Complacent Terrorism

Charles Mueller

I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!

These were the famous words uttered by the fictional news anchor Howard Beale in the 1976 movie, The Network. These words were yelled on national TV because Howard Beale had finally had enough of the state of the world he lived in. He could no longer take American culture’s complacency with its slow demise to be something it was never supposed to be.

Well, here we are again and I am mad as hell. Today, an unconfirmed amount of innocent young adults were gunned down in broad daylight for reasons only the terrorist, who I’m sure we will learn all about in the coming days, knows. But here is the thing, WE ONCE AGAIN COULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING. It is already being reported that this coward, this terrorist degenerate, was posting about the things he was going to do on social media yesterday. We seriously have the capability of being able to find people like this before they do terrible things like what occurred today. This isn’t rocket science. My credit card company can flag a fraudulent transaction at the speed of light, but for some reason we can’t keep our people safe even when the bad guys are telling us what they literally are going to do.

It makes me sick. It makes me angry. It makes me mad as hell. This is going to keep happening until we deal with it. This is the new face of terrorism. These people keep getting away with it because we refuse to address the problem for what it is. This is terrorism. This poor excuse for an American is trying to divide the country. He is trying to make us live in fear of going to school. He is trying to make us fear living our everyday lives. We’ve already seen other terrorists like this in Colorado who tried to make us afraid to go to the movies. Our social narrative keeps calling these events crazy acts of violence and categorizing these people as mentally ill, but that is just crap. All terrorists are mentally ill because they lack empathy for human life. It is our empathy that makes us humans and it is their lack of it that makes them terrorists.

We have to get mad. We have to get mad as hell and we have to decide that we aren’t going to take it anymore. This is our country, a place where we are supposed to be able to live free and challenge ourselves to become the greatest parts of humanity. Our ability to rise up and make change in our society is what makes this country the greatest, it is what makes us the United States of America. What is unfolding right now in Oregon is another notch on the belt in the sad new reality all American people face. We have the ability to stop this terrorism before it starts. We have the ability to find these terrorists and keep Americans safe. We have the ability, yet we remain complacent and try to come up with reasons that it is an issue we don’t have to address in full force. We’ve created complacent terrorism.

Well I’m mad as hell about all this and I’m not going to take it anymore. Write your Congressman, write the President, and tell them we are ready to stop being complacent when it comes to terrorism. This is our fight and the longer we put it off, the harder it’s going to be to win.

A Weapon of Mass Destruction is Growing in the Middle East

Mike Swetnam

The title will lead many to think that I am talking about Iran and its nuclear aspirations. Unfortunately, I think there is a more dangerous weapon than a nuclear bomb growing in the Middle East and it is growing in a country that we attacked because we thought it had weapons of mass destruction when it did not! Today, I think that Iraq does have a weapon of mass destruction.

Iraq has become home to ISIS, which bases its claims of legitimacy on the Koran. ISIS is a modern version of an Islamic Caliphate. Government based on religion. I claim this is a WMD, Weapon of Mass Destruction, that will spread like a biological weapon, kill indiscriminately like a chemical weapon, and be as lethal as a nuclear weapon.

A weapon against free thinking, secular civilizations. An ideology that is far more destructive then biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons.

We invaded ten years ago because we thought Iraq had WMD and we were wrong. Today Iraq has WMD, an Islamic Caliphate, and we sit by passively, making only token efforts of resistance, while this WMD grows and attacks the West.

Friday saw attacks in several Western countries that resulted in hundreds dead. All inspired by ISIS, the new WMD of the 21st century. Who in the world would sponsor or support such a movement of hate, destruction, and subjugation? Iran, who is by the way only months away from deployable, useable, real nuclear weapons! How long until ISIS has nuclear weapons to go with its evil words? I can not imagine a more apocalyptic WMD than ISIS in Iraq supported by Iran with nuclear weapons!

Yes, there are WMD in the Middle East.

Almost 70 years ago, a destructive ideology evolved in Europe, the Mediterranean, and Japan. It was an ideology that said some people are superior to others because of their race, religion, and their place in society. In Germany and Italy, it was the Jewish people who were called inferior and must be exterminated to keep the human race clean. In Japan, people were divided into those whose breeding made them superior and those who were not worth being called human. These ideologies led to a massive world war where 60 million people died.

Throughout the 1930’s, the USA stood back and watched the growth of this insidious ideology. We did not enter the conflict until very late in the war.

Will we wait while this new WMD, the ISIS-Islamic Caliphate, this new Hitler, consumes more of the world? Or will we stand for the secular freedoms that make the USA what it is: the world’s shining light of hope and freedom.

Many historical scholars have noted that the USA acted almost too late in 1941 to stop Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito from taking over the world. Will we wait too long this time?

What Secular Government Really Means

Mike Swetnam

This Friday was marked by a seminal and controversial Supreme Court ruling. The court ruled that no state can define marriage based on sex. In other words, it is against the US Constitution to discriminate against same sex marriage. No state can define marriage in a way that biases or discriminates against one or both sexes.

This Friday was also marked with several terror attacks where dozens died. These attacks were encouraged, if not sponsored, by ISIS and Al Qaeda. They were attacks against Western countries because these societies do not govern their populations based on the teachings and rules of Islam. ISIS says that if we do not convert and live they way their religion says, we should die.

The Sunday talk shows are full of pundits making demagoguery statements on one side or the other about the Supreme Court ruling while mostly ignoring the Friday terror attacks. Few noted the ironic connection between these events. The US Supreme Court endorses personal freedom from religious definitions of marriage while ISIS sponsors terror to promote an theocratic/religious state.

Those against the ruling claim that the court invented law or that the court ruled against the wishes of the people in states where marriage was defined as between a man and a woman. They mostly claim that this discriminates against those whose religion defines marriage as such. I remember similar arguments in the 1960’s against laws and court rulings that allowed all Americans to go to the same schools regardless of race. It made it illegal to refuse service to any American: black, white, or in between.

Those for the ruling see the issue as one of pure rights. The right to marry who you want. The right to not be discriminated against because you love someone.

The one thing that has defined the United States since the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock is our unwavering adherence to secularism. We have refused, from the very beginning, to base our government, governance, or policy on religion. Saying that marriage is such and such because that is the way my religion defines it is EXACTLY the same as ISIS saying woman must wear veils in public or adulterers must be stoned to death because their religion says so. Secular governments, of which the USA is the prime example, do not base their laws or policy on their religion or faith.

In the USA, we strongly believe that no one should EVER be discriminated against because of race, creed, color, or sex. To tell someone they cannot do something like get married because they are not a man and a woman is discriminatory. Just as discriminatory as telling someone they cannot marry a black American, or cannot join the military because they are female, etc. Or to attack and kill anyone who does not believe in Islam.

We should not discriminate against those who believe marriage is between a man and a woman and it is now illegal for them to discriminate against those who have different beliefs. We should not act like ISIS and AQ, attacking those who do not believe as we do.

Further, the United States stands for rational governance based on reason and the good of all versus the good of a few. We stand for science. We stand for laws and policy that demonstrate the good of all of us. Our laws and our policies are meant to be as non-intrusive as possible while guaranteeing that each person’s belief is respected and preserved if possible. At the Institute, we call that rational policy instead of belief-driven policy.

The United States stands for free thought as much as free religion. It stands for freedom to live the way you want, believe what you want, and now marry who you want!

These are the things ISIS and Al Queda fight against.

On Friday, the Supreme Court made the best statement the USA can make to ISIS. We told them that we do not believe in government by religion. We should take a moment to be proud, but then we should echo this message of secularism to all people in the world. These are the principles that will defeat the growing threats we see in Iraq.

Dylann Roof is a Terrorist, and We Could Have Caught It

Charles Mueller

Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old Caucasian male who gunned down nine innocent African-American churchgoers on Wednesday night, is a terrorist. This person is not crazy, he is a terrorist. This crime was about hate, it was meant to invoke fear into the people of the United States, and it has succeeded. Despite the obviousness that this was an act of terror, this horrible stain on United States’ history is being touted by the mainstream media as being just another unfortunate “mass shooting” and considered a hate crime. His actions speak to bigger problem than an act of intolerance. Dylann Roof is an American terrorist, and until we chose to recognize this for what it is, the problem is only going to repeat itself.

America is built on tolerance of religions and has become a beacon of hope for people around the world. Allowing these types of actions to perpetuate as hate crimes hurts the American people. His actions are very different than the unfortunate lone-wolf situations at Sandy Hook, MA, Virginia Tech, and Aurora, CO. These actors were not there to scare or harm a specific population. They did not care who was in the room; everyone was going to suffer. Dylann Roof targeted a population of people that he thought did not deserve to live.

Let’s take it from the top. On Wednesday night, Dylann Roof walked into the Emanuel A.M.E Church in Charleston, SC. He sat in the back of the church for about an hour and refused to engage with those there. Then he got up, pulled out his gun, and told the room of people that he was going to “shoot all of you”. When Tywanza Sanders tried to calmly talk him out of violence saying that, “You don’t have to do this”, Dylann Roof responded by saying, “Yes. You are raping our women and taking over the country.” He then proceeded to murder innocent people in cold-blood and left one woman alive so she could tell the world what happened. Dylann Roof was a well-known racist among the people who knew him. He hated African-Americans. The terrorist had on his Facebook page a picture of himself wearing the flags of the apartheid-era South Africa, and of Rhodesia. His roommate Dalton Tyler reported that Dylann Roof had been “planning something like that for 6 months” and noted, “He said he wanted to start a civil war.” He is known to be an extremist. His actions are clearly a case of domestic terrorism intended to intimidate a civilian population. His actions were calculated. How is this coward not a terrorist? This is more than just a hate-crime; this is state-fostered terrorism.

It is an abomination that people are refusing to call this what it is: terrorizing a population. The mainstream media has downplayed the reality and severity of this attack. When two people who supported the Muslim faith planned to attack the venue of a provocative cartoon contest in Texas, the media and government had no problem calling that plot a do-it-yourself terror plot inspired by ISIS. All over the news you saw headlines about the “Texas Terror Plot”. After a racist white coward gunned down nine-innocent African-Americans the media referred to this as “tragedy” and a “mass murder”. One mainstream media outlet even tried to spin this as a war on Christianity and declared that in response to this we should consider arming our churches with guns so they could defend themselves. The news comedian Jon Stewart spoke without a hint of jokes and called this out. This was a terrorist attack plain and simple. This was not a crazy person killing people. This was a terrorist attacking the people of the United States.

By refusing to call this terrorism, it means we will not be taking the necessary precautions to defend the people of the United States against these kinds of terrorist acts. Instead of simply focusing on lone-wolves inspired by ISIS, we should be using the tools we have to defend our national security to find the lone-wolves inspired by the other extremist groups like the KKK. Why is one form of terrorism something we can turn a blind eye too and another form something we will go to war over?

We have technology and the capabilities to identify terrorists who attack our nation. We could have identified Dylann Roof before this happened and possibly intervened had we monitored his actions as we do with other potential terrorists. By refusing to classify these types of acts as acts of terror we will continue to let potential terrorists roam free and will remain surprised when they finally go “crazy” and kill innocent Americans. A terrorist is anybody willing to kill in order to promote his or her cause. There is absolutely no question that Dylann Roof is a terrorist and calling him anything else is only going to make the rest of the world question the legitimacy of our fight against terrorism.

Don’t Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight

by Mike Swetnam

We have the largest military in the entire world. In fact, if you add up all the next ten biggest, you will not get a military force as big as the one the USA controls.

That should mean that there is no war or military action on this earth that the USA cannot fully overwhelm, control, and win in short order. Why, then, have we been fighting nasty little wars in Afghanistan and Iraq for a decade? Why do we feel like we cannot do anything except provide some meager air support to the war against ISIL?

Is this the reality of the modern world? Or are we, the USA, severely underestimating and therefore underutilizing our own power? The answer should be obvious, but it seems to not be so.

When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, the US put together an army that included 500,000 US troops and about 220,000 allied troops, and 720,000 boots on the ground! General Colin Powell, the author of the military strategy of overwhelming force, called it shock and awe.  The result was that Iraq was pushed out of Kuwait and the allied forces marched all the way to Baghdad in less than 100 hours! Yes, four days.

Fifteen years later, we invaded Iraq with the intention of changing the leadership and eliminating weapons of mass destruction. It turns out that there were no weapons of mass destruction and a decade of fighting later, we left without ever really owning the country.

What was the difference? When we invaded Iraq in 2003, we went with less than 200,000 boots on the ground (148,000 US and 47,000 allied) instead of the 720,000 we used in 1990.

We also tried to liberate Afghanistan. We used only about 20,000 troops for most of this conflict with a surge to 63,000 by 2012.

We have been trying to stop an infestation of rats with a fly swatter! Colin Powell would have had us use a hand grenade!

The lesson is clear. If we need to take action and use military force, do so with overwhelming force. Make sure you win decisively and quickly. Demonstrate your resolve, your ability, and the swiftness of your resolve.

Acting meekly, with underwhelming force, only serves to make you look weak, ineffective, and malleable.

Our current fight is with ISIS, or ISIL. They cut people’s heads off and broadcast videos of that act. There are also hundreds of pictures on the web of pickup trucks full of heads they cut off of their prisoners and innocent victims.

We can not address this threat with flyswatters, other-people’s military forces, or insufficient numbers of troops. We need troops on the ground; several hundreds of thousands of troops on the ground.  That is the only way we will end this quickly, decisively, and permanently.

The Destiny of Leadership

by Mike Swetnam

Put two hundred people in a room and watch what happens over time. Groups and cliques will form. Bullies will emerge. Most will fade back and wait for someone to take charge and bring order.

When a leader emerges, most will automatically follow in the very human hope that the leader will bring security through direction and purpose.

Looking for, following, and needing a leader is a very human trait; most of us want someone to follow. We want a goal, direction, and a strong message.

Leaders provide that direction, unifying message, and ideology. Leaders help us find a sense of purpose, direction, and focus. Leaders and followers are as human as the DNA that defines who we are.

Without leaders, lawlessness, anarchy, and despair run rampant. These are conditions that define leaderless societies.

The world we live in is comprised of roughly 200 nations that reflect all of the human emotions, desires, failures, and hopes of the individuals that live in them. Nations look for and need leadership just as much as individuals do. The lack of world leadership results in the worst of human failings, amplified on the world stage.

Wars, oppression, genocide, crime, and terrorism all result from the lack of strong and enlightened world leadership.

Today more than ever, the world is crying out for leadership. Societies who have been failed by their governments often turn back to the fundamentals of religion, mysticism, and even the tribal and feudal ways of our past. When stability is needed today, people often look back to something that worked in the past as a solution.

Throughout nature and human history, the strongest was seen as the leader.  Peace and security can be secured through strength. Once again, it is human nature to look to the strong and the inspirational as the leader. To be followed and supported.

Since World War II, the strongest and most inspirational nation has been the United States. Not only did we win the World Wars, but we rebuilt all of Europe and Japan, and we maintained our military presence (boots on the ground) in their nations as a protecting force.  Even today, 60 years later, US forces are deployed to Japan and most European countries as a protecting force.

We, the US, also established regional leadership forums like NATO to ensure stability and security. We formed the UN and hosted it in the US as a sign of our commitment to world self governance. All of these actions are the expression of enlightened leadership.

We followed these accomplishments with noble adventures to go to the moon and back. We invented technology like modern communications, the Internet, and modern air transportation. These are all feats that define leadership.

It should be no surprise that the best and the brightest want to come here. Many aspire to US education, US jobs and association with US companies, affiliations with US organizations, and favorable trade and relations with the US.

We have been seen and appreciated by the entire world as the world’s leading superpower. Clearly for the last 25 years, since the collapse of the USSR, but in reality since the end of WWII.

In a room with two hundred in it, we are the strongest by far. We are the best educated. The one most countries and individuals want to be associated with. Like it or not, we are the world’s leader.

In this figural room, there are of course bad actors. Nations or groups who envy us. Ones who hate us, just as all leaders face a few adversaries who will always hate them for being the leader.

There are also bullies who will attempt to coerce others into subservience. There are fanatical extremists who will try to convince others that their radical approach to governance is correct. There are also many who just want the leader to help find peace, security, enlightenment, and freedom.

The leader can only fulfill his responsibilities as the leader if he ensures the security and freedoms of all the others. He must stop the bullies in their tracks. To do this, he must isolate and neutralize the extremist. In short, the leaders must lead not just with words, but with action.

Like it or not, the USA is the world’s leader. Lately, we have disappointed the many who want and need us to lead.

It is time we live up to our destiny.

The War on Terror: Part II

   I know!  You can’t really declare war on a process for conducting war.  Terrorism is a tactic, not a country or international entity that we need to destroy.  But for more than ten years, the “War on Terror” has been the title of our efforts to defeat a set of Islamic Radicals who declared war on us more than ten years earlier.

These crazies not only declared war on us in the 1990’s, they started to attack us.  But you have to hit the Big Guy really hard to get his attention.  They managed to bomb the World Trade Center’s basement (how many of you remember that?), a couple of our Embassies, and one of our Navy ships, without us equating these obvious acts of war with an enemy.  It was not until this new enemy used modern high-tech stuff, commercial jetliners, as weapons, and managed to kill almost 3,000 US citizens in a single day, that we realized we had an enemy we’d better take seriously.

The problem was that this new enemy was not a nation-state, so it was very hard to characterize this new enemy.  We needed to go to war, but Afghanistan, where our attackers were located, was not the enemy – just a place where the crazy radicals lived.  Somehow we justified the Iraq war, and we have been chasing terrorists around the world for over a decade.

We have actually embraced three or four national strategies for combating terrorism.  One of the first strategies the US adopted was to push these international terrorists back into their countries of origin, where the problem could be treated as a law-enforcement issue…yes, I know that makes no sense.  Over the past decade, our strategy evolved to the current one, which is focused on finding and killing everyone identified as a leader, a leader “wannabe,” a leader could-be, or even just a courier associated with the bad guys.

In the early days, we captured these guys and questioned them by various means, seeking intelligence.  The residual political fallout from doing this has discouraged most politicians from considering this today.  Now, it is just easier to kill them.  Often, this is done remotely, using very high-tech Remotely Piloted Vehicles armed with really lethal missiles.  These tactics have succeeded in killing all but a very few of these international terrorists, including one who was a US citizen.

The question I pose today is:  Will this win the war?

In an article in Policy Review in August, 2003 (during the early days of the War on Terror), Frederick Kagan wrote, “It is a fundamental mistake to see the enemy as a set of targets.  The enemy in war is a group of people.  Some of them will have to be killed.  Others will have to be captured or driven into hiding.  The overwhelming majority, however, have to be persuaded.”

We have indeed destroyed most of the targets (people who were in charge) and captured those who could or would be in charge if given a chance.  Certainly we have driven all the others into hiding.  How are we doing on the job of persuading the rest of the Arab World, the vast majority, that those we killed were wrong and not worthy of support?

I think we have much work left.  I call it The War On Terror Part II: convincing the dissatisfied that we can help, vice the current view that we are bad and must be attacked.

Difficult, but if we can’t sell free will, freedom, freedom of thought, freedom of belief, equal opportunity….maybe these things aren’t worth believing in?

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