A recent quote from Republican Presidential Candidate, the ever "brilliant" senator from Texas:  


“We need to immediately halt the flow of refugees from countries with a significant al Qaida or ISIS presence,” Cruz said in a statement Tuesday in the wake of deadly terror attacks in Brussels. “We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized. We need to secure the southern border to prevent terrorist infiltration. And we need to execute a coherent campaign to utterly destroy ISIS.”

(This is the best clip I could find.  It's from Western Journalism Center.  I don’t know who “Western Journalism” might be – they are anti-Obama – but they had the best clip of both Trump and Cruz**)

Apparently Cruz (R-TX) is not aware that what ISIS depends on most for garnering new recruits is anti-ISIS, anti-Muslim rhetoric from Westerners just like his and Trump’s.    Sure, Free Speech and all that, but such talk aids and abets ISIS and only serves to energize its followers. The 9-11 attacks were masterminded by a linked, world wide network of followers, with Osama Bin Laden calling the shots, no such evidence has been uncovered in the “structure” of ISIS despite years of intelligence reporting and, presumably, infiltration by Western spies. As yet, there have no “terrorist cells” uncovered in “Muslim neighborhoods” here in the United States.

Our own ISIS inspired attack in San Bernadino, was undertaken not by some Islamic cleric in Mosul or Raqqa via fire and brimstone videos of anti-Western rants and threats with a gruesome beheading thrown in for good measure, but by a fairly typical, unremarkable, American couple living and working among their friends, workmates and neighbors who gave them not a second glance.  Where Trump and Cruz get this idea that barring or rounding up or banning Muslims is somehow going to catch terrorists before they act is simply astonishing.  It’s a fantasy of the highest order, one that somehow translates “patrolling Muslim neighborhoods” into effective anti-terrorism public policy. 

Well, okay, there is one caveat.   Republicans, Trump and Cruz in particular, do seem prone to confusing fantasy with reality, let’s say viz. cutting taxes creates jobs or the Mexican Government is sending rapists and drug dealers across our southern border.  Already Cruz and other Republicans have blasted Obama for his failed foreign policy viz ISIS and for not returning to the U.S. from Argentina. 

To do what, exactly, they did not specify. 

Obama, as I’ve noted before, seems to appreciate differences between ISIS and Al Qaeda and has formulated a foreign policy with several sensible new points in mind:

1. Now that America is no longer dependent on Middle East oil, we have little to no strategic interest in ISIS’s Middle East adventure.

2.  Unlike Bin Laden whose goal was to undermine Western influence in the Middle East, ISIS’ goal is to establish a Caliphate – they have already announced such – and bring on a religious Armageddon End of Days scenario to ultimately defeat Christianity and the West.

3. No short-term success is possible in the Middle East given the parallel, embedded explosion of Sunni – Shiite strife unleashed following the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

4.  A tidal shit in the non-use of military intervention in conflicts that are not direct threats to U.S. interests or strategic positions towards a greater reliance on diplomatic initiative.

5.  The mess in the Middle East is primarily a Muslim issue with no particular relevance to American interests.

6.  The U.S. will lead coalitions in the Middle East and elsewhere, but will no longer be the “figurehead” for such efforts that in the past have only shifted responsibility to U.S. shoulders. 

In general, what Obama has done is shifted U.S. foreign policy – much to the anger of the military establishment – from a “Bomb Them Back To The Stone Age” stance, to a foreign policy that relies on diplomacy first rather than intervention.  It has not been an easy shift but – if continued – it is a fundamental alteration of U.S. foreign policy.  And a vital one.

This changeover represents, what I believe, is Obama’s more nuanced view of the existing situation in the Middle East as well as his differentiation between sectarian strife (Iraq, Syria) and the more populist, secular movements heralded by the Arab Spring.  His understanding of all things Muslim is undoubtedly a product of his having a Kenyan, Muslim father as he notes in his books “Dreams of My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope.”  (This fact, by the way, is why right wingers call him a “secret Muslim” thus tarring him in the same way that Trump and Cruz tar ALL Muslims although Obama was not raised in a religions household.)

The popular protests in Tunisia over the self-immolation of young Mohammad Bouazizi, a street cart salesman back in 2010, marked the beginning of what came to be called The Arab Spring.  Spreading next to Egypt, where massive and prolonged street protests led eventually to the downfall of Hosni Mubarak, then on to Libya, Yemen, Jordan and Syria in short order.  All are similar in origin – the populist outpouring of protest against autocratic rule – but have had differing results.  Tunisia has emerged relatively unscathed and reforms have been instituted.  Egypt, following years political struggle, is now ruled again with military backing, Libya has simply devolved into a failed state, Yemen –with the intercession of Saudi Arabia and Iran – has been plunged into a civil war, pitting Sunni’s against Shiites.  Syria, with the intercession of the U.S. and Russia has been virtually destroyed. 

The origins of the Arab Spring are not dissimilar from the revolutionary movements in South America that had their more recent incarnations in the 1960’s through today: the revolt against autocratic and undemocratic rule.  The continent’s longest running revolutionary action, FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) in Columbia, might be coming to a close since the government and FARC leaders are currently negotiating a peace agreement.  Religion, however, was never a component of the Latin revolutions.  This is what makes the Arab Spring revolutions and the general chaos in Libya, Syria and Yemen so much more complex and so much more dangerous. 

There is no question that the U.S.’s invasion of Iraq, followed by Shiite Nouri al-Malaki’s purge of Sunni legislator’s and brutal repression of Sunni protesters, gave rise to ISIS, a fundamentalist religious organization whose long term goals are the imposition of an ultra conservative Sharia law and expulsion or destruction of all non-believers in the territory they control.  The declaration of the Caliphate by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2010 established the basis for a return to Medieval Islam and the desire to restore an Ottoman Empire-like Muslim state. 

This aspect of the current mess that is the Middle East added to the opening of old Shiite-Sunni wounds by Saudi Arabia and Iran, portends a long lasting struggle more like Great Britain’s “Troubles” in Northern Ireland that lasted for forty years from the 1960’s until the end of the 20th Century.  This, I think, is what the United States and the West is facing in the Middle East. 

As for ISIS inspired terrorist attacks here in the United States?  They are only waiting to happen.  I suspect that the San Bernardino attack will be surpassed and most likely in time for November’s Presidential election.  In essence, we have no way of stopping such attacks, since they will be home grown – like those in Paris and Brussels – and not like the 9-11 Al Qaeda attacks where terrorists were trained overseas and then sent to the United States to carry out their attacks. 

Deeper involvement by the United States in Syria or Libya or Iraq or Yemen will not yield victories.  In fact, our deeper involvement will only increase the leverage ISIS has among young, disaffected Muslims all over the world and will only increase their ranks.  “Boots On The Ground,” the battle cry of conservatives, war hawks and Republican Presidential candidates?  It is a foolish, suicidal approach to the resolution of the current Middle Eastern strife.  We are in for a long, long struggle that can only be undertaken by the Middle East’s Muslim nations even though we here in the U.S. and Europe suffer collateral damage.  This is not our fight and we would be wise to stay as far away from it as we possibly can.

Both Ted Cruz and Donald Trump do not appear to have the least understanding about what is going on in the Middle East.  Their exhortations to “ban or round up American Muslims” or “patrol Muslim neighborhoods in America” are not only shortsighted exhortations to activate people’s fears, they are a clear and present danger to the security of the United States. Hillary Clinton got this one right.

I, for one, am glad that Obama seems to understand that there is no way that we are going to be able to solve the religious wars raging in the Middle East single handedly.   Apparently one Black man has the ability to think and analyze current world events with a sophistication and understanding that Trump and Cruz will never hope to approach.   We are very lucky.  

Have a good day!

** I did research the Western Journalism organization and guess what? 

The Western Journalism Center helped fund Christopher W. Ruddy (who later founded NewsMax) to investigate conspiracies surrounding the death of Vincent Foster, which was part of the Arkansas Project.  Eventually, "the Center placed some 50 ads reprinting Ruddy's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review stories in the Washington Times, then repackaged the articles as a packet titled "The Ruddy Investigation," which sold for $12.  WJC circulated a video featuring Ruddy's claims, Unanswered-The Death of Vincent Foster, that was produced by author James Davidson, chairman of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) and co-editor of the Strategic Investment newsletter."

During the 2012 Todd Akin "legitimate rape" controversyKarl Rove remarked that Republicans "should sink Todd Akin" and joked that "If he's found mysteriously murdered, don't look for my whereabouts". In response, WJC created to circulate a petition asserting that "Karl Rove has made himself toxic to Republicans by his incredibly offensive and dangerous statement suggesting the murder of Congressman Todd Akin of Missouri." Their biggest fallacy has been the so called "Jade Helm" project that took place earlier this year.

The organization that is still pushing the Vince Foster murder, Jade Helm and supported Todd Akin.  Yeah.  Without a doubt one of the most objective journalist offerings on the planet. 


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