Threat of ISIS Still Real

Threat of ISIS Still Real
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

During his 2018 State of the Union speech, President Trump delighted in reporting that Islamic State forces had been defeated in virtually all of the territory they had seized over recent years. But even he admitted, “There is much more work to be done.”

American artillery soldiers respond to a fire mission in Iraq. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. F. Cordoba, public domain.

It is certainly true that ISIS forces no longer dominate portions of Iraq and Syria. But what became of the thousands of fighters who waged bloody warfare remains a concern of realists who comment about developments regarding ISIS. One assessment of what happens next was provided by Otso Iho, a senior analyst at London-based Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center. As noted by the New York Times, this expert reported: “The group is transitioning into an underground organization that places more weight on asymmetric tactics like suicide bombings against soft targets in government-secured areas like Baghdad.”

Iho pointed to a recent suicide attack in Baghdad that killed several dozen and wounded close to 100. The incident occurred at a busy location in the Iraqi capital where laborers gather daily in hopes of being hired by someone.

How many of the thousands of ISIS warriors have discarded their uniforms and are melting into the populations of Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere isn’t known. But anyone who has studied ISIS and its efforts over the past four years knows that the number of dedicated Islamic warriors reaches into the tens of thousands. Some of these who have fled the formerly held caliphate and can be found in Libya, Yemen, Turkey, even the Philippines. Of these, many have joined never-defeated branches of Al Qaeda in those nations.

The number of Americans who traveled to ISIS-held territory in order to become an Islamist warrior number less than one thousand. But, according to Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union’s senior counter terrorism official, more than  5,000 Europeans left their homes and became ISIS fighters. Some perished and a few are still fighting. But 1,500 have returned to their European countries and each can be legitimately by labeled a potential terrorist. America’s vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Paul Selva summarized the situation in grim detail:

The thought that these foreign fighters who have participated in this fight now for over two years will quietly leave Syria and return to their jobs as shopkeepers in Paris, in Brussels, in Copenhagen, and elsewhere is ludicrous. That’s a very compelling problem.

The motivation keeping these men tied to ISIS and its determination to establish a dominant Islamic caliphate surely includes the promise of heavenly bliss for those who perish for Allah. It additionally promises the same glorious afterlife for suicide bombers. In other words, the problem presented when ISIS emerged several years ago hasn’t been solved by routing its military arm.

The West, certainly including the United States, has to expect more terror-inspired attacks.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


No Punishment Acceptable for Those Who Served in Good Faith

No Punishment Acceptable for Those Who Served in Good Faith
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Ten to fifteen years ago, the U.S. military found itself in need of more personnel. In California, an overly ambitious recruiter started giving bonuses and arranging forgiveness of student loans to those who would enlist or extend their time in service. Members of the state’s National Guard, upwards of 2,000 in number, accepted the payments in good faith and stayed in uniform. Many were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

CHANGI NAVAL BASE, Singapore (Dec. 12, 2011) Marines serving with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (11th MEU) prepare to depart the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) to begin a training exercise. (Photo via Official U.S. Navy Page Flickr by Cpl. Gene Allen Ainsworth III/Released).

Approximately ten years later, these individuals began receiving notices telling them the money they had been given was a mistake and they should return it to the government. In 2012, the overly eager master sergeant who doled out the cash and benefits pleaded guilty to approving the more than $15 million handed out to recipients. Our nation’s military, already suffering near exhaustion from more than 15 years of combat in Afghanistan and on the verge of more missions in Iraq and elsewhere, emerged from this mess with a brand new black eye.

Former Army Captain Christopher Van Meter received one of the bonuses and then fulfilled his commitment. He even came home with a Purple Heart that he earned in battle. After being notified that he owed the government what he had received, he told a reporter: “I spent years of my life deployed, missed out on birthdays and deaths in the family, got blown up … and now I’m told I haven’t fulfilled my contract.” Others caught in this foul up obviously shared his disgust, even outrage. Some were told to repay as much as $20,000. There have been cases where wages were taken from the paychecks earned in civilian jobs after service commitments had been fulfilled. Some have even been assessed penalties over and above the amount they accepted ten or more years ago.

Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), a Marine veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, labeled the repayment demands “disgraceful and insulting.” After complaints by veterans groups and some publicity appearing in the Los Angeles Times, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter called off the attempts to retrieve the funds. There are now demands coming from veterans groups to have the military reimburse any recipients who may have been frightened into paying back what they had received. The Pentagon plans to set up a team to review each of the cases.

Mistakes in the military and elsewhere will always be made and this was an unusual one. Anyone who has served in the military knows that snafus and unnecessary mix-ups will occur. Proper handling of this one is surely called for. And it looks as though the good faith soldiers who accepted the bonuses will get to keep them.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Afghan War Now 15 Years Old

Afghan War Now 15 Years Old 

by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

In a recent posting by the Ron Paul Institute, Dr. Paul pointed out that 15 years have now passed since American forces were first sent to Afghanistan. The operation has become “the longest war in U.S. history,” the former Texas congressman noted. He concluded that there were no victory parades because there is no victory.

American troops were first sent to Afghanistan after the devastating 9/11 attacks. Why has this mission become so lengthy? (image from Flickr)

American troops were first sent to Afghanistan after the devastating 9/11 attacks. Why has this mission become so lengthy? (Photo by Program Executive Office Soldier Flickr, some rights reserved).

Troops were first sent to Afghanistan a few weeks after the devastating 9/11 attacks on our nation. Their original mission called for apprehending Osama bin Laden. Thought to be hiding in Afghanistan, bin Laden was discovered years later in Pakistan where he was killed during a Navy Seal team raid. The main target of the U.S. forces from the beginning, however, was the Taliban, the militant Islamic group that had actually been supplied by the U.S. during the 1979-1989 Soviet invasion of the war-torn nation.

Once in Afghanistan, U.S. troops found themselves battling against an enemy using left over U.S.-supplied weaponry. The casualty totals show that our nation has suffered the loss of more than 2,300 killed and almost 23,000 wounded in the 15-year struggle. And the Taliban now controls more of the country than it did when the U.S. forces arrived in 2001 under the label “Operation Enduring Freedom.”

The U.S. media never discusses the little-publicized influence of the United Nations in this ongoing debacle. That is key to understanding the disappointing results of this lengthy mission. In December 2001, the UN Security Council created the International Security Assistance Force to aid the Afghan government. The U.S. supplied most of the troops to carry out this mission. So, from the very beginning of the operation, the UN has had a major role in the effort. Fewer than two years later (September 2003), the task of aiding the Afghan government was formally turned over to NATO. But NATO is a UN “Regional Alliance” formed under Chapter VIII of the UN Charter. America’s participation in this skirmish has been directed by the UN throughout the entire 15 years.

The Taliban now controls more of Afghanistan than it did when U.S. forces entered the country 15 years ago. The various tasks given to U.S. troops have included destroying the country’s opium production, engaging in reconstruction of war-torn infrastructure, and training local forces. Some of those local forces have turned their guns on their U.S. trainers with deadly consequences.

If the UN’s NATO weren’t managing this curious war, America’s forces would likely have cleared the country of Taliban dominance years ago. Obviously that’s not what the UN wants. Governments, even the UN, always grow and become more influential during a war. America’s leaders, both political and military, who put up with this are betraying their oaths and putting good men (and some good women) in impossible circumstances.

There are many solid reasons why the U.S. should withdraw completely from the United Nations. The experience already suffered in Afghanistan certainly provides one. Members of Congress should be proclaiming loudly and clearly the slogan, “Get US out! of the United Nations.” Members of the House should be persuaded to co-sponsor H.R. 1205, the bill calling for U.S. withdrawal from the world body. U.S. forces should never be sent into a battle without victory being the goal. Anything less is a betrayal of the troops and even of the nation.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Iran Payoff Earns More Disrespect

Iran Payoff Earns More Disrespect
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Last January, the Obama administration quietly airlifted $400 million in foreign currency to Iran. An unmarked cargo plane delivered the funds and the completion of the deal just happened to occur on the same day the Tehran regime released four Americans previously imprisoned for a variety of charges. The suspiciously unmarked plane also delivered part of a $1.3 billion payment for Iranian funds held in the U.S. ever since the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979-1981. The transaction certainly smelled like a ransom payment, something President Obama and his press corps have vociferously denied. But the incident brought back memories of the 1979-1981 hostage crisis when America suffered unneeded indignity and unnecessary loss of life.

Two American hostages being detained in Iran after the siege of the American embassy, 1979 (image by an unknown author [public domain or CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons). The CIA organized and directed a coup that helped to keep the pro-American Shah Reza Pahlavi in power in 1953, an entangling alliance that our founders warned us about. Yet, American and British policymakers turned on him in the mid-1970s.

On November 4, 1979, 66 American diplomats and embassy workers were captured when a mob of student demonstrators stormed the U.S. embassy. Hoping to show their solidarity for “oppressed minorities” and Islam’s “special treatment of women,” the leaders of the assault immediately freed 13 women and African-Americans. Another male embassy worker with health problems was released. The remaining 52 were held hostage for 444 days. The Iranian students were egged on by anti-American fervor in the wake of Iran’s ouster of pro-American Shah Reza Pahlavi and the return to the country of anti-American Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The students then turned over their captives to Iranian authorities while celebrating their success. Many of these hostages endured beatings, solitary confinement and threats of execution. The detainment for most was ghastly.

President Carter meekly denounced the seizure of our embassy and the confinement of U.S. citizens, appealing for their release on humanitarian grounds. Initially, the Iranians intended to hold the embassy and its occupants for only a short time. But Khomeini, now the de facto political leader of his country, found the insult given to the United States a source of pride and a blow at the “Great Satan.” He proclaimed, “This has united our people. Our opponents do not dare act against us.” The response of the Carter administration to the outrage was pitiful.

Something else happened during the early days of this crisis that few recall or wish to mention. Approximately two weeks after the seizure of the embassy, Khomeini announced his intention to withdraw Iran’s millions from New York banks. Only then, not when our embassy was seized and our people imprisoned, did President Carter declare a state of emergency and freeze Iranian assets. The taking of our embassy and the treatment accorded its personnel weren’t reasons enough to merit an emergency declaration. But the threat of sizable withdrawals from the big banks had to be countered.

On April 24, 1980, President Carter sent a pair of helicopters on an ill-fated rescue mission. Flying off U.S. Navy carriers in the Persian Gulf, the copter mission proved to be a complete disaster. The helicopters ran into sand storms and were destroyed. Eight American servicemen and one Iranian civilian died during the botched attempt. And Jimmy Carter’s reelection effort suffered a huge setback. On January 20, 1981, the 52 hostages came home to be greeted by a defeated Jimmy Carter during his last day in office. Though not alone as a reason for his not being reelected, the weakness of America during the hostage crisis certainly figured in the choice of many voters that previous November.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) has angrily stated that the delivery of cash to Iran amounted to an Obama cave-in, a ransom payment that America has sworn never to deliver. “Hundreds of millions in the pockets of a terrorist regime means a more dangerous region,” he said while adding, “The Iran nuclear deal was a historic mistake.” He wondered, “What else is the Obama administration hiding?”

Good question. America’s foreign policy has largely remained hidden from its citizens, interfering time and again in the governing of other countries for its own gain. It’s time our foreign policy return to the advice of our founders to regain its former level of prominence and respect around the globe.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.