ISIS Fighter

Thursday, June 30, 2016

"It's for the Children" and Other Excuses for War-Making

I've long been a critic of humanitarian interventions:
These should not be confused with "humanitarian operations." Humanitarian operations
Refugee boat capsizing after escaping a the consequences of a humanitarian intervention
are approved by countries affected by some disaster or another, such as the aid rendered to the victims of the tsunami of December 2004 or other efforts to assist areas impacted by storms or earthquakes. In such cases, military forces may end up working with non-governmental organizations like the Red Cross or transnational entities like the UN and its disaster contractors. In such cases, the role of the military is usually logistical support.

By contrast, in a "humanitarian intervention" armed force is used directly to intervene in a sovereign nation's affairs even against the will of the sovereign of the invaded or attacked nation.

So it was with a great deal of interest I read David Bromwich's "The Roots of Hillary's Infatuation with War" in which he discusses the alter ego of "humanitarian intervention" - "smart power":
Smart power is supposed to widen the prospects of liberal society and assist the spread of human rights. Yet the term itself creates a puzzle. Hillary Clinton’s successful advocacy of violent regime change in Libya and her continuing call to support armed insurgents against the Assad government in Syria have been arguments for war, but arguments that claim a special exemption. For these wars—both the one we led and the one we should have led—were “humanitarian wars.” This last phrase Clinton has avoided using, just as she has avoided explaining her commitment to the internationalist program known as “Responsibility to Protect,” with its broad definition of genocide and multiple triggers for legitimate intervention. Instead, in a Democratic primary debate in October 2015, she chose to characterize the Libya war as “smart power at its best.”

Understanding the impulse to "protect" (couched as a "responsibility to protect") is important in examining political candidates for high office.

Not just in terms of the presumptive Democratic Party presidential candidate who is the topic of Dr. Bromwich's piece, but also in thinking about how we get into messy situations abroad - like Kosovo (still not at peace and hello ISIS, Somalia ("Blackhawk Down"), and Libya (hello, ISIS). If I recall correctly there were some "red line" warnings to Assad in Syria that sounded in humanitarian concerns.

In any event, Dr. Bromwich is right in asking at what level of humanitarian concern is intervention acceptable to a candidate? Would the Khmer Rouge and the killing fields of Cambodia now qualify? Rwanda? What about Mao's China and its "cultural revolution?" Stalin starving the Ukraine?

I think you get the drift - putting U.S. forces into combat in defense of the U.S. is one thing. Using our forces to deliver aid after a disaster is another. But is intervening in another country's affairs "for the children" - a mission we ought to undertake?

Indeed, as Dr. Bromwich writes, "An incorrigible belief in the purity of one’s motives is among the most dangerous endowments a politician can possess."

My mother always quoted, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

It's a dangerous path.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Terrorist Threats to Shipping: Philippines ISIS Team Member Abu Sayyaf Nabs Sailors, Seeks Ransom to Fund Operations

Abu Sayyaf kidnaps 7 Indonesian sailors
Jolo Island is in the oval

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Sunday finally confirmed the Abu Sayyaf Group's (ASG) kidnapping of seven Indonesian sailors in the Sulu Sea, two days after Indonesian authorities announced the incident.
The AFP's Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom) said that armed men on board two motorized boats intercepted the Indonesian's tugboat while en route to Indonesia in the Sulu Sea around 11 a.m. last June 22.
The WesMinCom's report said that only seven of the 13 crewmen on board the Indonesia tugboat were taken by the bandits.
It said that the seven Indonesians have been turned over by the armed men, later identified as the Muktadil brothers -- Nickson, Brown, Badung and Dadis -- to Abu Sayyaf Group sub-leader Majal Adja alias Apo Mike based in Sulu.
The WesMinCom said among those kidnapped was the boat's captain, who had called his wife in Indonesia to relay that their kidnappers were asking 20 million Malaysian ringgit.
Now, Indonesian hostages of Abu Sayyaf located:
Efforts to release seven Indonesian sailors recently abducted in waters off southern Philippines have progressed, with the defense ministries of the two countries on Monday locating the hostages.
The government had been tight-lipped over its handling of the aftermath of the kidnapping of seven members of the crew of the tugboat Charles 001 on June 20 in waters near Philippines’ Jolo island, where the headquarters of terrorist group Abu Sayyaf is located.
Abu Sayyaf has for more than a decade been notorious for its profit-driven activities, such as extortion and kidnap-for-ransom, and has a number of sub-operations under its control.
Of course Abu Sayyaf is now asserting it is affiliated with ISIS:
Southeast Asian militants who claim to be fighting for Islamic State in the Middle East have said they have chosen one of the most wanted men in the Philippines to head a regional faction of the ultraradical group, security officials said on Thursday.

The claim was made in a video that was recently posted on social media, possibly last week, a military intelligence official in the Philippines told Reuters. The video is significant, experts say, because it shows that Islamic State supporters are now being asked to stay home and unify under one umbrella group to launch attacks in Southeast Asia, instead of being drawn to the fight in the Middle East.

Authorities in the region have been on heightened alert since Islamic State claimed an attack in the Indonesian capital Jakarta in January in which eight people were killed, including four of the attackers. In the 20-minute video seen by Reuters, young men and some children in military fatigues are shown carrying and training with weapons, and holding Islamic State flags.
In the video, a man authorities in Malaysia have identified as Mohd Rafi Udin, a Malaysian militant currently in Syria, says in Malay: "If you cannot go to (Syria), join up and go to the Philippines."

In the video, Udin also urges Muslims to unite under the leadership of Abu Abdullah, a Philippine militant leader who pledged allegiance to Islamic State in January. Abu Abdullah, also known as Isnilon Hapilon, is a leader of the Philippine militant group Abu Sayyaf.
Abu Sayyaf poses some threat to shipping transiting the Sulu and Celebes Seas, especially to tugs,dive boats and other small craft which can be boarded and from which hostages can be removed. They are not yet in the business of hijacking larger ships.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: A British Exit From Europe - "We shall never surrender" Winston Churchill (1940)

The British leave Europe after a disaster:

More on the Battle of Dunkirk here.

On Midrats 26 June 2016 - Episode 338: Trans-national terrorism and the Long War with Bill Roggio

Please join us on 26 June 2016 at 5pm EDT for Midrats Episode 338: Trans-national terrorism and the Long War with Bill Roggio
When the BREXIT dust settles one thing will remain – the Long War against Islamic terrorists.

In a wide arch along its bloody edge, Islamic extremism continues to look for new opportunities for expansion, and within the borders of Dar al-Islam seeks to impose a retrograde view of Islam by destroying religious minorities, secular governments, and Islamic modernizers.

This Sunday returning guest Bill Roggio will be with us for the full hour to discuss this and more. Bill is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, President of Public Multimedia Inc, a non-profit news organization; and the founder and Editor of The Long War Journal, a news site devoted to covering the war on terror. He has embedded with the US and the Iraqi military six times from 2005-08, and with the Canadian Army in Afghanistan in 2006. Bill served in the US Army and New Jersey National Guard from 1991-97.
Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or pick the show up later from out iTunes page here or from Stitcher here.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday Film: A Salute to the Silent Service - "The Growler Story" (1958)

Featuring one of truly heroic acts in American Naval history - Commander Gilmore and his "Take her down" order:

His Medal of Honor citation:
Medal of Honor Citation for Commander Howard W. Gilmore
For distinguished gallantry and valor above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding
Officer of the USS Growler during her Fourth War Patrol in the Southwest Pacific from 10 January to 7 February 1943. Boldly striking at the enemy in spite of continuous hostile air and antisubmarine patrols, CDR Gilmore sank one Japanese freighter and damaged another by torpedo fire, successfully evading severe depth charges following each attack. In the darkness of night on 7 February, an enemy gunboat closed range and prepared to ram the Growler. CDR Gilmore daringly maneuvered to avoid the crash and rammed the attacker instead, ripping into her port side at 11 knots and bursting wide her plates. In the terrific fire of the sinking gunboat’s heavy machineguns, CDR Gilmore calmly gave the order to clear the bridge, and refusing safety for himself, remained on deck while his men preceded him below. Struck down by the fusillade of bullets and having done his utmost against the enemy, in his final living moments, CDR Gilmore gave his last order to the officer of the deck, “Take her down.” The Growler dived; seriously damaged but under control, she was brought safely to port by her well-trained crew inspired by the courageous fighting spirit of their dead captain.

Drawing by Fred Freeman from the Naval History and Heritage Command collection.