Against Senator’s Murkowski’s Moratorium

Today Senator Murkowski used Facebook to announce her call for a moratorium on the admission of Syrian refugees to this country. At 10,000, we’re only proposing to accept a tiny sliver of the FOUR MILLION seeking refuge. I think this moratorium is wrong and wrote the following message to Senator Murkowski:

===

Dear Senator Murkowski,

It was with sadness that I read your statement urging a moratorium on admission of Syrian refugees to the United States. I’m very disappointed that you turned a deaf ear to our faith community who urged you not to turn away the innocent. You claim you do not support such a thing, but an indefinite moratorium is the same as turning people away. It feeds the impression that “that the American people are no longer sympathetic or welcoming.” You have joined hands with 26 governors and every single Republican Presidential candidate who reject welcoming people at their time of need. Even your own Facebook page now has a number of comments from constituents who have equated all refugees with terrorists.

I believe your stance is a betrayal of the principles in Matthew 25 and of the compassion for immigrants and refugees advocated by Pope Francis. But I understand you cannot govern the country by Catholicism or Christianity. Unlike the leaders of Daesh, we have separation of Church and State.

However, your actions, along with the actions of all others calling for the barring of refugees or making the assumption they are a major security risk are playing in Daesh’s hands. Daesh tells all Muslims that the West is against them. That Muslims will be treated as potential terrorists in the West. That in the end, there is a clash between Islam and Christianity. By giving into the fears of some of your constituents, you have endorsed Daesh’s propaganda.

I’m sorry to sound harsh, but the modest security gains (if any) from the moratorium you are calling for are more than swamped by the propaganda victory for Daesh. Please reconsider your position, especially in view of so many things, including gun violence and auto accidents that take more lives than 9/11 did every single year.

===

Senator Dan Sullivan is on record as being harsher than Murkowski, as is Representative Don Young. I am sad that my whole delegation has given in to fear.

 

Daesh/ISIS Goal May Have Been to Turn Europe Against Refugees

“You know what pissed off Islamist extremists the most about Europe? It was watching their very humane, moral response to the refugee crisis. Seeing Europeans line up to help and embrace Muslim refugees infuriated and shattered the worldview of so many Islamist extremists. The Islamist extremist worldview says that we’re separate, different, hate each other and are eternal enemies. Wanna shatter the Islamist extremist worldview? Show them we aren’t separate or different and don’t hate each and can be eternal friends.”

via Why Paris shows that ISIS are losing and we who maintain the ‘greyzone’ are winning | Goldblog.

Interesting article about how a struggling Daesh/ISIS may be using attacks in Europe to get the West to support their view of a binary world. Let’s not give them what they wish for.

BAD IDEA – Obama to send small Special Operations force to Syria – The Washington Post

The latest deployment will involve fewer than 50 Special Operations advisers, who will work with resistance forces­ battling the Islamic State in northern Syria but will not engage in direct combat, Obama administration officials said.

via Obama to send small Special Operations force to Syria – The Washington Post.

Aside from being illegal under International Law (Think China sending “advisers” to “help out” with a US secessionist movement), this deployment smacks of wanting to “do something” and “look tough.” Our previous efforts to try train the Syrian resistance was an abject failure and now we think that 50 advisers, no matter how capable, will turn the tide of battle?

If history is a guide, the advisers, while performing the best they can, will not be able to affect the stalemate. Then we’ll send in more people. They’ll be more deaths, after which we’ll “have” to send more troops so the previous soldiers won’t have “died in vain” – all to replace a horrible dictator with an Islamist state. Either that or we could try occupying the country with 150,000 soldiers because that was such a great idea in Iraq.

This is a terrible idea. As sad as it is, the Syrians need to sort this out for themselves. We don’t need yet another war. A war of choice at that. A dumb idea under Bush, still dumb and tragic under Obama.

What makes me saddest about our torture

The United States tortures people. It isn’t a matter of rogue agents and rogue government officials, it is systemic. The United States tortures people. One president may order the torturing stopped, but there is nothing to prevent another from ordering it resumed. Those responsible for torturing people are identified but not brought to justice. They are, in fact, given free rein to talk openly about it, to minimize it, to justify it, to continue to lie about it, and to act as if questions or criticism about torturing people is just another partisan political argument. The traditional media, the most powerful mass media, play right along. Some in the mass media all but gloat about it. The United States tortures people. It is known. It is not treated as a crime against humanity. It is normalized. It will happen again.

via The United States tortures people. (Daily Kos)

The Daily Kos post above summarizes most of what I feel about the torture practiced during the Bush Administration and the Obama Administration’s consistent obstruction of justice and accountability. We WILL do this again. There is no remorse, despite the fact that torture is seen as an intrinsic evil by most sects of the Christianity most of our country professes. There is no regret despite the fact that the CIA’s own documents showed we tortured 26 completely innocent people. There isn’t even a twinge of guilt about the waste of spending $300 million dollars on a program run by two people without ANY experience in interrogation and which by the CIA’s own internal reviews, failed to produce any actionable intelligence.

Nope. Torture made us feel like we were “doing whatever it took” to get the terrorists. It was sort of the ultimate security theater and the soul of our country was the price of admission. Because our country is addicted to the appearance of “do whatever it takes” regardless of it actual effectiveness or morality and because we have steadfastly refused ANY accountability for torture, I’m convinced we’ll do it again.

Read the report. See especially pages p. 18 – 20 for notes on outsourcing and torture of innocent prisoners. Then check out the footnotes to the summary. More detail available further into the 525 page report, which is only a summary of a 6,000 page report the CIA and President Obama still won’t let us see.

A word about comments: I want to be up front and say that any comments to the effect of “But ISIS/Al-Qaeda did …..” will not be posted here. I refuse to let any terrorist group set the limits of American behavior. If that’s your only point, I invite you to post about it on your own blog.

Feel free to dispute any specific facts and be prepared with opposing evidence.

Thanks,

War Week: Alaska Natives in the Military

We conclude War Week here at the Alaskan Librarian by examining a site that salutes some of the most patriotic soldiers to serve in World War II:

Alaska Natives in the Military
http://www.alaskool.org/projects/ak_military/akmilitaryindx.htm

I call these soldiers “some of the most patriotic” because at the time, Alaska was guilty of deep, overt racism. It was not uncommon to see signs in shops that read “No Natives or Dogs.” Schools were segregated and Alaska Natives were considered to be inferior even in polite society.  Their plight was similar to other Native Americans and that of African-Americans. And yet, they answered the call of a country that wouldn’t give them the time of day. We are richer for their patriotism and compassion.

The web site “Alaska Natives in the Military” from the Alaskool Native curriculum site provides starting point for examing this heritage.

The site has a set of WWII era paintings, an excerpt from the book Men of the Tundra: Alaska Eskimos at War by Muktuk Marston, campaign maps and more.

I hope you enjoyed War Week and got a sense of the internet resources available on Alaska military history. These sites are far from the last word on the subject though. If you visit WorldCat.org and do a keyword search on Alaska Military History, you’ll get 732 hits. And if you were with me last week, you might try a search on the Alaska & Polar Periodical Index. There will be more results there as well.

War Week: Sitka Military History

This time on War Week, we examine the web site of Gabe Emerson, a former student of Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka. He created the site while a junior in high school. His site is:

Sitka Military History
http://www.tc.umn.edu/~emers089/ww2/

Mr. Emerson seems to have spent a lot of research in compiling this material. Aside from the reading list he provides on his “about the author” page, he states “Some of my sources of information include the Isabel Miller Museum, William Lawrence, Alan Jerram, Matt Hunter, The MEHS maintenance crew, and various people in town and other places who I have interviewed or corresponded with.”

The result of this research is a respectable looking history of the following military installations in Sitka:

Mr. Emerson’s site also has a set of maps and an index to the materials he presents.

War Week: Kodiak Military History

Today we visit the second of two web sites with information about the Aleutians Campaign:

Kodiak Alaska Military History
http://www.kadiak.org/

The main Aleutian-specific resource here is a detailed timeline of the campaign. Here’s a few examples of the details offered in the timeline:

THURSDAY, 28 MAY 1942
A B-17 flies the first armed reconnaissance from the secretly constructed airfield at Unmak Island, Aleutian Islands over the Aleutian Chain, but finds no sign of the enemy. XI Fighter Command elements are not deployed at Unmak (P-40’s and P-38’s), Cold Bay (P-40’s), Kodiak (P-39’s), and Elmendorf Field [P-38’s and Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Kittyhawks].
THURSDAY, 4 JUNE 1942
A carrier-borne force strikes again as 11 bombers, 10 fighters and 8 torpedo bombers attack Dutch Harbor in several waves. 2 P-40s intercept 4 bombers just before noon over Umnak Pass and shoot down 3. During the afternoon P-40s intercept 9 fighters; a dogfight claims 1 enemy aircraft and 1 P-40, the Eleventh Air Force’s first combat casualty. AA fire claims another Japanese bomber. During the afternoon 2 B-17s and 5 B-26s attack the carrier force, and 3 more B-26s strike the cruiser TAKAO; no hits are scored; 1 B-24 and 1 B-25 fail to return.
36th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 28th Composite Group, based at Ft Greeley, Kodiak Island with B-17Es and LB-30s, sends detachments to operate from various bases in the Aleutian Islands.
FRIDAY, 5 JUNE 1942
18 B-26s, 10 B-17s and 2 LB-30s search and attack sorties are flown against the carrier force, the B-26s splitting into 3 missions, the B-17s into 2. No contact is made. The B-17s using radar bomb targets which look like ships, but later turn out to be the Pribilof Islands.

The full timeline amounts to 56 printed pages and is reason enough to visit kadiak.org. But there is much more military history here.

The bulk of the site is devoted to the history of the numerous military installations built in Kodiak, including:

  • US Naval Base Kodiak Alaska
  • US Coast Guard Kodiak Alaska
  • Fort Greely Kodiak Alaska
  • Ft. Tidball garrison Quonsets & gun bunker
  • Fort Abercrombie World War II National Historic Place

Information on these sites includes photos, published reports and some first hand accounts of life in these distant outposts.

Finally, you need to spend some time looking through the photo albums offered on this site. Most of them appear to be from veterans who served in Kodiak at various periods from World War II forward. Some are government photo albums. Some of the available albums are:

If you’re a military or Kodiak history buff, there is hours worth of material here to keep you busy and/or entertained. Check it out.