Archive for March, 2015

Robert Agostinelli – Response to “Britain’s Lost Girls”, WSJ, February 25, 2015

Britain’s Lost Girls

The ‘ISIS brides’ knew what they were doing. That’s the problem. Britons have anxiously followed for nearly a week the hunt for three missing teenage schoolgirls who aren’t “missing” at all. The trio appear to have evaded efforts to track them down as they journeyed to Syria to join Islamic State.   Authorities say the three girls lied to their families about their plans for the day on Feb. 17 to buy time to fly from London’s Gatwick Airport to Istanbul. From there they are believed to have traveled into Syria. One of the three allegedly was in contact via social media with Aqsa Mahmood, a 20-year-old Scottish woman who also became an Islamic State bride after she left Glasgow in 2013. The three apparently intend to do the same.   This has prompted tearful pleas from their families for them to return, and a promise from Prime Minister  David Cameron  to help. A debate is afoot on what rules should be in place to prevent unaccompanied minors from boarding planes under such circumstances, and how else government might intervene.   There is an element of predation to this case and others like it. Targeted for their impressionability, the girls were probably bombarded with messages from online contacts about the supposed religious utopia awaiting them in the Middle East, coupled with denigration of the Western societies in which they lived.   Yet to suggest, as Mr. Cameron also did, that these young women were “duped by a poisonous ideology” downplays the extent to which they likely were active participants in their own radicalization. By all accounts they got good grades—so much for the State Department’s plan to combat terrorism with better education—and one shouldn’t assume they’re stupid. They schemed effectively to raise the money for their journey. They also appear to have studied up on how to avoid looking suspicious during the trip.   While they were preparing their departure, global media reported Islamic State’s beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians on the Mediterranean shore. Several weeks earlier Islamic State burned to death a caged Jordanian air force pilot. Reports also abound of Islamic State’s crucifixions of “infidels” and beheading of other journalists and aid workers. Put simply, the teens had ample opportunity to learn all about the evils of Islamic State. They chose to ignore those warnings or—more likely—to accept an interpretation of those events as signs that Islamic State is more religiously pure than their parents’ homes or their East London neighborhood. Islamist proselytizing is a complex phenomenon capitalizing on youthful idealism, rebellion and suspicion of authority. Stopping it will require less tolerance for radical preaching (a particular fault of Britain’s for years), better parenting and oversight, and defeat of the proselytizers themselves on their distant battlefield. One thing that will not help is infantilizing the teenagers as victims of some blob-like online force, or denying the explicitly religious motivations behind their actions.

Response to “Britain’s Lost Girls”, WSJ, February 25, 2015

The Journal is lucid and correct, this wet off- point response from Prime Minister David Cameron confirms the state of denial of PC laced western leadership with regard to the source and nature of Islamist radical ideology. These “innocent ” girls were not tricked into joining the ISIS band in Syria. Nor were they kidnapped or stolen. They were by all accounts intelligent thorough participants in their fate. The real truth is good riddance. The real reaction of Western leadership should not be the pretense that there is some hypnotic spell by a witch doctor that took control of these Islamists but rather the jagged edge of the teachings of the mosques who cultivate and breed these convictions in Islamic youth. It is past due to acknowledge the problem and  eradicate these “centers of Islamic teaching. The illiberal culture of tribalism confuses the true western values of freedom of religion and expression with a convoluted notion that insists that we must subordinate those values  to the tyranny of a faith that is diabolically opposed to the same in every instance. It is in a word cultural suicide.  David Cameron’s irresponsible reaction consciously avoids this truth in again an illiberal  effort to embrace the very diet of evil that will seek to annihilate us. These girls have affirmed their rejection of our ways. It is a failure of family, their  faith and our tolerance of evil. They should be stripped of citizenship and barred from returning. And by chance should they show up on the field treated as the enemy combatants they so dearly idolize. Robert F. Agostinelli London , England

Posted in Robert Agostinelli

Continue Reading

Robert Agostinelli – Response to “Our Plan for Countering Violent Extremism”, by John Kerry, WSJ, February 19, 2015

Our Plan for Countering Violent Extremism by John Kerry, WSJ, February 19, 2015 

Show the world the power of peaceful communities, and tackle bad governance that breeds frustration.

Throughout our history, we have faced threats from aggression, genocide, chaos and dictatorship. Today we are asked to wage a new war against a new enemy. The battlefield is different, and so are the weapons that we need to overcome that enemy and triumph.

The rise of violent extremism represents the pre-eminent challenge of the young 21st century. Military force is a rational and often necessary response to the wanton slaughters of children, mass kidnappings of schoolgirls, and beheading of innocents. But military force alone won’t achieve victory. In the long term, this war will be won only by deploying a broader, far more creative arsenal.

A safer and more prosperous future requires us to recognize that violent extremism can’t be justified by resorting to religion. No legitimate religious interpretation teaches adherents to commit unspeakable atrocities, such as razing villages or turning children into suicide bombers. These are the heinous acts of individuals who distort religion to serve their criminal and barbaric cause.

A safer and more prosperous future also requires us not to be distracted by divisions grounded in hatred or bias. There is no room in this fight for sectarian division. There is no room for Islamophobia or anti-Semitism. Violent extremism has claimed lives in every corner of the globe, and Muslim lives most of all. Each of us is threatened, regardless of ethnicity, faith or homeland. We must demonstrate to the terrorists that rather than divide us, their tactics unite us and strengthen our resolve.

Toward that goal of unity, and of action, President Obama has been hosting a summit in Washington this week that is bringing together leading figures from local and national governments, civil society, and the private sector around the world. This summit at the White House and State Department will expand the global conversation and, more important, adopt an action agenda that identifies, shares and utilizes best practices in preventing and countering violent extremism. And when world leaders gather at the United Nations General Assembly next fall, a key topic of discussion will be the steps we’ve all taken to fight extremism based on the agenda we outline this week.

Put simply, we are building a global partnership against violent extremism.

Success requires showing the world the power of peaceful communities instead of extremist violence. Success requires offering a vision that is positive and proactive: a world with more concrete alternatives to the nihilistic worldview of violent extremists. Success requires empowering leaders from Los Angeles to Lagos, Paris to Peshawar, and Bogotá to Baghdad to take the reins in this effort—because terrorists don’t exist in a vacuum. They require acquiescence from the broader population, if not outright support. They recruit among the disaffected and disenfranchised, but also among those of all backgrounds on a misguided quest for meaning and empowerment. They exploit anger, ignorance and grievance.

Eliminating the terrorists of today with force will not guarantee protection from the terrorists of tomorrow. We have to transform the environments that give birth to these movements. We have to devote ourselves not just to combating violent extremism, but to preventing it. This means building alternatives that are credible and visible to the populations where terrorists seek to thrive.

The most basic issue is good governance. It may not sound exciting, but it is vital. People who feel that their government will provide for their needs, not just its own, and give them a chance at a better life are far less likely to strap on an AK-47 or a suicide vest, or to aid those who do.

We must identify the zones of greatest vulnerability, the places that could descend into the chaos that breeds terrorism—or that could turn the corner and be the hotbed of growth or innovation. And then we must tailor our efforts and target our resources to meet the specific needs of those places. It may be training young people so they can get jobs and envision a future of dignity and self-reliance. It may be working to eliminate corruption and promote the rule of law, so that marginalized communities can enjoy security and justice. It’s very likely both, and of course much more.

There are precedents that can lead us. We’ve combated violent extremism before. We know there are tools that work. We also know the power of the international community to make positive progress when we’ve come together to combat other challenges, such as when we combined our efforts most recently to fight Ebola. We need to funnel more resources, creative ideas and energy into the fight against extremism and work closely with effective local organizations and governments to make sure those resources are used properly.

This week’s summit won’t solve all these problems, but it can catalyze a global effort. But let me be clear: We are in this for the long haul. We can send a clear signal to the next generation that its future will not be defined by the agenda of the terrorists and the violent ideology that sustains them; we will not cower, and we will prevail by working together. Indeed, there are roles for everyone, from religious and government leaders to academics, NGOs and the private sector. Our collective security depends on our collective response.

The 20th century was defined by the struggle to overcome depression, slavery, fascism and totalitarianism. Now it’s our turn. The rise of violent extremism challenges every one of us, our communities, our nations and the global rule of law. But the extremist forces arrayed against us require that we charge forward in the name of decency, civility and reason.

Roberts response

We are pleased to read this outline from Secretary Kerry on the “Plan for Countering Violent Terrorism”.  For It states clearly that this Administration remains unwilling to identify the enemy and second has absolute no concrete plan to defeat the enemy.

First Mr. Kerry must start with the predicate identity of the evil the West is now confronted by. It is not some amorphous collection of misguided individuals who have desperately fallen prey to trickery. Nor is it a collection of people who have turned to terrorism for lack of opportunity. OBL was an extremely wealthy man as exhibit A.

This is yes, a War on Terror. To be precise it is a War on Islamist terror waged against us in the first instance by them in their various guises ( Al-Qaeda,Boko Haram, Hezbollah, Hamas,ISIS, ISIL and many others). It also should include their state sponsors.

These warriors may be diffused but they are very clear on their intent in this long war to destroy Israel and/or conquer eventually all of the West at large.  

They are equally clear on their shared religious beliefs and the teachings of their Prophet as the legitimate predicate for their Jihad and its soft and hard forms.

Attempts to avoid this reality or obfuscate the truth simply provide reassuring illusions of comfort that conferences and dialogue and openness can reeducate these “way wards” of the error of their ways.

This is the classic pitfall of the pacifist left and merely serves as a simultaneously flint and incubator for more terror. It simply emboldens the enemy and those who might be swayed.

War is war and the objective of war is to destroy the enemy first and foremost to break their will and to send a message to the layers and waves of soft supporters that we have the will and the means to insure that they will be  absolutely defeated.

Islam implicitly understands and respects only one thing that is power and  strength as much as it disrespects weakness.

Likewise state sponsors of terror must know that The United States will act in defense of its interests and that they risk the tip of our sword if they don’t recede.

Yes Islam, unmentioned in the diatribe from Mr. Kerry must seek better governance and establish a rule of law based on modern values along with democratic institutions which support universally held values of freedom of the individual but again this tension is within Islam for this suggested secular spirit runs counter to the tenants of Sharia which implicitly reject modernity and it’s secular values.

Mr. Kerry, and its likes point to some societal drawbacks which created these misguided individuals. What it is and the evidence for it only remains in the recesses of the liberal mind’s denial to dare identify the reality of this enemy for to do so runs against their life long mantra that grievance and  societies inability to educate and care for these poor lost souls is a how terror comes about.

While satisfying to the leftist desire for “job training programs, eliminating corruption ” and comparing this war to controlling Ebola are all symptoms of the West’s contribution to the problem by ignoring the root problem that lies at its heart.

The insipid and gutless plea by Mr.  Kerry could apply to any tough adversary because in the rose colored world of his kind it is societies fault, never any religion or the individuals.

Robert F. Agostinelli
Palm Beach , Florida

Posted in Robert Agostinelli

Continue Reading

Latest Tweets