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Friday, September 14, 2012

We Are Not at War . . . Just Under Attack

We should be at war; instead, we are under attack.

Let's start with the basics. Our collaboration with the Europeans to knock off Qaddafi was a major mistake--a disaster, in fact, and a disaster that Obama now owns. The Europeans have been wrong about everything in foreign affairs for at least the past 250 years; they were wrong on Libya and yet they got our inept, naive President, and his inept, naive Secretary of State to do their bidding. That was a big mistake, and something that this little blog warned about on March 18, 2011:
"The US, of course, will have to take over the whole operation when it becomes patently clear that neither the British nor the French have the capabilities needed. That, therefore, means the whole mess will be ours:  the UN will back off; the Arab League will be nowhere to be seen; and the EU will be snickering behind our backs with not a word of thanks for having secured their oil supplies.  And the Libyans? All of them, pro- and anti-Qaddafi, will be angry with us and our intervention.
There is no gain for the U.S. to get involved, and no valid reason to get involved, so, of course, we will get involved."
We are now paying for the stupidity of removing the nasty, desert drag queen who long ago ceased as a threat to America and, in fact, was an ally (I have personal knowledge of this) in tracking down Al Qaeda terrorists. It was an even bigger mistake, one on the scale of Carter and the Shah, to help push President Mubarak out of power, welcome the Muslim Brotherhood, and pressure the Egyptian military into accepting the MB. We can see the results on our TV sets, in the idiotic behavior of our diplomats in Cairo (and I know a lot of them, including the Ambassador)--and in the media's never-ending quest to protect Obama and his foolishness, and give him a pass.

The reason we see deranged or at least nasty and unpleasant dictators in the Arab world is that Arab societies are deranged, nasty and unpleasant--thanks largely to the brand of Islam practiced in those societies which is particularly deranged, nasty, and unpleasant. In the Arab world you can have a brutal authoritarian who tries to restrain the even more brutal religious fanatics, or you can have religious fanatics who lash out at anyone who does not see the world as they do. It is for this reason, for example, that I do not join in the enthusiasm for helping the Syrian rebels against the brutal pencil-necked Assad family. What do you think will replace the thug Assad, who is at least a moderately rational actor and responds somewhat to pressure from the Russians and others? Notice that the Israelis are quite conflicted about the rebellion in Syria; they don't say much about it. Just as I could not understand in the 1980s what interest we had in bringing an end to the Iran-Iraq war, I see no particular reason to get involved in Syria. No result will be a good one . . . literally.

The problem is not one regime or another. The problem is not creating yet another Arab state in "Palestine." The problem is not our insensitivity. The problem is Arab Islam. The deep, deep pathologies of Arab Islamic societies are out for all to see . . . yet again. And our great, overpaid liberal mass media with all their highly "educated" anchors and pundits, what are they covering? They are attacking Governor Romney for daring to say that we should never apologize for our core beliefs. The media and many at State, including the increasingly unhinged Hillary Clinton, claim that the unrest we now see in the Arab world, unrest which takes the form of attacking US embassies and murdering our people, is due to some obscure video made in July by some obscure person who has yet to be fully identified. Perhaps, then, it was in anticipation of this film that Osama bin-Ladin had his crazies fly planes into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center? Wouldn't be a surprise for the media to allege that . . .

Bush understood what the sophisticates at State, in the universities, and the media did not: we are in a titanic, multi-generational conflict with the forces of Islamic jihadism. He spoke the hard truths and was reviled for it. I think that Governor Romney understands that truth, too. As a successful businessman and an astute student of the economy, he certainly understands that what gives the jihadis some heft and punch is oil money. That money allows them to pressure others more moderate, such as Indonesia, and to pay for the war on the West. The single greatest blow we could strike at the Islamic crazies is to break our dependence on foreign oil. The word "frack" strikes terror in these regimes. Without the oil, and the dollars and euros it generates, the Arab and Muslim world will be largely ignored by the civilized world. Our technology and our own vast energy resources are our greatest weapons against the Arab despots, the Iranian Imams, and their allies such as the authoritarians Hugo Chavez and Rafael Correa.

The worst thing we can do is what we are now doing. This feckless policy of one-sided engagement and self-abasement, of willingness to dismiss the crazies' public utterances, and the insistence on emphasizing the positive, will only get our citizens murdered here and abroad, our diplomats dragged through the streets, our embassies burned, and our flag used as a door mat. Weakness by us inspires craziness in them. Ambassador Stevens, whom I knew slightly, thought he was safe with and loved by the people he helped "free" from Qaddafi; he saw himself as a new Lawrence of Arabia, and instead ended up as a new Charles George "Chinese" Gordon of Khartoum.

We are under attack, when we should be at war. While we build our own energy sources our dazzling ability to employ the instruments of war must be maintained and used as needed. The crazies will never love us, so they might as well fear us.


  1. I follow (and agree) with everything stated except for one thing. If memory serves, Europe's immediate beef with the Libyan crossdresser immediately prior to that senseless (for us) conflict was more illegal immigration wasn't it? Or was that just an unimportant side issue?

  2. You are right it was an issue but the big one was oil. The French and Italians--and the Brits--were unhappy with the contracts they were getting from Qaddafi, who, funny to say, preferred to deal with American oil companies as he found them more reliable and willing to live up to their contract obligations. Our government's support of the Europeans made no sense from our interests.

  3. There are images being passed around from Libyans that disown the violence - take heart.


  4. "...the Arab and Muslim world will be largely ignored by the civilized world."

    I certainly like the ring of that!

    I think many - perhaps most of our big problems can be traced back to the influence of the holier than thou greenies. By depriving ourselves of energy (nuclear, oil, natural gas) we lost the ability to function independently. Money we spend to ship oil half way round the world is used against us both directly and subtly. Obama would continue that - I hope Romney would make a full reversal.

  5. I think Gordon understood Islam for what is. Energy independence as you say, is exactly one of the things we need to do. It would have an effect equal to the discovery of the western sea route, leaving the muslim world to again descend into a backwater.

  6. This is one of the best summaries of the situation yet. The current admin has elevated incompetence to an art form, and with our Dear Leader busy campaigning and otherwise asleep at the switch, I don't expect anything more than shrill whining about "the film" and more "blame Romney" nonsense.

    This are sad and scary times.

  7. The crazies will never love us, so they might as well fear us.

    You got it.
    "... whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with." -Nicolo Machiavelli

  8. Here's Obama's ME foreign policy over the past four years caught on video.


  9. Interesting that Diplomad should compare Ambassador Stevens with General Gordon, as the similarities are great. General Gordon had a long and highly successful military and diplomatic career during the mid 1800s (Queen Victoria's reign), and he was one of the British people's most respected and beloved leaders. The Mad Monarchist blog posted a nice biography early last year at the following URL (from which I will quote a bit here):

    Even though 150 years or so have passed since Gordon's mission, modern Americans can fully understand the issues of that time without any need to consult a history book. The Mideast has made NO progress in any respect in the intervening years.

    Like Stevens in Libya, Gordon sought to manage a rebel uprising in the Sudan "... where a fanatic claiming to be the Mahdi, 'the expected one', the Islamic messiah had launched a rebellion against the Egyptians and massacring all who opposed him or who denied his claims. One British-led Egyptian army was wiped out by the Mahdi and his tribesmen and the rebel vowed that he would conquer Cairo, Mecca, Baghdad and Constantinople. Desperate for someone to save the situation the Gladstone government turned to Gordon who was sent to the Sudan in 1884 to oversee the evacuation of the Egyptian and European population."

    As we saw with the State Department's failure to provide adequate and trustworthy security for Ambassador Stevens, the British government failed to send the military troops Gordon repeatedly asked for.

    The Mad Monarchist continues: "Gordon set to work at once, using all of his engineering brilliance to fortify the city of Khartoum which was soon besieged by the Mahdi and his army. Gordon sent requests for Turkish troops but was denied. He then asked for Indian Muslim soldiers from the British colonial army but was refused. Gladstone wanted no imperial adventures but Gordon was only concerned with saving the Sudan and defeating the Mahdi. When London ordered Gordon out of Khartoum he refused, knowing that it might take his death to force the British government to concern itself with the plight of the Sudanese and send an army capable of defeating the rebels. Gordon had only about 7,000 Egyptian troops in Khartoum, confronting upwards of 50,000 rebels, yet he held them off for some time through innovative engineering (building a canal that created a moat around the city) and military tactics such as the placing of improvised land mines. The British press picked up on his gallant stand and Queen Victoria herself wanted action taken to help Gordon. Unfortunately, the British expedition that was dispatched would arrive too late."

    Again like Stevens, Gordon was murdered by the rebels -- his head chopped off in the same brutal manner the Islamists still favor. The British government concealed the grisly details from their people, though, as they feared a backlash for their failure to provide even minimal support to save the life of a popular hero. Like Islamic rebels, Western governments have not improved in the intervening years.

    Hollywood told Gordon's story in the 1966 film "Khartoum," starring Charlton Heston as Gordon. This excellent movie is available for viewing at Amazon's Instant Video, and I highly recommend it (go read the comments at least):

    Great line from the movie (which I have never been able to confirm as an authentic Gordon quote):
    "I do not ask that you be unafraid, only that you act unafraid."

    Apologies to Diplomad for taking up so much space on his blog, but General Gordon is one of my pet topics. Enlarging on the apt comparison he drew was irresistible.

    1. One of the odd coincidences of Gordons' face off with the Mahdi was that Gordon (like so many English of that age ) was quite into a mystical sense of christianity, an almost mirror image of the Mahdi if you like.

  10. Mr Diplomad - An analysis of Islam, putting into perspective the claim it is "the religion of peace" with the actual guidance found in the Koran and the teachings of its various strains regarding infidels and jihad, would be most illuminating.

  11. As useful as North American energy independence would be for American foreign policy and for our economy, that alone will not defang the Arab oil money power. Note that we have to define "energy independence" as adequate internally produced oil costing less that world prices.

    So long as Arab oil is cheaper than alternatives, other countries will still need and demand that oil. Whichever economy has the cheaper energy source will prosper relatively (given good management.) Hence the demand for Arab oil will continue although the world price could be lower if American demand is satisfied internally.

    The US may escape dependence on Arab oil but our allies and our economic competitors will not. They will still be under the political power of Arabs with cheaper oil.

    Henry Kissinger had a great observation about Jimmy Carter's scheme to make oil from domestic coal. The Saudi king could bankrupt the highly capital intensive American enterprise but just lowering the price of Saudi oil to below our production costs.

    1. Actually if fracking gives us the reserves that have been touted, we might be able to do that very same thing ( The Saudi king could bankrupt the highly capital intensive American enterprise but just lowering the price of Saudi oil to below our production costs) to the Saudis.

    2. Given the historically low production costs of the main Saudi oil fields, seeing American fracked supplies cost less would be a true miracle.

      Of course, miracles have happened and the Saudi fields do seem to be getting more and more expensive to operate. But in general, a field that requires fracking will cost more to operate on a per barrel basis than conventional oil fields.

    3. Texan here, with many ties in the energy industry. A common conversation within the industry is what a game changer fracking is and when will the people realize it. That and Israel's natural gas discovery.
      Love the recommendation for the General Gordon film. Will watch.
      Great post Diplomad. I'd only add that not only are the authorities too focused on the film pretense for the violence, but that they are trying to make persecuted Copts the scapegoats for the violence.

    4. Agreed on the production costs. I might add though that the Saudis use alot of their income to buy off their own people. The wost thing from their view point would be a price fall. I also believe that their (the royals) position is alot more precarious than is let on.

    5. Putting a significant tariff on imported oil would appear to have worthwhile effects. It would encourage the development of American energy sources, reduce the income of Middle Eastern and North African potentates, and reduce our dependence on the income tax at the same time.

      Oil from Western Hemisphere sources, particularly Canada, might require special treatment, but anything which tends to limit Islamic financial power seems like a useful idea.

  12. Winston Churchill laid out the sad story of Gordon and the British government pretty well in "The River War."

    1. Everyone should read that book.

    2. Read it, and alot of other things about Gordon. Also I think the Mahdis' great great grandson is big in the Sudanese government, perhaps even PM.

    3. I read "The River War" a couple of months ago, it's available as a free download at www.gutenberg.org

  13. I would argue that Bush and Romney understand the Jihadis better because they themselves actually believe deeply in their own religions. Not that Bush or Romney are fanatics, but I think that their own faith gives them insights into where and how "believers" can go wrong and become fanatics. Deep down, Obama and Hillary don't really believe that it's about Islam, because they can't really comprehend caring that much about religion. For all the talk about Obama being a Muslim, a Christian or whatever, his guiding lights are progressivism, anti-colonialism and narcissism. Obama and Hillary project these biases onto our enemies and then try to figure out what the Jihadis REALLY want so we can reach a reasonable compromise. Quite rational and intelligent - too bad they're dealing with irrational writ large and well armed.

    As a side note, I think that Bill Clinton, by virtue of where and when he was raised, understands religion better than Obama and Hillary - he may not be a true believer, but he understands them.

  14. We are not at war, but they are!

  15. The thing that bothered me most about this admin. was how long it took Hillary Rodham Cankles to mention the First Amendment (Thursday this past week)in response to Muslim fury over "insults" to their religion--by an obscure backwoods preacher and by an ex-inmate.

    I'm completely of the mind that the timing of the attacks shows that it's Qaida and its sympathizers telling the world that they're still there.

    While I grant that much of the world simply doesn't understand our First Amendment (China thinks it's pure insanity), I also wonder if the administration's focus on the supposed "culpability" of obscure actors in the US might not be a prelude to an expansive assault on our freedoms of speech and religion.

    BTW, given how Muslim coutnries REALLY treat their minorities, the Copts who made _Innocence of Muslims_ probably have a point.

  16. The best way for Americans to deal with Muslim fanatics attacking our embassies because Americans made a movie insulting their child molester prophet is for Americans to make MORE movies insulting their child molester prophet.

    Any American official who seeks to take legal actions against the people who made this movie have violated their oath of office to protect and defend the constitution and are CRIMINALS.

    Freedom of speech doesn't get suspended just because members of a medieval death cult don't like what we have to say.

  17. I think that the rise of the Mahdi, the fall of Khartoum, and the battle of Obdurman mark the beginnings of modern militant Islamicism.

    1. I think so, too. The Mahdi was very close to the imperialist beliefs of today's jihadis. Well worth studying that whole episode.

    2. Another book I believe would be useful for people to read is
      Richard F. Burtons' "A Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Medinah and Meccah".

  18. I agree with The Bush and Romney insight into religious belief and how it applies to the fanatics.

    And further, as to our inalienable rights to free speech and a free press - THEY have no understanding of the concept. They have and are part of a society that dictates speech and controls "the press." Therefor ANYTHING we say is perceived as being Gov't, sanctioned by the sole evidence of its release. The "Movie" is another example - and thus the reason for much of the rage we see.

    Further, those societies also channel the rage generated by their own feckless governments against the West as being the reason. Again, State control of media, speech, assembly foments the unrest.

  19. Interesting that you invoked Chinese Gordon. I was thinking that Stevens and his crew had faced what the first and second British Missions to Kabul, Afghanistan faced- annihilation at the hands of the Islamic mob while the cries of "death to infidels!" rang in their ears.

    Oh, that bloody handprint...I weep for our Republic today.

  20. I saw this before Gadhafi was assassinated:
    But have heard nothing else about all this gold since then. Did it not exist? If it did, where did it go? Is it still in play?

  21. Well said. Pity we have to waste the time to actually say these things, though, instead of figuring out where we, as a nation, go from here ... how we rebuild and rebrand our international image after yet another period in which our betters think that obeisance is the best way of dealing with belligerent cultures, and not just a quick way of saying, "Look! No spine!"

  22. Linked back from my little place. Glad to find your blog.

  23. Hi, welcome back to blogging.

    If I might offer a different threshold for my perceived threshold for the President getting the US involved in attacking Syria ...

    He is waiting until he believes some Islamic Supremacist group will win after Assad's fall. While there is any likelyhood of a secular winner the USA will hold back; but once that is past, Casey bar the Door.


  24. Excellent piece. Spot on observations