Saturday, August 23, 2014

Understanding the Nature of the Middle East Conflict

The US involvement in Vietnam stretched from 1950 until 15 August 1973.[1] The American political analysts viewed it as a proxy conflict between the competing Communist and capitalist ideologies. In reviewing the political and military writings of the day you see much concern over the idea that if one country in a region were to fall then all the surrounding countries would also fall. This idea was called the domino effect.[2] In the course of that conflict, the United States moved from a training and advising role into active combat where we introduced vastly superior technology, and an increasing number of combat troops but was not able impart sufficient damage to overcome the Communist’s will to continue.  Some, like Col. Harry G. Summers[3], contended it was because of the political limitations placed on the military by its civilian political leadership, and their failure to understand the true nature of the conflict.
So here we are some forty-years later and we are again engaged in a proxy conflict where we have vastly superior weapons, but are drawn into an extended war that is becoming increasingly global in nature. This time, as in Vietnam, we have no clear vision of what winning means. We move from one hot spot to the next attempting to keep the hostility and hatred that has made up the much of the culture of that region from boiling over. This hostility is not new, nor the hatred recent. It has lain just below the surface for a long time. This time, as in the Vietnam conflict, we have seen a number of Presidents engaged to varying degrees -- committing forces, directing the maneuver of those forces, defining the rules of engagement, or perhaps ignoring the threat and hoping it would just go away. 
What is quite different this time is we are not faced with an opposing leadership that can be engaged in discussion and compromise. This is not a state versus state war. It is, at its very foundation, an ideological struggle and it comes at a time where the west has lost its ideology. Our leaders and many who both support and oppose them pursue a path of “correct thinking” that says all ideologies are equal and demand the same respect, except perhaps Judaism, which for some reason is treated differently. Our opponents certainly don’t believe this to be true, in fact they are determined that there can only be one true theology. 
This fundamental difference creates a chasm as wide as the Grand Canyon; as the political leadership again and again frames its responses based on its perception of the world, not that of the enemies.  We condemn the actions our enemy as weak and inhumane while failing to recognize how those actions play out to the masses of the countries ISIL is actually speaking to when it transmits these horrific events.
We are caught on the horns of a dilemma.  If we forsake our values and embrace those of our enemies we may gain some tactical advantage, but we will lose ourselves in the process.  This is what the Democrats are so quick to condemn in Vice President Cheney’s approach.  
If, on the other hand, we believe our inconsistent and reactive approach will result in ISIL suddenly losing interest and support than we are setting ourselves on a path that only King Sisyphus would appreciate.  The fact we cannot set a consistent campaign, and we are viewed as morally bankrupt by so many, whose views are supported by our own protests within, will lead to an unending effort.  
There is no forum where negotiation is possible, until someone of great influence to the Islamic world steps forward. This means there is no foreseeable end to this conflict, until either the west, with its Judeo-Christian foundation destroys itself. Or the Islamic movement wears itself out and loses the support of those who believe they serve a useful purpose in draining the economic and human resources of the US and its allies.
This is my view, I hope for all our sakes I am completely wrong.

Saturday, August 16, 2014


When we are very, very, young I think our parents whisper small things into our heads.  If we are lucky those things speak of love, and faith, and maybe the future that is laying out there somewhere just waiting for us.
Then for a time, just like potatos, they lay there buried by the louder and more forceful voices of our friends and the world around us yelling for our attention.
But for the lucky they find a quiet time, and those small, far-away voices from our past come back to fill their world with peace, and hope, and maybe a willingness to speak quietly to their children.

In times of sadness and pain it might be good to close your eyes, focus your mind on the very center of your being and seek out those voices, and perhaps feel the love of God who has kept them safe for you to find.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Bombing Iraq

Does anyone really believe a few air strikes will make a difference?  It seems we are now employing military force in much the same way the Wizard used smoke and flame in MGM's version of the Wizard of Oz.  "Ignore the man behind the curtain, there is nothing to see here, move on!"

Now where did I put my ruby slippers?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

On this Day in History

The History Channel notes that on this day, the USS Nautilus made the first west to east transit under the North Pole.  The Nautilus was the world’s first nuclear powered submarine, and as such, was limited only by the humans who crewed her.  She was decommissioned in 1980 and now rests as a National Historic Landmark in Groton CT.

Also in sailing news, Columbus set out from Palos Spain, bound for China.  
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