Behold the attempted GOP disconnect from Donald Trump while espousing his xenophobia and nativism, the gratuitously long election cycle of low blows, faked objectivity and media overkill. Even amid this plethoric stupidity, top prize has yet to be awarded.
A petition is posted on change.org to allow participants to pack heat at the Republican convention, a hotly contested event where temperaments might well override good judgment.
Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland wisely forbids firearms on its premises, but Ohio is an open-carry state. Not to be outdone, Ted Cruz, reacting to the terrorist attacks in Brussels, knee-jerked: “We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.” Whether or not Cruz has read Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine,” he’s clearly a practitioner. Isolation breeds contempt, and alienating rather than integrating young Muslims into American and European society is a big mistake. Third-generation Moroccan Belgians were responsible for the Brussels bombings, and perpetrators of the Paris attacks in November had lived in Molenbeek, a Brussels neighborhood occupied almost exclusively by Belgian Muslims.
Recent clashes and unrest there make its residents fearful and isolated. No one outside Molenbeek it seems will rent or sell to them, segregation and bigotry which feed the slickly disseminated Islamic State narrative that Islam is under attack and younger Muslims should fight back.
Unless governments use social media to countervail those messages, allowing tens of thousands of refugees to tell their stories of acceptance and escape from murderous religious oppressors, terrorist cells will likely proliferate. George Orwell and Aldous Huxley never envisioned a world where iPad users could lure suicide bombers and assassins from remote populations to do their bidding.
Few logical threads connect the blather and groupthink coming from TV commentators and so-called experts on Islamic State, al-Qaida, al-Shabab and breakaway Taliban factions like the one that bombed Pakistan’s Punjab. But one thing is clear.
Radical Islamic militants are well-distributed and possess an electronic agility which defies carpet bombing. The “we’re not being tough enough” rhetoric of candidates is hawkish naiveté.
IS has learned to adapt tactics to dilute military power, blending into populations and reverting to urban terrorism with global outreach.
As long as militants can access the Internet, controlling territorial caliphates beneath bomb bays is little more than a sales pitch and recruitment tool. Like drops of mercury splattered with hammers, 13 years of regime change and military intervention have only created ─ not suppressed ─ new, more virulent globules of retaliation. The world needs an unprecedented, fully coordinated exchange of intelligence services to stem that tide of splinter groups. And, as Bernie Sanders prescribes, the Middle East must set aside its differences and consolidate into an effective anti-Islamic State coalition. Even then, however dwarfed by U.S. gun violence, death tolls will be a protracted matter of where, how often and when.