We Are in Danger

We are in danger

…of becoming exactly who ISIS wants us to be.  It is kind of difficult to pin down what ISIS is really after but it does seem they’re looking for near self-destruction as that will be the harbinger of their version of a so called apocalypse and the end times that bring Islam into full control of the world.  So if we bomb them into eternity we are doing exactly what they want.  Do we really want our actions to be controlled by ISIS and their atrocities if the reason they are committing the atrocities is to provoke us into responding exactly as they desire?

…of trading our sense of liberty for a sense of safety.  That’s an interesting idea and a frightening one.  Ben Franklin get’s quoted a lot on this. “Those who give up liberty in exchange for safety shall have neither” is how it usually gets quoted.  That’s not exactly accurate as quotes go and there is some argument that Franklin’s meaning wasn’t how we use it today.  It is also passing strange that the Statue of Liberty has inscriptions from a number of notable statesmen that echo a similar idea.

“Our defense is in the spirit which prized liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism at your own doors.”

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

“I would rather belong to a poor nation that was free than to a rich nation that had ceased to be in love with liberty.”

WOODROW WILSON

 (Quotes on the Statue of Liberty courtesy of the National Park Service – click here)

And let us not forget part of Emma Lazarus’ poem “The New Colossus” which is inscribed on a plaque at the Statue of Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” (Full Text)

It is problematic when we are made fearful from the actions of a terrorist organization and we default to a posture offensive in nature.  It appears prudent to do so but in times past we have traded a fair chunk of liberty for a (false) sense of security when we got behind the Patriot Act following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  That sounded good on paper but not surprisingly our government turned it against us.  And it didn’t increase our safety particularly.

It should be noted that we apparently haven’t had any terrorist acts on U.S. soil since then but than can be an argument of correlation versus causation.  Unfortunately it is difficult to know which one of the two it is.

…of repeating the mistakes of the past.  One does not simply insert democracy into a country through the use of force.  Democracy is our way and it certainly has much to speak for it but we didn’t get to democracy by having it air dropped on us with everyone saying, “Yay, democracy is here!”  It takes a good long while for democracy to take hold and flourish and the irony of installing democracy through armed force seems a little foolish.

Consider this.  How many places have we gone into with an armed conflict and came out the other side with a democratic government and society?  In the last 50 years I can think of Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.  South Korea is democratic today but it was more or less so beforehand (the North, not so much).  The others?  U.S. men and women fought bravely with superior tactics, weapons and leadership but to what end?  A mess?  And no democracy.

…of not taking ISIS seriously as Islamic terrorists.  Our politically correct environment suggests that ISIS is not true Islam.  This is a mistake.  They may not represent the best of Islam nor the majority of Islam but make no mistake, they are a portion of true Islam.  They are Islamic terrorists.  If we deny this simple fact in the pursuit of being open and inclusive then we cripple our ability to respond in ways that are likely to be successful.

That doesn’t mean the Islamic terrorists called ISIS have declared war on Christianity.  They’re pretty much killing anyone they can’t enslave in order to provoke world powers into an action that fits into their plans.

The trouble is this.  If we fall back on our basest responses out of fear, understandable as that might be, terrorists get what they came for.  They can take a few hundred thousand dollars and mount a limited engagement that creates enough fear in us that we’ll spend trillions in response.  We should not forget it was economics that brought down the Soviet Union in the 1990s rather than superiority found in an armed conflict, though to be fair it was the military buildup that the former Soviet Union couldn’t keep up with economically.  Plus a few other reasons.

I’ve often seen and heard that our response should be the same as ISIS is sending out.  Something along the lines of let’s give these vicious bastards a dose of their own medicine.  I understand it and have had the same thought on occasion but it is not a realistic solution.  If we turn our backs on our values these terrorists get what they came for.  The desire for retribution is entirely understandable but if we sell out our values as we try to install democracy through force of arms, we will not succeed.

We call it a war on terror but let’s consider the other so-called ‘wars’ we’ve waged in the last century.  Prohibition was a war on alcohol and managed to establish organized crime and didn’t do a whole lot to prevent alcohol consumption.  War on drugs.  Helped create the Mexican cartel system and there’s more consumption now than before.  War on povery?  Not winning yet.  War on… war on… war on…

Stop with the wars, already.

I’m not certain what the solution is but I know we can’t continue to send ground troops.  It hasn’t worked for half a decade so let’s learn from that.  Stop doing it even when our anger is at its peak.  Especially when our anger is at its peak.

Imagine a situation where we get involved in a land war we cannot win to install a system of government no one is asking for right now, all the while giving up our rights to privacy while stacking more trillions on top of the trillions of our national debt.  This is what I hear is being called for when I hear that we should go in and kill them all.

Maybe the solution is economic in nature.  I’m not talking about sanctions I’m talking about all out economic war.  As one example, if the oilfields captured by ISIS are bringing in $50 million a month it seems like that’s one place to start.  It’s not like cash tips that wait staff receives and isn’t reported.  You can’t exactly hide that amount of money.  Who is buying the oil, after all?  If you shut down $50 million a month that’s going to cause a problem I would think.  However they’re doing it someone is taking their money.  Let’s get in the way of that.  Certainly they have false fronts and shell corporations and all that but are we not savvy enough to deal with that.

Another approach is to attack ISIS’ from a technology perspective.  Much of their success comes from their ability to use social media.  It seems to me that while using social media well is powerful it also leaves one vulnerable.  Not to mention drilling into their technology infrastructure.

You want to screw with someone simply cut off their revenue stream and take down their technology infrastructure and watch the wheels come off.  Overly simplistic?  Perhaps.  Sexy

We have some of the smartest people in the world located in the United States.  Let’s use our intelligence and wisdom to learn from the past and move forward using our brains in a thoughtful strategy rather than flexing our muscles while acting like a teenager that doesn’t know what to do with a bunch of testosterone as we wind up doing exactly what the terrorists are wanting us to do.  Attacking economics and technology don’t sound as sexy and certainly don’t create any interesting videos but are likely to have more long term success while creating fewer new terrorists along the way.

We are in danger… of falling into the trap of following our primal, gut-check desires, our own hubris, rather than a well considered response.

Let’s use the best of what we have rather than the worst.

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