Friday, February 27, 2015

Remain Calm. All is Not Well

John Kerry is taking heat for saying the world is a safer place. To be fair to him, it is. But justifying his low ranking among our secretaries of state, that is irrelevant to American security which he is supposed to advance through diplomacy.

So here we go:

Kerry testified at a separate hearing that, "Despite ISIL, despite the visible killings that you see and how horrific they are, we are actually living in a period of less daily threat to Americans and to people in the world than normally; less deaths, less violent deaths today, than through the last century."

But hold on:

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, testifying on Capitol Hill, catalogued the growing terror-fueled violence in stark terms.

"When the final accounting is done, 2014 will have been the most lethal year for global terrorism in the 45 years such data has been compiled," Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

It is almost too easy to recall Animal House:

To be fair to Kerry, both statements are actually correct.

Let me explain, as I did when President Obama made Kerry's claim:

President Obama has stirred some outrage by saying that we are safer now from terrorism than we have ever been; and saying that we only think the world is more dangerous because of Twitter and whatnot making us more aware of disorder. Most narrowly, I imagine he is actually correct--and yet 100% wrong.

On world disorder, I have no doubt that a look at global statistics would show the world growing less violent over the last 25 years.

This is the peace dividend of our victory in the Cold War as Soviet support for violence around the world ended and the impact of that support dwindled over time.

Yet does less violence in much of the Third World mean anything for our security when we face increased threats in eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the western Pacific? These are the areas that matter to our national security.

As much as we (and those living in those areas) can be grateful that violence in sub-Sahara Africa and Latin America is down, that is not sufficient to make up for the increased violence and threats in our areas of interest.

Similarly, given the massive amount of money that we have spent to create a homeland defense apparatus (the civil liberties aspect of that aside), I have no doubt that the president is technically correct that we are safer now than in 2001.

But this reflects an ability to detect and repel attacks from a greater array of threats rather than a reduction in those overseas threats to us.

Would we pass out Kevlar body armor to the people of Chicago and then tell them that they are now safer because their chance of dying in gun violence is dramatically lower now?

What the president has told us is, at best, accurate but fake.

These measures the president cites are no reason to believe we are not still engaged in the Long War against Islamo-fascist terrorism that we realized we were in 13 years ago.

I quoted the whole thing. Fair use doesn't apply to myself, eh?

I'm sure if you searched Strategypage, you could find the statistics to show the decline in deaths.

That doesn't mean America is safer when Russia is regaining power and is nursing a sense of persecution as it carves up Ukraine and threatens NATO states; when China is growing in power and seeking a role befitting its new power; when Iran is working for nuclear weapons, and when Venezuela and Argentina have foreign targets that could tempt their leaders to distract their people.

And Lord knows what is going on in Mexico where narco-"governments" at the regional level using jihadi terror tactics compete with the actual local governments and the corrupt national government.

Then when you consider all those threats despite the lowering of the body count, you have to admit that the potential for really bad body counts is expanding. What is Kerry doing about that other than going on about global warming as a threat and dreaming of a Nobel Peace Prize for getting Iran to pretend to stop their nuclear work?

Oh, and there is still that post 9/11 war against jihadis who are slaughtering across the arc of crisis from Libya to Afghanistan. Which has gotten worse.

Yet John Kerry is our chief diplomat who is tasked with keeping these threats from becoming a military problem.

If only he would be the only one to get trampled when that fails. Now that would be fair to John Kerry. Alas, that's not how it works. Face it people, we're an interpretive dance away from chaos.

Come on people, we pivoted to Asia on the assumption that Europe was peaceful and the Middle East quiet only to find Europe is a new theater that demands our attention and the Middle East had but a few years of looking quiet as an all-too short peace dividend of our battlefield victory in Iraq before it became an even bigger call on our attention.

Remain calm. But not all is well. The world that matters to us is not better.