Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What Can We Do against Terrorism?

Islamic terrorists have struck again, this time in Belgium, killing many people and injuring many more. Is this how we are to live from now on? What can we do to put a stop to this madness?

Obstacles to Success

There are significant obstacles to protecting our citizens and successfully defeating and neutralizing terrorism.

First, the attacker has one enormous advantage: he knows where and when he will strike. The victim doesn’t know when or where, so is at a severe disadvantage.

Second, there aren’t enough police and security forces to be everywhere. Therefore, reliable intelligence is needed to overcome the attacker’s advantage mentioned above.

Third, privacy concerns hinder intelligence-gathering. While privacy is important, we are dealing with an insidious and ruthless enemy. Therefore, I believe intelligence-gathering abilities take precedence over privacy, with proper controls in place, of course.

Fourth, concerns about profiling hinders intelligence-gathering. Most terrorist acts are committed by Middle Eastern men, yet our resources are being wasted because we can’t focus on the more likely perpetrators – that is “profiling.” For example, I’ve been pulled out of line two or three times at airports by customs officials for a more in-depth examination. Supposedly I was picked at random. So they wasted resources interviewing an older US citizen of northern European background.

I’m not suggesting that people who fit the profile be harassed or intimidated by the authorities. We don’t want situations like African-Americans face where they get pulled over just because they are black (called DWB – driving while black). I’m saying that the authorities should focus their precious assets where they can be most effective and don’t waste time on elderly white guys in airports.

What Can We Do?

First of all, we have to understand that each country is unique in terms of its terrorism situation. France has many Muslims, some of which are French citizens. Russia has an internal insurgency within certain segments of its Muslim population. Turkey is a secular state whose population is overwhelmingly Muslim but is being influenced by radical elements. Turkey, like other Islamic countries, is the target of terrorism.

International cooperation is a necessity, even with the differences in each country’s situation. The European countries and the US should work more closely, share more intelligence, and form a military coalition to defeat ISIS. The US should not have to do all the fighting – every country must contribute.

Russia should be included in this alliance, or at least be a partner in some way. The Cold War is over – we need Russia on the team. We also need to involve and work with Middle Eastern Islamic countries such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other countries which are targets themselves. Islamic terrorists think nothing of killing their own people. It is in the best interests of the moderate Islamic countries to cooperate with the West in defeating terrorism.

Israel can be a big help to the coalition in intelligence sharing, and providing sound advice on strategy. Israel has had to deal with terrorist attacks from its inception in 1948. One thing we mustn’t forget is that Israel is constantly the target for all kinds of terrorism. Rockets are being fired all the time, for example. As part of the battle against terrorism I would suggest we make Hamas and other anti-Israel organizations an offer they can’t refuse, that is, stop firing rockets or face Armageddon.

Other things the coalition needs to do is arm the Kurds, contain Iran, and destroy training camps and other ISIS facilities when they are discovered. Sadly, there is the risk of collateral civilian damage, and we should do all we can to minimize it. Nevertheless this is war and we have to do what we have to do.

The coalition must improve intelligence gathering capabilities in the Islamic communities within their countries – these can be major sources of information. For example, the Islamic communities can help keep track of those who have been to places where ISIS and others train terrorists.

The authorities must treat the Islamic communities within their borders with respect. Doing so will help gain their confidence and it’s the right thing to do. ISIS and other terrorist organizations are killing innocent civilians, so one would think the Islamic communities in western nations would understand that it is in their best interest to defeat and neutralize terrorist organizations.

The coalition must do all it can to stop the flow of money and weapons to the terrorist organizations. We choke off their money and weapons, destroy their facilities, and defeat them on the ground with a powerful coalition, and we have gone a long way towards significantly reducing their capability to carry out terrorist activities. Bu there needs to be a concerted and unified effort by a coalition.

Finally there must be no appeasement, because it doesn’t work. These people are fanatics, and they can not be appeased. For them, there must be nothing less than total victory. Our way of life, our values, our culture and our freedom is at stake. Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms, which Americans take for granted, would disappear under an Islamic caliphate. These terrorists know only the language of violence, so we have to meet them with violence, distasteful as it may be.

Lastly this country should turn back to God and pray for protection. We’ve lost our way spiritually. Let us restore the faith that brought us through the Civil War, the Great Depression, and World War II. Without God who know what will happen to us. We have freedom of worship, so let’s use it.

Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms:
-Freedom of speech
-Freedom of worship
-Freedom from want
-Freedom from fear

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Failure of Government

What is making Donald Trump so popular? Why are so many people voting for this obnoxious character in the primaries? Does he have a chance of being President? I would like to explore these questions with you today.

Why So Popular?

In the Paul Newman movie “Cool Hand Luke” the head prison guard said this throughout the movie: “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” What we have in the United States today is a failure to govern. We have a Congress and President that aren’t working on behalf of the people, but on behalf of their party, their donors (special interests), and themselves. Moreover, Obama has shown himself to be a weak leader. Meanwhile the country is facing serious problems, including a multi-trillion dollar debt, increased threats from Islamic terrorist organizations (ISIS), jobs being shipped overseas, and a host of other challenges too numerous to mention.

Why are people voting for Trump?

The people are crying out for Congress and the President to get back to work and stop playing politics. They must learn to compromise, because that’s the only way anything will get done. The people aren’t stupid – they see the mess we’re in and cry out for action. The votes for Trump are a clear message to The Establishment: get to work and begin to deal with the multiple problems and challenges we’re facing as a nation and a world.

Why Trump?

Trump appeals to people because he tells it like it is, and then some. He’s saying he’ll get things done, that he’ll tackle the problems facing us. Talk is cheap – how’s he going to be effective if he still has a do-nothing Congress?

There’s no question that Trump gets thing done – in the world of business. He has employees who jump when he tells them to do something. He can seriously influence the people he deals with, such as vendors and suppliers. He’s got clout and can get things done. He’s often dealing with motivated people who also want to get things done: a signed contract, a finalized union agreement, etc.

But as President he’ll be working in a totally different milieu. He’ll have to deal with a Congress which has been pretty much useless for the past 30 years or so. Congress seems to have little motivation or incentive to accomplish anything. How will he handle them?

Can He Win over Hillary?

Hillary has a lot of baggage: she’s part of The Establishment, she’s tied closely with Obama, and she’s viewed by some voters as untrustworthy. Trump could beat her, but it’s hard to tell. If he became president, I have some fears about the possibility of significant failures: he might alienate foreign leaders; he might not be able to work with Congress effectively; he might become somewhat of a dictator, refusing to work with Congress and compromise. How would he deal with Putin or North Korea, for example? Can he think strategically?


While Trump is addressing the right issues, he’s been short on policy. How specifically would he solve these problems? Is he all talk but little action? It’s hard to tell. But the people might just vote for him with the attitude that things couldn’t get much worse, and – who knows – he might actually turn out to be a good president (like Ronald Reagan). So I believe he could very well be elected, and may actually do a good job. I would suggest that if you vote for Trump, vote for a Republican senator and a Republican representative. If he has a clear Republican majority in both houses, he might just be able to work with a more cooperative Congress and get something accomplished. If he doesn’t have those majorities then I think you can forget about anything being accomplished and we’ll just have more of the same gridlock, just with more bluster.

Pray for this country, pray for the election, pray that this country will once again look to God and not politicians for their salvation. Pray the following verse when you pray:

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” NRSV

The Immigration Debate

One of the main issues in the current presidential election is “immigration.” We need to understand this issue because there have been some misleading statements made on the subject. I’ve written on immigration before but it deserves another post since it is so prominent in this election.

Defining “Immigration”

As with most issues, there is a significant difference between conservatives and liberals. Liberals define the issue in terms of all immigration, not making the important distinction between legal and illegal entry into the country. In their rhetoric they imply that conservatives want to stop all immigration into the US. Conservatives say they have no problem with legal immigration (those who go through the process) but believe illegal (undocumented) immigration must be stopped. They are not anti-immigrant, just against people sneaking across our borders.

A Place of Refuge

Most immigrants, both legal and undocumented, come to the US for a better life. Some come to the US so their children will have a better life, even if theirs isn’t so good. Others come to the US to escape violence, persecution, and crime. We’ve seen that happening in Europe, where thousands of refugees are streaming into Europe from war-torn Syria.

Certainly you feel sorry for those escaping tyranny, yet you have to ask, “How many more people can this country accommodate?” We can’t take in everybody who is at risk, much as we’d like to help them. We already have underemployment. With jobs being sent overseas, where are these immigrants going to work?

Security Concerns

Having such porous borders is a security issue as well. With terrorists wanting to do us harm, shouldn’t we cut off any paths through which the bad guys can enter the country? We think primarily of Mexicans and Central Americans entering the country illegally, but other nationalities enter as well. Another aspect of the security concern is the cross-border drug trade. Drug cartels are flooding the US with drugs. Unfortunately there’s a big demand for these drugs, but if they weren’t so readily available, demand might diminish considerably.

Medical, Schooling, Other Services

Waves of illegal immigrants can put a strain on social services, such as health care and schooling. Since some of these illegals are paid “under the table” they pay no taxes while still using social services. As a civilized society we can’t deny these services to anybody living within our borders, but we can reduce the number of people entering the country.

Path to Citizenship

Since there are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living within the US, we should do something for them so they are no longer living as fugitives. For the most part they are hard- working, responsible people who often do jobs nobody else wants to do: farm workers, day laborers, etc. We aren’t rewarding bad behavior if we provide a path to citizenship, just dealing with the reality of the situation and trying to do the humane thing.