3 Views from Fonzi’s Foxhole

The Enemy Gets a Vote

Nineteen years ago a distinguished Harvard professor of International Affairs, Samuel Huntington, published a book called “The Clash of Civilizations and Remaking of World Order.” In it he described the historical enmity between Western Civilization with its Judeo-Christian heritage and its 1400 year conflict with the Islamic empire. Liberal academics dismissed his thesis even as today we watch his predictions unfold with uncanny accuracy. Huntington described Islam as a militant, missionary religion spread by violent conquest, intolerant of any religious or philosophical rival. When confronted by Christendom, also a missionary, monotheistic religion, permanent conflict was inevitable. Unlike polytheistic religions, neither religion had room for accommodating the other.

For 1000 years both were evenly matched with major wars establishing an armed peace with continuous friction until around 1700. The rise of Western economic and military supremacy resulted in the temporary decline of the major Islamic states bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The Napoleonic Wars and French conquests in the region further weakened Islamic power culminating in the collapse of the Ottoman Turk Empire at the conclusion of WWI.

Our short sense of history has led most westerners to assume that the current state of international affairs is something new. Reality is that it is simply a return to the near continuous state of war that has existed between the Islamic world and the West since the 7th century. As Huntington pointed out, between the 18th and 20th centuries, there were 92 Western versus Islamic conflicts where the West acquired Muslim territory (which was previously Jewish or Christian territory conquered by Islamic armies) and another 69 conflicts where Muslims regained that territory between 1920 and 1995. Between 1820 and 1929 fifty percent of religious inter-state wars were between Christians and Muslims. The difference today is that 19th century Western military superiority was near absolute. Current conflicts are fought with near military parity but Muslims use the “Dark Age” tactics of total war routinely practiced in the 7th century where neither sex nor age was given quarter and no distinction was made between combatant and civilian. Terrorism against non-Muslims is codified and acceptable.

That is why last week the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS) cold-bloodedly executed 200 Syrian children. It is why they executed a five-year old girl and a six-year old boy in Iraq, routinely torture children, including use of crucifixion; it is why girls and women are sold into sexual slavery and the few who escape relate their experience of being gang-raped multiple times a day. This barbarity will continue unabated as long as we are unwilling to stop it.

What happened in Paris last Friday will happen again, almost certainly in America at some point. It will not stop until we stop it. France has declared martial law and bombed ISIS targets provided by American intelligence. If we had the intelligence, why didn’t WE bomb it? President Obama has authorized few military strikes, about seven to 10 a week with restrictions prohibiting any chance of civilian casualties. The result is that ¾ of our airstrikes return without dropping bombs. ISIS isn’t afraid of an America led by President Obama.

France is reportedly considering sending a ground expeditionary force to fight ISIS. Iran has warned that if ISIS approaches within 25 miles of the Iraqi/Iranian border, they will intervene with ground forces in Iraq. Russia has landed in Syria with a Brigade-sized force for the first time in forty years. The stage is being set for a major regional war.

Without consulting the enemy, Obama declared the Iraq war over, the country stable and abandoned the field. What he left behind collapsed and ISIS emerged. Since 2013, it has seized territory comparable in size to Britain and has spread across North Africa and into the Arabian Peninsula. Its tentacles reach deep into Europe and ISIS openly boasts of coming to America. Obama asserted he will do nothing militarily beyond current operations nor will he re-evaluate his decision to admit thousands of un-vetted refugees to American shores. Half of these refugees are young men of military age from throughout the Middle East. The FBI and Homeland Security stated they have no capability to vet them for security.

What we need is a leader with the character of a Churchill, a Thatcher or Reagan. We cannot afford a replay of Chamberlain or the obstinacy of a Gladstone. We can’t afford the isolationism of Rand Paul or the indifferent shallowness of President Obama nor the gross incompetence of Clinton.

President Obama seems concerned about his presidential legacy; he shouldn’t be as it’s already written in the blood of thousands of innocents. I’ll leave you with this thought from the Book of Proverbs: “Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.”

Al Fonzi, Atascadero News article 20 November 2015


Silent Night, Silenced Nation

Christmas is a time for reflection, for family but especially for Christians, the celebration of the birth of the Messiah, the Savior of mankind. It’s a time of year when generosity seems to flow unfettered as I personally observed as a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army. Americans are incredibly generous from the smallest child giving a few coins saved to many, many people stuffing fairly large bills or sizeable sums of cash in the “Red Kettle” for charity. I also observed many acts of courtesy which seems to be more prevalent during the season.

Naturally it is also a time for the skeptic and dedicated “Grinch,” the latter fearful of someone, somewhere being cheerful, to attempt to dampen down public enthusiasm. Take Cornell University for example: the University has put out a missive banning any mention or suggestion of Christmas, at least publicly, the colors red and green deemed particularly offensive to “someone” along with stars, Christmas trees or any other readily identifiable symbol of the Christian holiday, except of course in the absolute privacy of your personal living space. Since students usually have roommates in their dorms, I guess the mistletoe has to be hidden under your pillow.

Many college campuses, especially those noted for their high tuition, self-identified as “elite” and adopting the language, mores and extreme forms of “political correctness” are especially sensitive to anything that harkens one’s thoughts to religion, especially Christianity or time-honored traditions. It makes one old enough to remember that it wasn’t always this way, evoking nostalgia for times past and saddened at what current and future generations are missing.

America has radically changed over my lifetime. I wish I could say for the better but I think not. How much have we really lost? Enter into my time machine of old movies and a picture begins to form.

A good place to start would be the 1947 classic film, “The Bishop’s Wife,” starring Loretta Young, David Niven and Cary Grant. It’s a simple story of a man with a problem, a neglected wife, Angelic assistance and how the world often interferes with the true spirit of Christmas. The story aside, the film reveals American innocence and accepted values that seem lost today. There isn’t a single episode of vulgarity, an untoward suggestion or an act of violence throughout the film, unless a snowball fight among children counts. The year this film was released is symbolic as it was the year when the Supreme Court launched its war on the American people to purge religious symbols from the public square. It was only three years prior that President Roosevelt called upon the nation to pray with him for the soldiers storming the beaches of Normandy on “D-Day.” Most people of faith considered that prayer answered, a gift we have apparently forgotten as the Court’s war on faith is almost complete. We could have reversed this at any time at the ballot box but nobody seemed to care enough to bother.

Courtesy of the Courts, Nativity scenes disappeared from the public square; the first to go being the one in front of our local Post Office. Banning Christmas carols in schools was followed by proscribing any public declaration of faith, prayer or religious texts, especially Bibles. From restrictions of faith we’ve progressed to active persecution of children of faith, banning private prayers over lunch at school, Christian clubs, any mention of God and even threats by federal judges to jail students who dare mention God at graduation ceremonies. How far we’ve travelled; one has to ask, is the nation better off because of this?

This week a principal in a New York school banned any mention of Christmas, Thanksgiving or reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Over Thanksgiving we were berated by commentators insisting “Thanksgiving was offensive to Native Americans.” Did anyone ask them? The Pilgrims were saved from starvation by local Native-American tribes who shared equally in the bounty of the Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving. This was followed by fifty years of peaceful relations, not broken until more secular-minded immigrants arrived from Europe.

Political correctness and militant secularism is robbing America of its heritage and hope for the future. The insistence upon “multiculturalism” and the debasement of America’s heritage, passed down via 500 years of Western Civilization, is not making America better. People don’t endure hardship and danger to escape to America and “its streets of gold” because they want to make it just like the hell-hole they escaped. They flee religious persecution, which for Middle Eastern Christians is fast becoming the new genocide; they flee hunger, poverty, war and horrors our children have been spared, so far.

Christmas and its wonders are ours to lose. Nobody can steal it from us unless we are silent. Don’t let them! Merry Christmas!

Al Fonzi, Atascadero News article 18 December 2015


Memo to Congress: How to Defeat ISIS

As Republicans, we’re supposed to be smart about national security but it seems more often than not lately, we’re taking a cue from the Democrats. ISIS is a major national security threat as evidenced by the recent terrorist attack that occurred in San Bernadino in December. It’s not as yet an “existential threat,” that is, a threat that can physically destroy the nation as can Russia and likely China, but it’s a growing threat that can inflict severe damage upon us. Remember, it took only 19 motivated men to destroy the World Trade Center complex (seven buildings), kill nearly 3000 Americans and cause an economic loss of over one trillion dollars to our economy once the “butchers bill” had been paid. We still haven’t fully recovered from that attack.

There is a moral dimension to the ISIS threat of which we are responsible. We broke Iraq and destroyed the glue that forced that collection of “Tribes with Flags” into a semblance of a nation-state, however corrupt and violent it may have been. Our invasion in 2003 unleashed the hounds of hell upon the Iraqi people in the form of sectarian violence not occurring since the original emergence of Islamic armies from the Arabian desert in the 7th century.

Culturally, Americans are an impatient people with a short attention span. This resulted in us soon tiring of a very difficult war launched via flawed intelligence, poor strategy and even worse execution. It was a military and political disaster compounded by an even greater disaster facilitated by a precipitous military withdrawal ordered against all military advice by President Obama. As a people, we’re really good at not learning from our mistakes! Before readers accuse me of not supporting the troops or lack of patriotism, let it be known that my military career spanned 36 years and three wars with duty in infantry, armor, Special Forces and intelligence units. I served in Iraq in 2004 with special operations units and directly on the coalition general staff. I was able to see the war up close and personal in a way few ever will. Simultaneously with my tour of duty, my oldest son also served in Iraq with the First Marine Division in a hellhole called Ramadi, in which his unit, the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines was directly supported by the late Navy SEAL Sniper, Chris Kyle, whose exploits were documented in the film “American Sniper.” This made the war very personal for me as our family was about as invested in winning this war as any family could be. My wife deserves a medal as most of the emotional stress fell upon her.

What has happened since the withdrawal of American troops is not just disheartening, it’s infuriating, as none of it was necessary or inevitable. Obama, Clinton and the Democrats own this disaster and every barrel of blood of the innocents it produces. What is frustrating is to hear Republicans talk like Democrats, the original political party of retreat and defeat. Defeatism has been the Democrats’ specialty since the fall of Vietnam to a conventional invasion from North Vietnam, made easy by a newly-elected Democrat-controlled Congress cutting off all military assistance to South Vietnam. Their planes didn’t have fuel to fly nor their artillery ammunition to shoot. No wonder that the invasion of South Vietnam that occurred in April 1975, led by columns of North Vietnamese tanks, supplied by the former Soviet Union, easily conquered a neutered South Vietnam. No wonder also that our current Secretary of State, John Kerry, is lauded in a North Vietnamese military museum for his leadership in assisting the communist North in achieving their victory through his subversion of the American war effort at home. Honestly, there really is a plaque in North Vietnam honoring John Kerry. I’ve seen it. It’s pathetic but you’ll never hear about it in our media.

What I’m referring to about Republicans is the half-steps they take when emulating Democrats complaining about “America being the world’s policeman” and discussing strategies that call for “Muslim boots on the ground.” Well, there are “Muslim boots on the ground” but the problem is they belong to ISIS. There is no effective indigenous military force in the Middle East, except Israel, capable of defeating ISIS or any similar organization without strong, U.S. leadership and material support.

Since the end of WWII, there has been one and only one western power strong enough to consistently provide the leadership for Western Civilization against whatever dark forces are arrayed against us. That force is America, not Britain, not France nor Germany. All were left exhausted by two world wars and Britain spent the next thirty years watching a former mighty empire crumble to dust, as did their military. Britain and France together have fewer aircraft carriers than we used to deploy to the Mediterranean in the Sixth Fleet, which by the way, no longer really exists under Obama, except on paper.

If you want to defeat ISIS, or any other military force 50,000 strong, ruthless, embedded within the urban civilian population and heavily armed, you can’t do it with airpower. You don’t have the targets, which is why 75% of our bombing missions return without dropping ordnance, especially when combined with extremely restrictive rules of engagement imposed by the risk-averse policies of the Obama administration.

Defeating ISIS isn’t rocket science and dozens of American generals, colonels and lieutenant colonels, retired or active can lay out a strategy for victory. Victory is defined as the utter annihilation of ISIS, defeat in detail. If prisoners are somehow taken, they should be turned over to the local governments in which their crimes were committed to face Iraqi/Syrian justice, which will be swift and absolute. ISIS is a criminal organization which violates the laws of land warfare under multiple international treaties as a matter of policy. They boast about this and should be held legally accountable just as we once held the Nazis accountable, especially the fanatical members of the “SS” whose savagery against civilians knew no bounds. But I digress.

To defeat ISIS requires a sufficient military ground force: I suggest the use of the U.S. III (Third) Corps out of Fort Hood, Texas, comprised of two heavy divisions and an armored cavalry regiment at a minimum. It could be reinforced by the use of the 101st Airborne Division, which is really an Air Cavalry Division with hundreds of helicopters, attack and otherwise, for use in highly mobile dessert warfare or supporting urban combat. It is a force of about 70,000 men which should be reinforced further with another four heavy divisions and Air Force Special Operations Gunship Squadrons for aerial firepower. Add in A-10s for close air support and you have rolling thunder that will crush anything ISIS has.

To suggest that ISIS will simply blend in with the civilian population and disappear discounts the visceral hatred the civilian community has for ISIS fighters. As occurred in the previous surge and the Sunni uprising, the civilian population is very likely to assist Iraqi and American intelligence units to locate and identify ISIS terrorists.

When accompanied by Iraqi troops in support of American forces you have a military steamroller that will bury the Caliphate. A blocking force of the Jordanian Army and Air Force in the north, possibly with Turkish assistance will put an end to any hope of escape by ISIS.         Captured foreign fighters would be turned over to the host nation suffering ISIS atrocities, regardless of citizenship, including Americans. If you want to halt ISIS recruiting on the internet, let “wannabe warriors” watch a few ISIS foreign fighters take the walk of 13 steps up an Iraqi gallows, begging for their lives, not dying as martyrs in combat but despised as cowards and murderers. That should take some of the glamor and ardor away for ISIS membership.There is a legal component that is essential. ISIS is a criminal organization guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes. Anyone who has served with ISIS, supported them in any way, materially or otherwise, is equally guilty and should be hunted down worldwide. We will extradite them to the country of their crimes just as we hunted down and extradited Nazis for seventy years after the end of WWII. With no place to hide and severe sanctions on any nation granting them asylum we can purge the earth of this scum.

Finally, there is an ideological component. Only a better idea can defeat an idea. We have to be willing to acknowledge what the threat is and who threatens Western Civilization. We are in a 1400 year-old conflict between Western Civilization and Islam, specifically, the radical, fanatical form of Islam manifested in the armies of the 7th century best represented today in the Wahabi and Salafi sects of Islam. As a faith, Islam is not monolithic nor does it have a single central authority. Theological authority is dispersed among regions, Mullahs, Imans and Mosques worldwide, each pronouncing new interpretations of the Koran with Hadiths regulating the lives of Muslims according to whatever Koranic authority decides to postulate. It is generally divided among Sunni practitioners (from which the Wahabi and Salafi sects emerged) and Shia Muslims with many offshoots and subsets. Both are hostile to non-Muslim faiths but the Sunni/Wahabi and Salafi sects are the most violent, intolerant and confrontational sects that comprise about a third of Islamic adherents.

Finally, we have to acknowledge the facts on the ground and to be willing to aggressively and psychologically defend Western Civilization from the threat militant Islam poses to all, but particularly to women. No apologies are necessary to Islam whatsoever and any politician engaging in such rhetoric betrays a 2000 year old struggle to defend God-given rights to the individual, such as personal freedom, dignity and the rule of law over tyranny. Islam recognizes no such individual rights but only the duty of the individual to submit to the will of God as interpreted by the Koran, whether you believe it or not. A victory of Islam over Western Civilization ensures a return to the status of chattel for western women, in addition to the end of art, music and culture as we understand it. It is a threat as existential as nuclear war and with results that will leave us all almost as destitute.

So please, no more nonsense about a few Special Forces troops or a more intense air campaign; military half-measures and war on the cheap are doomed to fail. This is war and there will be casualties on both sides. “Freedom isn’t free” is not a cliché, it’s quite real for families that suffer the ultimate sacrifice. This is a long war and it’s absolutely necessary for us to display the political will & moral courage to fight it and fight to win, for it is truly a fight to the death.

Al Fonzi, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army, (Retired) January 4, 2016      

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