Saturday, November 28, 2015

What Should be Done to Defeat ISIS and Other Islamo-Terrorist Groups?

This post gives a more specific solution than I have given before to the Islamo-Terrorism problems that are affecting the entire world.

Neither ISIS nor al Qaeda could openly exist in the United States or many other countries. Why? Because we wouldn't put up with terrorists, or any group who tried to control our lives. Let 10,000 ISIS militants materialize in Texas and see how long they'd last. 

So here's the only real solution. The men in these predominantly Muslim countries must come together and beat ISIS and other terrorist groups.

As far as an organized group of fighting men goes, the Arab League, which is an organization that consists of about 22 Arabic-speaking countries, with a population of over 400 million (compare to the US population of 310 million) has plenty of men and natural resources. For more information about it, check out the Wikipedia page at Arab League. 

It did not have much of a military component until they voted in 2015 to have a military to fight terrorism. They will need time to form a well-organized, capable military, and the United States and other countries can help with this, but only at the request of the Arab League. 

We, and other countries, can provide advice, and air support with fighters and bombers in conjunction with the Arab League. But they need to provide the 'boots on the ground'.

I emphatically do not want the United States to become involved in another land war in the Middle East.

(We should have Special Operations forces and our intelligence agencies over in Middle East in order to find any terrorist groups who have attacked or who are planning to attack the United States. If any are found, we can eliminate their threat without going to war). 

Why is the solution of having the Arab League fight ISIS a good one? We have had wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and lost thousands of American military lives, and have had ten times as many severe injuries. And to what avail? None. We may actually have made matters worse. (This is not the fault of our military, but mostly of the Bush administration that got us involved in these wars). 

If the United States, even working with a coalition of other countries, defeats ISIS, another group will pop up and take its place. 

On the other hand, if the Arab League fought and defeated ISIS, al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups, that would mean that most of those in these predominantly Muslim countries will have said no to terrorism, and even to Sharia Law.

Those Muslims that support Sharia Law support laws that infringe on the individual rights of others, especially those of women. Sharia Law is not sustainable and it is only when the vast majority of Muslims reject it, that there will there be a lasting peace in the Middle East. 

I do not know what the chances are that the Arab League will form a military strong enough to defeat ISIS and other terrorist groups. But if they do, this would imply that most Muslims reject terrorism and Sharia Law from being enforced. And that is the only way to have peace in the Middle East. 

That is the end of my main thesis. 

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Does this relate to whether or not the United States should accept thousands of Syrian refugees? Not directly, but very much so indirectly. 

Currently, Muslims in the United States have a lower murder rate than non-Muslims in the United States, even including Islamo-Terrorist attacks in our country. 

And I want to keep it that way. One reason is that if Muslim immigrants start committing more terrorist attacks, it will be bad for the vast majority of peaceful American Muslims. And it may lead an American land war in the Middle East.

Letting in Syrian refugees will likely lead to negative consequences for the United States, and for peaceful Muslims.

Here are some quotes from a site about Syrian refugees in Europe. The quotes are from:

Survey of Syrian Refugees in Europe

"As the United States moves forward in letting 10,000 Syrian refugees into the country, a survey says that 13 percent of the
Syrian refugees in Europe sympathize with the Islamic State.


"The poll by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies surveyed 900 refugees in what it called 'the largest public opinion poll conducted in the Arab region'.


"The survey also found that 10 percent of the displaced Syrian refugees have a mixed or lukewarm — but not entirely negative — view of the terror group. In response to the survey’s findings, Investors’ Business Daily pointed out, 'That means 23% — or almost 1 in 4 — could be susceptible to ISIS recruitment.'


"Asked about national security concerns over Syrian refugees, FBI Director James Comey told the House Judiciary Committee, 'The only thing we can query is information that we have. And so if we have no information on someone, they’ve never crossed our radar screen, never been a ripple in the pond, there will be no record of them there. And so it will be challenging.'


"And National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas Rasmussen added, 'The intelligence picture we have of this particular conflict zone is not as rich as we would like it to be'."


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This is a strong argument for not letting into our country Syrian
refugees. There is little to gain and much to lose if we do.

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Tim Farage is a Senior Lecturer in the Computer Science Department at The University of Texas at Dallas. The views expressed herein are those of the author.



Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Global Warming, Clean Energy, Prosperity, and an Enlightened Civilization

A question was asked of me recently about how urgent is the threat of global warming. Since, I'd answered this before, I thought I'd summarize previous answers and then move on to what would really make a difference.

Global projections from current data show a global warming from 1.3 to 1.9C per century. Even if it is a bit higher, say 2.5C by the year 2100, it will be disruptive in some areas, but others will benefit.

If we tried to slow down GW using something like a carbon tax, I've not seen any analyses that the current proposals would have any significant effects. Actually, they would make energy more expensive, which would hurt the poor the most.
Here are some suggestions that would make a difference:


1) In the US, when we need a new broad-based electrical power plant, we've been building natural gas plants. These burn very clean - they emit very little pollution, and they also emit less CO2 than a coal plant. Coal plants' pollution kill millions of people every year around the world. So we want to encourage China, India and other developing nations to use natural gas instead of coal.

2) Conservation efforts have saved money and lessened pollution in the United States. Houses and buildings that are well-insulated and have modern energy-efficient windows save money and reduce pollution. And our automobiles become more efficient and less polluting every year.
 
3) Invest in making nuclear power, solar power, and wind power affordable. These give off no pollution and no CO2. We’ll never run out of sunlight or wind, and there's enough fuel for nuclear plants to last for hundreds or thousands of years.

4) If we can use Thorium as a fuel for nuclear plants, that would be a great help to the world. First, Thorium plants cannot have meltdowns, and second, Thorium cannot be used to make nuclear weapons.

5) And perhaps most importantly, it is prosperity that allows a country to be able to afford pollution controls, conservation efforts, and to be able generate energy cleanly.

Prosperity comes from free-markets, and free-trade. Both of these require governments that are constitutional democracies - governments that protect individual rights. Only governments that protect individual rights are sustainable.

And there are other huge benefits from being a prosperous country.

One of these is that by having inexpensive, clean energy, the world will eventually solve one of its biggest problems – having enough energy for all. This lowers the cost of virtually everything. And that leads to even more prosperity, which leads to a good education for all – for every child in the world.

This can happen this century, making this century the most pivotal one in humanity’s history.

As a very nice consequence, prosperous countries don't go to war with each other.

And most importantly, all of us will get to choose whether we will then turn our efforts toward becoming more spiritual – to grow toward God, and to use out talents to make the world a better place.

If most of us do make this choice, this century will truly be the most pivotal one in humanity’s history.

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Tim Farage is a Senior Lecturer in the Computer Science Department at The  University of Texas at Dallas. The views expressed herein are those of  the author.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What should we do about the Islamic State?

On November 13, 2015, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks—consisting of mass shootings, suicide bombings, and hostage-taking—occurred in Paris, the capital of France, and its northern suburb, Saint-Denis. Over 120 people were murdered and over 400 injured.

France has temporarily closed its borders, and is reviewing its security procedures related to immigrants. It has also bombed many sites in Syria that they believe harbored terrorists.

How should the United States respond?

For months, the United States has been bombing ISIS and other Islamo-Terrorist targets, mainly using our Special Ops forces to identify targets for our drones.  It is not known how effective this has been. We have not been battling them with our soldiers.
Many in the United States think that we should put 'boots on the ground' to fight ISIS and other terrorists.

But we should learn from our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Former President Bush thought that removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and helping to install a constitutional democracy there, would lead to an Arab Spring. Not only did this not occur; a plausible argument can be made that it has made matters much worse in much of the Muslim world. ISIS and other terrorist groups can move from country to country, and so defeating them in a war may be virtually impossible to do.

Furthermore, I do not believe we ought to go to war with ISIS. Yes, they would like to destroy us, but they cannot do this from outside of our borders.

More importantly, I think that ISIS and other Islamo-Terrorist groups are able to exist in the countries that they operate in because a significant minority of the population support them. Many support having Sharia Law as the law of the land, as described in the Koran, and Sharia Law allows women virtually no rights. But ISIS is not able to get a foothold in countries like the United Arab Emirates, who will not put up with terrorists. 

And they would not be able to get a foothold in the United States, either, because we would not put up with them. And this is why I do not wish to risk American military lives battling ISIS.

I believe the only way to defeat ISIS and other such Islamo-Terrorist groups is for the MEN in those countries to fight against them. When enough of them decide to do so, ISIS will cease to exist.

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What can the United States do to Protect Itself? 

First, it should be noted that attacks from terrorists in the United States have come from within our country. Terrorists do not have military jets or missiles that can reach us. Also, since 9/11/2001 terrorists attacks here have not killed that many Americans. And another 9/11 type of attack is unlikely just because we reinforced cockpit doors. A terrorist might be able to blow up a jet, but would not be able to take control of one.

At the same time, an internal attack here like the one in Paris would cause a great deal of fear, and our leaders might feel compelled to go to war. The cost in lives and money would be extremely high. And the peaceful Muslims who are here would suffer as well.

The main job of the Commander in Chief of the United States is to preserve and protect the people of the United States. It is not to bring democracy to the world, or to force our values upon other countries. And it is not to prove to the world how nice we are. With that, here are specific suggestions that will enhance our security:

1) As mentioned above, don't go to war with terrorists. 

(If our intelligence agencies find overseas groups who are planning
attacks in America, Special Ops can take them out).

2) We have troops in over 100 countries around the world. We still have tens of thousands in South Korea, and more in Japan, and England, and Turkey. Are these troops sent there to protect America? I don't see how. Let's bring most of them home where they can protect our borders and ports. (They would have to be in the National Guard or Border Patrol to do this).

This would help to prevent a worst-case scenario of a terrorist group sneaking in an atomic bomb.

3) We should build some sort of high-tech fence along our borders that are vulnerable. This, along with the increased protection afforded by an increase in the National Guard and Border Patrol, will help to make sure we let into our country those who we want to be in our country. If we brought home most of the troops we have stationed abroad, we'd save money doing this.

4) Become oil independent from Middle Eastern oil - and Russian oil. After 9/11, we could have gotten all the oil we need from Canada, Mexico, and from our own country within a decade. Sadly, there are some environmentalists here who don't want this. Somehow they think we can just transition out of using oil in a few years. They don't think of how much it would harm the poor in our country to have high gasoline prices. 

5) We have always had immigrants. There are many millions of people that would love to immigrate to the United States. And who can blame them? Where I teach at The University of Texas at Dallas, most of our graduate students in Computer Science and other technical areas, are foreign students, mostly from Asia, but some from almost every country. And there are quite a few Muslims. If they get a degree, and find a job, as most do, let's do a background check and then offer them a Green Card. They are young, talented, and will likely raise their children well, because most come from cultures that value caring for and educating their children.   

Many of the top officials in the FBI, Homeland Security, and the CIA, don't believe we have the ability to do the kinds of background checks needed to keep terrorists from getting in, when we have a large influx of immigrants from predominately Muslim countries, such as those trying to leave Syria. My grandparents are from Syria and Lebanon, and my family still has relatives there. Yet, it would be unwise to allow so many unfortunate immigrants into the United States, until we have a system in place that can minimize the chance of terrorists of getting in. 

And we KNOW they will try. The FBI already has a list of about a thousand immigrants who they are trying to watch carefully, because they are considered a terrorist threat. We don't want to add to this list.

What about the controversial idea of letting in Christians or Jews or those of other religions? I want every immigrant to be vetted, just as you would vett a stranger before you'd let them into your house. But less vetting would be needed for these other religions, because we wouldn't have to vett for ties to terrorist groups.

6) Keep expanding free trade with countries in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Free trade increases prosperity for all. And prosperity brings education, the desire for freedom, the desire to provide good things for one's family, and lessens the chances that a guy will wander off to join a terrorist group.

A Note to my Muslim Friends in America

If there was an ISIS attack in America as there just was in France, your life here as Muslims would be much more difficult. It would benefit all of us to carefully vett Muslim immigrants.
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Tim Farage is a Senior Lecturer in the Computer Science Department at The  University of Texas at Dallas. The views expressed herein are those of  the author.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

What are the Biggest Threats to our Environment?


Interestingly, and happily, in the United States and in other prosperous countries, pollution of all forms has decreased over the last few decades. Our air, rivers, and lakes are cleaner now than they have been, and still getting cleaner. Why? Automobiles burn gas much more efficiently, and have catalytic converters. The amount of industrial waste is decreasing because of legislation, and because industries are finding inexpensive ways to turn their wastes into substances that are of value. Conservation measures are increasing and becoming more affordable every year.
 

Importantly, the way we generate energy is much cleaner now. New power plants usually use natural gas, which burns very cleanly. And more and more energy will be derived from solar and wind power.  Nuclear power plants give off no pollution or greenhouse gasses. And the new Gen. IV nuclear power plants are passively safe, and can even 'burn' previously-made nuclear waste. If we'd follow France's lead, we could get 70% of our electricity inexpensively from nuclear power and soon get the rest from solar and wind energy. 

So I'm not really worried about prosperous countries’ pollution. Except for one: noise pollution. It is more damaging than most people realize, and we need to do more to make our cities quieter. Silence is truly golden. 

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What about global warming? The best data we have shows a warming of less than 2C by the year 2100. That shouldn't be much of a problem, and may actually be better for humanity as a whole.
 

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What about the developing world? China and India alone account for about 2.5 billion of the Earth's 7 billion inhabitants. They are giving off an increasing amount of pollution and greenhouse gasses. And other developing countries are responsible for deforestation. However, as they get more prosperous, as almost all counties are, they will have the resources to cut pollution. And they will be able to use our advances in solar power, wind power and nuclear power to develop more quickly. 

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Worried about a population explosion? It's not happening. We have 7 billion people now and demographers expect world population to top out at 9 to 10 billion people. There is plenty of food, water, and other natural resources for that many people. Consider that the continuing exponential growth of technology has made and will continue to make our natural resources less expensive, and will allow us to recycle them inexpensively. They don't disappear. (Except for fossil fuels, which we will need little of as the decades pass).

Actually, UNDER-population is a big concern in developed nations. Russia, Japan, Italy, Spain and many other nations are literally dying off. (Immigration helps, but is not a long-term solution).
 
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So what am I worried about?

There are too many of us who terrorize, murder, rape, and steal. 

There are too many of us who hold hate in our hearts for others.  

There are too many of us who don’t take responsibility for our thoughts, words or deeds.

And there are too many of us in the United States who want to force others, using legislation and the courts, to live our lives, run our businesses, and educate our children, by what they believe is best, and not how we believe is best for ourselves and our children.

It is we who are the biggest threats to humanity.
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Tim Farage is a Senior Lecturer in the Computer Science Department at The University of Texas at Dallas. The views expressed herein are those of the author. You are welcome to comment upon this blog entry and/or to contact him at tfarage@hotmail.com.
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