How the Islamic State Became So Powerful

Islamic State Militants with a scud missile at a parade

Islamic State Militants with a scud missile at a parade

Lately the U.S. news networks have all been covering the Islamic State militant crisis in Iraq and Syria. The situation has progressed so quickly that the U.S. has “had to” authorize airstrikes in Iraq to halt the Islamic State advance. Each day we find out more information about this group and their horrific acts against humanity. U.S. Congressmen and women talk about the need for a greater military presence to stop this “cancer” from spreading any further into the already unstable region. President Obama has made remarks about increasing this airstrike campaign in Iraq in order to combat the terrorist organization. All the while everyone seems to have forgotten how this group got to be so influential and powerful in the first place.

Islamic State Militants with a Tank at a parade

Islamic State Militants with a Tank at a parade

How did a group of radical Islamic State militants get the necessary firepower to overrun two countries almost simultaneously? They got their weapons from the most powerful military in the world of course, the United States. Our U.S. military spent trillions of tax dollars on creating, training and arming Iraq’s military with the most modern military equipment. The plan was to leave Iraq’s own people in-charge of their military so that terrorist organizations (like the Islamic State) could not overrun their country again. However, shortly after leaving Iraq’s military in charge of security, the Islamic State militants began attacking their bases and acquiring all of their weapons. Iraq’s military abandoned their posts at the first sign of conflict and of course, left behind all of their brand new U.S. military equipment.

Islamic State Militants hauling away abandoned military equipment

Islamic State Militants hauling away abandoned military equipment

But why does the Islamic State even exist? Didn’t the U.S. destroy all of the terrorist networks in the Middle East over the past decade? No, obviously they didn’t. Here’s what they did do. The U.S. spent trillions of dollars and more than a decade occupying the Middle East only to find that it is the main source of funding for the very terrorists it has been fighting. Airstrikes, drones and other military assets that were used against the people of the Middle East for the sake of ending terrorism have only caused resentment and anger towards the U.S. The result of this campaign has been the creation of a monster. Islamic State militants are now terrorizing their country and undermining everything that the U.S. has done. It seems to me that occupying a foreign nation and battering it with military equipment is not the best solution to ending terrorism after all.

Now I hear that Obama is authorizing airstrikes in Iraq and possibly Syria in the future. I can’t help but wonder why. How is it that this country has not learned from its mistakes? The longer that we occupy the Middle East with our military, the stronger the resistance becomes. The more military equipment that we send to the Middle East, the more powerful the resistance becomes. After more than a decade of war I wonder if we are still fighting terrorists. Or is it possible that now we’re fighting people who are just sick and tired of our occupation of their country. People who have been so battered by our military that they will do anything necessary to get rid of us. The next time that we hear about the Islamic State being a “cancer” in the Middle East, maybe we should ask what caused that cancer in the first place.

Thanks for stopping by. Happy Monday everyone.

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The fight for Ukraine

Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych

Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin

 

 

 

 

 

If you have been watching the news lately then you’ve likely heard about the dispute between Ukraine and Russia. The Crimean peninsula is at the epicenter of the dispute. Russia proclaimed that the people of Crimea were free to defect from Ukraine and rejoin Russia as a new territory. Ukraine, along with several other nations, was once part of the Soviet Union. With Russia as its governing power, the Soviet Union united parts of Eastern Europe. However, after the fall of the Soviet Union, countries like Ukraine reclaimed their independence. The problem is that during the fall of the Soviet Union, many Russian citizens who migrated to Ukraine were now stuck living in a non-Russian country.

After years of living under Ukrainian governance, the most pro-Russian region of Ukraine (the Crimean peninsula) decided that it no longer wanted to be part of Ukraine. However it was not until Ukrainian citizens began to protest against their corrupt government that the pro-Russian Crimean citizens decided to remove themselves entirely from Ukraine. With Russian support, the Crimean peninsula was quickly overrun by its citizens and Russian troops in disguise. Now Ukraine faces two issues at the same time. First, its citizens took to the streets in violent protests, fighting for new leadership. Second, the people of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula sided with Russia and aligned themselves with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Ukraine is facing a serious economic crisis now that its resources have been spread out and its government is in a state of uncertainty, unable to do business.

Now, after a few months of conflict, Vladimir Putin has claimed that he is pulling his troops back to the Russian border. While he never formally claimed that he sent troops into Ukraine to take Crimea, everyone watching knew that his forces were present. Now it’s estimated that about 40,000 Russian troops are to retreat to their border bases, a move that was likely caused by economic sanctions placed on Vladimir Putin’s wealthiest supporters. However despite Putin’s statements, NATO forces have yet to see any retreat from the Russian forces. As Ukraine’s future hangs in the balance, the world is watching the conflict closely. Should Vladimir Putin choose to intervene any further into the conflict, it is likely that other nations will respond with economic sanctions and as a last resort, military intervention.

As the conflict continues, I wonder what the people of Ukraine think about what has been happening in their country. If you are from Ukraine or you have family that lives there, please leave a comment on this post. I would love to know what it is like to live through this conflict and to know what you think should be done. Do you feel safe or is the conflict reaching your neighborhood and threatening your way of life? Please let me know what you think.

 

World map of Ukraine

World map of Ukraine

Ukraine, Russian speaking population map

Ukraine, Russian speaking population map

Cannibal Warlord, General “Butt Naked”

Do you remember the last time that you ate a child’s heart so that you could be invincible in battle? Can’t recall ever doing so? Well take a look at this documentary that I found on youtube.com. The documentary was produced by Vice News, a news agency that does in depth reporting across the globe. In this documentary Shane Smith, Vice News co-founder and field correspondent, travels to the west African nation of Liberia to investigate the so called Cannibal Warlords that live there. Let me warn you that the documentary has some strong content.

After exploring several parts of Liberia, Shane Smith lands a shady interview with former General “Butt Naked.” The general, who gave himself the name “Butt Naked”, explains the origin of his name to Shane. He tells the reporter that he chose this name because of his combat strategy during Liberia’s civil war. A strategy in which he would instruct his rebel soldiers to strip down completely before battle. Once fully nude, he would have his soldiers bring an innocent child to him for ritualistic purposes. He would then cut the child’s heart out of his/her chest, while still alive, and have each of his soldiers consume a piece of it. General “Butt Naked” explained to his soldiers that this sacrifice would bring them magical powers in combat and make them invincible. Only then would the General and his soldiers go into battle, while still completely nude I should add. This ritual of sacrifice was repeated before every single battle, thus causing the needless slaughter of hundreds of innocent children during the war.

Today General “Butt Naked” spends his days preaching to his community. He converted to Christianity after the war and now preaches at churches around Liberia about his struggle with his violent past. Former victims of his cannibal rituals say that he converted to Christianity only to avoid punishment for his war crimes. So the former general’s life is now in constant danger of attack from people affected by his military past. According to him these are false accusations. He says that the reason he converted to Christianity was so that he could be a better person and more importantly a better father to his young daughter. Though he takes the full blame for his actions, he recognizes that if his parents would have raised him instead of abandon him, then he might be a different man today. That thought is what motivates him to be a better father and a better person with the help of Christianity.

I tried to put myself in his shoes and imagine what life must have been like for him in Liberia. I wonder what kind of trauma he experienced before deciding that killing children and eating their hearts was the right thing to do. Maybe he’s just a psychopath with no remorse, incapable of distinguishing right from wrong. However it seems odd to me that a person who is incapable of knowing right from wrong would choose to devote the rest of his life to Christianity seeking forgiveness for his sins. The question of whether or not this man should be executed for his crimes remains a mixed issue. Does punishing a person’s ignorance with death solve the issue of ignorance? Does not punishing this man solve the issue of ignorance? I’m not sure what the solution is, if there even is a solution, but what I do know is that this country and its people are completely foreign to me. I will pray for them and hope that change comes sooner than later…

I would love to hear from someone living in Liberia. If you are from there or have family that lives there, please reply to this blog post. I want to hear your story and know what it is like for you as a citizen of Liberia. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Post Sources

cia.gov

youtube.com

Liberia in Africa Liberia with neighbors

Source (Picture 1)                                                                              Source (Picture 2)

 

 

15 Quick Facts about Liberia

Official Language: English (Though only 20% of the population exclusively speaks English)

President: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, since 2006 (She was reelected in 2011 with 90.7% of the total vote in her favor)

Religion: 85.6% Christian, 12.2% Muslim

Total Population: 4,092,310

Capital: Monrovia

Median Age of Population: 18 years old (U.S. median age: 37 years old)

Sanitation Facility Access: 18.2% of the total population (81.8% with no access to restrooms or sewage infrastructure)

Health Expenditures: 19.5% of GDP

Physician Density: 0.01 Physicians/1000 people (Whatever you do don’t get sick in Liberia)

Education Expenditures: 2.8% of GDP

Total GDP: $2.89 Billion U.S. Dollars (Mark Zuckerberg’s Net Worth: $26.6 Billion U.S. Dollars)

Average Annual Income (Per Person): $700.00 U.S. Dollars (Qatar’s average is the highest at: $102,100 U.S. Dollars)

Privately Owned T.V. Stations: 3

Total Internet Users: 20,000 people (That’s less than 1% of the entire population)

Transnational Issues: Human Trafficking, Drug Trafficking, Civil Unrest, Refugee Disputes with Neighboring Countries