Vol. 22, No. 5,514 - The American Reporter - September 7, 2016

by Joe Shea
AR Correspondent
Bradenton, Fla.
September 15, 2014
The Willies

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The most frustrating of all diplomatic conundrums is the phenomena of equivalency. That's when one nation-state says to another, "We'll do what you do - nothing more, nothing less."

It's not a bad thing all the time. We would never have stepped-down the nuclear arms race without a series of tit-for-tat agreements that were equivalency at its best. So it's worked at least once.

But equivalency ignores the fact that many times, one vast nation's "doings" may cost billions and many lives, while the other tiny nation's cost is a proportionately tiny fraction of that.

Have the Arab states enrolled in President Obama's coalition against ISIS decided to take the equivalency route?

As President, if I were, I would be so insulted by an offer of equivalency - which is, in fact, Although the military talking heads that populate our airwaves these days all seem to feel ISIS cannot be defeated without experienced ground troops, it may turn out that skillfully strategized air strikes will do the job. You never know.

Equivalency is a popular Russian tactic in diplomatic discussions. If we say they are discriminating against Chechens, for instance, they will say we discriminate against black people.

If we say they are bombing civilians in Chechnya, they will say our friend Israel bombs civilians in Palestine, and we pay good money for it - meaning we give them billions in foreign aid and military assistance. We point to our worthy motives and tireless efforts aginst such wrongs, and they point to theirs. Those discussions go downhill very quickly.

On his radio talk show this Monday morning, conservative host Glenn Beck did a riff on comments by Bill Maher. According to Beck, Maher said that if we are to use the beheadings of two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as a reason to go to war against ISIS, how can we ignore the fact that the Saudis, our partner in this coalition, have already beheaded 19 people this year - for things like homosexuality?

Parenthetically, when I asked liberal talk show host Dan Ruth, a columnist for the Tampa Bay Times with a two-hour show Saturday mornings on a local ABC radio affiliate, about what Foley and Sotloff would say about another coalition forming to fight ISIS, he immediately cut off my phone.

I was starting to say that neither of the journalists beheaded would have wanted the U.S. to go back to war over it, and after he hung up his response was, "Let's not try to figure out what they wanted after the fact," or something to that effect.

Sure, let's not. But Sotloff said before his death that he was being murdered because of "U.S. intervention" against ISIS, which is patently true. And on his show this past Saturday, when someone suggested the U.S. seek help from Israel, Ruth actually laughed. What an absurd idea!

You really have to wonder about the mentality of the people who try to shape our opinions. Beck said he would like to have Maher on his show to cut out the hostility between them and try to enhance the positions the two men - at opposite ends of the political spectrum (where some say they curve around and meet) - have in common.

That reminded me of a conversation I had with Bill Maher at Joseph's Cafe in Hollywod 11 years ago. I pointed out that Kato Kaelin, whom Maher had arrived with that night, had shortly before Nicole's murder made a movie called "Lycanthrope," in which Kato's character jumps out of the bushes and attacks a woman. When the OJ story broke, Kato quickly dropped that film from his resumé, I was told.

Not many knew, I said, that Kato had lived with Nicole before moving in with OJ, and that a neighbor said he wore black gloves every morning when he took his motorcycle out for a spin; remember, the bloody black glove that didn't fit OJ was found beneath Kato's bedroom window (at OJ's house).

At that, I turned to Kato to ask, so as to prove a point to Bill Maher, who was listening, if he was in a movie called "Lycanthrope." Kaelin turned to me, apparently enraged, and growled in a fierce voice, "I can kill."

"Wow," said Maher. He got my point. Bur he never did dare to talk about it.

As much as I do support Israel and want it to survive, I will not remain silent about asking Israel for help against ISIS when that help could be decisive. And, I might add, when we deserve it.

Israel has more experience than anyone but President Assad of Syria in bombing civilian populations, and they do it differently. Where Assad tries to kill everyone he can, Israel tries - albeit with little success - to isolate the people it wants to kill and to avoid killing civilians.

Arab states have already come out and said they won't bomb civilian areas that ISIS controls - no strikees on the cities, in other words, only out on the desert battlefields.

ISIS, of course, can easily blend in with civilian Sunni populations and become invisible to aircraft, so that's perhaps a wise and humane but not particularly helpful stance. Israel's approach is to bomb anything it believes is hiding terrorists - homes, high-rises, hospitals or whorehouses.

That's another problem with equivalency - you have to play by some of the other guy's rules or he won't play at all. Your strategy gets degraded and your effort is blunted. The other guy feels vindicated.

Some of this argument comes down to whether all states are equal, just like people are supposed to be in our democracy. Every nation deserves a certain modicum of respect, of course, but should we see ourselves as the equals of, say, Oman, one of the coalition's smallest members? Or to another coalition member, Qatar, from where much of the financing for Islamist terrorism comes?

Or should we not talk about it?

Glenn Beck wants to and Dan Ruth doesn't. Bill Maher will and Bill O'Reilly won't. Where does that leave us?

Confused, frustrated and angry.

Copyright 2016 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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