Friday, December 25, 2015

It Would Be Laughable… If It Weren’t So Terrifying

The only thing that scares me more than growing global terrorism is what those who believe they are protecting their citizens are doing to encourage more. I strongly recommend that you read all of my Middle Eastern blogs starting with my October 20th background piece on the history local religious animosity. After listening to the GOP presidential debates on December 15th, I found myself shaking my head at the level of callous “solutions” to ISIS and other comparable radical jihadism posited by each and every speaker. So many factual errors. How can you mount a strong strategic defense against this horror without understanding the players, their goals and the perception of the United States in the eyes of the rest of the world? Following the dictates of virtually any of the candidates would make things so much more dangerous for us.
First, understand how idiotic we are with the largest military on earth (41% of the global military budget) that has not won a war of significance since World War II. Where we have fared consistently badly is against insurrection and asymmetrical warfare. Haven’t won any of those major conflicts recently. Our military efforts at regime change in the Middle East have created a level of instability in that region that has never been seen before… which is saying a lot about that volatile area. We did much that with help from agricultural damage generated by climate change, in which we more than contributed our share of toxic effluents into the atmosphere.
Let’s face reality number two. ISIS wants our troops in mass fighting them on the ground in the Middle East. If they cannot get that, they would accept American carpet bombing of their territory, which would incite neutral Muslims into accepting the United States as the leader of a war on Islam. Trust me, with all the footage from GOP candidates freely available, ISIS is already getting more help from these candidates than they could have envisioned one short year ago. Their leaders believe God has ordained their triumph against us.
So ISIS leaders really are probably adding a wish to their prayers that any one of the militant Republican candidate wins the White House. Is that wish so strong that they are actually incented to mount more incidents of terrorism across the United States to maximize that result? Or are there enough lone wolves who are so angry at such anti-Islamic rhetoric that they will attempt those attacks without direct orders from ISIS? Is all this talk putting us in more danger? And as I have blogged before, what exactly is the motivation of regional Muslim nations to do what the United States wants them to do against ISIS: putting the ground forces against these terrorists now? So far, Sunni nations have been anything but aggressive against ISIS for reasons I have blogged about repeatedly. There is so much U.S. anti-Muslim rhetoric, anti-Muslim sentiment, that Arab nations actually are more resistant to helping the U.S. than ever before.
Afghanistan is super-dangerous again. Iraq is totally destabilized. The GOP wants the details of the president’s strategy to be shared with the general public. That’s brilliant! Let’s send a detailed copy of our battle plan, our use of Special Forces, the placement and numbers of U.S. and allied forces, etc. to ISIS. How can anyone demanding such full disclosure have the remotest claim to being our Commander in Chief? Dumb and Dumber? Seriously.
And underestimating the impact of climate change on present and future terrorism will blow back and haunt us terribly. “The protests and violent conflict in Syria that began in 2011 originally took U.S. security analysts by surprise. Early in the Arab Spring, the State Department had ranked Syria near the bottom of a list of Middle East and North African nations most likely to experience upheaval. Five years later, we have a hopelessly war-torn country, land occupied by ISIS, and the biggest refugee crisis since World War II.
“They shouldn’t have been surprised. Three years earlier, a Syrian bureaucrat had issued a stark briefing to U.S. and U.N. officials warning of a ‘perfect storm’ of conditions that could undermine his country’s stability.
“Syria's President Bashar Assad had stifled human rights, democracy, and economic opportunity for many years (with the complicit support western governments)—but that's not what was worrisome. The truly destabilizing factor was drought. Beginning in 2006, northern Syria plunged into the worst drought in its modern history—its unusual length and severity likely caused by the planet’s changing climate. Exacerbating the drought's effects, the government had for years grossly mismanaged the country’s aquifer resources, encouraging water-hungry cash crops and allowing groundwater levels to deplete. Poor farmers were left with nothing after crops failed. Agriculture collapsed.”, December 16th. Millions of farmers (almost all Sunnis), no longer being able to make a living as their property turned to useless dust, were torn from their farms, abandoned by the governments (most Shiite), to become the backbone of the support for ISIS and other terrorist groups.
Water is currently a concern and potential source of instability throughout the region. Jordan was already water-stressed, largely due to inefficient management and infrastructure, and now it is absorbing millions refugees from Syria. In the Sahel region of Northern Africa, drought and conflict have displaced millions of farmers and herders over the last few years. Yemen’s capital city Sana’a may be the first city in the world to run out of water (and it might happen as soon as 2017), a situation that has played a part in its ongoing civil war and power of extremist groups there.
“‘Water is one of those things that gets swept under the carpet, and no one is talking about it because it’s not a sectarian thing,’ says Middle East human rights researcher Mahmood Monshipouri, referring to Yemen. ‘There’s no question: The lack of water in the Middle East has empowered extremists.’ This happens in several ways: When people are desperate to meet their basic needs, there is greater competition for scarce resources, which can exacerbate existing ethnic, tribal, or religious tensions between competing groups. People are also more vulnerable to those who offer easy answers to their problems. More directly, terrorist groups have made it a strategy to control water resources as a tactic to exert control over populations. ISIS, for example, has taken over dams and drained marshlands to control the flow.
“Conflict related to water-stress is not new. But, says [Francesco Femia, director of the Center for Climate and Security in Washington, D.C.], there’s growing evidence that climate change will increase the likelihood of state failure and conflict, given other political and economic conditions.
“One study projects that temperatures in the region could be physically too hot for human inhabitants by 2100, if climate change goes unchecked. In 1950, per capita renewable water resources were four times greater than today. By mid-century, according to the World Bank, they will drop even further—possibly to 11 times less than the global average. Out of 33 countries predicted to experience "extreme water stress" by 2040, 14 of them are in the Middle East. ” Meanwhile, the GOP candidates are telling us that we not need do anything to address climate change, since we still (in their blind eye) have no proof that man’s actions contributed significantly to the problem. Really?
Since both house of Congress and these vocal presidential candidates are part of that climate change denial group, surely that has to be the position under which our armed forces must operation. Thankfully, the U.S. military (which reports to the Commander in Chief) knows that climate change is one of the biggest factors they face. They get it. And they have issued long, detailed internal reports about the threat and have taken rather substantial steps to prepare for the consequences, from resulting extremism to rescue capacity. It is a high priority with our Department of Defense and our uniformed officers.
“The military believes in it. And it’s already preparing for a world with a climate that’s hotter, more volatile and more destructive. It is evident in the armed forces’ investment in solar energy to power their bases and in their experimentation with renewable, non-petroleum ‘bio-fuels.’
“And the Defense Department’s commitment to addressing climate change is also apparent in the kinds of equipment it buys. Today, the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, part of defense giant General Dynamics, is building a new ship for the Navy that’s ideal for dealing with the consequences of a warmer, more volatile world.
“The $500-million Expeditionary Mobile Base vessel [pictured above] — 784 feet long from bow to stern — combines all the most important features the military believes ships will need to respond to the more frequent and more severe natural disasters.
“A modified version of a commercial oil tanker, the base ship boasts vast storage capacity for hauling emergency supplies, a huge flight deck for launching and landing helicopters and other aircraft, and plenty of internal space for people and medical facilities. By deliberately taking on water, the Montford Point-class ‘Expeditionary Mobile Base’ can bring its lower deck level with the sea, allowing it to easily launch hovercraft and small boats. Observers have described the new ships as ‘ports at sea.’” Reuters, December 9th. If only those who would command the military had remotely the same care and common sense to understand what they are really up against. They clearly do not.
I’m Peter Dekom, and just because a candidate repeats a concept repeatedly does not remotely make it true or even a good solution.

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