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Stratfor: Paris Attack Underscores a Deeper Malaise

Geopolitical Diary
Courtesy, Stratfor Global Intelligence

THURSDAY, JANUARY 8, 2015 – 02:33 GMT
 
 
Wednesday’s deadly attack against a French satirical publication has the potential to upset relations between European states and their Muslim citizenries. The strategic intent behind such attacks is precisely to sow this kind of crisis, as well as to influence French policy and recruit more jihadists. Even though Islamist extremism is, at its core, an intra-Muslim conflict, such incidents will draw in non-Muslims, exacerbating matters.

Three suspected Islamist militants attacked the Paris office of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo with high-powered assault rifles, killing 12 people. Among the dead are the editor and cartoonist Stephane Charbonnier, who was on a hit list appearing in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s Inspire magazine for “insulting the Prophet Mohammed.” Eyewitness said they heard the attackers shouting, “We have avenged the Prophet Mohammed,” and chanting, “God is Great” in Arabic. This is the third such attack in a Western country in less than three months. The Paris incident involves perpetrators who displayed sophisticated small arms and small unit training.

Whether or not these attacks are the handiwork of self-motivated grassroots jihadists and cells or of individuals tied to international jihadist entities, such incidents aggravate tense relations between the Western and Muslim worlds. This is all the more significant in Europe, where states are experiencing the rise of right-wing nationalism and Muslim communities have long experienced disaffection. The jihadist objective is to get the states to crack down harder on Muslim communities in order to further their narrative that the West is waging war on Islam and Muslims.

While Western states go to great lengths to demonstrate that no such clash of civilizations is occurring, right-wing forces engage in rhetoric that reinforces these fears among many common Muslims across the world. More important, there is a longstanding conflict of values — particularly freedom of expression, which is cherished in the West but seen by many Muslims as a license for sacrilege. Though the vast majority of Muslims will not engage in violence in response to speech deemed as blasphemous, there are many who will. In Pakistan, the blasphemy law has been a subject of huge controversy. Many Pakistani citizens have been murdered by their fellow countrymen for speech or behavior deemed objectionable. At the root of this problem is the extreme discomfort many Muslims have with free expression, although this attitude is not universal. The person of the Prophet Mohammed is all the more sensitive because the traditional view is that he cannot be depicted pictorially, let alone in a satirical manner.

Ultimately, this is an intra-Muslim struggle for power and control wrapped in a debate over what it means to be a Muslim in today’s world and what the boundaries of justifiable action are. Defining those factors is one tool that can be used to gain power; attacks against the West and its interests, meant to force Westerners to pull out of Muslim lands or to attack Muslims and enforce the jihadist narrative, are another. This issue undermines efforts by moderate and progressive Muslims to advance the notion of freedoms based on an Islamic ethos.

The ongoing intra-Muslim debate gives extremists ample ideological and, by extension, geopolitical space to exploit. The jihadist enterprise deliberately targets non-Muslims, in particular the West, in part as a means to gain ground within the Muslim milieu. This strategy also sucks the Western world into what is essentially a Muslim civil war in order to tackle the security threats posed by Islamist militant actors.

However, Western involvement in this internal debate will not help defeat extremism or ease relations between Muslims and the West. The end of jihadism will come only when Muslims defeat their own deviants on the ideological battleground.
 
 
Paris Attack Underscores a Deeper Malaise is republished with permission of Stratfor.
 
 
 

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“Jerusalem’s chief rabbi Shlomo Amar shakes hands with an Imam as leaders from the Christian and Muslim community come to show their support outside a synagogue after yesterday two terrorists from East Jerusalem entered the Kehilat Yaakov synagogue in the Jewish orthodox neighborhood of Har Nof, Jerusalem, with pistols and axes, and began attacking Jewish worshipers, November 19, 2014.” (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“Friends, relatives, and religious dignitaries mourn near the coffin of Israeli police officer Zidan Saif, 30, a member of Israel’s Druze minority, during his funeral in his northern home village of Yanuh-Jat, on November 19, 2014. Saif was killed the day before trying to intervene when two Palestinians armed with a gun and meat cleavers burst into a Jerusalem synagogue and killed four Israelis.” (photo credit: AFP/JACK GUEZ)

 

Original story: http://www.timesofisrael.com/death-toll-rises-to-five-in-har-nof-synagogue-terror-attack/

 
 
The Druze revere Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, as a prophet. It was Jethro (Yitro) who, upon seeing Moses so exhausted by the burdens of leadership, suggested that he find a way to appropriately delegate his authority. In the Torah, Jethro is the first person ever to be accorded the esteemed title, “Righteous Gentile.”
 
 
This post is intentionally untitled. There are no words anyway.
 
 
 

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The Oil Bomb

barrel

Fuel efficiency is our best weapon against over-priced petroleum and the security problems posed by drilling for it in politically unstable regions. 

If American vehicles could be run on less than 38% of the fuel they currently use, then US domestic oil production capacity would exceed national consumption. Oil prices would plummet. Terrorism, funded in large part by oil revenues, would wither on its wretched vine. Consumers and companies would save vast sums every day (year after year) by virtue of what they won’t spend on gasoline for their engines. 

Granted, Mobil and other companies would have to make do with significantly lower profits, but that’s a price I’m sure the public would be happy to pay.  

So, how do we get from here (the desperate situation in which we find ourselves) to there (a world in which terrorism, economic insecurity and high oil prices are a thing of the past)?

Answer: The Oil Bomb

The “oil bomb” is my nickname for a technological advancement that effectively (and rapidly) degrades the perceived value of petroleum. Ideally, it should be compatible with the infrastructure that has been put in place to service our present addiction to ‘fossil fuels’ and not require that new types of fueling or charging stations be built in order to gain consumer acceptance. It should be convenient to use and not be contingent upon foreignly-sourced material content. In a perfect world, it would make cars less expensive and reduce the amount of parts used in their manufacture — which also means fewer things to break down.

And here it is: US Patent document #7327105. (PDF – 1.2 MB)

(There are other devices, of course, but I rate this one Most Promising.)

The design depicted in the attached art offers a highly efficient electric drive suitable for operating a motor vehicle. It features variable torque (basically, a virtual automatic transmission) and surprising power (imagine a motor not much bigger than a proverbial breadbox pulling a loaded 767 around the tarmac). It’s compatible both with fully electric car designs as well as with serial-hybrid [gas:electric] technologies (where it really shines), offering the advantages of both AC and DC drives — and the sort of performance one would expect from a sporty gas-powered vehicle. 

Implementation should be relatively quick and painless. Maybe we set up a government-subsidised retrofit program for existing cars… which might even recoup some of our lost auto sector assembly jobs… and also give our parts manufacturers a needed boost. 

Of course, there are other “oil bomb” options as well, though some of these will completely invalidate petroleum as a fuel. I won’t go into too many details on those other options because oil happens to be an almost perfect fuel, though we shouldn’t use nearly as much of it as we do. 
 

Other ways to quickly degrade the value of oil:

Oil could be made useless as a fuel by biological means. (We already have anaerobic bacteria that will eat oil spills.) This would be very disruptive to the world’s current economic and industrial systems and many, many millions of people would perish; or 

Oil could be completely replaced by a more advanced technology. This, though, may lead to extremely dangerous developments in the world of weapons, not to mention the possibility of do-it-yourself’ers blowing themselves up — along with their neighborhoods. 

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