It is just past the time of year when we assess where we have been and where we might be going spiritually and humanly as we look around and try to be optimistic. But there has been so much dramatic change to witness and digest recently.
It has been only 15 months since ISIS began its reign of terror by beheading journalists to get our attention. Now, they burn people alive and blow up cherished ancient ruins while posting it all online with their Hollywood-like techniques. Shocking people seems to add to their recruitment numbers. How sick.
How sad it is that ISIS is making war with American military equipment left in the hands of the useless Iraqi army when U.S. President Barack Obama withdrew the American soldiers. What a mistake that war was and who could blame Obama for pulling the plug on everything bad that president George W. Bush’s dumb decision to get rid of Saddam Hussein led to.
ISIS is a mean and nasty collection of religiously motivated soldiers. They fight and are willing to sacrifice their lives in a flash for what they see as glory. While much of the rest of the world sees them as fanatics, the bottom line is we are in a battle with a real army that now holds real territory. This is an army with global reach and this is not some far away war. It has come to our own streets. Need we be reminded of the upcoming first anniversary of the terror attack at the War Memorial and Parliament?
ISIS is even a factor in our present election campaign. There is the military action Canada has taken against ISIS, which the Harper Conservatives have to defend against opposition promises to change Canada’s role. But that’s not the big thing. The big thing is the refugee crisis that eats away at our insides because our heads and our hearts may tell us different things.
There is no doubt ISIS and the migrant story go together as cause-and-effect – as does Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s impoverished brain, which ordered the gassing of his own people. What inhumanity prevails in the Middle East? Every day, it seems there are suicide bombers killing hundreds in a variety of countries. The lone wolf attacks and attempted attacks in the west, while not as frequent, are still deadly and chillingly scary. We watch and read the news and are rendered speechless. We quickly think about something else because we are frightened.
When your enemy knows no bounds, it’s hard to see a good ending. It is not like there is a chance of some future peace table where people will reason and compromise and share territory. Reason and reasonable dialogue are not part of this equation.
This summer, for the first time, a Pentagon official described the present ISIS threat as a perpetual state of war. It is the kind of terminology the Obama administration never uses. On this one, I will go with the Pentagon.
And, in the middle of a perpetual state of war with ISIS, the Obama administration signs a nuclear agreement with Iran, which sponsors a string of other terrorist groups. It is difficult to have confidence the agreement is a good thing. It took too long to achieve and there are too many clauses that open too many doors. And, with loopholes galore, Iran also successfully negotiates ending sanctions, which means more money for terrorists.
How can Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry have confidence in the agreement when, just days after it was signed, the supreme leader of Iran led crowds chanting, “Death to America, Death to Israel”? Kerry lamely acknowledged it wasn’t helpful.
Sadly, with a new year just beginning, there is so much more to keep us up at night. These worries can easily make us uneasy and fearful. The Middle East is a tinder box, and Israel faces even more enemies at every gate.
If there is any consolation, it is that Iran is Shia and ISIS is Sunni and they hate each other. It’s a good question who they hate more. Is it each other or is it Israel?
In today’s tumultuous Middle East, there is only a desperately hopeful answer to that question.