Letter to War Street Journal on unintended consequences

Dear Editor,

Bret Stephens does not go back far enough to properly place blame regarding Ferguson and Fallujah. (Wall Street Journal, August 19)

He expects us, the taxpayers, to repair the damage done by the meddling he supported that destroyed order in Iraq. And he blames a decrepit culture in the black community of Ferguson on lack of a police state when welfare and the war on drugs were to blame for that culture.

He is correct in blaming a “broken window” mentality for the disorder in both places today, but that broken window didn’t just materialize out of thin air.

A lot more “do nothing” government over the years would have prevented a need to correct the damage done by a do-something government. The question now is, “Do we continue with our destructive unlimited government or do we suffer the withdrawals as we try to limit it?”

Here is Bret Stephens’ article:



Of Ferguson and Fallujah

Obama’s foreign policy is disastrously reactive—like the police response in Ferguson, Mo.

 Aug. 18, 2014 7:31 p.m. ET

Bill Bratton has no doubt as to what went wrong with policing in the U.S. in the bad old days of the 1970s and ’80s. “The biggest mistake,” he insists, was too much “focus onresponse to crime and not enough focus on trying to prevent it.”

In a lengthy Monday morning interview with The Wall Street Journal, New York’s top cop refuses to be drawn into second-guessing his colleagues in Ferguson, Mo. When I ask about the seeming militarization of police forces in the U.S., he replies that each community “equips its police based on the needs for its city.” If people can lawfully own Kalashnikov-style weapons, the cops inevitably are going to go one better.

What Mr. Bratton mainly wants to underscore is that crime in the Big Apple continues to plumb historic lows, never mind recent tabloid headlines. He wants to underscore, also, the reason for it: broken-windows policing methods. Such is his belief in broken windows that he comes to the meeting flanked by the man who helped come up with the idea: George Kelling, the legendary criminologist.

Broken windows stresses that endemic criminality is not primarily a function of the usual “root causes”—poverty, racism, bad schools, broken families and so on. The real problem is disorder itself.

Business owners protect their grocery store in Ferguson, Mo. Getty Images

“Disorder and crime are usually inextricably linked, in a kind of developmental sequence,” Mr. Kelling observed in a seminal 1982 Atlantic article, co-written with the late James Q. Wilson. The mere appearance of disorder—graffiti, broken windows, an abandoned car, drug dealers or prostitutes openly plying their trades—creates a sense that nobody’s looking, nobody cares, nobody is in charge. Bad guys respond to these environmental cues by acting badly. Good people stay off the street, bolt their doors, move out.

Ferguson is hardly the most dangerous neighborhood in St. Louis County; rates of violent crime are just below the national median, and far below those of East St. Louis, probably the most violent neighborhood in America.

But there is disorder in Ferguson. The city has 190 crimes per square mile, compared with a national median of 39.3. If you live in Ferguson, you are nearly twice as likely to have your car stolen, get mugged, or have your house broken into, than if you live in Averageville, U.S.A. Before last week, the biggest story out of Ferguson was the case of a woman who had opened a strip club/brothel in the basement of her home. Her 16-year-old son had the job of tending bar.

This was the environment in which police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed teenager Michael Brown. Whatever the exact circumstances of Brown’s death, everything else about the case suggests a town where broken-windows policing was not being done, or at least not done well. A sense of insecurity and disorder. A police force badly out of step with the community it ostensibly serves. Reactive law enforcement.

At the Journal, Mr. Bratton made a point of emphasizing the nine principles of policing laid down in the 19th century by Sir Robert Peel, founder of London’s Metropolitan Police. Principle No. 9: “The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.” By this standard, policing in Ferguson has been a total failure.

Which brings me to Fallujah.

Last October I wrote a column with the headline “Iraq Tips Toward the Abyss.” It was prompted by the news that 7,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed over the previous 10 months alone.

“Americans may think they’ve changed the channel on Iraq, but the grisly show goes on,” I wrote. “Pay attention before it gets worse.” The world yawned and the Obama administration did nothing.

In January came the news that a group called the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham had retaken Fallujah, just 40 or so miles west of Baghdad, a city that U.S. Marines had liberated a decade earlier at a major cost in lives. The media ran a few stories about the heartache of the battle’s veterans. President Obama said nothing.

In July, ISIS took Mosul and seized six divisions worth of U.S. supplied Iraqi military equipment. For once, President Obama took public notice but waited another month before doing anything, ostensibly because he disapproved of the leadership in Baghdad. That was around the time Kurdistan nearly fell to ISIS and the Yazidis were nearly wiped out.

This is a case study of allowing neighborhoods to decay and disorder to fester; of doing things reactively, not preventively. Where would we be in Iraq today if Mr. Obama hadn’t simply walked and looked away for the past three years?

The answer to disorder is to provide order. To engage community leaders. To enforce norms. To reassure good citizens that their security is being looked after and it’s not every man for himself. To maintain a visible presence that deters would-be lawbreakers from committing criminal acts. To prevent bad people from acting badly, and to punish them swiftly when they do.

This is how a successful police force like the NYPD works. And it’s how a competent foreign policy should operate. Bill Bratton knows his job—which is more than can be said of the Keystone cops in Ferguson, or at the White House.

Write to bstephens@wsj.com

7 responses to “Letter to War Street Journal on unintended consequences

  1. “ . . . when welfare and the war on drugs were to blame for that culture.” Fritz . . . you are joking, right? Do African nations mired in poverty, crime, and political turmoil also suffer from the U.S. welfare system or the U.S. war on poverty?

    While I am without a definitive conclusion or a foundational cause of the black predicament, I believe that the pervasive entitlement mentality, the poverty, the disintegration of the family, the high out-of-wedlock births, etc. that plague the black community are symptoms of a much deeper problem. On the one hand, we have a government that ignores the need to investigate and determine a foundational cause and, instead, only makes repetitious attempts to treat the symptoms of the problem. Nothing government has ever done has served to improve the black dilemma, from Johnson’s Great Society, to his War on Poverty, to the present day vast expansion of entitlement programs.

    When a part-solution appears to maybe be beneficial, like Charter School programs, some solipsistic organization, like a teachers’ union, comes along to swat the idea down. On the other hand, we have a Democrat political party and black “leaders” who exploit the black circumstance for self-serving reasons, either for votes, or for personal financial enhancement, or for both. No one wants to lift their heads out of the sand in which those heads are buried to make serious attempts at uncovering the underlying reasons for the compromised family and inadequate financial situations in which the American black finds himself. My conclusion would likely be labeled as very un-PC, even racist, and possibly even emanating from a eugenics advocate, but until we stop looking at only the symptoms or outcomes of black citizen hardships and attempt to determine foundational causes there will not be any improvement in the black circumstance.

    It is amusing to me how the talking heads on TV, the so-called “journalists,” and the “news reporters” (or news manufacturers) all attempt to find causes for the Ferguson rioting that excuse the black culture itself. The latest that I’ve heard on TV from a couple of channels is that the problem was a community that was 75% black and a police force (of 53 law enforcement officers) that had only three blacks. Really??!! How absurd. But then, I guess we constantly see Asians, East Indians, Pakistanis, Mexicans, Uighurs, Hmongs, Russian Jews, East Europeans, Phillipinos, Cubans, Vietnamese, etc. in their individual enclave communities rioting when a police officer arrests, or appears to abuse, one of the members of that specific group. As long as the media continues to refuse to acknowledge the real problem in black communities, and continue to manufacture excuses for black criminal behavior, nothing will change and blacks will continue to find any reason they can to loot, destroy, and pillage their neighborhoods.

    Unfortunately, too many of the populace don’t appear to realize that the reality that exists for them is a construct formed by the establishment media. “News” is what the establishment media says it is.

    I would also comment that the suggested underlying premise of many social commentators, much of the mainstream media, much of the Republican Party, and your suggestion, Fritz, is the argument that the government welfare state causes black family erosion or disintegration and that this is why little progress is seen in improving the black ethnicity condition in America. This, I believe, is a fallacy. There is a much deeper, more fundamental reason that the relatively high numbers of blacks (compared to their total representation in the population) are on the dole and that the black “nuclear family” is almost an oxymoron.

    Certainly the available and almost endless entitlement rewards act as enablers of the black community predicament. And there is no doubt that there exists a coterie of so-called “leaders” in the black community, within the Democrat Party, and among the establishment media that work tirelessly to keep blacks feeling stupid, inferior, believing that they do not have an ability to compete in the job market, and are the victims of white discrimination and oppression. But are these situations the cause of black unrest, immobility, and black family erosion? No, not in my opinion.

    I think the driving force has far deeper roots. There is a reason that 17 out of the 20 poorest countries in the world are in Africa. There is a reason that the once thriving and economically robust South Africa is now a lawless, economically uncompetitive country where white ethnicity is now persecuted by the ruling black authorities. There is a reason that so many of America’s large cities that have filed for bankruptcy, or are near bankruptcy, appear to be over-represented by mayors and city council members with black ethnicity (and almost all are Democrats). There is a reason that too many police authorities are afraid or reluctant to even enter black enclaves in many of America’s large cities, let alone thoroughly investigate the rampant major crimes that occur. There is a reason that the average black (statistically) is 27-times more likely to assault a white than vice-verse. There is a reason that the average black is 137-times more likely to rob interracially than the average white. I don’t believe that these situations are precipitated by U.S. government entitlement availability or a war on poverty. That stated, I also believe that welfare and the war on poverty exacerbates the inherent black problem and serves to help inhibit any progress in lifting blacks out of the dilemma in which they find themselves.

    I would also suggest that Asian, East Indian, and Eastern Europe immigrant ethnicities do not become members of crime ridden enclaves (or ghettos) or become heavily dependent on government entitlements in America. Why aren’t these ethnicities affected by the “welfare state” if, indeed, the welfare state of America is a major force driving the black ethnicity predicament? Why aren’t the families of these ethnicities eroding with 70% out-of-wedlock births, 50% divorce rates, extraordinarily high numbers of male incarceration, or 67% of females with children unmarried?

    No, just as a gun can’t pull its own trigger, so too is a welfare state not the driving force behind the disintegration of the black family. The excuses drummed-up by the media for black crime are misplaced and by labeling massive entitlement availability as a primary cause of black ethnicity stagnation and black family erosion the media and the black exploitation crowd are confusing a symptom of the genuine problem as a cause of that problem.

    And finally, why don’t media and social commentators address the fact that we really haven’t eliminated slavery of blacks in America. Rather, we have only replaced white slavery of blacks with government entitlement and Democrat Party slavery of blacks. The great majority of welfare recipient blacks are no longer the property of wealthy white land or plantation owners. These entitlement recipient blacks are now the property of the government, and more specifically, property of the Democrat party. Apparently among the majority of the black population, it is better for an individual to live as property than as a self-supporting productive member of the greater society. The fact that most blacks appear unable to realize how the exploitation racquet works to keep them oppressed is, in itself, indicative of what could be part-and-parcel of the fundamental problem. Too bad. But did the welfare state cause this condition? Or does it simply act as an enabler of what would be an inevitable state of affairs if there were no entitlements at all?

    • You raise interesting questions, Frederick John. I think a part of the root cause is that there is not such a thing as a black culture, at least not in this country. American blacks are a displaced population that can trace their roots no further than a slave-trading block.
      I think the issues in Africa can be traced to the demise of once thriving cultures during the years of European colonization and the artificial nations that have been created. Africa was, and still is at the root, a nation of tribes, each with a different cultural identity. Some of those tribes could function in the global economy. Many would choose to live outside such structures.
      I am a cigar smoker. CAO, an American cigar company (subsidiary of General Tobacco, the world’s largest cigar company), recently discovered a unique strain of tobacco being grown in the Amazon basin. The negotiations with the tribal people growing the tobacco was difficult largely because they did not understand the concept of money and certainly didn’t understand a global economy. They have a culture which we would classify as poverty ridden, but it works for them. I think the same is true for many tribes in Africa. I also think the same was once true of Native Americans who suffer many of the same problems as blacks in our nation.

      • Stephen Wolfe: To your points, I would suggest that in bygone days, black culture in Africa was very much a profusion and diversity of individual tribal customs and ritual. But in the U.S., I would propose that the establishment media has imbued the average citizen with the perception that a black culture exists today and is characterized by a combination of crime and entitlement mentalities in a large portion of the black community, and with and a matriarchal society in which the family nuclear structure has been mostly destroyed by the abandonment of the family by the father/husband. Further, the driving force, as proselytized by the establishment media, is a combination of blacks being held down by years of slavery (even though the height of black slavery in the U.S. occurred 150 years ago), and with a Western European, U.S. citizenry mired in a racist effort to prevent blacks from intellectually and educationally moving forward. Blacks were thus, in the media narrative, unable to acquire the ability to successfully compete non-blacks in a largely white society.

        But during the period before the Civil War when black slavery was thriving in America, there were as many, or more, Irish slaves in the North as there were black slaves in the South. And, certainly, among all of the British colonies in the world at the time, there were many, many more Irish slaves than there were black slaves from Africa.

        Maybe not so strangely, the history of Irish and “white” slavery is by and large ignored in the American educational curriculum today. In the U.S. education system today, it is the rare textbook that even mentions Irish slavery in America and when it is mentioned, the term “slavery” is replaced with the euphemism of “indentured servant.” And in most cases during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, the Irish in America were no more than “human cattle.”

        But the Irish, once emancipated, worked their way out of poverty and did not become burdens to society. Nor do the Irish, today, develop and exist in enclaves and they don’t riot, pillage, rape, burn and murder when given any excuse or opportunity.

        Also, slave owners in America were not the exclusive province of white European-Americans. At the start of the Civil War, there were more than 100 black plantation owners who owned black slaves.

        Regarding your contention that there were once black cultures in Africa that thrived under European colonization rather makes my point. Without this European (or white ethnicity) influence, there would have been no “thriving black cultures” in Africa. Again, as I stated earlier, look at South Africa. This was an economically successful, flourishing country before the Nelson Mandela racists gained control of the government. Under black rule, look at it now. There is something much deeper going-on here, vis-à-vis blacks being able to succeed in a world of competitive people and nations, than poverty or America’s entitlement system. That’s the only point I am making, that as long as that “deeper cause” is ignored and not investigated, black economic, intellectual and educational maturation will not improve.

        And the Amazon basin tobacco-growing tribe is another example that, I believe supports my point. Transport these folks to America or Europe and they couldn’t possibly thrive until the passing of several generations. Muslim populations imported to Europe as guest workers are in a similar circumstance. They don’t know how to compete or thrive in a Western economic climate when the influence of their native Islamic countries was mired in 7th and 8th century retarded thinking. No wonder they can’t, or won’t, assimilate. They simply don’t know how. And, of course, the European countries did little to help in the assimilation process.

      • Stephen Wolfe – Here’s another pragmatic observation along the same lines of discussion by a columnist:

        A Conundrum.

        Article written by Kevin Myers, certainly a different (and probably a more pragmatic) point of view.

        Kevin Myers (born 30 March 1947) is an Irish journalist and writer. He writes for the Irish edition of the Sunday Times, having previously been a columnist for the Irish Independent and a former contributor to The Irish Times, where he wrote the “An Irishman’s Diary” opinion column several times weekly. Until 2005, he wrote for the UK Sunday Telegraph.

        His articles criticize left-wing opinion and the “liberal consensus,” sometimes incorporating hyperbole, sarcasm and parody. This essay recently appeared in The Irish Independent:

        Somalia is not a humanitarian disaster; it is an evolutionary disaster. The current drought is not the worst in 50 years, as the BBC and all the aid organizations claim. It is nothing compared to the droughts in 1960/61 or 73/74. And there are continuing droughts every 5 years or so. It’s just that there are now four times the population, having been kept alive by famine relief, supplied by aid organizations, over the past 50 years. So, of course, the effects of any drought now is a famine. They cannot even feed themselves in a normal rainfall year.

        Worst yet, the effects of these droughts, and poor nutrition in the first 3 years of a child’s life, have a lasting effect on the development of the infant brain, so that if they survive, they will never achieve a normal IQ. Consequently, they are selectively breeding a population, who cannot be educated , let alone one that is not being educated; a recipe for disaster.

        We are seeing this impact now, and it can only exacerbate, to the detriment of their neighbors, and their environment as well. This scenario can only end in an even worse disaster; with even worse suffering, for those benighted people, and their descendants. Eventually, some mechanism will intervene, be it war, disease or starvation.

        So what do we do? Let them starve? What a dilemma for our Judeo/Christian/Islamic Ethos, as well as Hindu/Buddhist morality. And this is beginning to happen in Kenya, Ethiopia, and other countries in Asia, like Pakistan. Is this the beginning of the end of civilization?

        AFRICA is giving nothing to anyone outside Africa — apart from AIDS and new diseases. Even as we see African states refusing to take action to restore something resembling civilization in Zimbabwe, the begging bowl for Ethiopia is being passed around to us out of Africa, yet again. It is nearly 25 years since the famous Feed The World campaign began in Ethiopia, and in that time Ethiopia’s population has grown from 33.5 million to 78+ million today. So, why on earth should I do anything to encourage further catastrophic demographic growth in that country? Where is the logic? There is none.

        To be sure, there are two things saying that logic doesn’t count. One is my conscience, and the other is the picture, yet again, of another wide-eyed child, yet again, gazing, yet again, at the camera, which yet again, captures the tragedy of children starving.

        Sorry. My conscience has toured this territory on foot and financially. Unlike most of you, I have been to Ethiopia; like most of you, I have stumped up the loot to charities to stop starvation there. The wide-eyed boy-child we saved, 20 years or so ago, is now a low IQ, AK 47-bearing moron, siring children whenever the whim takes him and blaming the world because he is uneducated, poor and left behind. There is no doubt a good argument why we should prolong this predatory and dysfunctional economic, social and sexual system, but I do not know what it is. There is, on the other hand, every reason not to write a column like this. It will win no friends and will provoke the self-righteous wrath of, well, the self-righteous hand wringing, letter writing wrathful individuals; a species which never fails to contaminate almost every debate in Irish life with its sneers and its moral superiority. It will also probably enrage some of the finest men in Irish life, like John O’Shea, of Goal, and the Finucane brothers, men whom I admire enormously.

        So be it. But, please, please, you self-righteously wrathful, spare me mention of our own Irish Famine, with this or that lazy analogy. There is no comparison. Within 20 years of the Famine, the Irish population was down by 30%. Over the equivalent period, thanks to Western food, the Mercedes 10-wheel truck and the Lockheed Hercules plane, Ethiopia’s population has more than doubled.

        Alas, that wretched country is not alone in its madness. Somewhere, over the rainbow, lies Somalia, another fine land of violent, AK 47-toting, khat-chewing, girl-circumcising, permanently tumescent layabouts and housing pirates of the ocean. Indeed, we now have almost an entire continent of sexually hyperactive, illiterate indigents, with tens of millions of people who only survive because of help from the outside world or allowances by the semi-communist Governments they voted for, money supplied by borrowing it from the World Bank!

        This dependency has not stimulated political prudence or commonsense. Indeed, voodoo idiocy seems to be in the ascendant, with the president of South Africa being a firm believer in the efficacy of a little tap water on the post-coital penis as a sure preventative against AIDS infection.

        Needless to say, poverty, hunger and societal meltdown have not prevented idiotic wars involving Tigre, Uganda, Congo, Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea etcetera. Broad brush-strokes, to be sure. But broad brush-strokes are often the way that history paints its gaudier, if more decisive, chapters. Japan, China, Russia, Korea, Poland, Germany, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the 20th century have endured worse broad brush-strokes than almost any part of Africa. They are now — one way or another — virtually all giving aid to or investing in Africa, whereas Africa, with its vast savannahs and its lush pastures, is giving almost nothing to anyone, apart from AIDS.

        Meanwhile, Africa’s peoples are outstripping their resources, and causing catastrophic ecological degradation. By 2050, the population of Ethiopia will be 177 million; the equivalent of France, Germany and Benelux today, but located on the parched and increasingly Protein-free wastelands of the Great Rift Valley. So, how much sense does it make for us actively to increase the adult population of what is already a vastly over-populated, environmentally devastated and economically dependent country?

        How much morality is there in saving an Ethiopian child from starvation today, for it to survive to a life of brutal circumcision, poverty, hunger, violence and sexual abuse, resulting in another half-dozen such wide-eyed children, with comparably jolly little lives ahead of them?

        Of course, it might make you feel better, which is a prime reason for so much charity!

        But that is not good enough. For self-serving generosity has been one of the curses of Africa. It has sustained political systems which would otherwise have collapsed. It prolonged the Eritrean-Ethiopian war by nearly a decade. It is inspiring Bill Gates’ program to rid the continent of malaria, when, in the almost complete absence of personal self-discipline, that disease is one of the most efficacious forms of population-control now operating. If his program is successful, tens of millions of children who would otherwise have died in infancy will survive to adulthood, he boasts.

        Oh good: Then what? I know, let them all come here (to Ireland) or America. (Not forgetting Australia!) Whatever they may disagree about, Western leaders are in complete agreement about one thing: The new self-styled caliphate, the Islamic State, has nothing whatsoever to do with Islam. It’s a comforting, reassuring vision for Western non-Muslims facing a massive influx of Muslim immigrants and jittery about the prospect of Islamic terrorism, except for just one problem: it’s entirely false. Barack Obama has “made it clear:“ ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents.” David Cameron intoned: “What we are witnessing is actually a battle between Islam on the one hand and extremists who want to abuse Islam on the other. These extremists, often funded by fanatics living far away from the battlefields, pervert the Islamic faith as a way of justifying their warped and barbaric ideology – and they do so not just in Iraq and Syria but right across the world, from Boko Haram and al-Shabaab to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.”

        State Department spokesperson Marie Harf emphasized that Obama meant what he said: “ISIL does not operate in the name of any religion. The president has been very clear about that, and the more we can underscore that, the better.” British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond declared: “[ISIL]’s so-called caliphate has no moral legitimacy; it is a regime of torture, arbitrary punishment and murder that goes against the most basic beliefs of Islam.” The British opposition agrees: Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said that Islamic State “extremists are beheading people and parading their heads on spikes, subjugating women and girls, killing Muslims, Christians and anyone who gets in their way. This is no liberation movement — only a perverted, oppressive ideology that bears no relation to Islam.”

        Cooper’s statement was a bit more specific than most others of its kind, and shows up the weakness of all of them. For every Islamic State atrocity she enumerated, there is Qur’anic sanction: Beheading people: “When you meet the unbelievers, strike the necks…” (Qur’an 47:4).
        Subjugating women and girls: “Men have authority over women because Allah has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because Allah has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them” (Qur’an 4:34).

        Killing Muslims: “They wish that you reject Faith, as they have rejected (Faith), and thus that you all become equal (like one another). So take not Auliya’ (protectors or friends) from them, till they emigrate in the Way of Allah (to Muhammad SAW). But if they turn back (from Islam), take (hold) of them and kill them wherever you find them, and take neither Auliya’ (protectors or friends) nor helpers from them” (Qur’an 4:89).

        Killing Christians: “Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya [tax] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued” (Qur’an 9:29).

        Even if the Islamic State is misinterpreting or misunderstanding these verses, it is doing so in a way that accords with their obvious literal meaning. Yet this denial from Western leaders is nothing new. Obama, for his part, excuses and apologizes for Islam every time a jihadist atrocity affects the U.S. in some way. Of course, most would wave away his denial as a political necessity, and ask why it matters anyway — why does it make any difference whether or not what the Islamic State is doing is in accord with Islamic texts and teachings? Among other reasons, because it will help determine how much support the new caliphate will ultimately get from Muslims worldwide, and will serve as an indicator of how much we can expect to see the actions of the Islamic State replicated by other Muslims elsewhere.

        The blizzard of articles and statements from Muslims and non-Muslims, including the leaders of the principal nations of the Western world, assuring us that what the Islamic State is doing has nothing whatsoever to do with Islam, are designed to reassure non-Muslims in the West that they need not have any concerns about massive rates of Muslim immigration and the Muslims already living among them: “Not to worry, folks, your friend Ahmad down at the office will never start acting like those nuts in the Islamic State.”

        One problem with this is that it prevents authorities from calling upon Muslim communities to teach against the doctrines that the Islamic State acts upon, and to work for genuine reform. And so the door remains open to the possibility that the actions of the Islamic State could be repeated in Western countries. Barack Obama and David Cameron would do far better to confront the Islamic State’s Islamic justifications for its actions and call on Muslims in the U.S., the U.K. and elsewhere to teach against these understandings of Islam that they ostensibly reject.

        But they never do that, and apparently have no interest in doing it. Instead, they foster complacency among the people of the U.S. and Britain. For doing so, they may never pay a price, but their people will almost certainly have to pay, and pay dearly.

      • Great addition, Fred. It reinforces my view that the strict enforcement of the law is the only way to stop these people. Unfortunately there are, at least, 100 times too many laws intended to guide us to Utopia through centrally managed behavior. And so the enforcement mechanism is too depleted to protect innocent victims.

        This article also does a good job of explaining your views of Africa.

        On Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 1:10 PM, alternativebyfritz wrote:


  2. As for Iraq, the present problem is rooted in the ill-advised nation building policy begun under George W. Bush and continued (or abdicated) under Barack Obama. While Sadam Hussein was a BAD man, his dictatorial rule was secular in nature. His “cabinet” included many minority elements (though no Kurds). Pragmatically it worked for that nation. Democracy (or representative government) is a foreign concept to the people there. By removing the secular government we have opened the door for Islamic rule and renewed conflicts between the Shufi and Sunni branches of Islam. Both of those groups view the minorities (Christian, Kurd, etc.) as enemies. Genocide is happening and will continue. Americans (Europeans, etc.) are not in a position to restore order unless we desire to occupy and subjugate the entire nation (not a reasonable solution). The only reasonable solution is a strong, secular government accepted by a majority of the people. It isn’t likely to happen.

    • Stephen Wolfe:
      A couple of points of clarification: America’s nation building efforts began well before the G.W. Bush administration. Granted, Bush, for no genuine justifiable reason, stepped-up the nation-building actions and his Neocon advisers (many of whom, regrettably, still have a sounding board on the Fox Cable News Network) never possessed the intellect to attempt to understand Islam as the enemy and the many individual sects of Islam.

      Saddam Hussein held power as a minority Islamic sect in Iraq. His cabinet included some majority elements (Shi’ite Muslims), but mostly Sunni Muslims. Kurds, true, were mostly never represented in Hussein’s cabinet, but the Kurds are mostly Sunni Muslims, albeit ones with a slightly toned-down militaristic rhetoric.

      By removing Hussein’s secular government, we absolutely did open the door for militant Islamic rule – no doubt. Certainly it was contemptible stupidity on the part of Bush and his Neocon advisers and cabinet members. And now these same advisers (like John Bolton and Dick Chaney) seek as much face-time on Fox as they can garner to place blame anywhere but on their own idiotic decisions. Seems the blame-placing game is part-and-parcel of what it takes to be a successful politician these days (e.g., Bush and Obama and their staff advisers).

      The Sufi sect of Islam is typically not at war with the Sunni and Shi’ite elements of the religion, or perhaps it is better described as an ideology. The Sunni are in constant conflict with the Shi’ite Muslims and have been for about 1,200 years. Sufi’s are a much more mystical, spiritual, and non-warring sect of Islam and typically just want to be left alone. The Sufi sect makes-up a lot of the Yasidis in Northern Iraq who are now being attacked and killed by ISIS Sunnis (many of the Yasidis are also Kurds, as the Kurds, while being predominantly Sunnis, also include many Sufis and Shi’ites).

      The U.S., in its stupidity and ignorance of Islam and the teachings of the Qur’an, is mostly responsible for arming and training the ISIS military forces. The U.S. trained the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan because we wanted Russia to lose the war there. The forces garnered by General Patraeus for his Iraq surge consisted of 80,000 mostly Sunni ex-military personnel from Saddam’s army. Petraeus trained, armed, and paid them $300 per month to fight against the anti-U.S. Muslims in Iraq and so that the trained soldiers wouldn’t kill our U.S. military. We have only ourselves to blame for the ISIS militarization and command-and-control planning ability. And the Sufi do not view Kurds or Christians as enemies. The sectarian fight is mostly between Shi’ite and Sunni. Bashar al-Assad, for example, in Syria is an Alawite Muslim and the Alawites are an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam.

      Iran is composed of about 98% Shi’ite and thus supports al-Assad in the latter’s fight against ISIS. Iran also finances Hezbollah against Israel, but doesn’t have that much to do with Hamas, but only interacts with Hamas when it is beneficial to Iran’s strategic interests.

      You are so correct about the only possible outcome in the Middle East if the U.S. continues its occupation and nation-building efforts there. The U.S. cannot defeat Islam using militaristic tactics. The solution is abandonment and a vacating of the Middle East to allow the various Islamic sects battle among themselves, a situation without any apparent end.

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