Boots & Sabers

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0616, 17 Nov 15

The Islamic State rends the fabric of Western civilization

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here it is:

It had been a long time since a foreign power darkened the City of Light, but the Islamic State did just that last week. Hours after President Barack Obama declared that “we have contained them,” the Islamic State killed at least 129 people and injured hundreds more in synchronous suicide attacks on several locations in Paris.

The Paris attack is, sadly, another in a string of attacks perpetrated by the Islamic State as they have continued their aggressive growth. From a small band of terrorists forged in the power vacuum of Iraq in 2011, the Islamic State has grown into a powerful, depraved quasi-nation with separatist outposts on three continents.

Since June, the Islamic State has killed 38 tourists on a beach in Tunisia; 102 people in Ankara, Turkey; 224 people on a Russian airplane leaving Egypt; 18 people at a funeral in Baghdad; 44 people in south Beirut; and many other smaller attacks. They have been flexing their terrorist muscles on foreign soil in an effort to strike terror into their enemies, recruit more fanatics to their cause and fulfill what they believe to be their sacred duty to kill anyone who does not share their Islamic faith.

The attacks in Paris were not an aberration. They were the furtherance of a strategy. There will be more. Many more.

How should America respond to the certainty that America will soon see attacks like those that have been spreading to other nations?

On the defensive side of the coin, there is a lot that we can do. The Islamic State has shown an affinity to strike at soft targets — places where there are large groups of unarmed people. Take the Paris attacks as an example. The attacks were coordinated to happen at the same time, but they were not particularly sophisticated. They did not require a tremendous amount of preparation, money or time to carry out. It took less than 10 fanatics who were willing to die for their cause to assemble some crude, inexpensive weaponry, and fan out into the city at the same time. A couple of the thugs failed to penetrate a stadium and were limited to only killing a couple of people. Some of them just massacred theatergoers without any plan other than to kill until they were killed. What should worry us is the ease of which a handful of slapdash terrorists can kill so many.

These kinds of attacks could easily happen in America. One way to make them more difficult and mitigate the damage when they occur is to harden our targets. Americans have long been a proud, independent, free people who took responsibility for safeguarding their liberties against all threats. Any American who is able should consider it their duty to arm themselves and be prepared to defend themselves and others. When a terrorist reaches his hand out in America, he should feel the thorns instead of the rose.

Our public policy should align with supporting a free people vigorously protecting their liberties. Instead of politicians carving out more soft targets with gun-free zones and onerous restrictions on law-abiding citizens, they should remind Americans that each of us take responsibility for the liberties that we all share. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration is advocating policies that would disarm more Americans in a naive and disingenuous promise that the government can protect us all the time. It is worth remembering that Paris has some of the strictest gun restrictions in the world.

On offense, the choices are far less clear. The Islamic State is run by people who consider it their religious duty to kill us. In fact, they consider killing us to be a path to paradise. Such people cannot be swayed with diplomacy or soothed by concessions. The only way to stop them is to imprison them or kill them — and there are not enough jails to imprison all of them.

But America should not be the only nation to expend blood and treasure to eliminate a threat to all of Western civilization. While the Islamic State can reach America, its proximity to other nations makes their cooperation both necessary and possible. America should lead in building a broad coalition of international forces to invade the Islamic State’s strongholds with overwhelming force. They cannot be defeated with drones and squads. They can be defeated with tanks and divisions.

Unfortunately, building such a coalition is unlikely with President Barack Obama in office. Under his direction, America has retreated from world leadership and ceded too much power to other nations. From his early abandonment of the Iranian rebels, to the evaporation of his “red line” for Syria, to his estrangement from Israel, to his silence on Ukraine, to his cold shoulder to Poland, foreign leaders do not trust Obama enough to enter into such a precarious enterprise with him. Much like Obama is incapable of building coalitions among his own countrymen in Congress, he lacks the skills and temperament to build and lead an international coalition against the Islamic State. Americans will just have to hunker down and wait for the next president to take on the difficult task of eliminating the Islamic State.


0616, 17 November 2015


  1. Kevin Scheunemann

    Owen for president!

    Excellent column.

  2. Pat

    Let’s remember that ISIS has killed more Muslims than any one else.

  3. Kevin Scheunemann


    Were they Muslims? Why would ISIS kill Muslims? Answer: Simply because they were not Muslim enough. That is what Islam calls for at its core scripture when it comes to non-Muslims.

    So I have to question whether the “Muslims” ISIS has killed were really Muslims. ISIS has, and is killing all non-Muslims, as fulfillment of the Islamic scripture.

    Islam has no formal instruction concerning mercy, compassion, and forgiveness, for those that truly follow the Koran, especially for those that do not qualify as true Muslims.

  4. The Bystander

    “rends the fabric of Western civilization”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Really Owen???

    You might want to take a tip from Emore Leonard

    “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it”

  5. Pat


    But they are still Muslims.

  6. Kevin Scheunemann


    If those Muslims do not practice the Koran to the level of ISIS, are they true Muslims, or Muslims in name only?

    Islam’s only, cold, and empty spiritual goal is to make more Muslims. Koran says if they refuse to convert, “kill them”. Grace, mercy, and compassion are not part of the Muslim religion. Those that have, and practice, those qualities, and refuse Jihad, really don’t follow the instruct of the Koran. If the Muslim followed Jihad, ISIS would not kill them.

    Can one be a follower of a religion, while openly rejecting it’s basic beliefs?

  7. Pat


    I can’t even attempt to respond to that gibberish.

  8. old baldy

    Kinda like the Spanish Inquisition and Crusades. Maybe kevin could tell us why they are different.

  9. Kevin Scheunemann


    The bible does not have a “convert or kill” instruction under the New Testament covenant.

  10. old baldy


    Then why such a horrible history of slaughter of those of other faiths? Or do you only believe history that suits your purpose?

  11. Steve Austin

    As we discuss this topic and the left reflexively shouts “Crusades!” I shout back that the situation today is more analgous to the Battle of Tours.

    And in the words of Kate Upton, who will be our Charles Martel? It sure won’t be Barack Obama.

  12. Kevin Scheunemann


    I don’t deny history. I only question the historical people you point to were living up to their Christianity.

    Christianity has no convert or kill instruction like Islam.

  13. old baldy


    Huh? So you condone murder of innocents in the name of christianity? What a guy.

  14. Kevin scheunemann


    I’m saying if they called themselves Christian and did overt evil in action, contrary to the gospel, they were not Christian. In other words, if you say you are Christian and constantly kill, hurt, or steal from others, are you Christian? Answer is no.

    Let’s focus on today, and the “JV team” that is kicking Obama around and making us look foolish as a force for freedom in the world.

  15. Pat


    What course of action, in your opinion,should the United States take against the ISIS?

  16. Kevin Scheunemann

    Since we are at war, defeat ISIS.

    To do less puts us all at risk and Paris will be everyday life.

  17. Pat

    What specifically, in your opinion, do we need to do to defeat ISIS?

  18. Jerry Johnson

    Kevin, the Christian bible says we should kill anyone working on Sunday, how’s that going to work out?

  19. Kevin Scheunemann


    Old Testament ceremonial law is overwritten by Christ’s New Testament covenant. So if you are referring to Old Testament ceremonial tradition/law, you need to read the New Testament to understand those traditions have changed.

    You are welcome to an in depth bible study at my church on this anytime.

    Appreciate the comment. Keeps me sharp.


    First step: elect a commander in chief that can recognize evil and acknowledge that evil is at war with us. (Vs. referring to them as “JV Team while ISIS attacks our ally civilian populations with impunity.)

    So a president that does not ignore and willing to acknowledge evil is a start.

    In other words we need a Churchill not a Chamberlain in the White House.

  20. Pat


    That’s not a strategy to defeat ISIS.

  21. Pat

    “Old Testament ceremonial law is overwritten by Christ’s New Testament covenant. So if you are referring to Old Testament ceremonial tradition/law, you need to read the New Testament to understand those traditions have changed.”


    What parts of Leviticus 20 that are not ceremonial but moral does the New Testament accept?

  22. old baldy


    Notice how kevin picks and chooses what regulations apply to him ?

    Yup, we need another alcoholic in the WH. Wasn’t bush II enough?

  23. Mark Maley

    The Church Lady might say ” how convenient ” that the OT ( call it Bible 1.0 ) is updated and cleansed of all the crazy by the NT ( Bible 2.0)

    God had to send his only son to update and revise the Bible 1.0 that the Jews ( your fave’s ) still use .

    It’s unclear how a perfect being needed a rewrite .

    So the Jews , operating on Bible 1.0 are really bad customers operating against other bad customers ( Muslims)

    Not sure the analogy holds up under scrutiny
    While the Crusades is spot on

    Tours was a 7 day battle from a defensive position . The surprise was the French being ready and taking the high ground
    ( think Gettysburg only 4 days longer )

    The Crusades were 25 years of warfare over 8 different time periods

    In the Crusades , the Christians were given special dispensations to fight the Infidel ( like Radical Islam promises to its fighters )

    It strikes me that Obama ( like Wilson and Roosevelt ) knows the real mood of his country far better than the neocons whose day was made when they get a chance to enter yet another country with bad intentions and absolutely no idea of how to get out .

    I do think you raise the level of discourse with every post and appreciate it .

  24. Kevin Scheunemann


    I gave you first step. Let’s get that done first and then talk about next step.

    10 commandments are retained moral law from OT. However, they are a guide to those living under the grace of Christ. The wicked are subject to the law and judgement. Those under grace of Christ are not subject to the law but the grace of the gospel. Staying within the commandments is a thank you to God for being blessed with grace. So for those under grace of Christ, the Law has a different application.

    That is general overview for those that do not understand Christianity. anything specific you would like to talk about in Leviticus 20?

    All are invited to a bible study on this. I’d have no problem going over this again, when it comes to Law and Gospel.

  25. Pat

    “First step: elect a commander in chief that can recognize evil and acknowledge that evil is at war with us. (Vs. referring to them as “JV Team while ISIS attacks our ally civilian populations with impunity.)”


    That’s not going to change anything that ISIS is doing.
    If you want Obama to call them evil, he has two days ago at the G20 Summit, calling them “the face of evil”.

  26. old baldy


    Great analysis and historical perspective. Keep up the good work.


  27. John Foust

    William Gibson ‏@GreatDismal on Twitter:

    “The asymmetry, in asymmetrical warfare, is that the little guy can only really damage the big guy by getting him angry enough to self-injure.”

  28. Kevin Scheunemann


    If Obama believed that he would not sympathize by saying “we” when he refers to Muslims and would not label the Paris massacre a “setback”.

    A president with a moral conscience and imperative to win this war is required as a start.

    We have a president that tolerates the carnage because he fails to recognize the war.

  29. Pat


    What specific actions should the United States take to defeat ISIS?

  30. Kevin scheunemann


    Obama cannot take the action because he treats his own citizens worse than radical Islamic terrorists.

    There is nothing this disconnected president can do except get out of the way for a rational president.

    This president us only commuted to destroying police officers, not radical Islam.

    Let’s fix the appeaser and radical Islam apologist in White House first. Get a Churchill in the White House, then we can discuss specifics.

    If we can’t agree on the basic problem, lack of leadership against evil, it’s difficult to discuss solution further.

  31. old baldy


    To quote one of your heros, “There you go again”.

    “because he treats his own citizens worse than radical Islamic terrorists”. Please explain what you mean. Since bin Laden(along with dozens of other radical islamic leaders) was found and killed under Obama, And you and I both still alive, this statement is false without further explanation.

    “rational president”. What is a rational president? A radical christian like yourself? If so, how does that make him rational?

    “Get a Churchill in the White House, then we can discuss specifics”. Really, you would vote for a cigar smoking alcoholic atheist for president without knowing their policies and opinions? History lesson: It was the British policies between the wars that gave us many of the problems in the mid east today. Churchill was part of that. Want to rethink your wish? (I would rather have FDR).

    “lack of leadership against evil”. Really? Who caught bin laden et al? It wasn’t cheney/bush and that cast of clowns.

  32. Pat


    So what you’re implying is you don’t know what action the United States should take in regards to ISIS if Obama is in office. Hypothetically, let’s jump to January 2017 and pretend that he’s not in office and someone more favorable to you is. In your opinion, what specific course of action should the United States take to defeat ISIS?

  33. Mark Maley

    The Pentagon wants nothing to do with an alliance with Russia and Christie didn’t get the memo that a no fly zone won”t work either

    I’m reminded of all the close the border rhetoric about Ebola by Republican governors

    How did that work out ?

  34. Kevin Scheunemann


    I’m saying this war cannot be won with this leader.

    To win it we need a better leader.

  35. Pat


    Yes, you’ve already said that but haven’t answered my question. From your inability to give an opinion You evidently don’t have an opinion as to what you think the United States should do to defeat ISIS. You could have said that you don’t know what the U.S. Should do.

  36. Kevin scheunemann


    I’ll take an atheist that can recognize evil over a radical Islam appeaser who can’t recognize evil.


    I’d support the action of a good president dedicated to winning the war over radical Islam.

  37. Pat


    Again, another non-answer. You’re all talk with no ideas.

  38. Kevin Scheunemanb


    My proposed action would be fruitless as long as we don’t deal with the leadership problem at the top.

    If we can’t even recognize a state of war exists, recognize radical Islam evil, and agree the evil needs to be defeated, and inaction means good people will die like in Paris….then we can talk solutions.

    Are we in agreement up until this point? Then I’m willing to proceed to discuss this further.

    If we are not to this point, then it’s fruitless for me to proceed And waste both our time.

  39. Jason

    “Kevin, Again, another non-answer. You’re all talk with no ideas.”

    Just like Obama and his team of [i]experts[/i].

  40. Kevin Scheunemann


    Obama says US ‘will not relent’ in fight against Islamic State

    If Obama is serious, and ISIS is no longer the “JV Team” and the killing in Paris is no longer a “setback” vs an act of war, I support the president’s strategy…..if he is truly willing to win.

    So what do you think of president’s sudden conversion?

    Will his liberal base be marching against war?

  41. Pat


    You still haven’t given your opinion as to what the U.S. should specifically do to defeat ISIS

  42. Kevin Scheunemann


    I support coalition plan, preferably with NATO.

    However, this is a frustrating situation given the fact Obama surrendered Iraq.

  43. Kevin Scheunemann

    This plan has no will to win. Obama has not taken this serious until now.

    Even now, it’s tough to say he’s serious. (And I want to believe!)

    This is why my comments about a leader with a will to identify and defeat evil is so important. He still sounds, based on past actions, like a famous prime minister before Churchill. Evil did not take that prime minister seriously either and that evil expanded and flourished.

    Obama is such PR baggage when it comes to dealing with evil, it might be best if he resigned.

  44. Pat

    “This plan has no will to win.”


    What, you get daily briefings at the ice cream parlor?

    Why haven’t you enlisted in the military and become part of the solution?

  45. old baldy


    kevin will never give you a straight up/down, right/left answer, he just keeps dodging the tough calls. Just like the chicken hawks that sent us to Nam in the 60s and 70s.

    And I agree, he should enlist and take to strategy with him to the mid-east.

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