ISIS Eyes Nuclear-armed Pakistan

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Pakistan’s use of Islamic militancy as an instrument of its foreign policy, including knowingly playing host to Osama bin Laden, may now pose a looming threat to its own national security.

According to Pakistani sources, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is gaining strength in Pakistan. Altaf Hussain, the founder and leader of Muttahida Quami Movement, a Pakistani political party representing the Urdu-speaking community, said the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Al-Qaeda are merging with ISIS and may challenge Pakistan’s integrity and stability.

Six prominent members of the Pakistan Taliban have turned their allegiance away from Afghan Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Omar to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Five regional Taliban commanders also affirmed their support for al-Baghdadi, who, in June, declared himself the Caliph of the Muslim world and ordered all Muslims to pledge their allegiance to him. Al-Baghdadi’s success has been largely attributed to his ability to consolidate disparate militant factions into a single fighting force.

The October 23, 2014 killing of eight Shia Muslims in the southwestern city of Quetta suggests that ISIS may be having an influence on indigenous Sunni militants in Pakistan. Abdul Khaliq Hazara, leader of the Shia Hazara Muslim community, said: “There are indications of ISIS seeking to expand its presence in Baluchistan. I suppose ISIS are [sic] looking to build up a support base here along the border with Iran, to add pressure on Iran from its eastern border [along Pakistan].”

Pakistan remains a central node in global terrorism. For forty years, Pakistan has been backing Islamic extremist groups as part of its expansionist foreign policy in Afghanistan and Central Asia and its efforts to maintain equilibrium with India. As early as the 1950s, Pakistan began inserting Islamists associated with a Pakistan-based Jamaat-e-Islami into Afghanistan.

Strategically, Pakistan may present the greatest threat to Afghan independence and the success of American policy in the region. Pakistan views Afghanistan as a client state, a security buffer against what they consider potential Indian encirclement and as a springboard to extend their own influence into the resource-rich area of Central Asia. In 1974, then Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto set up a cell within Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) to begin managing dissident Islamists in Afghanistan. Pakistani President Zia ul-Haq (1977-1988) told one of his generals: “Afghanistan must be made to boil at the right temperature.”

After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, Pakistan backed Pashtun Islamist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who struggled with his main rival (Ahmad Shah Massoud, an ethnic Tajik from the Panjshir Valley of Afghanistan, later assassinated by al-Qaeda two days before the 9/11 attacks.)

In 1994, under Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan shifted its support from Hekmatyar to the Taliban, who by 1998 had consolidated their power over most of Afghanistan and provided a safe haven for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Without doubt, Pakistan and its intelligence service have more influence over the Taliban than any other country. It provides critical safe haven and sanctuary to the groups’ leadership, advice on military and diplomatic issues, and assistance with fundraising. In 1999, Bhutto’s Minister of Interior, Nasrullah Babar, admitted it quite explicitly, pronouncing, “We created the Taliban.”

Pakistan has been playing a double game with the US appeasement on the outside, whilst covertly funding, arming, and training the Taliban in the hope that after a coalition defeat and withdrawal, they could once again be the dominant power in Afghanistan.

It is important to note that Turkey’s current situation resembles the early years of Pakistan’s sponsorship of the Taliban. ISIS is recruiting militants in Turkey. Failure to clean its own house now could lead Turkey down the path of “Pakistanization,” whereby a resident jihadist infrastructure causes Sunni extremism to ingrain itself deeply within the fabric of society. Like Pakistan, Turkey’s dilemma may be far graver than its leaders realize.

The conclusion is clear. Unless ISIS is defeated now in Syria and Iraq, it will present a far greater threat to US national security as it grows in strength, geographic presence, and access to weapons of mass destruction.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Ebola: A Politically Incorrect Approach

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Bottom line up front:

– The Ebola threat to the United States is mostly dependent on the extent of the epidemic in West Africa, and it is growing

– Travel restrictions from nations with high Ebola infection rates can help stem the spread of the disease and will be needed

– Airport screening will not necessarily prevent Ebola-infected individuals from entering the United States, an expensive and mostly ineffective solution

– American military personnel can be highly effective in delivering short-term humanitarian assistance and may be needed to help contain the spread of the epidemic.

The first cases of the current West African epidemic of Ebola were reported on March 22, 2014, with 49 patients in Guinea.

Up to October 14, 2014, the total number of reported cases is in excess of 9,216; and 4,555 people have died from the disease in five countries: Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and the United States, about a 50% fatality rate.

The current epidemic sweeping across West Africa has rapidly become the deadliest occurrence of the disease since its discovery in 1976 and has now killed more than all other known Ebola outbreaks combined.

The World Health Organization (WHO) admits the official figures are underestimated and warns there could be as many as 20,000 cases by November.

In agreement with the WHO claims, a Center for Disease Control and Prevention computer simulation estimated a potential underreporting correction factor of 2.5, which predicted an actual number of 21,000 cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone by September 30, 2014. More ominously, reported cases in Liberia are doubling every 15-20 days; and those in Sierra Leone are doubling every 30-40 days.

In a CDC hypothetical scenario, every 30-day delay in increasing the percentage of patients in Ebola Treatment Units to 70% was associated with an approximate tripling in the number of daily cases that occur at the peak of the epidemic.

That is, if efforts to tackle the outbreak are not stepped up, the WHO has estimated that, by early December, there could be as many as 10,000 new cases a week in West Africa.

There has been much debate in the United States whether to implement a travel ban affecting airline flights originating in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. Health experts have argued against a travel ban, maintaining that it won’t necessarily stop the spread of the virus and will inhibit the flow of aid and health workers to a region that needs it most.

As shown in a new study and witnessed by the imported cases of the Ebola virus into Nigeria and the US, the potential for further international spread via air travel remains present. Based on current epidemic and international travel conditions, their model projects that up to 3 passengers infected with the Ebola virus will successfully depart from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea every month.

The authors contend that airport screenings don’t change their conclusion because such measures can miss travelers who don’t yet show signs of Ebola. A person can incubate the virus for up to 21 days without exhibiting signs of the disease.

Of additional concern is that the anticipated destinations of more than 60% of travelers departing those three countries are to low-income or lower-middle income countries, where inadequately resourced medical and public health systems might be unable to detect and adequately manage an imported case of Ebola, including possible subsequent community spread via commercial flights, like the situation that occurred in Nigeria.

The risk of spread by commercial air or other types of travel beyond 3 persons per month will likely increase as the total number of infected individuals increases. The spread of Ebola beyond its current boundaries could expose additional Americans to the disease and potentially present a national security threat to the United States.

Finally, there is ample evidence of the Defense Department’s capability to provide effective humanitarian assistance. As an Army Reservist, I participated in a successful delivery of healthcare services to West Africa in 2007. With the proper protection and procedures, US military personnel could help stop the epidemic at its source, especially by deploying the needed Ebola Treatment Units and prevent possible further appearance of the disease on the US mainland.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Obama Is America’s First Hollywood President

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In movies, handsome men and beautiful women speak eloquent words written by others and perform profound or heroic actions that they were never required to do in real life.

Like a Hollywood fantasy, Obama’s is a make-believe presidency. No one expects leadership from a celebrity, and no one expects him to mean what he says.

Obama is at his best on a stage set with human props in the background, reading from a teleprompter script to an audience of adoring fans.

Like the son of a Hollywood mogul, Obama breezed through life with an Affirmative Action wind at his back. He was made President of the Harvard Law Review having never written a legal article, was an unremarkable Illinois state senator, and made no impact on national events in his brief tenure as a US senator. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize based on rhetoric rather than accomplishment.

Much like the intellectual vacuity of Hollywood, Obama’s incompetence is camouflaged by the ignorant approval of naïve or ideological groupies and a fawning and uncritical media.

Unlike Obama, Ronald Reagan earned his success and demonstrated leadership throughout his career. He was elected both high school and college student body president. Reagan studied at Eureka College, a small Christian school near Peoria, on a half-tuition scholarship. He majored in economics and sociology and took part in dramatics, football, track, and swimming. After graduation, he worked as a sportscaster and signed a movie contract as a result of a screen test for a radio announcer role, while in California for the Chicago Cubs spring training. Reagan became president of the Screen Actors Guild in 1947 and was elected to five more terms. He was twice elected Governor of California as a Republican in the consummate Democratic state.

Unlike Obama, Reagan demonstrated an uncommon ability to give voice to the innate patriotism of the American people; and more than any other politician of his time, he had an affectionate, long-lasting relationship with his countrymen. On his 70th day as president, March 30, 1981, after an address to labor leaders at the Washington Hilton Hotel, shots were fired, and an assassin’s bullet lodged one inch from his heart. The grace, courage, and, yes, the humor with which he handled that event cemented his affectionate relationship with the American people.

Unlike Obama, narcissism, arrogance, and pretentiousness were not the Reagan style. He was the American’s American, a president we could take pride in when he traveled to other countries, even if there was the occasional gaffe. Reagan deflected much ridicule by leading the laughter himself. He had good speechwriters, but Reagan’s delivery always glorified the material rather than glorifying himself.

Would anyone ever expect Obama to describe America as “that shining city on a hill?”

In a recent interview, former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said that Obama “has the guts to do the right thing” on ISIS, for example; but the real question is whether he will make the decision to act.

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This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

The Obama Doctrine: Annoy, Not Destroy ISIS

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On August 7, 2014, Barack Obama announced “Operation Annoy ISIS,” ordering U.S. aircraft to drop humanitarian supplies to tens of thousands of Yezidi refugees fleeing the terrorists of the Islamic State. He also ordered U.S. combat aircraft to be ready to launch airstrikes to protect Americans in Erbil, Iraq, and to lift the siege of the Yezidis.

The airstrikes began on Aug. 8, 2014, when two F/A-18 aircraft dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on a mobile artillery piece near Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan region.

On September 10, 2014, Obama declared his intention to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIS, while precluding a combat mission for American ground forces in Iraq.

As of October 7, 2014, 60 days into the air campaign against ISIS, a total of 376 airstrikes have been conducted, 266 in Iraq and 110 in Syria, the vast majority targeting vehicles, equipment, and buildings, not terrorists.

Supporters of the Obama Administration’s approach to the ISIS threat cite the 1999 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) air campaign in the Kosovo War as an example of how air power alone can end wars.

On the night of 24 March 1999, NATO launched Operation Allied Force in response to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic’s ethnic cleansing of Kosovar Albanians. The violence had already taken the lives of more than 250,000 people by 1995; and when the conflict continued to escalate, the United Nations Security Council warned of an “impending humanitarian catastrophe” if action was not taken.

During the 78-day campaign, NATO aircrews flew 38,004 sorties, 10,484 of which were strike sorties. Overall, the U.S. Air Force flew 30,018 sorties, including 11,480 airlift, 8,889 fighter, 322 bomber, 6,959 tanker, 1,038 Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR), 834 Special Operations, and 496 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) missions.

In contrast to the conventional wisdom, however, it was not air power that brought the Serbs to the negotiating table, but the threat of a ground invasion.

According to a Washington Post article, although President Clinton ruled out ground troops from the start of the 78-day air war in the Balkans, secret preparations for an invasion of Kosovo were extensive, and progressed much further than that known at the time.

On May 27, 1999, after the air campaign had dragged on for nine weeks, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen met with the defense ministers of Britain, France, Germany, and Italy. After 6½ hours of debate, the five ministers reached a momentous conclusion. Their governments must decide whether to assemble ground troops, and they must make the choice within days.

Despite public denials throughout the war, the CIA worked closely with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLO) to gather intelligence about the disposition of Yugoslav troops in Kosovo. Relying in part on a clandestine relationship with the KLO, NATO’s leadership was probing Yugoslav defenses. NATO engineers were reinforcing a vital roadway for use in an armored thrust. By mid-May 1999, General Wesley K. Clark, the supreme allied commander in Europe, had come up with a preliminary plan for an attack from the south by 175,000 troops, mostly through that single road from Albania.

As the Washington Post’s Dana Priest described, when the ethnic Albanian rebels launched a major offensive in late May 1999 with NATO’s full prior knowledge and active air support, Milosevic and his generals seem to have concluded that NATO was on the brink of an invasion. That, NATO commanders now believe, was an important factor in the Serbian leader’s sudden retreat. Whatever Milosevic’s calculations, it is clear in retrospect that at the very moment the Serb leader was preparing to capitulate, Clinton was thinking seriously about the ground option.

On the evening of June 9, 1999, Milosevic signed an agreement allowing the incursion of 50,000 NATO soldiers, but as peacekeepers, not warriors.

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This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

ISIS Is An Opportunity, Not A Disaster

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On December 16, 1944, three German armies–the Sixth SS Panzer, Fifth Panzer, and the Seventh Army–some 24 divisions in all, launched an offensive against the six defending U.S. divisions strung out along 100 miles of the Ardennes Forest, later to be known as the Battle of the Bulge.

On Dec. 19, 1944, General Dwight Eisenhower and his senior staff met with Generals Omar Bradley and George Patton. The Germans had achieved complete surprise, had badly mauled American units, and threatened to advance through the Ardennes Forest, cross the Meuse River, and capture American supply depots with the eventual aim of splitting the Allied forces and driving on toward the port of Antwerp.

Eisenhower had no reserves to deploy and American air superiority, which could have stabilized the situation, could not be employed due to bad weather. For the first time since D-Day on June 6th, the Allies were facing a foe that was more numerous, more mobile, and better equipped than they were. A successful German counter offensive would be catastrophic, and in the first few days of the battle it looked like a real possibility. Nevertheless, Eisenhower, according to his book Crusade in Europe, began the conference by saying, “The present situation is to be regarded as one of opportunity for us and not of disaster.”

Eisenhower exerted a firm grip on the battle. Patton was ordered to swing his U.S. 3rd Army 90 degrees and drive north to strike at the southern flank of the ‘bulge’ driven into the Allied line, a task he completed with unprecedented speed. To prevent the swelling German salient from severing communications between Bradley’s U.S. 12th Army Group on the northern and southern sides of the ‘bulge’, Eisenhower gave Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, commander of the British 21st Army Group, operational control in the north. The objective was to halt and cut off the offensive, which, after about one month of intense fighting, was accomplished.

The perceived disastrous rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist army presents a similar opportunity.

In 2001, both as an assessment of Western weakness and an al-Qaeda recruitment tool, Osama bin Laden remarked, “when people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse.”

American leaders need to acknowledge that violence is a central component of the politics, society, and culture of the Arabic-speaking Middle East.

By swiftly halting, cutting off, and annihilating ISIS, the civilized world would send an unequivocal message to aspiring jihadists that they are not the strong horse. It could set back terrorism as a major threat for a decade and create an opportunity to return a balance of power in the Middle East.

In our June 2014 article, former Lebanese intelligence officer Colonel Nagi N. Najjar and I wrote that the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the removal of the secular Baathist regime, and the dismantling of the Iraqi Army left a power vacuum, unleashing antagonistic religious and tribal forces, primarily Sunni and Shi’a, which we could not control and, ultimately, remained unresolved when our military forces left in December 2011.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom