07.15.2016 09:01 AM

In dangerous times: What do you say? What do you do?

Hours after last night’s horror in Nice, France, I don’t know what to say or do. 

I’m just a guy with a web site and a newspaper column. I don’t have any power and I don’t have much in the way of influence, either. What can I do to stop the sort of relentless, genocidal cult that murders innocents almost every week – in Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino, Baghdad, Dahka, Orlando, Kabul, Jakarta and on and on and on?

Last night didn’t make me feel afraid – it made me feel powerless. I want to do something to help stop it. But what?

In a democracy, there are two things we can do, perhaps. Ensure we elect leaders who are informed about this horrible new kind of war – and have a plan to deal with it. Secondly, we – as citizens – need to refuse to do the very things the terrorists seek most of all: prejudice, isolationism, autocracy, fear. We must do the opposite. 

A few hours before Nice, I wrote the following for next week’s Hill Times and Troy Media. Maybe it’s relevant, this morning after. 

Prior to becoming Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau was the most pacifistic leader his party had seen in a generation. He mocked our military effort against the Islamic State, likening it to “trying to whip out our CF-18s and show how big they are.” He promised to withdraw from the international coalition fighting the IS. He refused to acknowledge that the IS was engaged in genocide on a massive scale.

This, despite the fact that the United Nations had provided convincing proof that IS was, indeed, engaged in genocide. This, despite the fact that that IS had revealed itself to be a well-funded, well-organized malevolent cult – a murderous force arguably unlike any since Hitler’s regime. This, despite the fact that IS itself had proudly documented beheadings, crucifixions, mass rapes, enslavements, torture, and the murder of Canadian citizens. 

This, too, despite the historical fact that it was the Liberal Party of Canada that had deployed Canadian Forces in the fight against the aforementioned Hitler regime in World War II – and, later, sent our troops overseas to prevent genocide in Bosnia, and to contain terror in Afghanistan. This, despite the fact Trudeau’s anti-combat rhetoric had alienated many, many senior Liberals – like Irwin Cotler, and Bob Rae, Lloyd Axworthy, Romeo Dallaire (and much-lesser Grits, like this writer, who decided against running under the Liberal banner as a result).

That’s the most critical part. I end the column, however, doing something else entirely – by paying tribute to Trudeau. I point out that the man he was before the election is not the same man he is after it. 

He has become increasingly tough and resolute, and he clearly now recognizes the homicidal threat we collectively face. He has been transformed, I think, by the terrible events of the past few months. 

There isn’t much I feel I can do on my own, this morning. But I am proud, at least, to say that Justin Trudeau is my Prime Minister in these dangerous times. 


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    Cory says:

    Maybe the time is coming to follow what his father did which ended the terrorism of the FLQ.

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    Sean Cummings says:

    There isn’t much any of us can do. This is the new normal. This is now life in the 21st century. Canada is not immune. Something along the scale of what happened in Paris will happen in Canada. It’s a certainty.

    What has to happen next is for Canadians, indeed for all people who hate terrorism to remain vigilant. To be situationally aware. To conduct a personal threat assessment if they’re going to attend an event that might possibly be a target.

    As for a plan to combat it? God only knows. I don’t think you can.

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    Riaz Khan says:

    Sadly, some of had seen this coming. If you travel the globe, as I do, you can sense that there is a real and perpetual anxiety among masses- economic, political and social. I had told my wife long time ago that we are living in the Age of Discontent where chaos and disorder will become a norm. Yes, Canada is a peaceful heaven. But the world is not like that. Canada is a rare exception. The question is: how long will it last? Either we don’t know the answer or we do know the answer but are too afraid to say it. Stay blessed Mr. Kinsella….

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    Lyndon Dunkley says:

    Three simple steps:

    1) eliminate all immigration and refugee programs
    2) dramatically lower the deportation threshold for non-natural born citizens
    3) ten to twenty-fold increase in child benefit programs

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      Francis says:

      1) Cutting all immigration would economically hurt France, which sees significant levels of immigration from “non-threat” countries like Israel, China, India, Canada, USA, and UK. Such a sweeping policy is idiocy bred by self-harming stupidity.

      2) If a Canadian man gets into a bar fight and gets charged with assault, he’s out of the country? Again, what a fucking dumb idea.

      3) Yeah, that’s a fantastic idea: Create a whole country of complacent parents rearing dozens of kids and raking in government funds for procreating. Thats definitely not going to lead to systemic reliance problems.

      Here’s a simple step:

      Get your head out of your ass and read something that wasn’t written by Tom Clancy. Might I suggest something with statistics and case studies that examine the socio-economic make up of a country like France and how notions of pure protectionism conjured up by an ill-educated truck driver would harm a country that thrives on intellectual globalism.

      [Dear god, Warren, please don’t delete or block this comment. You know its completely warranted here.]

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    Aongasha says:

    It really is gut check time for leaders. Will they continue to mouth platitudes or realize we are in a war?
    Trudeau is come late to reality, as was Obama.
    He, Trudeu, will be judged now by how he handles things from hereon in.
    Simply playing politics and the same old, same old will not suffice.

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      bluegreenblogger says:

      Interesting take, we are in a war eh? So if that’s the case, who are we at war with? How shall we know when someone loses or wins? What do we do with one billion muslims when we ‘win’ this ‘war’? Do they all have to surrender one at a time?

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    Eric Weiss says:

    ISIS is certainly an abomination and needs to be wiped off the face of the planet, but in the rush into the “war on terror” the west alienated a large portion of the Muslim world and caused groups like ISIS to come into existence in the first place.

    How many innocent civilians have been killed by the US, France, Britain and even Canada since 9/11? And we wonder why much of the Muslim world hates us? When a young Muslim sees their family or friends getting shot, bombed or blown up by invisible drones, how do we expect them to react?

    I don’t pretend to have the answers, but it’s pretty easy to see that the tactics we’ve been using up until this point aren’t working.

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      The Doctor says:

      I’m sorry, but the overwhelming majority of people who have committed Islamist terrorist attacks in France and other Western countries did not have any of their family or friends shot, bombed or blown up by invisible drones. Including this latest whackjob.

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        Eric Weiss says:

        You have proof of that? Even if they never lost anyone they knew directly, how would you feel if you saw hundreds of thousands of your fellow Canadians killed indiscriminately? You may not strap on a suicide vest, but you would probably be looking for some kind of payback.

        It’s easy to write terrorists off as nutjobs, its harder to actually listen to your enemy and understand what motivates them.

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        bluegreenblogger says:

        That is not an actual reply. It does not address the point he made.

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    Sean says:

    The only difference between Justin 2016 and Justin 2015 is that his scripted talking points are dictated by generals, rather than Liberal party organizers.

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    Manuel says:

    Speak out against hate, wherever and whenever you encounter it. Each and every time.

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      bluegreenblogger says:

      a good start, it helps filter your facebook friends too. I was unfriended twice this week. Once for being a Liberal, the other time for calling out a racist. My FB feed is refreshingly clean this morning.

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        Tired of it All says:

        Ha! Love it. Good job.

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    MikeTO says:

    IMO prejudice, isolationism, autocracy and fear is precisely what is needed, IF you want to survive. If you don’t care to cede your civilization and the future for your children proceed as you are.

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      Eric Weiss says:

      Paranoia, xenophobia and bigotry? That only creates more terrorists.

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        MikeTO says:

        No sir, it physically removes them from your vicinity. This is why we have countries with borders, so foreigners don’t kill your children while you watch fireworks. You may not give a shi*t about your children’s future, but for me that concern is paramount.

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          Eric Weiss says:


          I’d rather my children not grow up in a country of bigots and moral cowards who want to hide behind walls.

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            MikeTO says:

            Dude, nothing much matters besides your children. As far as country they will grow up in, I don’t think you will have much choice in the near future. Oh, and by “cowards”, I think you mean to say; those with the courage and strength to protect and nurture their cultural heritage – you are welcome.

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    Luke says:

    I tend to think that many decades of western meddling in the foreign affairs of various countries is probably the ultimate origin of this sort of thing. If that’s true, I don’t see exactly how that would help now, other than to teach us to dial down on military interventions except in extreme cases, the sad irony being that few would argue that an extreme case is playing out right now and a big military response is tempting. How does one go to war with an idea, though? ISIS may have territory, but defeating them on that turf seems unlikely to stamp out the idea. Lots of these terrorists in the west are/were westerners, and the idea of mass murder gets to them regardless of ISIS’s physical location. The internet, vulnerably impressionable people, unstable people… Never mind that even were ISIS to disappear tomorrow, what is stopping their copycats from continuing the brutality? It already knows no bounds.

    I think the only weapon against the idea is another idea. The ISIS idea is murderous brutality, sexual violence, torture, and fear in the extreme. The counter-idea is what you propose: tolerance, openness, generosity, respect, etc. And justice and self-defence are clearly important. But over what duration of time would a battle of ideas like that play out, and how would those on the side of these various hippy-dippy things (me included) ever persuade the likes of the pretty right-wing types who love their guns, like Donald Trump’s racism, etc., to be less shitty about things? It is going to be an ugly couple of decades I guess.

    Ratcheting up security is probably not going to make us safer or more free. Of course limiting the distribution of real weapons (guns, etc.) is necessary and sensible as a matter of public safety, but as these attacks demonstrated, people can make a devastating weapon out of ordinary things given the resolve. We can’t exactly criminalize trucks or cars.

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      Peter says:

      I sure don’t love my guns, but what I don’t understand is why you can’t see that preaching a “battle of ideas” in which we promote tolerance, openness, generosity & respect (cue the orchestra) is just a variation of the same missionary impulses that led us to promote democracy, gender equality and individual freedom after 9/11 and, in an earlier era, Christianity, literacy, etc.. What evidence is there that those are or ever were popular values in the Middle East? It sounds to me that you believe we have the ability to turn Islam into the United Church. These are people who rape and behead as a matter of policy and who believe shooting or driving trucks through innocents is a shortcut to paradise. Are you so convinced they do so because of Western meddling that you are willing to bet public lives and safety on it?

      Frankly, it sounds to me you are more interested in doing battle with those evil, scary right-wing types than with ISIS.

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        bluegreenblogger says:

        It is not as if you can win against an entity that has no physical presence or infrastructure. The best you can hope for is to attenuate their attractiveness. Which actually means persuading people to change their behaviour and opinions. What I cannot understand is what possible outcomes you could be seeking. Are you trying to frighten one billion people so much they will not dare to harm you? Are you going to conquer the places where Muslims live, and lock all one billion of them down like Gaza? Are you going to close all the borders and just stop people moving around the world? You assume that all we need is to not be nice, to not care about our principles, because ‘they’ do not want to hear it. I do not really see any difference between many of those scary right wing types and ISIS. Both are advocates of violence for no purpose. A drone taking out a wedding party is no less brutal than a head chopping loon on Syrian beach, and neither act is going to have the intended effect.

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          Peter says:

          Your best point is that there are many strategic and political obstacles to deciding how to respond effectively. Unfortunately you don’t seem able to make it without caricaturing those who disagree with you (close all borders, frighten and “lock down” a billion people) and indulging in rote Western self-flagellation and very tired moral equivalency arguments. Given the pervasive, multi-faceted violence and oppression in the Middle East over the past several decades and the extensive intra-Muslim slaughter, you can’t possibly draw a causal connection between U.S. drone strikes years ago and mowing down innocents in Nice, but draw it you do. I get it, if only we had left them alone (time and time again they begged us to let them leave the oil in the ground, but would we listen?) they would be peaceful, stable societies working their way to democracy, human rights and gender equality, but we didn’t–ergo ISIS. Terribly sad for the victims, but it’s foreseeable payback and doing anything beyond holding candle-lit vigils will only make it worse. I know an article of faith when I see one.

          You certainly are paving the way for the likes of Trump and LePen

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        Luke says:

        Are you a fucking Idiot?

        1. The last comment is preposterous.
        2. I am not advocating for a hand holding mission in War zone. Battle of ideas does not mean that at all. I mean it in the sense of our reactions as individuals when this bullshit happens, our policies and laws, treatment of others, etc. Don’t stoop to the level of the people who are seeking Armageddon and all that.
        3. You have gone and made that idiotic, dangerous, and false implication that Islam itself is the problem, and when the vast, vast majority are just normal people. Ignorant asshole.
        4. Islamic extremism is the vehicle by which seriously deranged sociopaths are roping oppressed people into their malevolent cult. The same thing would happen here via some other vehicle if people’s lives descended to that level desperation and political power up for grabs.

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          Peter says:

          One of the things I cherish about Canada is how people of goodwill can have civil exchanges despite differences of opinion. Tell me, Luke, will you be leading our campaign to promote tolerance, openness, generosity and respect? If so, this one’s for you.

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            Luke says:

            You terminated civil discourse when you incorrectly and dangerously asserted that >1 million people are barbaric rapists and implied that I am terrorist sympathizer.

            But indeed, I should have checked my anger and resisted the urge to respond accordingly, and I thus apologize for the blatant insults.

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        Eric Weiss says:

        Evil scary right-wing types create ISIS.

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          lyn says:

          Eric Weiss: Your off your meds….go see a doctor Please!

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      doconnor says:

      Gwynne Dyer has argued that the conflict between old religious values and the new secular values is going on right now in Muslim societies and is triggering the rise in extreamism. A similar thibg happened during the English Civil War.

      Once self driving cars are good enough we can criminalize human driven cars. They’re more dangerous then terrorists anyway.

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        Tired of it All says:

        I agree with Dyer. We are experiencing the blow-back from a 100+ year process but believe we are the sole reason for its occurrence. Certainly colonialism and the previous Century’s European geopolitical nonsense immensely complicated life in that region (and everywhere else) which extends to this day and for which we must account.

        But it ain’t like the Enlightenment was characterized by huge volumes of peace and love. In fact, it was a bloody mess. So, we are witnessing Arab Islam coming to grips with poverty, trends toward moderation, hyper-modernism, fluctuations in political power and relevance, and how they strive to fit into an economic order that is completely at odds with societal structures. The answer has typically been some form of autocratic and authoritarian government imposed by the military/security apparatus or theocratic structures or the even more foul combination of both (ISIS).

        Wars and terrorism are proxies for a much, much broader seismic shift. IMO.

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    Christian says:

    You hug your children. That’s what you do.

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    Sam T. says:

    Essentially, pure demographics. Nation of Islam = 1.7 billion, 23% global population. Asia + Africa = 75% GP. Versus all Americas = 14% GP. EU = 10% GP. Canada = 0.49% GP. Fertility rate Niger = 7.6. Somalia = 6.6. Afghanistan 5.1. Versus EU = 1.6. Canada = 1.6. Below replacement fertility, 2.1.

    Toronto Star, lamenting migrant poverty: “Ali, who came to Canada from Somalia in 1992 with five children, had six more kids with her husband after she arrived. But in 1999 her husband left and a year later a workplace injury forced her to quit her job as a cleaner.” Prime Minister Trudeau: “With our first budget, we will also be introducing a new Canada Child Benefit.” Under CCB, a single mother with 11 children will now receive $5,283/month, $63,400/year, tax-free, provided by taxpayers.

    We are witnessing the societal collapse of liberal democracies and history’s greatest transfer of power and wealth to Africans and Asians. Sporadic mass-killings will be the norm as this cohort asserts its ascendancy. Liberals seem unable to grasp the most axiomatic formula: no babies = no future. Nice is but a speed bump on the road to the extinction of Europeans.

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    Sarrior says:

    We need to open the borders even more instead of close them. That way, right wing racist politicians can’t elect the likes of Trump or Le Pen because a majority of the voters will be multicultural and progressive.

    Islam is a religion of peace. It is far more tolerant than the religious right in America when it comes to feminism and LGBT rights.

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      Michael Clifton says:

      Um. Okay. Can you address the stats here then? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_in_Islam

      Doesn’t sound altogether more tolerant of LGBT rights.

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      G. McRae says:

      You sicken me with your mis-truths. Try holding a gay pride parade anywhere in the Middle East. Remind me what happens to rape victims or people accused of adultery?

      Google “religion of peace” and see the top results.

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      Ray says:

      “It is far more tolerant than the religious right in America when it comes to feminism and LGBT rights”

      Huh? Seriously?

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    bluegreenblogger says:

    What can we do? Not much. We could start by recognising that the threat is not very real. Small solace if you are a victim, but it is the fear and response that is devastating. Hey, last year 49,000 people died in the USA because their antibiotics are not working any more. If you ask me how to save those 49,000 people, and the hundreds of millions who will die ongoing now that their antibiotics will not work, I would say, sure! Science has a solution. Stop giving massive doses of your antibiotics to cows chickens and pigs, and while you are at it, stop prescribing antibiotics for a headache.`But it seems few are kept awake at night, worrying over the real risk of an ignominious and un-neccessary death by bacterial infection, or their parts falling off from untreatable syphilis. If they were muslims instead of silly ole bacteria, man they would be dead dead dead by now.
    If our fears are not rational, our response is so over the top irrational I am stumped how to even talk about it. Someone says: Gee, you just killed one million of my co-religionists in Iraq. You claim it was fair, but you lied and lied. `Now we know you lie, I am gonna kill some of you back.` okey dokie, our response is to abrogate the way we treat people under law to make special exceptions for muslims. Because the best way to stop a crazy person with a hate on is to make more crazy people hate you worse eh? `Cause we have to `DO SOMETHING`right? Well the first time ‘we ‘DID SOMETHING’ really stupid, the USA invaded Iraq. Only 500,000 innocents were collateral damage. Surely we did not make any enemies there?
    If there is no immediate something to do, then maybe we can consider a process, a series of connected actions that will control and mitigate the risks and damage. Like serious, top level dialogue that seeks to address our disagreements with political, and establishment Islam. If we can demonstrate goodwill, then maybe the majority of muslims will start to trust us a little bit. And vice versa. At least we will have reduced the carnage a bit. Maybe even find allies in the Muslim world who could use some olive branches we give them to good effect. If we do NOT seek to engage with, and change the opinions of our opponents, then they shall stop being opponents, and become enemies, in a clash of civlisations. That will never end. Israeli-Palestinian style. I do not want that for my children, so I shelve my anger and scratch my head for better ideas.

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    Kevin says:

    To answer your first question, you provide a forum for discussion of these things, and hopefully some clarity and understanding comes from that. That’s not nothing, by a long shot.

    I see Trudeau’s stance a bit differently. He’s just reflecting who we are as Canadians – we talk peace because we want peace. We see it as the goal to strive for. That doesn’t mean we run and hide from a fight. We see an injustice and try to address it, knowing that our resources aren’t unlimited. Trudeau’s stance can be interpreted as gradually growing a backbone, but I think the backbone was always there.

    That said, now I’m wondering, how do we respond to this latest abomination? Strengthen our response? Change it entirely? Business as usual? Wish I knew what would be best. I’m still in shock too.

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    Michael Clifton says:

    You might be trying too hard to extol him, Warren.

    It is good that (if) he can change; though the commenter above who points out that it might merely be his advisers who are different is critical to consider, if we are assessing the man.

    Regardless, Trudeau’s not a bad man, though, and, yes, being in the seat of power should toughen him up a bit, or at least sober him up so he ceases to make childish quips about dealing with people’s lives, and it is great if that is actually happening (and I agree that it seems to be, at least in part, something that is actually happening).

    But I wouldn’t go so far as to say that because of this apparent (it is yet only apparent) new demeanour, I am “proud” to have him as my PM. I’d be prouder of someone with more foresight. But if he steps up, mans up, and does the job right, that’s worthy of pleasure (but not pride, not yet). Otherwise, we have some reason to remain afraid. Because if it really does all depend on his advisers, and not on resolute principles born of solemn meditation and experience, we have no guarantees of what tomorrow might bring.

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    Peter says:

    No, it’s not. Not by a country mile.

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    PJH says:

    Removing Erdogan is a start…….Let’s hope the spirit of Kemal Attaturk prevails…..and the quasi Wahabi Erdogan is given the heave……..

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    Maps Onburt says:

    So Trudeau finally took off the rose coloured glasses even though realists in both parties have been saying this for years and now he’s someone you can be proud of???? I believe he’s just doing what he always does… saying what he believes people want to hear. I’d rather have a PM who sees the truth years ahead and isn’t afraid to buck public opinion to bring it into the the light. All in a sudden it looks like PM Harper was right on Russian aggression and on the Islamic threat despite all of caterwauling of Trudeau and the Progressives. I am grateful he’s at least acknowledging the threats now….

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      Vancouverois says:

      Exactly. Trudeau does not deserve special praise for belatedly, partially acknowledging what others have been saying all along (instead of musing about how the terrorist murderer must have felt “excluded”, this time).

      And any limited credit for even that little improvement belongs not to him, but to his handlers.

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    Darren H says:

    We are building toward another large scale war regrettably. The inevitable military confrontation between the USA and China in the South China Sea, a likely confrontation between NATO and Russia in the Ukraine and Baltics, NATO itself facing possible fragmenting with events in Turkey and feelings of isolationism elsewhere. There still are thousands of nuclear weapons possessed by many of these states and wars can rapidly escalate. And snarky little comments and responses might make the threats go away in the tiny little progressive minds who think they can control the world through Twitter-shaming, but it’s real and dangerous as hell.

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