By: Scott Taylor
If one believes in the saying “may you live in interesting times,” then, at the moment, we must consider ourselves well blessed indeed.
The latest news out of Afghanistan is that a resurgent Taliban is trouncing the demoralized Afghan security forces. Furthermore, American soldiers were attacked and killed right outside their stronghold at Bagram Airfield, and British troops are being rushed into Helmand Province to try to reverse the significant gains insurgents have made there in recent weeks.
Given the billions of dollars and millions of man-hours that international forces have invested over the past 14 years in the training and recruiting of Afghan soldiers and police, how is it possible that they still cannot manage to combat the Taliban on their own? How long will foreign troops need to be sent in to bail them out and to continue propping up the corrupt regime in Kabul?
The latest “success” story regarding Libya is that the United Nations has brokered a peace agreement.
The problem with this development is that it only involves the elected government, which is presently holed up in Tobruk. The self-appointed ruling regime ousted the previous administration and has set up shop in Tripoli, the Libyan capital. They have not participated in the UN peace process, and neither have the dozens of Islamic fundamentalist militias that have ruled their independent fiefdoms since President Moammar Gadhafi was murdered in October 2011. Among that dubious cast of characters is a substantial Libyan Daesh contingent estimated to number in the thousands.
Under the terms of the UN-brokered deal, the elected but impotent Libyan government made no request for international military assistance to combat the rampant fundamentalist militia and, in particular, Daesh.
This is in stark contrast to the situation in Syria, wherein the allied air force has violated Syrian sovereignty and completely disregarded the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Unlike the faceless Libyan administration, Assad may be embattled, but his loyalists continue to fight and hold territory.
In the complicated skies above Syria and Iraq, Canadian fighter pilots are flying missions against Daesh targets alongside — but not allied with — Russian warplanes. Turkey, a NATO ally, has shot down a Russian fighter in that same airspace, making matters even more delicate.
In eastern Ukraine, the shaky ceasefire continues to hold, but Russia and NATO continue to rattle sabres and beat the war drums. Throwing a big fat monkey wrench into the simplified Cold War plot line was the Nov. 13 terrorist attack in Paris. Immediately following that devastating incident, French President Francois Hollande flew to Moscow to ask for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assistance in battling Islamic extremism. Given that Russian tourists made up the majority of the 224 people killed by a Daesh-planted bomb aboard Metrojet Flight 9268 from Egypt on Oct. 31, Putin readily agreed.
Then came the Dec. 2 attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., where a heavily armed couple killed 14 and wounded another 21 at a community centre before being killed by police. For the first few hours following the shooting spree, officials could not call this violent act a “terror” attack. However, after investigators found the perpetrators’ social media post praising Daesh, and they could link the attack to Islamic extremism, then, boom, it was “terrorism.”
This growing trend of associating only Islam-inspired acts of violence as terrorism and, in turn, associating that religion with terrorism, is dangerously flawed.
Back in 1944, Menachem Begin was the leader of the Zionist paramilitary group known as Irgun. On Feb. 1 of that year, at the height of the allied war against Nazi Germany, Begin’s Irgun launched a terror campaign against the British military in Palestine. In 1946, Begin ordered the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem that killed 91 guests and injured 45, some of them British citizens. Never apprehended or tried for his terrorist attacks, Begin would go on to become Israel’s sixth prime minister and was heralded as an international statesman. Although he ordered the bombing of the hotel and killed innocent civilians in the name of Zionism, nobody branded the Jewish faith as a religion of terrorism.
Similarly, many people forget the fact that kindly old Nelson Mandela began his battle against South Africa’s apartheid system by bombing markets and crowded train stations. His lengthy jail sentence was not simply for his political views; it was because he had been a terrorist.
Terrorism is not promoted by any religion or faith; it is a desperate tactic aimed at creating an imaginary fear far greater than the actual threat itself.
These are indeed interesting times and we need to rein in the media hype and political posturing before they become too interesting.