The new war in the Middle East

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates are bombing Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen.  Different Islamic nations are also battling each other in Libya, Syria, and Iraq.  Experts say this may herald an all-out Middle Eastern war.

This would be an all-Islamic conflict, with Sunnis fighting Shi’ites and different factions of Sunnis fighting each other.  There is no way Saudi Arabia, which claims authority over Sunni Islam, could countenance the ISIS Sunnis’ claim to have re-established the ancient caliphate.  Also, traditional rulers are fighting rebel movements, who want both politcial freedom and radical jihad.

This is not, strictly speaking, an American fight, though the United States is  supporting everyone fighting jihadist terrorists on both sides of the factions, which is resulting in all kinds of contradictions.  Thus, the U.S. is supporting Iranian-connected militants when they are fighting ISIS in Iraq, but opposing them when they are fighting moderate Arabs in Yemen. [Read more...]

Civil War photos online

The Library of Congress has acquired thousands of Civil War photographs and has put them online.  Here is a slide show sampling.  My favorites are from the Liljenquist Family collection of individual and family portraits., which the Library of Congress is making available freely, with no copyright restrictions.

These put a human face, literally, on history and on the Civil War, and I find them very moving.  (The custom was to have a picture taken in your uniform before you set off for war, knowing that you might never be coming back.  Some of the pictures of boys still in adolescence show a fierce bravado that is belied by their baby faces.  The pictures of the men with their wives and children show both courage and sadness.)  I post one after the jump.  (Notice the emotion in this formal pose in the way the husband and wife are holding onto each other’s hands.) [Read more...]

Persecuted Christians who fight back

Christians worldwide have been facing intense persecution.  But now some of them are fighting back.  Pakistani churches have been subject to periodic attacks for decades.  But last time that happened, when an attack on a worship service killed 14 and wounded 70, some 4,000 Christians staged a riot of their own, lynching two suspects.  Authorities are worried that Pakistan, already torn by conflicts between Sunni and Shi’ite Islamic militants, will descend into full-fledged religious war if the Christians get involved.

Some Iraqi Christians have organized a militia to fight ISIS.  In central Africa, Christian militias have been attacking Muslims whose militias have been attacking them.  Lebanon has long had a formidable Christian militia organization.  After the jump, an excerpt and a link about what is happening in Pakistan.

What do you think about this?  Should Christians facing persecution accept martyrdom or fight their persecutors?  Or does it depend on the situation, and, if so, what are the situations? [Read more...]

Anti-terrorist ally overthrown

The United States lost another ally in the war against Islamic terrorism.  The pro-American government in Yemen–which helped us fight the ruthless Yemeni al-Qaida and allowed our drone attacks–was overthrown by  Houthi rebels.  The Houthi are Shi’ites, meaning they oppose the Sunni al-Qaida and ISIS, but are allied with Iran.  Still, they oppose the drone strikes and are strongly anti-American and anti-Israel.  The coup is another setback for American anti-terrorism efforts. [Read more...]

We now have a ray gun

The U.S. military is now deploying a weaponized laser.  It isn’t a Buck Rogers-style light pistol or a Star Trek phaser that  looks like a cell phone.  It looks like a telescope.  But it can zap enemies with perfect accuracy.  Its biggest potential, though, is as a defensive weapon.  Not only can it shoot down attacking aircraft and missiles.  Because it goes at the speed of light–since it is light–it can even destroy a mortar round.

Also, whereas conventional artillery pieces can run out of expensive ammunition, the laser weapon can keep firing as long as it has electricity, and each zap costs only 59 cents. [Read more...]

The war in Afghanistan is over

The war in Afghanistan officially ended on Sunday.  It lasted 13 years, the longest armed conflict in American history.  The number of American and NATO soldiers killed was some 3,500.

Once again, the United States ends a costly war far short of victory.  In fact, the Taliban is claiming victory.  Are they pretty much right?  Is it worth getting into wars like this one and Iraq, which had a similar ending?  And yet,  if this is peace, it’s a strange one, with 13,000 troops remaining in Afghanistan to train local forces and with combat operations continuing, sort of, against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. [Read more...]