The coming day of wrath 8

The aggressive, vengeful, jihadist Iranian regime can do nothing much now to harm the US or its assets or its allies.

But it looks to the time when it will have its nuclear arsenal.

This is the view of how things stand at present from the Heritage Foundation:

(The Iranian) objective was to show that they are striking back against the United States to save face in the eyes of their public, but to do so in a way that does not provoke the United States even more to retaliate back.

They fired 15 missiles. One landed at the airport in Irbil, four landed somewhere in the desert, and then the remaining missiles landed on that base in western Iraq. And there were no U.S. or Iraqi or coalition casualties, and very minimal damage to facilities on these bases.

So, it was enough, I think, where the regime in Iran could go to its people and say, “Look, we struck back,” and there’s already these wild rumors flying around on social media about so many U.S. service personnel wounded and being treated secretly in Israel. And, of course, Iran has to drag in Israel somehow.

And we all know this is nonsense in the way our system of government works here. There’s no way the U.S. government could cover up something like this, but it’s enough where the Iranians probably were able to save face and had an off-ramp.  …

President Trump over the past several months has shown a lot of restraint against Iranian aggression. There have been numerous occasions where the U.S. would have been justified to strike back. And President Trump chose not to, always trying to leave that door open for negotiations. …

He had to show the Iranians that the U.S. means business, and that’s what he did. And paradoxically, the demise of Qassim Suleimani might be looked upon as the de-escalatory strike, that’s the strike that deescalated the situation. …

Until this point, the Iranians thought they could keep going and going and going, and the U.S. would just kind of tinker on the edges in terms of its response, and then that response was so great, that impact, it was so great.

I don’t think we can overstate how important someone like Qasem Suleimani is to that, to the whole Iranian security apparatus. And whenever he was taken out, I think it probably gave some room for pause in Iran, and they probably thought, “Whoa, OK, can we afford another severe blow like this if we push the Americans too far when we retaliate?”…

President Trump … prefers negotiation. He prefers making a deal. His instincts are not to go to war. He does not want to go to war with Iran. He’s not looking for a fight.

But he did strike at last. He had Qasem Soleimani killed. He knew there would be an uproar from his enemies – the most virulent of them being the Democrats in Congress.

But:

President Trump comes out on top of all of this in many ways. And even some of his strongest critics have acknowledged this point as well.

President Trump looks stronger. Iran looks weaker.

All good.

But Iran is still working on producing nuclear bombs.

President Trump has not lost sight of that.

As we have come to expect, he dealt with the events masterfully. In a well-judged address the day after Iran’s gesture of revenge, he warned the Iranian leaders without humiliating them.

Most importantly, he made a strong statement about their ambition to become a nuclear-armed power first, before anything else, even his “Good morning”:

As long as I’m president of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. Good morning. I’m pleased to inform you the American people should be extremely grateful and happy. No Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime. We suffered no casualties. All of our soldiers are safe and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases. Our great American forces are prepared for anything. Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world. …

But the fight with Iran – started by the regime in 1979 when it seized 52 American hostages at the US embassy in Tehran – is not over.

The president spoke of imposing more sanctions:

As we continue to evaluate options in response to Iranian aggression, the United States will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime. These powerful sanctions will remain until Iran changes its behavior.

Sanctions will not stop the making of nuclear bombs, but they might so weaken the government that it can be brought down by a popular revolt.

President Trump does not speak of regime change in Iran. But only if the theocracy falls and is replaced by an elected government, could the abandonment of the nuclear program be negotiated.

If that does not happen while Donald Trump is president – and if he means what he says as we have come to expect he does – the only alternative is the physical destruction of Iran’s  nuclear bomb-making facilities.

The Democrats, who would rather see the whole world laid waste than that Donald Trump should succeed at anything, will try to prevent it.

But there has to be either regime change or the dies irae of the bunker bombs.

Posted under Iran, Iraq, Islam, Israel, jihad, middle east, United States, War by Jillian Becker on Thursday, January 9, 2020

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The mullahs quake 2

… and so may the land beneath their feet.

Iran cannot do much to hurt America. It is already suffering from the economic sanctions President Trump has imposed on it. It would be very foolish of the mullahs to try violent retaliation on America or its foreign assets for the killing by a US drone of its top general Soleimani. If it does, Trump has 52 Iranian targets marked for destruction, one for each of the 52 American hostages seized in Tehran in 1979 (and not yet avenged).

Some could be oil production facilities.

And some could be underground nuclear weapons development sites. However deep underground they may be, they can be destroyed. The US has the weapons to do it.

Chuck de Caro writes at American Greatness:

While the mullahs in Iran continue to threaten the United States with worldwide terrorist attacks against American individuals and groups, it might be time for them to reconsider their position.

The mullahs are attempting to run a formerly evolving modern state, utilizing the ideas of 12th-century Shia Islam; they remain in power through the repression of the well-paid Revolutionary Guard. Their most urgent strategic priority is a regeneration of Persian ascendancy not seen since Darius the Great. Their methodology for this new Persian Empire is to complete a nuclear bomb production industry now nascent among some 40 dispersed and hardened sites.

The mullahs are willing to force the Iranian people to absorb the effects of crushing economic sanctions imposed by the United States, the United Nations [although it is evil’s HQ – ed], and cooperating countries in order to build their bomb.

As a result, the mullahs in 2019 precipitously raised fuel prices 50 to 200 percent and immediately were inundated by waves of violent protests in most of Iran’s larger cities. An estimated 1,500 Iranian protesters died.

The Iranian economy remains dependent on oil production and export. Its most vulnerable points are the six oil production centers at Abadan, Esfahan, Bandar-e Abbas, Tehran, Arak, and Tabriz. If any one of those is reduced in capability, even for a short time, the economy will further weaken, and domestic instability will increase.

Meanwhile, the religiously driven mullahs have continued to support Shia aligned groups wreaking havoc in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank. In Iraq, their surrogates went a step too far in attacking the American embassy, and the result was the obliteration of Qasem Soleimani (and his staff) who reported directly to Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader.

Despite loud cries of revenge, Khamenei must be quaking in his givehs. Why? Because the United States had the precise information to target his best general, head of the Quds Force (the elite military intelligence and unconventional warfare service) in his car, in an airport parking lot, and vaporize the sonofabitch before his seat bell stopped dinging.

Now if you are Ayatollah Khamenei, with a shaky domestic body politic and an even shakier economy, and you go to work in a palace which the United States likely has under satellite and drone surveillance, and you know it can target you with the precision of a micrometer, it might be wise to go easy until you get your bomb.

Meantime back in Washington, [President Trump] is thinking that the last thing he needs is Persians with nukes. He also knows there are two things that the mullahs absolutely must have: cash flow from petroleum and those nukes.

Thus the target set is defined: Each time there is an attack on U.S. interests, however small, directly or through surrogates, the United States will attack and cripple an oil production facility, and then another, and then another, along with a nuclear weapons site, and then another. The important part is to limit civilian casualties while causing the Iranian economy and regime to implode.

For this specific set of parameters, the U.S. can use a little jewel called the Small Diameter Bomb/Focused Lethality Munition. SDB is basically a 250-pound smart bomb with a composite case to limit collateral damage; the kind you use on some Tuesday afternoon while everybody is at lunch, to silently fly through a window and wipe out the computer control booth of an oil production facility.

If Khamenei’s subordinate, Brigadier General Alvarez Sabahifard were a bright guy, he’d be watching the skies for an SDB with his name on it, since he heads the Iranian Air Defense force, and his demise might cause some consternation when the rain of American bombs begins to fall.

On the other end of the spectrum from the Small Diameter Bomb are a family of special-purpose hole-diggers. Since World War II, the United States has developed bunker-buster munitions originally called “Disney Bombs” after a concept which was dreamed up by Walt Disney Studios for a 1943 film called “Victory Through Airpower”.

The Army Air Corps thought the cartoon bomb was so good that they actually went ahead and invented the real thing. Then they passed it to the mighty 8th Air Force to hurl against hardened Nazi positions in the spring of 1945, slicing through 14 feet of reinforced concrete, followed by a large “boom”.

After that came Azon, Razon, and Tarzon, the last being a 13,000-pound behemoth that we used in the Korean War against the Chinese and North Koreans.

In Iraq, the United States used the laser-guided GBU-28, a 5,000-pound deep penetrator, successfully against hardened targets.

And now, the Pentagon has the Son of the Disney Bomb, called the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, or MOP. Formally known as the GBU-57, it is a 30,000-pound (15-ton) bomb designed to dig a really deep hole.

The MOP is particularly interesting in that it is GPS guided and can be used at night or in bad weather or during sandstorms, with an accuracy measured in feet. Think of it as a candygram to bad guys in caves . . . 200 feet down.

The use of these diverse weapons on oil production and nuclear facilities would cause the Iranian economy to falter, their nuclear program to stumble, and protests to begin anew. The end effect would be the implosion of the mullahs’ regime.

We predict that the Iranian economy would collapse, and the regime’s dream of making Iran a nuclear-armed power would be irretrievably extinguished.

Then the Democrats, who are in deep mourning for Soleimani, could beat their breasts and tear their hair out in grief for the downfall of the Iranian theocracy, the disabling of its terrorist proxies, and for the victory of America, the triumph of Trump.

President Trump destroys the world’s leading terrorist 21

The Daily Mail, which always has the best pictures and video footage of dramatic events, reports and illustrates:

  • Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s highest ranking general, was killed early Friday at Baghdad International Airport
  • US drone missiles obliterated two vehicles carrying Soleimani, his entourage, and Iraqi Shiite militiamen
  • Grainy video purportedly taken by Baghdad locals shows the moment one of the cars was struck from above 
  • Iran has confirmed that two Islamic Revolutionary Guard generals, one colonel and  a captain were also killed
  • Five Iraqis, including militia deputy-commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, were also listed among the dead
  • Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed to carry out ‘jihad’ against America amid warnings of a ‘devastating war’

 

An American airstrike on Baghdad airport has killed Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's powerful Quds force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy-leader of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (pictured, the burning remains of a car that was among a convoy the men had been travelling in)

As the sun rose over Baghdad airport, daylight revealed the twisted remains of one of the vehicles the men had been travelling in. In total, a US drone fired four missiles that struck a convoy of cars, killing the two men and their entourage

The attack unfolded in a precision strike on two cars that were carrying Soleimani and Iraq-based PMF militiamen who were picking him up from the airport.

Soleimani had arrived at the airport on a plane from either Syria or Lebanon around 12.30am when he was met on the tarmac by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of the pro-Iran Popular Mobilization Forces [PMF] in Iraq.

Muhandis pulled up to the aircraft steps in two cars before Soleimani and Mohammed Ridha Jabri, public relations chief for the PMF who had been traveling with him, climbed inside and were driven away.

Moments later, as the cars passed through a cargo area headed for an access road leading out of the airport, the convoy was struck by four missiles fired by an MQ-9 Reaper drone.

Both vehicles were instantly reduced to smoldering wrecks – killing Soleimani, Muhandis, Jabri and two others who have yet to be identified.

Two officials from the PMF said Soleimani’s body was torn to pieces in the attack, while they did not find the body of al-Muhandis.

A senior politician said Soleimani’s body was identified by the ring he wore. Photos from the scene show a hand with large ring that looks identical to one Soleimani is seen wearing in old photos.

Local militia commander Abu Muntathar al-Hussaini told Reuters: ‘Haj Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were riding in one vehicle when it was struck by two successive guided missiles launched from an American helicopter while they were on their way from the arrivals hall on the road that leads out of Baghdad Airport.’

He said the second vehicle was carrying bodyguards from the PMF and was hit by one rocket.

Brilliant intelligence work! Marvelous precision bombing!

See more pictures and video of the moment the world’s top terrorist died here.

Will the Iranians now launch a “devastating war” ? Do they have someone to lead it? Can they afford it? Will the Iranian people support it?

Kenneth R. Timmerman writes at Front Page:

The killing of Iranian terror-meister Qassem Suleymani in a targeted U.S. air strike in Baghdad on Thursday will have a dramatic impact on Iran’s ability to conduct oversea terrorist operations and the stability of the Iranian regime.

But the real impact, one can legitimately wager, will be quite different from what you’ve been hearing so far from most of the U.S. and international media.

Rather than engendering some massive Iranian “retaliation,” as many talking heads have been warning, I believe this strike will throw the Iranian regime back on its heels, as wannabe successors contemplate their careers vaporizing in a U.S. drone strike and Iran’s civilian leaders fret that they have been exposed as emperors without clothes.

Put simply, the aura of the Iranian regime’s invincibility is over.

They have pushed us and our allies repeatedly, and have been encouraged by the modest response from U.S. political and military leaders until now.

But with this strike, the gloves are off. And the leadership in Tehran – and more importantly, the people of Iran – can see it.

Suleymani was not some run-of-the-mill terrorist. He was worst of the worst; a man with more blood on his hands than even Osama bin Laden. Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Afghanistan, 9/11, Benghazi: all of them were his doing.

He was responsible for all those horrors? The accusation needs some explaining. But it is true that he was the most powerful Islamic terrorist of them all.

He was also the most respected and the only charismatic military leader to have emerged since the 1979 Islamist revolution in Iran.

No other leader in Iran today even comes close to Suleymani for sheer star power.

This is a huge loss for the Tehran regime; bigger, indeed, than if the Supreme Leader himself (who actually is a nobody) died or was killed. …

We have two historical parallels to compare to Thursday’s events: Operation Praying Mantis in April 1988, when U.S. naval forces sank 1/3 of the Iranian navy in a matter of hours after repeatedly catching them dispersing naval mines against international oil tankers in the Persian Gulf; and the presumed Israeli assassination of Iranian-Lebanese terrorist Imad Mugniyeh in Damascus in February 2008.

In both cases, we were told Iran and their proxies were going to counter-attack with devastating lethality. Hundreds of Americans and Israelis were going to die. Thousands! The entire region was going to explode.

In the end what happened? Absolutely nothing.

That’s what I predict here as well.

The Iranians have been lulled into thinking they can act with impunity in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

Finally, the United States has drawn a firm hard line on their bad behavior.

This is exactly what we needed to do.

I believe the Iranian people will draw the obvious conclusion that this once powerful regime has feet of clay. Expect bigger anti-regime protests inside Iran in the coming weeks, and popular revolts against Iranian interference in Lebanon and Iraq as well.

To me, the biggest question remains: is President Trump ready for the revolution he has unleashed? With this single act, the United States has set in motion big historical forces for positive change. Are we prepared to help the forces of freedom against tyranny and oppression?

We wait to see. We have come to expect that the President’s decision will be the right one.

Veterans Day 2019 1

The First World War, which ended 101 years ago today, was an utterly unnecessary war. It was started for no better reason than to satisfy the vanity of kings.

According to War History Online:

There were around 8 million Frenchmen fighting, 13 million Germans, 9 million Austro-Hungarian men, 9 million British soldiers, 18 million Russians, 6 million Italians and 4 million from the United States.

Here’s the “official” break down [of dead and injured in the engaged armies]:

France: 1.4 million dead, 4.2 million injured.

Germany: 1.8 million dead, 4.2 million injured.

Austria-Hungary: 1.4 million dead, 3.6 million injured.

Russia: 1.8 million dead, 5 million injured.

Britain and British Empire: 900,000 dead, 2 million injured.

Italy: 600,000 dead, 1 million injured.

Serbia suffered the greatest losses [proportionately] to their military. Nearly three quarters of their soldiers were either killed (130,000) or wounded (135,000).

The battles of Verdun and the Somme in 1916 left 770,000 and 1.2 million (respectively) missing, wounded or dead from both sides.

Some of the most devastating losses were caused in the beginning weeks of the world war. In one day, August 22, 1914, nearly 27,000 French soldiers were killed. That day remains the deadliest day in France’s history in regards to military men killed.

The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I: about 40 million.

It was a vast blood-letting that started the ever accelerating decline of Western civilization.

It destroyed a great part of a whole generation of men.

It facilitated the turning of Russia into a Communist torture-chamber and graveyard, and source of sepsis for the whole world, still spreading.

It led causally to the Second World War, which the allies had necessarily to fight, and in which there were even greater numbers of dead and injured.

Yesterday Queen Elizabeth wept as the customary wreaths were laid at the foot of the cenotaph in memory of the men and women killed in the two world wars.

Today in America we honor all those who have served and serve now in the US military.

It was because America came to the aid of Europe twice in the last century, that liberty was preserved for our world. Whether it will survive much longer remains to be seen. Half the voters of America seem to want to live under the tyranny that was militarily defeated in the last century.

We do well to remember, as Europeans mourn their heroes and Americans honor theirs, how precious and rare is the liberty they fought for.

Posted under Austria, Britain, communism, Europe, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, liberty, nazism, Russia, Soviet Union, United Kingdom, United States, War by Jillian Becker on Monday, November 11, 2019

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What Islam teaches its scholars 1

… is to torture and murder and enslave.

Nothing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi did, or caused to be done by his followers, was against Islamic doctrine. Its torturing and mass murdering and enslaving are not just permitted but positively commanded by Islam. The Washington Post meant to annoy President Trump and the half of the nation that supports him with its obituary headline calling al-Baghadi “an austere Islamic scholar”. But in fact it was telling the truth. Al-Baghdadi was “an austere Islamic scholar”. Unintentionally, it was condemning the man with an exact, though incomplete, description. The Left constantly claims that ISIS and other Muslim terrorists have “nothing to do with Islam”. The Washington Post contradicted that. It would have been telling the whole truth if it had said that al-Baghdadi was an Islamic scholar and therefore a terrorist, a jihadi, a torturer, a mass murderer, and an enslaver.

Muhammad the founder of Islam said:

I have been made victorious through terror.

Aerial photograph of a victory over Islam

The Daily Mail reports:

Once al-Baghdadi was confirmed dead, U.S. forces grabbed every computer, every phone, every bit of paper they could find before retreating. The last action was to call in an airstrike by US drones, reducing Baghdadi’s hideout to rubble, wiping it from the face of the Earth and covering their tracks.

ISIS has other leaders. But how safe will they feel now?

Posted under Islam, jihad, Muslims, United States, War by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, October 29, 2019

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Death of a Caliph 2

President Trump announced in an address to the nation today (October 27, 2019) that US Special Operations Forces have killed – or, more accurately, have forced the death of – Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS.

ISIS had declared him “the Caliph of all Muslims and the Prince of the Believers”.

We quote our favorite part of what the President said about his death, slightly shortened from Breitbart’s report:

He died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering, and crying, and screaming all the way. The compound had been cleared by this time, with people either surrendering, or being shot and killed. Eleven young children were moved out of the house, and are uninjured. The only ones remaining were Baghdadi in the tunnel, and he had dragged three of his young children with him. They were led to certain death. He reached the end of the tunnel, as our dogs chased him down. He ignited his vest, killing himself and the three children. His body was mutilated by the blast. The thug who tried hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him. Baghdadi was vicious and violent, and he died as a coward, running and crying. A brutal killer has violently been eliminated. He will never again harm another man, woman, or child.

ISIS, which until recently occupied territory it called the Islamic State and the Caliphate, is intensely, relentlessly, unremittingly cruel. These devout Sunni Muslims have killed thousands of people, many by the most torturous methods they could devise; burning them, boiling them in oil, burying them alive, sawing their heads off …

Nothing they do is against the doctrine of Islam. Their actions and their aims are profoundly religious.

And the organization is a Hydra: no sooner is one head cut off than another will spring up to replace it.

But at least this one is dead and gone.

Thank you, President Trump!

Posted under Islam, jihad, Muslims, United States, War by Jillian Becker on Sunday, October 27, 2019

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Russia 1

An illuminating article. For us, lifelong students of Communism and the modern history of Russia, almost as full of surprises as of affirmations.

Angelo M. Codevilla writes at CRB:

What 21st-century Russia is in itself, to its neighbors, and to America flows from the fact it is no longer the Soviet Union. As the red flag came down from the Kremlin on Christmas Day 1991, Russian president Boris Yeltsin, when asked what he thought of Communism, nearly wept as he replied: “I wish it had been tried somewhere else.” Vladimir Putin, who famously said that the USSR’s collapse had been a tragedy, nevertheless shares the Russian people’s consensus that their country was Communism’s first and foremost victim, and that no one knows how long it may take to live down its dysfunctions. To its neighbors, this Russia is a rebudding tsarist empire. To Americans, it is a major adversary despite the lack of clashing geopolitical interests.

After Communism

The Revolution of 1917 was possible because socialists, in Russia and throughout the Western world, believed that “present-day society”, as Karl Marx put it, is a jumble of “contradictions”, which could be resolved only by tearing down the pillars of the house. Once that was done, history would end: man and woman, farmer and industrial worker, producer and consumer, intellectual and mechanic—heretofore at odds—would live harmoniously, freely, and prosperously ever after.

Because they really believed in this utopian dream, the socialists gave absolute power to Lenin and Stalin’s Communist Party to wreck and reorganize—to break eggs in order to make a delicious omelette. But Communism, while retaining some of Marxism’s antinomian features (e.g., war on the family and on religion), became in practice almost exclusively a justification for the party’s absolute rule. For example, the economic system adopted by the Soviet Union and by other Communist regimes owed precisely zero to Marx, but was a finely tuned instrument for keeping the party in control of wealth.

The Leninist party is gone forever in Russia because, decades after its leaders stopped believing in Marxism, and after Leonid Brezhnev had freed them from the Stalinist incubus that had kept them loyal to the center, they had learned to make the party into a racket. That, and the residual antinomian features, made Russia into a kakotopia. Russian men learned to intrigue and drink on the job rather than work. Shunning responsibility for women and children, they turned Russian society into a matriarchy, held together by grandmothers. In a thoroughly bureaucratized system, each holder of a bit of authority used it to inconvenience the others. Forcing people to tell each other things that both knew not to be true—recall that “politically correct” is a Communist expression—engendered cynicism and disrespect for truth. The endless anti-religion campaigns cut the people off from one moral system and failed to inculcate another. Alcohol drowned unhappiness, life expectancies declined, and fewer Russians were born.

Religious morality? Communism not a religious morality? Not the same religious morality in certain vital respects? All red capes waving at us bulls!  But for the sake of what’s to come, we’ll only stand and paw the ground – and give a snort or two.

The Russian people rejected Communism in the only ways that powerless people can—by passivity, by turning to anything foreign to authority, and by cynicism. Nothing being more foreign to Communism than Christianity, Russians started wearing crosses, knowing that the regime frowned on this feature of the Russia that had pre-existed Communism, and would survive it.

A louder snort. But on:

No sooner had the USSR died than Russia restored the name Saint Petersburg to Peter the Great’s “window on the West”. Even under Soviet rule, Russians had gone out of their way to outdo the West in Western cultural matters—“nekulturny” (uncultured!) was, and remains, a heavy insult in Russia. Moscow let countless priorities languish as it rebuilt in record time its massive Christ the Savior cathedral to original specifications. As the Russian Orthodox church resumed its place as a pillar of the Russia that had been Christianity’s bastion against the Mongol horde as well as against the Muslim Ottomans, golden domes soon shone throughout the land. Whatever anyone might think of the Russian Orthodox church, it anchors the country to its Christian roots.

Few Americans understood Vladimir Putin’s rise to power at the close of the 20th century as the reassertion of a bankrupt, humiliated, resentful people looking to make Russia great again. Since then, Putin has rebuilt the Russian state into a major European power with worldwide influence. Poverty and a resource-based economy notwithstanding, it is on a sounder financial basis than any Western country. Corruption is within historical limits. The leadership is appreciated by the vast majority, whose national pride and solidarity dwarf those of Western publics. Nearly all Russians approve strongly of its absorption of Crimea. Russia effectively controls Ukraine’s eastern end, and has exposed the West’s incapacity to interfere militarily in the former Soviet empire. In the Middle East, Russia is now the dominant force.

In sum, the Russian bear licks its deep wounds as it growls behind fearsome defenses.

The Neighborhood

Russia’s Westernism is neither imitation nor love of the West. It is the assertion that Russia is an indispensable part of it. The Russians saved Europe from Napoleon, and from Hitler, too. That they did the latter tyrannically, as Soviets, does not, in their minds, disqualify them from their rightful place in Europe, or justify Europeans, much less Americans, trying to limit Russia’s rightful stature. Today’s Russian rulers are not gentler or nicer than the emperor who shook off the Mongol yoke—who wasn’t known as Ivan the Nice Guy. Like their forebears they are calculating Russia’s stature in terms of the limits—primarily in Europe—set by their own present power as well as by that of their immediate neighbors.

Russian writing on international affairs focuses exclusively on the country’s role as a member of the European system. By the 2030s, if not sooner, the Russian government will have filled such territory, and established such influence, as befit its own people’s and its neighbors’ realities, and will be occupied with keeping it. More than most, Putin is painfully aware of Russia’s limits. Its declining population is less than half of America’s and a tenth of China’s. Despite efforts to boost natality, its demography is likely to recover only slowly. Nor is its culture friendly to the sort of entrepreneurship, trust, and cooperation that produces widespread wealth. What, then, are Putin’s—or any Russian leader’s—national and international objectives?

As always, Ukraine is of prime interest to Russia because it is the crux of internal and external affairs. With Ukraine, Russia is potentially a world power. Without it, it is less, at best. But Putin’s pressures, disruptions, and meddlings have shown him how limited Russia’s reach into Ukraine is, and is sure to remain. Hence, Russia’s conquest of Ukraine east of the Don River signifies much less the acquisition of a base for further conquest than the achievement of modern Russia’s natural territorial limit in Europe. The 20th century’s events forever severed Ukraine and the Baltic states from Russia; even Belarus has become less compatible with it. Modern Russia is recognizing its independence, even as the Soviet Union at the height of its power effectively recognized Finland’s. As the Russian Federation’s demographic weight shifts southeastward—and Islamism continues to gain favor there—the Russian government will have to consider whether to shift its efforts from keeping the Muslim regions within the federation to expelling and building fences against them.

As the decades pass, post-Soviet Russia will have to work harder and harder to cut the sort of figure in Europe that it did under the tsars. That figure’s size is the issue. The Russian empire’s size has varied over the centuries according to the ratios between its and its neighbors’ national vigor and power. In the past, Poland, Sweden, Turkey, the Hanseatic powers, Germany, all have shrunken or swollen Russia. Borders and spheres of influence have varied. There is no reason why this should not be so in the future. Russia will neither invade Europe nor dominate it politically because its people lack the political will, and its state the capacity, to do either. During Soviet times, this will and this capacity were the product of the national and international Communist Party apparatus, now gone forever.

A glance back at this gargantuan human structure reminds us of how grateful we should be that it now belongs to history. The Communist faction that resulted from the 1918 split in the international socialist movement—like the rump socialist faction that ended up governing Europe after 1945, but unlike the fascist one—already intended to conquer the world. (Fascism, Mussolini’s invention, recalled some of ancient Rome’s peculiar institutions and symbols—the fasces was the bundle of punishing rods carried by the consuls’ lictors—and added governing Italy through business-labor-government councils. It was not for export.) Communists worldwide came under the firm control of the Soviet Party’s international division run by formidable persons like Andrei Zhdanov and Boris Ponomarev, disposing of virtually unlimited budgets and, after 1929, of the services of countless “front organizations.” These, the party’s hands and feet and its pride and joy, reached out to every imaginable category of persons: union members, lawyers, teachers, journalists, housewives, professional women, students, non-students. Each front organization had an ostensible purpose: peace, through opposition or support of any number of causes. But supporting the “Soviet line” was the proximate purpose of all. Through tens of thousands of “witting” Communists, these fronts marshaled millions of unwitting supporters, helping to reshape Western societies. Soviet political control of Europe was eminently possible, with or without an invasion, because the Soviet domestic apparatus had marshaled Soviet society, and because its international department and front organizations had convinced sectors of European societies to welcome the prospect.

The tools that today’s Russia wields vis-à-vis Europe are limited to commerce in natural gas, and to the opportunities for bribery that this creates—witness Russian Gazprom’s employment of former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder. Not only do European governments not fear being invaded by Russia, they refuse to diversify their sources of natural gas, and generally oppose American sanctions imposed on Russia because of its actions in Ukraine. The notion among European ruling parties that the voters who are in the process of rejecting them for various “populist” and nationalist options, are pining for Russian-style governance or tricked by Russian wiles is a baseless attempt to sidestep the ruling parties’ own failures.

The Lefty globalists think that? There’s a surprise! Whatever makes them think so? We see the populist movements as being unequivocally towards conservative nationalism, self-determination, personal liberty, not … neo-tsarism.

Europe’s rulers know that Russian military forces are not built to conquer the continent, because these forces lack the wherewithal for large-scale projection of power. Instead, they possess formidable capacity for what soldiers call “area denial”. This fits Russian leaders’ strategic goals, the people’s sentiments, and material constraints. The wars that today’s Russian military are built to fight are in areas that today’s Russian military sees most threatened by the U.S. and NATO, on its borders with Poland and Lithuania (where Russia crushed the Wehrmacht in 1944-45), and in Ukraine, north of Crimea. Russia’s military posture has ever been, and gives every sign of remaining, strategically defensive but operationally offensive. Now as before, when war seems imminent Russia’s operational doctrine calls for taking the initiative in a preemptive manner.

Although Russian strategy would be to surround and seal off foreign troops by air and ground, for the first time in Russia’s history, military manpower is scarce and precious. Economizing manpower is one reason why the country has fully integrated nuclear weapons in ordinary military operations, recalling nothing so much as President Dwight Eisenhower’s doctrine in the 1950s of “more bang for the buck”. To seal off the airspace, and to provide an umbrella for their ground forces, the Russians would use the S-400 air-missile defense system—the world’s best, which is now deployed around some 300 high-value locations. Strikes (or the threat thereof) by the unique Iskander short-range missile would preclude the foreign forces’ escape, as Russian troops moved in with Armata tanks, which carry the world’s best reactive armor.

Possession of perhaps the world’s best offensive and defensive strategic forces—comparable to America’s and far superior to China’s—is why Russia is confident that it can contain within limited areas the wars that it needs to fight. Because Russia has nothing to gain by military action against America or China, this arsenal is militarily useful only as insurance against anyone’s escalation of border disputes, and as the basis for Russia’s claim to be a major world player.

Priorities and Collusion

Russia loomed small in U.S. foreign policy from the time of the founding until the 1917 Bolshevik coup, because the interactions between America’s and Russia’s geopolitical and economic interests were few and mostly compatible. Given that these fundamentals have not changed, it would be best for both countries if their policies gradually returned to that long normal.

But for both countries, transcending the past century’s habits is not easy. The essential problem is that neither side’s desires, nor its calculus of ends and means, is clear to the other, or perhaps to itself. It seems that the main thing Putin or any other Russian leader might want from America is no interference as Russia tries to recreate the tsars’ empire. Thus Russia’s continuing relations with anti-U.S. regimes in Latin America can only be understood as Cold War inertia—the almost instinctive sense that what is bad for America must somehow be good for Russia. The U.S. government, for its part, while largely neglecting Russia’s involvement in the Western hemisphere, tries to limit its influence in Europe while at the same time reaching agreements concerning strategic weapons—a largely Cold War agenda. The soundness of these priorities on both sides is doubtful.

Both Russia and the U.S. fear China, and with good reason. The crushing size of contemporary China’s population and economy frightens the Russians. The fact that some Russian women marry Chinese men (disdaining Russian ones) embarrasses them and has made them more racially prejudiced than ever against the Chinese. Yet Russia aligns with China internationally and sells it advanced weapons, paid for with American money—money that China earns by trading its people’s cheap labor for America’s expensive technology. With these weapons as well as its own, China has established de facto sovereignty over the South China Sea and is pushing America out of the western Pacific. Nonetheless, the U.S. treats Russia as a major threat, including “to our democracy”. For Russia and America to work against one another to their common principal adversary’s advantage makes no geopolitical sense. But internal dynamics drive countries more than geopolitics.

Nowhere is this clearer than with the notion that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election—a charge which has roiled American public life for the past two years and counting. Interference in American life? That is what the Soviet Union was all about. By contrast, current concerns about Russia are a tempest, albeit a violent one, in a domestic American teapot.

In America, the Soviets worked less through the Communist Party than they did in Europe. Here [in America], they simply seduced and influenced people at the top of our society. Even in America prominent persons in the Democratic Party, academia, media, and intelligence services (or who would become prominent, e.g., future Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and CIA Director John Brennan), were Communists more or less openly. Far more important to the Soviets were persons convinced that Soviet and American interests were identical. Harry Hopkins, for example, who ran the U.S. government on President Franklin Roosevelt’s behalf, considered Stalin’s objectives to be so indistinguishable from America’s that the KGB considered him to be effectively Stalin’s agent. By contrast, Alger Hiss, an important State Department official, was one of many controlled Soviet agents within the U.S. government. But the compatibility between Hiss’s views and those of many in the U.S. ruling class was striking. For example, even after Soviet archives confirmed Hiss’s status as a Soviet agent, Robert McNamara, secretary of defense under Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, like many of his class, angrily insisted on Hiss’s innocence.

The comradeship of American liberals and Soviet Communists lasted to the Soviet Union’s end. In May 1983, for example, in an incident widely reported at the time and confirmed by Soviet archives, former U.S. senator John Tunney visited Moscow and, on behalf of his friend and classmate—and prospective Democratic presidential candidate—Senator Edward Kennedy, proposed to KGB director Viktor Chebrikov that Kennedy work with Soviet dictator Yuri Andropov to “arm Soviet officials with explanations regarding problems of nuclear disarmament so they may be better prepared and more convincing during appearances in the USA” because “the only real potential threats to Reagan [in the 1984 election] are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations”. Kennedy promised “to have representatives of the largest television companies in the USA contact Y.V. Andropov for an invitation to Moscow for the interviews”. Collusion, anyone? Today, with the Soviet Union gone, its moral-intellectual imprint on our ruling class remains.

The contemporary notion of Russian interference, however, owes nothing to Russia. It began when, in June 2016, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) tried to explain how a trove of e-mails showing its partiality for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders got into the public domain, alleging that they had been hacked from its server by Russian agents. To this day, there is zero evidence for this, the DNC not having allowed access to that server by any law enforcement agency or independent party.

Throughout the rest of the 2016 campaign, this narrative merged with one from CIA Director John Brennan and other leaders of U.S. intelligence, who were circulating a scurrilous dossier, paid for by the Clinton campaign, that alleged Trump’s connections with Russia. The Obama Administration used the dossier as the basis for electronic and human surveillance of the Trump campaign. Together, these narratives prompted a two-year investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which found no basis for the dossier, or for a relationship between Russia and the Trump campaign. Nevertheless, the assertion of Trump’s indebtedness to Russia became the pretext for #TheResistance to the 2016 election’s result, led by the Democratic Party, most of the judiciary, the bureaucracy, and the media.

In Europe as well as in America, the establishment’s protagonists have pointed to Russia to allege that their rejection by the voters is somehow “undemocratic”. Larry Diamond in the Wall Street Journal, following Robert Kagan in the Washington Post, wrote that “in one country after another, elected leaders have gradually attacked the deep tissues of democracy—the independence [from sovereign voters] of the courts, the business community, the media, civil society, universities and sensitive state institutions like the civil service, the intelligence agencies and the police.” Voting against the establishnment, you see, is undemocratic!

What Are Our Interests?

Making impossible a rational public discussion of U.S. policy toward Russia is the very least of the damage this partisan war has wrought. American liberals believed the Soviet Union’s dissolution was impossible; conservatives flattered themselves that they caused it. Few paid attention to what happened and how. Once the Soviet Union was gone, the West in general and Americans in particular presumed to teach Russians how to live, while helping their oligarchs loot the country. Russians soon got the impression that they were being disrespected. At least as Soviets, they had been feared. The Clinton Administration was confident that Russia would become a liberal partner in the rules-based international order. At the same time Clinton tried to load onto Russia the hopes that the U.S. establishment had long entertained about global co-dominion with the Soviets. In the same moment they pushed NATO to Russia’s borders—a mess of appeasement, provocation, and insult. Long-suffering Russians, who had idolized the West during the Soviet era, came to dislike us.

As the George W. Bush Administration fumbled at the new reality, it tried to appease Russia by continuing to limit U.S. missile defenses in fact, while publicly disavowing the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; it formally objected to Russia’s dismemberment of Georgia, while effectively condoning it. The incoming Barack Obama Administration tried to go further along the same self-contradictory line by withdrawing anti-missile support from eastern Europe, and quietly promising even more restraint. But when, in 2014, Putin seized Crimea, Obama imposed serious economic sanctions and agreed to place NATO and American troops in Poland and the Baltic States. Then, for the most tactical of domestic political considerations, the Obama Administration, and hence the U.S. establishment, decided to try explaining the course and results of the 2016 U.S. election campaign as “Russia’s attack on our democracy”.

What are the American people’s interests in Eurasia, and how big are these interests? Although today’s Russia poses none of the ideological threats that the Soviet Union did—and despite the absence of geopolitical or any other clashing interests—Russia is clearly a major adversary in Europe and the Middle East. Its technical contributions to China’s military, and its general geopolitical alignment with China, are most worrisome. What, other than Soviet inertia and wounded pride, motivates the Russians? The U.S. maintains economic sanctions on Russia. To achieve precisely what? From both sides’ perspective, it is difficult to see what good can come from this continued enmity.

Today’s triangular U.S.-Russia-China calculus is not comparable to the Soviet-Chinese military confrontation of the 1970s and ’80s, when both the U.S. and China feared Soviet missiles, and the U.S. best served its own interests by implicitly extending its nuclear umbrella over China. Today, the problems between Russia and China stem from basic disparities that U.S. policy obscures by treating Russia as, if anything, more of a threat than China. The best that the U.S. can do for itself is to say nothing, and do nothing, that obscures these disparities. Without backhanded U.S. support for close Russo-Chinese relations, the two countries would quickly become each other’s principal enemies.

Ongoing U.S. anxiety about negotiations with Russia over weaponry is nothing but a legacy of the Cold War and a refusal to pay attention to a century of experience, teaching that arms control agreements limit only those who wish to limit themselves. Russia violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty by developing the Iskander missile; the U.S. was right to withdraw from the agreement, but mistaken in ever expecting another country not to arm itself as it thinks best. In that regard, Americans should not listen to, never mind accommodate in any way, Russia’s (or any other country’s) objections to U.S. missile defenses. These are in our clear and overriding interest. Defending America as best we can—against missiles that might come to us from anywhere, for any reason—is supremely our business.

What then are America’s legitimate, realizable demands on Russia?

Putin’s Russia, by its 2015-18 intervention in Syria and its management of Turkey, achieved the tsars’ historic desire for a warm water port. Although the former conquest is firm, keeping Turkey friendly to Russia must ever be troublesome. Absent a friendly Turkey, Russia’s renewed control of Crimea and even the Syrian bases will be of very limited worth for any but defensive purposes. Whatever else might be said of its role in the Middle East, Russia has brought more stable balance to local forces than ever in this young century. Only with difficulty will American statesmen regret that our old adversary now deals with some of the problems that bedeviled us for a half-century.

The U.S. would be more secure geopolitically were Russia merely one of several European powers. But it has always been an empire, whose size has varied with time. An independent Ukraine has always been the greatest practical limitation on Russia’s imperial ambitions. That is very much a U.S. interest, but is beyond our capacity to secure.

U.S. relations with Russia regarding Ukraine are analogous to U.S. relations with Europe 200 years ago. Our overriding interest then was to prevent the Europeans from holding any major part of the Western hemisphere. By stating America’s intention to guard its hemispheric interests while forswearing meddling in European affairs, the U.S. encouraged them to face that reality. Today’s Russia realizes it cannot control Ukraine except for its Russian part, nor the Baltics, never mind the Visegrád states. The U.S. could lead Russia to be comfortable with that reality by reassuring it that we will not use our normal relations with Ukraine or with any of Russia’s neighbors to try to define Russia’s limits in Europe. We should realize that our setting such limits is beyond America’s capacity, and that it undercuts the basis for fruitful relations.

The U.S. prefers the Baltic States, and especially Ukraine, to be independent. But we know, and should sincerely convey to Russia, that their independence depends on themselves, and that we regard it as counterproductive to make them into American pawns or even to give the impression that they could be. Ukraine’s independence—and hence Russia’s acceptance of it as inevitable—depends on Ukraine retrenching into its Western identity, rejecting the borders that Stalin and Khrushchev had fixed for it, and standing firmly on its own feet—as, for example, by asserting its Orthodox church’s independence from Russia’s.

Wise U.S. policy would remove sanctions that previous administrations placed on Russia on behalf of Ukraine. Fruitless strife has been these sanctions’ only result. For example, they emboldened Ukraine to suppose it had U.S. support for presuming it had the same right to navigation in the Sea of Azov, passing under a Russian bridge, as it does in the Atlantic Ocean.

But in accord with the Monroe Doctrine, we should be willing to wage economic war on Russia—outright and destructive—on America’s own behalf, were the Russians to continue supporting anti-U.S. regimes in the Western hemisphere. If you want economic peace with America, we would say, stop interfering in our backyard. We Americans, for our part, are perfectly willing to stop interfering in your backyard.

In sum, nothing should be geopolitically clearer than that the natural policy for both America and Russia is not to go looking for opportunities to get in each other’s way.

Nazism and Communism embraced each other 3

… 80 years ago today.

On August 23, 1939, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was signed. Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany were in alliance. Nazism and Communism, twin religions, united with each other.

Victor Davis Hanson writes at The Daily Signal:

Eighty years ago, on Aug. 23, 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, formally known as the “Treaty of nonaggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.”

The world was shocked—and terrified—by the agreement. Western democracies of the 1930s had counted on the huge resources of Communist Russia, and its hostility to the Nazis, to serve as a brake on Adolf Hitler’s Western ambitions.

Great Britain and the other Western European democracies had assumed that the Nazis would never invade them as long as a hostile Soviet Union threatened the German rear.

The incompatibility between communism and Nazism was considered by all to be existential—and permanent. That mutual hatred explained why dictators Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin both despised and feared each other.

Yet all at once, such illusions vanished with signing of the pact. Just seven days later, on Sept. 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. World War II had begun.

After quickly absorbing most of Eastern Europe by either coercion or alliance, Hitler was convinced that he now had a safe rear. So he turned west in spring 1940 to overrun Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, and the Netherlands.

Hitler accomplished all that relatively easily, failing only to conquer Great Britain with an exhaustive bombing campaigning.

During all these Nazi conquests, a compliant Stalin shipped huge supplies of food and fuel for the German war effort against the West. Stalin cynically had hoped that Germany and the Western democracies would wear themselves out in a wasting war—similar to the four horrific years in the trenches of the Western Front during World War I.

Communism then easily would spread to the Atlantic amid the ruins of European capitalism. Unlike Czarist Russia in 1914, this time around the Soviets wanted to stay out of a German war. Instead, Stalin rearmed during the nonaggression pact with Hitler.

Stalin, of course, had no idea he had created a Nazi monster that would quickly devour all of Continental Europe—and turn to its rear to eye a now-isolated Soviet Union.

Much less did Stalin realize that the battle-hardened German war machine would soon overrun his country in a surprise attack beginning on June 22, 1941, a little less than two years after the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

The nonaggression pact in a way had also ensured that a European war would soon turn into a global massacre that left roughly 65 million dead.

At the time of deal, imperial Japan was fighting the Soviet Union on the Manchurian-Mongolian border. The Japanese were de facto allies of Nazi Germany. They had assumed that Stalin’s fear of an aggressive Germany meant the Soviet Union would have to worry about a two-front war against both Germany and Japan.

But now, the surprise agreement stunned the Japanese, who saw it as a German betrayal. It left them alone against the superior forces of Russia’s eastern armies.

Japan quickly withdrew from its losing Russian war. In time it signed its own nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union, in April 1941—ironically, just months before Hitler’s planned Operation Barbarossa, the massive invasion of Russia.

Japan correctly concluded by the betrayal that Hitler’s Germany could not be trusted and deserved tit-for-tat duplicity. So Japan never joined Hitler’s surprise invasion of Russia. Instead, the Japanese turned their attention to the Pacific and especially the vulnerable British and American bases at Singapore, Burma, the Philippines—and Pearl Harbor.

In sum, the August 1939 nonaggression pact ensured the German attack against Great Britain and Western Europe. It also convinced Hitler that Russia was vulnerable, gullible and appeasing, and could be overrun in weeks following an invasion.

Finally, the deal ended all Japanese ideas of fighting the Soviet Union on the ground from the East in partnership with Nazi Germany invading from the West. Instead, Japan turned toward the vulnerable British and American eastern forces.

In sophisticated times, we sometimes forget that time-honored concepts like the balance of power and military deterrence—not good intentions and international peace organizations—alone keep the peace. When the pact destroyed fragile alliances and encouraged German adventurism, war was certain.

The final ironies? The Soviet double-cross of the Western democracies eventually ended up almost destroying Russia, which bore the brunt of an empowered Germany.

The redirection of Japanese war strategy to target America finally brought the United States into World War II, which ensured the destruction of Japan and Germany.

Add this all up, and in some sense World War II really started on Aug. 23, 1939, 80 years ago this summer.

On the shores of Normandy 1

In Memoriam, D-Day, June 6, 1944.

Posted under Videos, War by Jillian Becker on Thursday, June 6, 2019

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What’s to be done with a traitor? 22

From the 1970s on, Western countries accepted millions of Muslim immigrants from the Third World.

The fact that their religion has been hostile to the West from its inception in the 7th. century was ignored by Western governments. (After all, “Nobody’s perfect,” as Osgood says to Daphne in Some Like It Hot when she finally reveals to him that she can’t marry him because she’s a man. Oh, those bad old days!)

Then what happened? Thousands of the immigrants went from the host countries which had recklessly – enthusiastically! – let them or their parents in and given them citizenship, to join a Muslim army formed in 1999 with the intention of actively pursuing the Islamic war against the West (among others of its perceived enemies).

The army bore various names but was most generally known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria with the acronym ISIS. It declared itself a “caliphate” in 2014. It terrorized, enslaved, tortured and murdered the victims it fell upon. Among the victims were Europeans and Americans, soldiers and civilians.

The men and women joined ISIS from Western countries in order to pursue that war, the men mostly to fight, the women mostly to keep house for the men and bear their children. The volunteers included indigenous Westerners who had converted to Islam.

Plainly they all committed treason.

Now that the Islamic army has been defeated and destroyed and the territory they had seized and occupied has been retaken, the traitors want to be let back into the countries they betrayed.

And the governments of those countries are uncertain whether to let them come back or not. And whether, if they do let them come back, to welcome them or to prosecute them. And what, if they prosecute them, a fitting punishment for their treason might be.

Claudia Rosett writes at PJMedia about the case of a traitor wanting to return to the US:

What are we to make of the ISIS bride who now wants to return to America? Hoda Muthana left her home in Alabama in 2014 to join the terrorist “caliphate” of ISIS in Syria. Now, reportedly thrice-married to ISIS terrorists, twice-widowed, and recently arrived with her 18-month-old son at a Kurdish-run refugee camp in northern Syria, she says she “deeply regrets” joining ISIS, and wants to come back to the United States.

How this plays out under U.S. law is likely to be decided by the legal wranglers in court, based on technicalities of dates and documents. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called her a terrorist, described her as having inflicted “enormous risk” on Americans, and released a statement that she is not a U.S. citizen and does not have any legal basis to travel to the United States. President Trump has tweeted that he has instructed Pompeo “not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the Country!” Hoda’s father, Ahmed Ali Muthana, a naturalized U.S. citizen, is now suing Trump, Pompeo and Attorney General William Barr to have Hoda and her son “declared to be U.S. citizens and returned to the United States”, which, according to the complaint, is what she wants, even if that could mean facing criminal prosecution.

The issue of Hoda’s citizenship — and whether she might be legally entitled to reenter the country — apparently turns on the timeline of her father’s diplomatic status at Yemen’s Mission to the United Nations in New York, where he served as a Yemeni diplomat in the early 1990s, before becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen. Hoda was born in New Jersey, in October 1994. The U.S. does not consider children born to foreign diplomats in the U.S. as entitled to American citizenship; but if her father’s diplomatic status was terminated before she was born, then she would have been a U.S. citizen from birth. By her father’s account, he lost his diplomatic status shortly before she was born, ergo she’s a citizen. The State Department said otherwise, in a letter dated Jan. 15, 2016, sent to Hoda at her family’s Alabama address, more than a year after she’d gone to join ISIS in Syria. According to State, U.S. authorities were not officially notified of the termination of her father’s diplomatic status until February 1995, some four months after Hoda was born, ergo she was not born a U.S. citizen, has never been one, and should never have been issued a U.S. passport. It could take a while before we see a court ruling one way or the other.

But there’s another timeline that ought to matter here. Not for legal purposes, but in the broader context of how Hoda Muthana’s story is now playing to the American public. What about the timeline of high-profile ISIS atrocities — the context in which she made her choices?

In the media coverage of this case, all that bloody record of deliberately inflicted human agony seems to have faded into some remote and misty past, summarized in maybe a sentence or two — or symbolized on the TV news by short video clips of ISIS fighters waving black flags and shooting guns, with no obvious target. As far as I’m aware, no media outlet has so far juxtaposed an interview of Hoda Muthana with such signature ISIS footage as videos of American hostages, on their knees, about to be beheaded by ISIS; or that young Jordanian pilot burned alive in a cage.

Instead, we’re invited to focus our attention and sympathies on a young woman in a headscarf, holding her infant son or pushing him in a stroller around a refugee camp, telling her assorted media interlocutors that in joining ISIS she made a “big mistake.” This past week she told ABC News that she regrets joining ISIS, and she hopes Americans will “excuse me because of how young and ignorant I was”.

Was it really nothing but youth and ignorance? Hoda was 20 when she went to Syria to join ISIS — older than many of the victims whose sufferings ISIS was gloating over at the time. She’s now 24, and only now, with ISIS stripped of its caliphate — thanks to others, including members of the American military who risked or gave their lives to fight the terrorists she joined — is she publicly disavowing ISIS. And though in her recent interviews she’s been expressing plenty of regret about the misfortunes ISIS brought to her own life, she’s said almost nothing about what ISIS did, while she urged and cheered it on, to thousands upon thousands who had no choice at all. They are not on camera in these interviews. Many of them are dead.

Nor has the news coverage of Hoda Muthana done much to remind us, at least not in compelling detail, of the savagery, on a staggering scale, with which ISIS butchered, shot, raped, enslaved, blew up, burned alive, drowned, dragged to death, ran down, starved, oppressed, and abused its designated victims in Syria, Iraq, Europe, America, and beyond. In most of the recent coverage of what Hoda now wants, the record of what ISIS dished out has been dealt with in a sentence or two. The rest has been all about the quandaries of Hoda and her family. On Feb. 22, for instance, the Washington Post ran a lengthy article about the “complex questions” raised by the case of this “ISIS bride”, her citizenship and her father’s lawsuit, without making a single mention of the atrocities of ISIS or the zeal with which she joined up. The headline implied that the real villains are Trump and Pompeo: “Rule by tyranny: American-born woman who joined ISIS must be allowed to return, the lawsuit says.” No doubt there are important legal issues in play, but that’s hardly the entire story.

So, in the interest of seeing the fuller picture, let’s take a look at the timeline on which ISIS and Hoda Muthana converged.

Hoda’s interest in ISIS began in November 2013, a year before she left Alabama for Syria, according to an interview she gave online to BuzzFeed in April 2015, from what was then her new home in Raqqa, Syria, via a messaging app called Kik. During the year in which she was preparing to travel to Syria, ISIS was on the rise, and its character was plain to see. It was so grotesque, so sadistic, so sickening, so bloodthirsty that it was all over the headlines and the internet — which is how she was communicating with ISIS.

A full roster of ISIS atrocities would take volumes. So, what follows here is not remotely comprehensive. You can find a longer list in this timeline, which if you print it out would run to 47 pages, though it is also just a partial summing up. The ISIS activities noted below, each of them monstrous, are a small fraction of the horrors that loomed high in the U.S. headlines just before and during the time Hoda hooked up with the group. In some cases, the final casualty numbers vary slightly from the estimates in stories at the time — but not by much. Notes on Hoda are in italics. Information sourced to court documents filed under her father’s lawsuit is marked with an asterisk.

2014

For most of this year, Hoda was still in Alabama, using pseudonyms to communicate with and about ISIS on social media. If she was aware of ISIS atrocities before she left the U.S. — and it’s hard to believe she knew nothing about them — they did not deter her from going to Syria to join ISIS.

February — From Alabama, Hoda Muthana renews the U.S. passport initially issued for her at her father’s behest in 2005.*

May — ISIS displays crucified bodies in Raqqa, Syria. Here’s CNN coverage from the time, with a warning about the graphic photos.

June — ISIS declares its “caliphate” with Raqqa as its capital.

August — ISIS releases video of captured American journalist James Foley, on his knees in an orange jumpsuit, and beheads him on camera.

ISIS launches a genocidal attack on the Yazidis in Iraq, besieging tens of thousands of men, women, and children who have fled to the upper reaches of Mount Sinjar, denying them access to food and water in temperatures rising above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The horrors go on and on, sickening to read about. Hundreds of Yazidis die on Mount Sinjar before the siege is broken. ISIS captures thousands of Yazidis, separates families, kills the men and older boys who refuse to convert to Islam, and enslaves the women and girls, starving and raping them, setting up a slave market in Raqqa where Yazidi girls as young as five are sold at auction.

September — ISIS releases video of the beheading of American-Israeli journalist Steven Sotloff.

ISIS releases video of the beheading of British aid worker, David Haines.

October — ISIS releases video of the beheading of British aid worker Alan Henning.

November — Hoda Muthana tells her parents she is leaving on a school trip, and uses her university tuition money to buy a ticket to Turkey and travel onward to Raqqa, Syria.

December — From Syria, Hoda tweets a photo of American, British, and Canadian passports, with the comment “Bonfire soon, no need for these anymore. alhamdulillah.” She marries an Australian ISIS jihadi, who is killed a few months later. While in Syria, she will go on to marry a second ISIS jihadi, bear him a son in 2017, and when that second husband is killed, marry a third ISIS jihadi, whose whereabouts she now says she does not know.

2015

January — ISIS releases a video of the beheading of a Japanese journalist, Kenji Goto.

In Paris, terrorists linked to ISIS carry out synchronized slaughter at the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket, killing 17.

February — ISIS releases a video of a captured Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh, drenched in gasoline, screaming in agony as he is burned alive in a cage.

March — Hoda posts on Twitter about the death of her first ISIS husband, an Australian, Suhan Rahman, who’d traveled to Syria from Melbourne, and two months earlier had made news in Australia for posting pictures of himself posing with an AK-47, praising the terrorist attacks in Paris, and urging in a social media post: “Let the heads fly and the blood flow.”  As Hoda confirms the following month in her online interview with BuzzFeed, she posts on Twitter a photo of her husband’s dead and bloodied body, and eulogizes him with a tweet: “May Allah accept my husband, Abu Jihad al Australi. Promised Allah and fought in the front lines until he attained shahadah [martyrdom].”

 Hoda also tweets from Syria: “Americans wake up! … You have much to do while you live under our greatest enemy, enough of your sleeping! Go on drive-bys and spill all of their blood, or rent a big truck and drive all over them. Veterans, Patriot, Memorial etc Day parades. Kill them.”

April — From Syria, Hoda gives an online interview to BuzzFeed, via a messaging app, in which she writes that “Nothing is forced here.” She describes herself as “content”, says ,”I wanted to marry under an Islamic state rather than the West,” and writes that when she asked her father, a month after her departure, to send her $2,500 to come home, she was not telling the truth: “It was just a test,” she wrote; “It would never cross my mind to come back.”

August — ISIS captures the city of Palmyra, in Syria, demolishes magnificent ancient ruins, carries out mass executions, and tortures the city’s 81-year-old chief archeologist, Khaled al-Asaad, reportedly demanding that he tell them where to find valuable antiquities, which he reportedly refuses to do. ISIS beheads him in a public square and hangs his torso from a lamp post, placing his severed head beneath it.

November — In Paris, during three hours of terror, ISIS gunmen and suicide bombers kill 130 people, shooting and bombing in cafes and on the streets, and massacring scores of concert-goers in the Bataclan Theater.

December — In San Bernardino, California, a husband-wife team of ISIS acolytes guns down 14 of his co-workers at an office Christmas party.

2016

March — In Brussels, ISIS terrorists, using bombs packed with nails, attack the airport and a metro station, killing 32 people and injuring more than 200.

June — In Orlando, Florida, shortly after ISIS calls on followers around the world to deliver “a month of calamity for the non-believers”, an ISIS acolyte shoots to death 49 people at the Pulse nightclub.

July — In the French city of Nice, a terrorist claimed by ISIS drives a 19-ton truck through a holiday crowd, killing 86 and wounding more than 400.

December — In the German city of Bonn, a Tunisian terrorist who has pledged loyalty to ISIS hijacks a heavy truck, killing its driver, and runs down holiday-makers at a Christmas market, killing 11 and wounding 55.

2017

March — In London, a terrorist claimed by ISIS kills three and injures dozens, using a car to run down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and then stabbing to death an unarmed police officer.

May — In Manchester, England, a suicide bomber claimed by ISIS detonates his bomb at an Ariana Grande concert, killing 22 innocents, including children.

On May 19, in Syria, Hoda Muthana gives birth to a son [referred to in the lawsuit brought by her father as “Minor John Doe”].* 

June — In London, three terrorists claimed by ISIS drive a van into pedestrians on London Bridge, then go on a stabbing rampage, killing six and wounding more than 30.

October — In the deadliest terror attack on New York City since Sept. 11, 2001, an ISIS-inspired terrorist uses a rented tuck to mow down people on a crowded Manhattan bicycle path, killing eight.

2018

December — ISIS has lost almost all the territory it seized a few years earlier. The group remains a vicious threat, but the Caliphate is kaput.

 Hoda leaves the severely dwindling patch of ISIS-controlled turf and turns herself over to Kurdish forces, who transfer her to the refugee camp where she is now living.

2019

And that brings us to the present, in which, from the refugee camp in Syria, Hoda has been giving interviews to the media. She now professes regret over joining ISIS, and declares her desire to go back to America — where, she now suggests, she might make amends by, variously, potentially facing prosecution, entering therapy, and counseling others. In the U.S., her father, with legal representation by Hassan Shibly, chief executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Florida (CAIR Florida), and lawyers of the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America, has been seeking ways to legally send Hoda money and bring her with her son to the United States.

Hoda and her father’s CAIR Florida attorney now say that in Syria her Twitter account was taken over by others. OK, a lot can happen during four years with ISIS, but, if true, was her social media hijacked before or after such activity as the March 2015 tweet she apparently confirmed to BuzzFeed as her own, urging that American veterans and patriots be bloodied, crushed, and killed with trucks?

We can expect to see and hear a lot more from Hoda and her father’s attorneys, and ever less about the barbarisms of ISIS touched on in the timeline above — tempting to want to forget, but in sizing up this ISIS bride, important to remember.

What is to be done with Hoda Muthana?

In the interest of diversity and inclusion, will we welcome her back into the US? Give her a free university education? And some hundreds of thousands – or even millions – of dollars to compensate her for the hardship she has endured? (That’s what they’ve done for returning traitors in Canada.) A tax-payer funded house? (That’s been proposed for returning traitors in Britain.)

Will it be only fair if the New York Times appoints her editor of its op-ed page? Or if CNN employs her to explain to its viewers at airports that hijacking planes for Islam is what American travelers deserve? Or if ABC gives her a permanent seat with the pundits of The View?

What does she deserve?

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