Tag Archives: Africa

Benghazi

It’s amazing how little so many know about one of the most important terrorist attacks in recent years. So I’m taking it upon myself here to educate and inform those who have heard something, but don’t know the details, in nutshell form.

Benghazi is the 2nd largest city in Libya, and is located along the Mediterranean Sea in northern Africa. Just last year it was the scene of one of the key uprisings in the rebellion against the longtime dictatorial government of Muammar Gaddafi.

Towards the end of his 2nd term, President George W. Bush and his security people made the determination that Africa was under such a large threat from various sources, particularly from al Qaeda and other Islamist terror organizations, that a separate ‘Africa Command’ for American forces military response on the continent was required.

In 2008, ‘AfriCom’ was officially activated. However, with the Bush administration leaving office, it would be left to the incoming Obama administration to fully establish the commands effectiveness. To say they dropped the ball would be generous.

A full four years after it’s establishment, General Carter Ham was in charge, but AfriCom was still a command “in paper only” with “very few assigned forces“, as The Washington Times reported in a comment from a former Bush administration official.

At 9:40pm on the night of September 11th (date sound familiar?), the CIA reports that senior security of the US State Department called the CIA and requested assistance. The CIA states that it was told to wait. Just before 10:00pm, Ham, who was in Washington at the Pentagon, directed a drone to Benghazi to assess the situation visually. By 10:04pm, a CIA team finally responded to the embassy.

It was not for another half hour that the US Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs were notified, despite the fact that it was now obvious that a US  ambassador’s life was in jeopardy as the American embassy was under attack.

Roughly 20 minutes later, Defense Secretary Leon Pannetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey entered a previously scheduled meeting with President Barack Obama, each with full knowledge that the attack was well underway.

The CIA team rescued all surviving personnel of the initial attack on the American embassy, but this did not include our ambassador, Christopher Stevens, who died from smoke inhalation during the fiery attack on what was essentially his home in Libya, his home on what is considered American soil.

On returning to their annex, the CIA team and the survivors of the embassy attack immediately came under fire from small arms fire and RPG’s, and began making calls for help and air support. Back in DC, Pannetta takes until almost five hours after the attacks began to formally order US Marines and Special Forces teams to respond. It was too late. Way too late.

The questions and repercussions began to emerge almost immediately: who knew what about this specific attack, when did they know it, and why was the embassy so insecure? The President, presumably with knowledge of American interests around the world, most definitely knew that AfriCom was unprepared and that the situation in Benghazi was perilous.

In the months leading up to these September 11th attacks, the American consulate in Benghazi had come under attack, had requested increased security, and was denied it on the basis that the threats against it were not sufficient to justify such forces.

Further more, the Obama administration had received intelligence information through a diplomatic cable a full two weeks prior to these attacks, alerting it that the embassy at Benghazi could not withstand a coordinated attack, particularly from the Islamist militia forces and al Qaeda itself, which had training camps within the city.

So the facts as President Obama knows them are these: AfriCom, a key American strategic initiative in a highly unstable area of the world, was in need of serious security attention the entirety of his first term. He did nothing. The American consulate in Benghazi was in particular danger. He did nothing. During the attack, which he became aware of at some point, he and his key advisers delayed to the point where they may as well have done nothing.

This is not political rhetoric. An American diplomatic official at an Amercian embassy in a foreign land on American soil was murdered. Very little was done to protect him and the diplomatic mission, either on the front end or the back end. Nothing has been done since the attacks in response against the attackers.

This is a fundamental example of the ineffectiveness and/or unwillingness of the Obama administration to protect and defend American diplomatic and security personnel and interests around the world.

Another problem? Many in the former “mainstream media” knew all of these facts well in advance of the election, knew it to be a major story with political implications for the President’s leadership and possibly for his re-election itself, and suppressed the bulk of the story details intentionally.

There are many problems in America today, and three of them are perfectly highlighted by the attack on our embassy and murder of our ambassador in Benghazi:

One, the President of the United States, who promised that his would be the most open and transparent administration in history, is anything but.

Two, the American mass media are clearly “in the bag” for the Democratic Party, to the extent they are now willing to bury a story that is bigger than Watergate.

Three, the Liberal supporters of the President have given this whole system carte blanche to exist, despite their cries of wanting honesty and openness from their government officials.

That is Benghazigate in a nutshell. It is a sad story, not so importantly about politics, but about how insecure the world is becoming with a shrinking American will to respond in crisis situations, even to the point of defending our own citizens and direct interests.

Nothing will change, because the President was just re-elected with help from the mass media, and with his constituents unwilling to call him on his greatest transgressions.

Can you imagine the headlines from that media, and the howls from these Obama supporters, if the only thing that were to change in this story were that the President behind this scandal was instead named George W. Bush?

Birth Pains of the New Caliphate

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve seriously broached this topic. The recent riotous uprising in Egypt, categorized by the usual American media suspects as attempts at “democracy”, bring the topic clearly back to relevancy.

In actuality, the topic has always been relevant, but it always takes something major to wake up the American public.

For the great unwashed, and for those media talking heads who nearly lost their own heads this past week at the hands of these alleged democracy-loving demonstrators, let’s do a quick refresher on just what exactly is the Islamic “caliphate”, and why we all should be concerned about it.

A very long story begins in the first half of the 7th century A.D. with the birth of Islam under it’s founder, Muhammad, a man believed by followers of that faith to be the greatest and final messenger of God. Muhammad first spread this new faith by peaceful preaching and teaching, but he and his followers eventually turned to violent and forcible means.

In the aftermath of Muhammad’s death in 632, physical and spiritual battles arose for control of Islam by two groups who we continue that struggle today, 1,500 years later –  the Sunni and the Shiites. The Sunni were larger and stronger, and overall Islamic power was centralized under a leader who was known as the ‘Caliph’, the successor to Muhammad. The lands and peoples over which the Caliph held control became known as the Islamic Caliphate.

For centuries this Caliphate spread by conquest known as ‘Jihad’ throughout the lands of the Middle East, across northern Africa, and into both Spain and eastern Europe. By the end of the 17th century, just before the emergence of America as a nation and culture, the Caliphate controlled an area as large as the old Roman Empire.

The end finally began to come for the Islamic Caliphate on the eve of the American birth when, in 1774, it surrendered large portions of control to the emerging Russian nation. Then the Ottoman Empire, which controlled the Caliphate over it’s final four centuries, went into World War I on the side of the Axis powers, the losing side.

In the aftermath of defeat in World War I, secular power took charge in Turkey, and the Caliphate was formally abolished. Ever since that time, various religious and military leaders have vowed to return the Caliphate to power, most notably the Muslim Brotherhood. That has been and remains the goal of the worldwide movement known to many today as “radical Islam”, to take control first of the Middle East, and then begin to spread the Caliphate around the region, to neighboring nations, and eventually around the entire world.

The Muslim Brotherhood is at the very core of the troubles in the Middle East today. The Brotherhood has for decades been sparking, fomenting, and supporting uprisings through it’s creations such as al Qaeda and Hamas among dozens of others. Their stated goals are: the reestablishment of the Caliphate, the reunification of their nation (the Ummah), the institution of strict Islamic religious law (Shariah), and the spread of the Caliphate around the world.

They are behind the uprisings that have taken place recently or are currently taking place across the Arabic world from Egypt to Jordan, from Tunisia to Syria, from Libya to Lebanon. While these alleged “popular uprisings” for “democratic reforms” topple various types of secular institutional governments, make no mistake about what the new replacement governments will become. They will become Islamic theocracies, either outright or by proxy control.

As the Muslim Brotherhood exercises and expands it’s control by whipping up tens of thousands at the grass-roots level to violently demonstrate and forcibly coerce change, the results will not be anything like American or even European democracy. What we are seeing in Egypt and across the Middle East, and will continue to see there, in Africa, and will see at some point in every nation of the world during this century, are the birth pains of the new Caliphate.

Millions of Americans will be glued to their television sets for hours this weekend to watch a football game. They will gorge on tons of food and snack treats, scarf down alcoholic and carbonated beverages by the truck load, and gamble away hard-earned money on pools and bets. Meanwhile, a much bigger, deadlier, and far more important game will be playing out on the other side of the world.

Americans who continue to consider a few weeks, months, or even a couple years of largely quiet times in the struggle against radical Islam as anything other than a lull in the storm are kidding themselves. More than that, they are passively ignoring the struggle that will be one of the most vital across their world as they age. It is the struggle that will define the world in which their children and grandchildren live out this century. It is one that will be forced upon them by the Caliphate now in the struggles of it’s own rebirth.

R.I.P. Michael Jackson (and Farrah)

I’m going to start this post with a plain statement: I don’t believe that Michael Jackson was a pedophile at all. I don’t believe that he ever had any type of inappropriate sexual relations with any child whatsoever.

And I hope that the man, who I do believe was a tortured soul thanks to a traumatic upbringing, is finally at peace now in God’s glorious heaven.

Michael Jackson, the ‘King of Pop’ and a true American cultural icon, died yesterday at the age of 50 of what is believed to have been cardiac arrest.

Those who saw him in recent months have reported that he looked skeletal, emaciated, and unhealthy. A fan who got to watch him on Monday in training for a hoped-for comeback tour said that she thought “he could die.”

Michael lived a life mixed with blessings and curses. He was blessed with phenomenal gifts in his natural talents for singing and dancing. Unfortunately, these very gifts led to the curse of his father’s abuse.

The elder Jackson unmercifully whipped and beat him as a young boy in a misguided effort to push him to stardom. His father’s abuse, emotional and verbal as well as physical, would reverberate through the entirety of his life.

I remember as a young boy watching television cartoons of Michael and his brothers, their singing and dancing, and hearing their songs performed as the ‘Jackson Five’. Hits that he recorded both with the group and in his solo efforts in those 1970’s days included “ABC”, “I Want You Back”, “Rockin’ Robin”, “Ben”, “Dancin’ Machine”, and the gorgeous “Got to be There” as AM radio staples of my youth.

In the 1980’s, Jackson’s solo career truly took off into another stratosphere.
His emergence as a young adult solo artist, combined with his talents for dancing, made him a natural leader in the emerging video music industry being pioneered by the folks at MTV. His albums “Off the Wall”, “Thriller”, and “Bad” made him the biggest act on earth. “Thriller” remains the biggest-selling record in history to this date.

Jackson was involved in charitable efforts far too numerous to completely mention, but one of the highlights was his leadership along with Lionel Richie in the “We Are the World” song and video to raise money for battling hunger in Africa.

He moved into the 90’s still on top of the world with a Super Bowl performance, and recognition from President George H.W. Bush as the “Entertainer of the Decade” for the 80’s. But he also began to come under increased scrutiny from tabloid newspapers who reported on the bizarre (buying the bones of the ‘Elephant Man’) to the sublime (he slept in a hyperbolic chamber) to the ridiculous (a marriage to Priscilla Presley) to the criminal (child molestation charges.)

The scandalous child sex charges were either settled out of or dismissed in court, with the father of one 13-year old boy being caught on tape saying “If I go through with this, I win big-time. There’s no way I lose. I will get everything I want and they will be destroyed forever…Michael’s career will be over.” 

At every court proceeding he ever attended, Michael’s friends and family members were there fully supporting him, and he was never convicted on any of these charges in any incident. But as with most anyone who ever faces these types of charges publicly, he was never able to overcome their stigma.

Michael’s life began to deteriorate as he battled physical ailments with vitilio and lupus, the eating disorder anorexia, and body dismporphic disorder. Through all this, he was able to become the father of three children: Michael Joseph ‘Prince’ Jackson, Jr (son) and Paris Michael Katherine Jackson (daughter) with Debbie Rowe, and Prince Michael ‘Blanket’ Jackson II who he said was conceived through a surrogate via artificial insemination.

Michael Jackson was absolutely a lightening rod for controversy, some of it of his own doing, as when he hung ‘Blanket’ by one arm from a hotel balcony, and some of it imagined or exaggerated by the media. He was also a victim of child abuse, and of a lifetime of physical ailments that not only contributed to, but directly caused his personal deterioration.

Michael Jackson was also one of the greatest entertainment talents in human history. His dance movements such as the “Moonwalk” are legendary, the stuff that has been admired and copied by professionals and amateurs for decades now. His alternating strong and sensitive voice has recorded dozens and dozens of hit songs, including peak-of-career hits like “Billie Jean”, “Black and White”, “Man in the Mirror”, “Smooth Criminal”, “I Wanna Rock With You”, “You Are Not Alone”, “Beat It”, “Rock With You”, and many others.

Jackson will be remembered for generations to come as one of the greatest entertainers of all-time, but amazingly he was not the only big celebrity to pass away yesterday.

Farrah Fawcett, the beautiful blond bombshell who burst onto the scene in the mid-1970’s with the original television series “Charlie’s Angels”, passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer. She was just 62 years of age, joining the 50-year old Jackson as stars taken long before their time. May they both rest in peace.

Make Pirates Walk the Plank

Shiver me timbers, thar’s pirates lurkin’ in the waters off the coast of Africa in 2009! Who woulda thunk it! Blue Beard? Black Beard? Captain Hook? Do these fellas have peg legs, long beards, bandannas, eye patches, and parrots on their shoulders?

A bit light-hearted there, but there is really nothing funny about what is happening these days off the African coast. Modern day pirates are taking over ships, attacking crews and holding them hostage, and making off with loot by the millions.

One of the questions usually asked relates to wondering how a small speedboat can overcome a large fishing trawler or a huge cargo ship. Here is the general attack scenario.

The little speedboat moves at high speed and is loaded up with a small crew of ‘pirates’, often from areas around either Somalia or Nigeria. It approaches the larger ship suddenly and then the pirates cast a rope ladder onto the larger ship. They climb the ladder and make their way through the ship to the crew, taking them hostage and sometimes killing them.

The pirates are armed with sophisticated weaponry that includes high-powered automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and even hand grenades. Even at times when the larger ship sees the pirates coming, they cannot overcome them because of this advantage in weaponry.

Due to international shipping regulations, insurance concerns, and for other reasons, the crews on the ships do not normally carry the weapons necessary to overcome the pirates attacks. The pirates can hold the cargo and crew for ransoms which can run into the millions of dollars. Or they can simply hijack the ship and have it taken to land, where they steal whatever they can from that cargo.

The pirates come from poor lands, and that is the simple goal of their mission: money, wealth, material goods. CNN reported that the pirates also threaten and attack tourists, stating that “In March, Somalis hijacked a yacht and its crew of seven off the Seychelles.” 

The modern-day pirates attack sometimes hundreds of miles from the shorelines, and while U.S.-led efforts to combat the pirates has resulted in a decrease in their success rate, the overall number of attacks is increasing.

Despite the fact that the problem has been going on for some time, this past week saw the issue finally addressed by the American mass media, and thus the American public finally began to become aware of what is happening.

The American ship ‘Maersk Alabama’ was attacked by pirates in the waters off Somalia on April 8th. The crew initially managed to beat back the pirates, and the ship’s Captain Richard Phillips agreed to remain on-board with the pirates with his crew freed while negotiations took place between American authorities and Somalian groups.

Just yesterday a rescue was effected when three of the four pirates were picked off by snipers aboard the USS Bainbridge. The Somali groups have now vowed revenge on America, saying “France and the U.S. will encounter unforgettable lessons…We will take quick revenge on American ships if we don’t receive apologies…We will not only target ships and crew in the sea, but also American agencies’ staff in Somalia.”

Wonderful. They attack our ship, take our citizens and workers hostage, but we need to apologize to them? That would be hilarious if the pirates weren’t so deadly serious.

President Barack Obama and his national security people need to ensure safe passage through international waters for the American shipping business and for American tourists. Taking out the ‘Maersk Alabama’ pirates with sniper fire was a tremendous first step, but much more needs to be done. People need to learn that the answer to their need is never forcibly taking what belongs to someone else, especially when that action puts human lives in danger.

However, the larger solution to this problem ultimately will only be addressed by the solution to a far greater problem, that of African government instability. In the short run, the piracy needs to be dealt with harshly while those governing issues are dealt with diplomatically.

AIDS: Serious problem requiring serious solution

In July of 2008, the World Health Organization in conjunction with the United Nations released a report which stated that approximately 33 million people worldwide were living with HIV/AIDS.

With a world population of over 6 billion people, that means the percentage of human beings with this illness is about .0055 of the total world population.

In other words, while we may be talking about a lot of people, we are not talking about a significant number. Better than 99% of the people on earth do not have this illness, and there is a reason for that.

The reason is that it is spread in its greatest numbers by far through irresponsible sexual practices, and the greatest number of those by far in the advanced world come through homosexual practices.

By far the highest numbers of AIDS cases in the world can be seen in sub-Saharan Africa, that area of Africa below the Sahara desert, where approximately 2/3 of all the cases on earth can be found. It is highly likely that this area of the world is where the AIDS virus first found its way into the human population.

There are serious problems in this part of the world largely attributable to poverty and a lack of education, which themselves are perpetuated by the autocratic and despotic governments.

At the individual and familial level the results are involving shortcomings in personal hygiene and the overall lack of cleanliness, combined with the social problems of acceptance of multiple sexual partners at any one time.

In short, AIDS came out of Africa and remains at its strongest there, and around the rest of the world it has spread largely due to irresponsible and deviant sexual practices. Anyone who tells you anything else is simply perpetrating a fraud on you.

Is it possible to get the AIDS virus from a bad blood transfusion or some freak exchange of bodily fluids? Sure, but that possibility is extremely low so as to not be nothing more than a smoke-screen when discussing the best ways to attack the spread of AIDS and to begin putting it into reverse.

This past week, Pope Benedict visited the African continent in a tremendously successful mission to his flock. Catholicism and an acceptance of Jesus Christ in general is growing on the Dark Continent, and the Pope went to personally deliver Christ’s message of love to these people knowing that Christianity can inspire hope there as it has the world over.

On the flight to Africa, the Pope was asked about the AIDS problem and specifically the Church’s position that condoms are not the answer. There are many around the world who scoff at this assertion, and who truly believe that condoms save lives. These people either do not understand the position of the Church on this matter, or do not care.

The Pope reiterated his position on the flight, saying that distributing condoms was “not the answer to the problem of AIDS“, and that instead the best strategy is the Church’s efforts to promote “sexual responsibility through abstinence and monogamy.” Kudos to the Holy Father for so succinctly expressing simple, basic truth.

The usual array of European nations and homosexual groups fired back at the Pope, but the truth is that the world needs to follow this simple, straightforward, moral message. A message that will, if followed, in fact work as a realistic solution.

Let’s try on this hypothetical, just for arguments sake. Every homosexual male on earth stops having sexual intercourse with a member of the same sex. Every human being on earth who is diagnosed with the AIDS virus stops having sex completely.

Finally, every human being on earth decides to commit to a normal, healthy, monogamist relationship for child-bearing and family-building purposes, if in fact they decide to have any sexual relationship at all.

Now pardon me if I haven’t run the numbers through the WHO computers, or past some expert from the U.N., or especially past the gay leadership, but my bet is that AIDS cases would eventually plummet to the point where the illness was almost a non-factor.

The simple fact is that the Pope is correct. The answer to AIDS is not in keeping people perpetuating the same old practices that helped spread the illness to begin with, but in educating them in the direction that God has set for them to a higher calling.

Far too many of us who are not involved in an AIDS-related lifestyle fall into habits or even just the occasional incident that is immoral. If we all simply would allow ourselves to understand the beauty of the true meaning of sex, its true importance, its sacred role in our lives, then not only would the world be a better place, but it would be a more AIDS-free place.

Sex was meant by God to take place in a loving and committed relationship between married persons for the purposes of procreating and sustaining a loving familial relationship between the couple. That is a lesson that it has taken me personally a long time and a few hard times to learn. But it is one that the entire world needs to learn in order to truly overcome the AIDS virus.

Someone once said that serious problems require serious solutions. The band aid of a condom is no solution at all. Pope Benedict and the Catholic Church’s message of abstinence and monogamy is just that serious solution that is needed.