Tag Archives: Iraq

Why it’s Too Late to Stop Terror

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It’s somewhat encouraging to see the victories taking place against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.  Taking out their second in command and capturing the town of Palmyra are both significant accomplishments in the war on the territorial front. That part of the war can be won in somewhat conventional fashion.  The only question is what the best course of action is to win it.  Even the lesser military minds can see an end game.  The main questions are what strategy to use and how long it will take?  With the ongoing terrorist attacks in the west, operations have increased and have so far proven to be relatively successful.  The second war, the terror war being brought to Europe and as of yet on a lesser scale to North America is not a war that can be won any time soon, if at all.  The sad news is, it’s just too late.

It’s a harsh reality, one that may or may not ever impact people directly, but it’s a reality nonetheless.   Even if somehow ISIS would be wiped out in its various bases of operations, the exported terrorists, sitting and waiting for the best opportunities to strike are so spread out and in such large number, even if we were to just wait it out, be vigilant, and stop numerous attacks, there will are still likely to be numerous attacks that will be successful and wreak maximum havoc and suffering.  Just look at Israel, a nation dealing with terror for decades and arguably the most prepared and most adept at dealing with terrorism.  Yet despite the expertise there are still numerous terrorist attacks resulting in the deaths of innocent men, women and children.

There might have been an opportunity a few years back to stop the growth of ISIS, but the sad fact is that until terror hits home, or close to home, western nations are far more accomplished in rationalization than in positive results.  Terrorist activities against Israeli citizens have been rationalized as a fight for liberation.  Attacks against Israelis, Iraqis, Libyans, Pakistanis, just to name a few, are not viewed by the west with the same anger and horror as attacks against the French, Belgian or American. Even today, after 63 people, most of them women and children were killed in a terrorist attack in Lahore, Pakistan, CNN and FOX are providing minimal coverage and discussion.  In fact, a half day later, the terror attack isn’t even the top story.  That’s been changed to a story of how Donald Trump claims to be better for women than anyone and is accompanied by a picture of him kissing his wife Melania. Incidentally, the victims in Pakistan were Christians attacked by a splinter group of the Taliban and purposely done on Easter Sunday.  Iran, a nation with far greater experience and success in the development and exportation of terrorists is allowed to make a deal for nuclear energy and is somehow rewarded with the release of billions of dollars.  Even if somehow we do outlast what we say are hundreds but are more likely thousands of ISIS operatives ready to strike, if the entire approach towards terror doesn’t change, if we do defeat ISIS, we are likely to be left with another group, or even worse, country to fight.  For people who take the view that they can’t be worried about what happens to the “people over there”, they need to understand that it is the sons and brothers of those people the terrorists are radicalizing and mobilizing  against the west.

As is the case with many of my fellow Jews and many pro-Israel citizens in the west, I have argued for years that there is not enough value put on Jewish life.  I still maintain that, but the difference now is that I believe there is not enough value put on any life lost east of Germany.  I am not making a bleeding heart plea for sympathy, rather a legitimate call to arms against global terrorism, not just the flavor of the moment.  ISIS is by far the most active and dangerous organization in the world, but it is joined by so many other groups ready to take over prominence if they get defeated that without a long term global strategy against terror, we are doomed to live with it for the rest of our lives and very likely see it continue for further generations.

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Why are America’s Major Political Parties so Surprised? They are Reaping what they Sowed

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With Donald Trump all over the media and the crisis facing the Republican Party taking center stage, it’s easy for people to overlook the issues the Democrats are dealing with almost simultaneously.  On the surface the two  most significant differences are the number of candidates remaining, and more importantly, the fact that the front runner for the Republicans is the candidate making the most noise and getting the most attention.  This does not necessarily mean he is the most controversial.  Objectively speaking, that distinction could at least as easily be given to the Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton.  What both parties do have in common is that neither have any right to be surprised about where they are today.  In essence, both parties are reaping what they sowed.

It’s far easier to see this when looking at the Republican primaries.  Ultra conservatives and the Republican establishment have been attacking everything Democrat at least since the days of Bill Clinton.  Even before he got started Barack Obama’s opponents were attacking him from day one.  Whether you believe he’s been a great president or a failing president, his opponents assumed, almost immediately that he would be wrong on every policy move he ever made.  However, in reality it’s always been at least as much about his party as it was about his policies.

In fairness, the Republicans had just finished facing the same thing with George W. Bush.  After 9/11, and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan, there was a short period of time, maybe the only time in decades  that the nation actually stood together as one. But as soon as things got a little better, the unity fell apart.  Nothing represented it more than the war in Iraq.   Very few people reading this will likely take an objective stance on that issue.  There are stances that Republicans and Democrats have taken that are clearly the party line.  Democrats generally say they opposed the war in Iraq. Ironically, even many of the ones that voted in favor of it now prefer to say they made a mistake than breaking away from the party rhetoric.  Republicans say the war was the correct move but it turned into a disaster once the Obama administration came into power.  I challenge people reading this to come up with an original thought on this issue possibly even in breaking with their party affiliation.  Why?  Because when you don’t look at things objectively and avoid telling people the truth, guess what you get? Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

America is facing something far more complicated than a country divided.  This is actually a country with its two main parties divided before we even get to the growing division between Conservatives and Liberals, Democrats and Republicans.  The big question is, why is anyone surprised?  After years of vitriolic criticism from both sides, the 2 men that represent the subsequent backlash on both sides are a Socialist touting a political revolution and a Reality TV star and businessman with such extreme views he is garnishing support of the country’s worst racists and bigots. But what did people expect?  If you spend enough time telling people how evil everyone on the other side of the political aisle is, do you expect a happy populous?  Do you expect tranquil political discussion?  Or do you stop and realize that what’s been created is  an environment fertile to the growth of far left or far right extremism.

Sadly it never ends.  Even with the issue of Donald Trump’s rallies, supporters of Trump say one thing, detractors say the other.  People don’t seem to realize that this is part of what people are fed up with.  Not every “expert” on TV has to always sound like a paid representative of one side or the other.  Most people do some things wrong and some things right.  But when you listen to the pundits, their side does everything right, and the other side does everything wrong.  For once I would like to hear someone say something that both sides would disagree with.  At least then we would know they were being honest.

In an era when politics looks like wrestling, and I mean the fake kind, not the Olympic kind, and political nastiness and controversy is blown out of proportion for TV ratings-case in point the constant replay of the same punches from this past Friday night-we can hardly be surprised by what we are seeing in both parties.  After all, when true leadership is lacking, people are often left with strong expressions of anger and frustration.  What would really be surprising would be if it wasn’t happening.

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The Accountability of World Leaders

Barack Obama, Francois Hollande

I have often said how important it is to identify your enemy.  I never have been one to blame Presidents Clinton or Bush for 9/11. I blamed bin-Laden.  World leaders can sometimes be tragically inept, but the blame for acts of barbarism and terror falls directly on those who commit them.  That being said, our leaders do have a responsibility to defend us and in light of the recent events in France, and even more so in light of the reaction, leaders such as American President Obama and French President Hollande owe their citizens the answer to one very important question.  Why did it take the terror attacks in France for them to get serious?  That’s assuming that now they truly are serious.

This approach of reacting without pity, intensifying the airstrikes, doubling and tripling the efforts is all well and good and naturally something I support, but questions needs to be asked and answered.  Did they not know this was coming? Has ISIS not made its intentions very clear for quite some time?  Let’s say ISIS keeps their word and attacks Washington, D.C., will the president then take the strong action needed to stop this? When France sends its air force to wipe out key ISIS locations in its self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa, again something I support, I can’t help but wonder why this was not done last week, last month, or even last year. It is easy to understand why it was done yesterday, 2 days after the terror attacks,  but knowing full well that ISIS had every intention of attacking innocent people anywhere they could get to them, and having already proven their willingness and desire to murder multitudes of people, did they really need a catastrophe to take proper action?Apparently so.

The time to be concerned about collateral damage has passed.  Now is the time to unleash the gates of hell on the very same people who want to kill every last one of us.  I am not barbaric, in fact I’m a particularly peaceful man, but if it comes down to taking out a village in Syria or Iraq that is  being used as a shield for their operations or even 1 person that I care about being hurt, I am in favor of wiping out that village.  It is likely too late to stop further acts of terror in the United States and Europe, but in wiping out their cities that are being used as bases of operations, we have a much better chance of averting a global catastrophe. Furthermore, it’s time the world recognized that the enemy Israel is fighting is of the exact same ilk, and that the Jewish state needs to be left alone to do what is necessary to bring peace to its borders.  If this is not part of the entire philosophy, then these very same leaders, not just Obama and Hollande but all the leaders of the west have learned nothing from the events of this past Friday in Paris.

The great thing about democracy is that when our leaders aren’t doing what needs to be done we can elect new ones. Until that time let’s hope our leaders take the actions that gives us reason to believe they understand what is truly at stake and preserve our crumbling future.  Before it’s too late.

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A Shaken World needs to Wake up Fast

ap_canada_shooting_1_kb_141021_4x3_992As someone who has recently experienced his first case of writer’s block in almost 4 months, it would stand to reason that today’s tragic events would have gotten my creative juices flowing. However, maybe it is because a terrorist attack in Jerusalem killing a 3 month old baby and a shooting spree by gunmen in Ottawa is so overwhelming that I found myself unsure where I should even begin.  After all, you start to ask yourself if the people who can make a difference are even listening. Or even worse, they’re listening but don’t care.

We know that Israel and the rest of the Western World wants to stop terrorism.  There is little doubt about that.  But while the world crumbles around it, the United Nations makes settlements in the West Bank its priority.  While bombs explode in Iraq, women get raped and murdered in ISIS controlled territory, babies get run over by terrorists in Israel, and the Canadian parliament gets attacked, people make excuses for all of this bad behavior.  Secretary of State John Kerry implies that Israel’s behavior somehow fuels Islamic extremism and when a woman gets beheaded in Oklahoma by a radicalized Muslim, U.S. government officials prefer to call it workplace violence.

We are either headed towards or already in the midst of a global catastrophe. It all depends on your perspective.  But one things is certain, we are headed in the wrong direction fast.  I hesitated to write something that could be construed as negative and pessimistic, but I believe I would be doing a far bigger injustice if I ignored the reality.  That reality is that the world is in big trouble, and as long as those in power refuse to openly face the facts that Islamic extremism is destroying the planet, it will only get worse.

It’s time the world woke up before it is too late.  Keep in mind that the fact that I am willing to consider the possibility that it might not be too late already is the only optimism I am willing to provide on what has been another very tragic day in a very dangerous world.

 

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Open Letter to Ben Affleck

Affleck 1209Dear Ben,

I originally had no intention of writing you this letter, but after a friend asked me to do so, I thought about it long and hard, listened to your exchange with Bill Maher and Sam Harris numerous times, and reconsidered my decision.  When I confirmed with this friend that she did indeed want me to write this letter, she responded by saying, “yes please, he is a moron”. To be very fair, I think what ultimately motivated me to write to you is that I actually believe you are the furthest thing from a moron. I do however believe there may be a reality you either are unable to see or unwilling to see, and what appears to be your passionate denial of this reality is something many people, including myself find to be very troubling.

I want to start by saying that I think your heart is actually in the right place.  As opposed to those out there who express opinions that are harmful if followed by everyone, if everyone felt as you do we would all be just fine.  After all, what’s so bad about someone defending innocent Muslims, right?  Your thought process is a normal one.  You think making indicting comments about an entire group of people is an ugly thing to do.  You believe it to be so wrong you get angry at anything that resembles this sort of stereotyping, seeing it as irrational and callous bigotry.  Obviously anyone who sees a problem with you or anyone else thinking that way has a serious problem and has an abnormal thought process.  Not so fast.  We are are not living in normal times.

Ben, despite the impression one may have of me by the time they finish this letter, my nature is to actually love all people.  It’s that very love for people that makes me agree with Sam Harris, not you.  You vehemently insist that most Muslims do not want what the Islamic extremists want.  You compared the generalizations to calling Jews shifty.  I appreciate that your point is that both are wrong, but the criticisms that both Sam Harris and Bill Maher are giving of Muslim behavior are sanctioned by numerous Muslim clerics worldwide, while no Rabbis sanction that Jews should act shifty.  Muslim leaders are sanctioning murder, rape, beheading and crucifixion in the name of their religion.  Many do not sanction it but remain silent as it happens.  As far as the general population is concerned, tens to hundreds of thousands of Muslims worldwide protested Israel’s operation in Gaza.  While Israel conducted its operation in the name of self-defense, ISIS makes no secret of its desire to conquer lands.  Why is it that as ISIS terrorizes the populations of Iraq and Syria there are no mass protests from the Muslim world?  Even you who defends the Muslim world with the passion that you do must ask this question.  Would you be willing to admit that even if they don’t actively support it, their opposition to it isn’t strong enough for them to take a stand against it. Meanwhile you feel the need to defend this same population that says nothing.

By no means am I even implying that all Muslims are terrorists and should be treated as such.  What I am saying is that the problem within the Muslim world is prominent enough that if Muslims don’t rise up against the evil in their midst they are at best not concerned enough about the consequences, and at worst they are complicit, be it knowingly or not.

I urge you to recognize this very harsh reality.  Even if the majority of Muslims are not dangerous, there is a significant element within the Muslim world that is very dangerous, increasingly more powerful, and growing by number.  This element wants to destroy everything you believe in.  Freedom, religious tolerance and personal choices would all be things of the past if they were to conquer the world as they wish to.  I’m not asking you to stop fighting for tolerance, just to recognize who the real enemies of tolerance truly are.  They are not Sam Harris and Bill Maher.

I hope you wake up to these realities before it is too late.

Sincerely,
David Groen

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If Muslims stay quiet they will largely have themselves to blame for what happens in Europe and beyond

muslimproIt seems as though now that things are relatively quiet in Israel, the popular cause among those looking to put their 2 cents into the Middle East situation is defending Muslims.  I’ve never had a problem with anyone who takes the stance that painting a brush over an entire group of people is wrong, assuming they recognize the rights of all parties and show even less tolerance for acts of unwarranted violence and terrorism.  However, when it comes to defending Muslims, the thing so many are missing, is that there is a silence within Islamic nations and populations that is deafening in its significance.

Despite the fact that it’s become cliché to say the next great war will start in the Middle East, I’ve maintained for quite some time now that World War III will actually start where the first 2 started, in Europe.  Of course this argument starts from the assumption that it has not already begun, something I am not necessarily prepared to do with  any real vigor, but that horrific escalation that leads to the death of millions may indeed find its origin in Europe. Naturally we all hope and pray it does not got that way, but if it does, here is why I say Europe would be ground zero.

Europeans are an interesting bunch.  They have an element of sophistication and enlightenment different from what you see on other continents.  On the surface they are a peaceful, educated bunch.  They are artists, musicians, scientists and when unprovoked racially progressive.  However, when pushed to the breaking point, they have produced some of the most vicious, evil and cold-hearted dictators the world has ever seen.  The vast majority of Europeans crave peace, but they also have limitations, and when those limitations are exceeded, they will often put their support behind those who will change the status quo at all costs.  Till now it’s been socio-economic circumstances that brought this on.  Hitler in Germany and Stalin in Russia both used poverty as the enemy to rally the masses behind them, justifying the murder of anyone they deemed in the way of their nations’ development.

Although it may turn out to be economic travails that break the proverbial camels back, the main factor building Europe to a dangerous boiling point is the increasing influence of the Muslim population as it coincides with Islamic extremism and terrorism.  A rising Muslim populous on its own would still potentially lead to problems in Europe during a faltering global economy. After all, scapegoating is not necessarily out of character for Europeans, but even without economic issues, as Europeans feel less and less safe, and their Muslim populations remain disproportionately silent, the  likelihood of a scapegoat scenario strengthens significantly.

If there is an outright World War III it seems destined to be in the form of a Muslim-Christian war, with other groups, most notably the Jewish people being caught in the cross hairs and winding up victims of the same devastation.  What makes this so frustrating is that if the “religion of peace”, as some insist on calling it would have a majority actually stand up against the forces of evil within its midst and demand peace, it would likely never come to that horrific outcome.

Unfortunately there is no real outcry from within the population.  Tens to hundreds of thousands protested Israel’s action in Gaza, but stay home while ISIS marches through Syria and Iraq, and Iran continues to sponsor terrorist organizations to instigate larger wars in the region.  This silence, if followed by a European continent that feels the threat level has exceeded any level of reason, could very well lead to the death of tens of millions of people, of which a multitude will be Muslim.  Just as many Germans died because they allowed Hitler to lead his Nazi party and commit their atrocities, so too the apathy or even worse in many cases, the quiet support of Muslims, could lead to millions dead, many of them actually Muslims.  It’s not out of the realm of possibility that right now they feel a sense of security and therefore remain quiet, but eventually they may not be very safe, and if that happens they will largely have themselves to blame for being silently complicit.

Let’s hope it never comes to that, for as my mother, a survivor of the Holocaust says, when it comes to war, no one ever really wins.

 

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ISIS: Their problem ISIL: Our problem

isis-flagLet me start by saying that the title of this piece does not reflect my personal opinion. I believe no matter what you call them, ISIS, ISIL, or the Islamic State, that they are everyone’s problem.  I do however feel the title may be reflective of how President Barack Obama feels, or at the very least used to feel about the terrorist group he now only refers to as ISIL.

Much has been made as to what is behind the president’s apparent insistence on only referring to this terrorist organization as “ISIL”.  Some of the most suspicious among you believe it is a way of attacking Israel’s sovereignty, by recognizing their pursuit of the entire Levant, the area of land represented by the “L” in the name of ISIL.  I personally disagree with this assertion. I believe there is something more political behind the President’s language.  “ISIS” stands for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria while “ISIL” stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.  Subsequently the Levant covers significantly more territory.  It also represents the rapid growth of this ambitious and very vicious terrorist organization.

As the Islamic State continues to grow it becomes an even more viable threat to the United States and its allies.  Obama, a president who seems to be ultra-isolationist, has basically made it clear that he believes Iraqis, Kurds and Syrians need to fight the main battle against the terrorist group in Northern Iraq and Syria.  He has spoken of its containment at least as often as he has spoken of its destruction.  It may be that in the eyes of this administration successful containment means the difference between calling it ISIS or ISIL.

Being a president with a tendency of putting appearance over substance, once the terrorists became strong enough to call themselves ISIL, Mr. Obama had the justification within his isolationist logic to get involved in the fight.  He has openly said that part of his strategy is leaving it to the locals to deal with once ISIL gets contained and shrinks back down to a more localized problem.  Perhaps then it will once again be referred to as ISIS.   If this group threatens the entire “Levant” or beyond, we can get involved, but once it only threatens Iraq and Syria it’s their battle to fight.

If this is indeed the President’s logic, it is a dangerously flawed one.  An organization such as this one, with its ambition and financial means, will never be satisfied remaining in the area of  Iraq and Syria. Ultimately it will go after Jordan, Egypt, the Gulf states, and of course most viciously Israel.  All of this is only a means of furthering its global ambitions. Furthermore, as all experts have been saying, it already poses a serious and dangerous terrorist threat to westerners at home and abroad.

Rather than worrying about whether or not it is called ISIS or ISIL, I hope this president mainly sees it as a dangerous and growing problem that needs to be eliminated at all costs. Anything else should be seen as unacceptable.

 

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