Tag Archives: Islamic State

Terrorism is terrorism, no matter who commits it

A terrorist drove a truck into a crowded New York City recreational area, killing eight people and injuring many others.

A terrorist also opened fire on a crowd of music revelers in Las Vegas, killing more than 50 of them, injuring hundreds more.

The media and the government, though, are calling only one of them an “act of terror.” It’s the NYC event. Why is that? I guess it’s because the perpetrator is an immigrant from Uzbekistan who happens to be a Muslim and who has professed allegiance to the Islamic State.

The Las Vegas shooter? He was just a madman who happened to possess a lot of firepower, which he used to slaughter those victims from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.

I’m a bit baffled as to why we call one incident a terrorist act but not the other.

My take on it goes like this: The spectators who fled the gunfire in Las Vegas were scared out of their wits; they were terrorized by the sound of automatic gunfire that was raining down on them. They were not expecting to be shot by a lunatic perched high above them. Did the gunman commit an act of “domestic terrorism”? Yeah, I believe he did.

The media coverage of that act, though, didn’t make that connection. Neither did the president of the United States, Donald Trump, who said immediately after the Las Vegas massacre that it was “too soon” to comment on it. The president experienced no such reticence about the Uzbek loon who drove the truck into the crowd.

Why is that? Oh, it’s because he’s a foreigner … and a Muslim to boot!

Terrorism has the same impact on its victims, no matter who commits such a heinous act or the motivation behind it.

Another date to mark a war with no end in sight

I refuse to call Sept. 11 an “anniversary.” I reserve that term to commemorate weddings and other happy beginnings.

9/11 is none of that. It’s coming up Monday. Sixteen years ago terrorists commandeered four jetliners; they flew two of them into the World Trade Center’s twin towers; one flew into the Pentagon; one crashed in a Pennsylvania field after a titanic struggle between passengers and terrorists.

Roughly 3,000 people died on that terrible day.

Not long after that, President Bush sent young Americans to war against the terrorists. The Taliban government in Afghanistan, which had given shelter for the monsters, fell to our forces. The war raged on and on and on.

In March 2003 the war spread to Iraq. We toppled a dictator, who later was captured, tried and hanged. We were told we went into Iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction. We didn’t find any.

What the 9/11 date will remind me on Monday is that we very well may never — at least not in my lifetime — be able to end this war against international terrorism.

President Bush handed the struggle off to Barack Obama in 2009. The fight went on.

In May 2011, President Obama announced “to the nation and the world” that U.S. special forces had killed Osama bin Laden, the 9/11 mastermind. We cheered the news. Crowds gathered outside the White House chanting “USA! USA! USA!” We got the main bad guy.

What happened after that? The war went on.

The Islamic State surfaced during this time. ISIS has continued to bring havoc and horror. There have been beheadings and bombings.

The war rages on, despite the arrest of and deaths of several key ISIS and al-Qaeda leaders.

Our enemy is cunning. He is smart. He knows how to hit “soft targets.” His victims primarily are other Muslims, which puts the lie to the notion that we are “at war with Islam.” As President Obama said while announcing bin Laden’s death, our enemy comprises a cabal of murderers who have declared war on Muslims as well as they have on Christians and Jews.

This year, President Obama handed it off to Donald Trump. The new president campaigned foolishly on the pledge to wipe out ISIS and al-Qaeda. He boasted that he knows “more than the generals about ISIS.” He doesn’t.

No matter the level of presidential boastfulness, the fight will rage on. We’ll keep killing terrorist leaders. Others will slither out and take the place of those we eliminate.

How do we prevent more “soft target” incidents? How do we prevent the so-called “lone wolf” from driving a motor vehicle into crowds? Or how do we stop those from igniting bombs at sporting events or other places where large crowds of victims gather?

9/11 is no anniversary. It’s not a date to celebrate. It’s a date that should serve to remind us of the threat that has lurked among us for far longer than we ever imagined.

And it lurks to this very day.

The war will rage on.

Government is nothing like a business

We all have heard at least one political candidate say something like this: “I am going to insist that we run the government like a business.”

Donald John Trump Sr. took that boast to a spectacular level while campaigning for the presidency in 2016. He kept pointing to his business empire; he kept reminding us how rich he is; he said he would bring all of his immense business acumen into the White House, that he would get things done.

“It will be easy!” he bellowed time and again.

His election as president has shown us all — if not the president himself — that governing bears no resemblance to business.

All those “easy” tasks have become “hard.” Repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act? Exterminating the Islamic State? Reforming the federal tax code?

One man cannot do those things by himself. The president needs Congress to assist him. He needs the legislative branch to do its part. He needs to cajole and convince those who oppose him to support him.

Trump entered the political arena from a different universe. He parlayed an inheritance handed him by his father into a substantial business empire. He became the CEO of everything named “Trump.” He didn’t have to answer to anyone. Trump snapped his fingers and things got done. His sole goal was to enrich himself.

His business ventures have produced a mixed record. He’s had great success and great failures along the way.

Donald Trump brought that all of that business experience into a world that bears zero resemblance to the world that he departed.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently said Trump had set “excessive expectations” on how quickly he could enact his agenda. What is so wrong with that analysis? It makes perfect sense to many of us. A man with no government experience — and who exhibits no interest in learning how government works — expects to rack up achievements in the manner he did when he was the business empire CEO.

I’ve noted for many years that running government like a business is the height of naivete. Businesses do not operate under the principle of co-equal partnerships, but that’s what Donald Trump inherited when he took that presidential oath.

The president is learning — and I use the term “learning” with extreme caution — the hard way.

When does the clock start on ISIS destruction?

Is it fair to wonder if the time is approaching to start holding Donald Trump accountable for his boasts about getting rid of the Islamic State?

The president told us during the 2016 campaign that he knows “more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.” He vowed to destroy the hideous terrorist organization. He has declared the end of an era in which the United States is “losing” in the fight against its worldwide enemies.

So I’m wondering when we might start some sort of countdown clock. When does the president become fully responsible for any failure to make good on the bold boasts he made while seeking the office he now occupies?

If we are not going to formulate a countdown clock, then it well might be time to start pressing the commander in chief about whether he intends to make good on his campaign promise.

I was struck during the campaign by the ease with which these boasts poured forth. He made it sound as if all he had to do to rid the world of the Islamic State was to bomb the terrorists into oblivion. Didn’t he once say he’d “bomb the s***” out of them? Hey, we’ve got the ordnance. Let’s use it, he said.

They’re still out there, Mr. President. ISIS is still fomenting terror. It’s still taking responsibility for terrorist activities. It’s still causing American service personnel considerable grief.

It’s time to get busy, Mr. President.

Hoping ISIS leader is a goner … finally!

The Russian government usually isn’t to be trusted to tell the truth about anything.

The country’s foreign ministry, though, has put out a tantalizing morsel: Russian air strikes might this past month have killed the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Before we get all a-flutter over this possibility, it’s good to ponder some elements that ought to keep us grounded.

Is the terrorist really dead?

Al-Baghdadi’s death would not mean the end of ISIS. It opens the door for another madman to step forward to take his place.

You might recall that when U.S. special forces killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May 2011, there was dancing in front of the White House and chants of “USA! USA! USA!” Sure, we got the 9/11 mastermind, but the fight against al-Qaeda goes on.

There also have been earlier claims of al-Baghdadi’s death. The Russians have been hitting ISIS targets in Syria with air strikes and ground-based artillery. Are the Russians to be believed now? Do we hold out hope that they actually got this monstrous madman? Furthermore, are the Russians to be believed?

I guess I could remind all of us that terrorism doesn’t exist within the ranks of international organizations. “Lone wolf” terrorists lurk among us. They skulk out from under rocks. Latest example? The guy who shot the Republican lawmakers practicing for a charity baseball game, wounding several people, including the House GOP whip, Steve Scalise.

I am going to hope the Russian claim that they might have killed al-Baghdadi. I am going to retain the realism of the fight in which we are engaged against terror. The fight likely never will end.

Mitt Romney: ahead of his time in 2012?

Mitt Romney issued a warning in 2012 that many Americans — yours truly included — derided as hopelessly out of touch.

Perhaps you’ll remember when he declared Russia to be the world’s “No. 1 geopolitical threat.” President Obama all but laughed him out of the proverbial room.

The president spoke instead of the threat presented by international terrorism. Many of us agreed with the president and not the then-Republican Party nominee who was running against him.

It well might be that Mitt was ahead of his time five years ago. Republicans in Congress are starting to echo their party’s one-time presidential standard bearer.

Sen. John McCain is one of them. Speaking to an Australian radio station, McCain said: “I think ISIS can do terrible things. But it’s the Russians who tried to destroy the fundamental of democracy and that is to change the outcome of an American election.”

It’s still to be determined just how much impact the Russians had on the 2016 electoral outcome, but they surely have succeeded in throwing the U.S. political debate into a tizzy.

Indeed, the Russians still possess a lot of nuclear weapons. They have a formidable conventional military force, which they have used in places like Ukraine and Syria.

Are the Russians the most fearsome political foe we face?

Yes, it looks that way to a lot of us — and, yes, that includes yours truly.

I regret that I doubted you, Mitt.

POTUS said what? To whom?

Whoa, Mr. President!

Did I hear this right? The New York Times is reporting that the president of the United States told the leader of The Philippines that we have deployed two nuclear submarines off the Korean Peninsula.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte isn’t your ordinary head of state. He’s a despot, strongman, dictator who has just declared martial law in his country. He appears to be Donald J. Trump’s kind of guy. Tough dude. Strong leader.

But hold on here.

The location of our strategic nuclear arsenal is supposed to be, um, highly classified. It’s a state secret. We never disclose the location of these weapons of war. That’s why we deploy them to travel underwater, they are out of sight, they are intended to sneak up on our potential enemies.

Do you get my drift here?

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles-submarines-idUSKBN18K15Y

What in the name of modern warfare is our commander in chief thinking — if that’s what you want to call it? The president reportedly bragged to the Russian foreign minister about the “great intel” he gets and then revealed some classified information to the Russians about our fight against the Islamic State. Now he gets on the telephone in late April with the president of The Philippines and blabs about the location of two nuclear submarines.

Good grief, dude! Do you think there might have been someone out there listening — perhaps, maybe, could be — to what you were telling your pal in Manila?

Hey, do you remember all the questions and concerns about giving this fellow, Trump, the nuclear launch codes?

Are you concerned — now?

Border security, yes; the wall, no!

Well now, that wasn’t so hard, was it Congress?

Federal lawmakers have approved a stop-gap budget bill that keeps the government operating through September. They have avoided a federal government shutdown that some in Congress — and the White House — had feared might occur at the end of this week.

Here’s the thing, too: The budget contains zero money for a “big, beautiful” wall along our nation’s southern border, which Donald Trump had insisted be included … that is, until he backed down and withdrew his demand.

The bill allocates $1.5 billion for enhanced border security. Hey, that’s not a bad load of dough to protect our borders against illegal immigrants and assorted criminals and, yes, potential terrorists. More Border Patrol agents and better surveillance equipment can go a long way toward making us more secure along both of our lengthy land borders.

It also sets aside $15 billion in defense spending to fight terrorism, with $2.5 million of it contingent on the president developing a strategy to fight the Islamic State. I like that idea, too.

Let’s get busy with longer term deal

Congress isn’t done. Not by a long shot. How about lawmakers hunkering down immediately to start working on a longer-term arrangement that keeps the government functioning well past the next deadline?

Believe it or not, September will be upon us before any of us knows it. Congress, though, likely will spend the bulk of the summer spread out on recess. Members will go home, or perhaps travel on those infamous “fact-finding” junkets to exotic locations in the South Pacific, South America or the south of France.

But I’m heartened to know that the wall gets no taxpayer money, given that the president’s efforts to get Mexico to pay for it have fallen flat.

‘I know more than generals about ISIS, believe me’

Strange things occur to individuals who campaign for the presidency and then actually become president.

They boast about how smart and savvy they are on matters about which they have no experience. Then they learn that — by golly — they aren’t as smart as they proclaim themselves to be.

Donald J. Trump once boasted, “I know more the generals about ISIS, believe me.” Sure thing, candidate Trump, who had zero military experience — let alone political experience — prior to running for president.

Then he wins the election. He gets a few briefings and finds out the truth, which is that he doesn’t know squat about the Islamic State, its tactics and strategy or the best way to fight and “destroy” the terrorist organization.

The military then deployed its largest non-nuclear explosive device on an ISIS compound in Afghanistan, killing dozens of terrorists and destroying many tons of valuable equipment.

Now the president says he relied on “my military” to take care of things, that he trusts the brass implicitly to know how to fight the Islamic State.

It is baffling to me in the extreme as I try to understand how this guy got elected president after saying the things he did about the greatest military force in world history.

At least, though, he is acknowledging what he should have acknowledged all along.  Which is that he doesn’t know “more about ISIS” than the career military personnel upon whom he will depend if he has a prayer of keeping his pledge to “destroy” the Islamic State.

MOAB does what it’s supposed to do

It’s called the MOAB.

The acronym actually stands for Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb. Its colloquial meaning is Mother of All Bombs.

The military dropped one of these devices on an Islamic State operation in Afghanistan. And, sure, there’s debate on why the military chose to use the device.

I support its use. Donald J. Trump promised during the campaign that he would “bomb the s*** out of ISIS.” Well, there you go. The MOAB does do that.

It’s the largest conventional explosive device in the U.S. arsenal. It weighs about 25,000 pounds. It does significant damage.

ISIS has earned this kind of response

Let’s not get too namby-pamby about this device. The Islamic State has performed some heinous actions against innocent victims. It has performed hideous acts with regard to prisoners it has taken — and executed.

I get that the debate about the MOAB is important in one respect: The bomb is so powerful that the military must be certain to avoid civilian casualties, given that the United States as a matter of military policy doesn’t kill civilians knowingly.

Trump — who used to criticize the military as feckless and weak — now proclaims great faith in its ability to carry out missions such as the one involving the MOAB. His criticism while campaigning for the presidency was misplaced; the president’s endorsement of the U.S. military’s extraordinary capability now is quite appropriate.

Thus, the MOAB has been introduced into this fight.

My own view is that the military should use this devastating weapon whenever feasible against a ghastly enemy that has earned the civilized world’s rage.