Category Archives: International news

Terrorists give Islam a horrid name

This is no big flash, I’m sure you’ll agree … but the hideous monsters who call themselves the Islamic State and The Levant are giving a great religion a terrible name.

Consider this brief exchange this morning at the place where I work part time.

Colleague No. 1: “What’s in the news today? More bad stuff? Any more beheadings?”

Me: (Silence.)

Colleague No. 2, as he’s walking quickly past us: “Yeah, beheadings. It’s a peaceful religion. all right.”

ISIL has murdered another American journalist. Its goons are vowing to kill more Americans if we continue to bomb ISIL targets in Iraq. President Obama has called them what they are: murderers, cowards.

They claim to be doing this in the name of Islam.

In the process, they have defamed the very religion they claim to represent.

ISIL represents nothing but evil. It is no more faithful to Islam than al-Qaeda is faithful to it. The murderers have been described appropriately as an “apocalyptic” organization with an “end of the world view.” That is not in keeping with any mainstream religion with which I am familiar.

Are there comparisons between ISIL and other extremists? I won’t go so far as to suggest any direct comparison, given this group’s utterly bloodthirsty quest for vengeance. However, Islam isn’t the only religion known to foster extremist elements.

Zionists have been known to commit violent acts in the name of Judaism. The late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin signed a peace treaty with the Palestine Liberation Organization and then was murdered by a Zionist extremist.

Christianity isn’t immune, either, from heinous acts committed in the name of Jesus Christ. Abortion providers have been murdered in their homes by zealots acting in Jesus’s name.

Do mainstream Jews and Christians embrace these acts? Maybe some do. I, however, do not.

What’s happening in Syria and Iraq as ISIL continues its rampage is not at all about Islam. It is about terror.

Terrorists are the enemy, not the religion they purport to represent.


Another beheading, more calls for 'action'

Another American journalist, Steven Sotloff, reportedly has been murdered by ISIL.

Good God in heaven! This tragedy defies any civilized human being’s emotional tolerance. What should be our response? What must the United States do to punish these monstrous murderers?

I submit we must do what we’ve been seeking to do for weeks: Bomb them into oblivion.

The outcry from U.S. politicians is understandable and quite predictable. The chairman and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee — Republican Ed Royce of California and Democrat Eliot Engel of New York, respectively — say President Obama must take immediate action. He must do something more than what he’s been doing.

I keep circling back to the key question: To what end do we ratchet up our response to these monsters?

If we’re talking about sending troops into battle in Syria and back into Iraq, my strong sense is that the country has zero appetite for more warfare. If we’re thinking about boosting our aerial campaign, well, I’m all for that.

Everyone on Planet Earth now understands that ISIL — the Islamic State and The Levant — has redefined barbarism. No one wants them to continue operating.

In our rage over what’s reportedly happened to another U.S. journalist, let us be mindful of at least two key elements.

One, the administration is hitting ISIL hard already in Iraq and there are increasing reports of a stepped-up aerial assault against the monsters in Syria. I’m quite sure an expanded air campaign is about to commence.

Two, ISIL is fighting another enemy of the United States, forces loyal to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. It’s that dual-enemy threat that presents a seriously complicated task facing the United States of America. Destroying ISIL is in our best interest, but we must be mindful of who precisely benefits directly from ISIL’s elimination in Syria. I’m not saying in the least we should go easy in ISIL simply because Assad stands to gain. I’m merely saying that our rage over Sotloff’s gruesome death should not overtake rational thinking in preparing the right kind of response to this despicable act.

Keep bombing, Mr. President. If they respond with more heinous acts, bomb them some more.


War is no option

President Obama makes it clear: There will be no U.S. military intervention in Ukraine.

That’s a relief.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir “Tough Guy” Putin makes it equally clear: Don’t mess with Russia.

Now, are the Russians tougher than we are? Which military establishment is stronger than the other one? This loyal American knows the answer to both questions.

None of that is the issue. World peace and the consequences of trying to force the Russians out of Ukraine militarily are too horrible to ponder.

The only option now must be the economic one.

The European Union is pondering even more stringent sanctions on Russia. So is the United States of America, working in concert with the EU.

Meanwhile, the critics back here at home — far away from the struggle — keep yammering about the “military option.” None exists.

Russian troops reportedly have “invaded” Ukraine, violating that country’s territorial sovereignty. Obama has condemned the Russians, including Putin. He’s vowing that Russia will pay a price for its violating its neighbor’s territory. The sanctions already imposed are taking a big bite out of a Russian economy that’s on the ropes as it is.

Are we going to bomb the Russians? No. We should put the economic squeeze on them.

Keep tightening the vise, Mr. President.


GOP Rep. Cole tamps down Obama criticism

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole must be running a fever. Perhaps he’s been in the hot Oklahoma sun too long.

The Republican lawmaker actually said President Obama is being “commendably cautious” about developing a strategy to deal with ISIL.

Commendably cautious? What’s going on here?

Cole is one of the few GOP lawmakers to suggest that Obama shouldn’t be rushed into developing such a strategy. Indeed, Cole noted that the White House has crafted “the elements of a strategy” already.

I’m one of those who said the other day that the president needs to get cracking on a strategy to deal with ISIL, the notorious terrorist group that many experts say makes al-Qaeda look like a Boy Scout troop. I still believe the president shouldn’t waste time.

Then again, it’s refreshing to hear at least one leading congressional Republican suggest that critics are hyperventilating needlessly.

Cole takes appropriate note of the complexities facing the White House in the Syria conflict. Bashar al-Assad is fighting ISIL. The United States hardly is Assad’s friend. Indeed, President Obama has called for Assad’s ouster. Who should replace him? Certainly no one who’s friends with ISIL.

Therein lies the president’s “commendable caution.”




Benghazi hearings could end quickly

The chairman of a congressional committee looking into the Benghazi tragedy of Sept. 11. 2012 says the probe will conclude sometime in 2015.

Good deal.

For my money, though, the deal could be done by the end of 2014. Heck, it could be finished in the next two weeks..

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., is chairing a select committee’s examination — yep, we’re getting another one — into the Benghazi fire fight and terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in the Libyan city. The attack killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

The target of this probe clearly is then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who’s been accused of trying to cover up what happened that terrible day. Of course, there’s been no independent corroboration of any deliberate cover-up of the event. That hasn’t dissuaded House Republicans from continuing to look high and low for answers to questions arising from the fire fight.

This ground has been plowed and re-plowed time and again. However, by golly, the House select panel is going to keep looking for something to hang on Clinton, a probable candidate for president in 2016.

Americans need to hold Chairman Gowdy to his prediction that his panel will finish its work sometime in the coming year.

I’ll say this for Trey Gowdy: He’s laid down a serious marker that won’t get lost amid all the political chaos that’s about to swarm all across Capitol Hill.


Time for a strategy, Mr. President

President Obama made a startling acknowledgment today while talking about a range of issues.

He said the United States does not yet have a strategy to deal with ISIL.

Well, there you have it. It’s time to craft a strategy, Mr. President, to combat an organization that does present a serious threat that extends far beyond the region it is seeking to control.

ISIL stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. It is a seriously evil organization capable of doing anything — and I mean anything — to make whatever point it seeks to make.

They’ve beheaded an American journalist, threatened to strike the United States, and vowed to wage all-out war on non-Sunni Muslims, Jews and Christians.

I’m of the view that the president needs to develop a comprehensive strategy immediately and to implement whatever it takes to take ISIL out.

Are we going back into Iraq with ground troops? Obama says no. I hope he means what he says. Count me as one American who’s become war-weary in the extreme. Are we going to send troops into Syria? By all means no. What we have in Syria is a battle between forces that are anathema to our national and international interests. Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is hardly better than the ISIL forces seeking to topple him.

ISIL needs to be the target, Mr. President.

I appreciated today hearing you acknowledge the lack of a strategy. Now, though, is time to assemble that national security team to develop one. Now.


An emphatic 'no!' on paying ransom

Why in the world are we even debating this issue of paying ransom for hostages held by terror groups?

Yet we are at some level.

The policy long has been that the U.S. government doesn’t pay ransom. It instead by seeking to egotiate with the terrorists to persuade them it is in their best interest to let their captives go. If that tactic fails, then the government responds with military force or it seeks to rescue the captives.

The issue has come to light with the tragic murder by ISIS terrorists of journalist James Foley and the release by another terror group of Peter Theo Curtis. We learned shortly after Foley’s gruesome death that U.S. forces failed in a rescue attempt.

I don’t have a particular problem with allowing the families and friends of these captives seeking to pony up money to secure their release, even though such action usually does interfere with official negotiations under way to accomplish the same thing.

The very idea, though, of the government paying ransom is repugnant on its face. It sets a monetary value on someone’s life that in effect cheapens it.

Terror organizations must not be legitimized by, in effect, rewarding them for the terrible acts they commit. They need to be hunted down and arrested — or killed.


Ready, set, bombs away!

Back and forth we go.

Congressional Republicans are so angry at President Obama that they want to sue him for taking on too much executive authority to get things done. Now comes a report that the White House is considering air strikes against targets in Syria.

The response from Congress, from Democrats and Republicans? Ask us for authorization, Mr. President, before you unleash our air power.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., says the president should seek congressional approval. So has Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. Others on both sides of the aisle say the same thing.

They’re likely correct to request congressional approval. Recall that Obama earlier decided to seek congressional authorization after he threatened to hit the Syrian government over its use of chemical weapons on its people. Then the Russians intervened and brokered a deal to get the Syrians to surrender the WMD; they did and the weapons have been destroyed.

Congressional approval is likely the prudent course, given that the president has so few allies on Capitol Hill upon whom he can depend.

It’s fair to ask, though, whether senators like Corker and Kaine are going to stand with the commander in chief when the vote comes. If they’re going to demand congressional approval, then I hope they don’t double-cross Barack Obama with a “no” vote.

Obama reportedly wants to hit ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq. He’s already authorized the use of surveillance aircraft to look for targets. I continue to hold out concern about where all this might lead.

I’ll say this next part slowly: I do not want my country to go to war … again. I’ve had enough. I do not want ground troops sent back to Iraq, where we’ve bled too heavily already.

But if we can lend our considerable and deadly air power to the struggle to rid the world of ISIS, then let’s get the job done.


U.S.-born ISIS fighter is dead

All the hand-wringing over the use of drones to target terrorists who might be American citizens makes me angry.

U.S. airpower struck at a U.S. citizen who had been working with al-Qaeda in Yemen. Our ordnance killed him and civil libertarians and others lamented the lack of “due process” given to the young man before the missile blew him away.

Too bad for that.

Now comes word that another young American, someone named Douglas McCain, was killed in a battle among terror groups in Syria. McCain had been recruited by ISIS, which is fighting governments in Syria and Iraq.

Will there more hand-wringing over this one? Probably not, given that he died at the hands of another extremist group. Suppose, though, he’d been killed by U.S. forces. Suppose further that those forces knew that an American was shooting back at him and that he intended to kill whoever he could hit.

Would we have legal and moral standing to kill someone who had renounced his country and taken up arms with the enemy?


I’m as progressive as anyone on many issues. When it comes, however, to “protecting the rights” of Americans who turn on their country, all bets are off.

My curiosity goes only so far as to wonder what drives Americans to join forces with enemy combatants.

I don’t know the first thing about Douglas McCain and what lured him into the embrace of a hideous terrorist organization. To be honest, I don’t particularly care to know.

What’s left to ponder only is that someone who had declared himself to be an enemy of the country of his birth is now dead.

Whether he died at the hands of other bad guys or at the hands of our soldiers wouldn’t matter to me one little bit.


Cease-fire? Is peace treaty next?

At the risk of jinxing the whole deal, I feel compelled to say something positive about the open-ended cease-fire that’s been declared in the weeks-long battle between Israel and the Hamas terrorists who run the Gaza Strip.

The cease-fire is in place. Someone got tired of the killing. Maybe both sides grew weary of it.

Whatever the case may be, the end of the shelling, the bombing, the rocket fire, the death and mayhem is a positive sign.

What happens next? As I understand it, the two sides will begin talks. Israel has agreed to allow some imports into Gaza. The Palestinians will be allowed to fish offshore.

Now comes the hard part. Negotiations will start in Egypt in a few weeks that will tackle the tougher issues … such as Israel’s demand that Hamas disarm itself.

I’m not yet holding my breath for that to happen. It’s a start, though.

Hamas started this misery by lobbing rockets into Israel. The Israelis responded the only way they should have done, to defend themselves against the attacks. The resulting bloodshed killed more than 2,000 people, the vast majority of whom are Palestinian.

No one should cheer that outcome.

However, now that the shooting has stopped — except for some celebratory gunfire in Gaza — maybe, just maybe, we can start finding a way toward the most elusive goal on the planet: peace between Israel and the Palestinians.