February 2017: Russian Jets Buzz US, White House Loses National Security Adviser And Ex-Obama Admin ‘Confidantes’ Apparently Still Micro-Managing Things

Ben Rhodes

Take a breath, but now the world is suddenly looking even more explosive this month.

As the Russians have been accused by the departing Obama Administration of tampering with US elections last year (per the Inquisitr story I did on the last day of 2016), and they are now reported by the UK’s DailyMail to be flying military aircraft over a US Navy destroyer at high speed and making low passes, another story comes from the Free Beacon and writer Adam Kredo regarding the untiring efforts of former Obama Administration officials on a “secret, months-long campaign” meant to “handicap President Donald Trump’s national security apparatus and preserve the nuclear deal with Iran, according to multiple sources in and out of the White House…,”

Former policy guy for President Barack Obama, Ben Rhodes, had his name come up in the news from the Washington Free Beacon. Per the details, there has been an ongoing “behind-the-scenes effort by these officials to plant a series of damaging stories about Flynn in the national media,” and the effort is said to include “a small task force of Obama loyalists who deluged media outlets with stories aimed at eroding [President Donald Trump’s National Security guy Mike Flynn’s] credibility, multiple sources revealed.”

The undermining of Trump’s White House, as Kredo’s sources point out in the story quotes, state while Flynn took responsibility on Monday for “missteps” regarding initial contact with Russian officials in his resignation statement, “multiple sources closely involved in the situation pointed to a larger, more secretive campaign aimed at discrediting Flynn and undermining the Trump White House.”

The source is quoted in Kredo’s story is said to be a “veteran national security adviser with close ties to the White House” and goes on with the information.

“It’s undeniable that the campaign to discredit Flynn was well underway before Inauguration Day, with a very troublesome and politicized series of leaks designed to undermine him. This pattern reminds me of the lead up to the Iran deal, and probably features the same cast of characters.”

 

Mike Flynn seemed to be on some folk’s radars last year, as revealed previously by the Powerline blog.

“Mike Flynn is the other key appointment for purposes of airing Obama’s Iran secrets. [Eli] Lake points out that in 2011 General Flynn ran a team at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that reviewed the troves of material captured in the 2011 Osama bin Laden raid,” the post states.

But it goes on about Flynn.

“Under Obama, only a small fraction of these documents have been declassified and released. After he retired from the military, Flynn charged that the disclosures were selective. ”

Flynn likely seemed very scary to the previous Administration, per this Powerline post.  Furthermore, Flynn is said to have noted that “… some documents captured in the bin Laden raid show a much tighter relationship between Iran and al-Qaeda than previously disclosed.”

Mike Flynn has not been shy about speaking his mind on the Obama Administration’s Iran policy. Powerline cites the words of Flynn in The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies.

Flynn states in that work, per Powerline:

“One letter to bin Laden reveals that al-Qaeda was working on chemical and biological weapons in Iran.”

Previously in 2015, complaints surfaced about the micro-managing efforts of some Obama Administration officials, reported on here.

Obama’s Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, in that previous story, was told that “all three of your Obama Administration predecessors have complained openly about White House aides micromanaging military operations,” by Congressman Mac Thornberry.

And an opinion piece in the Washington Times has mentioned Ben Rhodes last year as well, stating then “Ben Rhodes must account for the lies about the Iranian negotiations.”

Partisanship in D.C. is nothing new, of course, but this is looking very, very bad for everyone.

And So 2017 Begins: Hacking Accusations, Pope Francis Suggests ‘We Need the Lord’

As the newest year begins and people are still making important resolutions, here are a few of my first stories for 2017.

From YahooNews, the “Russia Hacked” US issue rages on.

“White House officials addressed U.S. cyber insecurity issues and the response being taken on Russian diplomats in retaliation for what has been called Russian interference in the recent American elections.

“’It is a fact that Russia interfered in our democratic election,’ according to a senior Obama administration official during a conference call with the press on Thursday as many in the public debate the issue.

“The White House press call regarding the cybersecurity issues and Russian hacking concerns makes very clear the position of the Obama administration on this matter.”

“There’s no debate in the U.S. administration about the fact — and it is a fact — that Russia interfered in our democratic election. We’ve established that clearly to our satisfaction. I would never expect Russia to come out with their hands up and acknowledge what they did. They don’t do that.”

Journalist Glenn Greenwald was dubious about the White House accusations.

Pope Francis, 80, gave a New Year’s Message to Earth’s people, as my post from the Inquisitr relays. Re-examining the “logic of the manger” is considered as a way to perhaps better understand the unseen God.

Pope Francis, in his new year messages at St. Peter’s Basilica suggested that ‘we should acknowledge that we need the Lord to enlighten us’ to the faithful and the tourists who came to celebrate together and hear his message.

“In general, reviewing the various messages in recent days from this pontiff, it seems Francis wanted to express hope and encouragement to the people who came to share, worship and celebrate with him at the Vatican.

 “And Pope Francis clearly sees new opportunities for improvement with the arrival of a new year, per the report from Crux. He added we should consider the infant born in Bethlehem to learn something more about God. As the pontiff points out in his message, there was a plan.

God wanted to be close, in the flesh, to those who feel lost, hurt, discouraged, afraid, inconsolable, or who feel burdened by loneliness so that sin, despair and exclusion [wouldn’t have the final word.] ”

 

Terror cell surprised at speedy Belgian investigation; Psychiatrists not surprised at drifting Western youths becoming terrorists

Secretary of State John Kerry, USA.

The terrorists who struck in Brussels originally intended to attack France again, but they were “surprised by the speed of the progress” of Belgian investigators, so they re-imagined their attack plans, according to an official statement given by the Belgian Federal Prosecution Office to ABCnews.

“The Federal Prosecution Office can confirm that numerous elements in the investigation have shown that the terrorist group initially had the intention to strike in France again,” the official statement to ABC News reads. “Eventually, surprised by the speed of the progress in the ongoing investigation, they urgently took the decision to strike in Brussels.”

Kerry: ‘Daesh is on the run’

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, spoke in the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad regarding the organization previously called ISIS, ISIL and now referred to as Daesh. “Daesh is as evil an entity as I have ever come across in my entire lifetime,” Kerry told those gathered to listen. Later on, he stated that Daesh leaders “are being eliminated from the battlefield on a daily basis.”

His entire quote was this:

“Daesh is on the run, folks. They may still be in Mosul; they’re still in Hit, though not for many more days. And there are – there’s a tough fight ahead of us. But they have not taken any territory and held it in this country since last May. And the fact is their leaders are being eliminated from the battlefield on a daily basis, at least an average of one every three days, and their war minister and their finance minister, and so forth. And as we continue and you continue to do the training job and work with the Iraqi Security Forces and upgrade their capacity to get out there, they will take this fight, and we will support them.”

Belgians get ‘foreign fighter surge team’

Previously, a story over at theExaminer shed some light from information Kerry gave in an interview after the terror attacks in Brussels. The Secretary of State said then (on March 25) that the there was “a foreign fighter surge team” working with the Belgians to track down “the network that was involved in the Paris attacks.”

Kerry stated that President Barack Obama was “focused” and determined “to terminate Daesh as fast as possible in its home base.” To achieve this objective, the foreign fighter surge team “comes over to work with a country to help them focus on how they can better prevent foreign fighters from coming home from Syria and entering into their communities,” Kerry said.

Explaining the team further, Kerry said “… it’s a team that we put together to help provide expertise to other people. The Belgians wanted that and they engaged in that prior to this event taking place. There are also at least five or six different events that are going to take place in the next month – two or three in April and beyond – that the Belgians had previously scheduled to deal with passport security, to deal with police behavioral analysis and other kinds of things.”

It was ISIL/Daesh that claimed responsibility for the Brussels attacks on travelers, per Examiner article. A recent report from theTimes, however, maybe highlights the issue. Trevor Phillips, a former Chairman of Britain’s Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), believes that a more “muscular approach to integration” has arrived.

Jihadi recruiters and ‘a nation within a nation’

“Liberal opinion in Britain has, for more than two decades, maintained that most Muslims are just like everyone,” said Phillips. He also states that “Britain desperately wants to think of its Muslims as versions of the Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain, or the cheeky-chappie athlete Mo Farah. But thanks to the most detailed and comprehensive survey of British Muslim opinion yet conducted, we now know that just isn’t how it is.”

The UK media, theGuardian specifically, also quotes Phillips. He said the findings were “extremely worrying” because “they suggested on many issues Muslims were [a] ‘nation within a nation.'”

And that sounds a lot like what people are describing in Belgium. According to an article posted over at CNN, writers Nima Elbagir, Bharati Naik and Laila Ben Allal point out three big pieces of information:

  • Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam was captured in Brussels after months in hiding
  • The Belgian capital’s Molenbeek district has become notorious as a hotbed of violent jihadist ideology
  • Belgium has the highest number of foreign fighters, per capita, in Syria of any Western European nation

Marginalized, lost, bored, spiritually dispossessed people

But in another story I did, over at theExaminer, one Jordanian parliament member said he “lost his son” to the group ISIS/Daesh after the young man dropped out of medical school to join the extremist group’s cause. The young man, according to the father, a 23-year-old named Mohammed Dalaeen was “… deceived and tricked by Islamic State.”

Exploring why, some researchers believe “[t]he reasons that youths join terrorist organizations such as ISIS have little to do with being poor, brainwashed, a Muslim, or a psychopath, and more to do with vulnerabilities in human nature exacerbated by aspects of Western societies.” So begins a research article written by the team of Omar Sultan Haque, Jihye Choi, Tim Phillips, and Harold Bursztajn at PsychiatricTimes.

From my previous article over at the examiner:

“If we Westerners are lucky, we have identities, certainties, social connections, meanings, generalized empathies, freedoms, and individual pursuits of glory that can be taken for granted,” the authors write. “However, for those Westerners in transition, marginalized, lonely, lost, bored, uncertain, spiritually or existentially dispossessed, burdened by too much freedom, and empathically selective, ISIS and other shallow but contagious ideologies will remain tempting as quick fixes for the deep predicaments inherent to the human condition.”

Permissive, cultural drift

“Humans tend to live with a quest for certainty in their hearts,” the authors state. “Whatever its factual merits, a pluralistic worldview denies its adherents the delights of absolute certainty, and it takes much cognitive effort to maintain. ISIS provides an ideology in which the world is divided into absolute good and evil, no compromises are possible, radical Islam is the solution to all human problems, and any other interpretation of Islam is unthinkable.”

For those drifting in a permissive culture, the authors believe that “[t]his black and white picture of truth may seem simplistic for the critically minded, but it can provide epistemological crème brûlée for drifting and unanchored Western youths. These youths are looking for answers to existential questions within a home culture perceived to be permissive and relativistic. In the midst of all this, an ideology that does not compromise the quest for certainty can be very appealing to the most vulnerable.”

Fidel Castro of Cuba rips into President Obama: ‘We don’t need the empire to give us any presents’

Cuban leader Fidel Castro, 2016.

Cuba’s Fidel Castro gave harsh words, not in person but via a Communist Party official newspaper, to U.S. President Barack Obama after the current American leader attempted last week to thaw out some of the left over Cold War frost between the two nations.

“We don’t need the empire to give us any presents,” Fidel Castro is quoted as stating in the newspaper under the title “El hermano Obama,” per the online post from Jenna Lifhits over at the FreeBeacon. Furthermore, Castro believes that Cubans are self-sufficient and “able to produce food and material wealth we need with the effort and intelligence of our people.” He spoke against the U.S. desire to forget the past and all Obama’s talk of a “future of hope.” (Fidel Castro also believes there should be payment for the decades of “economic harm.” The opinion piece appears over at CubaDebate. Conversely, others claim Cuba owes much more. For that, please see certifiedcubaclaims.)

So, no small potatoes to be resolved here just on that difference. The possibility is, if Donald Trump or Ted Cruz becomes President after Obama, this will become a hotter sack of potatoes.

Even though it was envisioned as an historic visit by the Obama Administration, and even though no meeting with Fidel Castro actually took place, per the Politico story posted online by Nick Gass, words went back-and-forth. Over at theGuardian, writers Dan Roberts and Jonathan Watts in Havana report that Fidel’s brother, Cuban President Raúl Castro, “… is demanding [Obama] hand back Guantánamo Bay and fully end the US trade embargo as their historic first summit in Havana witnessed an unexpectedly spirited clash of political values.”

5 difficult decades

President Obama addressed the frosty relations as well, per theGuardian report. “After five very difficult decades, the relationship between our two countries will not be transformed overnight. We continue to have significant differences … and that includes democracy and human rights.”

People noticed the leadership differences, however per Watts and Roberts. “The contrasting styles of the consummate communicator Obama and the gruff former general Castro made for absorbing viewing, particularly among a domestic audience hungry for news of progress in relations.” Among those observing the contrast was a restaurant waiter, Víctor Aguilar, who witnessed the “unusual” scene of President Castro being asked about Cuban human rights at a press conference.

“It’s good, really good. Cuba needs a free media,” said Aguilar. “It’s a change and we need a change.” Also speaking on the subject of political prisoners and internet freedom was Jean Robert, employed in central Havana. “Raúl and Obama are trying to do the right thing,” he said. “I was very happy that they talked about political prisoners and internet freedom. That’s really important for us. If Raúl says he will release prisoners, then he will. I believe him.”

Rosa María Payá told the Guardian reporters that “the spectacle was ridiculous” but also very revealing. “This is the first time I have seen Raúl trying to avoid these kind of questions … This regime and the dynastic old general can no longer hide their oppressive methods. From now on the democratic world should choose between accepting the rules of the Cuban dynasty or, as Obama, said, supporting the right of all Cubans to decide.”

 ISIS attacks, Obama ‘default’ position

The much-syndicated columnist, George Will, is quoted over at a story on Foxnews as ripping President Obama for his “languid response to terrorism,” just after the most recent Brussels bombings. President Obama attending a baseball game in Cuba and then doing the tango in Argentina with just a few words regarding the attacks was a problem, he believes. “[I]t is very important for us to not respond with fear,” Obama told reporters.

Will questioned that, however, describing that this is Obama’s “default position.” Which translates basically into this: “… if we don’t continue with whatever we’re doing, then terrorists will be reassured. So, if we don’t tango, the terrorists have won.”

But there was more frustration about Obama mentioned by Will. “Then he brings out the idea that more people die in swimming pool accidents or whatever than terrorism, therefore, [a] classic non sequitur; terrorism’s not all that important.”

Understanding Ted Cruz in an era of geopolitical change, persecution of Christian believers

Maybe it was a bit weird for many to hear a political candidate/sitting Senator, seeking the highest office in the United States of America, asking “the Body of Christ” to awaken, but in light of the “Watch List” just released, naming the nations engaging in persecution of Christian believers, perhaps it is not so strange.

Making the top ten list of the Open Doors organization per ReligionNews, were the countries of North Korea, Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Iran, and Libya.

“Islamic extremism remains by far the most common driver of persecution: in eight out of the top 10, and 35 out of the top 50 countries, it is the primary cause. A rise in Islamic extremism sees Pakistan at its highest position ever, and Libya entering the top ten for the first time,” states the message over at the OpenDoors website. “But it’s not just about Islam. A rise in hardline Hindu nationalism in India has seen churches and pastors attacked with impunity. It enters the top 20 for the first time.”

The Open Doors records “… show that worldwide there were over 7,000 Christians killed for faith-related reasons in the year – almost 3,000 more than the previous year.” They also note that “… [t]hese are conservative estimates and exclude North Korea, Syria and Iraq, where accurate records do not exist.”

World watching refugees

“And the world has watched aghast as millions of refugees risk the hazardous route to Europe from the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. Their number includes tens of thousands of Christians fleeing war and persecution,” the organizational report highlights as well. “And all the time, beneath these ‘headline’ events, there is constant, low-level, localised persecution. Christians are driven out of their communities, refused burial, denied jobs or education. Churches are torn down because of local opposition or mob rule. For millions of Christians, the everyday persecution happens in their village, or even among their family.”

The Catholic-centered website, CruxNow, posted a story by Rosie Scammell regarding the much-discussed Italian decision to “cover nude statues during the visit of Iran’s president.” The leader of the Syrian Catholic Church has criticized the decision, saying “… it pains persecuted Christians in Syria who feel forgotten.”

‘This is our culture’

“This is our culture. If you don’t want to see it, close your eyes,” Scammell quotes the Patriarch Youssef III Younan in Rome of the matter. As the leader of the Syriac Catholic Church, Younan made his comments two days after the ancient nude statues were covered by staff at Rome’s Capitoline Museums “… in a bid to avoid offending the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani.”

President Rouhani has been visiting and apparently attempting to work on the ice cold relationships with the West after that historic deal made with the United States and other world powers, per a story from ABC/AP, which has brought access “… to more than $100 billion worth of frozen overseas assets as well as  “… an economic breakthrough after the lifting of sanctions, which will allow it to access overseas assets and sell crude oil more freely.”

Motivating millions

So when a presidential candidate such as Senator Ted Cruz tells voters that it is time to “awaken the body of Christ that we may pull back from the abyss,” such as happened before the Iowa caucusses, according to writer Leonardo Blair of the ChristianPost, it seems most likely he aims to motivate millions of voters to not stay home depressed about the world and their miseries anymore.

The man did just become the first Hispanic candidate to win a Presidential caucus, as the DallasNews points out for readers. Cruz had one conservative radio host, Glenn Beck, who went a step further according to writer Christine Ayala. Beck optimistically introduced Cruz at a campaign event stating he was “… the first Hispanic president of the United States.”

‘New dimension’ of crime: Mayor of German city calls for emergency meeting after New Year’s Eve molestations

Cologne, Germany

After a delay of five days, leaders in the German city of Cologne held an emergency meeting of high-ranking security officials on Tuesday, following multiple reports of sexual assaults on women from a crowd described as between 500 to 1,000 “drunk and aggressive” and “foreign” men either working together as a single group or in separate gangs on New Year’s Eve.

In recently filed reports from journalists at the BBC, the Guardian and also Reuters news agencies, the Mayor of Cologne, Henriette Reker, called the emergency meeting of security officials.  Mayor Reker stated that her aim was to ensure her city center did not turn into a “lawless zone.”

Frankie McCamley, reporting for BBC, states that about 90 women say they were sexually assaulted during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Cologne. “One woman described how a firecracker put in her hood has left her scarred for life.”

From Kate Connolly, working in Berlin for the Guardian, the report is that “[s]cores of women say they were sexually assaulted and mugged by groups of men largely of Arab and north African appearance.”

German police are investigating, and one minister is calling the assaults a “completely new dimension of crime,” while others believe this was looking like a “cover-up” because of the initial indications that, according to the police, “… those allegedly responsible for the sex attacks and numerous robberies were of Arab and north African origin.”

UPDATE:

Mayor Reker, who was stabbed in the neck last October is being mocked now for advising women on how to protect themselves from assaults, according to Ewan Palmer writing for the ibiTimes. “Mayor Henriette Reker suggested women should keep ‘an arm’s length away’ from men and to not stray from their own group when out at night in order to protect themselves from harassment following the mass assaults outside Cologne Cathedral….”

It is not clear if the Mayor’s suggestions would have helped any of the women being sexually assaulted on New Year’s Eve.

ISIS and ‘White House aides micromanaging military operations’ concerns House Armed Services Chairman

Complaints of “White House aides micromanaging military operations” were repeated by the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee yesterday in his opening remarks on the panel discussion on “U.S. Strategy for Syria and Iraq and its Implications for the Region,” and the subject is one of concern for many people.

As news media gives more time to cover threats and events of terrorism and the group called ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, we learn that Pope Francis has become a target as well. (See FoxLatino report regarding Police in Italy and Kosovo detaining “… four Kosovars with Islamic State contacts Tuesday for making threats against the pope and a U.S. diplomat.”) This Pope has previously condemned the killing of Christians by ISIS (See BreitbartNews article for this information) and this discussion on politics, military and possible “micromanaging” is troubling.

WH ‘micromanaging military operations’

Telling Defense Secretary Ashton Carter that “all three of your Obama Administration predecessors have complained openly about White House aides micromanaging military operations,” Representative Mac Thornberry, Chairman then said in his opening remarks that “I  myself have heard from service members in the field about such instances which would have been unthinkable at any other time in history.”

Congressman Thornberry looked forward to hearing from both Secretary Carter as well as General Joseph F. Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he stated. “The Committee meets today to hear testimony from the Secretary and the Chairman on our strategy against ISIS and the implications for the Middle East.  Today is the first hearing we have had with Secretary Carter and Chairman Dunford together in their current roles, and I think it is appropriate that it be on this topic which is foremost on the minds of the American people.  Thank you both for being here.”

ISIS requires ‘greater effort’

Thornberry stated there seemed to be “widespread consensus on at least three points” since the Paris attacks by ISIS.” He listed first that “ISIS presents a significant threat to the United States,” and the next point was that the “approach we have used to degrade and destroy ISIS is inadequate to meet the threat.” His third point was that a “different approach” and a “greater effort is required” making reference to decisions to “use half-measures” against them.

See Chairman Thornberry’s link here.

Last October, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, (see Senator Thom Tillis link), questioned Secretary Carter and Chairman Dunford on “whether they were consulted by President Obama before his veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016.” In reply, General Dunford said he was not consulted by President Barack Obama while Secretary Carter answered that he was consulted and he did in fact support that veto.

Senator Tillis believes, as he stated in that link to his website, “… it is clear to me this Administration is not willing to confront the challenges our men and women in uniform face today. Taking a step back in these times just does not make sense.” 
U.S. soldier Joshua Wheeler
The case of Master Sargent Joshua Wheeler came up in that previous discussion last October. Wheeler was killed in a raid to rescue 70 hostages from ISIS in Iraq on October 22, 2015, and Senator Tillis then stated “Secretary Carter, you testified that in that particular operation, those are the operations that are happening frequently where American soldiers are at risk. I would consider that as a combat operation.” Secretary Carter replied that Wheeler was “indeed in combat at the time of his death.”

Wheeler has become “the first American to die in the war against ISIS,” per the Senator, who also believes that Secretary Carter and the Obama Administration, in “an effort to comport with President Obama’s vow to keep U.S. troops out of combat in Iraq,” were previously hesitating to call Wheeler’s death a combat death.

Søren Kierkegaard and understanding ISIS

David Ignatius, reporting on ISIS in an article available at theAtlantic recently, quoted a journal entry made in 1843 by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. “It is perfectly true, as the philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition: that it must be lived forwards.”

Ignatius, who believes that we have perhaps “… been living the Islamic State forwards, surprised at every turn, but we can perhaps begin to understand it backwards. Although ISIS took most of the world by surprise when it swept into the Iraqi city of Mosul in June 2014, the group and its forebears had been proclaiming their goals for a decade. Like many consequential events, this one didn’t sneak up on policymakers; they simply didn’t see what was taking shape in front of them. ISIS told us exactly what it was going to do, and then did it. This was a secret conspiracy hiding in plain sight.”

And Senator Thornberry quoted Ignatius’ other idea.  That maybe “…the halfway measures taken by the U.S. thus far have only helped the jihadists.” He asked Secretary Carter and General Dunford not to give them a repeat of “White House talking points, but to give us your best professional and military judgments on what is required to actually degrade and defeat this enemy and to protect our people.”

Rubio: ‘This is a clash of civilizations. There is no middle ground on this. Either they win or we win …’

Ben Rhodes

Stating his belief that the Paris attacks on Friday night were “clearly an act of war,” 2016 Republican candidate for U.S. President and current U.S. Senator from Florida Marco Rubio invoked the collective-defense provision of NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) provision today during an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”

“This is clearly an act of war, an attack on one of our NATO allies, and we should invoke Article 5 of the NATO agreement and bring everyone together to put together a coalition to confront this challenge,” said Rubio in a quote taken from the interview and cited in a WashingtonPost story.

Article 5

“Article 5,” according to writer Elise Viebeck, “deems an attack on one NATO member as an attack on all members. The alliance has invoked it only once, after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

Rubio criticized Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton for “declining to use the term ‘radical Islam’ in describing the fight against the Islamic State during the presidential debate on Saturday night.

“That would be like saying we weren’t at war with Nazis because we were afraid to offend some Germans who may have been members of the Nazi party but were not violent themselves,” Rubio said.He added that “[t]his is a clash of civilizations. There is no middle ground on this. Either they win or we win … Of course all Muslims are not members of violent jihadist groups.”

Ben Rhodes defends U.S. strategy

For a transcript of the Rubio interview, please click link: ABCnews

During another interview, this time with President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, Ben Rhodes, the question came up of “the latest intelligence.”

Q: “Does the president now agree with President Hollande that this was an act of war by ISIS?”

Rhodes answered, “[y]es George. First of all, in all likelihood, clearly all the signs point to this being the responsibility of ISIL. That’s a determination that the French authorities have made. Certainly our information supports the strong likelihood that ISIL was involved in this. We absolutely agree that this was an act of war by ISIL. Anytime you have this type of indiscriminate targeting of innocent civilians, we see that as an act of war by a terrorist group.”

Further on, rhodes said this: “That’s why, frankly, we’ve been waging war against ISIL now for over a year with thousands of airstrikes and support for partners who are fighting them on the ground.”

Interviewer George Stephanopoulos asked Rhodes another question. “And is there any intelligence suggesting a specific and credible threat to the homeland?”

Rhodes replied. “No, George, the president had a meeting yesterday that included the Secretary of Homeland Security, the director of the FBI; our determination is there’s not a specific, credible threat to the homeland at this time. But we’re going to be very vigilant because we know ISIL has the aspirations to attack the United States as well as our European and other allies and partners.”

“So this was an act of war against America’s oldest ally, as the president pointed out the other day,” Stephanopoulos replied. “How would the United States respond?”

“Well, first of all, we’re clearly going to work very closely with the French in terms of intelligence sharing, also in terms of their military response inside of Syria. The French have been with us in Iraq and Syria and conducting airstrikes,” said Rhodes. “I think we want to continue to intensify that coordination. There’s a French three-star general, who’s positioned in CENTCOM to help facilitate that coordination. So we’ll be working with the French to go after ISIL in response.”

Rhodes added that the U.S. has seen “some fruit in recent weeks.”

“We’ll also be looking to intensify those things that we’ve seen. There’s some fruit in recent weeks, the types of leadership strikes that we’ve taken against the leader of ISIL in Libya, against Jihadi John in Syria and the types of operations you saw in Sinjar, where our Kurdish allies on the ground were able to retake a strategic town from ISIL.”

 

Foreign policy becomes topic of importance after Paris carnage

Candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley.

“We are not at war with Islam,” said 2016 candidate for President of the United States and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in the Saturday evening Democratic debate televised after the Friday attacks in Paris which has left 129 people dead and 352 wounded. Estimates are that, of the wounded, about 98 of those persons are critically injured per various media reports.

“We are at war with violent extremism,” Clinton added, according to the story covering the debate from LatinoFoxnews.

Her Democratic opponents made their statements as well. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont said that Muslim countries must involve themselves more in fighting the ISIS jihadists. Sanders believes that this is a war for the “soul of Islam.” Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley believes that Muslims living in the United States should join the fight against Islamist extremism.

Sanders did criticize former Senator of New York Clinton for her 2003 vote in favor of the Iraq invasion. Sanders believes that this intervention was “one of the worst foreign policy blunders in the modern history of the United States,” and that it has “unraveled the (Middle East) completely.”

All of the candidates onstage denounced the attacks, per an AP article by Lisa Lerer which was carried on the  PBS website on. This marks the first time the Democratic field spoke about the incidents, and it seems that “[t]hey gave some fodder to their Republican critics, who coupled condemnation of the Paris attacks earlier in the day with sharp criticism for Obama and his former secretary of state, Clinton,” according to writer Lerer.

“We are at war with violent extremism, we are at war with people who use their religion for purposes of power and oppression,” Clinton is quoted. She gave her opinion that the U.S. is not at war with Islam or all Muslims. “I don’t want us to be painting with too broad a brush.”

Democratic opponents Sanders and O’Malley agreed with Clinton’s statements last night. The term “radical Islam,” which is being used by current Florida Senator Marco Rubio and other Republican presidential candidates, is unnecessarily offensive to American Muslims.

Carnage in Paris as 150+ unarmed civilians killed, muslim terrorists rampage

Soldiers have been deployed in Paris and the borders surrounding France are being closed according to reports after multiple, possibly coordinated attacks on the unarmed citizens and visitors in France Friday night.

French President François Hollande, quoted in the IBItimes, vowed to wage a “pitiless” war after the rampage.

One hostage/witness said the killers inside the Bataclan Hall shouted “Allah Akbar”  and “this is for Syria” before opening fire on the trapped customers, according to a report from theMirror.

President Hollande made his promise to go after the terrorists for these atrocities. “To all those who have seen these awful things, I want to say we are going to lead a war which will be pitiless. Because when terrorists are capable of committing such atrocities they must be certain that they are facing a determined France, a united France, a France that is together and does not let itself be moved, even if today we express infinite sorrow.”

‘Apocalyptic’ scenes as Paris hit by multiple attacks

The message “porte-ouverte” (“door-open”) was being utilized to help and welcome people needing to get to safety as well. News from France 24 is that “Parisian taxi drivers switched off their meters, and were taking people home for free.”

American President Barack Obama had words to say as well in response to the terrorism, although he did not identify it as being muslim extremism. “France is our oldest ally,” said Obama. “The French people have stood shoulder to shoulder with the U.S. time and time again. We want to be very clear that we stand with them in the fight against terrorism and extremism.”

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