Monthly Archives: August 2014

On the Brink

Nothing happens in a vacuum. Beginning with the statehood of Israel in 1948 and punctuated by the infamous mass murder on 9/11, there began a global geopolitical confrontation, the outcome of which will determine whether or not global freedom will prevail over totalitarianism.

At the forefront of that confrontation are the democracies Israel and America, and their theocratic adversaries led by Iran. It’s important to note that Israelis have adroitly managed to assemble a state that is both Jewish and a democracy which, of course, includes freedom of religion. Though it is geographically in the Middle East, Israel’s secular culture is integral to Western Civilization and that of the United States in particular.

Jihad is an anachronism. It is ominously similar to a virus that surfaces after a dormant period and mutates into a more virulent form. To extend the simile a step further, I submit that Western Civilization’s immune system is dangerously vulnerable to militant Islam.

The war between Hamas and Israel has once again spiked European anti-Semitism, an example of the prejudicial residues to which I refer in my article, It’s Up to You (Part 1 of Two, July 22, 2014). On the surface, this war is purported to be Hamas’ battle for the lifting of an Israeli blockade to Gaza. Beneath the surface, the Israeli recent discovery of a network of underground tunnels tells us otherwise.

The broader issues of that war are borderlines, Jewish settlements, and claims by both sides on the possession of Jerusalem, fully or in part. However, a fundamental rift between two civilizations overrides even those critical issues: Israel and the United States are openly threatened with annihilation.

The avowed goal of militant Islamic fundamentalists is to kill every Jew and American. Its banner is “Death to Infidels.” That includes anyone who does not convert to Islam, and by extension, Western Civilization itself. Isis has already escalated terrorism both in scope and intensity. It demands conversion to Islam or death and practices ethnic cleansing of non-Muslims everywhere.

As history has shown, extremists may be highly organized gangs within a civilized culture, e.g., Nazis, or marauding hordes, e.g., Huns. But they are essentially the same: intransigent, barbaric, and often genocidal. Television flashes of Isis terrorists are chilling. The black dress and banners of Isis killers vividly suggest a return to the Dark Ages.

There is a significant factor in the standoff between the two civilizations: A preemptive strike is illegal, but survival is categorically imperative. The same factor is applicable to Israel’s bombing of nuclear facilities within hostile foreign borders. It will do so again, of course, but we can’t depend on that indefinitely.

My justification for this seemingly lawless attitude is that I believe that when survival is on the line, it’s best to put international law on hold, or—to put it succinctly—“win the war, talk later.” That’s what the incomparable Golda Maer did when she knew survival was at stake. She initiated an already immanent war with a massive preemptive strike that led to a Six-day war. Without that preemptive strike, Israel would have lost that war and been effectively annihilated despite its remarkable military.

Islamic fundamentalists are waging a war they cannot win. The Middle East and much of North Africa are unstable. Tribes, groups, individual terrorists, and even self-proclaimed terrorist state leaders have replaced organized governments, diplomats, and viable embassies. Militants hiding behind balaclavas are attempting to create a caliphate by merely claiming an Islamic ‘state’ that does not exist. Further east, the general of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard claims that Iran is ready to fight America and Israel and predicts victory. So did Saddam Hussein when he predicted “the mother of all battles.” Despite an indolent Europe, militant Islam is no match for Western Civilization.

However, there is a strong counterbalance to the advantages of Western Civilization: ideology—or, more precisely, there is an ideological factor that might just tip the balance in favor of Islamic fundamentalism: Fundamentalists know what they want: “No recognition, and no negotiation with Israel” (the Khartoum Arab Summit), and “The destruction of the Jews, America, and the West” (the religious conviction of Islamic Fundamentalists). A dangerously great number of Jews and Americans do not have a moral conviction for Western Civilization that’s even close in strength to that of Islamic Fundamentalists. And that is Western Civilization’s Achilles’ heel.

Unless Americans, Jews, and Europeans restore their moral confidence in Western Civilization, it will go down in a brief but titanic atomic conflict.

A global catastrophe is waiting to happen.

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It’s Up to You (Part 2 of Two)

(Continued from Part 1 of Two)

The opening words of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities might well have been a description of the sixties, especially in the United Kingdom and the United States. Referring to the French Revolution, Dickens wrote: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity.

Contrary to my friends’ accusation that my drug-free brain absented me from really being here in the sixties, I was keenly aware of the counterculture movements of that extraordinary decade. It was the best of times because the space age dawned, it was the worst of times because of the Cold and Vietnam Wars; it was the age of wisdom because racial and gender attitudes were scrupulously examined and addressed, it was the age of foolishness because drugs were thought to enhance the mind and creativity; it was the epoch of belief because democracy had triumphed over totalitarianism, it was the epoch of incredulity because history suddenly moved into the fast lane.

The ‘flower people’ justifiably rebelled against the residue of racial prejudice, sexist attitudes, and political ideologies of the preceding generation, but they failed to equally recognize and oppose communist ideology. Instead, attracted by communal life and the concept of “a global village,” the kids flirted with communist ideals mixed with their drug cocktails, a lifestyle they could not possibly have had in the communist Soviet Union or China. At the personal level, I was saddened to see the division between flower people and the Great Generation, as it eventually was to be known.

I’ve written this ‘ blog’ in reaction to an article I’ve just read. Having appeared in the exceptionally accurate and non-partisan magazine (National Geographic, The Next Breadbasket, Page 56, July 2014) the article includes the following excerpt.

“She never saw the big tractor coming. First it plowed up her banana fields. Then her corn. Then her beans, sweet potatoes, cassava. Within a few dusty minutes the one-acre plot near Xai Xai, Mozambique, which had fed Flora Chirme and her five children for years by a corporation building a 50,000-acre farm…”

Chirme is just one of thousands of farmers whose fields are being literally trampled out of existence by a corporation in association with the Mozambique government. The farmers are not given notice that the tractor is on its way to their fields. There is no compensation for the farmers who have suddenly lost their land. Ruthless exploitation? Violation of human rights? American corporate greed? No, not this time. The corporation is Chinese.

Before I continue, let me assure you that I’m neither an apologist for corporate greed nor do I intend to make excuses for the infamous past exploitation of African treasure and labor. But, contrary to almost a century of anti-business propaganda, there is a huge moral difference between exploitation and honest, mutually beneficial business exchanges. An overwhelming majority of Americans don’t make that distinction.

They harbor an almost pathological need to accuse America of just about every real or imagined injustice, here or abroad, past or present. The very people who benefit most by living and prospering in America, bash it whenever an opportunity arises to do so. I am not referring to constructive criticism, which is healthy.

The worst of it is that their perception of America is nothing more than the residue of their grandfathers’ politics as impressed upon them by their professors. The residual political sludge in the minds of most Americans is as sticky as ever. Grandpa’s voice is still loud and clear in academia, in documentaries, in Hollywood, in the media, at the United Nations, on the streets: “America is morally indefensible, communism is the wave of the future.”

I’m sure that religious and other freedoms are too firmly ingrained in Americans for communism to be established here. But I hope that resistance to communism will be ideologically supported, and not just a knee-jerk result of residual, non-intellectual politics. I hope Americans, especially the young, will recognize that democracy is an ideology for the individual pursuit of happiness and that it is what distinguishes this civilization from all others.

It is urgent that young people realize that it is not nations that are at war, but ideologies; that ideologies exponentially outlast military conflicts; that North Korea has achieved the perfect communist state and its nuclear weapons are in the hands of backward leaders; that Iran is intent on destroying Israel and America; and that if they are to succeed, it’s lights out for Western Civilization.

A civilization happens only once. What is at stake is freedom and individual human rights. Let’s not blow it.

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