Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Terror in the UK: More Alarming News

A few days ago, the story broke in the British Press that radical Islamic tracts were being sold in 25% of the nation's mosques, including some categorized by HM Government as "mainstream". The literature called for the oppression of women, the killing of apostates and jihad against all unbelievers.

When we stop to consider that these are being directed, not toward the inhabitants of some far away land, but to the children of British Citizens right here in the islands, we might be pardoned for being more alarmed than we might have been if these tracts were found in, say, Pakistan.

Today, more bad news. According to the Times, John Evans, director of MI5, announced that:

“Terrorists are methodically and intentionally targeting young people and children in this country.

“They are radicalising, indoctrinating and grooming young, vulnerable people to carry out acts of terrorism.”

In an address to the Society of Editors in Manchester, he said: “This year, we have seen individuals as young as 15 and 16 implicated in terrorist-related activity.”

According to Evans, there is a "steady stream" of young BRITISH recruits to Al Qaida's efforts to bring violence and death to the West.

These reports indicate two important facts:

  • 1) That there IS a "war on terror" to be fought. (Those on the fringes of the politically correct left will doubt this, but they do so at their peril.)

  • 2) That the war on Terror, as it is currently being fought, is not a success.

If George W. Bush had gone after Bin Ladin and choked him in his lair when he had the chance, these young terrorists would have no rallying point around which to gather, and no force to exploit, and to coordinate their hatred and anger.

But of course, that is what begs the major question. WHAT is BREEDING this hate and anger in the first place. How is it that here, in the heart of the Western World, young people are being being bred who want to use flames and blood to bring us back to the 9th Century?

Make no mistake, there is a war going on...a struggle between the values of the Western Enlightenment and the forces of religious fundamentalism, prejudice, superstition and darkness.

We see these forces at work in the United States as we watch our Democracy fall prey to the machinations of the evangelical right wing.

We see these forces at work abroad in the world most obviously in the rising tide of Islamic Fundamentalism.

How then, is Western Civilization to triumph? By what combination of reason, justice (to ALL of our people- including the fundamentalists amongst us) and, yes, on occasion, shear force, are we to ensure that the world continues to move forward, and not fall back into the dark ages.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Signs of the Times: Climate Change, the Military, and Civilization

Readers know that, unless you are gazing upon my blog from the FAR right fringe, rip-and-read is not a home for wild-eyed lefty ideas. Unless you are a snake handling evangelical republican stock broker, I'm not all THAT Liberal...not much further left than, say, Harry Truman or Bill Clinton.

But as I sat here over my British Breakfast this morning, two news stories from home caught my eye and I couldn't let them pass without notice.

Both come from the Associated Press.

In the small town of Orme, Tennessee, the water has gone. According to an AP story by Greg Bluestein,this tiny (pop. 145) municipality is importing water from nearby Alabama by fire truck. Residents have to make the most of their mere three hours of running water each day.

Between 6 and 9 every evening, the town scurries. Residents rush home from their jobs at the carpet factories outside town to turn on washing machines. Mothers start cooking supper. Fathers fill up water jugs. Kids line up to take showers.

"You never get used to it," says Cheryl Evans, a 55-year-old who has lived in town all her life. "When you're used to having water and you ain't got it, it's strange. I can't tell you how many times I've turned on the faucet before remembering the water's been cut."

In a related article, as Southern States are being squeezed by the drought tensions over the water supply are beginning to mount. Orme's mayor is quoted by the AP as saying: ""I feel for the folks in Atlanta. We can survive. We're 145 people. You've got 4.5 million people down there. What are they going to do? It's a scary thought."

The Tennessee mayor is not the only alarmist, it seems. In fact, in a separate article, the AP reports the conclusions of a recent report issued by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Center for a New American Security.

According to the article, climate change:

Left unchecked, "the collapse and chaos associated with extreme climate change futures would destabilize virtually every aspect of modern life," said the report, comparing the potential outcome with the Cold War doomsday scenarios of a nuclear holocaust.

The report, according to the article by Arthur Max, postulates that a shift in the world's climate will give rise to bitter and bloody conflicts for water resorces, a scrabble for land, as sea levels rise, increased immigration to the United States (and conservatives, take note, these immigrants will NOT be coming because we offer political freedom- but because they want our water and our dry land- it's your worst xenophobic nightmare come to life), and a proliferation of new diseases born of malnutrition, and nasty diseases able to expand their range...imagine, the return of malaria to Pennsylvania...won't that be fun?

Clearly, it is time (past time, actually) for us to start planning for this change. We will need to reduce our dependence of nonrenewable energy (which would have the extra benefit of depriving the middle east of the power it now holds over us) and putting systems of transportation, distribution, and conservation in place that will help us cope, and compete in this new, and unpleasant world.

Again, please take note, I don't make this argument out of some fuzzy "We are the World" bunny-hugging perspective. Personally, I want the United States to remain number 1. I don't want to see us fall far behind. I bear the rest of the world no ill will, but at the same time, I've no desire to live in a world where the culture of Saudi Arabia, China, or Russia is calling the shots. I'm very happy, overall, living in a world which is run according to the principals of the Western Enlightenment. The fact that we are able to indulge in this luxury is due only to the fact that we are at the top of the economic heap. Thus, I'd like to see us stay there.

Still, I have no doubt that, if this report becomes news at all, rather than seeing as a call to Arms to save the American way of life by making needed changes, the Rush Limbaugh crowd will develop a counter argument which enables their voters to discount it and go back to sleep.