Category Archives: War, Terrorism & Conflicts

Using Big Data to Predict Terrorist Acts Amid Privacy Concerns

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By | October 13, 2016


Before Ahmad Khan Rahami planted bombs in New York and New Jersey, he bought bomb-making materials on eBay, linked to jihad-related videos from his public social-media account and was looked into by law enforcement agents, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

If only the authorities had connected the dots.

That challenge — mining billions of bits of information and crunching the data to find crucial clues — is behind a push by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies to harness “big data” to predict crimes, terrorist acts and social upheaval before they happen. The market for such “predictive analytics” technology is estimated to reach $9.2 billion by 2020, up from $3 billion in 2015, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets.

It’s the stuff of a science-fiction movie like “Minority Report,” in which Tom Cruise played a Washington cop who used technology to arrest people before they carried out crimes. It’s also a red flag for privacy advocates already fighting U.S. spy programs exposed by Edward Snowden and the FBI’s demands that Apple Inc. help it hack into encrypted mobile phones.

The idea is to make sense of the vast and disparate streams of data from sources including social media, GPS devices, video feeds from street cameras and license-plate readers, travel and credit-card records and the news media, as well as government and propriety systems.

‘Fundamental Fuel’

“Data is going to be the fundamental fuel for national security in this century,” William Roper, director of the Defense Department’s strategic capabilities office, said at a conference in Washington last month.

For the first time, the White House released a strategic plan on Wednesday to advance research and development of artificial intelligence technology, including to predict incidents that may be dangerous to public safety.

Weeks before Rahami allegedly carried out the attacks in September, he bought circuit boards, electric igniters and ball bearings — all of which are known bomb-making materials, according to charging documents from the FBI.

In previous years, he was flagged by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the FBI after he made trips to Pakistan and after his father told police he was a terrorist, before recanting the remark.

Law enforcement agents could have been tipped off that Rahami was moving toward an attack had all of those data points been culled together in one place, said Mark Testoni, chief executive officer and president of SAP National Security Services Inc., a U.S.-based subsidiary of German software company SAP SE.

“This is a big data world now,” said Testoni. He said his company has developed a computer platform for doing predictive analytics that is being used in a limited way by a Defense Department agency and by a national security agency. He declined to name the government customers or specify what they are doing.

The technology to predict events is only in its infancy, Testoni said. National security and law enforcement agencies also have different rules when it comes to obtaining and using data, meaning there are walls between what can be accessed and shared, he said. U.S. law enforcement agencies, for example, need a court warrant to access most data.

Big Brother

Privacy advocates express concern about the “Big Brother” implications of such massive data-gathering, calling for more information and public debate about how predictive technology will be used.

“There’s often very little transparency into what’s being brought into the systems or how it’s being crunched and used,” said Rachel Levinson-Waldman, senior counsel to the National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. “That also makes it very hard to go back and challenge information that might be incorrect.”

Computer algorithms also fail to understand the context of data, such as whether someone commenting on social media is joking or serious, Levinson-Waldman said.

Testoni’s company and others such as Intel Corp. and PredPol Inc. are among a handful of firms pioneering the use of predictive analytics and artificial intelligence for clients from local police departments to U.S. national security agencies.

More than 60 local police departments in the U.S. have started making use of a service sold by PredPol, which calls itself “The Predictive Policing Company,” to forecast where crimes might occur based on past patterns, said co-founder Jeff Brantingham.

What, Where, When

Its system, developed in collaboration with the Los Angeles Police Department, uses only three types of data: what type of crime occurred, when and where, Brantingham said.

Then, a software algorithm generates the probability of crime occurring in different locations, presented as 500-foot-by-500-foot squares on a computer display or a printed map. With that insight, police departments then can make decisions about how best to apply their resources, such as sending cops to a high-risk area, or which security cameras to monitor, Brantingham said.

PrePol’s system doesn’t make predictions about who will commit a crime, so it stops short of a system that might identify a terrorist in the making.

“Interdicting places is, by and large, an approach that is more in line with protecting civil liberties than interdicting people,” Brantingham said.

Even with such limits, privacy and civil liberties groups oppose the use of predicting policing technology as a threat to the Constitution’s promises of equal protection and due process.

‘Fortune-Teller Policing’

“This is fortune-teller policing that uses deeply flawed and biased data and relies on vendors that shroud their products in secrecy,” Wade Henderson, president and chief executive officer of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Instead of using predictive technology to correct dysfunctional law enforcement, departments are using these tools to supercharge discrimination and exacerbate the worst problems in our criminal justice system.”

eBay, Amazon

Vast databases that companies have created for online commerce and communications could help law enforcement and national security agencies build predictive systems if they are allowed to tap into them. Technology companies have terms of service that set out how much personal information can be kept and sold to outside companies such as advertisers, and most resist handing over such data to the government unless a court orders them to do so.

Predictive analytics are already being used by companies like eBay Inc., Amazon.com Inc., and Netflix Inc. to crunch their users’ Internet activity to forecast what they might be interested in. Companies like Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. have access to over a billion social-media accounts. The storehouse of data on Americans will only grow with digital feeds from Internet-connected appliances and wearable devices.

Social media, in particular, is a valuable tool in tracking potential terrorist attacks, said Eric Feinberg, founding member of the Global Intellectual Property Enforcement Center, which is a private company. His firm has patented technology that can scan for hashtags across different social media platforms and in different languages for communications that indicate terrorist planning.

“Our software is about pattern analysis,” Feinberg said. “We focus on the communications stream.”

‘Open Source Indicators’

The U.S. government is working on initial efforts to gain insight into global social and political trends.

A program under the intelligence community’s research arm called Mercury seeks to develop methods for continuous and automated analysis of intercepted electronic communications “in order to anticipate and/or detect political crises, disease outbreaks, terrorist activity and military actions,” said Charles Carithers, spokesman for the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity.

The agency also previously funded the Open Source Indicators program, which “developed methods for continuous, automated analysis of publicly available data in order to anticipate and/or detect significant societal events,” such as mass violence and riots, mass migrations, disease outbreaks and economic instability, Carithers said.

CIA Forecasts

The CIA draws a distinction between using technology to anticipate events, versus predict them. The agency is using sophisticated algorithms and advanced analytics, along with publicly available data, to forecast events. The initial coverage focuses on the Middle East and Latin America.

“We have, in some instances, been able to improve our forecast to the point of being able to anticipate the development of social unrest and societal instability to within three to five days out,” said Andrew Hallman, the agency’s deputy director for digital innovation.

In its annual report in June, the Defense Science Board said, “Imagine if national leaders had sufficient time to act in emerging regional hot spots to safeguard U.S. interests using interpretation of massive data including social media and rapidly generate strategic options.”

“Such a capability may soon be achievable,” the board said. “Massive data sets are increasingly abundant and could contain predictive clues — especially social media and open-source intelligence.”

Poindexter’s Legacy

If U.S. intelligence agencies develop an advanced system to predict terrorist acts they might call it “Total Information Awareness.” Except that name has already been used, with unhappy results.

Retired Admiral John Poindexter created the “Total Information Awareness” program for the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in 2002 to find and monitor terrorists and other national security threats using data and technology.

The program became so controversial, especially over concerns that privacy rights would be violated, that Congress canceled funding for Poindexter’s office in 2003.

Having been there and done that, Poindexter now says predicting terrorism is possible but would require a lot of data, such as banking information, analysis of social media, travel records and classified material.

The system also has to include strong privacy protections that the public can review, said Poindexter, who said he was working on such a “privacy protection application” when his program was canceled.

“You have to develop public trust in the way this is going to work,” said Poindexter, who continued developing the technology after leaving government through Saffron Technology Inc., a cognitive computing company that Intel bought in 2015 for an undisclosed price. Intel declined to comment.

“The government’s priorities should be to solve the privacy issue and start ingesting massive amounts of data into memory bases,” Poindexter said. “You have to get the public on board with the idea that we can collect and search information on terrorist planning that doesn’t have an adverse impact on innocent people.”


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by Insurance Journal and was retrieved on 10/15/2016 and posted here at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only. The views, ideas, materials and content of the article remains those of the author. Please cite the original article accordingly.


 

Guns, Violence and Roses in America: The Seven Years of the Obama’s Administration

Americans, we’ve come a long way. We have passed through stages and decades of exploitation, physical violence, annihilation, war, racial slavery, hate, racial segregation, power and control, military industrial complex, divide and conquer, The Industrial Revolution, exceptionalism, isolationalism, The Wall Street, NRA, Tea Party, Republican, Democrat, Federalist, Constitutionalist, The Bush’s Wars, The Clinton’s mayhem, The Occupy Movement, Police Violence, and now Trumphism. Americans are good people and we should not forget that. Some would correctly argue that we are still dancing to the drums of some of those periods or events listed above. But as a nation, we’ve come a long way and yet to make this nation great.

Yet, there are those among us willing to do significant harm to others and I don’t think religion is fundamental to that process unless we are spoon-fed with information by the media powered by political motives and selective bias in news reporting to influence us to think how “they” want us to think, act and behave. Humans by nature like to cast blames on others for their errors. If you are a christian we see that from the very genesis of the biblical account of our origin.

We create the images of the violence we see in our streets and in our neighborhoods of our towns and cities each day. A society breeds what we put into it just like a computer processes what we input into the system. If we input trash, we get trash out. Violence breeds violence!! Hate breeds hate. Yet, we can conquer violence with non-violent acts.  Society shapes us and we also shape society.

Today, we have more guns in America than any other time in our history and on planet earth. Guns are now cheaper than food and now proponents see guns as a fundamental human rights contextually contradicting the original intent of the Founding Fathers. Are we “more Americans” with a gun? Or should I say, do we feel more safe with a gun?” Certainly, gun does not make us more American or any safer either. The more guns we have the more it is likely for gun-related crimes to be committed. Guns by itself do not kill people, but people use guns to commit crimes. You could say well I possess gun not to kill anyone except someone who traspasses on my property or someone who breaks into my home, etc and I am within my legal right to defend myself, my family and property. That is a valid point. However, with the number legally own guns and those that are unknown out there our society is doom to see guns-related crimes each and every day!

Guns are now available everywhere and even a little toddler can easily access one from his or her parents. Our obsession with guns and violence are reinforced by video games, movies and the violence that we see in the streets of our cities and towns. Today, we think we are safer when we have guns. Guns don’t make people safe. It is people who make people safe.

More guns mean someone will be shot and killed. More guns means more violence and more violence means insecurity, mayhem, total anarchy, deaths, and injuries, which has physical, economic, social, health, and emotional consequences.

Today in America, mass shooting has become the new normal. We hear about it almost each month somewhere in this country. America is the only industrial country in the global north and east where the obsession with guns breed violence, more violence begets deaths and deaths beget pain and pain begets sorrow, while sorrow begets anxiety of individuals and society. Today, society has become immune to guns, violence and deaths using each to justify the other. Whether guns breed violence or violence is a consequence of our obsession with guns is yet to be answered. However, we need to change this paradigm.

As the news of mass shootings flood the various media outlets in this country both offline and online, one thing is assure….individual and public fear, total trepidation, nervousness, unease, fright, disquiet, dismay, consternation, anxiety, and the most effective emotional state of all “ALARM.” The media in a way reinforce all these aspects and yet waiting for the next hot spot for another mass shooting coverages of all sort.

Right on all of that, we have a very ineffective political system that is bought by lobbyists of all sorts who drag their feet to make decisions on guns control.

We cannot make America great again by allowing our children to be killed. It is our right to defend our country and home and that is why we have military experts for that. Today, one-in-nine Americans has anything between 2-3 guns at home. This excludes illegal guns possessions.

Regretfully and somewhat appreciated for the sake of victims of mass shootings, the President of this country has spend more time giving speeches after the event of a mass shooting than any other issue. It now looks certain that Obama or any other president after the November 2016 election will give some sort of funeral-related speech of a mass shooting or visit those affected areas and families, which is a good thing. However, the frequencies of these trips and speeches seem to be the new normal from the White House.  What we need is not an emotional 30 second tear from a President and the so-called moments of silence for the victims, but action on guns control and an end to it!!! It almost appears certain that our president is ready to give another speech each month as mass shootings become “normalized.”

“We shouldn’t kill people who killed people to tell them that killing people is wrong.”

President Obama has had hard time trying to nail a deal with congressional leaders and those of the house to put some very “tight jeans” on guns.

During the first seven years of the Obama’s administration, we have had 22 violent mass shootings events accomplished cross 14 US States, which include Washington D.C. During this period, we had 240 confirmed deceased (including the perpetrators) with 280 injured.

Understanding this simple principle and rule of life promotes a peaceful world, love and stability. Violence can be defeated by love and love overcomes violence. Love breeds love and not hate. Violence is a product of hate and other bunch of stuff.

Frankly, the violence we see today are not so much about guns control as much as those violence are indications that we as a nation have to come together and really heal our wounds.

Figure 1: Location or Place of Mass Shootings

Figure 2: US States in which Mass Shootings Occurred in the current 7-years of Obama’s Administration

Figure 3: Mass Shootings by States [including D.C.]

Figure 4: Mass Shootings by US Cities

The Indispensable Escapes: The Experiences of a Refugee

Photo Credit: Maria Runggeary, 2012
Photo Credit: Maria Runggeary, 2012

You are reading this brief disclosure because of your interests in refugees and displaced persons. No one wants to be a refugee! It is a very painful life mostly fill with lots of sufferings. So, we should continue to embrace those who are refugees and other displaced population not because we feel sorry for them, but because they are humans like ourselves with emotions, hearts, souls and spirits, desires of belonging and to call a place “home.”  Thus, we should continue to give our best to those in need, because the moment we stop doing that we miss the meaning  of humanity. It is our responsibility (believe it or not) to take care of each other in times of needs, wars and conflicts.

It is my desire and goal to keep creating awareness and education of refugees’ issues globally, but local first. In this process, it takes me great pleasure to announce today that I am almost done with the manuscript of a book based on my experiences as a refugee and those of my siblings as I reflect and recapture the many episodes of escapes from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ivory Coast and eventually settling in the United States.

I have tried on several occasions to avoid reflecting on my experiences and those of my siblings as we escaped together, but the desire to narrate this story with the goal of helping others learn from what we went through to help with their own stories of whatever they are going through in their own lives continue to upset me why I have delay this for so long. I started writing few months ago, sometimes staying up too late to make sure that this book is ready to come out in later part of 2017.

It is with great pleasure that I would like to announced that the table of contents, which I think best described every segment of the text is now out published here. I hope in the next few months that the remaining chapters can be completed and release to potential individuals who have contacted me with interest to help proof read the initial manuscript.

If you are interested to be one of the reviewers (which is voluntary by the way), please feel free to contact me and I will include you on my send list when the final manuscript is ready for reviewers to read and make their comments. All reviewers’ contribution to the final text will be duly acknowledged.

The Indispensable Escapes: The Experiences of a Refugee

Book Chapters

Table of Contents

Preface

Acknowledgement

Dedication

Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter 2. Prior to the War: The Days Before Christmas

Chapter 3. 1st Escape: The Beginning of Life on the Run

Chapter 4. The Flight from Cape Palmas, Maryland

Chapter 5. Life at 5th Street Sinkor, Monrovia

Chapter 6. 2nd Escape: Monrovia – The Ball of Fire

Chapter 7. 3rd Escape: Providence & the Ghost of Bodies

Chapter 8. 4th Escape: The Thousands Unforgotten Steps

Chapter 9. Bomi Hills: Life in a Rebel-held Zone

Chapter 10. 5th Escape: Almost Dead at Midnight

Chapter 11. 6th Escape: The Bravery of a Sister

Chapter 12. 7th Escape: Exit from Bo to Kenema, Sierra Leone

Chapter 13. 8th Escape: The Frozen Exit from Sierra Leone

Chapter 14. The Tai Massacre: Neighbor Became Executional

Chapter 15. 9th Escape: The Light of Ghana

Chapter 16. Life at the Buduburam Refugee Camp in Ghana

Chapter 17. Resettlement to the United States of America

Why I feel the United Nations has failed the Syrian people?

Photo credit: Nilüfer Demir/AFP/Getty Images

By: Jenkins Macedo, Editor/Founder, INDESEEM; Date: 02.28.2016

The US and Russia has finally decided that they can settle their selfish difference over their so-called national security interests in Syria and the rest of the region, after a recent report suggests that over 250,000 people have been killed since the Syrian war started about 5 years ago.

Whenever I see images of the Syrian war, I can’t stop but remember the effects of the Liberian civil war, the war in Sierra Leone and the 1995 massacre of Liberian refugees in southeastern Ivory Coast.

In early September 2015, the world reacted angrily to the images of Syrian refugees that were drowned, while trying to make their way to save haven in Europe. Most especially, the world reacted angrier to the photo of a toddler (a three year old Syrian boy) – Aylan Kurdi who was drowned along with members of his family. Neatly dressed with a very nice hair cut and his shoes still on his beautiful feet, it tears my heart that if I was a man in position of authority, I would have immediately ordered my forces like that of the UN to immediately intervene in Syria militarily with the mission to protect civilians at all cost both from friendly forces and the enemies.

You may notice how deeply hurt I am by the manner in which I have written this post in reaction to the new developments that we here in the US and other folks in Russia, think we can fix problems at all times. We sit and naively develop problems, blow it up into disproportionate parts, leave and just to come back to appear like the good Samaritan. But, we should realize that for every action there is an opposite or equal reaction. The seeds of destructions we sow today will grow and hunt us in the future.

The reason that I am particularly skeptical of the staged role that we (America) is playing in the Syrian civil war is particularly informed by the role we played in the 13 – years bloody, nonsensical civil war that completely annihilated over 500,000 Liberians and displaced over 2 million people. I don’t need to narrate the genesis of the Liberian civil war, but everyone knows that America intensely facilitated the war and drew back when things got out of hand.

First, they (the US Government) provided the escape of Charles Taylor to break a maximum-security prison in Massachusetts with the brilliance of the current so-called President of Liberia who along with many other American-Liberians effectively lobbied the support of the US Congress to support the NPFL rebel forces. Taylor, who led the NPFL force backfired from the initial mission – to overthrow Samuel Doe and prepare for election, decided that he wanted to be president. His greed and evil mindset and attempts to destabilize the region led to the civil war in neighboring Sierra Leone, cross borders attacks against refugees in Guinea and the support of civil rebellion in Ivory Coast.

With Charles Taylor’s ambition to become president of Liberia after months of progressive and successful military offenses against government forces, which resulted to his forces capturing about 75% of the country, which included strategic natural resources including timber, gold and diamonds, rubber, etc. He became determine to violate the US-supported and “classified”mission in Liberia, which provided both military hardware and other logistical support for the NPFL rebel forces during the initial stage of the civil war. With this mindset, his forces were divided and Prince Johnson, one of the initial commanders of the NPFL forces decided that he wanted to stay with the US-led mission to overthrow the government, bring Samuel Doe to justice and facilitate a free and fair election.

Fast forward, overnight in Monrovia, Prince Johnson’s INFPL forces were airlifted with logistical support of the US and early in the morning his forces magically appeared behind lines of government forces into the heart of Monrovia and over-running the defense ministry and other government institutions in the same vicinity killing elite soldiers at dawn, looting, and raiding the government weapon depots. With military assistance from Guinea, the government forces were tactically able to repelled INPFL forces from parts of central Monrovia across one of the major bridges effectively placing the City of Monrovia, name after President James Monroe, into months of siege by rebel forces loyal to both Charles Taylor on one hand and Prince Johnson on the other hand.

Again, with the deception of ECOWAS facilitated in part by the US Embassy in Monrovia, Prince Johnson captured Samuel Doe, while trying to escape Liberia under an agreement with ECOWAS. Johnson got words from his US collaborators that plan was that Doe was trying to escape the country. With that Intel available, Johnson and some of his forces captured and killed President Doe in public.

WARNING: This video contains disturbing image. In this video, you can clearly hear Prince Y. Johnson making a radio call to his collaborators at the US Embassy beginning from 1:02.. “Tango” was the code name for the US and “Sunshine” is his (Johnson’s) code name and he indicated that he wanted to speak with the US Ambassador.

 

However, before the final execution of the president, Prince Johnson made several calls to his contacts at the US Consulate that he had captured the president and was awaiting their instruction. Foolishly, during the call there was a BBC journalist at the scene who witnessed the tortures and subsequent death, which was videotape. So, it was not surprising that his contact at the US Consulate wasn’t answering because they didn’t now want to be involved as he was commanded to capture and not kill.

But the facts remains unchanged that we (Americans) put our noses in other people’s businesses and when things fall apart, we park our luggage and leave. That is what we do and that is why the war in Syria is partly our fault and that is why President Assad has to stay to make sure that his country and people are not executed like rats when jihadist take over.

A classic example of how the traces of war are compelling in places like Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. Today, Somalia and Libya are two of the most dangerous places to live. In both countries, the traces of our military industrial complexes are compelling. We sowed seeds of hatred, war and death and today those areas are total mayhem.

We facilitated the removal of folks we call – the bad guys and have practically no clue what to do next and in the so-called name of “democracy”, we create a system that becomes so vulnerable that within months and few years collapse under our feet, while we shift gears and point our fingers that other way casting the blames on others. In Somalia, extremists came and fill that gap and the same occur in Iraq after the massive army of Saddam fled.

We had no solid plan to try to bring those folks back and de-institutionalize them and try to rehabilitate them into another system, but rather, those same folks went and form jihadist group 7 times wicked. The same trend occurs in Libya under the leadership of the so-called removal of Gaddafi. Today, Libya is a fragmented state run by militias and warlords on one hand and a pseudo government with no centralized control over the militia.

So, why would anyone be surprise that Russia is trying to protect her interest in Syria. Why would it surprise anyone that we continually try to support and protect our interest in other countries like South Korea, Israel, Turkey, Taiwan, etc.? Russia has long insisted that the problem in Syria has to be solved diplomatically.

We rejected that and forged more towards facilitating a rebellion in support of the rebels that are very diverse and lack focus and clear mission. We continue to send special forces to the rebels held areas for training and the provisions of logistics and other forms of tactical support, while Russia on the other hand was talking more towards finding a diplomatic solution four years before their intervention alongside the Assad regime.

If I was to asked myself this question, who wanted a more sustain and peaceful process to the Syrian crisis prior to the escalation of the conflict or even after? Russia! We spoke one language and that was regime change when the initial language of the Syrian revolution was – reform. We effectively change the discourse of the Syrian revolution through social engineering and surgically proclaim war as the ground for regime change over peaceful and diplomatic process.

We became skeptical of that and we are still skeptical of that. Today, we realized that Syria is not Libya where we just had our own way. For most part, Gaddafi did not do a good job sustaining a great friendship with some of his key allies. If he could have done that, his removal would have taken longer or unlikely. The Syrian president maintains that if there should be a leadership change, that request must come from the Syrian people and not America, France or the UK or even Saudi Arabia or Turkey, which has the tendency of support these same jihadist groups. The war in Syria is a complex war and doing a stakeholders analysis would therefore generate a massive report with complex networks structures.

In the midst of all these perplexity there could have been one group that could have at least make a unify force that brings the mayhems in Syria to a halt if not complete and that group is the United Nations (UN).

Syria was admitted as a member of the UN on October 24, 1945 and as a member state has the legal right for the UN to intervene in matters to protect civilian. The UN over the last 5 years had done practically nothing substantial to bring the civil war to an end. As I stated in the case of Liberia, at some point, about 15,000 UN Peace Keepers from around the world were sent to Liberia (a tiny country compared to Syria) to protect civilian as well as facilitate the process of peace. Why not Syria? Why has the UN completely fell on its belly like a sleeping boa constrictor that has just swollen a fully-grown deer? Why has the UN built a completely resistant cyst against itself that it has in a way facilitated the murder and executions of 470,000 people, which include countless children like Aylan Kurdi and thousands more who’s stories go untold.

These questions and many more disturb me every now and than and I wonder to ask myself, this could be one of my children? As Aylan Kurdi lie motionless on the Turkish beach and as the waters of the Mediterranean Sea washed against his body, it sends chills throughout my body that an innocent child and his family and many others have to died this way, while we watch, wait and see and than react later.

The Syrian people do not need us to watch. They need us to act and the process of acting requires us to stop support sides and take the people at heart. It is the Syrian people that matter. Not Assad, not the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), not even IS and their collaborators.

We must change our perspective on Syria. Russia is not the enemy. The US is not an enemy to Russia. So, whatever the Plan B that John Kerry referenced yesterday, it better be something that makes sense for humanity, because we can no longer sit back and allow federalist to impose their will on us. Americans are not people who like war. We are a peaceful people and if we believe in that mentality, at least I do for most part, than it is time for us to question some of the bogus policies that is only meant to make the world unsafe not only for us – Americans, but for Libyans, Syrians, Liberians, Iraqis, Afghans, Somalian, Sierra Leonean, etc.

The UN needs to man up and take a more forceful role to effect the ceasefire not just to monitor and observe all parties observance of the ceasefire, but to have a total force presence that is capable militarily to enforce compliance, if not, combat as needed. The United Nations has truly surprise me and I am wondering if it is worth what it is called. The rest is left with you the readers to fathom in.

God bless the people of Syria and may all the little ones who are starving, thirsty, needs medicine, suffering from the untold horrors of war – find peace, love and life. For us, we are grateful that we have peace and it is our duty as shared universal citizen of planet earth to reflect this same peace to others. We need to push our governments to stop what they are doing. They have done so many things wrong and it is now time that they stop.

To the UN, do your job! It is your responsibility to facilitate the peace process in Syria and other conflict zones. Whether or not members of the UN Security Council are at war with themselves on issues of Syria, there should be a way to have a peacekeeping force in Syria irrespective of whether or not the US and her allies accepts that Assard stays or Russia.

 

Where the Governors Got it Wrong: Resettling Syrian Refugees in the United States

Source: Jakarta Post

“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.”

Overview

In the last few days, the world witness one of the horrible terror attacks against humanity – the terrorists attack in Paris, which led to 129 people dead. Terror has no place in this world and now it is the time for us to unite to fight terror to the end. Those killed in Paris and other parts of the world were killed because they were free people. People who believe in freedom, liberty, justice, and free will.

The terror attack in Paris unearth issues that need to be addressed diplomatically to bring to an end the Syrian crisis. It is now time to unite our forces and energies against this terror, which means focusing our strategies, tactics, resources, and man power as a united force against IS.

Nevertheless, in the midst of all this people are victims and Syrians and those of North Africa are the primary victims of terrorism. Syrians in particular had to go through all the hardships to escape terror at the front of their homes.

They walked thousands of miles, starve in most instances for days, weeks and months just to survive this terror. Many could not make the journey as they involuntarily fled from their homes. No one really wants to leave the place they consider home and everyone who is a refugee knows that that is a fact even if they are resettled to heaven. Home will always be home and nothing earthly can replace it. The meaning attached to home are not easily transfer to places refugees eventually seek refuge. It takes time to call a new place home.

Source: Rescue

It is not the time for us to turn away from those who fled violence and terror in their home country. The moment we stop helping others is the moment we deny our humanity and undermine our values, principles and all that we are and so dearly believe in. Today, they are refugees and seeking our help – tomorrow we could be in need of something else and we might seek help from others.

The United States is a great nation not because we have powerful weapons and large guns. We are great as a people because of the values, principles and believes that we stand and live for. I do believe that we can do this. We can shelter, provide medicine, food, clothes and peace of mind for Syrian refugees that need our help.

The United States refugee resettlement program is one of the rigorous resettlement programs in the world as far as I know and experienced. I had conducted over 10 different presentations across this country creating awareness of refugees’ issues and also about how the US Refugee Resettlement process works. If you are interested, please click below.

The US Refugee Resettlement Program

Refugees are not just taken out of a refugee camp and displaced setting and resettled to a third country. The process of resettlement takes between 1-2 years and even longer depending on several factors. The processes listed as “durable solution” to end “refugeeness” are a). local integration (in the primary host country), b). repatriation (going back home) and resettlement (relocated to a third country.

Resettlement is the last resort of all three durable solutions and the most preferred of all the three options. Thus, before discussing how the US Resettlement Program works for the benefits of Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and his colleagues from other states across the political divide and for those at the senate who plans or are planning to pass a legislature to restrict or block the resettlement of Syrian refugees to the United States.

IT SHOULD BE KNOWN THAT STATES DO NOT HAVE ANY LEGAL OR LEGISLATIVE SIGNIFICANCE TO DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT REFUGEES CAN BE ADMITTED TO THE UNITED STATES AND FOR THAT MATTER IN THEIR RESPECTIVE STATES. The admissions of refugees in the United States is the sole responsibility of the Federal Government of the United States.

a. Local Integration

When refugees flee from their home country and enters another country in most cases bordering their home country. They are in most instances welcomed and registered by the appropriate refugee agency of the country.

Usually, this prior registration process is jointly implemented by the government of the host country and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Thus, the point here is that, if well coordinated, each refugee is registered and provided with some sort of identification. At that point, they officially gain refugee status. The process of local integration in the primary host country is a long process and also depends on the state hosting the refugee population and thee refugee themselves.

For the state, aspects that are considered include, but are not limited to the population, economy, national security, the refugee population itself, etc. For effective refugee management, the moment refugees are admitted, the process to find a durable solution should start immediately, because you want people to settle and live freely.

However, local integration in the host country should be encourage since refugees can easily transition back home once the situation, which caused them to flee cease to exist in their country of origin.

Also, one reason while local integration should be encouraged is because in most instances the primary host country shares similar cultural and ethnic diversity of the seeking refuge. This is not to say that the relationship is perfect, but people relationships cross national borders.

However, one reason why most refugees don’t seem to choose local integration as a durable solution is that, they are easily targeted due to cross borders attacks. I am not very sure if they might be the case in Libya and Syria, but in West Africa for example, rebels from Liberia were accused of staging attacks of refugee camps in Guinea and Sierra Leone. Similar incidence were reported in the Great Lakes Region in Eastern Africa. If well planned, local integration in the primary country of refuge can be an effective solution to cease refugee status.

b). Repatriation

Unlike local integration, repatriation is done when a refugee decides to return to his or her home country when the condition of fear, which causes the refugee situation cease to exist back home. Again, like local integration, voluntary repatriation is done at the free will of the refugee.

However, if the conditions back in their home country for which they fled cease to exist and refugee population still refuse to return home voluntarily and local integration is rejected by the refugee population and the resettlement isn’t possible, their refugee status can terminated because cessation clause in the host country’s refugee policy specifies that “once the condition of fear for which the refugee fled his or her country cease to exist” their refugee status can be terminated by the government of the host country.

The good thing about voluntary repatriation is that, if well planned, returnees (i.e. former refugees) can be relocated back to their communities and start the rehabilitation, reintegration and reconstruction process back in their country. In most cases in the event of a voluntary repatriation, refugees returning home are provided with some assistance (financial or logistical) to help facilitate transition when they return.

c). Resettlement

Within the refugee cycle, resettlement is the optimal choice, but the most difficult stage of the durable solution to the refugee crisis. Usually, the initial determination to resettle a refugee family is a product of several processes. First, in the traditional sense; that is, resettlement that is initiated from the UNHCR is conducted after several interviews (aka counseling sections with a refugee/a refugee family) and a UNHCR Case Worker.

When it is determined by the UNHCR staff that a refugee or a refugee family life is at stake in the host country and the prospect of returning home is unlikely, that individual and his family are recommended to the consulate of a refugee resettlement country. Once that process gets started, the consulate in question takes over the process and all files relating to that individual and his/her family members are turned over to the consulate office responsible for resettlement processing. This process according to the US Refugee Resettlement Program is known as Priority I.

Secondly, for humanitarian reasons, refugees can be resettled to a third country. That is, special humanitarian concerns could warrant the US to issue the admission of refugees in the United States. The current humanitarian crisis of Syrian refugees falls into this bracket of the US Refugee Resettlement program known as Priority II.

Thirdly, another way a refugee is resettled to a third country (third country in this narrative means resettlement country and usually means a developed country that can provide the needs of the refugee family that is consider for resettlement) at least for the case of the US Refugee Resettlement Program is through Family Reunification, which is Priority III.

In this refugee resettlement program,refugees are admitted to the United States through a family member (parents), spouse and unmarried child under 21 years of age, who was a refugee themselves and are either a permanent resident or citizen of the United States. Even given that, the person being applied for by his relative in the US has to demonstrate refugee status in the country where the application is sent to the US Consulate for processing.

Thus, now that we know that refugees are not just resettled once they leave their country, even though the case of Syrian refugees could challenge this convention, because we have thousands of people landing on the shores of Europe. It is paramount for countries that are interested in resettling Syrian refugees to coordinate their efforts and also work with those countries like Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, etc to see how those already undergoing some sort of biometric processing could be resettled.

Also, the massive influx of refugees in Europe is also creating a humanitarian crisis and in this case, the UNHCR and other agencies needs to work with the governments of resettlement countries to start processing refugees for resettlement, but first addressing their immediate needs.

Now, with a clear picture of what resettlement is like and the various types of resettlement listed in the US Resettlement Program, I will now focus on more specifically how the resettlement process, irrespective of which type works.

Source: US Department of State

Step # 1. Overseas Processing Entity (OPE)/UNHCR

US Refugees resettlement is a tough process. The resettlement process starts with initial interview of the refugee applicant by a UNHCR staff or a staff member of an Overseas Processing Entity (OPE), a contracting firm of either the UN Refugee agency or the Department of State or the country initiating the resettlement process.

The goal of the interview with OPE or UNHCR staff is to work with the refugee seeking to be resettled to make sure that their records are right and to also determine if their case merits resettlement. This is usually called pre-screening. Some refugees get denial letters from this process if they failed to justify why they need to be resettled or denial could be if their names are red flag or had prior criminal records that could serve as a ground to deny resettlement.

All along the resettlement process, prospective refugees to be resettled get letters of approval after each stage of the resettlement process. However, the three most important stages are during the pre-screening, interview with the US Immigration staff and after the results of medical examination. Now a days, refugees don’t get deny because of their prior medical conditions. This used to be the case in the past in the early 1980s, 1990s and early part of 2000, but things change after 2003.

That is, refugee application for resettlement has to justify why resettlement is the optimal choice over local integration and repatriation. Simply put why can’t you integrate in your current host country and why can’t you return home? If the responses to these two questions along with other questions that may be asked by the interviewer are not satisfactory or there are misleading information in the story-line, they can be denied resettlement and their case will remain at that level…done!!

However, if they have a solid reason why resettlement is the optimal choice over other options, than a staff of the OPE will schedule a second interview. This time to prepare and finalize paperwork after which it will be forwarded to the US Consulate and a State Department or Department of Homeland Security staff will schedule an immigration interview, we is thorough and comprehensive and scary, at least to the refugee applicants.

Step # 2. Interview with USCIS Staff

Typically, the wait time between the last interview at OPE to the interview held by member of United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) staff from the US Consulate usually takes between 3-4 months interval. This off-course depends on the case load available.

This time doesn’t account for relatively 6-7 months wait period going through the OPE Pre-screening processes. Prior to meeting with the USCIS/State Department staff, name checks are conducted to make sure that the individual is not flag in anyways and has no prior arrest warrant or anything that could cause national security concerns once admitted in the United States. Once that is done, the staff of the US Consulate conducts a face-to-face interview only with the individual and or his family and member and a decision of their refugee resettlement application are verbally announced at the end of the interview follow by a letter.

Once it is determined that they have legitimate reasons of fear for which resettling in the United States surpass local integration in the primary country of refuge and repatriation is not possible, their case are approved at the scene or few days letter and an admissions letter issued by the US Consulate. If their stories are inconsistent or information became available is security concerns, the staff more reason to have their resettlement application in the US denied.

The result of such process is made know in a letter signed by the US Department of State official who conducted the interview for which you were under oath. Not every refugee is interview by the FBI and or CIA. The determination as to whether or not an individual refugee applicant seeking resettlement in the United States will be interview by one or either agency is based on the national origin and the high risk country outlined by the US Department of State and the US Department of Homeland Security (USDHS).

Step # 3. Medical Examination and Screening

This stage is where all the medical conditions for resettlement in the US are met. It is a comprehensive medical examination, which involves physical, blood works, malaria treatment (if the refugee is originating from a malaria-induced eco-region), etc. About 15-30 years ago, refugees applicants used to be denied due to HIV + status, but now with the advancement in medicine against the fight with HIV, the conditions for denial based on HIV + status is no longer effective and outdated and those refugees who are HIV positive are provided treatment starting in the country of host until to arrive in the US.

Step # 4. Cultural Orientation

Cultural orientation is usually conducted by OPE or the appropriate agency contracted to educate newly “to be resettled” refugees to the United States. The cultural orientation class usually last for 14 days at the hourly duration of 7 hours daily. Trained educators go through every aspects of the American ways of life from accessing public transportation, to banking, how to dial 911, etc. A certificate of completion is awarded to each participant. Participation and completion of all classes/sections is mandatory to the resettlement process or you forfeit eligibility.

Step # 5. Travel Arrangements

This is one of the joyous stage as a refugee when you know that you are about to travel, but not just yet. At this stage, the airline ticket(s) are booked and you signed a promissory note to repay the money used to purchase the ticket on your behalf. Usually, repayments of the airline ticket is done through the resettlement agency in the US. However, each refugee can elect to send their checks or payment directly to the collection agency, which will most likely be the resettlement agency. Each refugee and or a refugee family is given about 12 months after arrival to start repayment. At least grace period is better than that of the student loan repayment. Lol!

Step # 6. The Resettlement Agency (US Based)

This stage is done without the prior consent of the refugee applicant. Resettlement agencies such as Catholic Charity, Church World Service, and Lutheran Immigrants and Refugees Service or Ascentria Care just to name a few are assigned refugees cases to facilitate the process of integration into American ways of life.

The resettlement agency prior to the arrival date of the refugee receives all the document on each family member per refugee family and start putting things together. Once the refugee and his family arrives, the agency helps with attaining SSN, State ID, process application for the Department of Homeland Security Work Authorization Card for the next three months, healthcare or health insurance, public library cards for those interested, schools and colleges, etc. Basically, it is expected that within 9-12 months, each resettled refugee family will be able to navigate the system and gradually start to face out of the resettlement agency. However, that is just talk as most refugees take more time to get adjusted to the system and be able to stand alone.

Step # 7. Departure to the United States

Once all of steps 1 to 6 are satisfied, it is that time that we can say good bye to friends on the refugee camp or displace center. It is usually a time of joy and sadness. Joy because as you look behind you once saw mayhem, but in front you finally see peace, peace of mind, love, happiness, and safety. Sadness because many of your friends and even family members are left behind at the refugee camp.

All departures transportation services are coordinated between the International Organization for Migration (IOM), UNHCR, TSA, and USDHS. Usually, refugees admitted to the United States are transported on regular transport planes accompanied by a convoy from IOM and in some cases UNHCR.

Each refugee is given a white plastic bag, which contains all their relevant documents sealed for US Immigration Official to open and evaluate for screening and verification purposes at the port of entry (i.e. where they first land in the US). At the immigration desk, each arriving refugee are further screened by the immigration official, biometrics are taken including photos and the sealed brown envelop taken and the admissions letter stamped and an I-94 issued. The I-94 is a legal entry document, which can be used until a green card/permanent resident card is mailed and returned once the refugee becomes a US Citizen.

Step # 8. In the US

At the port of entry, resettled refugees are met by a case manager or staff from the refugee resettlement agency and a family member, if they have one. From there, the resettlement agency takes charge and helps the newly resettled refugee integrate into the American society, which can be a long process depending on the individual, the resources that are available and their willingness to work things out as quickly as possible. The rest now becomes the normal routine.

In these processes, we collect significant amount of data can I share some light on whether or not someone is an extremist. The US has one of the rigorous resettlement screening processes in the world. If we allow ourselves to be carried away by fear because of IS and other islamic extremist entities, we only undermine our strengthen, the values and principles we stand for.

The Syrians people do need our fullest support and this is not the time to turn away from our neighbors when they need our hand.

So, Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, while the decision to resettle Syrian refugees in the United States is out of your power. The federal government has put in place a system with years of credible work that can yet be used to provide Syrian refugees with the assistance they need to resettle in the US and also ensure the American people that their safety is at the alter-most center of the process. I have written this post because I was a product of the US Refugee Resettlement Process and I am not a Terrorist.

An Open Response to “Tony Blair’s: The clear lesson of Iraq war”

Tony Blair
Tony Blair

Recently, Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of UK wrote an opinion piece in the CNN Opinions in which he still seems to maintain that the invasion of Iraq was inevitable and that he and George Bush’s acts of war were justified and that he (Tony Blair) literally found it “it hard to apologize for removing Saddam.”

We all know the main cause or causes for the invasion of Iraq and that as Blair maintains – was not because Saddam or Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and that neither Saddam and his regime facilitated directly or indirectly to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States.

The subject of the human costs of the war in Iraq was of significant interest to me, which facilitated contact with one of the senior researchers at Medact with the permission to use their published empirical data of the impacts of the war in Iraq on ordinary Iraqis.

This post is not in reflection of that work, but an open response to the recent opinion piece written by Former Prime Minister of the UK in the CNN Opinion. You can read his claims, positions and reflections leading to the war in Iraq and the consequences thereof.

With that being said, I will now focus the rest of this post to specifically address each points of reflection stated by Mr. Blair.

The source of the post that is being segmented here for discussion was taken from CNN.

Blair: “The actual lesson of Iraq is not complicated but clear. When you remove the dictator — no matter how vicious and oppressive — you end one battle only to begin another: How to stabilize and govern the country when the ethnic, tribal and particularly religious tensions are unleashed after the oppression has been lifted. This is the true lesson of both Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Macedo: I concur with you Tony that when a dictator is removed, it is more likely that a more vicious, barbaric and oppressive dictator comes into picture. That is true on so many levels because once suppressed one seems to pass on to others what they might have gone through themselves. While this view may be contested by others, we see one oppressor being replaced by another oppressor. it is just as the Bible says, if a demon is removed from you and you didn’t fill your heart and body with those of Christ, demons ten thousand times powerful and vicious than what you had before will occupy your body and spirit.

Thus, the people of Iraq did not call for their leader to be removed. You and George Bush Jr. lied on the pretext that Iraq had WMD, had links to Al-Qaeda and pose a national security threat to the US and her allies.

A war that started with lies can not end with truth. So, you can’t make what is lie true, because it isn’t. Unlike the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan had a reason, which was justified, given the terror mentality, ideology and practices of the Talibans.

Blair: “But it doesn’t mean that it is right to keep the dictator in place. Or possible. Because the lesson of what used to be called the “Arab Spring” — beginning in 2011 — is that with young and alienated populations deprived of political rights, these dictatorships no longer had the capability of maintaining control.”

Macedo: The question that one should be asking Tony is that at what period does a dictator becomes an enemy? At what point being a dictator is okay in the national security interest of the UK or the US, since as Tony suggested, “doesn’t mean that it is right to keep the dictator in place?”

The list of dictators backed by Western Countries including the US and UK. At what point we are comfortable to walk at the palaces of dictators and at what point we feel confident to take them out? A dictator is always a dictator and we can not like one over the other because their means of governing contradicts our values and principles.

The situations of Arab Spring, whether that naming was coined by those of the Middle East and North Africa or by the West was such that most of the protestors were initially requesting for reform and not revolution. With external influences, the later became the status quo and language of the protestors over the former. Revolution became the slogan rather than reform. These paradox became especially complicated in Syria, which eventually led to the current mayhem.

Blair: “The real choice for the Middle East was, and is, reform or revolution. So when we come to reassess Iraq, it is possible to disagree strongly with the decision to remove Saddam Hussein in 2003, to be highly critical both of the intelligence on WMD and the planning for the aftermath, and yet still be glad that he is gone.”

Macedo: The decision to remove Saddam Hussein is in no way connected to the situations of the Arab Spring. First and foremost, there weren’t any protest in Iraq requesting for reform or removal? If those existed, which I believe did, the people of Iraq had the will and if they wanted such change, they could have done just that and wouldn’t request the UK and US for any assistance.

You may be gratified that removing Saddam was better and the right thing to do irrespective of whether or not WMDs were found or not is still thinking that your acts were justified even when 7+ billion people now living, know that you lied and you are an idiot who fails to acknowledge when he goes wrong.

Blair: “Indeed, had he and his two sons been running Iraq in 2011 when the regional revolts began, it is hard to see how the upheaval would not have spread to Iraq and hard to see that he would not have behaved like his fellow Baathist Bashar al-Assad rather than like the presidents of Egypt or Tunisia who stood down. The probability is that Hussein would have tried to cling to power by whatever means no matter how brutal.”

Macedo: Rightly, you can’t predict the past because it is irrelevant and insignificant; given that it is the past.Trying to argue your case by insinuating an irrelevant case building on what if in the past, demonstrates that you are not only mentally incompetent, but also a very unstable individual.

We can most certainly learn from the past and what the youth and children of today learned from your crude and unacceptable behavior and the unwillingness to accept responsibility by lying for hidden motives, is not to follow bad leaderships you and President Bush put us into.

The main reason we have upheavals today in the Middle East and elsewhere in North Africa is practically because of people like you. Failed leaders who think they can commit crimes and get away with it. I bet that the main inner reason you wrote this post is because of the desire to free yourself, but relented. You and Bush were wrong and we know that you lied!

Blair: “In Iraq, we would have had a leader from the Sunni minority keeping out the Shia majority; in Syria, of course, we have the opposite — a Shia-backed leader from the minority keeping out a Sunni majority. The consequences of this would have been vast.”

Macedo: I find it troubling reading your scripts, which speaks more into your personality when you used the words “we would have had” or “we have the opposite.” These words speak into the attitude of control. It is always what we want and that is what we should see in distant countries.

Whether or not Shia or Sunni are at war against themselves is not ours to impose who “we” think can settle the scores. Everywhere we put our soldiers and politics, we see war, conflicts, instability, more violence and terror and also more refugees and internally displaced people.

Remember, that the peoples of the Middle East lived together for thousands of years before we even existed in the west. How did they managed to survive the total mayhem and chaos you are describing is surprising.

Blair: “Of the four nations in a state of trauma today in the region — Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya — only one has a government that is fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (with whatever difficulty), is doing so with full international support, has its leader recognized by both Saudi Arabia and Iran, and one who visits the White House. It is correct, as Fareed Zakaria’s documentary describes, that Iraq has been hugely expensive in lives lost and money spent. I understand completely the anger and anxiety this causes.”

Macedo: It is interesting that Blair figure that the mess he and Bush instituted brought no good to anyone not even the people of Iraq. Suicide bombings happens anytime today in Iraq. No one is safe! Not even a baby that is born today.

Iraq is like a melting pot that is at the brink of collapse to islamic extremists of all sorts. All because Blair and Bush decided that starting a decade of war would be the right thing to do to remove Saddam out of the picture. Saddam has being long dead and gone and still the situations in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East (which we assumed at the time of our invasion) would have turned to be good are even worst than ever before.

In the midst of all this are the innocent people killed and displaced because of the stupidity of two empty headed individuals. Yes, the war in Iraq is expensive, but more importantly and as a reminder, it resulted into the deaths of thousands of innocent souls that could have live even with Saddam still there.

I bet you on that one. So, don’t try to romanticize your evil feelings by suggesting that you “completely understand the anger and anxiety that are associated with the games you and Bush played on us and the lives of those killed in Iraq. You should be lucky that you and Bush have not being indicted for world crimes and crimes against humanity for the atrocities committed in Iraq based on lies!!

Blair: “But we do not yet know the cost of Syria or Libya. In both cases, we sought regime change. And in Libya we achieved it through military power. I make no criticisms of these decisions. I know better than most how hard they are.”

Macedo: Yes, I agree that you know “better” than most how hard they are because you didn’t push your head hard enough to thoroughly evaluate the issues before launching attacks in Iraq.

The west sought and pushed for regime change in both Libya and Syria. The initial perspectives were reform, but the languages you use from your palaces had an influence on the moment. The cost of war or regime change in Libya is clearly known and even my little son can articulate that to me – failure, madness, mayhem, more extremisms, and eventually a failed state with the lab full of democracy failures.

All amount to waste of time and resources as we continue to see Libya shredded like toilet paper between various terror and militia groups on one side of the leadership vacuum and a failed pro-western, supposingly democracy-induced government that is practically worthless and powerless.Right in the middle you have innocent souls hurt, killed and starving.

Rightly said that you can’t make criticisms of their mistakes to remove Gaddaffi with force and now Libya turns out to be just like Iraq – mayhem, upheavals, more terrors, and killings, while the people continue to suffer more than 10 times before and you sit and write crap.

Blair: “However, it is not immediately plain that policy on Libya and Syria has been more successful than Iraq. As for ISIS, it is true that it was formed after Hussein’s removal. But it is also true by 2009, al Qaeda and other jihadist groups were largely beaten in Iraq, and it was in Syria — after 2011 — where ISIS came to prominence and became the threat it is today.”

Macedo: There isn’t any policy in Libya and Syria. There wasn’t any! All there were was regime change at the favor of the west and not ideally for the people of those countries. We needed people we could control so that we get constant supply of their oil because for some reason the oil leaking down our elbows after the gulf war were running out so we needed more.

For Libya, Ghaddafi had a long standing prize that we wanted to paid with dignity. Ghaddafi long echo that he was fighting not just against the “true” protestors, but against those of islamic extremism.We overlooked that and facilitated his quick surgical, with out any legitimate solution post-Ghaddafi and the end result today is a failed Libyan state run between several extremists groups including IS and others as well as militia in the mountains along the coastal plains and pseudo western-back regime.

Blair: “I accept some of the strictures about the planning in Iraq, which had centered on the consequences of humanitarian disaster post-invasion and what would happen to the institutions of the country or if Hussein used WMD. But, part of the reason why Iraq became very difficult was that we did not perceive the full scale of the underlying extremism and its attendant violence. Where this type of extremism operates, there is a limit to what planning can do. They need to be fought against.”

Macedo: I agree that you and Bush because of pool planning and a full assessment of the large-scale impacts of the war on ordinary Iraqis that you bear the full responsibility and not some of the responsibilities. Saddam did not use WMDs because he did not had one in the first place.

Given that you keep alluding to something that didn’t exist after the facts are now know uncovering the bunch of lies told to us, it seems like you have not fully agree with yourself on this moral responsibility.

The difficulties to fight extremisms should not limit our ability to infiltrate their intelligence to facilitate our quests to defeat them. Suggesting that the nature and manner of extremism and how they operates would limits our ability to defeat them precisely undermined our capacity to fight terror and also suggest that we are incompetent.

Blair: “Underlying all of this is something Western policy is not yet wanting to admit: There is a deep-rooted problem originating in the Middle East — the product of a toxic mix of abused religion and bad politics — that has given rise to an ideology based on radical Islamism and that is now a global challenge.”

Macedo: This is the crust of the problem and this is the very reason we should be very cautious not to see everything arising from the Middle East in the eyes of bullets. Diplomacy well played and planned could be used to work out most of all the issues we find chaotic today and most of those we sought to settle with guns. Overall, we can not impose our will and values on others and doing that exemplifies the characteristics of dictatorial regimes.

The people of the Middle East have eyes, ears, brains, etc like us and they know and understands what they want. Countries in the Middle East have battle extremism for decades and they know how to work out their problems with or without our bullets.

Blair: “Of course, some will say we should never have gone into Iraq because that gave the extremists an opportunity. But my point is that had we never removed Hussein, it is not at all clear that we would be in a better position today post-2011 — or that he would not have used the erosion of sanctions (and, back then, $100 a barrel oil) to go back to his old games. Not until the Middle East has gone through its painful transition to modernity will we be able to pass a full judgment on the effects of decision to go to war in 2003.”

Macedo: Tony, the decision to go to war in 2003 was wrong. It was the wrong war on the wrong time, place and people. Everything about going to Iraq was wrong. It is not in your power and control to decide how the people of a country or region live. You and Bush should be indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. You lie for the wrong reason and allow our ladies and gentlemen to died not mentioning the thousands of civilians who lost their lives and millions today displaced as refugees. There is nothing else that we need to wait for to determine how our involvements and roles in Iraq translate into promises we made. We failed because the war in Iraq was wrong and shouldn’t have happened in the first place. We Americans allow our leaders to go unpunished even when they lied. But those who lied and hurt others have their consciences to live with and Blair writing this post is just few steps aways to fully acknowledging that his role in the 2003 war in Iraq was wrong.

Blair: “But when I think of the hundreds of thousands of victims of Hussein — the bloodshed and instability his wars caused the region and his people — then, for all the mistakes that were made and for which those of us involved have always apologized, I think history will be more balanced in its judgment.”

Macedo: History is never balance because those things that constitute his-story are unbalance. Also, suggesting that your sins are equal to his sins makes you no different from the dictator you dethroned anyways. Tony, your closing statement is not as convincing that would be expected from a educated person like you. The war in Iraq was wrong and you must fully take responsibility for your actions.

Reasonable concern about domestic security? Islamophobia?


By Dr. Richard Schmitt, Author of Out of the Woods


The comment by a presidential candidate that he would not allow a Muslim to run for president, has raised an interesting controversy. Shall we say that this candidate has reasonable concerns about our domestic security and the maintenance of our Constitution and political system? Or shall we say that his statement was a clear example of  Islamophobia? Or, to speak plainly, a clear example of racism?

Those who agree with the presidential candidate point to what they see as the unwillingness of Muslims in the US to assimilate. Many Muslims maintain their native language, many Muslim women cover their heads, among Muslims gender roles are different from what they are in other parts of America.

But none of those differentiates Muslims in America from other groups. Most immigrants hold on to their native languages, sometimes because their English is not so good and sometimes because their language of origin is dear and beloved. Religious Jews will cover their heads but are not, for that reason, accused of unwillingness to assimilate. Women hailing from India often wear saris but no one thinks that politicians, whose families immigrated from India, are therefore not qualified for holding public office. Bobby Jindal, governor of Lousiana, is actually at the moment running for president.

Distrust of Muslims is also often justified by saying that they want to impose sharia law on everyone in the United States. But again, think of all the others groups, that we regard as good Americans, whose religion imposes on them specific rules that are quite different from those of mainstream America. Think, for instance, of the dietary laws followed by orthodox Jews. Think about the rules promulgated by the Catholic Church about families, divorce, reproduction, the role of women in the family.

Here we have two examples of reasons given to justify special treatment of Muslims. But these reasons would also demand that other religious groups such as Jews and Catholics should be excluded from being candidates for political office. But the same reasons are not used to exclude Jews and Catholics.

It is currently customary to call these prejudiced attitudes “Islamophobia.” That has a clean, clinical sound to it like “acrophobia” (fear of heights) or “agoraphobia” (fear of open spaces). Such fears may be irrational but should be treated more like a disease than a moral failure.

But it is clear that excluding Muslims from our democracy is not merely irrational, but is utterly reprehensible like any other example of racism.


This opinion piece was published at Out of the Woods and was retrieved on 10/09/2015 and republished here for educational and information purposes only.


 

 

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