Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘9-11’ Category

objective-troy-a-terrorist-a-president-and-the-rise-of-the-drone

Scott Shane. Objective Troy: A Terrorist, a President, and the Rise of the Drone.  New York, New York: Tim Duggan Books, September 15th, 2015. 416 pp.

This book tells the story of radical Islamists imam Anwar al-Awlaki and the US government war against him in the backdrop of the larger issue of President Obama’s war on terror using drones for targeted killing of Al Qaeda members.  The author Scott Shane is a New York Times reporter who specializes in issues of national security.  Shane does a masterful job in his research for this book and his work really shows.  I don’t think there’s any other book length treatment that is as detailed concerning al-Awlaki like this book thus far.  Other than passing news headlines most American don’t really know about al-Awlaki and the shadowy war the US pursued against him.  The subject of this book is already interesting enough to be picked up and read.

(more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Purchase: Amazon

2012 will be remembered as the year of Navy SEALs autobiogrpahies. In January there was “American Sniper,” the story of Chris Kyle who is America’s sniper with the most confirmed kill in military history. Then there is “Seal of God” about a West Coast SEAL who became a Christian. But no SEAL autobiography has been able to generate so much interests and controversy in a short amount of time as this book, the story from one of the SEALs in DEVGRU (more better known with it’s old name, SEAL TEAM 6) that was involved in the Operation to get Osama Bin Laden. There’s no need to rehearse every detail of that controversy (which is still ongoing and brewing) and surely by writing this book the author has taken a lot of risks. Even as I read other reviews, there is no doubt controversies continues even with how people read and appreciated it (or not appreciate it). I thought some of the reviews of the book tells more about the reviewer’s background and values more than the book itself–no doubt my review will reflect a bit of who I am too, but I hope this review will also cause us to reflect more deeply about the last decade of warfare since 9/11, and about our society/culture and perhaps also the question of God and faith too even if you disagree with me.
I think to fully appreciate a book at times require one to ask how does it relate and fill a niche in relations to other books of the same subject or genre. So I suppose my review will keep that in consideration and from this angle, “No Easy Day” was definitely a different yet fascinating book. For starters, typically in SEALs biography, everyone gives an account of BUD/S (for the “lay” reader, we can call this SEAL boot camp of six months). This book does not, breaking the mold of the canon of SEALs autobiography. That’s because the book goes deeper and further into another world that is rarely mentioned or understood among all the SEALs books out there–the world of DEVGRU, the Navy SEALs highly secretive counter-terrorist group. Sure there is Richard Marcinko’s books, who was the founder of DEVGRU back in the 1980s when it was still known as SEAL TEAM 6. But there is little published in book form from an insider about the 21st Century, post 9/11 DEVGRU. The author describes in one of the early chapters of the book his unexpected physical try-out for DEVGRU, his acceptance into Green Squadron (the selection training in order to enter into DEVGRU’s command) and his acceptance into the team. His description of the selection and elimination process in Green Squadron is fascinating such as how candidates are required to write down whom they think are the five best candidates and five weakest candidates.
Though the author has been deployed around a dozen times this last decade of warfare suprisingly the book does not go into all the blood and gore details of most of his operation prior to the mission to get Osama. You would expect more–but then no doubt that would take away from the main story about the Bin Laden Raid–not to mention that he had to do it all in 336 pages. Readers who have been in the military would have appreciated his account of OIF 1–and things going array in their first mission. It reminds the rest of us in the military that did not serve in a SOF capacity that Navy SEALs are humans also. His account of working with DELTA was also a great insight into the other TIER 1 unit, though I suppose one might get a fuller account with Dalton Fury’s book. Going back to this book, the author also revealed his involvement in the Maersk Alabama hijacking rescue operation and his account of it indicate that this kind of operation was welcomed by the SEALs since it was a break from the routine of deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. What I found most intriguing in the author’s account of this operation was the fact that he parachuted into the Ocean with a Navy communication guy attached to him who has never done a parachute jump before. One can imagine how frightening that is–and the thought, “No one back home is going to believe this…” I’ve seen some reviews that complained about all these back story leading up to the Bin Laden raid in the book–you can tell they are pure civilians with no grasp of operational history or biography. But for the readers who are willing to look long and reflect harder, the first half of the book should make you appreciate the incredible amount of sacrifice, skill and dedication of people like Mark Owens who worked so hard to be the best of the best in their job in order to protect us. The account of the amount of sleeping pills these guys take and the weird hours they operate during deployment (what the author calls “Vampire hours”) should make us appreciate the toll it takes on these guys–and we are not even yet discussing about the lives and injury involved in what they do.
Of course, most of the book was devoted to the raid itself. I learn from this account that it was not any one of the existing four squadrons in DEVGRU take took part in the raid but rather a special gathering of different guys who have been around the block that was gathered. From the standpoint of a military biography with an operational history bent, I thought it was good (but not good to those reviewers who are looking for some existentialists need for “feelings” to be described). Here is where I could not put the book down. The description of him being on the helicopter that crash and the amazing description of him almost falling out since he was hanging out with his legs outside the crammed blackhawk. The amazing miracle of the helicopter handing on it’s strongest point on the wall which ended up not causing the rotars to hit the dirt and chaos that would have followed. The raid itself was incredible. Here is where I suppose this review tells more about me than perhaps the author or the book itself. I couldn’t help but to note all the things that went wrong or could have went wrong but turned out to have worked miraculously as something amazing enough to provoke in me an awareness of God’s providence throughout the raid. It’s a reminder that sometimes the bad guys do get their justice here on earth right now–and that skill isn’t enough but the providence of God as well.
Just as interesting as the raid itself is the author’s story of the raid afterwards. His account of Obama and Joe Biden is worth the read. To read of a real member of “Team Six” laughing at the silly things that has been said about them is quite entertaining; he even take on some misconception the ROUGE WARRIOR and the founder of SEAL TEAM 6 himself has said to the media, revealing that Richard Marcinko’s comment about DEVGRU being the most arrogant SEALs might be a little out of touch with contemporary DEVGRU.
Overall this is a good book. It is a historical account of an important part of history–not just the Navy SEALs, the U.S. military, but to close a chapter for so many Americans who have lost loved one since that fateful day on 9/11 and from the two wars stemming from it. If you ever had shed tears on 9/11 or if you have lost people in this long war–I think this book ought to be on your shelf.

Read Full Post »

It seems that 9/11 sooner or later will pop up in any discussion about Islam.  No event in the recent history of the West have sparked more curiosity and questions about Islam than what that dreadful day and the bloody decade that followed afterwards.

Can there be a just war theory that can justify responses to terrorists within a Christian worldview?

For those interested in this philosophical/ethical discussion from a Christian worldview, I thought this was a good hidden/open treasure available online for those who want to have a serious reading on this topic.

The following is a 2003 thesis by a student at the Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) name Dale Courtney.  The thesis is titled, “A Just War Response To The 11 September 2001 Terrorist Attack.”

A PDF file of it is available by clicking HERE.

Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »

All over the world people remember that tragic day.  Lest people think 9/11 is all about community service and the US coming together, don’t forget 9/11 is about a religion that is bent on imposing Sharia on everyone.  Watch this video below.

Note the double standard.

Read Full Post »

I was rather disappointed reading an article by Christianity Today (what I once heard someone called “Christianity Astray”) titled, “How Evangelical Leaders Have Changed Since 9/11,” it can be accessed HERE.  I’m rather disappointed at how these “leaders” (some I even question their Evangelical status!) have some rather unclear thinking…and if that’s the state of Evangelical leaders reflection on 9/11 what about the rest of the General population?  I don’t have time to look at all the words given by various individuals.  The one that stuck out to me the most was Philip Yancey.  His comments in it’s entirety follows below:

The decade since 9/11 has taught us the limits of force. Imposing democracy on Iraq and Afghanistan has come at a terrible cost to all parties, with no guarantee of long-term success. Meanwhile, Tunisia and Egypt gained freedom almost overnight in a grassroots protest against powerful regimes.

As Christians, we believe in a counterforce of grace. Lewis Smedes and others have identified three stages of forgiveness: first, recognize the worth of the person you are forgiving; second, surrender the right to get even; third, put yourself on the same side as the one who wronged you. Increasingly, I’m convinced that we need more of this attitude toward those who seek to harm us.

In 1999, Australian missionary Graham Stuart Staines was burned to death by a Hindu mob in Orissa, India. In 2007, German missionary Tilman Geske was tortured and murdered by five Turkish fanatics. The widows of both men made sensational headlines in those countries by repeating the words of Jesus: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

I am not a pacifist; I believe that we must pursue justice. Yet a Christian history stained by anti-Semitism—holding an entire people responsible for the actions of a few—teaches us the terrible consequences of not following Jesus’ way. We dare not do to Muslims what we have, to our shame, done to Jews.

My thoughts about his words:

  • “The decade since 9/11 has taught us the limits of force. Imposing democracy on Iraq and Afghanistan has come at a terrible cost to all parties, with no guarantee of long-term success. Meanwhile, Tunisia and Egypt gained freedom almost overnight in a grassroots protest against powerful regimes.”

RESPONSE: I’m more optimistic about Iraq more than Afghanistan’s long term future.  As to his claim that 9/11 has taught us the limit of force and his example of Tunisia and Egypt “gaining freedom,” I’m not sure that Egypt is a good example of grassroots protests that usher in long term success either.  It’s too soon to tell, it just happen this year!  If conditions within less than a year is sufficient evidence in Yancey’s view, I think one can make a better case for Iraq being “better” now for several years after the Surge.  In terms of Egypt, I don’t know how true it is that Egyptians “gained freedom” against powerful regimes.  It seems that the power in Egypt has always been within the military oligarchy.  When rumors started that the former President of Egypt wanted to break away from that tradition by having his son groomed as the next heir, that’s when the military industrial complex allowed protests to rid them of the President so they can step in and solidify their power.  Really can Yancey calls this a democracy or cite it as an evidence that force doesn’t work?  (Mind you, I’m not saying using force is always right, but making an observation that this does not fit as an evidence for him) I beg to differ.  And what does that have to do with 9/11?

  • “As Christians, we believe in a counterforce of grace. Lewis Smedes and others have identified three stages of forgiveness: first, recognize the worth of the person you are forgiving; second, surrender the right to get even; third, put yourself on the same side as the one who wronged you. Increasingly, I’m convinced that we need more of this attitude toward those who seek to harm us.”

RESPONSE: It does not seem to match biblical theology that forgiveness necessarily require the recognition of the worth of the person that needs to be forgiven.  God forgave us our sins, and yet our wretchedness makes us unworthy of His grace and mercy.  This statement is more problematic to me than the first, largely since this has theological implication and the former is more political (one can go easier on a Christian devotional writer for not being a clear political thinker I suppose).  Yancey is spot on that forgiveness means surrendering the right to get even.  But it’s rather disturbing to see that his lesson of 9/11 10 years later means that he is tellus to “put yourself on the same side as the one who wronged you…”  I don’t know what that means, and I’m sure Yancey does not mean joining Al Qaeda’s side against non-Muslims.  It’s one of those thing that sounds nice and dandy to say (almost Hallmark-ish) but what does it mean?

  • “Yet a Christian history stained by anti-Semitism—holding an entire people responsible for the actions of a few—teaches us the terrible consequences of not following Jesus’ way. We dare not do to Muslims what we have, to our shame, done to Jews.”

RESPONSE: This is probably the most incoherent statement of them all.  Yancey believes that “holding an entire people responsible for the actions of a few” is wrong and “not following Jesus’ way.”  He gave an example of this from  church history of how some in the past had anti-Semitism.  Yancey then goes on to give an incredible statement, “We dare not do to Muslims what we have, to our shame, done to Jews.”  If anyone has ever watched Monsters Inc., there a part in the movie where the one eye monster Mike tells Scully, “We?  Wait, there’s no me this time.  If you want to go through the Blizzard, then be my guest.  But there’s no we” (Paraphrase from memory, frogive me!).  That scene in the movie comes to mind, since Yancey here suddenly states “we” (why did he drag me into this) have done to the Jews, and something that is to “our” shame.  But most Christians, myself included have not practiced anti-semitism and I’m not saying it never has happened.  But why is Yancey “holding an entire people responsible for the actions of a few?”  This is according to Yancey, “not following Jesus’ way” and I’m appalled he doesn’t see this inconsistency stated within the same paragraph!

Over all, I’m rather sadden at Yancey’s comment on what he has learned and changed ten years after 9/11.  I have never read his book, and I hope he’s not like this in his work.  If he can’t process 9/11 with clear thinking and coherence, one wonders what he does with God and theology.

Read Full Post »

I thought this was the most tragic minute on live television that fateful day on September 11th, 2001.

It was his first day on the job with CNN.  It was also September 11th, 2001.  News Anchor Aaron Brown reporting on the terrorist attack and has a scenic view of the two towers…and also witnessing the first tower’s collapse beginning at 8:08 in the clip above.

Then the second tower in the following clip 6:12 into the clip below:

Grieve with those who grieve.

As I said before on this blog, I can’t believe it has been 10 years.  I can’t believe what happen that day.  I think what made the 2000s different than the previous decade in the 90s was 9/11.  It was a defining moment.  It has also been an event that has indirectly and directly influence many more events after it–Iraq and Afghanistan.  What a bloody decade it has been.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »