Monday, November 30, 2015

Winding Down November: Brief Thoughts....

It has been an interesting morning in #Outsiders as the team worked on the Daily Twitter Feeds and decided to bid farewell to November with a simple yet profound Madiba thought.   For me it was a profound weekend though as I had a chance to join a Community Forum organized by Iranian Circle of Women's intercultural Network.   

The keynote was given by a Syrian Journalist/Activist who shared a gripping tale of the true reality in Syria today.   Her own father died of a Brain Stroke brought about by the tortrue he suffered at the hands of the Assad Regime.  I was awe struck as I listened to her sharing her insights and what she tries to do despite all the challenges.

I am remaining hopeful about Paris as #COP21 begins--there have been a lot of handshakes so far.    The need to be hopeful is ever so critical now as is the need for courage and kindess as I "dug this up" from my own digital archicves: 

I look forward to the on-going dialogue.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Notations For the Week-End (Part Deux) : On #Colorado Springs; #Syria & #France & Other Thoughts.....

France remembered its' victim on Friday November 27.    President Hollande led France in a solemn tribute which was attended by the entire French Cabinet, Former President Sarkozy, military officers, first responders and victims who were able to attend: 

I had the good fortune to say awake to be able to watch the entire proceedings on France24.   I was (as I am sure many around the World were) struck by the solemn way Francois Hollande walked in had a lonely chair in front of all who were in attendance.   For me, what he said struck a special cord as he spoke for all of us as he said we will sing more, dance more so that what the former Prime Minister of Australia called the Merchants of Death of Daesh will be relegated to the dustbin of history.   It was so beautiful as I saw depicition of #Daesh Fighters being photoshopped with ducks on their head.

As our team and I await to report of the ultimate fate of the #DaeshScum (what I have used in my twitter tweets),  the price paid has been such a heavy one  though as depicted by what the team released yesterday in a recent edition of Notations.   The problem, though, is that elements of what I call (Daesh Light) exists in countries like Iran right now.   One must also not forget the Afghan Inferno that continues to burn daily.    It was heartbreaking too as I caught reporting from SkyNews as the Russian Marine killed in Syria trying to rescue the fallen Russian Pilot was put to rest under the watchful tearful eye of his daughter.   Based on reporting reviewed by the team, it appears that the leaders of what Sam Kiley of SkyNews so ably noted as the "Death Cult" have apparently escaped Raqqa as the ordinary man, woman and child continues to bear the brunt of the assault by US, French and Russian Fighters--soon to be joined by British Fighters.

As I worked away supporting on-going daily commitments for the team as all wanted to be "back at it", reports from Colorado Springs here in the United States on a shooting at a Planned Parenthood Clinic which The Guardian of London provided live footage on which is now available on the Guardian Website:   

The shooter (who  is a terrorist) surrended after what I understood to be a five hour gun battle.    It resulted in a Police Officer losing his life and I shared these thoughts in his memory while I was on Facebook yesterday:  
Catching up for the AM working away before "running off"....very distressing to see this as I was seeing reports...
Posted by Mike Pouraryan on Saturday, November 28, 2015

President Obama was once again ever so forceful.   Ted Cruz released a Tweet keeping the victims in his thoughts and prayers--I made it a point of being on Twitter noting that although his thoughts were welcome, we have to go beyond prayers.      There were reporting on the Independent of London of celebrations for the shooting and quite an indictment by the Haaretz Chemi Shalev.   I was chastised for finding something "negative"--and I noted that all lives have to matter.   There needs to be a change in the manner we look at the 2nd Amendment and there are moves going on as this recent depiction in TakePart underscores:

10 Companies with Sensible Gun Policies

More than a dozen U.S. states allow residents to openly carry firearms without a permitMore than 20 other states allow open-carry with a license, while only five, plus the District of Columbia, ban open-carry outright.

Considering the wave of violent gun crimes that have rocked the country in recent years, some companies are beginning to approach gun policies as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) issue.

For these firms, allowing customers to openly carry guns inside their establishments can make the company appear complicit with its state’s lax gun laws.
With that in mind, this week we tip our hats to companies that are braving the backlash and adopting sensible gun policiesRead on>

Beyond the Issue of Guns, there is also the Climate Change Conference.    The Marches have begun Worldwide and I plan on joining the March in Irvine later on today as I also plan on joining a meeting on the impact of the Syrian War on Women.       What Dr. King noted as the "fierce urgency of now" is ever so evident now: 

I was also keen to see how retailers did since 70% of the GDP of the United States is dependent on Consumer Spending.   In assessing the reporting on the aftermath of Black Friday, it seems as if it was not as vibrant--but people were apparently flocking to all the sites.   I understand from reports that Target was on track to break records and of course there is Cyber Monday which I am sure all will make a killing!!    This is as one of the retailers in our hometown, Haagens, is in the midst of its' final sale as I had a chance to visit it yesterday.   I asked how the displaced workers were doing--and the checker who served me noted that most had found places--but it was difficult because they wanted "Kids".     She noted that she was going to retire and hang out with her 92-year old Mother.   I congratulated her and was happy for the news since I had known many of them for years.

It is ever so a challenging World as our team continues its' on-going efforts.     I wanted to end this with a bit of a high note:

Challenging times.....

Saturday, November 28, 2015

On #gratitude: Notations For the W-End.......

It has been another difficult 24 hours in the United States.    A terrorist walked into a Planned Parenthood Office in Colorado Springs, killed a police officer and took hostages until he was "talked down" and surrended.    I will have more to say on it later on.

It has been though a week to be thankful.    There is no question that every day is a day to be thankful.  As I always tell friends, as the great philosopher Pit bull reminds us, "every day above ground is a great day".   It was so appropriate as I saw this that the #Outsider team was gracious enough to share to remind me of it:

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
- Philo 

This hit home to me in a major way as I had the pleasure to join the Fish For Life Cruise from Dana Point earlier this month.    This is a charity founded by an old and dear friend of mine, Jim Holden, that holds fishing cruises for special needs children by having their families have a day of joy under the Sun.

This particular one broke my heart as I saw a girl full of heart who had lost a hand--and I was told cancer as she made her way to the cruise: 

It is a pleasure to share this on the day and how joyful an event it all was:  

This I received from the John Templeton Fund said it all.    May the Almighty continue to bless all as we await some hopeful news from Paris as the climate change conference begins  and as we deal with the menance of Daesh:

Give Thanks

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

On the Eve of Thanksgiving in the United States: On #Syria, #Daesh & #Success & #Hope & Being Grateful....

As our team went "dark", the daily twitter curation continued as the World has been witness to distressing developments around the World.    The latest one was the bombing of the Tunisian Presidential Guard which was claimed by the #Daeshscum which led to the declaration of the State of Emergency.  This is as France and Europe have been dealing with the aftermath of the horrors of Paris as France introduced a 90-Day State of Emergency and enacted A "Patriot-Act" type of  law.    What was even more distrubing to be witness to as our team continued its' daily assessment was the shooting down of a Russian Fighter Jet by Turkey.     Putin was in Iran as he attended the Gas Producer Leaders conference and went to see Khameini:

It was of note to reflect upon a recent blast from the Past that Professor Milani fo Stanford reminded the World as there has been a spat of arrests which continues even today despite some of the incremental changes seen after the election of President Rouhani: 

The wars are worrisome ever so especially as the New York Times reported earlier today of the introduction of Latin American Troops in Yemen by the Emirates as the escalation is quite worrisome which our team will continue to monitor as it gears up for December here in #Outsiders.    

In the meantime, Congress continues its' efforts to try and and impose its' views as epitomized by the latest out there as the threat of a Government Shutdown looms with the latest as noted in this excerpt reported out by the New York Times: 

TREASURY SECRETARY WARNS FOES OF DODD-FRANK Last year, Congress passed a measure dismantling a piece of the Dodd-Frank Act that governed swaps by attaching the new legislation to a wider spending bill. On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew warned critics of Dodd-Frank against trying the same tactic again, saying he would push back against any attempts to weaken financial regulation through amendments to the spending bill, which Congress must pass byDec. 11 to avert a government shutdown, Peter Eavis reports in DealBook. "I have publicly made clear that my recommendation to the president would be that if there are legislative measures that will roll back the clock, that would take us back toward where we were before the financial crisis, I would recommend a veto," Mr. Lew said via email.

What critics of Dodd-Frank are focusing on this time around is theregulation mandating annual tests for banks to determine whether they could survive extreme stress in the markets and wider economy, Mr. Eavis writes. Currently, the rule applies to banks with at least $50 billion in assets, but legislation introduced by Senator Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama and chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, would raise that threshold to $500 billion. Lawmakers are alsotaking aim at the Financial Stability Oversight Council, which they say lacks accountability
Mr. Lew's remarks may not deter Republican lawmakers from attaching amendments to the spending bill if they believe that the Obama administration would be more likely to compromise on financial regulation than on other areas, like health care, Mr. Eavis writes. Also, another victorious effort to weaken parts of Dodd-Frank would "establish a track record of chipping away at the overhaul each year," he writes.

  Beyond the politics though, there is the challenge of  Climate Change.    It has been gratifying to see France affirming its' commitment to go on with COP21 that our team will be assessing on a daily basis starting next week.    However, what I found extremely distressing was how the Chairman of the House Science Committee was putting pressure on Scientists to compel them to produce emails on his apparent belief that studies were doctored.  This is as the leading climate sceptic in the Country, Senator James Inhoff of Okhlahoma, plans on a one man "Truth squad" campaign as he says , "Oui" to Paris.   It is just beyond belief as the World is faced with drought, countries are dying before our very eyes as epitomized by this which was heartwrehcning to listen to--available on +TED by clicking here.  

 and some countries are being swept away by hurricances, that this man seems to be on the rampage that he is--joined by his GOP colleagues.        I look forward to joining the climate reality rally in Irvine this coming Sunday as I was also pleased to receive this in my "Virtual Office" to underscore the challenge yet hope that must be the order of the day:

Happy Thanksgiving!
This Thanksgiving, we are especially thankful.

We’re thankful for the incredible people around the world working hard to put an end to climate change. For the amazing progress we’ve seen from world leaders and influencers leading up to the United Nations’ climate negotiations in Paris and the prospect of a historic global climate agreement. 
But most of all, we’re thankful for you, our incredible friends and supporters.
So we’d like to give #ClimateThanks to all of you for what you’ve helped the climate community achieve this year:
• Over 2,000 new Climate Reality Leaders working to educate and inspire their communities to act on climate change
• An Open Letter to world leaders, urging a strong global climate agreement in Paris
• A historic rally during Pope Francis’ US visit in support of his urgent message on climate change
• The EPA Clean Power Plan’s finalization, which thousands of you supported, helping to establish the US as an international leader on climate action
And that’s just the beginning. None of this would have been possible without you. 
Wishing you a happy and safe Thanksgiving,

As I end this before "running off" , I could not help but share this I saw while on the "Grid" when I broke my "sabatical" briefly to catch up  (and I admit I was "sneaking in")!! :-) I saw this from the ever perceptive and eloquent +DARREN HARDY as he reminded us all on the art of the possible and never ever ever ever ever ever giving up.   I couldn't agree more.
Happy thanksgiving to all in the United States as I also note that everyday is a day to be thankful for all the blessings that we do have!!!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

On the "Prowl" 4 the W-End: On #Syria, #Muslims & Other Thoughts.....

As the debate ensues about what to do about Syria in the aftermath of Paris, Beirut and Ankara, I ran across this on the interesting tact taken on criticizing the Obama Doctrine on Syria.  I did not see a solution as I have in other analysis when I reflected upon the challenge we faceJINSA in The Weekly Standard: Who Really Betrayed the Syrians? | JINSA Online.

Beyond the debates, there is the very distrubring discussions in the current Republican Party which is outright dangerous.    Donald Trump has advocated registration for Muslim Americans--and after he denied it--doubled down on it.    He called it a "matter of management"--in addition to calling for the closure of Mosques.    This is as Ben Carson took to Time Magazine to say no Syrian Refugees should be brought in although he praised any Muslim Americans he has worked with unless they "denounce" violence.    I made it a point of tagging Dr. Carson's Twitter Feed late last night with this that directly point and point rejected his assertions.

The team, though, ran across this from a few months which I found to be hillarious but at the same time so ironic and troubling as well:

As the weekend is at hand, though, I took comfort in these thoughts on my personal twitter feed before I am "off the grid" for the weekend although the team will be on the "prowl" with the #outsider Twitter Feeds and of course my twitter feed will be updating with the periodic #quote feeds along with the Daily Update:

& this:

Onward to another working weekend...

Thursday, November 19, 2015

On the Prowl: Thoughts 4 the Night.....

It was another busy day here in #Outsiders as our team finished off a series of notations, remembered Mickey Mouse and assessed our world  trying to keep a positive upbeat view   with the daily curations it released to the Twitter Feed.   With the challenging week that was at hand, it was gratifying to see the team focus on deciding on the artist of the week and the selections they chose for the #Outsider properties that will be available for all to enjoy throughout the day tomorrow.

It was also quite a disturbing day on the political scene as the two current leading US Republican Presidential candidates talked about issuing special identity cards for Muslims and disparinsgly refer to Syrian Dogs.  It was sickening to say the least--that's why I viewed the focus by the team was so vital to help bring a sense of light and a bit of joy in an otherwise increasingly acronomious debate on refugees in the aftermath of Paris.     

As I finish off this late notations, I decided to go to my personal digital archives to share some thoughts which underscores the sentiments I try to live up to which is the driving force for outsiders especially as we reflect upon all that we're thankful for on this thanksgiving week in the United States.

I wish all a fabulous Friday and a fabulous weekend.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A True Profile In Courage: A Husband Pays Tribute to his Fallen Wife Who Died in #ParisAttacks (Updated w/the Corrected Link)

As I finished off working away, I ran across this that I don't mind noting brought tears to my eyes as I listened to this beautiful tribute:

“I won’t give you the gift of hating you” – Antoine Leiris’ powerful tribute to his wife, who died in the Bataclan during the #ParisAttacks

Posted by BBC News on Wednesday, November 18, 2015

He spoke for us all in not giving in to the hatred and the madness that Daesh wants.     We shall and will overcome.   I also was so pleased when I saw reporting that President Rouhani of Iran was in touch with President Hollande to offer every assistance possible.   

May her soul and the rest of the fallen in Paris, Beirut, Ankara, Kabul, Kashmir and everywhere around the World subject to this hatred rest in peace as we as a World rise up to collectively note:  enough is enough.

Working Away......

Late last night, our team was "on the grid" as it finished off the latest series of Notations as the Paris Raid as the French have been pursuing the culprits of the heinous act.   Based on the latest from Paris, at least one of the suspects blew herself up in a suicide vest. What has been disappointing is how some of the politicans in the United States have reacted--including Chris Christie who said even Syrian Kids cannot be admitted.      

I saw this from the folks at the National Priorities Project that was the voice of reason ever more which I hope leaders take notice of--although she forgot Ankara, it is still worth noting.  This is also as a day does not pass by without some sort of an attack in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Truly Challenging times.....

Dear Mike,We at NPP join the world in mourning and solidarity with the people of Beirut and Paris who suffered unconscionable attacks last week. These heartbreaking acts of random violence are intolerable.

At times like this, we may feel anger and fear along with compassion for the innocent victims. The temptation to react swiftly and forcefully in response to such violence is understandable.

In the face of calls for an immediate military response, it is heartening that President Obama has rejected calls for a knee-jerk military action. If we are to break the spell that terrorism casts on our world, calmer heads must prevail. We must be deliberate in our actions.

Americans want our federal government to provide safety from harm, perhaps above all else. But Americans do not need or want false security, and our government should not respond with empty, expensive, and potentially endless military campaigns that cost human lives and countless dollars – especially if they don't make us any safer. The hard truth is that our military campaigns can lead to more harm and suffering around the world, and make us less safe at home.

There is little room for error. As we reach out to Beirut and Paris with full hearts, we must also hold our leaders accountable to guide a deliberate U.S. response with steady hands.
Lindsay Koshgarian
National Priorities Project

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

On #Leadership & #Management: Notations (Updated w/a Clip From France)

As I have been working away supporting the team as it finished off its' early AM "Social Media Curation", I have also been working away and ran across this from the ever eloquent Geoff Colvin which I am sharing in its' entirety.  As also a devouted fan of Drucker and his writings, I salute the Guru for reminding us of it all--it is up to us all to overcome darkness....

Fortune Power Sheet By Geoff Colvin.
Daily insights on leaders and leadership
By Geoff Colvin

November 17, 2015
A few years before Peter Drucker died in 2005, I asked him why all his writings were about management, not leadership. By then leadership had become the hot topic it still is, sounding higher and nobler than mere management, which seemed hopelessly 1950s. Drucker was (and remains) the greatest management writer ever; anything he said on leadership would have been wildly popular. But he wouldn’t go there. I’ll never forget his explanation. “The three greatest leaders of the 20th century were Hitler, Stalin, and Mao,” he said. “If that’s leadership, I want nothing to do with it.”
It’s time to talk about a difficult topic that can no longer be avoided: the leadership of evil. French authorities have identified the mastermind of the Paris attacks asAbdelhamid Abaaoud, 27, a Belgian who has fought for ISIS in Syria and was wanted in Belgium for his role in a terrorist attack that was thwarted in January. He had been targeted by Western airstrikes in Syria. So far we don’t know much more about him – whether he recruited and trained the others who carried out the Paris attacks, or to what extent, if any, ISIS funded and directed him. But if the French authorities have named the right man, we can say with confidence that he was a very effective leader.
The planning, supply, and logistics of the operation probably involved more than the eight men believed to have carried out the attacks, and it all had to be done without attracting the attention of law enforcement. If Abaaoud also recruited and trained the participants, including those who blew themselves up, then his leadership abilities may extend far beyond those required for directing the operation.
A French counterterrorism judge told CNN that Abaaoud would certainly have been in touch with ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi about these attacks. If so, that would have made it unusual in ISIS-related terrorism. The prevalent pattern – which reinforces the view that al-Baghdadi is also a highly effective leader – is that such attacks are carried out by independent operators who have been inspired but not directed by ISIS. That’s the conclusion of recently published research by the Terrorism Research Initiative. Of 30 attacks with some connection to ISIS, only six included attackers who were trained by the group; most were carried out by sympathizers on their own. It’s painful but necessary to observe that this is real leadership, of a sort: inspiring others to execute the ISIS mission at no cost to the organization, multiplying its power. The researchers note soberly that such attacks “represent a formidable challenge to Western security agencies.”
Are people like Abaaoud and al-Baghdadi real leaders? I’m afraid I agree with Drucker; evil leaders are leaders nonetheless. But I part with the master on disdaining the whole concept. While we’d like to believe that leaders who represent death and nihilism can never succeed for long, the reality is that they can, as Drucker’s evil troika illustrate. The Paris attacks remind us of leadership’s power, and they remind leaders who represent life and freedom that their message is not enough. They also need to be better leaders than those of the forces of darkness.

The light was chosen by these muslim  kids as they took to the airwaves to express their condoloscnes--powerful to overcome the forces of darkness and hate that seems to be the standard right hnow:

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Working Away: On The True Realities In the Aftermath of #ParisAttacks...A Tough Read...

Our team took a deliberate decision to honor France as it is working away on gearing up for the week.   As I was reflecting this challenging weekend, it was also of note how serious thought needs to be put into what to do next.   One of the implicit missions of #Outsiders has been to think about such issues.

I decided to be "on the grid" briefly as I could not help but be ever so impressed by the matter-of-fact and hard hitting analysis by the Chief Architect at Google, +Yonatan Zunger , that he released on his Google Plus Page last night.  It has admittedly prompted quite a discussion--but as someone who has some sense of the reality out there (not withstanding his opening thought on Daesh which our team has referred to big deal !!) he is right on !! The question is will we able to listen to such voices of reason or listen to fools like Lindsay Graham who said we have to attack--the same Lindsay Graham that was one of the cheerleaders of Iraq or the rest of them or fools like Erick Erickson who say Islam is a religion of Violence. 

Before going "off the grid", I made the brief rounds on Facebook as I updated my profile to honor France (and all victims of Violence) as I had the privilege to share this on my personal Facebook page:

 A lot to digest here--but well worth the read as I hope +Yonatan Zunger accepts a Virtual High Five from me for telling it like is....  
Twenty-four hours after an attack by Da'esh (the organization formerly known as ISIS [1]) on Paris left 129 dead and 352 wounded, the Internet and the airwaves alike have been filled with profound waves of self-serving nonsense and stupidity from left and right alike. Everyone seems to have found a way in which this situation justifies their position – protect the refugees! Exile the refugees! Bomb someone! Stop all bombing of anyone! – and magically, it seems that one of the most complex political situations of our time can be reduced to simple slogans.

Well, I've run out of patience with this, so let me seriously discuss what just happened here, and what it tells us. I'm going to talk about three things which have combined to lead to yesterday's massacre: the refugee crisis, Europe's Muslim population, and Da'esh. I'll then talk about a few things which I think have little or nothing to do with what we're seeing – most importantly, religion and oil – and a few things which do – such as food and water. And finally, we'll talk about what it's going to take to fix this, both in the short term and the long term.

Being entirely out of patience right now, forgive me for being particularly blunt. I suspect that, by the end of this, you will be thoroughly offended by my opinions, whether you are American, European, or Middle Eastern, left or right: nobody has behaved well in the lead-up to this.

The first thing to realize about the refugees streaming into Europe from Syria and its environs is that not only are they not, by and large, terrorists – they're people fleeing these exact terrorists. France was just hit by Da'esh, with over five hundred casualties; in Syria, people are surrounded by Da'esh on one side, and a bloodthirsty army on the other side, and have been seeing death on the scale of yesterday's attack every single day for the past four and a half years. [2] If you were living there, you would very likely be fleeing, too.

But the second thing to realize about the refugees is that there are, in fact, Da'esh members among them. It's clear that at least one of the attackers came in from Syria as part of October's refugee flood, and there's no reason at all not to believe that quite a few more are among them, working both at short- and long-term goals. (More on which in a moment)

Everyone seems to have simplistic solutions, here: kick out all the Muslims (as America's Ann Coulter and Donald Trump suggest), settle the refugees more permanently, build giant prison camps. These solutions tend to miss a few very basic points:

(1) When you have hundreds of thousands of people who are quite literally willing to risk not only their deaths, but the deaths of their families, in order to escape, your odds of being able to keep them out aren't actually great, unless your plan is to mobilize a giant army and start attacking inward until they're fleeing in the opposite direction.

(2) You do not have enough prison camp capacity to handle this many people, nor could you build it. Nor do you have enough housing and residential infrastructure capacity to easily settle this many people, because the flux you're seeing out of Syria is very far from the end of it.

This is why large regional disasters quickly tend to spread into adjacent regions. This is why it's important not to let regional disasters get out of hand, no matter how politically appealing isolationism may appear.

The second thing to be aware of is that this didn't happen in a vacuum: Europe has a very large Muslim population, and it seems that most of the attackers were French or Belgian citizens. This started out with Europe's colonial ambitions, back in the day: France, for example, ruled over Algeria with a mind-bogglingly bloodthirsty approach [3] for decades, but now has a large population of people with a right to French residence who have been moving in to the country in search of a better economic situation. (Hardly surprising, when you leave behind a colony wracked by a horrifying civil war for decades) And France is far from alone in this.

Europe's Muslim population is both profoundly European and profoundly not European. They are European in that they have been living there, often for more than a generation; they work there, they pay taxes, they have become as assimilated as they can. They are not European in that Europe has been profoundly unwilling to allow them to assimilate. This is far from a historical anomaly: Europe has historically defined itself in terms of villages or cities and their local populations, which one can't really join very easily. Groups marked as outsiders – be they Jews, Romany, or Muslims – have been considered only marginally European. At times, there has been a high degree of apparent assimilation: for example, Jews were thoroughly integrated into European culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, intermarrying, forming friendships and professional associations across the board. As you may notice, "thorough integration" can be an awfully chancy business.

Muslims in today's Europe, on the other hand, don't have anything close to this superficial level of integration; France has been routinely passing laws banning Muslims from dressing the way they did in their home countries in the past few years, which should tell you a great deal about local opinions of that population.

So you have a large population who finds it systematically hard to find work, impossible to be accepted, the regular target of police, and told every day that they should probably be kicked out of the country. I'm sure you will find it shocking that, if you do this to a few tens of millions of people for a few decades at a stretch, you will end up with a disillusioned and disenfranchised youth, some of which will combine this with the general hot-headedness and stupidity of being a young adult to become easy fodder for people who have shown up to recruit.

Lots of people seem to have half-assed solutions here, and they tend to be even more foolish than the solutions to the refugee crisis. "Send them back," the European right frequently cries: back to where? Most of the Muslim population is no longer fresh immigrants; they are second and third generation Europeans. They don't have homes anywhere else. The European left, on the other hand, preaches a mealymouthed combination of urging assimilation and unmistakeable racism.

For some context, go back to the Charlie Hebdo attacks several months ago. There was a large outcry, saying that what the magazine (a notable left-wing satirical organ) had been doing was entirely in the bounds of proper satire, that the satire of religion was a hallowed European tradition. What this explanation glosses over is that nobody on the receiving end of the satire saw it as satire of religion, for the simple reason that religious affiliation, in Europe as in the Middle East, has little to do with what you believe and much to do with who you are. Charlie Hebdo's targets weren't simply religious extremists preaching from Saudi mosques; they were a portrayal of the French Muslim population as violent extremists, the dangerous other. And that's precisely the European left-wing line: Muslims are fine, so long as they become completely European, to the extent that we can forget that they were ever from someone else. Which, realistically, might mean they have to intermarry for a few generations and acquire blue eyes and blond hair, but that's OK, we welcome them!

The honest fact is this: neither the European left nor the right have ever made the large Muslim community into a full part of society. One side has covered it in nice words, while the other side has blared its xenophobia from the rooftops, but nobody on the receiving end of either of these has been fooled.

You sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind. What did you expect was going to happen?

And then we come over to our friends in the Middle East, the psychotically bloodthirsty bastards of Da'esh itself. It's a bit off to even refer to them as Islamist extremists in the mold of al-Qaeda; they've gone so far off the rails of Islam that the only clear ideology that often seems left is power and murder. Exhortations from theologians of any stripe aren't really going to have an effect on them.

But they seem to have realized that they are on an upswing of power, nobody having the resources or will to stop them, and have come up with the idea of spreading this worldwide, with attacks spreading to places like Russia and France – and, as soon as they can, everywhere else. Because as far as anyone can tell, they want to take over the world.

(Yes, this is a kind of screwy plan, and they barely even control chunks of land in the ass end of Syria and Iraq. But they've had enough luck with killing people that they seem to have convinced themselves that if they engage in even more killing people, it'll continue to work just as well. [4])

They seem to have one fairly simple strategic objective with these new attacks: drive a hard wedge between Muslim and infidel populations around the world, so that the Muslims will have no choice but to join them and become their army, overthrowing the local governments and establishing a world-wide Caliphate.

Unfortunately, political stupidity seems likely to help them. If the response to these attacks is to further isolate Muslim populations – both settled and refugee – then they will certainly have a far easier time recruiting among them. It's not actually going to lead to them taking over the world, but it will lead to bloodshed.

This recruitment tends to take a few forms. One is to recruit fighters to come and help in the bloodshed in existing battlefields; the second is to recruit suicide bombers and the like in other countries. These are somewhat disjoint processes, since the process of recruiting someone to commit suicide is rather different and targets different sorts of people, but there is also overlap: one strategy which al-Qaeda long favored was to recruit people to come to places like Iraq, Afghanistan, or Chechnya to fight, and later export trained fighters elsewhere.

One important thing about these tactics is that they seem to be realizing that surprisingly little training and planning is required. Yesterday's attack required some coordination among teams, but nothing spectacular; it did require practice in gunplay. But even this was fairly complex compared to the bare minimum required; consider the amount of chaos caused by the D.C. Sniper back in 2002.

Da'esh poses a particular danger because they seem to have latched onto the idea of exporting their violence to the rest of the world, but they're hardly the first or the last group to do this. If they were to be wiped out, I wouldn't bet any money that someone else wouldn't get the same idea soon after, much like al-Qaeda did before them. It's not even a particularly regional idea; the notion that if we kill enough people we can restructure the world to be perfectly {Aryan, Muslim, Democratic, Christian, Communist, etc.}, or to be the economic vassal states of the {X} empire, is frankly a cliché by now on pretty much every square kilometer of the planet.

So let's review where we are, for a moment. There's a large European Muslim population which is disillusioned, disenfranchised, underemployed, and generally treated as outsiders and fair political punching bags by the society as a whole. There's a giant stream of refugees pouring in to Europe, combining huge numbers of people running for their lives from bloodthirsty maniacs with small numbers of bloodthirsty maniacs looking to recruit. There's a factory of particularly bloodthirsty maniacs with a vision of taking over the world through (a) killing people and (b) convincing the rest of the world to treat Muslims even more like outsiders, who are actively trying to both create refugee streams and send out recruiters, to this end.

At this point, I expect to hear a chorus of voices blaming two things for this: religion (specifically, Islam), and oil (specifically, the West's insatiable need for it). To which my main response to both is "hogwash."

The reason I reject Islam as an explanation for this is that there's nothing particularly Muslim about any of it. The European Muslims which are being treated as second-class citizens aren't being treated that way because they pray on rugs facing Mecca, rather than in pews facing an altar; they're being treated this way because they're "dirty foreigners." (I'll spare you the actual terms used to describe them) Da'esh's plan to take over the world isn't rooted in a theological destiny of Muslims; it's rooted in an explicitly political vision of conquest. And quite frankly, the people being shot at the most are Muslims, too; remember who the refugees were running from?

More profoundly, people in the Middle East aren't systematically any more religious than people are in America. You have the same spectrum from the wholly secular to the crazed fundamentalist, with the former predominating in cities and the latter in the countryside. There's a tendency to assume (for example) that any woman wearing a headscarf must be extremely devout, or subject to domination and terror by some devout man; you have to back away and look at it in its local context, where sometimes it's a sign of devotion or a political statement, but it's also just what people wear; for many people, walking around with one's hair exposed is not done in much the same way people don't walk around in most of the US or Europe with their asses hanging out.

Oil is generally used as a proxy for "if only the Americans|Europeans never intervened in the Middle East, it would be peaceful there!" This bespeaks a rather curious innocence as to the history of the Middle East, combined with a reversed vision of (generally American) exceptionalism, that somehow our surpassing evil can corrupt otherwise noble savages. It's certainly true that without oil, most of the Middle East would be desperately poor – but as it happens, most of it is desperately poor anyway. Oil is not uniformly distributed, and Syria doesn't have that much of it to begin with.

There is one sense in which this is true, which is that the 2003 invasion of Iraq created a spectacular disaster. George W. Bush's belief that if we just created enough of a power vacuum, democracy would magically rush in to fill the void – the precise belief which his fatherdidn't have, mind you, which is why GHWB made the explicit and deliberate decision to leave Saddam Hussein in power – proved to be exactly as unwise as it sounds when written so plainly. The result was a giant area of anarchy and civil war smack in the center of the Middle East, into which would-be fighters from all over the region (as well as other regions) swarmed: veterans of Chechnya and Bosnia found new employment in Iraq, as Sunnis and Shi'ites alike slaughtered one another. This anarchy, never resolved, has been the perfect factory of chaos which quite easily spilled over elsewhere.

But there's one profound factor which has driven the violence in the Middle East far more than oil ever could: water.

The entire Middle East has been in a water, and thus food, crisis for decades. In Egypt, for example, the Nile Valley has been drying out ever since the Aswan Dam was completed in 1970; as this once-fertile soil turned to desert, people have streamed into Cairo, doubling and tripling its population by forming tremendous shantytowns. Unemployment was extreme, as it's not like the cities suddenly had tens of millions of new jobs in them; the government kept order as well as it could by importing grain in tremendous quantities (the government's by-far largest annual expense) and selling bread cheaply. Unfortunately, a drought in Russia and Ukraine, Egypt's primary suppliers, caused those countries to cut off wheat exports in 2011 – and the government collapsed soon after.

Syria is a similar story: the lead-in to the collapse of Bashar al-Assad's dictatorship was steady droughts in the Syrian countryside driving people into the cities by the hundreds of thousands, leading to mass unemployment and unrest. People's livelihoods had simply disappeared. Stories like this repeat across the entire Middle East.

When we talk about the ultimate causes of the situation, this is the fact we tend to ignore: at the root of it, there isn't enough water, and there isn't enough food, and droughts have been hitting the area harder and harder for a decade. When there isn't enough food, people move from the countryside to the cities; and now you have giant groups of people who still don't have jobs or food, and that's a recipe for the collapse of governments as surely today as it was in Europe in the 1840's.

If you've ever wondered why I have often said that we need to be very actively worried about climate change, this is it. Changing climate breaks agriculture in various areas; the people who were farming there don't magically turn into factory workers or teleport to places which are (slowly) becoming more fertile; they become desperate former farmers, generally flooding into cities.

So given all of this, what can we actually conclude? I think the most important thing is that you can't bury your head in the sand, and assume that problems in some other part of the world aren't your own. A drought or a civil war somewhere else can easily start to spill over in unexpected ways.

If you want to avoid terrible consequences, what you have to do is plan, and in particular never let kindling build up. For example:

(1) If you have a large, disenfranchised, population, this is trouble waiting to start. The only way to fix this problem is to enfranchise them: give them a full stake in your society. Yes, that means treating people who are very different from you like full equals. Yes, it also means that your society – that is, the set of people that you're responsible for – now includes a bunch of people who are a lot poorer than you are, and this is going to be expensive to fix. You're not going to like it. But you're going to like the alternative a whole lot less.

(2) If there's political instability, or worst of all, food supply instability somewhere else in the world, it doesn't matter how far away it seems: you need to get together with everyone else and have a serious plan to deal with it. Once masses of hundreds of thousands of people start streaming across the countryside, chaos will follow in their wake.

(3) Climate change isn't an abstract fear for the future; it's a major political problem right now.You can't punt it away and talk about what to do about carbon emissions or its effect on the economy; you have to sit down and come up with serious strategic plans for what to do when agricultural productivity in critical breadbaskets drops sharply, or watersheds dry up. Contingency planning for any government needs to include anything from hurricanes to long-term droughts, and not just as one-offs, but what to do if these start happening a lot. The reason you need to plan for this is that it's not a goddamned hypothetical, you idiot.

What do we do in the short term? This is harder, because right now Da'esh has been sending agents across the planet to cause as much trouble as they can. One obvious prong of the solution is ordinary police work; that's proven far more effective than complex intelligence solutions at catching terrorists. Another prong is stopping their support system at the root. Because Da'esh's plans are so focused on actual conquest, a collapse of their regime back home is likely to have more of an effect on their satellite agents than the collapse of a more ideologically-oriented organization like al-Qaeda.

A third prong is to stabilize the situation in Syria: here the key isn't so much blowing anyone up as giving people a way to stop fighting. There are three key obstacles to this. One is Da'esh, which seems to be pretty committed to fighting for its own sake; this is unlikely fixable by any means short of straightforward military defeat. One is the underlying lack of food availability. The third is that quite a lot of people have reason to believe that they will be killed either if al-Assad regains power, or if he loses power. They need a serious guarantee of personal safety in any peace.

What this probably means is that a peace agreement will require very heavy international support: aid to rebuild the country, neutral military forces to guarantee cease-fires, and some way to deal with the underlying economic issues. That's going to require heavy international coordination of the profoundly unsexy sort: not deploying giant militaries to bomb targets and wave banners, or propping up regimes and helping them "suppress insurgencies," but working on the long-term realities of helping locals build a government that they're invested in – even when said government is unlikely to be either similar to Western norms, or friendly to Western aims. Military force to crush Da'esh is almost certainly needed as a precondition to this, but it's by far the smaller part of the game.

The short version is: if you want to fix problems, you're going to have to deal with some very serious, expensive, and unsexy solutions. Because life isn't simple, and you can't just bomb your way out of trouble.

[1] See this recent editorial for the argument for switching to the term Da'esh more broadly: [Thanks to +Lisa Straanger for finding this more in-depth discussion than the Boston Globe op-ed which I had earlier cited]

[2] cf, for example, this infographic:

[3] cf, for example, this obituary of a proud French torturer:

[4] cf