Once again, France has been the victim of a vicious terrorist attack. Once again, intelligence and security agencies failed to uncover the plot as was the case in the buildup to November’s attack on Paris. Once again, France’s government has shown itself unable to keep its citizenry safe. Once again, terrorism has demonstrated its effectiveness as a weapon of war and more so when a country seemingly has no effective countermeasures. Once again, the problem of terrorism is grossly compounded by the influx of Muslim immigrants throughout Europe, especially France, which has the largest number in relation to the entire population of that country–and even to a degree here. President Obama, and Hillary Clinton, too, are intent on bringing in tens of thousands of Muslim immigrants fleeing the war in Syria, despite the advice of caution by those who know the dangers of doing so. “It is who we are!” states President Obama, seemingly oblivious to the inherent dangers of unfettered immigration from the Middle East.
We are reminded of the ever-present threat posed by either directly dispatched terrorists from ISIS particularly, or even the indirect lone wolves acting with the encouragement of ISIS to stay home and wage jihad from there. At this point we do not know which type the July 14 terrorist in Nice was. Regardless, at about 10:30 p.m. on July 14, in the seacoast city of Nice, France, a white box truck made its way towards and turned left onto the Promenade des Anglais just as the fireworks, attracting large crowds numbering well into the thousands, were ending. The driver was French-Tunisian, an immigrant from that country holding a French residency card equivalent to our green card system of identifying those in-country legally and allowed to work, etc. He was thirty-one-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who had obtained his residency card by marriage. (Sound familiar? Hint: San Bernardino, the wife of an American citizen who entered our country by virtue of her marriage to an American, and was the deadly female partner in the massacre there last December.)
The truck did not appear menacing in the least to the casual observer–late model, white in color, sleek and “sexy” in appearance as trucks go. Within minutes of entering the closed street, Bouhlel had transformed an ordinary common box truck into a nineteen-ton juggernaut of death and mayhem as it sped along the coastal highway, mowing down anyone in its path–indeed swerving to and fro in order to hit the largest number possible, all the time firing a weapon into the crowd of fleeing bystanders.
In just a matter of minutes, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel had killed eighty-four helpless people and injured many more, at least fifty-four critically. Ten children were among the victims laying in the bloody street, mangled and lifeless.
The Thursday, July 14 attack was unique in that we do not consider a truck a lethal weapon, certainly not a weapon of war. But that is what it was July 14 in Nice. The one driver drove what seems a planned route where he would encounter the most people–targets to him–drive into them as fast as he could get his truck to go, intent on creating chaos and panic, determined to inflict death on as many innocents as possible, knowing his trip would certainly be shortened by the French police in the area. He had to know he was about to become a martyr for the cause of Islam.
This use of a truck as a weapon is not new. Most of you may have forgotten the last time it was used was against Americans–United Stated Marines. Where? Lebanon. When? October 1983. A truck, loaded with more than two thousand pounds of explosives, crashed through the flimsy perimeter fence, sped past the gate guards, and plowed into the ground floor lobby of the temporary barracks a Marine infantry battalion was using as housing, killing 241 of them and injuring hundreds more.
They were Islamic terrorists then, they are Islamic terrorists now. Sorry, President Obama, but it does matter if you call them that contrary to your wondering why you should.
July 14 is Bastille Day in France, a celebration of the storming of the Bastille prison to free a small number of political prisoners–seven is the popular count. The day is a cousin, sort of, to our 4th of July. In France, July 14 signifies the beginning of republican democracy and the end of tyrannical rule. As we do here for our July 4, the people of France were out in large numbers to view the fireworks out over the Mediterranean Sea, especially in Nice, a beautiful seacoast city on the French Riviera.
Let me be clear–as of yet, no group has claimed credit for this latest attack. It, most likely, is the work of ISIS, but Al Qaeda is fighting to regain its status as the top dog in the Muslim religion’s battles against the evils of the Western world and its corrupt and immoral societies as they see them.
The date of the attack was no coincidence. The primary objective of terrorist attacks is to create such chaotic disorientation, wide-spread fear, and crippling panic as to paralyze a nation for a prolonged period with little effort–to terrorize us. Paris had done that, but now perhaps that state of terror needed a booster shot. Granted such violent, unpredictable acts do as they were intended.
However, terrorism is also a political weapon for those who have none. ISIS and Al Qaeda are not countries in and of themselves. Not being sovereign nations, they lack standing in the world, they have no real legitimacy, they are rogues, and they are desperate to achieve status. While the leader of the ISIS movement has declared he has established a caliphate–essentially an independent country made up of parts of Syria and Iraq as of now, it is not recognized as a part of the world order. In fact, it is viewed as bogus at best, and against all of the governing and legal aspects of the United Nations.
To attack a country such as France on this date was probably determined some time ago when the planning for it began. If it had just been any other day, there would be much less worldwide news coverage, much less indignation, and certainly much less an elevation in status for ISIS. There may have been a lone driver of that truck that wreaked so much mayhem, but others planned it and told him where to go and when.
I, for one, as a student of terrorism–a personal interest and hobby for the past forty years–have, just yesterday, elevated slightly the status of ISIS in my mind. They are undoubtedly a very capable collection of radical Islamists–killers and rogues, yes, but neither uneducated in the importance of quasi-military tactics, including psychological operations—nd maybe especially the psychological aspects of terrorism–nor unaware of the game of global politics.
That elevation of status has been with me from the very beginning when I first became aware of that organization. I may have begun with the same view as President Obama, revealed when he answered a question about ISIS during a television interview. At the time, Al Qaeda was the concern, not some upstart. The president said, “If a JV team puts on Laker’s jerseys, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.”
That statement might be suitable sitting around a bar talking politics and the like, but I cringed when I heard it. In sports, that is referred to as taunting, and a penalty or foul is called. I do know this, based on more than twenty years as a United States Marine: one should never taunt the enemy, especially as dangerous an organization as ISIS–it serves only to embolden them, motivate them, and bolster their determination to carry on the fight. They are well-tuned to everything we say as well as do. Probably more inclined to listen to our words than watch us do anything. In the “doing” arena, we’ve stumbled and bumbled–even fumbled–under this president as Commander-in-Chief insofar as a clear and well-thought-out plan for this war, and war it is though that word, as well as the term “Islamic terrorists,” doesn’t resonate well in the halls of the White House. Nor does it create excitement at the Pentagon from what I see of our Secretary of Defense, an individual more concerned with conducting social engineering experiments on our military than formulating a plan to win this conflict.
I also cringe when I see or hear on national news such facts as this from the Army Times, and all national news outlets: The United States will send 560 more troops to Iraq to transform a freshly retaken air base into a staging hub for the long-awaited battle to recapture Mosul from Islamic State militants, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Monday. Such information should not be published. I cannot fathom why we do these types of stupid things regularly.
In World War II, such phrases as, “Loose lips sink ships were the norm.” Now we have the Secretary of Defense announcing to all, including ISIS, our intent to bolster the Iraq army to retake Mosul. How do you think ISIS will handle this strategic information–announced by the head man in charge of the Pentagon no less? (I think I know the answer to that.)
Imagine this: Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of War in August, 1945, calling a press conference to announce we had these really big bombs and we were going to drop them on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the dates in August we would do so.
For such carelessness with revealing the details of military deployments and such (and we think Hillary’s emails were problematic as to her lack of concern for national security), as well as his social engineering blunders that have overburdened our military to an unbelievable extent, I contend he is the least adept Secretary of Defense in our country’s history, unqualified for the job, and incompetent in it.
Ashton Carter has been spending way too much time, egged on by the president no doubt for legacy purposes, on the sort of non-issues as gay rights in the military, women in all units of every branch of the military, and the latest buffoonery, transgenderism, and not enough time heading up the Defense Department, essentially getting the house in order, devoting the necessary time and effort to come up with a solution to the ever-more-ominous ISIS and Al Qaeda, as his job should demand.
We require a detailed, long-term strategy to cope with the threat of ISIS and any of their or Al Qaeda’s affiliates wherever they may be in the world, and they are seemingly everywhere–throughout the continent of Africa, in Asia, and the Middle East. It is long past time for action of a deliberate nature, not the waffling of President Obama and Ashton Carter.
Rest assured, Ash, ISIS could give a damned about “equality” in their fighting forces. As for transgenderism and gays being “out” in the military–well, having seen their beheading videos on television in living color, I think you know what their future would look like.
(Do we really need a military burdened with thousands of Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner’s?)
In order to defeat ISIS and Al Qaeda, et al, we must know of them and understand them, and not take them as some sort of “JV” military group of no threat to the powerful United States military. I and an Army officer named Bob Bowes taught a three hour class on the subject at the John F. Kennedy Center for Military Assistance, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, from 1972 to 1975. I have closely followed terrorism and terrorists since then, reading every book by the likes of Steve Emerson, and others, and watched countless hours of documentaries, which continue to the current time–for example CNN’s Why Do They Hate Us, asking about the Western world, although I see that documentary as we should take the blame for all that has gone wrong in the Muslim world.
My preferred of the books out now on the subject is ISIS: Inside The Army of Terror by Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan. The authors describe ISIS as complex and multifaceted. “ISIS is a terrorist organization, but it isn’t only a terrorist organization. It is also a mafia… adept at exploiting markets for oil and arms trafficking… It is a conventional military with a professional acumen that has impressed members of the US military… It is a sophisticated intelligence-gathering apparatus… It is a slick propaganda machine effective at disseminating its message and calling in new recruits via social media… “
In that book, on the very last page, 242, one will read a lone paragraph consisting of a single sentence, which quantifies our challenge to some degree, and in which the authors boldly and unequivocally predict, The army of terror will be with us indefinitely.
Early on the Saturday morning of November 14, the morning after the Paris massacre, Christiane Amanpour, CBE, British-Iranian globetrotting international journalist of exceptional talent and professionalism, interviewed, on the eerie streets of Paris, a woman of obvious affluence and intelligence–formally educated and sophisticated. Christiane asked her several questions about how she was coping, her level of fear, and a few others. Then came the real question, the question on many French citizens’ minds–that question concerned immigration of Muslims in numbers too high for a country to effectively monitor, and the commonly known fact that Muslims refused to assimilate into France’s society, accept Western mores and values, and generally make an attempt to fit in.
Speaking softly, but deliberately, showing little emotion, certainly not anger, the French woman made a few general comments, then ended the interview thusly when pressed on her thoughts on Muslim immigration, since the attackers were Muslims, saying, “Immigration of today is the terrorism of tomorrow.”