Tag Archives: Russia

Russia causes a mess for the FBI and the American political process

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There has been a great deal of controversy surrounding the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) over the last couple of years.

Much of that controversy involves what is becoming increasingly apparent partisan political activity by some in leadership positions in the nation’s leading law enforcement agency during the 2016 Presidential election process and its aftermath.

The key terms and the names of the players involved have been regularly splashed across news headlines. Fusion GPS, Russia meddling, deleted emails. Hillary Clinton, James Comey, Robert Mueller, Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Loretta Lynch, Andrew McCabe. 

What is all the fuss about, and what is the truth? Who actually did what? Was anything illegal or improper done? If so, was it anything for Americans to truly be concerned about? Is this all just political gamesmanship? 

In the news today, McCabe has “stepped down” as deputy director at the FBI. Per a report from Kelly Cohen at the Washington Examiner this afternoon, this move appears to be “tied to a forthcoming watchdog report on how the agency handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.



That email investigation began to develop some time around October 1, 2016. With the Presidential election just over a month away, according to a May 2017 piece by Peter Elkind at ProPublica: “agents sifting through files on a laptop belonging to the former congressman Anthony Weiner, as part of a sex-crimes investigation, had stumbled across emails sent by Clinton when she was secretary of state.

Per Elkind, over the next few weeks as the investigation into Weiner’s alleged relationship with a 15-year old girl unfolded “the agents concluded that the laptop contained thousands of Clinton messages.

This was problematic for a number of reasons. The FBI under Comey had already been looking into Clinton’s email practices for more than a year. 

During her tenure as Secretary of State under President Barack Obama, Clinton had used her private home email server to send out official communications. More than 2,000 of these emails contained information that was classified at the time, or would be acknowledged as such later. Comey identified 65 of the emails as “secret”, and another 22 as containing “top secret” information.

Anyone who understands computers and the Internet can understand why the use of a private email server by someone like the Secretary of State is a dangerous practice. 

Without the protection of government-based servers, the emails could easily be intercepted by hackers. This could potentially send devastating classified information into the hands of those who would do our nation harm.

Hackers from Russia and Serbia were known by the Clinton team to both have awareness of the email server vulnerabilities, as well as to have actually made hacking attempts during 2011 and 2012.

As more information was revealed over time, the FBI finally began an investigation in 2015. The purpose was to determine whether Clinton and/or her aides had jeopardized national security. If so, to determine who could be held responsible for such actions.

The controversy deepened when it was revealed that Clinton had directed that some 30,000 emails should be deleted. 




They had nothing to do with work,” Clinton said per Mike Levine per ABC News. “I didn’t see any reason to keep them … no one wants their personal emails made public, and I think most people understand that and respect that privacy.

However, the FBI was able to recover some of those emails, determining that roughly 17,000 of the deleted messages did indeed contain work-related information. Can you just imagine that the name and candidate here was “Trump” instead of “Clinton”, having denied and then found to have been wrong or lied?

Enter Lynch, the first African-American woman to serve as Attorney General of the United States. An Obama appointee, she was being briefed on the investigation by Comey. She directed Comey that he should describe the investigation as a less formal “matter” instead. It was later revealed by the New York Times that Lynch had stated she would “protect” Clinton.

On June 27, 2016, Lynch was spotted on the tarmac at a Phoenix airport holding a half-hour conversation with former President Bill Clinton. Lynch’s apparent efforts to downplay the investigation coupled with this clandestine tarmac meeting led Comey to publicly announce results of the investigation.



Announcements regarding the ongoing email investigation into Clinton were used as key campaign fuel by the Trump campaign in the closing days of the election process. When Trump emerged victorious, many in the Clinton campaign blamed the FBI and Comey. Clinton herself specifically blamed the late Comey announcement on her defeat.

However, it turned out that the new President-elect wasn’t all that happy with Comey either. This was due to the ongoing investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and the Russians.

With knowledge of the attempts to hack the private Clinton email server have come allegations from some that there was collusion between the Russians and the team of Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign.

The Clinton campaign and the DNC helped to fund a dossier put together by Fusion GPS, a Washington-based research and strategic intelligence firm, which attempted to detail Trump’s ties to the Russians during the 2016 election.

According to a January 2017 piece by Peter Stone and Greg Gordon for McClatchy, investigators from five different agencies have been looking into possible ties with the Trump campaign:

One of the allegations involves whether a system for routinely paying thousands of Russian-American pensioners may have been used to pay some email hackers in the United States or to supply money to intermediaries who would then pay the hackers, the two sources said.

For his part, the President has stated that he does indeed believe that the Russians were involved in hacking attempts. However, he has termed any allegation that he or his campaign were involved with the Russians in such a way as a “political witch hunt” and a “complete and total fabrication.” He has also repeatedly termed the Fusion GPS dossier as “fake news“, and challenged his political opponents to show otherwise.

In May of last year, the President fired Comey. There were conflicting reasons for the firing. But it appears that the President was frustrated that Comey would not publicly announce that the President himself was not the subject of any part of the investigation. 



Following the Comey dismissal, former FBI Director Rober Mueller (2001-2013) was appointed as a special counsel to oversee the Russia election meddling investigation. That subsequently led to charges against Manafort, who helped the Trump campaign in the lead-up to the 2016 RNC and then briefly became the campaign chairman. 

Manafort has been charged with conspiracy against the United States as well as to launder money in dealings with Russian contacts over a decade ago. Those charges have nothing to do with his work for the Trump campaign.

Two others formerly involved with the Trump team have also been caught up in the investigation’s web. Former national security advisor Michael Flynn was charged with lying to the FBI regarding talks with a Russian ambassador in late 2016. 

A foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign, George Papadoplous, has pled guilty to making false statements to the FBI. This was in regards to interactions with Russian sources claiming to have “dirt” on Clinton.

Per Kaitlyn Schallhorn at Fox News, Manafort attended a meeting at Trump Tower that was also attended by Donald Trump Jr. Also present was Jared Kushner, who is married to the President’s daughter and close advisor, Ivanka Trump.

That meeting was with a Russian lawyer. The New York Times claimed that the meeting came because the lawyer stated she had damaging information on Clinton. 

However, Trump Jr. has stated that instead, the lawyer “had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton.” This information seemed both vague and ambiguous, according to Trump Jr.

Officials at the FBI became embittered at Clinton and her campaign for publicly blaming them for her defeat. They have also been repeatedly antagonized by Trump, who sees the ongoing Russian collusion investigation as wasting both his administration’s time and energy as well as taxpayer dollars.

The following statement was made by Michael Steinbach, who retired as the FBI’s executive assistant director for national security in February 2017 per ProPublica:

It’s a mess she (Clinton) helped create from start to finish, with start being when she elected to use a private server. Even if you were to assume the investigation influenced the election, her actions created the environment. You can second-guess how it played out. But our guiding principle was to protect the American people and the Constitution of the United States.

There has also been bitter infighting at the FBI, with those aligned with President Trump facing off against those still loyal to the previous Obama administration. 

It has come to light recently that two FBI agents who were romantically involved with one another, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, had exchanged text messages which revealed that they were against Trump.

In their texts, the two agents stated that they were working as part of a “secret society” to shield Clinton from any charges involving the email scandal. This has led to calls for a second special prosecutor in the matter per Susan Ferrechio with the National Examiner.

Whether you buy into Comey as a true independent or not, the fact is that as time goes on it becomes more and more apparent that political beliefs and loyalties are playing a key role in the activities of agents and supervisors within the rank and file of the FBI.

Just in the last few days, the existence of a memo came to light showing that key figures in both the FBI and Justice Department, apparent holdovers from the Obama administration, spied on the Trump campaign back in 2016. This was done to bolster Clinton’s campaign, and to ensure a continuation of their own role within those agencies.



That is a major problem. The American people must be able to rely upon their lead law enforcement agency to be non-partisan. Law enforcement must be above the political process when it acts. 

The FBI is made up of human beings who will, of course, have their own political leanings. But the investigators and their leadership must have the integrity to go where the actual evidence of any investigation should lead, and resist the lure of those personal beliefs.

The Russians seem to have clearly made an attempt to infiltrate and effect the outcome of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. How they did that, and who, if anyone, helped them is a completely open question. 

You will have your own theories based on your own political leanings. But you certainly have no facts to back them up. One fact that cannot be denied by anyone on either side of the political aisle is this: the Russians have absolutely helped to create a mess for the FBI and for that American political process.



Of course there is another side to that story as well. Aside from whatever Russian operative hacked emails from the outside, the Russians cannot have much success intervening in American affairs without the assistance of Americans themselves. 

Greedy, lazy, immoral, and power-hungry American politicians, businesspersons, and others getting into bed with the Russians in order to affect the political process and/or enjoy some financial gain. That is the true problem at its base.

Last September, Christopher Wray was sworn-in as the eighth Director of the FBI. Following McCabe’s announcement today, the new Director stated …I can assure you that I remain staunchly committed to doing this job, in every respect, ‘by the book.’ I will not be swayed by political or other pressure in my decision making.

When Americans break the law and enter into relationships with foreign powers against our nation, we must be able to count on an impartial FBI and Justice Department to investigate and prosecute. We can only hope that Wray is not only good as his word, but also is able to spread that motto through his agency.

2017: Year in Review

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The year 2017 is about to slip fully into the annals of history, and what a truly historic year it was. For good and bad, the news headlines were dominated by one man. But there was still plenty more to make this past year memorable.

On January 20, Donald J. Trump was sworn-in as the 45th President of the United States. Trump, a New York City businessman, thus became the first person to ever hold the highest office of the land without having served previously in the political arena or the U.S. military.

Trump’s wife, the former Melania Knauss, became just the second First Lady born outside of the United States and the first-ever naturalized U.S. citizen to take on that role.

Mike Pence, the former Governor of Indiana, was sworn-in as Trump’s Vice-President. He would provide a stable, measured, traditional balance to Trump’s bombastic style in office.

Much as he had in winning the Republican primaries and then the general election, Trump rallied support for his initiatives through the use of social media. The use of his Twitter account produced some notable gaffes, but also galvanized his loyal followers.

The President and those in his administration pushing out his first-year agenda would run into a number of roadblocks, most publicly from the Democratic Party and from liberal court jurists. However there were a number of big victories for the freshman POTUS.

Neil Gorsuch was nominated and confirmed, putting a jurist with a conservative record on the Supreme Court of the United States. Trump utilized the power of his office to roll back numerous Obama-era regulations, as well as some on Cuba.

It was Trump leadership that led to FCC repeal of so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules. The President pulled the United States out of both the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris climate deal. Under his direction, ICE had its most active year ever in combating illegal immigration, and the Border Patrol has similarly had a banner year in stopping illegal border crossings.

And as Christmas approached, the leadership of the President was key in getting tax reform done for the first time in decades. The act to reduce and reform taxation in the country would also eliminate the Obamacare individual mandate, basically killing that program. In addition, it opened up areas of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling, creating more economic opportunity for the nation.

On the day following the inauguration, millions took to the streets in the largest single-day protest in U.S. history. Though it was known as the “Women’s March”, it was actually anti-Trump, with American leftists rallying against the new president’s stated campaign goals.

On February 11, North Korea fired a ballistic missile over the Sea of Japan. This began a year-long war of words and military posturing between Trump and North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un.

March 29 saw more major international news when the United Kingdom began Brexit negotiations aimed at withdrawing Britain from the European Union.

On April 13, the U.S. military dropped MOAB (Mother of All Bombs) on ISIL (also known as ISIS) troops in Afghanistan. This was the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used, and resulted in the deaths of 94 militants along with four commanders.

By years-end, the U.S. military, loosed by President Trump from reigns imposed under his predecessor, had virtually destroyed ISIL. On the last day of the Barack Obama administration, some 35,000 ISIL troops controlled 17,500 square miles in Afghanistan. Today there are only about 1,000 fighters left controlling some 1,900 square miles.

Mass casualty violence reared its ugly head at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England on May 22. Islamic terrorists set off a homemade bomb, killing 22 people and injury over 500 others.

Tensions with North Korea heightened even further on June 12 when an American student, Otto Warmbier, was returned home following a year and a half imprisonment there. In January of 2016, Warmbier had been accused of attempting to steal a political propaganda poster from the hotel room where he was staying as a tourist.

On his return, Warmbier was in a coma and found to have suffered severe neurological damage. He never regained consciousness, and died on June 19. It is believed that at least three U.S. citizens are still being held in North Korea.

On July 4, both Russia and China urged the North Koreans to halt development of their missile and nuclear weapons programs. Then on August 5, the United Nations hit North Korea with sanctions on trade and investment.

These developments came after North Korea successfully tested its first ICBM. Not to be dissuaded, the North Koreans would conduct their most powerful nuclear test to date on September 3. It is now estimated that their missiles are capable of hitting targets anywhere in the United States.

Cyberattacks became a late-spring, early-summer phenomenon. On May 12, computers around the world were hit with ransomware cyberattack. Then on June 27, the Ukraine suffered from a series of cyberattacks.

News was made in the heavens on August 21 as The Great American Eclipse took place. Passing from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts, the total solar eclipse was the first in the United States since 1979.

On September 13 it was learned that the Summer Olympics would be coming back to the United States. The city of Los Angeles, California was awarded the 2028 Games, with Paris awarded the rights to the 2024 Olympics.

In between those two feel-good happenings, Hurricane Harvey brought death and destruction as a Cat4 storm. There was tremendous loss in the Houston, Texas area as the storm lingered for nearly a week. With just under $200 billion in damages, it was the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. There were at least 90 deaths reported from the storm.

Mother Nature wasn’t done with the Americas yet. One week after Harvey moved out, Hurricane Irma slammed through the Caribbean and struck the United States at Florida. The storm caused at least 134 deaths and $63 billion in damages.

And there was still more of nature’s wrath to come this year. A pair of earthquakes struck Mexico in September, with a 7.1 quake striking on September 19. There were more than 350 deaths and 6,000 injuries as a result.

Puerto Rico and Dominica took major hits from Hurricane Maria on September 19-20. There were at least 94 deaths and over $103 billion in damages. The islands are still trying to recover now, more than three months later.

Death did not take a holiday in October. In fact, the month began with the deadliest mass shooting ever perpetrated by a lone gunman in American history. As the Route 91 music festival was taking place in Las Vegas, Stephen Paddock opened fire from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel overlooking the festival. His attack left 58 dead to date, with 546 injured.

On November 15 the art world was rocked when an original painting titled ‘Salvator Muti’ (Savior of the World) purported to be by Leonardo da Vinci himself went for $450 million during an auction at Christie’s in New York. The price was the most ever paid for any work of art.

On December 5, Russia was banned from the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics, scheduled to be held in South Korea during February. The Russians were banned following an IOC investigation into state-sponsored drug doping of athletes.

A day later, President Trump kept a campaign promise when he formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This was something that the U.S. Congress had called for, and that a number of previous American presidents had pledged. Trump was the first to back up his words with actions, standing up for the United States’ greatest ally in the Middle East.

In one of the largest entertainment media deals in history, the Walt Disney Corporation announced on December 14 that they were acquiring 21st Century Fox for $66 billion dollars.

As December was winding down, the Thomas Fire in southern California was finally, mercifully being brought under control. Lasting nearly the entire month, it was the largest such fire in California history, burning away nearly 282,000 acres, or 440 square miles. It destroyed more than 1,000 structures, damaged hundreds more.

The fire caused $177 billion in damages, and forced more than 100,000 residents to flee their homes. At the peak, there were more than 8,500 firefighters battling the blaze in various locations. Miraculously, but still tragically, just one firefighter and one civilian were killed.

We had to say goodbye to a number of celebrities and public figures known to many Americans during this past year. Those who have died in 2017 (with still a few days to go) include the following: Hugh Hefner, Mary Tyler Moore, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lewis, Glen Campbell, Tom Petty, Fats Domino, Don Rickles, Roger Moore, David Cassidy, Erin Moran, Jim Nabors, Bill Paxton, Al Jarreau, Gregg Allman, Chester Bennington, Walter Becker, Prodigy, Adam West, Miguel Ferrer, John Hurt, John Heard, Powers Boothe, Sam Shepard, Mel Tillis, Chris Cornell, Malcolm Young, Della Reese, Dick Gregory, Jana Novotna, Monty Hall, Mike Connors, Robert GuillaumeBarbara Hale, Frank Vincent, Martin Landau, Glenne Headley, Jay Thomas, Stephen Furst, Richard Hatch, Judge Joseph Wapner, Richard Anderson, John Hillerman, Jake LaMotta, Bobby Heenan, Terry Glenn, Bobby Doerr, David Rockefeller, George Romero, Jonathan Demme, William Peter Blatty, Dina Merrill, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Helmut Kohl, and Manuel Noriega. Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, also died this past year.

I’m from Philly, and a huge baseball fan. My hometown Philadelphia Phillies baseball franchise lost three of their historic figures this past year: Hall of Famer and former U.S. Senator Jim Bunning, pitcher Roy Halladay, and catcher Darren Daulton.



As you can see, 2017 was a momentous year. I began my look back at the year yesterday in a piece on yet another loss, my biggest personal loss with the death of my father, Matthew J. Veasey Jr.

I’ll conclude this year at my blog in the next day or two with the annual naming of the 2017 American of the Year. Last year’s honoree was perhaps the key architect of the historic Trump campaign victory, Kellyanne Conway. She was also the first-ever female winner of the honors. Who will it be for this past year? Stay tuned right here to find out.

 

Sochi 2014

If you’re anything like me, when you heard that the 2014 Winter Olympics were being held in Sochi, you said to yourself, and may still be saying, “Where in the world is Sochi?”

The easy part of that answer is the one thing that you likely already know, that it’s in Russia. Okay, so the Olympics are being held in Russia, that’s easy enough.

But while we’ve all heard of Russian cities such as Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and, uh, er…yeah. Go ahead, name another Russian city. Any city or town at all. Exactly. It’s a massive country, the largest in the world, covering 1/8 of the planet’s land-mass, and has been a major American rival for a century, but you’re lucky if you know two cities there.

Sochi is actually ranked 52nd in size as a Russian city with approximately 340,000 citizens. To give you an American comparison, Bakersfield, California is our 52nd-largest city with a population very comparable to that of Sochi.

While you and I may have never heard of it before these Olympics, Sochi is actually very popular in Russia as a tourist resort area, with about 2 million people visiting each summer. It sprawls along 90-miles on the southwest coast at the very edge of the Black Sea, and is one of the few places in all of Russia with a sub-tropical climate as well, featuring sandy beaches and palm trees.

It is about as European as a Russian city can get as well.
Almost 1,000 miles away from Moscow, the Sochi area, divided administratively into Sochi ‘proper’ and a handful of other districts, lies right at what would be considered the border of Europe and Asia.

The tropical, seaside coastal atmosphere doesn’t tell the whole Sochi story, however. You also have the nearby scenic Caucasus Mountains. The wide variety of seasonal sporting opportunities has made it a popular area for sporting activities. The local tennis school, in fact, launched the careers of both Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Maria Sharipova, among others.

As with most of the world outside of the United States, football (soccer) is a major sporting activity. Sochi has been home to a Russian club team for the last couple decades, and is home to the year-round training facility for the Russian national men’s and women’s teams.

In July of 2007, the Sochi area was awarded the Winter Olympics and Paralympics as the first-ever Winter Games to be held in Russia. Despite it’s scenic beauty and the facilities already in place, the area was in no way considered “Olympics-ready”, and Russia had to commit an initial $12 billion investment package to get the infrastructure up to standards.

It is estimated that it has cost a total of nearly $50 billion in a private/government construction of facilities for the Olympic Games. Everything from the electrical/power infrastructure to the airport to the railway had to be upgraded to accommodate the Olympics, and then you have construction of many of the event venues themselves.

An investment of this size by a major world power like Russia means that Sochi will not be a one-off event location. After the Olympics, the investment in infra-structure to bring the area up to such a major standard will pay off in other events as well. Sochi will begin holding the Russian Formula One Grand Prix this year, and host the 2018 FIFA World Cup matches.

The Winter Olympics in Sochi will be the largest ever held in terms of the number of events. There will be 98 separate events held in 15 disciplines across 7 separate sports from skiing to hockey to ice skating. The Opening and Closing ceremonies and some events will be held in the newly constructed Fisht Olympic Stadium, named after the nearby towering Mount Fisht.

There are a variety of star performers to watch at Sochi, perhaps led by the numerous NHL professional players who will participate for each nation in the hockey competition. The American hockey team will include such familiar names as Zach Parise, former Flyer James van Riemsdyk, and Phil Kessel, whose sister Amanda is a key player on the US women’s hockey team. The Canadians, always an Olympic hockey favorite, will include former Flyer Jeff Carter.

If you’re a fan of the our hometown Philadelphia Flyers, a number of the team’s players will be participating, though not our snubbed team captain Claude Giroux, notably left off Team Canada’s roster. Flyers participating include Kimmo Timonen with Finland, Jakub Voracek with the Czechs, Mark Streit with Switzerland, and Andrej Meszaros with Slovakia.

Aside from hockey, key Americans to watch include snowboarders Shaun White and Kelly Clark, figure skaters Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold, skiing stars Bode Miller and Mikaela Shiffrin, speed skaters Heather Richardson, J.R. Celski and Shani Davis, the ice dance team of Meryl Davis & Charlie White, and bobsledders Steven Holcomb and Lolo Jones, the American summer Olympics track star controversially named to the USA women’s bobsled team here.

Hovering in the background, and hopefully remaining there, is the always present fact that the Olympic Games are set on a major worldwide stage. Most of the planet is following on television and the internet. There have been specific threats, particularly by the usual Islamic radicals, of attacks against the Games. Security is tight in Sochi, with Russian President Vladimir Putin claiming a “Ring of Steel” has been provided for the athletes and attendees.

The next two weeks should provide a wide variety of winter sporting entertainment and human interest stories from this summery Russian resort town. Hopefully now we all are a little more familiar with the area and the “home team” American athletes. They will be joined by worldwide stars who will capture our attention as the drama of the Olympic Games unfolds.

Islamism Series: What Are We Prepared to Do?

In the 1987 film ‘The Untouchables’, Kevin Costner plays famed lawman Elliot Ness, who is tasked to lead a fight against the violent empire of infamous crime boss Al Capone in Chicago during the Prohibition era.

In the beginning, Ness tries some of the usual law enforcement tactics of the day, but appears to be going nowhere in his efforts to defeat Capone.

Finally his right-hand man in the film, street cop ‘Jim Malone’ as played in an Oscar-winning performance by Sean Connery, turns to Ness and asks him a blunt question:

“What are you prepared to do?”

This is always the single most important question that needs to be asked, understood, and answered before committing to fight any war at any level.

Whether at the level of law enforcement fighting criminal groups to keep the public safe on the home front, or at the level of national armed forces fighting enemies from abroad with the same goal, this simple question cannot be avoided.

Decades ago a war was declared against the United States by the forces of radical Islam around the world. It was declared with public statements, and those statements were backed up with physical attacks against American troops, citizens, and interests abroad and eventually with attacks against the American homeland.

For years the answer to that question of “What are you prepared to do?” seemed to be a tit-for-tat response. They blew up something of ours, we lobbed a missile at something of theirs.

The international community cried if we killed civilians in our attacks, but shed no tears for American Marines and other service persons and civilians killed in attacks against our embassies or troops.

Nothing much changed until finally the radical Islamists were able to pull off a large-scale attack right here on our own shores with the physically, financially, and emotionally devastating attacks of September 11th, 2001 against Washington and New York.

Less than one year into his first term in office, President George W. Bush was faced with the question for the first time: “What are you prepared to do?”And for the first time, an American leader did not pull a knee-jerk response by lobbing a missile.

For perhaps the very first time, an American leader and his team actually sat down and took a good, long, hard look at the reality of the situation.

The United States was not the victim of some random attack by 20 guys who hijacked some planes. America was attacked by an entity which viewed us as a sworn enemy and wanted nothing less than either our destruction or our capitulation to their worldview. Join up with Islam completely or die, that was and is the message from this enemy.

This was not the usual, traditional type of enemy, and fighting them would require an entirely new mindset and commitment level. In days now long gone by we could identify an enemy as a nation-state or group thereof, and largely pinpoint this enemy and defeat them on a geographical battlefield.

The enemy that we now faced was more of a network of ideological radicals scattered in both large and small groups all over the globe, including some in our own country, that was in some cases well-funded and trained. In some cases this network was being expressly, implicitly, or tacitly supported by a nation-state.

Faced with destruction, devastation, and death on his home front on his watch, President Bush answered the question fully when on September 15th, 2001 he said the following:

 “This act will not stand. We will find who did it. We will smoke them out of their holes; we will get them running; and we will bring them to justice. We will not only deal with those who dare attack America, we will deal with those who harbor them, and feed them, and house them. Make no mistake about it. Underneath our tears is the strong determination of America to win this war. And we will win it.”

In this statement, Bush correctly recognized that the problem was not only with the people who actually pulled off the attacks of 9/11, but fully extended to those who supported and nurtured these people both physically and ideologically.

Bush also here became the first American leader to publicly acknowledge that we were at war, and further, he promised that we would win that war. But he also went further, recognizing that this war would be long:

“This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while. And the American people must be patient. I’m going to be patient. But I can assure the American people I am determined, I’m not going to be distracted, I will keep my focus…It is time for us to win the first war of the 21st century decisively, so that our children and our grandchildren can live peacefully into the 21st century.”

The problem was clear, a war was declared on us, attacks were taking place against us, and Americans were dying. The problem was recognized with an acknowledgement that we were indeed at war. The question of what we were prepared to do about it seemed to be answered appropriately: we would fight wherever necessary for as long as necessary to win decisively to ensure lasting peace.

While we dealt them blows on their home bases in Afghanistan and began to establish a democratic foothold in the Middle East both there and in Iraq, the Islamists continued the war with attacks on the trains of Madrid, Spain on March 11th, 2004 and on school children in Beslan, Russia on September 1st, 2004 and on the buses and subways in London, England on July 7th, 2005 among others.

Unfortunately a problem began to develop. As we finally took the fight to the radical Islamists, some Americans, particularly Democratic Party politicians who were out of political power and their media lackeys, all too quickly forgot the pain and destruction of 9/11 and the many other Islamic attacks on America and our allies. They began to use the continuing war and the inevitable American service person deaths as a political football.

During the final 2,682 days of his two terms stretching over more than 7 years following those 9/11 attacks, the policies and strategies of President Bush and his team kept the United States safe from any further successful attacks by a determined enemy who was demonstrating all around the rest of the world that it was still very capable of delivering death and destruction.

The current American administration wants desperately to end our involvement in this war. It was elected largely by painting President Bush as a hateful war-monger and won with a promise to take that very action, in fact. However, on actually taking office and being faced with the reality of the situation themselves, Barack Obama and his people seem surprised to find that is it not America that is the problem after all.

This past week saw a reminder from al Qaeda and the radical Islamists that this war is far from over. They again attempted to use airliners to deliver devastating attacks against the United States on American soil. In fact, they continue to seek nuclear, bio-chemical, radiological and other weapons of mass destruction in what will likely one day be a successful large-scale attack on the United States.

The radical Islamists do not care what American political party is in power. They do not care what the skin color or sex or age is of the American president at any given time. They care only about one thing, that America openly convert to Islam and accept Sharia Law as the ruling cultural influence and legal authority. Anything less will result in the continuation of the war from their end.

That is the real important thing that we need to remember, that a war is not over just because we pull many or even all of our troops out of any country. Vietnam did not end when we Americans fled with our tails between our legs. Instead, the victorious North Vietnamese slaughtered an estimated 4.5 million South Vietnamese who our brave military persons had been protecting. But hey, a bunch of hippies and newscasters felt better, so it was okay.

Unless we become even more determined to fight this war against radical Islam with stronger conventional forces and tactics backed by more determined diplomatic energy and support to the region in finances and infra-structure development over what will likely be decades of commitment, we will lose. And the ramifications of our failure now will be even greater than our failure to win in Vietnam.

It likely won’t happen suddenly or overnight, and maybe not even over one generation. But Islam and its accompanying discrimination, intimidation, and hatred will eventually win out. Either that, or some totalitarian regime of Communism led by Russia or China will become the dominant power. The failure this time of the world’s beacon of freedom, the United States of America, will be a devastating blow to freedom everywhere.

So as every bomb explodes, as every school is attacked, as every head is lopped off, as more Americans are threatened and killed, as our leadership continues to talk tough after an attack while plotting our retreat the question begins to shout out to the American public. Do you want to become Islamic, or die? If the answer is neither, then you are again faced with that one simple question: what are you prepared to do?

NOTE: This continues the ongoing ‘Islamism Series’, each entry of which can be viewed by clicking on to that tag below 

Georgia on my mind

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Russian troops invading Georgia over the province of South Ossetia

 

For those who truly understand why we are fighting the roots of terrorism overseas, who understand that much more is at stake in the upcoming election than some generic ‘Change’, and who care about the world around them, this article is for you.

Russia has invaded Georgia.

Anyone with an understanding of history and basic human freedoms will get why that is important, but for the great unwashed I will try to paint a simple picture of what is happening behind the headlines that you have seen in the papers and on the TV and internet news.

First, who are the combatants?

The true big bully in this event is Russia, the behemoth nation stretching from Europe to Asia. They are by far the largest country in the world, controlling 1/8 of the world’s land area. At 142 million people, they have the 9th-largest population on earth.

Russia is an ‘energy superpower’, holding the world’s greatest reserves of mineral and overall energy resources. Within their territory can be found the world’s largest forest reserves, and 1/4 of the world’s unfrozen fresh water. Oh, and they are also a military nuclear superpower.

Russia, or the Russian Federation as it is also known, is a giant country made up of 83 federal ‘subjects’. Think sort of like the USA incorporating 50 states and other territories.


Part of the recent Russian past, of course, is that they were once the USSR, the Soviet Union, comprised of ‘Mother Russia’ and a number of surrounding provinces, one of which was Georgia. These provinces broke away from Soviet control in the late 1980’s and early 90’s for many reasons that would take too long to explain in this article.

Suffice it to say that Georgia gained its independence, or should I say regained it, in 1991, and since has become a blossoming, albeit small, Democratic Republic with a President at the head of a nation that has U.N. membership and is seeking entry into both NATO in the short term and the European Union in the long term.

After the Russian Revolution in the early 20th century, Georgia the country, which is made up of 4.4 million people who are more than 80% ethnic Georgians, gained independence for a few years, but was over-run and gobbled up by the Soviet Union in 1922.

Sound familiar? Georgians remember it all too well, those seven decades under repressive Soviet Communist rule, and they not surprisingly want no part of a repeat performance.

In recent years Russia, under former President and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, has been again flexing its muscles and declaring after a decade and a half on the back-burner of world influence that they again want to emerge as an active world power.

This has made the small countries on its borders, especially the former Soviet Republics like Georgia, nervous that Russia will attempt at some point to again take over control of their territories.

What happened in this particular current conflict is that on August 8th, Georgian military forces surrounded areas within its borders known as South Ossetia and Abkhazia. These areas are largely Russian by ethnicity, and had been acting for some time as independent regions. 

Georgia claimed that attacks had recently been occurring from within these regions against surrounding towns and villages, so they moved to protect those areas and get South Ossetia and Abkhazia under control.

When Georgia made this military move, Russia responded by entering the areas to battle the Georgian troops, claiming that they were ‘protecting’ ethnic Russians.

Bottom line is that you have small areas in northern Georgia, bordering on southern Russia, that are in dispute as to national control. The areas have been considered Georgian by territory, Russian by ethnicity, but by themselves want to be independent.

The likelihood is that the sizes of the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions will not allow them to be independent. Either Georgia or Russia will incorporate these areas. The fighting now is over which will take control.

The problem is that a diplomatic solution was not attempted. Rather, Russia moved militarily once it saw Georgia take action to solidify its current loose hold on those areas.

This would be something geographically akin to residents of the Upper Peninsula in Michigan declaring their independence, the US moving to gain control militarily, and Canada coming in on the side of the Upper Peninsulans.

The fear is that Russia might use this border dispute to completely overthrow the Georgian democratic government and take control of the entire country. And this could be a precursor to their moving to forcibly reincorporate other surrounding independent Republics into the Russian Federation.

Why that should worry you is two-fold: one, democracy matters. Georgians are currently a free people with elected, accountable leaders similar to the US; and two, Georgia is an ally of the United States, which means that we are both morally and politically tied to them.

The United States cannot stand by and allow Georgia to be overrun, and still consider itself any kind of military power. And I think we all know what a military showdown between the United States and Russia can lead to: think World War III.

You think that is overblown? Then you simply don’t understand how previous major wars between superpowers have begun, and need to educate yourself a little more on history.

Right now you can be assured that besides the public denouncements coming from people such as President George Bush and The Vatican, you have tons of back-room negotiations going on to resolve this dispute before it becomes a true international crisis.

Pay attention to what is happening, follow the articles and stories, because it is more important to you and your family than the latest video game or sporting contest or vacation trip. If you don’t currently have Georgia on your mind, you should.