National Survival in the 21st Century
A Legitimate Question
A year ago, it might have been either untactful or impolite to ask, is America going to be conquered? At the same time, one might also ask the same of Israel. In an earlier hub I pointed out the fact that bin Laden re-directed terrorists to focus on America rather than Israel. It seems that terrorists later hit on a third, more practical idea: the prioritization of Europe. While they would have been happier to dispatch Americans, it was, in reality, harder than bin Laden envisioned. Especially after 9/11, America has remained vigilant. It experienced some of the same, sad, sporadic fate of a Europe under siege. But one can fairly guess the USA eluded still greater punishments.
In Europe, refugees flowed in and unknown terrorists became deeply entrenched: they are the chief prongs of an identical strategy. In 2016, American voters, as well as the mysterious electoral college, based a large part of their decision on desperation and despair. To be honest, Obama's handling of the Middle East might have been over their heads. His unprecedented and controversial talks with Iran, conferred upon a state hitherto known for the sponsorship of terrorism, self-esteem, reconciliation, and an end to sanctions. They enabled it to re-establish itself as a legitimate equal among sovereign nations. The move infuriated Netanyahu, and most of the portion of the American public sympathetic to his reasoning. But neither nation was injured. No Iranians nor Israelis were hurt. Now, after ballistic missile testing, Iran's defense of an electrical, domestic-only, purely utilitarian use of nuclear facilities is incredulous.
One hears all the time how strong Israel is. By the same token, America is considered the world's only superpower. Still, weaker nations salivate over the prospect of wiping them both out. According to a standard, old belief, Israel was not supposed to have lasted. At present, her hate-filled neighbors must re-think their former positions. A conquest of Israel cannot be done without force -- force, moreover, that does not, in the relevant region, exist. Trump's election has done much to repair sagging hopes for America's own future. He has vowed to act before America is inundated by foreign cultures that can pave the way to demoralization, etc., followed by destructive actions, more or less, generated from within. Its inability to attain parity in global economics is another matter, if rather obviously related. The longevity of a vibrant, well-to-do, competitive America, a characteristic once taken for granted, is essential.
Restrictions . . . .
Re-Cycled Religions that Fan the Flames
It gets worse. The previous administration did the nation a great service by slowing down the mechanisms at work that ultimately thrust the military, bodily, into a dangerous, protracted conflict. To be sure, the moratorium was not meant to be forever. For the time being, however, let the hot-blooded fools duke it out. Eventually, the smoke will clear and our course be more clarified. There is no nipping this one in the bud. That was WWII, during which combative nations waited far too long, still dreaming about or clinging to the Treaty of Versailles. One might also recall how much race then was a factor. Well, now it is religion. As "infidels" (us), our enemy has no qualms about what they can do. It is all forgiven in advance. Trump was the only candidate, now the only President, who agreed to take the possibility of fatal religious divisions under practical consideration. No politician, seeking to please the vast, divergent majority, would touch it. Since no true democracy need be so delicate as to be instrumental in its own destruction, so much the better. A non-politician, not someone who merely calls himself or herself an outsider, now occupies the oval office. Still, despite our best efforts thus far, the enemy remains the hunter, and we, not necessarily the military, but mainly unarmed people, vulnerable prey. Our men and women in uniform are indeed brave, yet they are relatively safe compared to the average citizen.
Another myth that persists is that it is, again, all about oil. That roller-coaster ride has provided a series of thrills and frills for a very long time. We currently stand at the precipice, looking for a kind of closure that has never really been seriously sought, consigned for the most part to scholarship, mass market speculation, and, possibly, a level upward, deep-seated meditation. Is there to be coexistence between and betwixt theological, not just political, irreconcilables? Or, must one side either eliminate or subdue the other, always keeping in mind the fact that both, in the case at hand, number well past a billion souls? In this regard, despite incessant animosity, geographical barriers and distances have been kind. We have no fixed marking where Christ is transfigured from Lord into a meager, grudgingly acknowledged prophet, subordinated to a larger, more towering figure, about whom most of us have no opinion whatsoever. How scripture, shrines, houses of worship, and rituals transmogrify into deadly materiél only serves to support the disheartening notion that in the final analysis human beings cannot handle the gift of life. Nevertheless, the final chapter of this profound challenge has already begun.
Survival in the 21st Century
Can the U.S. and Israel Survive the 21st Century?
How It Stands
Worst case scenarios must be at the very least thought out or increase the risk of them actually coming to pass. Two come readily to mind: (1) Israel losing its country, and (2) a cataclysmic loss of American prestige. There is no evidence to support the former, and thus, if credible, lies only as a hypothetical in an unpredictable future. But the second is already taking place in increments. In the last election, voters more or less affirmed a widely shared belief that America had lost an appreciable amount of its former greatness. America speaks, but few outside its borders listen. It is highly unlikely to disappear, but the means to its security are different than those appertaining to Israel, whose strength is both on and off the radar. America, simply put, has superior brute force; Israel has mastered the finer art of remaining alive and thriving in the midst of constant turmoil. The latter achievement must entail a number of techniques never completely revealed.
Some scenarios are more to the upside than down. Israel, for instance, need not adopt a second Masada-like position. It could, for example, align itself more closely with Christian allies. Such a policy would only further strengthen it. But it must at the same time maintain autonomy. Historically, one might point out, Jews have done better the other way, harkening back to alliances within Muslim communities. But those are bygone pieces of history unlikely to repeat themselves. For now, the fates of both America and Israel are interlaced. France, suffering from an anti-Semitic reputation, then undergoing a gruesome anti-Israeli terrorist attack, makes one's head spin. Well, I, for one, would rather not know some things, as much as I enjoy amateur journalism. I am also an aficionado of spy biographies, usually involving double agents. I wish I could attach what entrances me so much from these well-researched works to the things I address in this hub. But the task is beyond my talent and available information. Further, when dealing with spies, does the whole truth and nothing but ever really emerge?
Hannity & Netanyahu
The Navy Seal and Why Individuals Matter
Navy Seal William Ryan Owens was killed in a raid in Yemen. A more eloquent argument against boots on the ground is hard to find. Israel once had a practice of exchanging an enormous amount of prisoners for one or two Israeli soldiers. There are differences of opinion about such matters, but the point is clear. Individuals matter. War is not a game of numbers. Other issues are less clear and indifferent to varying opinions. For example, not only is obsolescence built into battle equipment, but the popularity of strategic plans, too, which might once have been ingenious. Owens's father is right to demand an investigation. But not just for his own terrible loss. For the good of the country, too, as well as the ways with which we prosecute the war(s) ahead. As usual, talk is ramping up about doing away with ISIS. Simultaneously, the hard decision to make it happen, without a massive invasion entailing boots on the ground -- entirely within our power -- is not being made. How about this for starters? Why not erase ISIS from the map without the loss or injury of single American?
Yes, I need hardly spell it out. It is as if I have watched Dr. Strangelove too many times. It is as if I am stuck in a war room that is actually a movie set. But the mean fact remains. Talk is not going to get the job done. Neither is a talk fest in which every retired high-ranking officer who became a television commentator takes a turn. Mere talk is not equal to the task, including this wordy article. Also, even if a tougher stance is taken, perhaps involving very powerful, non-nuclear bombs, that leave a messy aftermath, unanticipated repercussions would have to be taken into account. Nevertheless, personnel other than soldiers can tackle that onerous task. There is no substitute for victory. A genuine victory, not just a vocalized version to sleep on. With a new administration, we can expect at least the attempt to restore greatness in the military sector. Otherwise, it is a sure bet that more acts of terror will gradually wear down our resolve.