What would the world be without you? Without me? We may be tempted to think it would be better if we had never been born…
I know you will join with me in celebrating the gift of life, and what each life means as you consider the difference the world would have been without George Bailey (aka Jimmy Stewart) from IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE! I invite you to read and share a short message that if fitting for the holidays, but could also change the world, one community at a time, if we only embrace its heartwarming message.
Ten hours sitting on a commercial aircraft with very little to do leaves the mind wondering. I just returned from a brief overseas trip for work in Europe and cannot stop thinking about it. Work remains on my mind but trapped more was a conversation I had with a small handful of Muslims who appeared to be celebrating Christmas.
On my last evening in Europe, my co-worker dropped me off at my hotel. Prior to getting out of the car in some pouring rain and heavy winds, I asked him about what appeared to be a shopping mall adjacent to my hotel. Rather than revealing the details of the mall, he recommended we both go and take a walk inside. It was a part indoor-outdoor structure yet even the outdoor shops had an overhead canopy blocking the inclement weather.
Needless to say, I was more than impressed with the designer shops inside. Dolce & Gabbana, Emporio Armani, Swatch, H&M, along with other high-end stores were all packed inside. They were packed with not only people but Christmas décor and music. It was one of the first times during this Christmas season that I realized the spirit of Christmas was truly in the air.
After asking several questions to my colleague about Christmas in this European nation, he educated me about one significant phenomenon within most of Europe. A growing Muslim population is infiltrating European nation states. I believed they were not attempting to assimilate into the European culture rather were attempting multi-cultural expansion. And while many communities are becoming more and more multi-cultural, others are truly assimilating.
In laymen’s terms, “multi-culturalism” is unofficial yet observable ethnic and or religious community boundaries. Assimilation is about diverse populations embracing one another no matter their ethnic or religious beliefs, customs and traditions. My European counterpart stated that “multi-culturalism doesn’t work, people must learn to assimilate.” My eyes lit up in disbelief that a European would say such a thing which aligned towards my own thoughts.
With eyes wide open, he then pointed to a group of Muslim adolescents eating sweets near a brightly lit Christmas tree in the center of the mall. With shopping bags on the ground, they were filled with smiles, laughing, playing, and some were even singing. As we approached, I could hear their voices which forced me to stop and initiate conversation with them.
Four of the six Muslims were women who all wore the traditional Muslim headscarf known as the Hijab. Besides their beautiful light-tan-skin-tone and brown or emerald eyes along with some other North African appearances and Hijabs, one would never know they were Muslim immigrants. They dressed like Europeans wearing designer jeans and jackets, ate the local treats, and even sung American Christmas music being played over the mall’s loud speakers.
Based off their features, I thought they were from a place like Morocco, Algiers, Tunisia, or another North African nation state. After initiating some interpersonal rapport building, I jumped right into an anthropological state of questioning. Indeed, they were all Muslim and they all came from a multitude of North African nation states. They were singing Christmas carols which made me truly ponder why, so I had to ask. They all acknowledged the awesomeness of Christmas. They wouldn’t attend a Christian mass but would indeed celebrate Christmas with gifts, feast, and friendship similar to how their European Christian counterparts celebrate.
After ten minutes or so, it was time to leave the mall and go back to the hotel and get ready for a long flight back to the god ole U.S.A. As I turned my back, one of the older Muslims reached out to me by placing her hand on my shoulder. As I turned my head, she reminded me in her broken English of something I already knew—“Mr., you know that even us Muslims recognize your Jesus.”
Sleep was sparse that night as the evening’s earlier interaction with such beautiful people couldn’t leave my mind. Jesus was sent from heaven. He was our teacher who taught us about goodwill to all of mankind. He later died on the cross atoning each and every one of us for our sins. He didn’t do this for just his followers but for all of God’s children—Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike along with even those who lack belief in the Abrahamic religions.
The early morning came. I stepped foot into the airport and after obtaining my tickets and going through security, out of the corner of my eye, I witnessed one of the most beautiful families my eyes have ever seen. A proud Muslim father was actually holding the hand of his young beautiful wife. Walking only feet in front of them like a bunny prancing around in the springtime was their little girl.
We both walked towards the same terminal. I sat patiently waiting to embark the aircraft. They were waiting for the same flight as I. With due time, I boarded the plane, took my seat, and realized this family was sitting right next to me on the aircraft. Their little girl began playing flirtatious games that many children play so I played back.
The father initiated some small talk. He told me that they were visiting family in North Jersey then hoped to go see the Rockefeller Center—specifically to see “the world’s largest Christmas tree.” Again, I had to show my ignorance so I asked, “Are you not Muslim?” He replied similarly as the young adolescents in the shopping mall had earlier—“Yes, but that doesn’t mean that we do not know who Jesus was.”
Review of Cal Thomas Article:IT’S A TOUGH TIME FOR JEWS
In a season in which there is very little “peace on Earth” and even less “good will towards men,” it is a particularly tough time for Jews, who may be finding it more and more difficult to tell who their real friends are.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta fired an unusually harsh salvo across the Israelis bow. In a speech at aBrookings Institution forum, he urged Israel to get to the “d–n table” for peace talks. It must have escaped Panetta’s notice that the Palestinians are the ones refusing to come to the “d–n table” unless their unacceptable demands are met.
These include, depending on the day, the cessation of construction projects, even on pre-1967 Israeli land, the so-called “right of return” of “Palestinian refugees,” a concession by Israel to re-draw its borders to 1967 lines — though such borders would be completely indefensible against an inevitable attack — and the re-division of Jerusalem, which Israel rightly sees as its capital. Meanwhile, the Palestinian side concedes almost nothing and fulfills none of its promises. Neither is it held accountable for its behavior.
Since 2001, the United States has focused operations against Al Qaeda. The Sunni terror network has been severely crippled. While numerous splinter cells exist globally and a threat remains, it is no longer as austere as it once was. Today, a shift is desperately needed in fighting terror.
Defeating Al Qaeda had numerous up’s and down’s. Many brave American and allied forces perished, lives were changed, and economies have been endangered. Successes resulted in numerous kill and capture missions of high valued targets which included Al Qaeda’s leader Osama Bin Laden. Al Qaeda is now like a broken glass once filled with acid—it’s still dangerous if you step the wrong way but so long as we clean up the mess, we are relatively safe and out of any true danger.
The danger Al Qaeda poses may no longer be as significant as yesterday but this does not mean the United States or our allies are truly safe. The Middle East is on the brink of total collapse. The collapse mostly stems from Iranian proxy activities. Hezbollah, backed by Iranian Al Quds forces, is growing stronger and showing signs of its fortitude.
In the past two weeks, Hezbollah has been accused of operating alongside the Iranian Al Quds forces in Bahrain. Cell members have confessed to planning the assassination of numerous officials, blowing up the King Fahd Causeway, and the Saudi Embassy in Bahrain along with other vital assets. The activities of Hezbollah and Al Quds forces are not new. Unfortunately, due to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States has lost focus on what has been deemed the “world’s most effective terrorist organization.”
Hezbollah is so effective that Syria’s Assad regime has begun recruiting “Party of God” operatives in an attempt to squash uprising protestors. Hezbollah and its affiliates have global reach—much farther than its neighboring Syria.
A few weeks ago, Pakistani security services solved a case pertaining the killing of a Saudi Diplomat following the detention of an armed cell belonging to a Shi’ite organization called Sipah-e-Mohammed Pakistan (SMP) — an organization who receives support and military training from Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah operatives.
In 2010, Jamil Nasr, a Hezbollah operative, was arrested in Tijuana, Mexico, for allegedly trying to establish a network of supporters in Mexico with reach throughout South and North America.
Hezbollah’s presence throughout the continent of Africa is obvious. They have become fruitful in the diamond trade throughout Sierra Leon, Liberia, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Inside the United States, according to July 2011 statement before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, Hezbollah is estimated to have a “minimum of fifteen active terrorist cells throughout numerous metropolitan centers stretching from New York City to Los Angeles.”
It is obvious that Hezbollah is a serious threat. They have conducted many attacks against U.S. national interests to include Khobar Towers, the Marine Embassy bombing in Beirut, the assassination of CIA Officer William Buckley and U.S. Navy Diver Robert Stethem, and much more. We became tunnel visioned due to Al Qaeda’s 9-11 attack.
Al Qaeda is not dead yet it is crippled. We should not neglect our momentum in destroying the Sunni radical threat yet we should not neglect the remaining terror outfits that exist. Hezbollah must be next on the U.S. radar. They are moving leaps and bounds today with their operations—it is time we shift our focus to counter their activities.
In a reply to New York Times Editor requesting an OP ED from Mr. Netanyahu, his Senior Adviser Ron Dermer said:
“On matters relating to Israel, the op-ed page of the “paper of record” has failed to heed the late Senator Moynihan’s admonition that everyone is entitled to their own opinion but that no one is entitled to their own facts.
“A case in point was your decision last May to publish the following bit of historical revision by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas:
“It is important to note that the last time the question of Palestinian statehood took center stage at the General Assembly, the question posed to the international community was whether our homeland should be partitioned into two states. In November 1947, the General Assembly made its recommendation and answered in the affirmative. Shortly thereafter, Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened. War and further expulsions ensued.
“This paragraph effectively turns on its head an event…
With the Iraq War over, Americans wonder whether it was worth it.
Say what you will pertaining President Obama or Bush, for our veterans who served in Iraq, neither President means a whole lot. Unless you served, specifically beyond the traditional forward operating base, very few will ever comprehend the mentality of the American warfighter. Well, here is a 101 introduction to the American combat veteran and some truth about the Iraq War.
First and foremost, do not think for one moment any U.S. service member voluntarily served in combat because they truly believed in the Iraq mission. To believe in the mission, you first must understand the mission. In Iraq, just like today’s fight in Afghanistan, very few if any tactical warfighter understood the mission.
Secondly, combat veterans could care less about who is in political office. Sure, we all have our individual political favorites, but when it comes down to what we do best, politicians are the last thing that comes to our mind. Then again, when they decide to come into our tactical areas or responsibility, we do care. We care so much about that typical “dog and pony show” our commanders make us partake in, we pray the enemy engages our tactical battle space during such times simply to get the politicians the hell out! And as they leave, we pray that they remember what they saw so they can go back to Congress and request some decent pay raises for us.
Thirdly, while media war commentators attempt to portray the war to the best of their ability, they can never truly portray reality. Reality is not just something you read, hear, or see on the news. Reality entails all the senses. No media outlet will ever be capable of depicting what it feels like to squeeze the trigger of the M4 rifle, plugging your finger into the hole of a profusely bleeding out casualty, hearing the agonizing cries of the aftermath stemming from an IED, smelling the gunpowder from the heavy weapon rocking and rolling its rounds into a nearby building, etc. Media did a good job but never came close to depicting reality of the Iraq war.
Lastly, for those who fail to grasp why anyone would ever voluntarily leave family for months on end, leave the luxuries of their own home, leave everything behind, etc. just look at fraternities and sororities in university settings. Now you’re getting close but you’re only close when you multiply that brotherhood or sisterhood by a hundred. After you do that, you’re still not even close to understanding the brotherhood and sisterhood obtained by the combat veteran.
So while all the citizens of the United States ponder whether or not the Iraq War was worth the cost, to the combat service warrior, the answer is yes, it was. Just serving alongside a brother or sister in such a capacity made everything worth the war. The American lives lost were not lost in vain. They were lost for the sake of the brotherhood and the men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice shall not be forgotten by those of us who served alongside them in Iraq.
The Politics of Hate: A look at today’s war in the former Caliphate
Fire throughout the Middle East has been set ablaze. Uprisings have occurred, leaders have been ousted, Syria’s Assad is gripping to remain in power, and Israel remains in a state of unease. The region has become ideologically war torn greatly promoted by xenophobic language among Shiite and Sunni elements. War in the region is beyond imminent—it has already begun.
Religious fundamentalists constantly use hate to mobilize people. Violent rhetoric induces social conditioning among mass movements. Inspiring persons to act with hate and violence through induction of national and or religious pride has constantly grown throughout the former Caliphate region. Sunni and Shiite actors have contributed to the fire equally.
Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt have been taken over by Muslim Brotherhood proxies. In the mix of these nation state’s uprisings were numerous Al Qaeda affiliated proxies. Iran’s only true ally in the region, Syria, is forecasted to collapse by similar Sunni mechanisms.
Iran’s regional observation is like that coming from the eye of a hawk. There is no doubt that Iran has become a state a fear. Professor of Political Science at Rollins College, Dr. Joan Davison, states that “the politics of hate develops by stealth and then spirals as popular fears lead to conflict.” The Persian state of Iran developed hate against its Sunni neighbors and the west long ago. With approximately half a century of global militant proxies resulting in some tactical successes, today, Iran has moved onward to full scale war.
Iran’s war has not been initiated through conventional means. Fighter aircraft have not been launched striking enemy targets, naval warships never launched missile strikes against critical infrastructure, and a mass army has yet to maneuver into foreign lands. Iran’s war initiative has begun through asymmetric mechanics.
Like the Russians who clandestinely infiltrated the United States during and after the Cold War to induce disinformation propaganda, Iran too has begun its disinformation and psychological operations. Iranian clandestine services have sparked enough propaganda throughout the Middle East to cause uprisings in places like Bahrain, Yemen, Kuwait, and even Saudi Arabia. Their disinformation campaign should be observed as a success.
If uprisings were not enough, Iran has also launched a global initiative of assassinations against Saudi elites. In May, a Saudi diplomat was assassinated in Pakistan. His killers were members of a Shiite terrorist group closely aligned to Iran. Last month, terror cells of Iranian proxies have been captured in Bahrain revealing desires to target Saudi diplomats and key infrastructure. And inside the United States, Iranian supported terrorists have initiated plans of actions to continue the hunt of Saudi nationals.
Elected U.S. politicians such as Ed Royce, Sue Myrick, and Jim DeMint have all spoken out against the obvious and blatant infiltration of Iranian backed terrorists entering the United States through the southern land border. These three politicians are not alone. In fact, all elected officials should by now be aware of Iranian operations against U.S. national interests—all they need to do is read the CRS report prepared for Congress titled Iran-Iraq Relations.
Our politicians know exactly what Iran has initiated—War. Yet for unbeknownst reasons, United States politicians have failed in their obligations to protect citizens against the Iranian regime. Tensions throughout the Middle East are rising. War is under way. America is in grave danger.
Iran has been placed in a fear based panic. They have continuously spewed violent rhetoric against Israel and the west. Iranian supported proxies have caused global chaos. America has been infiltrated. And yesterday, Iranian leaders alerted military forces to prepare for war—a war which they had long ago initiated. All the while, the United States continues to sleep as Iran continues its militant progression.
The Taliban and why Joe Biden wasn’t necessarily wrong
Vice President Biden opened up yet another can of worms which sparked uproar among many Americans when he stated that the Taliban was not an enemy to the United States. Unfortunately, with more than ten years of U.S. operations in Afghanistan, it is obvious that the grave majority of Americans remain undereducated in understanding the Taliban. Needless to say, for once, I don’t necessarily disagree with the statement claiming the Taliban is not an enemy to the United States.
The United States has become a nation of labels. Everyone has a label placed on them. Labeling terms are loosely thrown at individuals carelessly. In Afghanistan, virtually anyone who fought against the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has been labeled as the Taliban—such label is absolutely wrong.
Throughout my years serving in Afghanistan, I have actually met many so called Taliban. Some were actual militants fighting against the Afghan government, some fought specifically against the United States, some fought on the side of the coalition, some didn’t fight at all rather served in security positions for government and non-government organizations, and others simply had nothing to do with picking up arms.
How could this be? How could Afghans actually align themselves in so many different capacities working either for or against the coalition yet all be labeled as Taliban? It’s actually not as complicated as one may believe.
The word Taliban stems from the Arabic word “Talib” meaning “student.” When I operated in Afghanistan, some persons considered me to be an actual Talib considering the magnitude of research and intelligence which I collected on the local populace. This data collected served as an educational phenomenon later used to assist in “teaching” U.S. decision makers about the tactical battle space. It was critical that I first become the student and allow the Afghans to be the teachers.
Of course, an actual Taliban militant group exists. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (the TTP) often referred to as the Pakistan Taliban is the only Taliban militant group in existence. Other militant opposition groups which evolved from the Russian-Afghan war exist such as Hezb Islami Gullbidine (HIG), Hezb Islami Khalis (HIK), Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), and a dozen or so more throughout Afghanistan but that does not mean they are actual Taliban even though many align themselves with the Pakistan Taliban.
There is another militant movement in Afghanistan that exists which many Americans fail to acknowledge or accept—the locally disgruntled villagers. Afghanistan is a tribal nation. With tribal nations comes a magnitude of issues to include clan wars. Unfortunately, many Afghan tribal elements simply wish the United States would stay clear of their domains. We foolishly oftentimes label such persons as Taliban when in fact these persons often hate the Taliban as much as you or I.
These tribes have weapons like the majority of Afghans. They use these weapons against ISAF as a means to keep “occupiers” out of their area. More often than not, when ISAF and the tribes engage in what are commonly referred to as “TIC’s” (Troops in Contact), reports are generated labeling enemy as Taliban when such label is not necessarily accurate.
A lazy American culture has promoted a need to label everyone. We have failed in understanding those different than us and simply believe labeling those different will better position ourselves in understanding. Such thought is a mistake. Undereducated labeling causes more confusion and commotion then good.
We have enemies throughout the world. In Afghanistan, our enemy may or may not be the Taliban. Then again, when we discuss the Taliban, are we simply generalizing an entire society of people vastly different than us or are we calling the spade a spade?
Central Asia and the Middle East are often referred to as the lands of rumor. Rumors promote false senses of reality. People become socially conditioned to believe that which is not necessarily truth. Has the United States become another nation built upon rumor? When it comes to understanding Afghanistan, the people, and the Taliban, I believe the answer is yes.
By now, unless one is living under a rock…or has the IQ of one…it’s unequivocal that, along with their ilk, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is on a mission. They are not surreptitious about their ambition: Destroy the State of Israel.
They state this in their charters. And have never reneged on that goal. They began this particular campaign, with their Arab/Muslim brethren, the very DAY Israel re-birthed as a nation: May 14, 1948. Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq didn’t come with an ordinary welcome wagon…it had a fuse.
Nothing has changed, since that time, except…the list of bloodthirsty enemies has grown and become well-financed and organized. With the help of degenerate monsters like Yasser Arafat, when he wasn’t lining his pockets with money extorted from Western nations…he was brainwashing the young, arming them…and aiming them at innocent Israelis.
The constant venal bombardment of ‘education’ to hate the Jewish nation and people, and the arming of the militant terror groups splintered-off from the PA government (Hamas-Fatah) must be well-funded. And sadly, it is…
Israel has collected tax revenue for the PA, and today that amounts to $100M/month…to enable it to run as a government. But, their murderous behavior and acts have forced Israel…on several occasions…to withhold those dollars from the PA. The most recent incident was the PA’s unilateral demand for recognition of statehood, and UNESCO inviting them in as a member.
The tax revenues were frozen.
Now, Israel, yet again…is extending an olive branch to the PA to hopefully resume relations with the terrorist government. Israel is releasing the revenues.
Good idea? Nope…
Tragic idea. Those funds will assuredly be used to continue the terror campaign upon innocent and peace-loving Israelis. Unless the funds come with a tracking device to insure proper use, the violence will not cease, because the PA’s modus operandi is enduring…just like Sheol.
Shalom through strength…
Audrey is the co-host of WOMANTalk Radio Show and handles Middle East Issues/National Security/Terrorism for their eZine (http://www.womantalk.us/). She also Hosts REELTalk, a monthly show with guests in the entertainment field. She has also been a frequent guest and guest co-host on Clash Radio with Doug Giles on the IRN Network. As well as a guest on several radio shows including The Rick Amato Show in San Diego, CA; The Simon Conway Show, The Pat Campbell Show in Tulsa, OK and The Mike Wiley Show in Las Vegas, NV. Audrey is the Managing Editor for the online opinion journal Ediblog.com. Her articles can also be read at The Center for Changing Worldviews and the Gold Coast Chronicle…as well as other online news/opinion journals. She can be reached at her website: http://www.audreyrusso.com/ or > email at email@example.com.