not changed at anywhere near the rate of our history. And this growing gap between infancy and modern maturity is true for every civilization, not just Islamic civilization.

The picture gets complicated, though, because the vexed history of the relationships among the world’s great civilizations leaves little doubt about different levels of development along any number of different scales of achievement. Christian democracies have outperformed the economies and cultures of the rest of the world. Is this an accident? Or is there something in the cultural software of the West that renders it better able to serve the needs of its people than does the cultural software called Islam?

Those Left Behind

Clearly there is a feeling among many in the Islamic world that they, as a civilization, have been “left behind” by history. Consider this passage from Snow, the novel by Nobel Prize-winning Turkish author Orhan Pamuk:

“We’re poor and insignificant,” said Fazul, with a strange fury in his voice. “Our wretched lives have no place in human history. One day all of us living now in Kars will be dead and gone. No one will remember us; no one will care what happened to us. We’ll spend the rest of our days arguing about what sort of scarf women should wrap around their heads, and no one will care in the slightest because we’re eaten up by our own petty, idiotic quarrels. When I see so many people around me leading such stupid lives and then vanishing without a trace, an anger runs through me…”

Earlier I mentioned the ironic resonance of this phrase, “left behind.” I think of two other recent uses: first, the education reform legislation in the United States known as the No Child Left Behind Act; the second, the best-selling series of 13 novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins in which true believers are taken up by the Rapture while the sinners are “left behind.” In both of these uses, it is clearly a bad thing to be left behind.

This growing divide between those who have made it and those who are being left behind is happening globally, in each of the great civilizations, not just Islam. To quote my fellow Stratfor columnist, Ian Morris, from just last week:

Culture is something we can change in response to circumstances rather than waiting, as other animals must, for our genes to evolve under the pressures of natural selection. As a result, though we are still basically the same animals that we were when we invented agriculture at the end of the ice age, our societies have evolved faster and faster and will continue to do so at an ever-increasing rate in the 21st century.

And because the fundamental dynamics of this divide are rooted in the mismatch between the pace of change of biological evolution on the one hand (very slow) and historical or technological change on the other (ever faster), it is hard to see how this gap can be closed. We don’t want to stop progress, and yet the more progress we make, the further out the goal posts of modern maturity recede and the more significant culture becomes.

There is a link between the “left behind” phenomenon and the rise of the ultra-right in Europe. As the number of unemployed, disaffected, hopeless youth grows, so also does the appeal of extremist rhetoric — to both sides. On the Muslim side, more talk from the Islamic State about slaying the infidels. On the ultra-right, more talk about Islamic extremists. Like a crowded restaurant, the louder the voices get, the louder the voices get.

I use this expression, those who have “made it,” because the gap in question is not simply between the rich and the poor. Accomplished intellectuals such as Pamuk feel it as well. The writer Pankaj Mishra, born in Uttar Pradesh, India, in 1969, is another rising star from the East who writes about the dilemma of Asian intellectuals, the Hobson’s choice they face between recoiling into the embrace of their ancient cultures or adopting Western ways precisely to gain the strength to resist the West. This is their paradox: Either accept the Trojan horse of Western culture to master its “secrets” — technology, organization, bureaucracy and the power that accrues to a nation-state — or accept the role of underpaid extras in a movie, a very partial “universal” history, that stars the West. In my next column, I’ll explore more of Mishra’s insights from several of his books.

Read more: Mind the Gap | Stratfor
Follow us: @stratfor on Twitter | Stratfor on Facebook

————– END OF ARTICLE BY STRATFOR ———–

It is interesting in how it echos some of the warnings I’ve written about simply by reading the Qu’ran and applying its dictates to the modern world.  As the Turkish writer agonized over his people focussing their energies on arguing over the proper head scarf while all of that talent and intellect was running toward the ash heap of history, we are no better.  We make philosophical minutia into earth-shattering importance and create a great political divide that accomplishes nothing except to take our collective eyes off of the real issues in the world.

I do not think the appraisals of history written in another hundred years ill be kind to us.

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Posted by on January 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Cartoons, Terror, The Qu’ran, & The Religion of Peace

(NOTE:  The first post I made on this general topic was to address the then impending war in Iraq.  I thought the commonly provided rationales against it were bogus, though at the end I provided my own reasons for being opposed to going to war in Iraq. I now think, more than ever that it was a bad idea at the time  (but I also think our recent precipitous withdrawl was a strategic blunder of a level to easily match going in in the first place).This has been a general topic I’ve researched and studied and written about for a long time.  Some of this material appeared in that first post though I have, in the past few days preparing this post, returned to review it for needed modifications or corrections.  )

The world is responding to the murders of the satirical journalists and cartoonists in Paris.  First of all there is a display of hypocrisy that would be amusing were it not part of such a tragic event..  Many of these sudden “supporters” of Charlie Hebdo, especially those “friends” on social media, would have led the charge to flay alive any writer with the temerrity to write or draw such insulting stuff and post it, say, on Facebook or other public outlet Issues of 1st Amendment Rights aside, the modern liberal mind would have exploded to think someone would openly write such scurrilous things about a group their sensitivity to diversity would go to great lengths to protect regardless of their somewhat anti-social behaviors.  But this document is not about the brilliance or lack of it or even common taste and respect involved in openly ridiculing someone’s beliefs, it is about a belief system that allows or encourages followers to kill the authors of said insults.

Regarding the murderers, it seems to me to be a no-brainer to think it likely that killers shouting “Allah is Great” in Arabis.   and “The Prophet has been avenged” are Muslims.  That does not seem surprising to me though it does seem discomforting to those insisting that Islam is THE religion of peace and that their actions do not reflect the teachings of Islam as revealed in the Qu’ran and Hadith, the sacred texts of Islam..

Right…Let’s examine that, especially in the bloody light of modern terrorism.  Below I’ll also look at some other factors that I believe are playing into the time-bomb that is the Middle East and is accelerating toward critical mass.  Is there a solution to terrorism?  There was a time, right after WWII when it might have actually been so simple as having Britain and France keeping their word.  We would still see probably constant inter-tribal warfare but at least some of the animosity directed at the west would not be there.  But from days long before that and adding in modern issues as well, solutions are no longer simple or easy and certainly not painless.  Maybe they cannot be solved at all, perhaps it is too late and the war of cultures is beyond solving until one side or the other ceases to exist.  I would like to not believe that but what I do believe strongly, is that until we in the west are willing to see the various parts honestly we will never be able to solve them.  As long as we deny some of the root and fundamental realities in the name of political correctness we will never address the issues that actually might lead to resolution.

I will try to address several of them here. I’m sure there are other more localized issues as well.  But under them all, driving perceptions and behaviors is a belief system — Islam. So long as we continue to blind ourselves to the literal meaning of the words in the Koran and Hadith, we are fooling ourselves and preventing us from truly understanding on of the core issues that desperately needs resolution.  So long as we only concentrate on other issues, even legitimate ones, but do so to the exclusion of accepting the reality of the words of the Qu’ran, we will not, we CAN not, solve the conflict in any properly civilized manner.

But once again, well meaning Americans search only for simplistic answers while awash in the blind acceptance of warm and fuzzy apologies that do honor to Pollyanna, trying to excuse savagery and brutality of the present by savagery from hundreds and in some cases thousands of years ago all so that they can see a different culture in a better light than our own.  Their agenda betrays them but more importantly betrays anyone searching for real answers.  Indeed this essay is inspired in no small part by a correspondent on social media that actually wrote that calling someone uncatholic and expelling them verbally from a religious enclave was no different than killing over differences in religious belief.  That level of moral bankruptcy stunned me.  So I thought it time to quit dancing around the edge and get into the fray after some updated research to check facts, dates, personages, etc. and to see, honestly, if my own views would change in light of more recent data.  It, in fact, HAS on some topics.  But this time the first hand impressions I got long ago have only been strengthened. The result was too long for a Facebook post but a blog essay was doable.

Now let me be clear at the start, I truly am indifferent to what someone believes vis-à-vis their belief in and their relationship with a divinity.  I have no standing, by my beliefs, to judge that on theological grounds.  But when that belief takes on physical action it is another story.  As with our Constitutional Rights, anyone else has an absolute Right to swing their arms but that Right stops at the end of my nose. When someone’s beliefs, therefore, hold that it is OK to do violence to my own Rights then not only am I willing to judge them, given the opportunity I am willing to carry out judgement.  A character flaw perhaps, but since I am now surrounded by weak-in-the-knees apologists for every belief different from those of our core culture while being first in line to put down those beliefs that allowed this country to become, at least at one point in time, the bright beacon to the world, it seems to me someone has to be willing to stand up and say, “Sorry, but that is unacceptable.”

If people within a consenting community think it good to hack each other to bits I think that is their right.  It is just more chlorine in the gene pool in my estimation.  But when the violence puts a single toe over the borders of their space into the space of others then I have no issue with the idea of cutting it off. If we do not want that spread of violence to happen then we must ask where would the belief that violence aimed outside of their group is OK come from?

The problem is that actions, good and ill, are informed by beliefs.  Only sociopaths have no inhibitions doing things they know to be evil in the eyes of others. That does not describe terrorists.  They all, including these killers in Paris, believe they are doing good as perceived through the filters of their own belief system.  In a phone interview with with one of them yesterday when he was holed up with hostages, he was clear of his own innocence.  He, in his own mind, was NOT a killer of other innocents which Islam does prohibit; he was instead doing the good work of Islam by visiting just and proper “revenge”” (his word) on those that had insulted the prophet.  Relieving them of life was NOT killing to him.

Will you please take a moment and wrap your minds around that position!  Some belief system had convinced him of that.  He felt no pangs of regret since he had done as his religion told him his God demanded, not by killing but by avenging an insult.  What????   And that belief is based on their core beliefs as expounded in their theology. That sick perception is no different than for those seeing moral equivalence between harsh condemnation and killing.  What we have is a failure of values but that is another issue for another post.

And that means, in regards to terrorists, if we wish any chance to solve this sort of thing, we have to view that belief system objectively and based in reality not in just happy thoughts about how we all (i.e. people everywhere) really think the same and want the same thing.  We have to accept that there is a belief system that makes it possible for a follower to slaughter others, kill children, murder women who will not marry them, .engage in “honor killings,” without seeing their actions as actual killings.

No, the core fundamentalists/jihadists do not just want what we want or think like we do.  I had that realization slap me in the face during a mission, long ago, through Ethiopia and into the Sudan where our “guides” were local tribesmen.  It was the only time when my team was more concerned about those we were helping than those we were eliminating.  To be honest although I had a double major of studio art and philosophy in college and had studied comparative religions extensively, I had read their sacred texts and knew how Judaism and then Christianity has evolved over the centuries and assumed the same for other religions.  I was surprised to discover that was not the case so in order to get a better understanding upon my return I re-read the Qu’ran.  After 9-11-01 I re-read it again.  The second and third times no professor was there to tell me what I was reading was not what it really meant.  Given the frightening potential of a literal reading the professor’s stance made sense to my (then) liberal mindset. But reality had forced a different view. Those tribesmen had proven to me it meant what it said and its followers took it literally.

We dismiss “fundamentalists” as some looney fringe of a religion. A fundamentalist of any belief, however, is simply someone who believes the sacred text says what it means and means what it says.  It is apostates that wish to ascribe new meanings or modify or moderate the words to better fit the more modern world in which they live. In our fantasy about how the world ought to operate we see that moderation as positive and it certainly allows for more of us to get along with each other.  But the honest ones realize that to stay in a religion where they no longer can accept the words of the core text is hypocritical.  Martin Luther understood that when he posted his famous Papal Bulls and broke with the Catholic Church as part of the “reformation.”  He no longer disingenuously pretended to be Catholic.

Christianity, broadly defined, is full of splinter groups from the true fundamentalists to the “do whatever feels good” concepts of some of the California based TV preachers.  Yet Catholics or Lutherans have not strapped on explosives and tried to blow up the Crystal Cathedral.  Even the moronic zealots of the Westboro Baptist Church have not hauled out their weapons and tried to slaughter Unitarians or Methodists.   Hundreds of years ago that was not true but those who follow the Judaeo-Christian theologies have, for the most part, matured out of those awful days. You cannot hold a modern moderate believer accountable for the actions of their theological ancestry which they have disavowed… unless, that is, they have continued the same behavior.

But at the core in terms of how the words of the Qu’ran and Hadith are viewed and followed, Muslim sects have not changed.  Yes, it is heartening that a few moderate Muslims are speaking out against this atrocity, sometimes at great danger to themselves.  But despite the pandering of the newsmedia, the moderates are, based on the words of their sacred text, not the true believers… unfortunately it is the Jihadists and extremists that, by definition, are.  We need to come to grips with that reality and below I’ll let the Qu’ran itself make the case for me.

Meantime Sunni, Shia, and to a far lesser extent Sufi and even Kurds kill each other wholesale over trivial differences in dogma.  If we continue to refuse to grasp the depth of those beliefs and the passion that inflames their actions, we will have zero chance of ever dealing with it and reducing the world of terror. In a previous post I wrote that we were crippled by an increasing inability to understand the difference between an ideology and faith.  An ideology is something changeable.  I started out in college being liber, ran into reality and became conservative, owned a business and went from even more conservative to a middle ground where socially I became far more liberal again and morphed over the years into some mutant libertarianism, combined with some liberal social views and some conservative fiscal and geopolitical views.  The changes came with additional information, experiences, broadening influences, associations, etc.  THat is my ideology.  But faith, a sense of relationship with a diety, the universe, however it is comfortable for you to view it, is more deeply personal and profound and leads to far more passion about my sense of values and ethics than my feelings about how I relate to the government.  Americans want to see everything as a mutable ideology and so are clueless when dealing with behaviors stemming from a deep personal faith, especially when those run counter to their own sensibilities.

And we of the western world have another problem: we long ago ceased being a nation of chess players.  Now our leaders seem unable to predictably win a checkers game with the nearest potted plant.  We have become short term, bottom line, simplistic thinkers with minimal if any ability to understand or deal with an adversary who takes the long view and plans out a strategy for the distant future utilizing tactics mixing political goals with theological values and military-style actions.  And because it might be seen as politically incorrect, we ignore those in the intelligence community who can and try to tell us.

And into that already volatile mix we have the disastrous fall out and continual anger over the British and French led arbitrary break up of tribal areas into their own “spheres of influence” following WWII where after placing their faith in T.E. Lawrence and helping to destroy the Ottoman Empire in promise for their own tribal lands returned to their control, the Europeans ignored those promises and carved up territory to suit themselves and their own interests.  To fully understand how the Arab leaders were betrayed look up the Sykes-Picot or “Asia Minor Agreement.”  It takes our broken treaties with Native Americans to a whole new level of perfidy and deceit.

The current situation then is exemplary of the complex and long term strategy we are facing.  Images, cartoons, satirical articles, etc. are not the real issue.  Collectively they are a Red Herring.  The goal is to divide the world of disbelievers to create openings for the advancement of the Qu’ran-promised global Islamic State.  The long term strategy – something to which our low information population is notoriously blind – of fomenting a complete breakdown of any acceptance by Muslims of our depraved culture is aided by the tactic of making our culture see themselves as victims of Muslims per se that will, through expected backlash, attack all Muslims including the moderate ones, and drive all of them back into the accepted corrals.  That is certainly working domestically with us on a political/economic front and it works globally on a geopolitical front.  Having a plausibly acceptable focal point such as Rushtie’s writings or Charlie’s cartoons provides the perfect cover and distraction from which, and with which, to increase the rancor and push both sides toward a final glorious showdown as the Prophet promised..

I am so tired of this knee jerk denial and acceptance of evil, this is simply tolerance transformed into cowardice.  Instead of believing what those with a vested political/economic interest in your opinions and support are saying, those of you who credit yourself with such careful research interests, how about reading the source material —  The Qu’ran.  The whole thing.  I admit that because it is alien to how North Americans think it is almost impossible to believe the bottom line without reading the premises first hand. It makes so much more sense to our modern sensibiities to assume that is a misinterpretation.  But the words and admonitions of the Qu’ran are actually pretty clear on the face of them.

The truly unfortunate reality is  that the conflict between the Muslim and non-Muslim world is a core issue that will not go away with a victory or loss of Iraq or Syria or Afghanistan or any of those artificial States.  It is, therefore, I believe, imperative that we understand the foundations of the larger and future conflict.  I believe we are seeing the worst possible amalgamation of tribal and theological beliefs.  The warm and fuzzy acceptors of anything so that no one will look closely at them either, are engaging in dangerous delusion.

From the very beginning, Muhammad’s warrior culture history was evident in his writings.  He grew up in, lived and believed in, that warrior ethic and the Qur’an is infused throughout with it.  From a merchant family he spent time as a youth alone meditating and finally came to believe the archangel Gabriel came to him and dictated what was to become the Qu’ran/Koran and charged him with converting others to the beliefs contained in the writing.  From that very first effort, Islam was established and spread through conquest…  Yes, just like early Christianity, it was parent and host to unacceptable, sometimes unspeakable atrocities in advancing its conversions and theological/political goals which it sees as intertwined.  But the admitted excesses of one group does, in no way, excuse the excesses of another.

Though at the first (when the writing is ordered chronologically which the Qu’ran does not do) he preaches getting along.  That was necessitated by reality because he was vastly outnumbered and needed to be careful to survive amidst the pagan believers and leaders he was threatening.  Starting to gather followers around 622 a.d. in Medina he was conciliatory to attract converts and not bring the then powers crashing down on him and his followers.  But around 630 a.d., now with an army of 10,000 converts and Medina under control, he took Mecca, then dispatched armies of newly minted Muslims to spread the word, destroy the pagan temples there and throughout Arabia.  After the victories that put he and his followers in the driver’s seat, the tone of the writings that that were written later changes dramatically.  By 632 a.d., the year he died, he had united (then) Arabia under Islamic rule.

Preaching virtual slaughter he emboldened and hardened his followers thusly with Surah II, 216 that states clearly, “Warfare is ordained for you though it is hateful to you. It may happen that you hate something that is good for you or love a thing that is bad for you.  Allah knoweth, you know not.”

In this context, nearly 1,400 years ago his tactics were no different than other savage despots of the time.  And it worked as it had worked for centuries.  So it continued through history.  Saladin, (Sala a din) in the latter quarter of the 12th Century became Sultan of Yemen, Egypt, and Syria, recaptured the “Holy Land” from the previous Crusade, and ruled the Levant with an iron fist and sharp sword.  Under later Ottoman Turkish leadership Islam expanded enormously.  The Moors conquered northern Africa, southern Europe and Sulleiman The Magnificent even expanded Muslim rule well into middle Europe (Vlad Tsepes “Dracula” became a Romanian national hero because of his successes at holding off Turkish incursions into his principality).  The Ottoman Turks brought Islam to a major portion of the world from Europe to India.  It had embraced the knowledge of the world in science and most arts.  It was an Egyptian astronomer, Ibn Al Hassan who first wrote of what we today would call a pinhole camera.  However, following the admonitions in the Hadith (post Qu’ran writings of Mohammed and the writings of subsequent Imams, all sacred writings to Muslims), icons and portraits were, however, forbidden as idolatrous leading to an art form of dazzling calligraphy and design. Idolatry, per se, is addressed specifically in the verses of the Qu’ran below.

What is most important to grasp first is that Islam had made a bold promise to the believers that seemed to be coming true for hundreds of years, for example the words of Surah XXIV, 55.  “Allah has promised such of you as believe in him and do good works that He will sure make them to succeed in the earth  even as he caused those who were before them to succeed.” And Surah XXXIX, 10  “O, my bondsmen who believe! Observe your  duty to your Lord.  For those who do good in the world there is good, and Allah’s world is spacious.  Truly the steadfast will be paid their wages without stint.”

Allah would give the dedicated followers the world, the Imams and Mullahs told them, if they were just willing to live a righteous life following the dictates of the Qu’ran to the letter, accept Sharia, and fight in his name to achieve it.   And until the growth of scientific knowledge and the European Renaissance began to bump into theological tenets of the Prophet, it seemed to be working extremely well and providing a reinforcement of the rightness of the beliefs.

At that point the western world began its slow climb into the modern era while the Muslim world sat on the intellectual/economic plateau it had reached, mired in its own theological constraints while Christians began to question church doctrines that ran counter to observation – something few Muslims would dare do publicly.   As the western world continued to grow, expand, and progress, the comparative world view of Islam began to shrink and fall away because economically, scientifically, industrially it could no longer keep up.   Taking a defensive posture behind in an increasingly obsolete world view that essentially let fundamentalists ignore half the population’s brain power and potential contributions and who rewarded dissent with grim death, it ultimately had no chance.  Islam had, in some senses, failed to learn the lessons of its fellow theologies in that when scripture that, in context, referred to man’s cosmic, heavenly goal was interpreted literally to daily life, all manner of aberrations could be done in the name of the scriptures and of God and cultural progress was stymied.

Christianity, of course, went through some inexcusable behavior itself before it matured.  But when you believe, as the followers of Muhammad were told, that if you strictly obeyed the Prophet’s words you were destined to greatness,  then only blasphemy and heresy (which was a danger that made the Spanish Inquisition seem like child’s play) could make one even think that perhaps the problem lay internally in the system.  Therefore, by definition, and by faith, whatever was letting the outside world get ahead of the believers absolutely had to come from outside.  From “them.”  From those people who were somehow getting ahead and had to be doing it by the evil work of the Devil since it was the only workable explanation.   Translation:  “From us.”

We are the ones seen as persecuting the believers and waging an insidious covert war specifically keeping them from their promised glory.  Their sacred text allows for no other conclusion.  No interpretation need be applied here, only a simple reading of the words and an acceptance that they mean what they say just as the followers of Islam believe them to.

Well, happily for them, the Qur’an has a solution for the problem.  And it is a simple and incredibly effective one.  Kill the infidel who is holding back the Faithful from their rightful global Islamic state.   Don’t forget, that “infidel,” that purveyor of depravity and sin, those minions of the Devil, that’s us.  And it’s a very difficult position to face since there is no room for negotiation.

You don’t believe it?  It certainly is not what the apologists are telling you about the “Religion of Peace.”  So instead of believing me, would you believe the Qur’an itself?  Let’s see what, in addition to the section above, it says with a few examples…

Surah III, 196-197.  Let not the vicissitude of the success of those who disbelieve deceive thee.  It is but a brief comfort.  And afterward their habitation will be hell, an ill abode.

Surah V, 10.  “They who disbelieve and deny our revelations, such are the rightful owners of hell.” .. (14) “And with those who say, “Lo, we are Christians,” we made a covenant but they forgot a part of that whereof they were admonished.  Therefore we have stirred up enmity and hatred among them till the day of resurrection”.  (51.) “Oh ye who believe! Take not the Jews and Christians for friends.  They are friends to one another.  He among you who takes them for friends is one of them.  Allah does not guide wrongdoing folk.” 

Surah VIII, 12-13.  … “So make those who believe stand firm.  I (Allah) will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve.  Then smite the necks and smite of them each finger.  That is because they oppose Allah and his messenger.  Lo!  Allah is severe in punishment.”   (38-39) “Tell those who disbelieve that if they cease from persecution of the believers that which is past shall be forgiven them.  But if they return thereto, then the example of the men of old hath already gone before them for a warning.  Fight them until the persecution is no more and religion is all for Allah.”  (65) “O Prophet, exhort the believers to fight.  If there be of you (believers) twenty steadfast they shall overcome two hundred and if there be one thousand steadfast they shall overcome two thousand by permission of Allah.  Allah is with the steadfast.  It is not for any prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land.”

Surah IX, 36. … “Wage war on all the idolaters as they are waging war on all of you.  And know that Allah is with those who keep their duty unto him.” (123) “O ye who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you and let them find harshness in you and know that Allah is with those who keep their duty unto Him.”

There are 114 Surahs in the Qur’an.  And from Surah X to Surah CXIV they continue with this same unremitting hatred and encouragement of violence against the disbelievers and those who, in their view, persecute them.  Don’t be fooled by people trying to put a polite spin on this.  Islam is indeed, sometimes, a VERY peaceful religion if – IF — you are also Muslim AND of the correct sect.  But if you are not; if you are, by their definition, a disbeliever or worse, an apostate, then it has no patience, no room, no quarter, and no mercy for you.  If Sunni and Shia are anxious to kill each other, and both willing to kill Sufi and Kurd (even though the Great Saladin was Kurdish), over subtle disagreements in dogma, why would you not think they would delight in killing complete disbelievers?

So is there a solution?  We all want fast, simple, clean solutions to every problem with minimal fuss and no real effort on our personal parts.  When we can’t find them we tend to go into delusional denial to make it go away.  But this issue is not going to go away.  With at least – at least – four major issues at play: (1) Intra-Muslim conflict over final control of the final Caliphate, (2) the dictates of the Qu’ran for its followers to establish that global Islamic state/Caliphate, (3) the incredible betrayal of faith by the secret Asia Minor Agreement of WWII, and though we have not mentioned it before, (4) the centuries old paranoia flowing from the Crusades which is, to the Arab street something that happened a few days ago and we are simply reincarnated Richard the Lion Hearted returned in BDUs, it is hard to imagine the leadership insight available to us now that might be able to begin unraveling this situation.

We are now faced with a real “Gordian Knot.”  Alexander The Great famously solved it with a sword.  But we have neither the will nor ability to do that.  That leaves us with the monumental task of trying to untie it.  But whatever the sequence of steps that might be able to start bring peace to the region and a diminution of terror, it will never be started until we admit and accept the reality of the fundamental issues to begin with, starting with the literal directives of the Qu’ran to the followers.

However a positive sign has happened.  This event is so atrocious that finally, it may be the final straw for the modern moderate Muslims to stand up and denounce the actions of the murderers.  Several interviews today were with Muslims who have been wavering; especially ashamed of the actions of those who were killing children, though it was not enough to get them into action.  This final act of pure barbarism seems to have pushed them over the line.  If that actually proves to be contagious in the Muslim community then the real goal of creating a backlash and dividing Muslim and non-Muslim into violently opposing camps could backfire and fall apart.

That would be wonderful and a major step toward resolution.  But it will have to become widespread, not just a few isolated voices.  But it is a very commendable start.

 

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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THE DANGERS OF A CONFLICT BETWEEN IDEOLOGY & FAITH

In our progressively more dumbed down world, where tolerance has been honed to the point of cowardice, and the perfectly good word, “discrimination” has been appropriated to mean only bigotry instead of its proper meaning of being able to tell right from wrong at least for us personally, two other words are more commonly used interchangeably and I think it is leading to some dangerous thinking.

For those who, for whatever reason, follow geopolitical issues broadly and as they apply in the Middle East more specifically, the necessary historical background required to understand the events of today would force an awareness of the impact and general details of the rise of Islam, its denominational schisms, and its stated aspirations for both its followers and the world and non-believers.  Muslims do not have to guess or try to interpret such things; Mohammed’s book is crystal clear as to what Allah wishes for the believers: a worldwide theological caliphate devoted totally to Allah, the words of his prophet, of his pronounced laws, and consequently (and expressly) how any true believer is to view and interface with the unbelievers and their world.

Our modern “anything goes and there should be no consequences for anything” world view has come to see the term “fundamentalist” as some sort of fringe group but all it takes to be a fundamentalist is to believe the word of one’s sacred text.  Within any given theology, believing the text is not the stance of a fringe group, those on the fringe are those who want to expand the teachings to include activities either nor mentioned or specifically forbidden in the text.  In the Christian world that can be an issue since sometimes the “instructions” and rules are couched in parable and metaphor requiring interpretation, and sometimes, as anyone who can read Hebrew or Greek knows, mistranslations have occurred, and sometimes there is still an argument over which writings claiming to be “Gospels” are the ones to be included in the Canon.  At its very inception there were major rifts of understanding between James, a disciple and brother of Jeshua, and Paul, a convert.  Each went on to found their own churches but James was killed in the Jewish revolt so Paul’s view won by default and went on to be the theology of the Roman church which other claimants of the label, “Christian” see as practicing precisely what Yeshua was trying to overthrow among the Jewish priestly class.  As applied to Christians, claims of fundamentalism is truly a relative term.

“Fundamentalists” believe they have the only true interpretation of the scriptures and anything outside of that is not to be sanctioned.  To them those other people calling themselves Christians are following false prophets or, worse, the Devil himself.  Fringe members, on the other hand, know what it says but believe it should be reinterpreted in light of a changing world.  The result is a “religion” that even Yeshua/Jesus would be hard pressed to recognize.

But the Muslim world has no such complexities.  The book is still read properly in its original language.  Mohammed was a warrior writing with little or no metaphorical view and fighting for his and his new religion’s life.  He was pragmatic.  In the early writing he argued for a live and let live attitude to hopefully convince the authorities opposed to him to “chill out” as we would say.

But when he and his army succeeded in taking over the writing changed quickly and drastically to a vengeful position aimed at eliminating any and all that could later play the same game and rise up against him.  However, even with that, Islam has not escaped some factionalization. In the midst of a rift between Muslims starting with the succession of Mohammed’s leadership, Sunni and Shi’a have declared each other apostates and subject to even worse treatment by the “true” believers of your denomination than the infidel non-believer.  Each seeks to gain total control of the Muslim world for their own sect and thereby bring all followers under the same banner and with that now gain the world as promised by Mohammed speaking for Allah.  Anyone on the other side resisting conversion to the “true” side is an enemy of Allah and needs to be killed.  Period.  Islam IS the religion of peace if you happen to be a Muslim of the same sect.  For others, there have been, at times, practical reasons for governments to allow them to exist but they have never been treated well. And even then, the true believers felt the authorities were bordering on blasphemy for not simply smiting them as mandated in the book.

What is important to understand however, both sides agree that once that schism is mended (by one side annihilating the other…), the next step ordained by Allah, is to take control of the world in his name.  And they further agree that the approach is to convert or kill all current non-believers.  Only one thing can stand in the way of that future:  that is the Devil and his followers.  And there is only one thing to do with them… they must be rooted out and utterly destroyed.

Christians and Jews are mentioned by name and called out for special attention and for the faithful to “…smite their necks” in the name of Allah.  We are children of the book, spiritual descendants of Abraham and as such, in their view, ought to have been able to see the divine revelations of Mohammed and accepted them.  That we did not can only be the work of the devil and we now are his minions.  OK class, guess what that means should happen to us?

Into this world view steps the group that is now calling itself the Islamic State.  We call them radical fundamentalists but they are just doing what the book says.  By contrast we talk of “good” Muslims that we call “mainstream” (since they don’t seem to openly want to kill us all) but in truth they are really the fringe because they are NOT adhering to the clear orders contained in the book.

So how does this apply to our discussion?  We in our secularized world are running away from all concepts involving religious beliefs as fast as we can and so are increasingly seeing the various parties’ positions as following an ideology. In doing so, we are using terms that expressly limit our ability to recognize the realities we are facing.  The beliefs and positions of the followers of the Islamic State or Al Qaeda are not simply ideologies as we would dearly love to use the word.

Being liberal or conservative, libertarian or socialist are ideologies: ideologies are ideas about governance arrived at from more fundamental beliefs about economics, ethics, sociology, anthropology, etc.  They address ways to govern such as aristocracies and democracies and their connection to economic systems such as feudalism and capitalism.  They are matters of the head, intellectual conclusions based on our own experiences and how those have created belief filters of history and human nature.  What is important about ideologies is that to the true intellectual and open minded thinker (a type of individual becoming rarer by the day), they can change with new data and experiences.  We base our ideologies on what we perceive as how a country (or other political entity) should be run.

But FAITH, is something far different.  Faith is visceral, emotional, by definition it requires no corroboration or hard evidence.  It tells how the world IS as a deep, usually theologically based paradigm.  Faith, in this context, is about one’s deep and profound conviction about what is, to them, the REALLY important issue of the world, that being one’s relationship with God.  Faith requires none of the hard factual evidence or even experiential reality demanded of an ideology by any reflective thinker and is therefore less vulnerable to debate.   Faith is what we BELIEVE to be true lacking the sort of inescapable evidence from observation or experimentation.  (We could argue that much of what passes for scientific “fact” is no less based on faith than a belief in a supreme creator-being or indeed that atheism is no less faith-based than any theology but that would be material for a different post.)

The important distinction is this: it is not ideology that gets people to walk into the lion’s den, to become martyrs, to risk terrifyingly ghastly ends to avoid renunciation… it is faith.  People, facing death, will publically renounce ideologies with little difficulty, but it is far harder for a true believer to renounce their faith.

But here in our progressive culture where many long ago lost all vestiges of faith in anything other than in the government to save them there is also a decreasing inability to understand the power of real faith, especially when it forms a serious, open, and expressed threat to us.  We look for reasons underlying such (to us) irrational positions in ideology based causes.  “They are jealous of what we have!” or variations on that theme.  We fail utterly to understand they DO NOT WANT what have most of which is, to them decadent at best and blasphemous at worse.  They simply want us gone and wiped from the face of the earth so they can proceed to establish their medieval idea of a worldwide Caliphate in service to Allah.

We cannot understand or accept the existential nature of the threat they present because we cannot get our liberal minds around the differences between ideology and faith; indeed we do not understand faiths associated with theologies AT ALL though we practice faiths in non-theological topics all the time though avoiding the term.  We refuse to take them at their word when they swear to exterminate us because we do not even remotely understand the power of the underlying faith.  We expect geopolitical positions to be driven by the same logic that we see as rational and have become incapable of even understanding, much less accepting, that what is irrational to us is perfectly rational to someone whose faith demands that action as a precursor to the “forever” of heavenly delights awaiting the faithful.

So long as we continue to insist on dealing with them like some opposing ideology and assuming we can win that game as capitalism did with communism, we will be blind to a very patient, very dedicated, very deadly threat.  Our cultural need for instant gratification for temporary pleasures and the technologies that supply them will be, in the end, no match for a devoted, intractable, faith-based enemy with a very, very long view because time is on their side.

We can try to marginalize the warriors on that side all we wish but they are just believing their book.  We wonder why the “good” Muslims we tell ourselves are mainstream don’t rise up to overthrow these bad actors and have no understanding that it is often because they have the same book.    Some claim that if we try to fight them we will just make them angrier at us and more likely to want to foment mischief upon us.  I’m here to tell you the only way to believe that is to be ignorant of Muslim history and, perhaps more importantly, their sacred text.  Here, I’ll help get you started.

Surah II, 216 states clearly, “Warfare is ordained for you though it is hateful to you. It may happen that you hate something that is good for you or love a thing that is bad for you.  Allah knoweth, you know not.”

And it worked.  Under Turkish leadership Islam expanded enormously.  The Moors claimed southern Europe and Sulleiman The Magnificent expanded Muslim rule will into middle Europe.  The Ottoman Turks brought Islam to a major portion of the world from Europe to India.  It had embraced the knowledge of the world in science and most arts (though icons and portraits were forbidden as idolatrous).

Islam made a bold promise to the believers, for example:

Surah XXIV, 55.  “Allah has promised such of you as believe in him and do good works that He will sure make them to succeed in the earth  even as he caused those who were before them to succeed. (XXXIX, 10) O, my bondsmen who believe! Observe your  duty to your Lord.  For those who do good in the world there is good, and Allah’s world is spacious.  Truly the steadfast will be paid their wages without stint.”

Allah would give them the world, the Imams and Mullahs told them, if they were just willing to live a righteous life and fight in his name to achieve it.   And until the growth of scientific knowledge began to bump into theological tenets of the Prophet, it seemed to be working extremely well and providing a reinforcement of the rightness of the beliefs.

At that point the western world began its slow climb into the modern era and the Muslim world sat on the plateau it had reached.   As the western world continued to grow, expand, and progress, the world of Islam began to shrink and fall away because economically, scientifically, industrially it could not longer keep up.  Mired in an obsolete world view that essentially let fundamentalists ignore half the population’s brain power and potential contributions and who rewarded dissent with grim death, it had no chance.  Islam had, in some senses, failed to learn the lessons of its fellow theologies in that when scripture that, in context, referred to man’s cosmic, heavenly goal was interpreted to daily life, all manner of aberrations could be done in the name of the scriptures and of God.

But when you believe, as the followers of Muhammad were told, that if you obeyed the Prophet’s words that you were destined to greatness,  only heresy (which was a danger that made the Spanish Inquisition seem like child’s play) could make one even think that perhaps the problem lay internally in the system.  Therefore, by definition and by faith it absolutely had to come from outside.  From those people.  From those people who were somehow getting ahead and had to be doing it by the work of Satan since it was the only workable explanation.   In other words, from us.  We are the ones seen as persecuting the believers and waging an insidious covert war specifically keeping them from their promised glory.  Their sacred text allows for no other conclusion.  No fundamentalist interpretation need be applied here, only a simple reading of the words and an acceptance that they mean what they say just as the followers of Islam believe them to.

Well, happily for them, the Qur’an has a solution for the problem.  And it is a simple and incredibly effective one.  Kill the infidel who is holding back the Faithful.  Don’t forget, that’s us.  And it’s a very difficult position to face since there is no room for negotiation.

You don’t believe it?  Would you believe the Qur’an itself?  Let’s see what, in addition to the section above, it says with a few examples…

Surah III, 196-197.  “Let not the vicissitude of the success of those who disbelieve deceive thee.  It is but a brief comfort.  And afterward their habitation will be hell, an ill abode.”

Surah V, 10.  “They who disbelieve and deny our revelations, such are the rightful owners of hell. .. (14) And with those who say, “Lo, we are Christians,” we made a covenant but they forgot a part of that whereof they were admonished.  Therefore we have stirred up enmity and hatred among them till the day of resurrection.  (51.) Oh ye who believe! Take not the Jews and Christians for friends.  They are friends to one another.  He among you who takes them for friends is one of them.  Allah does not guide wrongdoing folk. “

Surah VIII, 12-13.  … “So make those who believe stand firm.  I (Allah) will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve.  Then smite the necks and smite of them each finger. That is because they oppose Allah and his messenger.  Lo!  Allah is severe in punishment.  (38-39) Tell those who disbelieve that if they cease from persecution of the believers that which is past shall be forgiven them.  But if they return thereto, then the example of the men of old hath already gone before them for a warning.  Fight them until the persecution is no more and religion is all for Allah.  (65) O Prophet, exhort the believers to fight.  If there be of you (believers) twenty steadfast they shall overcome two hundred and if there be one thousand steadfast they shall overcome two thousand by permission of Allah.  Allah is with the steadfast.  It is not for any prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land.”

Surah IX, 36. “… Wage war on all the idolaters as they are waging war on all of you.  And know that Allah is with those who keep their duty unto him. (123) O ye who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you and let them find harshness in you and know that Allah is with those who keep their duty unto Him.”

There are 114 Surahs in the Qur’an.  And from X to CXIV they continue with this same hatred and encouragement of violence against the disbelievers and those who, in their view, persecute them.  Don’t be fooled by people trying to put a polite spin on this.  Islam is a VERY peaceful religion if you are also Muslim AND of the correct sect.  But if you are not; if you are, by their definition, a disbeliever, then it has no patience, no room, and no quarter for you.  if Sunni and Shia are anxious to kill each other over subtle disagreements in dogma, why would you not think they would delight in killing complete disbelievers?

I’m not exactly sure how you get angrier than that.  Nor am I sure how to make them LESS angry except by throwing away our intellects, our industry, and reverting to a feudal society so they can get ahead again.  The war between believers and nonbelievers was happening when the text was being written and it formed the framework of its core thoughts and ideas.  They were, in their minds, fighting for their lives and beliefs and there could be no quarter in such a conflict with such high cosmic stakes.

And for them, they still are.  For the brief period when Muhammad was gathering forces in Mecca he preached, as noted above, tolerance to keep a low profile.  But by the time he arrived at Medina with his Muslim armies, all pretense was thrown away and the merciless brutality of actions against the non-believers was unrelenting.

One current argument is that they are just mad because we are in their territory and if we just went away and left them alone all would be well and they would happily play in their own sandbox and be satisfied.  Given the history of the Moors in Spain or the Ottoman Empire out of Turkey, we would believe that… why???

Another current argument is that fundamentalism is fundamentalism regardless of source,  And God knows there are sad, depraved offshoots claiming adherence to Christianity  such as the Westboro crowd, that would even give Satanism a bad name.  But going directly to the source texts to which they claim loyalty, you have read the clearly commands to the Muslim faithful.  But in the claimed teachings of Yeshua/Jesus there is not a single line that is even roughly equivalent.  To the contrary his followers are admonished to love their enemies as themselves and to turn the other cheek.  REAL Christian fundamentalists take those lines to heart.  REAL Muslim fundamentalists would happily cut out the hearts of those Christians.

Only the historical and theological realities form an essential understanding if we are to make any sense at all of the actions of the Muslim world about both this and other actions.  Al Qaeda and now ISIS/ISIL/IS or whatever it is calling itself today are NOT simply fringe fundamentalists, they are devoted followers of Mohammed and his writing, different from others only in their willingness to put their lives on the line for their faith.  We in the secular west are wont to give short shrift to theology ourselves and therefore, in our hubris, to other cultures and their beliefs as well.  It is and will continue to be a huge, potentially catastrophic error.  We are increasingly unwilling to put our lives on the line for ANYthing, probably because we have allowed our ideologies to kill our faith.

Sadly, in our case, there was no fight between them, there was instead a complete capitulation by those for whom instant gratification was nowhere near fast enough, who, increasingly, saw themselves as worthy and entitled to the efforts of others, and who insisted on lives for which there were no consequences for choices or behaviors.  There was no fight, there was not even a skirmish.

Now we are facing a faith that is quite willing to fight.  You cannot fight faith with ideology.  The Romans tried and failed, the Bolsheviks tried and failed.  We are trying and failing.  Perhaps in the end THEY are right and ideology will fall.  But, as they say in basketball, you miss 100% of the shots you do not take.  And so long as we insist on seeing their position as simply an opposing ideology we have no chance.  It is as if someone handed you a flashlight to help navigate a treacherous path… and then put a blindfold on you.

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Intelligence… Sort Of…

The world of intelligence is usually depicted as a dark, sometimes flashy, dangerous world filled with the likes of James Bond and Jack Ryan.  The U.S. Intel community is divided into three major categories.  The first is the civilian government’s agencies such as CIA and NSA.  These are the ones most often thought of when the term spy is encountered though the vast number of employees are not spies in the normal sense of the word.  In any case, CIA mostly handles “humint,” or human intelligence, i.e. information gathered or provided by human action.  NSA deals with “sigint” or signal intelligence gathered from electronic signal sources.

The second category is the military branch’s internal versions of the same two types.  For example in the army, the whole is under AIS or “Army Intelligence and Security.”  MI, or Military Intelligence, is a rough equivalent to CIA and ASA, or Army Security Agency, is a rough equivalent to NSA.  The navy has one of the best intel groups around.  These are supposed to constrain their activities to intelligence related activities and materials directly impacting their primary military roles but since much military data crosses services they are pretty good at working together.

But government intelligence agencies, both civilian and military suffer the same limitations: their data and often their conclusions are too often filtered through political agendas and action taken on them is too often based on political expediency or other political perspectives and not the real issues.

A third category exists however that is not affiliated with the government or military.  By law they are relegated to gathering what is called “open source” intelligence, meaning from public sources.  But what do you think is the source for most of the other intel if not from observations, contacts, and data that is actually public but often not understood for the value it may have?  These non-governmental intelligence sources usually provide their information for a fee to business and industry.  Because of that, because to make good business decisions you must know the truth of situations, not the political spin, in order to successfully do business and make money.  They do not have political filters attached to them.

Most of them are manned not just by former operatives from the government or military sectors, but also special area experts who can take the raw data and see in it the threads of domestic and geopolitical activities vis-à-vis what is likely to happen and upon which their business clients can rely to inform their decisions.  Frequently therefore, in terms of scoring accuracy, the open source agencies draw unbiased conclusions not only better but which are not subsequently filtered by political desires.

One of the best is a company called STRATFOR.  Its analysis and newsletters are often far better predictors of future events at home and around the world than what you here from the political hacks on the various TV shows.  It’s not that government agencies do not obtain the facts too, it is that those facts are too often spun based on a political decision not a proper strategic or tactical one.

Newer in the field is LIGNET, composed of former intel operatives and area experts like STRATFOR.  Both of these companies have a world wide network of informants and contacts and local area experts and insiders.  Taken together their reviews and conclusions, most especially when they coincide, can generally be taken to the bank.  And they generally directly contradict the baloney coming out of the administration and the congress which is rarely honest or factual.

I’m mentioning these groups because they both published reviews of actiovities and sentiments that would have let anyone foresee the likelihood of the events in the middle east revolving around the 9-11 anniversary.  While our government was asleep at the switch, insisting nothing was afoot (I would guess in defiance of intel reports they were receiving in their briefings) bad folks were watching and plotting.

Both warned of impending attacks; both were seemingly ignored by our leaders.  When I read the first reports of the attacks of our embassies in Libya and Egypt, despite the forewarning from STRATFOR and LIGNET both, I assumed the official story of it being a result of the stupid movie was probably true.  After all, those savage mental midgets over there have gone on killing rampages before for what they perceive as insults to their beliefs.  But now we are beginning to see that things were different; that the private intel groups were far closer to the truth than we were ever told by the government.

We are being told now that this was a coordinated attack by either Al Qaeda groups or other radical jihadists groups as their way of commemorating the 9-11 attacks here at home.  And we are being further told that this was a failure of intelligence.   Although I have no doubt that some operative or director will be told by the administration to fall on their sword over it, I’ll bet the truth is they had told them all along and it did not fit the political agenda. it was not a failure of intelligence gathering but a failure to accept that reality the data indicated.

Today LIGNET had this to say:

“It was reported at first that these attacks were a response to a YouTube video mocking the prophet Mohammed, but it is now becoming clear that the attacks, in which U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was killed, were planned and perpetrated by al-Qaeda. They are a clear sign that the governments that have come to power since the Arab Spring are weak, and unable to control their radicalized Muslim populations that are determined to wage war on the United States.”

That last sentence repeats and reinforces the conclusions both STRATFOR and LIGNET have had for some time about the weaknesses of those new governments and their inability to reign in radical elements… even if they might want to.

I know that most people, and unfortunately most voters, are far too interested in the next American Idol and far too little interested in the truth of what is happening in the world.  I know that most of them are willing to take the pronouncements of their own party flacks as gospel.  But, if you are one of the true 1%, meaning those that really are what is happening and want to know the truth without spin or political bias, then I would encourage you to look into subscribing to those services.  Though both have free trial periods, for the full subscriptions they are not cheap… but neither is the price of freedom.  Freedom can only be based on the truth and that critical commodity is too often withheld from us by our own leaders.

Now, relative to the last post when I too fell for the initial official line that it was the stupid movie trailers on YouTube that was the catalyst for the violence instead of it simply being the cover and excuse for thugs and violent idiots to do their thing,  It looks now like it really was a coordinated attack by radical groups, so I need to amend my comments to include this newer information.  But the conclusions about our leader’s reactions and the message they send to this intractable enemy remain intact and I stand behind them.

Mohammed was a warrior from a warrior society.  His religion now is controlled by people who wish the followers to remain in his original 700s mindset and outlook.  They are told that the only thing that can hold back the Islamic world order is the devil or his minions who are to be killed at every opportunity. THat is why the iranian Ayatollah called us the “Great Satan;” to make us a legitimate target for them.  Specifically mentioned in the Koran are Jews and Christians as those to be converted or killed. Warriors are not impressed with ANY signs of weakness or deference.

It amazes me that when an enemy army, whether a uniformed state army or an ad hoc collection of radical theological mutants, has a published set of guidelines and rules that the other side, their avowed enemies… you … would not be willing to take the time to read it.  But then you probably bought for your bookshelf but did not read Obama’s books which also laid out his dreams and desires for the country flowing from the mentioned mentors of his. You may have fallen for the fearless leader’s ploy of making sure we do not see anything as a “war on terror.”  But if you cannot see that the terrorists have declared war on you and your country and are perfectly willing and able to do something about it, then you deserve, frankly to, as they are directed to do, have your neck smitten and your head separated from your body.  Have you already forgotten Daniel Pearl?

Those books are the ultimate in easy intelligence gathering.  They are akin to finding a normal enemy’s strategic planning papers.  To not take advantage of them, something everyone of you can do, is not a sign of intelligence.  In fact that lack of initiative is a case of intelligence failure of galactic importance.  If you do not avail yourselves of it but still insist on voting and trying to influence the direction of this country, no matter your party partisanship, then you are a fool.  And a country with fools for an electorate is lost.

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Where the HELL is the President???

After that last multi-part post I thought i could relax a little and not worry about any subsequent postings for at least a week.  But reality has a way of influencing our most ardent desires.  And as stupid as the postings on Facebook have been relative to the presidential race, the silence on recent events is far more stunning and far more indicative of a population totally self absorbed and out of touch with things in the broader world that can turn round and bite them.

Are you all paying attention or does Prince Harry’s latest streak or Bradjalina’s latest spat demand your full attention?  Do you have even the remotest clue that possibly, just possibly, very recent events concerning the middle east, while they may not have actually lit the fuse, certainly opened the box of matches?

In two countries in the middle east, Egypt and Libya, Islamists principally following the Muslim Brotherhood, yes, that same group our administration declared were good guys, stormed and took over the American Embassies. These were factions that we had recently helped to overthrow the former governments and from whom, in any intelligent part of the world, we might have expected some loyalty.  But none was evident as the walls were scaled, fires were set, flags were torn down, and violence and murder were perpetrated on our representatives to those countries.

This is not like having some tourists attacked, heinous as that would be.  Are you aware that an embassy is considered by all governments to be the sovereign soil of its country?  The other countries with embassies here demand that status of us and in past administrations we have demanded it of them.  Two of our embassies were just attacked and overrun.  By the language of international law, when any, much less two areas of American territory were attacked an overrun, that is an overt act of war.  Once inside the compounds they tore down the American flag, burned it, and replaced it with their own.  That is an act of war.

But it gets worse.  In one of the attacks, an American ambassador was killed – no. let’s call it what it was, he was murdered.  THAT is an act of war if one ever existed.  In scale only does this depart from the precedent of Pearl Harbor.

And what set off this attack?  A cheap, independent, stupid movie was what.   A F*****G MOVIE was all it took to rouse adherents to the “religion of peace” to attack U.S. territory and murder its Ambassador.  In my opinion the moment word was received of the actions, the congress should have been convened, the acts of war recognized for what they were, the governments of the countries put on notice that we would be considering responses but that in the meantime not another dime of foreign aid would flow into their corrupt coffers… and they could stand by for the REAL response…

But what did we actually do?  The following day – not that very evening – the following day our fearsome guardian of the American way essentially apologized for the affront of the movie.  He did mention the attacks and murder really shouldn’t have happened and were perhaps a bit over the top, but the major thrust was that we were sorry and that our values did not include insulting someone else’s religion.  Apparently however, they do condone murder of our own people based on the provocation of an insult to someone else’s beliefs.  THat is news to me and not news i find positive since it tosses out the 1st amendment.  Remember this murder did not happen on foreign streets, it happened on U.S. territory.

And wait a minute, was the government the one who created the film?  Were its comments about violent Muslims coming from any official voice of the country?  Did embassy personnel or the ambassador himself offer free screenings of the film on the embassy lawns and speak on its behalf?  Did the movie even act as if it were speaking for the country as a whole?  No, they did not.

But both attacks took place after some time passed as the crazed, ignorant savages worked themselves into a frenzied froth before launching the actual assaults.  There was enough time for message to be sent here asking for guidance. The governments of those countries then had more than enough time to become aware of the growing mob, assemble their troops to, as all countries agree to do, defend the embassies of countries they host, but they did not. We apparently didn’t even ask them to.  That overt, purposeful lack of action on their part is tantamount to a tacit official OK of the actions and, it turns out, neither has offered any sort of apology or offer of restitution for the actions of their countrymen.

Do you truly believe we are respected in those areas more so for being patently weak-kneed in a response to attack?  Do you truly imagine a warrior culture such as theirs would look up to such cringing cowardice and seemingly paralyzed leadership?

But it gets still worse.  A flashpoint that nearly everyone agrees has the potential for escalating into a conflict that will inure to the benefit of NO ONE is the issue of Iran and its nuclear ambitions.  So far, the rhetoric has served both sides if, and only if, the leadership of Iran truly are completely rational persons fully in command of the realities of the world and history despite idiotic assertions and saber rattling rhetoric.

If that rationality it true then we (the U.S., Iran, and Israel) are playing a dangerous but understandable game where the rhetoric serves to keep the people stirred up but the reality is far less inflammable.    If that is true, Iran may indeed NOT have any nuclear weapons ambitions but is using the possibility for international credibility, Israel may actually not feel threatened with their very existence but wishes to test its so-called “friends” relative to their actual support, and we can cleverly, if cruelly, play them off against each other by holding to the public rhetoric that we want to give Iran more time to ‘come clean’ and stop their weapons plans but in the meantime we will hold Israel back from precipitous action.

It is a potential win-win-win in a macabre and ugly game of international politics.  But it will work only if Iran and its leaders are (a) rational and actually do not really have the desire to build a nuclear arsenal and (b) there is not a hidden agenda that would make the Iranian government have fish other than Israel to fry, oh, such as re-establishing the Persian empire and Hegemony of old and, at the same time, settling once and for all the under the table war between Sunni and Shiite sects of Islam.

If either (a) is not true or (b) IS true then we, the U.S. have been suckered (or strode knowingly) into a huge problem likely to spill over into regional and then possibly global war.

And then… into that uncertain environment steps Iran’s leader who, purposefully as an insult, comes to speak to the U.N. Security Council on Yom Kippur, one of the holiest of Jewish Holidays.  The next day, Israel’s leader then comes to New York to speak.  Israel is internally seriously divided in purpose between those that want to do a pre-emptive strike before Iran can develop a weapon and those who believe that since they have not even tested a device yet, there is no hard evidence they are developing one and a strike is a very bad idea.  The U.S. certainly acts as if it is in the second camp while, officially, being a firm back-up to Israel if that is wrong, something the Iranians cannot ignore.  We back worthless sanctions for the PR value but do virtually nothing else even though the sanctions have only the effect of irritating the Iranian public who attempt to clean up their government went unsupported while we whole-heartedly backed the Muslim Brotherhood’s take over of an Egyptian leader who was at least sometimes an American ally.

And what happens?  The Israeli leader asks to meet with the American leader.  Of all the people in the world you would think we would want to chat with and both press our point while getting a feel for his real intentions it would be him, especially since he is given to rhetoric as volatile as that of the Iranians.  But the response from us is that our leader is too busy.  His schedule is full.  He cannot meet.  And what IS on his schedule that day?  Appearing on the Letterman show.

I know Letterman is a huge fan and supporter, but what private citizen, even George Soros or Michael Moore, could be more important than meeting with a person who may hold the key to war in the region?  For that matter what government official would not happily re-schedule a meeting if in doing so they could help promote the agenda of at least delaying such a war?  Well, now we know the answer to that question and it is not some lower level functionary, it is our dear leader himself.

There is a complex geopolitical high wire act going on with global stakes and our President does not seem to get it.  If our stance and rebuff make the Israelis feel they truly are on their own and all decisions have to be based solely on their own beliefs about a potentially existential threat, and the Iranians are made to think that despite blanket and outdated comments of support, we will not get involved in their squabble, just how much more secure do you think we have made the situation?

The only thing that even remotely makes sense, other than potted plant levels of stupidity, is that the Administration wants Israel to either act first or so frighten the Iranians that they perform a pre-emptive strike to forestall the feared Israeli pre-emptive strike and hopes that this time, finally, Israel looses.

No?  Give me another logically sound way to look at it?  You cannot separate these two actions happening so close together.  You cannot think that the rebuff to Israel which happened first fell on deaf Islamic ears and did not play some part in the thinking that led to the belief in an assault on American soil that could be done without consequences.

And regardless of your conclusions about the Israeli leader’s rebuff, do you think it is good for us to have the Muslim militants assume, based on experience, they can mess with us and get no more than a few words about how we wish they had not done it but we understand why they might be mad at us?   Is that a position for the U.S. to occupy in the world that you honestly think will lead to others respecting us and to a greater likelihood of world peace?

If you do, then I think that while the jury is still out about the administration being rock stupid, there is no longer any question about you.

(ADDENDUM… to be fair…)
Finally, today, our President, after a round of criticisms from a number of fronts, went BACK before the cameras and actually condemned the actions and said we would punish the people responsible.  i applaud that position but it should have been the FIRST reaction, not one as part of damage control.  We shall see if something actually happens…  However AFTER that the countries involved now are apologizing and offering to help.  Perhaps they think that now Obama is forced into real action so they had better shape up.  That would indicate they do not know the lengths he will go to to avoid that but it is informative to indicate that when we DO at least act or talk like we are still America and mean business it gets a response.

If only it were true…

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Book Burnings, Violence, Human Beings, and Brain Dead Animals

San Diego – On March 20th the idiot Florida paster, Terry Jones, burned a copy of the Koran in front of his 50 or so parishioners.  It got virtually no press or attention here because it was seen clearly as the actions of an attention hungry mental midget.  But in Afghanistan, as a response, seven foreign U.N. staff were killed on Friday after demonstrators overran an office in normally peaceful Mazar-i-Sharif city in the north. Ten people were killed and more than 80 wounded in protests on Saturday in Kandahar, where men waved Taliban flags and sacked a girls’ high school.

To explain their actions, brilliant rhetoric was provided in comments such as  “We want the preacher who burned the holy Koran to get a severe punishment,” said 20-year-old Jalil Ahmad. “He is not a human being, he is a brain-dead animal.”  Not to be outdone in expressions of tolerance by spokespeople for the Religion of Peace we also heard from the Taliban. “The U.S. government should have punished the perpetrators, but the American authorities and those in other countries not only did not have a serious reaction, but defended (the burning) to some extent in the name of freedom of religion and speech,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.

Of course we did not take it seriously… any more than the Taliban spokesman would take the burning of a Bible or Torah seriously.  That is the difference between civilized people and the REAL animals out there.  We discuss our differences and allow for them while the animals of that belief system encourage violence and condone killing over them.  Now tell me why I should give the slightest respect to that view or the people or foundation that inspired and facilitates it.  A copy of a book — not an original manuscript, mind you, but a cheap copy — was burned.  I find that act despicable but it is not even in the same league as killing people since the speech, even stupid abhorent speech, is protected here.  But then stupid killing is protected there…   And the reasoned response by these morons was killing people, injuring others, and sacking a girl’s school.  Wow, how inspirational.  What on earth does the girl’s school have to do with it?  Oh wait, they are opposed to educating women and allowing them to attain the heretical thought that they are better than chattel.  On TV news the other day a scene was dutifully broadcast showing a Muslim asking someone to show them one verse in the Koran that advocated violence.  Of course the target, who had never read the Koran, could not do it.  But I have, and I have posted those quotes in earlier blogs here so there is no point in doing it again assuming anyone is willing to read.  But that Muslim man, if he was authentic, knew the truth of it and was inspired by it and his statistical certainty that no one in that audience had read the book.

Actually we ought to read the book and be inspired by it too.  Inspired to fight any occurence or spread of a philosophy that condones or encourages such actions; that will let women be burned alive in a fire rather than come outside because their veils had already burned up; that stones a woman for getting raped, the is the very antithesis of freedom of ANY sort, much less the freedom of speech and of religion.   I am stunned that King Barrack would condemn the book burning on the same level he decried the violence and killings.  The book burning was stupid; the killing was murder.  Anyone who sees a moral equivalent here is not qualified to speak for the USA and certainly not for me.

This also ought to inspire us to not fall into the trap that much of Europe, especially France and Germany have done, of failing to see the true nature of the people of this belief system who take the words of their book literally and seriously.  We need to realize that our historic, traditional values are under attack by that system because they are told, in the Koran, very specifically to do it (as I quoted in a previous post).

So lets examine Mr. Ahmad’s terms to see who is a human being and who a brain dead animal?  Or, better still, let’s expand it to examine which is the culture of civilized human beings and which the culture of brain dead animals?  Which seems preferable to you: the culture of such freedom that even an act so repugnant to many of our own people as making a so-called art work out of putting a cross in a jar of urine can get national funding, or the culture that kills people trying to help them for a stupid act in a far-off country and issues death sentences to cartoonists who caricature  their leader?   Ours is the culture that easily absorbed a book (The Passover Plot) or virtually anything written by Richard Dawkins, that tried to debunk some closely held and foundational theological beliefs while THEIR culture of Peace issued death sentences for the foreign author that called some of their beliefs into question.  So who then are the civilized humans and who the brain-dead animals here?

Why would any thinking, marginally intelligent person have the slightest problem arriving at an answer to that question unless THEY were brain dead themselves?

And why is my spineless commander in chief not clear in his outrage and condemnation of murder as morally worse than stupidity?  That is, unless he agrees with Mr. Ahmad and Mr. Mujahid in which case why is he my President?

And if Pastor Jone’s actions were the clear and proximate cause of the deaths of those UN workers, should HE not be tried for murder along with the animals who actually did the killing?  He certainly should be exposed for terminal stupidity since history, recent history at that, would easily have predicted what would follow.  And he unfortunately proved, along with King Barrack, that being brain dead is a state not limited to the Taliban or like believers.

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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