This is WW III

By Claude Salhani

We are at war; of that there is no doubt. In fact, we are in the midst of a world war; yet we fail to realise this because this war is unlike anything we have previ­ously experienced. And by “we” I mean all civilised nations that are either engaged or will become engaged in the fight against the group calling itself the Islamic State.

This war is different because it is being fought simultaneously not only on different fronts but on dif­ferent planes.

First, the war against the Islamic State (ISIS) is being fought in a conventional manner but not entirely so.

The difference in this war is that the front lines are fluid and the enemy is in multiple locations. There are overt and cov­ert aspects to this war.

Second, this is an asymmetrical war being fought by principals but also by proxies, with parties chang­ing side while the allegiance of others remains unclear.

Third, this is still very much a war against terrorism. On June 26th terrorist attacks occurred in Tunisia, Kuwait and France. The Tunisia attack at a seaside resort left 38 dead and more than 40 wounded, made hundreds of tour­ists run for the airport, cancelling remaining holiday time, and in all certainty dampened the country’s tourism trade for the next two to five years.

The attack in Kuwait targeted a Shia mosque, killing more than two dozen people and will very likely aggravate community rela­tions. In the attack in France one man was beheaded.

And fourth, this war is also being fought on the world wide web, as the internet has become a valuable place where hearts and minds can be addressed and recruited.

This type of four-pronged con­flict has never before been expe­rienced, and it is forcing conven­tional armies to rethink how they approach conflict.

However, ISIS may have contrib­uted directly to its eventual demise partially due to its arrogance and perhaps overconfidence.

With the establishment of the so-called caliphate, ISIS now has a return address — and that is its Achilles heel. Al-Qaeda was op­posed to establishing the caliphate before the United States was defeated because its leaders knew the United States would intervene. ISIS chose to ignore that threat and ploughed ahead and is paying the price for it.

As for defeating ISIS, someone needs to take the lead and, as the remaining superpower, the job be­falls on the United States, though this is unlikely to happen unless there is strong leadership in the White House, which is lacking.

Current political differences with Moscow need to be put on the back burner while the ISIS threat is ad­dressed. Let there be no doubt of the magnitude of the task ahead. The bloody events of June 26th showed that despite suffering a military setback with the loss of Tal Abyad to Kurdish forces, ISIS was still able to devote time and resources to carry out the Tunisia, Kuwait and France attacks.

These attacks raise many more questions than there are answers for. In an act of defiance ISIS had announced its intention to com­mit terrorist acts during the holy month of Ramadan.

Authorities were expecting attacks. Why did ISIS succeed? Unless authorities have advance knowledge of where and when something is planned, generic threats are hard to act upon.

Why were Tunisia and Kuwait targeted? Probably because they are the most liberal Arab countries in their respective region.

Tunisia is the only success story to emerge from the “Arab spring” disaster. It is the antitheses of what ISIS stands for. And probably facilitating the focus on Tunisia is the fact that about 3,000 Tunisians have joined the ranks of the terror­ist organisation.

Which raises more questions: Why? And how can the European Union and the United States help Tunisia?

President Palin? God help us

Please note this is a repeat of an article first published in 2008

 

By Claude Salhani

November 3, 2008

The gossip around Washington these days compares Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin to a ‘post turtle’. Not familiar with the term? Don’t worry, most urban folks aren’t.

Say you’re driving in the countryside and you see a turtle sitting on a post. First, you know it didn’t get there by itself. Second, you know it doesn’t belong up there. Third, it doesn’t know what to do while it’s up there. And fourth, you wonder what kind of dumb-ass put it up there to begin with.
The frightening reality is that this ‘post turtle’ could end up being the next vice president of the United States of America. Even more worrying is that she could also be president.

Republicans, or at least the ones who placed Palin on the post, believe she is highly qualified for the job. The reason is that she is so politically hollow inside that she can easily be molded by the neocons. Think Bush II, but far easier to influence and control. In defending Palin many Republicans have said she is qualified for the vice presidency (and therefore possibly the presidency, especially when the president is 72 years old and has a history of heart problems) because “she lives next door to Russia.”
Republican Party big shots and their supporters have gone on record with that statement, as unbelievable as it might sound; Fox News was the first to announce that Sarah Palin was knowledgeable in foreign affairs because “she is right up there in Alaska right next door to Russia.”
Frank Gaffney, a syndicated columnist, said that Palin has picked up foreign policy “by osmosis” as a result of Alaska’s geographic location.
The governor’s office in Alaska’s capital Juneau, where Palin works, is about 1,230 miles from the closest point in Russia. My office for the good part of the last 15 years was only 0.19 miles from the White House. Does that qualify me for the presidency? At least I could actually see the White House from my office.
Still, McCain’s wife, Cindy, told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that “Alaska is the closest part of our continent to Russia. It’s not as if she doesn’t understand what’s at stake here.” Appearing on ABC’s Charlie Gibson, being questioned about Palin’s lack of foreign policy experience, McCain was asked if in all honesty he could feel confident having on board someone who is as green in international affairs (about the only time anyone is likely to call Palin “green”) as his running mate. Until a year ago Palin had never applied for a passport or traveled outside the United States.
McCain replied that one of the key elements to America’s national security requirements are energy and that Palin “understands the energy issues better than anybody I know in Washington, D.C., and she understands Alaska is right next to Russia. She understands that.”
Hmmm.
Well, glad she got the geography part right, ‘cause she sure flunked in economics. When asked by CBS anchorwoman Katie Couric how the $700 billion economic bailout package the Bush administration and Congress negotiated would help taxpayers, this is how she replied: “What the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed, to help shore up our economy, helping… oh, it’s got to be all about job creation too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track, so health care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reduction and tax relief for Americans and trade, we have to see trade as opportunity not as competitive, scary thing, but one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today, we’ve got to look at that as more opportunity, all those things under the umbrella of job creation, this bail out is a part of that.”
Wow! Yes, she sure is ready.
Kathleen Parker, a well-respected conservative columnist had this to say in the National Review website after watching the interview: “A candidate who is clearly out of her league,” adding that “If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street by herself.”
Just how clueless Palin is and how controlled she is by her Republican minders was made all the more obvious in the vice presidential debate where it was more than obvious that the governor of Alaska was getting immediate feedback and directives on her portable telephone via text messaging.
I wonder if the fact that Governor Palin “lives next door to Russia” will facilitate any dealing she may have with the Machiavellis of foreign politics? How would she stand up to negotiators with such as Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer?
The Palin saga has of course has provided late night talk shows with a gold mine of ammunition. Jon Stewart of the Daily Show cut to the chase, describing a Fox News commentator who supported the “living close to Russia” thesis as a “moron.”
Steve Benan, writing in the Washington Monthly described it as “the dumbest argument I’ve ever heard.”
“Palin and McCain are a good pair,” said the Tonight Show’s Jay Leno. “She’s pro-life and he’s clinging to life.”

 

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