Currrent International Political Issues

September 5, 2016

The End of Pax Americana?

Historic Perspective

In reviewing the myriad tragic events carried out or inspired by Islamist terrorists throughout the world, it is worthwhile to step back and consider these events in a historic perspective. It is not an encouraging exercise.

The original use of the Latin phrase Pax Romana” described the era when the world was dominated by the Roman Empire, roughly from 300 BC to 500 AD when Rome was overrun by the Barbarian hordes and the Empire collapsed. By that time, Christianity had been widely adopted and was kept alive during the Dark Ages. The birth of Mohammed in Medina in 570 AD marked the beginning of Islam. Muslim armies swept from the sands of Arabia to the gates of Vienna and as far as Tours, France before being repelled. In the course of this conquest, given little choice, many citizens of conquered lands converted to Islam.

The Dark Ages extended for five centuries until the Renaissance which began the flowering of European arts, culture and a developed a revolutionary technology, the printing press.

Skipping ahead, Pax Brittania describes the period of British imperial expansion. From the 18th to the early 20th century, this small island nation spread its culture around the world...”The Sun never sets on the British Empire”. In this process the pioneer merchants, civil servants and military established the English language and Common Law as worldwide standards.

Pax Americana began around the turn of the 20th Century. In 1898 at the Treaty of Paris the United States acquired most of Spain’s colonial properties including Cuba, Guam and Puerto Rico. In 1907 Theodore Roosevelt sent the Great White Fleet around the world to establish the US as a global power. World War I decimated generations of European young men; however, the US was relatively untouched by the war and became the predominant global power.  The Great War accelerated the development of the airplane, which by the end of the century had dramatically expanded global travel. Two other two significant inventions of the 20th century were birth control and the computer. As their populations became wealthier, all of the Western nations experienced significant declines in birth rates resulting in aging populations.

After World War II under the Marshall Plan the US spent $13 billion for the reconstruction of Europe and the benign polices of General Douglas MacArthur enabled the Japanese to devote their formidable energies and skills to create an economic powerhouse in Asia. In the past twenty years, China adopted a capitalistic economy run by a totalitarian state which has lifted millions out of poverty and created the world power it is today.

Finally, towards the end of the 20th century, computers and smart phones became both amazingly powerful and ubiquitous, leading to the Internet which enabled billions of people to have access to most of the accumulated knowledge of the world. As could be expected, this greatly increased economic competition, in which many jobs in traditional industries were lost. The basic geo-political theory supporting free trade is that partners with mutual economic interests are less likely to compete militarily. Although this has not proved to be the case in the past two World Wars, free trade has historically been a win-win situation for most parties.

Clash of Civilizations

In his 1993 essay entitled Clash of Civilizations Samuel P. Huntington specifically identified the conflicting ideologies of Christianity and Islam as the most diametrically opposed. In Arabic, the word Islam means “submission” and, as told by the Prophet Mohammed and interpreted by the Mullahs and Ayatollahs, all peoples of the earth are subjects of Allah. There is zero toleration for other religions. The practice of Christianity or other religions is forbidden in most Arab countries. To many adherents, the basic attraction of Islam is their belief that Muslims are morally superior to other faiths, particularly those living in open societies where alcohol, freedom of women and LBGT groups are offensive. Judging from the behavior of some Muslims when not under the watchful eye of others, there is a bit of hypocrisy here.

The wealthy countries of Islam, led by Saudi Arabia, fund the mullahs in Mecca to sustain their rule. The mullahs in turn use these funds to expand their fundamental Wahabbi version of Sunni Islam with new Madrassas and mosques in the Western World. Iran does the same on a lesser scale but provides funds and military support to Hezbollah and its terrorist activities which have claimed the lives of many Americans and their Allies.

The 21st Century

The most successful terrorist attack in history occurred on September 11, 2001 when eleven Arabian men brought down the two World Trade Center towers in New York City. It was a well designed and executed operation planned by Osama Bin Laden, the scion of a wealthy Saudi family who became obsessed with the Western influence in Saudi Arabia and the degeneration of the Royal family. To avenge this act, President George W. Bush authorized military action in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Although Osama was caught and killed by a US Special Forces team authorized by President Obama, these wars proved far more difficult and costly in life and treasure than had been foreseen, and became increasingly unpopular.

Although the invasion of Iraq resulted in the capture and death of Saddam Hussein, the post-war administration of the country was a fiasco, compounded by the premature withdrawal of all Allied Forces. The exclusion of Iraqi Sunni’s from the government led to the formation of the Islamic State which initially conquered about a third of the country and subsequently expanded into Syria. Despite the objections of General David Petraeus and Secretary Hillary Clinton, Obama refused to expel Bashar Al-Assad with the kind assistance of his friends in Russia. This situation is still unresolved.  Russia has been emboldened in Syria. As a result of these and other continuing problems, Obama decided to limit further US involvement in the Middle East.

Are we at war with Islam?

President Obama, and critics of Samuel Huntington, make a great issue that the West should not be at war with Islam, which they state is a benign and peaceful religion, of which the terrorists are only a very small sect. Further, we rely on the “peaceful” Muslims to help us identify and destroy bad Muslims. This is true, as far as it goes.

Looking at the barbaric Islamic State with its objective to create a new Caliphate and the terrorist activities they have conducted and inspired, their leaders certainly believe that Islam should rule the world. It is only the “politically correct” politicians, exemplified by President Obama, who fear offending the majority of “good” Muslims. President Obama’s decision to withdraw Allied Forces from Afghanistan and Iraq, and not to have ground forces deployed anywhere in the Middle East, was intended to not further alienate the Islamic populations.

It is clear from his unusual background, and the many Muslims (mostly Shar’ia) on his staff, that at the very least, President Obama has strong sympathy towards Islam. While we may not have not technically declared war on Islam per se, they have certainly declared war on us. Ayatollah Khamenei routinely cites this in his speeches.

Is Islam Winning?

By most meaningful criteria, Islam is gaining in the battle for global expansion. With an estimated 1.5 billion adherents, it is larger than Christianity. Primarily Islam is ahead in demographics, with Muslim women having far more babies than women in any Western nation. They have built many new mosques and Madrassas to educate their youth. Their terrorist attacks have been hugely successful in costing their enemies billons of dollars in anti-terrorism efforts and the war effort against Islamic State. The devastation of Syria has driven over two million refugees into Turkey and Europe. Finally, throughout Europe, many Muslims have established separate communities and, with exploding populations, are making inroads into influential positions in their host governments.

What Can Be Done?

There are several actions that could be taken by all governments interested in defeating the spread of Islam, beginning with the desire to do so. Stressing the inevitability of the ultimate victory of Islam is a major objective of their leaders and media.

Some Suggestions:

1.  Recognize the enemy. Call it Islamic Terrorism (Muslims do!);

2.  Restrict immigration. Each country should be able to determine whom they want to live within their country.

3.  Ban Sharia Law. All Muslims who live in non-Muslim majority countries should be made to abide by local laws. Christians and Jews (if they are allowed) cannot practice their religion in most Arab countries. Muslims emigrate to get a better life, which was created in large part by our legal system, certainly not Sharia law which still tolerates “honor killings” and other customs abhorrent in our societies.

4. Make Islam pay the costs of attacks. Require all religious organizations to purchase “Terrorist” Insurance. The principal amount should be sufficient to pay for any losses, including both property and individual harm or loss of life, which was attributable to any member of their faith. Of course, any such proposal would be strongly opposed as being in conflict with our fundamental right of Freedom of Religion. To be non-discriminatory, the new laws should cover all religious institutions, including the Catholic and Anglican churches, Jewish synagogues, Mormons and Buddhists etc. Presumably the premiums charged would be based upon risk assessments, much as auto and household policies. I expect the premium costs assessed would be readily accepted by most non-Islamic institutions or their parishioners. After all, when was the last Anglican suicide attack? Muslims could seek funding for their premiums from their mullahs in Mecca or Teheran.

Summary – The End of Pax America

The spectacular advancements in scientific knowledge and the improvements in the lives of millions of people that have been achieved during the past 100 years may well have surpassed all progress made in recorded time. They have essentially occurred during the period we call Pax Americana. While these achievements are attributable to many factors, the favorable climate which fostered this progress was certainly due to the advancement of individual freedoms, the core of the American heritage, and the preponderance of US military power. It would be a disaster to allow the philosophy of 7th century Islam to reverse this progress.

In the above recitation of rise and falls of civilizations, one date noting the beginning of the end of Pax America could be November 4, 2008, the day that Barrack Hussein Obama won the election for the Presidency of the United States. Many of his actions over the past eight years confirm his belief in international government (e.g. the UN) and his rejection of American exceptionalism.

On November 8, 2016 American voters will go to the polls to elect a new President and many members of Congress. Both Presidential candidates have expressed positions against further foreign involvements (e.g. Pacific Trade Treaty) other than to quickly defeat Islamic State. While this is a necessary objective, that alone will not continue human progress. We need to restore a positive view towards more international involvement, not less. Otherwise, that date above will accurately describe the end of Pax America. That would be a very sad day for the civilized world.

Byron Kahrs Varme

Executive Director       

THE SYRIAN CRISIS – Western Involvement Long Overdue  

March 15, 2013

The cover of the current issue of The Economist (March 13, 2013) is entitled “Syria, the Death of a Country” citing the death of over 70,000 people and displacement of 5,000 people per day. The article concludes with the recommendation that the Western nations should take such actions as needed to assuage the brutalization of the Syrian population. We strongly agree.

The actions proposed by Britain and France are to ease the arms embargo to permit more weapons to reach the various factions rebelling against the regime of Bashar Al Assad. This proposal had the endorsement of Leon Panetta, General Martin Dempsey and even Hillary Clinton but was vetoed by President Obama. Apparently, he will take no action that could jeopardize his political objectives.

Although more light weapons would help the Syrian rebels, it would do little to affect the devastation caused by the Syrian Air Force. Proposals to send shoulder fired missiles to the rebels have been opposed because of fear that some would likely fall into the hands of jihadists who could use them against civilian airliners. This scenario is not far fetched.

The apparent answer would be to establish a no-fly zone as was done with great effect both in Iraq and Libya. In both cases, the first objective of U.S. and allied air forces was to take out the air defense infrastructure. Although the Syrian air defense system has benefited from sophisticated Russian equipment and expertise, there is little doubt that they could be destroyed by a “shock and awe” attack.

One proposal to escalate pressure on the Syrian Air Force would begin by stationing an international carrier group (presumably including the US and some allies) off its small Syrian Mediterranean coastline. Syrian ex-pats have suggested the simple presence of these forces would accelerate defections. This could be followed by cruise missile attacks on the air force infrastructure, including aircraft, hangars and supply depots. These could not easily be replaced, and would disrupt the major weapon of killing and damage created by the Assad regime. It would be applauded by all of the rebel factions excepting Hezbollah and its Iranian and Russians backers who stand to lose influence if their client state falls.

Of course, any attack on another nation without at least the cover of a UN resolution, as used in the Korean conflict, would be decried by internationalists as a violation of the sacred concept of national sovereignty. We suggest the Assad regime, and those of other dictatorships such as North Korea, lose their sovereignty when they remain in power only through terrorizing their own people. Legalistic cover when used to perpetuate such brutalization is inherently immoral.

Everyone recognizes that the Syrian situation is extremely complex, from a legal and geopolitical view involving Iran and Russia as the principal supporters of the Assad regime. Any actions taken, such as proposed above, will have unforeseen consequences, both good and bad. However, the present situation is intolerable, and the US, and a few of its allies, has it in their power to help the people of Syria. It is the right thing to do.