My Opinion

Remember the St Louis

Turning away from evil, especially when it’s not at your front door is appealing, even deceivingly comfortable. Many Americans wanted to look the other way before December 7, 1941. In 1939 nearly a thousand German Jewish refugees aboard the St Louis were turned away from U.S. shores and returned to Germany where many died in concentration camps; a “none of our business” attitude prevailed. 

Do a simple search and see what ISIS has been doing to innocent men, women and children in areas they occupy. Under the Nazis it was Jews, under ISIS it’s the indiscriminate slaughter of Turkmen, Shabaks, Yazidis, Shiite Muslims and the degradation of women. These are people so focused on their beliefs they see others of the same faith as apostates. 

Who cares? 

“President Barack Obama ruled out a shift in strategy in the fight against Islamic State on Monday despite the deadly attacks in Paris, saying putting more U.S. troops on the ground as sought by his political critics “would be a mistake.” Reuters

Who cares? 

Even if it is your strategy, why would you signal to the enemy the things you won’t do to fight them? 

De­spite the emo­tional af­ter­math of the Paris attacks, Mr. Obama again ruled out large-scale U.S. de­ploy­ments. “Maybe part of the reason is be­cause every few months I go to Wal­ter Reed,” he said, re­fer­ring to the med­ical fa­cil­ity in Mary­land. “And I see a 25-year-old kid that is par­a­lyzed or has lost his limbs.” WSJ 11-17-15

The above is certainly understandable and compassionate. Any person would be emotionally affected by seeing the carnage of war. However, such comments and reasoning also reflect the weakness and lack of leadership of a war time President. Just think of the destruction imposed on German cities and civilians during WWII and the decision to drop the atomic bomb. These were hard decisions almost beyond comprehension. Do we have a leader who understands that hard decisions are part of the job and that sadly the greater good for society may require sacrifice for some?

Should America just turn away? Is this not our fight? Is this a war worth fighting? 

We can only hope that our leaders understand they are dealing with people whose beliefs and actions are deeply rooted in the 7th century, who believe in a coming apocalypse, who have the ability to convince young men to slaughter innocent people and then blow themselves up. 

ISIS decries modern society all the while using the most sophisticated technology in their cause. These are people who selectively literally interpret their holy book, who believe crucifixion is justified, who in the 21st century chop off the hands of a theif. Do we have a moral obligation to do something or is it none of our business? Shouldn’t other area countries care more, do more?

ISIS very beliefs prevent negotiations to a result less than achievement of their goal. 

It seems to me the answer is far more complex than bombing them or even boots on the ground. What is the root cause of their appeal? How do we counter that appeal? How do we counter their psychological impact on young people? But make no mistake, a war cannot be won without infantry, so if we are in a war, we are not in it to win. 

One thing is certain. We better hope and pray our leaders truly understand this threat and do not apply old ideas defining an enemy. In fact, they better read and understand the Koran and the perspectives of people living under oppressive governments in the Middle- East. 

Notable & Quotable

Nov. 16, 2015 7:08 p.m. ET
Historian Niall Ferguson, writing for the Sunday Times (U.K.), Nov. 15:

Like the Roman Empire in the early fifth century, Europe has allowed its defences to crumble. As its wealth has grown, so its military prowess has shrunk, along with its self-belief. It has grown decadent in its shopping malls and sports stadiums. At the same time it has opened its gates to outsiders who have coveted its wealth without renouncing their ancestral faith. . . .

It is doubtless true to say that the overwhelming majority of Muslims in Europe are not violent. But it is also true that the majority hold views not easily reconciled with the principles of our liberal democracies, including our novel notions about sexual equality and tolerance not merely of religious diversity but of nearly all sexual proclivities. And it is thus remarkably easy for a violent minority to acquire their weapons and prepare their assaults on civilization within these avowedly peace-loving communities.

I do not know enough about the fifth century to be able to quote Romans who described each new act of barbarism as unprecedented, even when it had happened multiple times before; or who issued pious calls for solidarity after the fall of Rome, even when standing together meant falling together; or who issued empty threats of pitiless revenge, even when all they intended to do was to strike a melodramatic posture.

I do know that 21st-century Europe has itself to blame for the mess it is now in. . . .

“Romans before the fall,” wrote [historian Bryan] Ward-Perkins, “were as certain as we are today that their world would continue for ever substantially unchanged. They were wrong. We would be wise not to repeat their complacency.”

Poor, poor Paris. Killed by complacency. Wall Street Journal 11-17-15

Will this be said of the United States?

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