Nations May or May Not Choose War, But Nations Can’t Unilaterally Choose Peace.

by Hal Gershowitz and Stephen Porter on August 31, 2014

Poor Neville Chamberlain comes to mind.  He thought he chose peace, but instead condemned the world to war.   When a nation (or a Caliph) is hell bent on conquest, it will conquer.   It is a lesson as old as history.  When the dogs of war are loose and declare you as their ultimate prey, you confront them on your terms… or they will confront you on theirs.

Debate about what to do about history’s newest rampaging Caliphate, known as the Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS or ISIL), has dominated much of the news in recent weeks. Some argue the Islamic State is not our problem, because (they say) it doesn’t directly affect American interests.   We disagree.  We are the ultimate target of the Islamic State (and most other radical Islamic movements).  When the new Caliphate broadcasts the beheading of an innocent American, it has attacked American interests, and when they threaten to behead more Americans, that is ample justification for executing an aggressive response to such an enemy.

Some argue that other nations, more directly threatened at this time, should lead the assault on the Islamic State.  We agree.  But the failure of those threatened states to act does not absolve us and our allies, collectively or individually, from recognizing the Islamic State for what it is – a triumphal, expansionist and fanatically religious warring body, the defined enemies of which are any people or nation that does not subscribe to their brand of Islam.  They have declared America to be their ultimate target.  They have widely published bomb-making instructions and identified the places in American cities where bombs should be placed and the time of year, indeed, even the days of the year, when they should be detonated. We assume America will respond when an act of carnage takes place in one of our cities. Given that this newest, self-declared Caliphate has announced that carnage in American cities (and those of our allies) is precisely what the Islamic State is planning, we need no other triggering event to pursue them.

This new Caliphate is a direct threat to the organizing principles of modern civilization. The establishment of this new Caliphate is, arguably, the essential first step toward the attempted overthrow of the entire nation-state system — first in all Muslim lands, and then the rest of the world.  No, the Islamic State can’t, itself, threaten western civilization. It is, however, a precursor of what we might expect if we allow it to grow and spawn offshoots just as it itself is an offshoot of al Qaeda.  The Islamic State will metastasize and, left alone, will threaten public safety and order throughout the western world.

Neither America nor Britain, nor Jordon, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Lebanon nor Spain (nor a host of other countries) has chosen war with radical Islam, but none has the option of choosing peace either.  If the Islamic State is not confronted these nations will, in the future as they have in the past, continue to experience ever-growing Islamic violence.

This new Caliphate like each of the prior Caliphates is dedicated to eliminating nation states (or any national identity at all) in favor of a single unified Caliphate that follows strict Islamic law. The Islamic State requires all subjected people to convert, pay a stiff annual tax or die by the sword.  It is, to Western sensibilities, a reincarnation of Pandemonium, the capital of Hell in John Milton’s Paradise Lost.

Like every Caliphate the Islamic State has a self-proclaimed Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whose message to America upon release from custody in Iraq was, “I’ll see you in New York.”  It was a taunt most intelligence experts take seriously.  The parade of beheadings, firing squads, kidnappings and forced conversions attest to his ruthlessness. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the first self-proclaimed Caliph since the 400-year-old Ottoman Caliphate was abolished ninety years ago by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Republic of Turkey.

The mess we face in the Middle East is mirrored by an equally dangerous unraveling of order in Eastern Europe, where Russia has succeeded in forcibly annexing chunks of Ukraine in an aggression not seen in Europe since the end of World War Two.  NATO meets next week in Great Britain to determine how and when the West will respond to Russia’s latest incursions into eastern Ukraine.  Ironically, the summit was originally scheduled to mark the end of the NATO role in Afghanistan.  But as the headline of this week’s essay suggests, nations can choose (or not choose) to go to war.  Peace, however, is not always a choice.

Peace is sometimes nothing more that wishful thinking. Only four of the 28 NATO countries have budgeted for defense at the agreed upon level of only 2% of GDP, a naïveté not lost on the Kremlin.   They budgeted, unrealistically, for peace and may have, in the process, encouraged war.  The Western powers had all budgeted for peace in the 30’s, and in the process only brought about the bloodiest war in history.

The current issue of the Economist succinctly sums up the reality we face. “Ukraine is not a member of NATO (indeed, preventing it ever becoming one is a principle aim of Russian policy) and therefore does not enjoy the protection afforded by Article 5, the vow taken by every member to regard an attack on one as an attack on all. But Mr. Putin’s declaration of the right to take action wherever he believes the interests of Russian speakers are endangered directly threatens the Baltic states.“

And this is where reality gets very interesting – and very dangerous.  The Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) all have Russian speaking minorities, all are nestled right up against the borders of the old Soviet Union, all have turned west, all have joined NATO and all have asked for an increased NATO presence to enforce, if necessary, Article 5.

Article 5 is the very essence of NATO.  It is why the Baltic nations joined NATO and why Ukraine would like to join NATO.  But everyone knows that the heart of NATO and its very credibility has depended on America’s unwavering support.  Stratfor Forcasting’s (a well-respected American global intelligence company) Chairman George Friedman notes in his superb book “The Next 100 Years” that NATO’s collective defense guarantee is effective only if the United States is prepared to use force.  And that is the 64 quadrillion-dollar question.  The United States has, mistakenly, redirected its attention from Europe, having decided that Asia should be our primary area of focus.  That’s why we presented Putin with that silly reset button.  Well, Putin has pushed the reset button.  He has decided to reset Russia’s position with the recently freed former Soviet republics.  If they have Russian speaking minorities, they are, as far as Putin is concerned, now back in the Russian sphere of influence.  We can only guess at what the Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians, not to mention the Poles and Czechs must be thinking.

Presumably, the Obama Administration believed we enhanced the cause of peace, while tightening our bonds with Russia, when we canceled the Missile Defense Treaty with Poland and Czechoslovakia, or when we announced that there would be no military solution to the Russian Ukraine land grab, or when we decided not to provide meaningful aid to the rebel Free Syrian Army, or when we erased the redline we had previous drawn in the Syrian sand, or when we announced our withdrawal plans in Iraq and Afghanistan, or when we announced we were winding down our footprint in Europe in order to focus on Asia.  Maybe we thought we could unilaterally choose peace in a turbulent and hostile world.

Maybe the White House really believes “the Obama administration’s foreign policies in a number of areas have enhanced the world’s “tranquility” as the Administration’s spokesman recently announced to the press. Maybe the Administration really believes it can simply unilaterally choose peace.  Peace, however,  as George Washington advised, is the product of strength and the absolute willingness to assert it when threatened.

Heirs of Eden available at, Kindle, Nook, Apple ebooks and Ingram Books.


Radical Islamic Barbarity: If We Don’t Want It Here, We Have To Stop It There.

by Hal Gershowitz and Stephen Porter on August 24, 2014


Get this. Radical Islam is at war.  We are its ultimate target. There is no central command, but the forces of radical Islam are slowly coalescing around a handful of movements led by charismatic, cunning Islamists who think and plan on a grand scale.

While the battles at the moment are far away, they will not stop where they currently rage.  The Islamists’ tactical focus, today, may be regional, but their strategic focus, today, is global.

We’re not suggesting that someday soon Islamist ships will land on our shores and release swarms of invaders.  It won’t happen that way at all. What we believe, and those in the defense and intelligence establishment openly acknowledge (even if the White House doesn’t) is that the ever-growing number of deadly attacks against any one or any group of people who do not subscribe to the Islamists dark-age, apocalyptic view of the world will pervasively increase.  Already Islamist attacks against the other have become de rigueur across the Middle East, and Africa, and have begun to emerge in Europe, India and, of course, in America.

Right now the Islamists are mostly ravaging the so-called low-hanging fruit; those relatively helpless people within their grasp and who are on their enemies list simply because they are not them. Among “the other” are Muslims who do not share their vision of world conquest, Jews, Christians who they still see as Crusaders, and other minority sects who simply follow another path to religious fulfillment.  But we, the United States of America, are the real enemy.  We are the manifestation of all they abhor — Individual freedom, religious freedom, gender equality, separation of church and state, democracy, and, perhaps most of all, a society that progresses and grows and, over time, prospers.

Because of the Islamists penchant for attention, they enthusiastically and graphically display their barbarity, and in so doing they are creating a gruesome historical archive in real time. We have reviewed their ever unfolding graphic photo and video catalog of horrors – the mass kidnappings of school girls in Nigeria, the kidnapping and murder of Jewish teenagers in Israel, the beheadings of children (yes, we did say children) and adults in Iraq and Syria, the displays of severed heads on stakes, the firing squads, and the stonings and, yes, the senseless rocket barrages directed at population centers in Israel in order to serve up the resulting civilian casualty stats (when the Israelis strike back) to a media with a ravenous appétit for destruction and suffering.

Because of the fighting in Gaza, a direct result of Hamas’s wanton murder of Israelis and rocket attacks on Israeli population centers, the world had largely been lulled into thinking that radical Islamic excesses were primarily about Muslims and Jews, as though 9/11, in which more Americans were killed than at Pearl Harbor, had never happened.  Then came ISIS, or, as it likes to refer to itself, the Islamic State.  The world watched the Islamic State’s butchery of Shiite Muslims, and then their butchery of Iraqi Christians and the minority Yazidis, and then the grotesque beheading of American journalist, James Foley, which riveted the attention of the entire world.

What the western world doesn’t understand, or doesn’t want to understand, is that none of this is new, nor is it an aberration confined to the Middle East.  Over 23,000 attacks by radical Islamists have been catalogued since 9/11.  We have pored over cases of lethal attacks by Islamists directed solely at Christians.  There have been over 1100 attacks by these fanatics directed at Christians during the past decade.  Christians are being systematically attacked in their churches, in their homes and on their streets.  Attacks have been directed at Christians in Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Dagestan, Congo, Egypt, England, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kenya, Kosovo, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Macedonia, Mali, Netherlands Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, UK, USA, Uzbekistan, and Yemen. In case the reader just skimmed the list presented above, Europe and America are well represented on the list.

While such attacks on Christians (and Jews and others) have, to date, been largely uncoordinated and isolated, they will we believe begin to coalesce around a handful of organizing movements because such organizing movements now exist. They have money, and communicate and coordinate openly and regularly over the Internet.  They are on the move.

Just yesterday the Islamic State released over the Internet, an eleven-minute video of the mass conversion of Yazidi men who chose to give up their faith rather than their heads.  They are told by their Islamic State captors, “right now you are kuffar (infidels)…after your conversion you will become Musims and you will have rights.”  The Yazidi men then grimly recite the Muslim invocation of faith “there is no God but God and Mohammed is his messenger.”   It is the inquisition revisited, but in this place, and in this instance, the victims are not Jews and their tormentors are not Christians.

We look at ISIS, or the Islamic State, as though some new, threatening and evil movement has suddenly emerged on the world stage.  Nothing could be further from the truth. ISIS is a metastasis of a gaggle of old movements with, simply, a new name.  It is, in a way, a mélange of  Al Qaeda, Bako Haram, Hamas, Islamic jihad and any one of 50 other terrorist groups officially categorized by the US State Department.  They all are unified in their radicalism, their hatred of Western values, their hatred of the “other” and their absolute willingness to create mayhem and murder.

While President Obama, not so long ago, analogized ISIS as sort of a junior varsity team that thinks it can play in the majors by donning Lakers uniforms, his top defense people had a more sober assessment.  Secretary of Defense Hegel in a rather direct contradiction of the Commander-in-Chief advised “ISIL is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen. They’re beyond just a terrorist group,” adding that “the U.S. will have to take a “cold, steely hard look and “get ready.”

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey responding to a reporter said,” to your question, can they be defeated without addressing that part of their organization which resides in Syria? The answer is no. That will have to be addressed on both sides of what is essentially at this point a nonexistent border,”

It seems clear that our military leaders understand what the President doesn’t ( or didn’t) – that defeating ISIS will require an expanded campaign that will probably mean attacking the enemy on both sides of what used to be the Syrian/Iraqi border.

But what about what may be happening within our own borders?  A former CIA officer believes Islamic State (ISIS) sleeper cells are already planted on U.S. soil, and an unnamed US intelligence official told CNN that there are ISIS sleeper cells in Europe that could target US embassies and other American interests.  CNN reported that these intelligence officials voice concern ISIS militants with passports will travel to the United States to launch attacks on American soil.

In recent essays we have quoted the Prime Ministers of Great Britain and Germany who have stated that the threat to their nations from radical Islam is clear and present. Jihadists in Spain have issued a warning Spanish authorities are taking very seriously.  The Spanish Islamists warned, “ (We) say to the entire world as a warning: We are living under the Islamic flag, the Islamic caliphate. We will die for it until we liberate those occupied lands, from Jakarta to Andalusia (the Arabic name for those part of Spain, Portugal ad France that were occupied by Muslim conquerors from 711 to 1492) and we declare Spain is the land of our forefathers and we are going to take it back with the power of Allah.”

The Spanish Islamists have produced a video in which they vow to liberate al-Andalus from non-Muslims and make it part of their new Islamic Caliphate. The video shows a jihadist speaking in Spanish with a heavy North African accent. He says: “In recent years, the return of “occupied” Al-Andalusia to the fold of Islam has become an obsession for Muslims of all stripes, and calls to reconquer al-Andalus have become more frequent and more strident. Commenting on the latest video, Spain’s Secretary of State for Security, Francisco Martinez, said police were remaining “vigilant” in the face of a “grave” jihadist threat.

In several telephone conversations with a Reuters reporter over the past few months, Islamic State fighters suggest their leader, Iraqi Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is planning something for the West – and that attacks could take place through sleeper cells in both Europe and the United States.

Sources say that about 100 Americans are being tracked by the FBI because of their travels to Syria, some to join ISIS, analysts say. And ISIS is actively recruiting Westerners and European Muslims who could easily enter the US.

Haras Rafiq of the Quilliam Foundation told CNN, al-Baghdadi is “a narcissistic psychopath” on a barbaric mission.  “He wants to be bigger than Osama bin Laden, and one of the ways he will measure that is how effective and how big the terrorist activities he can carry out in the West are compared to what bin Laden was able to do.”

The grizzly beheading of James Foley, a non-combatant American journalist who committed no act of hostility toward ISIS nor anyone else, is a challenge to America and to American leadership in the world.  James Foley was beheaded for the sole act of being an American.

So, what to do?  The West must confront this ever-growing threat to its safety, or accept growing and ever more costly attacks on its people, institutions and infrastructure.  The western world, in concert with westward-leaning allies in the Middle East, needs to act in unison to face the threat of radical Islam at the source, where it is incubating, metastasizing and spreading havoc, or we will face the threat on our own soil and in our own cities.  It will take steadfast resolve and substantial resources…and it will take leadership.


Heirs of Eden available at, Kindle, Nook, Apple ebooks and Ingram Books.


“Don’t Do Stupid Stuff”…Really!…So Stop Doing Stupid Stuff.

August 16, 2014

  Actually, President Obama didn’t say “stuff” he really said – well, you know. Nonetheless, conflating bumper sticker drivel with policy (foreign or domestic) has never been a good idea, and we thank Hillary Clinton for saying what so many democratic pros have known, but have been reluctant to express publicly. We suppose every White [...]

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The New Barbarians

August 10, 2014

   Charles Martel, the father of Charlemagne, halted the advance of radical Islam into Europe at the battle of Poitiers in 732.  It took another 700 years before the last remnants of Islam, as a ruling class, were to be pushed from the Iberian Peninsula.  As we have written in recent essays, radical Islam is [...]

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Tunnels Designed To Hit Israel With a 9/11-Type Attack …Only Worse

August 3, 2014

A recent email complained that our essay last week, “The New Age of Religious War,” would only serve to foment anger.  Hopefully, the writer was correct. The current round of bloodshed in Gaza and southern Israel between Israel and Hamas has been an immense learning experience that should engender anger. Radically Islamic Hamas, we now [...]

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The New Age of Religious War

July 27, 2014

It is upon us. To draw such a conclusion is not to be an excitable alarmist.  It is to be but a rational observer. A movement of great historical significance has quickened and begun to metastasize and grow.  It is radical Islam, a movement at war with civilization. The Islamists are at war with almost [...]

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Of Thee I Sing 1776 Is At Sea With limited Internet Access. We’ll Return Next Week

July 20, 2014

We are sailing off the coast of Maine and have limited Internet access.  We will release our current essay when we return next week.

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The 21st Century And The Return Of Religious War

July 20, 2014

   The so-called “dark ages,” that very gloomy and seemingly endless period punctuated by a series of grotesque religious wars, represents a particular blight, a plague of sorts, on mankind’s’ imprint on history. Well, welcome back to the dark ages. Perhaps, we never left. Religious war is alive and well, and upon us with renewed [...]

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Hamas and Crimes Against Humanity

July 12, 2014

   “Crimes against humanity,” according to the International Criminal Court, include acts committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population…” As might be expected, murder tops the list of such acts, and the indiscriminate murderous (we use the term advisedly) Hamas rocket attacks aimed at Israeli civilian population centers [...]

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Murder They Wrote — and Murder They Did.

July 2, 2014

   Of course Hamas is responsible for the deaths of the three Israeli teenagers – Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrah.  It doesn’t really matter whether Hamas ordered the assassins to kill these particular Israeli boys. Hamas exhorts the murder of Israelis any time and any place. Murder is its raison d’être. The Hamas [...]

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