Archive for May 7th, 2010|Daily archive page


In History, Politics, Social commentary on May 7, 2010 at 11:46 pm

“Too many people,” says a character in the 1984 thriller Gorky Park, “fall into a chasm. The chasm between what is said and what is done.”

When it comes to genuine efforts to control America’s borders, there is definitely a chasm–between what most of those in official positions say and what they are actually willing to do.

On the Right are those calling for securing the Mexican border–and that is the border they’re talking about when they talk about “securing our borders.” They call for stationing thousands of soldiers across the four states bordering Mexico–California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, for a length of 1,969 miles.

There are, at most, 1,473,900 persons serving in all the United States Armed Services. There simply aren’t enough soldiers to adequately police the border–and do anything else. As the Prussian military genius Frederick the Great once said: “He who defends everything defends nothing.”

Other conservatives prefer the approach Arizona has recently taken–of ordering its police to question anyone they believe might be an illegal alien. This subjects the police to charges of racism and behaving like a Gestapo. It may also open them to civil suits for wrongful arrest. And having local police enforce immigration laws creates a patchwork situation–with the laws being enforced in some states but not in others.

On the Left are those who believe that enforcing the legal immigration laws of the United States amounts to racism. They ignore the truth that the first principle of every nation is regard for its own sovereignty. And there can be no sovereignty for a nation whose borders are repeatedly violated by those entering illegally.

Liberals also ignore the truth that Mexico enforces strict laws for those who enter its own borders. Mexico has a single, streamlined law that ensures that foreign visitors and immigrants are:

• in the country legally;
• have the means to sustain themselves economically;
• not destined to be burdens on society;
• of economic and social benefit to society;
• of good character and have no criminal records; and
• contributors to the general well-being of the nation.

The law also ensures that:

• immigration authorities have a record of each foreign visitor;
• foreign visitors do not violate their visa status;
• foreign visitors are banned from interfering in the country’s internal politics;
• foreign visitors who enter under false pretenses are imprisoned or deported;
• foreign visitors violating the terms of their entry are imprisoned or deported;
• those who aid in illegal immigration will be sent to prison.

So, is there a realistic way for the United States to gain control over its own borders? Yes.

To do so, it’s necessary to answer a simple question: Why are so many millions of Mexicans (who make up by far the single largest group of those who are here illegally) crossing into the United States?

For two reasons–one Mexican, the other American.

(1) The Mexican Government still remembers the bloody upheaval known as the Mexican Revolution. This lasted ten years (1910-1920) and wiped out an estimated one to two million men, women and children. Massacres were common on all sides, with men shot by the hundreds in bullrings or hung by the dozen on trees. All of the major leaders of the Revolution (Francisco “Pancho” Villa, Emiliano Zapata, Venustiano Carranza, Francisco Madero, Alvaro Obregon) died in a hail of bullets.

As a result, every successive Mexican Government has lived in the shadow of another such wholesale bloodletting. These officials have thus quietly decided to turn the United States border into a safety valve. If potential revolutionaries leave Mexico to find a better life in the United States, the Government doesn’t have to fear the rise of another “Pancho” Villa.

(2) American corporations need a steady pool of workers who allow themselves to be overworked and underpaid. Mexicans fill jobs that most Americans no longer want to do–picking crops, cleaning offices and homes and stocking shelves and greeting customers at mega-retailers like Wal-Mart.

Before there can be meaningful immigration reform, Americans must reach at least a rough consensus on what they want. Do they want continued waves of illegals who will do the dirty jobs Americans don’t want to do? Or do they want to control their borders and tightly restrict who enters the country–the way Mexico itself does?

Assuming that Americans decide they want to gain control of their borders, there are several ways to achieve this. I will outline these in my next column.


In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics on May 7, 2010 at 11:01 am

Within investigative agencies such as the FBI and CIA, there are divisions specializing in two types of Intelligence:

Tactical Intelligence: This concerns matters that are of immediate importance. Examples: Al Qaeda is planning to set off a bomb at a particular place, or a top Islamic terrorist is due to arrive at a particular plce on such-and-such date.

Strategic Intelligence: This concerns matters that are of long-term importance. Examples: How does A. Qaeda recruit new members? How does it launder its money?

For too long, Intelligence agencies have followed the “buy and bust” example of local and Federal narcotics enforcement agencies. That is: They have gone for the quick arrest of smalltime criminals while ignoring the operating processes of criminal organizations.

To actively combat Islamic terrorism, the American Intelligence community must thoroughly understand the enemy it is facing. Thus, that community should create a corps of experts specializing in:

(1) Islamic religion
(2) Islamic history
(3) Islamic culture.

Granted, only timely tactical intelligence will reveal Al Qaeda’s latest plans for destruction. But no matter how adept Islamic terrorists prove at concealing their momentary aims, they cannot conceal the insights and long-term objectives of the religion, history and culture which have scarred and molded them.

While accumulating such intelligence, one question above all others should be kept constantly in mind: “How can we turn this religion / history / culture into a weapon against the terrorists we face?”

To demonstrate how the American Intelligence community could effectively apply such intelligence:

Cultural Intelligence: A U.S. News & World Report story has noted that Palestinian suicide-bombers have been deterred by the Israelis’ use of police dogs. For religious and cultural reasons, Muslims consider dogs defiled—and defiling—creatures. Islamic terrorists fear that blowing up themselves near a dog risks mingling their blood with that of the dead or wounded animal—thus forfeiting their opportunity to enter Paradise and claim those 72 willing virgins.

Historical Intelligence: The age-old ethnic conflicts between majority Sunni and minority Shiite Muslims are now on lethal display in Iraq. The FBI and CIA can successfully exploit these when recruiting informants or fomenting rivalries among terrorist groups. These are similar to the animosities once existing between American Indian tribes, such as the Pawnee and Cheyenne. Veteran Army officers used these hatreds to recruit warriors of opposing Indian tribes to scout against warriors of their longtime enemies.

Religious Intelligence: Contrary to politically-correct pundits, it is not only social or economic inequalities which inspire Islamic terrorists, but the Koran itself. Within its pages are numerous exhortations to wage war on “kaffirs” or “unbelievers.” Dying for Allah is not seen as a waste of life. In fact, the Koran encourages it. Muhammad commands in Surah [chapter] 4:74: “To him who fighteth in the cause of Allah—whether he is slain or gets victory—soon shall we give him a reward of great (value).”

The American Intelligence community must become as intimately familiar with the mindset of its Islamic enemies as the best frontier Army officers became with the mindset of the Indians they fought.

General George A. Custer once freed several white female captives by threatening to hang the chiefs of the tribes responsible. The Indians scorned death by knife or gunshot.
But they feared that the spirit of a hanged man remained forever trapped within his body, thus preventing him from reaching the Happy Hunting Ground. And Custer, knowing this, put this intelligence to effective, life-saving use.

American Intelligence agencies must learn what our Islamic enemies most seek, most prize, and—above all—most hate and fear. Then these agencies must ruthlessly apply that knowledge in defense of America’s survival.


In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics on May 7, 2010 at 10:42 am

It’s long past time to re-think the role that inflexible bureaucracies have played–and continue to play–in the so-called “war on terror.”

In fact, a good place to start would be scrapping that phrase. “Terrorism” is not and never has been an end in itself. It is, instead, a means to an end, nearly always used by organizations unable to field conventional armies.

“Terror,” as such, can never be eliminated. But those who practice it can be targeted for destruction.

Thus, a more accurate–if politically incorrect–title for the conflict now raging between the United States and its Islamic enemies would be: “The War on Islamic Aggression.”

It’s true that not all Islamics are terrorists. But it’s equally true that most of the terrorists now threatening America are Islamics.

Bureaucracies are, by their very nature, conservative institutions. They may start out as innovaters, but, over time, techniques that were new and fresh become old and brittle. What worked in the past against one problem fails to work when pitted against an entirely new challenge.

Since 1981, the United States has been on the defensive against Islamic terrorism. As noted investigative journalist Bob Woodward warned in a 2001 Frontline documentary:

“These terrorist incidents- they [American Intelligence agencies] used the tools that were available, but it was never in a coherent way. I know from talking to those people at the time, it was always, ‘Oh, we’ve got this crisis. We’re dealing with the Achille Lauro now,’ or ‘We’re dealing with Quaddafi,’ or ‘We’re dealing with Libyan hit squads,’ or ‘We’re dealing with Beirut.’ And it never- they never got in a position where they said, ‘You know, this is a real serious threat,’ not just episodically, but it’s going to be a threat to this country throughout the administration, future administrations.

“We need to organize to fight it. It can’t be a back-bench operation for the FBI and the CIA. It’s got to be somebody’s issue, so it’s on their desk every day. What do we know? What’s being planned? What are the threats out there?”

It’s time for the United States to cast aside its hidebound, case-by-case approach to fighting Islamic aggression. It’s time for American Intelligence to recognize that the secrets to defeating Islamic terrorism lie within the history, culture and religion of the enemies we face.

In Warriors of God: Richard the Lionheart, Saladin and the Third Crusade [Doubleday, 2001] James Reston, Jr. demonstrates that the past is truly prologue for the soldiers of Islam.

Suicide Warriors: Rashid al-Din Sinan, known as “The Old Man of the Mountain,” was the head of the Assassins. He was imam to a cadre of young men, known as fidai, who swore personal allegiance to him. Once, to prove the devotion of his followers to a Crusader leader, Sinan gave a quick hand signal to two fidai high in a tower. At once, both leaped to their death in the ravine below. Sinan then asked the Crusader if he would like to see another such example of loyalty; the Frank said this wasn’t necessary, that he was convinced.

Promises of Paradise: “Assassins” is derived from “hashish.” During the fidai indoctrination ceremony, a devotee was given a potion laced with cannabis, put to sleep, and then transported to a beautiful garden. When he awoke, he believed he was being given a glimpse of the Paradise to come. He would extend his hand and receive a dagger–and instructions for murder: “Go and slay so-and-so, and when you return, my angels will bear you into Paradise.”

Sunnis vs. Shiites: Sinan–from Basra–belonged to the Shi’ite branch of Islam. Even in the twelfth century, the rivalry between Shi’ism and Sunnism was intense. Sinan blamed Saladin for defeating and erasing the Shi’ite Fatamid Caliphate of Cairo and imposing Sunnism in its place. Sinan ordered two attempts on the life of Saladin himself. The first failed when the assassins were intercepted and killed only a few feet from Saladin. The second almost succeeded: Posing as one of the Sultan’s bodyguards, the assailant slashed at Saladin’s head. Bleeding and terrified, Saladin fought off his attacker until his guards intervened. Saladin survived only because he wore a mailed headdress beneath his turban.

“The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend”: The Latin Christians were not Sinan’s greatest enemy. This honor was reserved for the Muslim viziers in Aleppo and Mosul. As a result, Sinan reached an accommodation with the Templers. The Assassins and the military monks understood each other well, for they had much in common: Both groups were luxury-spurning religious fanatics. On occasion, the two went to war: After a boundary dispute in 1154, the Assassins murdered Raymond 11 of Tripoli; in return, the Templers butchered a number of Muslims. After that, an accommodation was reached. For a time, the Assassins paid the Templers a hefty tribute to be left alone.

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