President David opened the meeting at 12:30 pm with the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.
 
John Jackson presented the Words of Inspiration, centered on the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
 
 
 
Secretary Mike Carmichael welcomed the following guests:
Visitor
Host or Rotary Affiliation
Michael Page*
Wootton Bassett, England
Honor Page
Michael Page
Willie Harris
Trip Triplan
Anne Peckham
Alexander Kravetz
Derek Swanson
Ken Kimbrough
Peter Baumbusch
Cherry Baumbusch
Samone Smith
Shelton Williams
Pat Ray
Sheldon Ray
Alex Ray
Sheldon Ray
Nadia Tangour
Judith Henderson
Lara Bersano
Bill Dent
John Sullivan
Bill Busker
Sean McGinnis
Brendan McGinnis
Lorre Hood
Sam Hancock
Joann Perlman
Robert Schott
Anastasia Key
Alicia Fougere
George Sedrakyan
Alicia Fougere
* brought us a club banner
 
Sergeant-at-Arms Ken Kimbrough then announced the birthdays of those Rotarians celebrating this week:
 
  • Peter Larson- May 30. Peter joined Rotary in December 2014. He was sponsored by Jennifer Hara and his classification is Real Estate: Commercial.
  • Carl Reddel - May 31. Carl joined the club in November 1999 . His classification is Education: World Affairs. Carl was sponsored by Larry Margolis. Carl was a Club Board Director, 2006-2007.
  • Mimi Kanda - June 1. Mimi joined the club in August 2011. She was sponsored by Violet Habwe and her classification is Medicine: Pediatrics and Public Health.
  • Judith Henderson - June 4. Judith joined our club in July 2014. Her classification is Education: International Business. Judith was sponsored by Clara Montanez.
  • Ralph Lee - June 4. Ralph joined the club in December 2003. Ralph is an Honorary member and was sponsored by Ralph Lee, Jr.
 
Rich Madison, in his New Member Talk, presented us with a new word, kathatica , which Rich said was the infinite impact of service. His career began with ten years in the Navy, into which he enrolled while still in high school, then a stint at AOL, then American Military University, followed by his present position as Senior Director for Mortgage Education at CSBS/NMLS. His M.A. in Management is from American Military University.   He left the corporate world, where metrics are somewhat clear, for a volunteer position teaching about 60 kids who were the children of prisoners or guards at a prison in Tanzania.  Frustrated with his impact there, he cut his tour short, but would always remember a small girl named Happy. She would regularly walk down the road to school with him, holding his pinky finger.  Rich now is COO at www.ProjectHumanity.com, which supports women’s empowerment in Africa. He says you can never measure or understand the impact volunteerism has on others and yourself.   His current work was inspired by Happy.
 
President David reminded us to give to the RI Foundation, and again explained the process to become a Paul Harris Fellow. 
 
Acting Treasurer Mike Carmichael reported that invoices are going out to members in the next week for the quarter beginning July 1.  Since we know invoices are emailed to all but the handful of members who do not have email, and since many report never receiving   invoices, he asked all not getting invoices by early next week to check their spam and junk folders.  If an invoice still cannot be found, members should put names and email addresses on a list at the member desk at next week’s lunch or send that information to Sarah Elsamanoudi at office@dcrotary.org.   Mike also mentioned that some who have credit card numbers on file for billing may have had data changes, such as when new chip cards were distributed, and may not have had charges go through at the beginning of the current or past quarter.  Darren Crew is contacting those whose accounts are not up-to-date and unpaid charges will also show up on the new invoices.
 
President David announced the board voted last week to end free lunches for prospective members.  This was a costly program with a low rate of return on investment.  Today, June 1, is the last day that a prospective member’s lunch can be free.  [The program was never a benefit for members, but a benefit for individuals who showed a serious interest in joining the club.]   President David said he and Abe Helal had personally paid for lunches for some seriously interested people brought by others and might do that again in a special case.
 
PROGRAM
 
Alexander Kravetz briefly summarized a series of historical events in the Middle East and introduced speaker William McCants, a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy and director of its Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World.   Dr. McCants holds a PhD from Princeton and has extensive experience as an expert with Johns Hopkins, the State Department, the Department of Defense, SAIC, and West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center. He is the author of The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State.  When Alex invited him to speak, he eagerly accepted, noting that Rotary had given him a fellowship to study Arabic in Egypt. 
 
William McCants started by saying he owed his entire career to that Rotary fellowship.
 
ISIS is another proof of the power of an idea. In the 1920s the superpowers dismantled the Ottoman Empire, which they were entitled to do as victors since the Ottomans had supported the losing Germans. They carved up the empire by areas of western influence. Those were artificial boundaries. The current argument of ISIS is that those borders need to disappear and allow a return to the caliphate established after the death of Mohammed. At the end of the caliphate, the caliph had lost religious and political powers, but still claimed to be a political and religious leader. Today the idea of a caliphate is important to the 9 out of 10 Muslims who are Sunnis. It is not important to the Shiites [the majority in Iraq and Iran].
 
For most Islamists, however, a returned caliphate is a far-off dream and the subject of prophecy. Those violently trying to bring about an Islamic state do so in terms of creating individual Islamic states that could be united later, but they understand they are too weak to make that happen today. Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed to be an Islamic state, over the objections of Al Qaeda international. The larger Al Qaeda organization advised the Iraqis first to get rid of the Americans and then to work with others to develop popular support.
 
Islamic State decided it was inefficient to wait for support. They sought to rule now and to take over small areas and move to take over others, moving from strength to strength.
 
A young street thug named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had an idea while in prison. He anticipated the US invasion and decided Islamists could capitalize on that.  He took inspiration from Nur al-Din, the mentor of Saladin, the Muslim hero fighting against the Crusades 1000 years ago.  Zarqawi was killed in June 2006. His successors declared an Islamic state. It performed no functions of a state, yet demanded allegiance from people and all other Muslim states, which other Islamic areas rejected in 2007. In 2009 the group was driven underground as a terrorist organization. The idea still caught fire and other chapters of Al Qaeda started to fly that Iraqi Islamic State flag as if it were the flag of the caliphate. Somalia and others took the flag, took territory, and began to   govern that territory. Bin Laden opposed. He still wanted to strike at and get rid of the US from the area first.
 
The deaths of regional proponents did not reduce the movement, but reenergized it. The 2011drawdown of US troops gave more room for them to grow, given the weak Iraqi government. By the summer of 2014 they were taking advantage of the Syrian civil war.  The politics and military situation became favorable. While others in Syria were moving to defeat an existing state, and the Syrian regime focused on them, ISIS started building a state in the ignored East. That led to a rule over 8 million people and billions of dollars in their war chest.
 
These are not nihilists, but a group using harsh brutality to subdue people and create a state. They eventually will be defeated in Syria and Iraq, because history shows they will antagonize a great power and the great power will do them in. It's what happens next that is important and what happens to the idea of a caliphate that is important.  There are many civil wars in the area and they will take advantage of all of them.
 
Q:        What was the impact of the United States going into Iraq over the mistaken notion that there were weapons of mass destruction?
A:        It is indisputable that ISIS would not exist if we had not gone into Iraq in 2003 and gotten rid of the experienced military and police. We drove that talent into the arms of the movement.
 
Q:        If you were president what three things would you need to address?
A:        1. I am happy with the current policy in Syria and Iraq, which many people find hard to believe. It is slow going, which is best for future stabilization. But what we need to do is deal with an international Islamic State idea, and we are not doing a good enough job of intelligence sharing or border protection in Europe.
            2. We have to find a way to stabilize the area while in a domestic environment that is against a large troop presence. We have learned how to destroy, but not to do the follow-on for state building
            3. The US has to lose the idea of defeating these people and their ideas vs containing them. The group is already supported by only about 5% of people in the area, according to polls. We don't need to sink a lot of resources there. The ISIS mantra is “enduring, expanding," and beyond that they do not have plans to deliver a functioning government.
 
Q:        What degree of religious freedom was there in the original caliphate?
A:        Actually, it was not bad.  Caliph Harun al-Rashid’s advisors included Jews and Christians; wine flowed; and he had cordial dealings with Charlemagne.  Current Islamists remember him, instead, as a great ruler who put Jews, Christians, and others in their place and purified the culture.
 
Q:        Why is it that the Saudi’s seem to be threatened, when both they and ISIS support a fundamentalist Islamic interpretation?
A:        It is quite complicated.  When ISIS took over areas where they wanted to replace the secular schoolbooks with fundamentalist ones, they ordered Saudi versions available on the Internet.  Yet there are many things on which they do not see eye-to-eye, and one of those is who should be in control.
 
President David presented William McCants with a certificate stating that we would plant a tree in his honor in a national park area in DC.
 
Max Salas won the raffle’s small pot of $39 and did not win the large pot of $722.
 
President David announced our May 25 speaker will be Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering.  He thanked Ken Brown, Stu Shalloway, and Balraj Gupta for staffing the Hospitality Desk and Secretary Mike Carmichael for writing today’s Meeting in Review.
 
Alexander Kravetz reminded members of the Happy Hour at the University Club on Thursday at 6:00.
 
The meeting adjourned at 1:30 pm.