Voila! You, citizens, are now the shepherds and fiscal beneficiaries of what seems to be an economic perpetual motion war machine, much to the posthumous dismay of Smedley Butler, and the vast majority of other nations on this planet.
Not all those heeding Daesh's call are lunatics; some could be diverted by counter-messaging that offers alternatives to violence. Reaching these young men and women might accomplish more than countless air strikes can achieve. This is the true heart of the struggle against violent extremism.
Only a fool offers longer term predictions about the Middle East. I offer the following shorter term predictions about the Middle East for 2015.
In a world rife with war, religious, racial, gender, sectarian, and political strife, when so many children lack safety, enough food, shelter, health care, and education and suffer unthinkable losses of parents to disease, violence, and war, I hope this New Year will bring adults closer to our common sense and moral responsibility for children's well being.
Barack Obama reportedly takes pride in his skill as a card player. Poker is the prime game of politics and politicians. The president's record suggests that he is something less than its master. There is only one group of players whom he beats regularly -- the "liberals" whose gambling instincts have been honed in endless games of rainy-day Scrabble.
What is it about our contemporary political role that makes so much of what we attempt to do abroad ultimately self-defeating?
A smarter strategy would exploit a key weakness: the complete disconnect between the Islamic past Jihadists invoke and the bloodthirsty, closed societies they have created.
The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States guarantees freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely.
The calamity that unfolded following the Syrian uprising in 2011 and the rise of ISIS following its blitzkrieg advance across a large swath of territories in Iraq and Syria has led to one of the most devastating humanitarian crisis in the history of mankind.
The Middle East is one of the world's most strategically significant regions. Stunningly, perhaps, the region does not yet have in place the necessary institutions and mechanisms to discuss and manage, and to prevent and respond to crises. Strategic and visionary leadership is required to reverse the state of the region.
We have no shortage of people in the Asia Society network with ideas and suggestions about what the next year will bring. The other night we hosted a panel on "Asia 2015," a whirlwind tour of the continent's near future.
Historians may look back and see 2014 as the tipping point when the world started falling apart instead of coming together. Visionary scientists remain enthusiastic that, thanks to converging new technologies from artificial intelligence to regenerative medicine, genetic synthesis and green energy, our civilization is on the threshold of a new and harmonious singularity. Yet, all around us the signs of splintering abound in revived nationalisms, ardent religious wars and the reappearance of geopolitical blocs. Even the global connectivity of the Internet once thought to embody a world spirit is balkanizing.
How can we allow this? How are we supposed to explain to the children brought up in the west why children in other parts of the world aren't granted even the tiniest of safety?
This fall I had an out of office email auto-reply on most days, traveling across Mexico, Azerbaijan, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, and beyond to meet with youth leaders. Four millennials I connected with along the way define leadership for our generation.
Oil prices have plunged recently, affecting everyone: producers, exporters, governments, and consumers. Overall, we see this as a shot in the arm for the global economy. There is, however, much more to this complex and evolving story.
All the hullaballoo over the United States government's' use of torture as an officially-sanctioned intelligence gathering process was bad enough. It brought back memories of a shameful period in American history. But when Dick Cheney reappeared to defend the practice of torture, it was the worst specter of Christmas past.