- Politics and Social Issues
Deutschland Uber Alles?
The End of Humanitarianism?
I would answer "no" if asked. But limitations? I would reply "yes". Unfortunately, the world is learning the hard way. How soon was the massacre in France followed by a less fatal, but intolerable attack by refugees in Germany! As usual, the USA lucks out. It is impossible to swim the oceans, though the porous nature of the Mexican-American border has come up mainly in Republican debates. It is, as happens to be, a matter of concern. It is not the immigrant who is feared, however, so much as terrorists, and now, alas, refugees (with whom terrorists can easily mingle) from distant, anti-American nations.
Let's face it. It took a while for American citizens to find comfort zones in which to co-mingle. Actually, they began contingent upon an assortment of other factors -- commerce, sports, freeways, nightclubs, colleges and universities, workplaces, supermarkets, neighborhoods, big cities, public transportation, sidewalks and streets -- whatever. Otherwise, as is sometimes the case, the locals decided. Some, to this day, have never broken from the deep divides that are still passed on, generation to generation. Look upon this latest event (and it is not even the latest, quickly followed by the bizarre detention of American sailors in Iran) as both unique and not so unique. I could not have predicted refugees forming predaceous circles around defenseless German women in Cologne, but I might have known the world would not long uphold a norm that exists only in thoughts and prayers. At least there is that reservoir to draw upon. Or call it, more melodically, "Hearts and Flowers". In the world at large, tougher, less sanguine situations tend to ensue.
The New Terrorism
More enlightened countries like Israel have figured out that subversives must be monitored. Inhabitants of the same land at deadly odds with one another must be separated. The prevention of suicide bombs is serious business. A lawful, peace-abiding nation cannot fight terrorism with members of Hezbollah and Hamas at large, willy nilly, milling about among the general population. What is perhaps more complicated is the nature of unknowns, whom Europeans, schooled in Rousseau, Kant, Locke, Hume, and other idealists, tend to regard, at least at the outset, as clean slates. Nevermind original sin. Even the American judicial system presumes innocence before guilt, which must be proven. It is doubtful there is any fail-safe technique that could have screened out New Year's Eve's pickpockets and sex offenders. Thus, Europe's big heart remains tested; at the same time, Americans are split between those who welcome their own test, and those who would rather not submit to it. We must bear in mind that people have certain deep-rooted customs and proclivities. There are countries where women are routinely harrassed. Today, it can be just as dangerous for men. The President was correct in his State of the Union Address to speak of handling the whole terror-related situation in a smart fashion, obviating the need for excessive force.
To be sure, terrorists are unkind to the men, women, and children they uproot. Some of the displaced, giddy with delight, may have felt as though Germany, on New Year's Eve, was an adult amusement park. Others may have been encouraged by a subculture that continues to blame Germans in the aftermath of WWII. It is open season again, as must have been the perception after WWI. Innocent French are slaughtered, then Germans mistreated and molested. God's will? Not likely. I cannot emphasize enough the fact that World War II is over and Hitler dead. The President used the word, quagmire. It is getting larger. He steadfastly refuses to send American soldiers to so unpredictable a place as the Middle East. He is not wrong. It is a sensible choice. I do not need privileged information to know that terrorists are only too happy to deprive millions of home and hearth. To stay means conversion, slavery, starvation, and execution.
Nuclear Talks in Switzerland
The Language of Ayatollahs
This is the part that probably confuses the American citizen the most. What exactly was being discussed, and in what terms, with Iranian leaders? Apparently, few of us would have understood, not being properly education or indoctrinated in the murky convolutions of diplomacy, especially with dangerously splintered radicals. Kerry and Company talked to Iranians as if born in Tehran and bred under the Shah. Somehow, they achieved a rapport. It seems as though Americans mastered the fine art of the forked-tongue to speak so calmly to both Iranians and Americans. We wish them well. It cannot be otherwise. We hope they take full advantage of whatever works. Sometimes it is best not to ask. But if things fail, if our agreements turn to dross, if tension mounts, if blood is spilled, then let us ask harder questions and find righter answers.
Let's face up to this, too, along with everything else. It is going to be indeed rough-and-tumble to fight Jihad in whatever manner, including the most sensitive, pacifistic, and patient. Whether in 2017, or further down the line, a major confrontation awaits. That is, unless Christians trade their religious beliefs for those of Islam. Islamicists mean to convert the world. That means everybody, no exceptions. In order for a multi-cultured world to endure, we are compelled, against our wills, to optically and aurally digest hideous, videotaped atrocities almost guaranteed to occur from time to time. We must also risk terror via migration. By the way, it needs reminding, this is how it is in peace, not war.
Where's the War?
I would like to say that it is in Syria and leave it at that. But wars rage in dozens of countries. Since not all are actually located in the Middle East, there is ample cause for caution. We call the worst hostilities terrorist. To be fair, they do not have to be either Muslim in nature nor orginate in the Middle East. But the mainspring of the more horrific attacks seems tied to the various struggles that the Middle East generates. I think it a fair question to ask, if we do not go to the wars over there, will their wars come to us? Some would answer, they already have.
To be honest, it looks as if nobody wants to start WWIII a minute too soon. It can wait. However, once again, possibly due to a global economy that seems not to have established either a clear direction or a viable system that is universally fair, nationalism is on the rise. Hence, the title, since if our earthly division into nations reigns supreme over all else, then the dark rationale of nations for themselves at the expense of all others takes on legitimacy. This is undesirable in the extreme. What should the world have learned from the 20th century? Well, it would be close to impossible to find a more loaded question. But one of the answers is to avoid the pitfalls of isolationism and respect the differences that define each sovereign nation and distinguish it from the rest. The lesson goes much further. I have only suggested a beginning.
The Middle East
In January 2016 few of us are unaware that this may be the last peace-loving year of a peaceful presidency. To some, peace in today's shape and form is intolerable. To others, it is highly preferrred to war's heavier tolls. It is difficult to tell one from the other. Without war, people died from car bombs, IEDs, and ritual beheadings. Some were sold into sex slavery, attacked and forced to flee to foreign lands, and exposed to disease, discomfort, and impoverishment. Of course, for Syrians, as well as Iraqis, 2015 was not a year of peace, nor will 2016 likely see an end to armed conflict. Many of us are tired of double-talk and dubious statements of how Islam is a religion of peace. Technically, however, Islam is a religion, and, as such, peaceful.
For me, not that I matter, this administration has been a learning experience. I expected a tough response for the longest time. Now, if it comes, it will be a surprise. Nowhere is it written that the U.S. must "go in" every single time there is an "incident". Even more important, Europe's restraint is unprecedented. Now that Germany's victimization did not ignite a savage response, it is fair to say that not only Germany, but Europe as well, has truly changed. For those of us with only a modicum of historical knowledge of how minor provocations once led to costly, interminable wars, it is quite a transformation. Following the European paradigm might be what has upset many Americans who demand action on every warranted occasion. But the world at large is not the wild west. If it is going to be tamed, it will not be exclusively by force, which leads to vicious cycles of violence and thousand year feuds.