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‘Free Riders’ or ‘A New Hope’?

by John Brian Shannon | April 27, 2016

In a recent interview, President Barack Obama called some U.S. allies “free riders” in regards to perceived American largesse, but supposedly “cleared the air” while meeting with King Salman of Saudi Arabia at the April 20th Gulf Cooperation Council meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Now that one side has ‘cleared the air’ let’s allow the other side to share their grievances publicly — except they won’t because there is danger in that for them — and also because ‘it’s just not done’ diplomatically-speaking.

FACT: From 1932 through 1973 (in almost every year) the U.S.A. purchased Saudi oil at a price lower than the cost of production.

Yes, you read that correctly. For most of 41 years, Saudi Arabia massively subsidized the American economy by selling it’s oil for lower than the cost of production. (“Otherwise, the West will lose the Cold War.”) Does everybody understand how that card was played?

I’d call that a very big debt.

(Yes, such treatment ultimately led to the Arab Oil Embargo, although events surrounding Israel were cast as the publicly-stated reason for the Embargo. ‘Those in the know’ at that time are very well aware of this and it’s an open secret among historians and the people who were present in the halls of power in that era)

FACT: During the Cold War, Saudi Arabia mounted more Cold War operations against the former Soviet Union than all other countries combined. (Let that one sink in for a moment!) Saudi Arabia’s Cold War operations against the Soviets were second only to the United States — and countless operations were joint U.S./Saudi operations.

I’d call that a very large debt.

FACT: During the massive Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980’s, the CIA, Pakistan’s ISI, and the Saudis combined forces to evict America’s #1 enemy the former Soviet Union from Afghanistan. (See the movie, ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ which isn’t far off the truth — except it misses the point that Saudi Arabia paid for the whole effort)

The CIA provided a dazzling array of options (technical support, 3rd-rate new or refurbished weapons, realtime satellite intelligence to designated ‘advisors’ on the ground, and cover) while the ISI provided transport, shelter, fighters, and other logistical capabilities.

(In retrospect, in exchange for *being allowed* to get a reasonable price for their oil, it almost looks like Saudi Arabia was expected to shoulder the entire cost of the Soviet/Afghanistan war. Which probably removed most of whatever profits they had hoped to achieve from the new, post-Embargo oil price that the Saudis were *allowed* to charge)

Another big debt to Saudi Arabia.

FACT: “Saudi Arabia has *executed* more terrorists than the U.S. has ever *captured*.” (That was true until 2004, but it was a common refrain until then)

Yes, in Saudi Arabia, when they catch terrorists, they generally execute them with little fanfare. Good riddance!

Saudi Arabia has passed onto the United States intelligence agencies more information about terrorist individuals than any other country.

Of course, U.S. intelligence agencies and some law enforcement units are only too happy to take the credit for apprehending such terrorists, rendering them abroad, incarcerating them without trial, and then casting vague aspersions at Saudi Arabian culture for (possibly) creating them.

Which works quite well, I must say. It has kept the Saudis busy trying to dig themselves out of a contrived hole — a hole contrived by some Western intelligence agencies in order to keep the Saudis quiet about all the free riders Saudi Arabia has given the West since 1932.

I’d call that a moderate debt to the Saudis.

It’s interesting that there was little ‘Islamic terrorism’ prior to the Soviet/Afghan War. And what there had been, was tiny bits of terrorism scattered around Asia and the Middle East. (Usually it was a case of personal attacks — one warlord against another)

But there is a reason for the rise of Islamic Terrorism and we in the West, helped create it.

Instead of castigating people for being ‘free riders’ — trying to keep them ‘down’ and ‘on the defensive’ — we should be meeting every country ‘where it is’ and helping them to destroy terrorist networks and individual terrorists wherever they may be on the planet.

That’s the difference between managing a problem on the one hand and scoping out a much broader, more inclusive, and cooperative vision on the other hand — one that has an infinitely better chance of success.

Finally, terrorism didn’t suddenly just happen. We in the West helped to create it during the Soviet/Afghan War with CIA training, the ISI’s training, and Saudi money.

When our allies the brave Mujahadeen sometimes called the West’s freedom fighters returned home to places like Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and other Middle Eastern nations, their particular indoctrination did not simply vanish…

A New Hope

We need a better vision — one that is at least one order of magnitude better — for dealing with what is probably going to become a widespread problem in this world, with many Western-educated young people joining such groups.

Yes, thousands of Western non-Muslims are joining ISIS and other groups — and in the future it’s likely that other groups will arise with even more tantalizing ideologies (at least to easily-swayed and ‘out-of-place’ young people) who feel they haven’t a real chance at fulfilling their potential in our world.

Every one of our young people who leaves to join such a group represents a massive failure on the part of our society.

And we will only have ourselves to blame for what comes after — whatever that may be.

Therefore, let us put our efforts into providing real opportunities for our young people, and with some urgency, create employment opportunities in the Middle East where the youth unemployment rate ranges from 29% (Saudi Arabia) to 24.8% in Egypt and worse, in rural areas.

Young people from any country with a promising future ahead of them, do not run away from their communities to join groups like ISIS. Providing the opportunity for a real future for young people is where we must put our best effort — and we can’t afford to waste a moment in support of that important goal.

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Canada’s Best Option to Deal With ISIS

by John Brian Shannon | November 18, 2015

It’s a fact of international law that military aircraft from one nation entering the airspace of another nation (without permission) is illegal and considered an act of war.

It’s also illegal for aircraft (or ships) from ‘Country A’ to enter ‘Country B’ and kill people there — even if the people they kill are members of a heinous terror organization.

This is a matter of international law. There’s no ambiguity, it’s not up for discussion, and it’s not under debate by legal scholars anywhere. No constitutional lawyers anywhere dispute this part of sovereignty law.

(For the record; Some countries don’t respond militarily to illegal incursions into their air, sea, or land space — while others respond aggressively. It’s the aggrieved nation’s right to respond in any way it deems appropriate)

Two exceptions are allowed under international law

If a country or a coalition of countries, have a mandate from the United Nations (via a UN Security Council or General Assembly resolution) then they may enter and engage hostile combatants under the conditions set within the UN resolution.

The other exception is when the host country has formally requested that a country, or a coalition, intervene inside their borders.

International laws apply equally to every nation. They aren’t like an à la carte dinner menu where you can simply choose which laws you wish to follow

File photo: Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 fighter/bomber. Image courtesy of Canadian Press.

Oh, Canada; Don’t you know that under international law it’s illegal and considered an act of war, when military aircraft from one nation enter the airspace of another — without permission? Unless the host country has formally asked us to intervene inside their borders — or there is a UN mandate allowing it. Neither of which has occurred in the case of Syria as of November, 2015. File photo: Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 fighter/bomber. Image courtesy of Canadian Press.

No matter how evil some terror groups are, countries that break international law are just as guilty of breaking laws as those terror groups

If some countries in the West send their fighter-bomber jets into Syria; a) uninvited by the host government, or; b) with no UN mandate to do so — they are just as guilty of breaching international law as ISIS, perhaps moreso — as nation states know full well the responsibilities of international law and they know that they are bound by those laws. Any protestations by government spokespersons are doublespeak.

ISIS is not a country. Having pretensions at being a country, is not the same thing as being a country

ISIS is a terror group, and although bound by the criminal and civil laws of whatever countries they operate in, they’re not a country and are therefore not bound by the same laws that nation states must uphold.

My point is, if we in the West are saying that we’re a great moral force in the world, then we better start acting like it.

Historically, Canada is renown as a nation that abides by the rule of law

In no way should Canada be invading the sovereign airspace of any nation with our fighter aircraft, no matter the pretext.

In fact, our constitutional document refers to ‘Peace, Order and Good government’ as the justification for supporting the idea of a federal government in the first place. So…

Either Canada is a nation that respects international law, or it isn’t

If we abide by international law, then we are setting a good example and we should expect to be treated accordingly by other nations. And if occasion arises when our good example is not reciprocated by other nations, then we can claim full legal recourse with support from other law-abiding nations.

If we don’t abide by international law, but instead rely on the law of the jungle — then we must realize that we will be treated accordingly by the UN, by other institutions and by other nation states.

One way or another, we’ll get what we deserve

Therefore, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seems on the right side of international law when he indicated that Canada’s CF-18’s would stop flying into Syrian airspace to bomb civilians — only some of whom may be ISIS members.

Until then, Canada continues to break international law by flying into Syrian airspace and bombing civilians

Let’s not forget that ISIS members are civilians who have joined a terror organization — they’re not members of the Syrian Army and Canada isn’t at war with Syria — therefore, we have no legal right to be there regardless of how evil the ISIS entity is. The anger we feel at their horrific terror attacks doesn’t entitle us to become lawbreakers.

We’re supposed to be the country of ‘Peace, Order and Good Government’ – not a country of ‘Anger, Revenge and International Scofflaws’

The sooner Canada returns to conformance with international law the better; For the reputation of this country, for the example that this country sets to the world, and for this country’s future security.

Canada’s best way forward for dealing with ISIS, is to operate within Iraq, a country which has formally asked for our assistance

Canada can contribute to operations on the ground and in the air in the fight against ISIS within Iraq. We’ve been asked to be there, and we should therefore, show up and contribute our best effort.

If Canada, claims that it is part of a great and moral fight in the world, then let us start by being moral

And in this case, that means getting out of Syrian air, sea, and land space, ASAP — and fulfilling our mandate to be enablers of Peace, Order and Good Government by assisting the government and people of Iraq to our best ability.

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Islamic Terrorism: Creating Our Own Monsters

by John Brian Shannon | November 15, 2015

Islamic Terrorism: Creating Our Own Monsters

In Islamic Terrorism: Creating Our Own Monsters we discuss the underlying reasons for terror attacks in the West and how to not repeat our previous foreign policy failures.

Prior to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, there was no identifiable thing as ‘Islamic Terrorism’ – the terminology was unknown

If ‘Islamic Terrorism’ existed anywhere in the world, it had until 1990 been confined to the Soviet/Afghan War which officially ran from December 1979 to February 1989, with the West as willing participants promoting the unconventional warfare that dealt many hard blows to the Soviet Army in Afghanistan.

Of course, we didn’t call it terrorism. And we especially didn’t call it ‘Islamic Terrorism’

The brave ‘Mujahadeen’ of Afghanistan (translated to English means ‘Freedom Fighters’) were the West’s high-value allies in the struggle against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan — itself a footnote in the monumental Cold War clash between the West and the Soviet Union.

Therefore, we did not refer to our allies the Mujahadeen in anything other than glowing terms and we always couched their actions (no matter how horrific) within the context of the great moral battle against the tyranny of Soviet thought.

The United States CIA, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency and the Saudi government cooperated daily with the Mujahadeen of Afghanistan. The CIA brought to the table a dazzling array of options, ISI provided deep links to operators within the region, while the Saudis bankrolled the entire operation.

Billions of dollars of guns and ammunition, shoulder-fired missiles, grenades, IED’s and know-how were delivered to the Mujahadeen to fight the Soviet Army in Afghanistan. And because they were ‘our terrorists’ they weren’t known as ‘terrorists’ or ‘Islamic Terrorists’ — but by the handle ‘Mujahadeen’.

‘Our Brave Mujahadeen, the West’s Freedom Fighters!’ (spoken with a patriotic sigh)

Those were the halcyon years of ‘putting it to the Soviets’ and the Mujahadeen were spoken-of in reverent tones throughout America, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. Every Western Cold Warrior loved the Mujahadeen freedom fighters.

Yet at the end of the Soviet/Afghan War, we suddenly left Afghanistan and Our Brave Mujahadeen, ending the food drops that were necessary to sustain life in the country.

Some 500,000 Afghan Mujahadeen and their families died of starvation because we abandoned them

Eventually, over 1,000,000 Afghani men, women and children perished on account of the slight chance that we would upset the Soviets (by our continuing to drop food and medicine to Afghans) and the Soviets could conceivably renege on their agreement to vacate Afghanistan.

I forgot to mention that one of three people considered by the CIA, the ISI, and the Saudis as one of the most effective Mujahadeen operators, was Osama Bin Laden.

The cessation of the food and medicine drops so enraged Osama Bin Laden that he swore revenge on the West that had abandoned the Afghan families and their warrior Mujahadeen.

We created our own monster

Beginning in 1990, Osama spent billions of dollars creating the so-called Madrasa schools all over Africa, Asia, India, the Middle East, South America and in the former Soviet republics. These schools for the most part guaranteed food and water to the students (but not their families) as well as an anti-Western education. Each student of a Madrasa must be able to (orally and without the help of props) recite the entire Koran from cover to cover before they can graduate from the school. And each student is given a high level of weapons and physical combat training.

Now the monster numbers in the millions

These schools are still pumping out students and while many have moderated their views in recent years, many have become even more hardcore. Each year, millions more students graduate from Madrasas all over the world.

More Madrasa schools are being built as we speak

Soon, over 1 billion kids will have attended Madrasas somewhere in the world. Let me say that plainly, the day is coming that one in seven people alive in the world, will have been educated K-12 in a Madrasa school.

Calling the decision to stop food aid and medical aid to the Mujahadeen and their families a foreign policy disaster, doesn’t come close to describing the incompetence of that fateful decision. The decision virtually created Islamic Terrorism on its own. Or re-created it, depending upon your worldview.

Scholars will tell you that there was some amount of terrorism by Muslims in the 19th century, mostly in the Philippines or other frontier Southeast Asian states. However, two points must emerge when this is being discussed:

  • Those Muslims who performed terrorist acts were defending their home territory from invaders — they were not blowing innocent people up in faraway countries.
  • There was a definite end to terrorism by Muslims in the 19th century, and there had been few instances of what could be termed, ‘Islamic Terrorism’ since then.

The failure to care for Our Brave Mujahadeen in Afghanistan has changed the world in ways that are not yet apparent. We should tread carefully.

The worst thing that we could do now, is to go stomping into (name any country) and start blowing up innocent people (and the occasional terrorist) just to express our rage at the senseless attacks in Paris

That’s the kind of thinking that got us here in the first place.

Closing the foreign policy lapses which allowed these mind-numbing examples of incompetence to occur, is like closing the barn door years after the horses have bolted from the stables

It’s too late for closing the door. Thanks to our foreign policy incompetence, we’re now in a kind of ‘salvage-what-we-can’ mode where almost any response to Islamic Terrorism will be the ‘wrong response’. And irrationally as usual, that’s where we’re heading.

Using the pretext of the Paris attacks to invade yet another oil-rich Middle Eastern country is not the answer to our problems. That will only result in a million anti-Western Madrasas being built, each school having anywhere from 10 students up to 2000 students.

The answer to Islamic Terrorism, is to build security into our nations without going overboard

  • Above all, stop invading or bombing other countries that haven’t declared war on us. (That would be all countries, as no country has declared war on us)
  • Everyday citizens in Western countries must be trained to spot unusual activity and feel that they are instantly and thereby empowered to report suspicious activity to police, or agencies such as Homeland Security.
  • Once an individual or terrorist group has performed a terrorist attack they must be quickly taken through the legal system with a high degree of transparency and media exposure. If we are trying to portray our nations as great moral and justice leaders, then we should start acting the part. Give these people their day in court, let the media air the terrorist’s ridiculous reasoning for killing innocent people, and let that message be heard around the world. Even the most virulent terrorists don’t want to be seen as ridiculous or uneducated, or having any kind of association with ‘those outed terrorists’ — especially when it is broadcast globally on TV and on the internet.
  • Once an individual or terror group has performed a terrorist attack and been killed by police or onlookers, it’s time to move along instead of dragging it out and milking it for all it’s worth — in order to justify invading yet another oil-rich nation. Once the terrorist individuals are dead, they’re dead. Get it? There is no waking them up from death to kill them again and again in a vain attempt to cool our anger. The terrorists killed some innocent people, now the terrorists are dead.
  • No more invading other countries to soothe our hurts. The same goes for bombing campaigns. Once those particular terrorists are dead, that’s the end of it.
  • Each person on the planet is in contact with or is related to, an average of 250 people. Therefore, using military means to contain this problem won’t work. All we’re doing when we kill one Madrasa-schooled person is to enrage another 250 anti-Western Madrasa-schooled people. When we kill 10,000 Madrasa-schooled people, we enrage another 2.5 million anti-Western Madrasa-schooled people.
  • In the future, if we kill 100,000 Madrasa-schooled people, we will enrage 25 million anti-Western Madrasa-schooled people. Care to go for a billion? You getting this?
  • Remember, all of them have advanced combat and survival training, on par with any recently enlisted soldier.
  • How many enraged and highly-trained anti-Western people do we want visiting or living in our Western cities?

The people of the West need to wake up and realize Western policies created this imbroglio in the first place, and that this situation is already out of control

There’s no way to re-educate the millions of people that have been taught by anti-Western Madrasa schools all over the world since about 1990. Nor is there a way to prevent the millions of kids presently enrolled in those schools from completing their (anti-Western) education.

At this late date, all we can do is try to contain the carnage and use the strengths inherent in democratic nation-states (strong societies, high quality policing and security, the rule of law, human psychology, and the media) to mitigate the terrors that we ourselves have created

And we aren’t even at the beginning, of the beginning, of that path…

That path means proving to the world, and by extension any potential terrorists, that our system of government and our culture works better in practice than the system and culture they’ve been indoctrinated to believe.

If we can’t prove their Madrasa instructors were wrong, they’ll conclude that their Madrasa instructors were right…

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