A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

At the beach, thoughts of Paris

Written November 14th, 2015 by Hasso Hering

You can go to the Oregon coast on a November weekend and look at the stormy weather, but you can’t escape from the world. So you keep wondering about the proper response to the murderous rampage in France.

We’ve now had many of these attacks on civilization, starting well before 9/11, then hitting a high point on that terrible day, and continuing at a lower level but with some regularity since then. We’ve launched a couple of wars, lost additional thousands of people, killed tens of thousands more, and the result so far is utter chaos. The entire Middle East and North Africa are in flames, and millions of inhabitants have been forced to seek a safer place to live. No wonder they are streaming into northern Europe by the tens of thousands. If the Atlantic were not in the way, they’d be pouring into North America as well.

After 9/11, when it became clear that we had to defend ourselves against a virulent ideology with religious overtones, I remember thinking — and I think writing in an editorial — that this would be a very long struggle. It would last decades, maybe 100 years or more. And so it is turning out.

What’s different from previous wars is that we can’t win only by killing more of the enemy than the enemy kills of us. That is necessary but not sufficient. As we have seen, inspired by a radical view of Islam, the enemy does not fear death. He seeks it instead. We have to kill the killers before they take some of us with them, and we have to destroy their source of inspiration and support, which at the moment seems to be the Islamic State.

That’s a military challenge, and it requires a coordinated military ground campaign by a combined western army of overwhelming numbers under a unified command. Once that campaign is won, it will require the establishment of legitimate, functioning governments across the region. Only then is there any hope of reforming or obliterating the brand of fanaticism that has given the world a new wave of beheadings, of stoning women to death, of blowing up buses and restaurants by people detonating homicide belts, and of other forms of brutal crimes such as murdering hostages in cold blood.

Can the forces of civilization achieve all of that? During the period after the Second World War, when the allies managed to defeat and destroy the Nazi wave of criminality, it seemed for a long time as though humanity was safe, at least in the West. Now I’m not so sure that we still have the same kind of will that the West had then. Heaven help us if we don’t. I don’t think radical Islamist attacks are going cease on their own. If they’re not stopped, they’ll keep pounding us the way ocean waves keep battering the beach. (hh)

It's peaceful at the beach, in contrast to too many parts of the world.

It’s peaceful at the beach, in contrast to too many parts of the world.

14 responses to “At the beach, thoughts of Paris”

  1. Jim Engel says:

    Withour porous southern border it makes me wonder how many jihadists have made their way into our country. It’s no longer IF, it’s now WHEN they attack us at our events. JE

  2. James Carrick says:

    Your last paragraph sums it up pretty well. I would only add, ISIS is making a lot of money from the oil fields they’ve commandeered, selling oil on the black market which largely funds this war against humanity. So, since Obama won’t put “boots on the ground” (in any real force) then I wonder, with all our air power why we haven’t reduced those facilities and refineries to scrap metal, thus denying them much of the capital to wage war, as well as the labor to operate those facilities.

    ISIS didn’t exist when Obama took office but the Democrat Party and the left blames Bush for ISIS’s existence. Ridiculous. I didn’t agree with Bush’s decision to invade Iraq either, but ISIS is NOT Bush’s fault. Things won’t get better until Obama is out, and a conservative (with considerable fortitude) is elected POTUS. Jimmy Carter would have taken a more aggressive approach to this situation than Obama has, in my opinion, and that’s not saying much. Milktoast I and II.

    And to all the pacifists on the left……you’d better wake up because they’ll cut your head off just as quickly as mine…..and they’re coming soon to a town near you.

  3. Bob Woods says:

    Anger. We all had that as a first response to the Paris attacks, and the first impulse is to wipe out the perpetrators. An understandable feeling and response, but the achievement of that goal is far more difficult than mere retribution suggests.

    French officials report that at least three of the attackers were French citizens. People willing to attack their neighbors next door.

    We in the United States have lived through that exact same thing many times. Timothy McVey, Terry Nichols, Theodore Kaczynski, Wade Michael Page, Eric Robert Rudolph, and more. American citizens attacking their neighbors because they hold radical beliefs and see the spreading of death to be a justification. Google Domestic Terror Organizations and you will see a laundry list.

    None of that is an excuse for what has happened. It is merely a realization that radicalism lives in every society and we should not believe that we can “eliminate” it around the world when we can’t even do it at home.

    The peace that occurred after World War II was probably more luck than an affirmation of some special ability that America has to heal wounds of war. Germany, became utterly devastated by the end of the war and even then shared a long cultural history with the rest of the nations of Europe, which already had a history of democratic institutions.

    There was also the fact of the domination of Eastern Europe by the Soviet Union. That alone was cause for the building of a determined and enduring partnership with the United States and a determination to have functioning democracies and a shared future.

    That is NOT what has happened in the Middle East.

    There is very little shared culture between the US and the nations of the Middle East. After the American intervention in Iran followed by the subsequent Iranian revolution; two wars in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, does anyone really believe that a shared truly shared alliance and the growth of western democracy is on the horizon?

    There is no question that the NATO countries have the military might to conquer ISIS on the ground, and any other country in that part of the world. The problem is not a military victory; the problem is a lasting peace that does not threaten the rest of the world.

    If the tables were reversed and broad portions of the United States were under the control of Arab military troops does anyone really think that the people of this country would not be radicalized and fight to the bitter end? I know that I for one would have no problem standing shoulder to shoulder with Gordon Shadle and James Carrick, persons I most strongly disagree with, to fight to defend our country against foreign invaders.

    Why is it we do not expect others to feel the same way when foreigners from across the ocean fight in their homeland?

    The only way that the radicalism of the Islamic Jihadists will be overcome in the end is when their own neighbors are willing to stand up to them. Only when the Egyptians, Turks, Iranians, Syrians, Iraqis, Saudis and others take the fight to the radicals in their midst can a real chance for peace unfold.

    We have a responsibility to stand for our own interests and with our NATO allies and we shall. It is inevitable that we will soon be escalating the use of military force in the area.

    If the course we choose is to unilaterally conquer and dominate the region then we must prepare ourselves for the costs in lives and money that we will have to endure. We also must prepare for the unintended consequences. Russia feeling less of a threat from a NATO heavily engaged in the Middle East for generations. A China that will expand economic and political influence throughout the world, simply because they will not be facing the costs we will.

    The question is not whether we will take action against ISIS, but how.

    • Gordon L. Shadle says:

      Islamic jihadists? Isn’t that a banned phrase here in Oregon?

      It appears when the bullets, bombs, and grenades start hitting close to home even Woods becomes a foxhole neocon.

      And not a word about global warming as the root cause. I’m beginning to question your liberal bona fides, Bob.

      • Bob Woods says:

        OK, let’s review this Gordon: Hasso calls for a major military invasion in the Middle East, and I call for insuring that the local Muslims need to clean out their own houses. I’m fully prepared to honor our commitments to NATO because we, as a country, have given our word to do just that. We and our allies are, without question, the strongest military force that the world has ever known and we are ALREADY engaged in support of local forces fighting ISIS.

        And somehow, you see that as me being a Neocon? That is unbelievably twisted thinking, but it’s not surprising from you.

        Current neo-conservativism primarily comes from Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, Elliott Abrams, Richard Perle, and Paul Bremer who, with Dick Cheney, convinced George Bush to create the Bush Doctrine calling for the United Sates to exercise the unilateral right to preemptively attack countries because they MIGHT attack us. They outright lied to the American people and launched the invasion of Iraq. And it’s exactly why we are where we are today.

        Those Republican folks I just mentioned are your people Gordon, not mine. Rand Paul calls Hillary Clinton a neocon and you jump on the bandwagon like a dutiful lap dog.

        You are focused solely on racking up semantic points. Your anti-government hatred has blinded you to what is going on in the world today.

        You ignore that fact that millions of people are displaced and on the march across Europe because they seek some kind of safety – most afraid for their lives and their children’s lives, and some for other reasons including economic security and subversion.

        Tens of thousands are being killed in the region as they try desperately to just survive.
        The biggest mistake that we, as Americans can make, is to be so afraid that we make ISIS to be more than they are. Yes, they are desperate ignorant thugs who long to return to the glory of the 11th century. They are willing to kill anyone, anywhere, just to project death because they seek capitulation and power.

        ISIS needs to be stopped. But it is categorically insane to think that ISIS has the military power and capability to threaten the sovereignty of France, the United States, Russia or any global power. What they have done is secure an area that is largely unpopulated, contains some oil, but lacks the manufacturing capability, economic strength, arms, transport and brainpower that can conquer modern nations.

        ISIS presents the illusion of a grand past to millions of people, many barely educated, who have led lives of poverty and degradation for generations. Their biggest threat is to the other nations of the Middle East. That is why I believe it is so imperative that those nations pay the brunt of the cost to save themselves.

        And, they just announced on the news that France has declared war.

        • Gordon L. Shadle says:

          Is it possible to be a libertarian, a republican, and a neocon at the same time? You’ve called me all three in your various rants.

          I get that you’re angry, but try to be more intelligent in your attempts to label others.

          • Bob Woods says:

            “Is it possible to be a libertarian, a republican, and a neocon at the same time? You’ve called me all three in your various rants. ”


  4. James Carrick says:

    Woods, that’s the most sensible post I think I’ve seen from you, to date. I could quibble with a couple of minor points, but overall I think you’re right. We also have to realize that this is a much different war that others in history. We face a war of ideology independent of nationalism and as Hasso points out, jihadists whose highest glory is martyrdom.

    As for fighting shoulder to shoulder, you’ll have to dig your own foxhole, Bob. I assume that’s OK with you.

  5. Bob Woods says:

    “As for fighting shoulder to shoulder, you’ll have to dig your own foxhole, Bob. I assume that’s OK with you.”

    James, you and I clearly differ on what the phrase “… one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” means.

    Why don’t you give us a list of the kinds of people who are politically correct enough for you to be willing to stand shoulder to shoulder with to protect our nation.

    • James Carrick says:

      The last comment was a “conciliatory attempt at humor” with someone I vehemently disagree with on almost every other issue. I threw you a bone and you took my comment to mean I wouldn’t LET you stand “shoulder to shoulder” with me?

      What I meant was, we can fight together but I’m not digging your foxhole for you. Relax, and don’t take everything so seriously. You’re not apt to see me agreeing with you on very many things. I thought you’d be a little more “receptive?” :-)

      You’ll do much better with what I write if you don’t try to read things into it.

      • Bob Woods says:

        James, I did not see your comment as a joke, but as a rebuke. I’m sorry, because I do think you meant it as a joke.

        I’ve been on antibiotics for about a week and they make me crankier than normal old man cranky. That’s also why my posts are far longer than usual.

        My apologies.

  6. Peg Richner says:

    How about the U.S., France, and the rest of the “coalition” get out of the Middle East, all other sovereign nations, and leave them alone to manage their own affairs. We interfere, rob, and kill, and then act so surprised when those folks are ungrateful. This is a religious war in the Middle East, not between Christians and Muslims, but between Sunni and Shiite, ignited by the way by U.S. interference. Let them battle it out themselves. Let us have free trade, period.

    • Peg Richner says:

      In the above rant, I realize I should have said, “… ignited by the way by U.S. interference THIS TIME.” Sunni’s and Shiite’s have battled for centuries. The U.S. has gleefully exacerbated the battle.


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