I’ve learned to listen to my wife. Over the years a mutual respect of our different gifts has helped us to celebrate our thirty-ninth anniversary in September. Becky is more practical than me, and recently observed that “Americans don’t seem to get it… maybe it’s because they already have it.” Her pithy comments regarding our country made me stop and think; and that’s when the story began.
Charles Dickens’ wrote in the opening lines of his novel “A Tail of Two Cities”: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” As I gaze out my window I see only the beauty of a early fall day in a land of plenty. I recognize that I am blessed and I thank my Creator every day for my life, awareness of his presence in my life and his directives of the Way that pattern how we should live that life. Perhaps we Americans too often see only to our immediate horizons and our immediate desires. Perhaps it takes beheadings on the other side of the world to jerk us out of isolationism and our own solipsistic perspective.
The two World Wars of the Twentieth Century should have taught us that isolationism doesn’t work. In the affairs of man wars always recur, and terrorism eventually returns to fly planes into the Twin Towers and kill your neighbors. Now, America has gone back to war. Mr. Obama told us repeatedly in 2011-2013 that he ended the war in Iraq, and is on record to remove our forces from Afghanistan soon. Actually, American armed forces won the war in Iraq; it was the President who ignored his advisers, including his Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, and “lost the peace” with the politically driven premature withdrawal of military forces which left no American troops in Iraq to support that fledgling democracy won at such great cost. The lessons of history teach us that a residual military presence as in Japan, Germany and Korea is often necessary to keep the peace. And despite what you hear from liberal-progressive-democrats, America went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan to deny terrorists a base of operations after al-Qaeda attacked our homeland and killed 3000 people on 9-11. Now, our isolationism has left us with a much bigger mess and the potential of terrorist bases in multiple countries.
This trinitarian philosoph sees three options in most situations or difficulties. Firstly, you can oppose things you see as wrong. Secondly, you can compromise your principles and “go along to get along.” Or lastly you can retreat from reality to, for instance, fortress America, or metaphorically to the panhandle of Idaho, or to a monastery as was done in the Dark Ages. I don’t see how we can compromise with ISIS or retreat from a philosophy that has vowed to “put a black flag of jihad on the White House.”
Long ago I learned on the school yard that you can’t appease bullies – nor reason with terrorists. When you realize you can’t ignore evil (or run from it), you must strike first and not stop until it’s over. Only then can you extend mercy to a vanquished foe. Unfortunately, I believe a stake in the heart of the “Islamist” beast will be necessary to save Islam from jihadists.
I support the President’s use of force against the evil that confronts the world. I’d like to believe he finally gets it, but I no longer trust Mr. Obama. Everything he does seems couched in the political philosophy of Saul Alinsky. Recall that Alinsky was also a community organizer who penned “Rules for Radicals,” a book lauded by Mr. Obama. Incidentally, Hillary Clinton worked closely with Alinsky in the 1970s and did her senior thesis on him. Perhaps the “peace movement,” so vocal during George Bush’s administration, likewise gets it, and agrees with the President’s use of force to confront ISIS. But I’m afraid the Peaceniks have just moved on to another cause and are exhausted from their marching with Al-Gore in support of global warming/climate change.
I learned today that Eric Holder will be stepping down as Attorney General; I will not be sad to see him go. Holder is one of the few remaining members of Mr. Obama’s original cabinet. And now even he acknowledges that the President’s air war over Syria and Iraq will not be enough, and that ground forces will be necessary to defeat ISIS fighters who have moved into apartment buildings when we announced our plans to bomb them.
Perhaps the President never learned the school-yard lessons I learned. Maybe Mr. Holder meant that the Iraqi army would confront ISIS. Unfortunately, the same Iraqi army ran from ISIS earlier this year, surrendering the arms we gave them to ISIS. Or perhaps Holder was referring to the Syrian “rebels” who Obama just months ago dismissively called “pharmacists and doctors.” Obama now says we’ll train these guys in Saudi Arabia over the next year and then send them to fight ISIS as well as Assad’s Syrian army. And folks, don’t expect the Kurdish Peshmerga to come to Baghdad’s aid. They want their own homeland in Northern Iraq and southern Turkey. Additionally, don’t expect much from Turkey. President Erdogan is supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood and opposes any Kurdish independence. As I said, It’s a colossal mess.
So what do we do? We must stand up for right and destroy this evil that masquerades as religion. Christianity was once violent and launched the Crusades, but that was a thousand years ago. The Church has been through many “reformations.” Likewise, the Westboro Baptists are frequently trotted out as examples of confused Christians. Please! This tiny scurrilous group are shameful, but don’t saw off heads.
The Pew Research Center says there are 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. If even 10% are sympathetic to jihad and 10% of these embrace the philosophy of ISIS, Hamas, al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood you begin to see what Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddists and even secularists are up against. This external challenge to America was predicted by Strauss and Howe in their 1991 book “Generations.” It’s time everyone gets it. We will prevail, but it will not be easy or pretty or a quick fix.