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Obama’s ‘ALL IS WELL!’ World View

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On Tuesday, Obama spoke to the United Nations General Assembly, and made some of the following comments:

“The world is more stable now than it was five years ago.”

“Just as we reviewed how we deploy our extraordinary military capabilities in a way that lives up to our ideals, we’ve begun to review the way that we gather intelligence so that we properly balance the legitimate security concerns of our citizens and allies with the privacy concerns that all people share,” he said.

“As a result of this work and cooperation with allies and partners, the world is more stable than it was five years ago,” he added.

Obama did note, however, that “dangers remain.”

“Even a glance at today’s headlines indicates that dangers remain,” Obama said. “In Kenya we’ve seen terrorists target innocent civilians in a crowded shopping mall, and our hearts go out to the families of those who have been affected. In Pakistan nearly 100 people were recently killed by suicide bombers outside a church. In Iraq killings and car bombs continue to be a terrible part of life.”

“Meanwhile, al-Qaida has splintered into regional networks and militias which doesn’t give them the capacity at this point to carry out attacks like 9/11, but it does pose serious threats to governments and diplomats, businesses and civilians all across the globe.”

Now, he did acknowledge there are dangers.  Bully for him.  But the rest of this world vision simply is a level of self-delusion that is not just amusing for his opponents and our enemies on the world stage, but is in fact quite dangerous.

Let us take a case by case look at the world, shall we?

Afghanistan:  Almost twice as many American military personnel have died in that country under Barack Obama’s 4+ years than during Bush’s 7 years of  over seeing that war.  The government has largely distanced itself from its American counterparts, and to varying degrees has aligned itself with Iran and Pakistan.  The Taliban is resurgent, and simply are waiting for the inevitable Obama announcement for exiting the war all together.

Pakistan:  This critical nation is more destabilized now than ever.  The political situation is tenuous, and our relations with them continue to reach all-time new lows.

Iran:  Iran inches toward nuclear weapons, a clear goal if there ever was one.  We missed an opportunity during the Green revolution in 2009, and such a chance will be unlikely to come again.

Iraq:  The country for which Obama has the least historical responsibility, but things are not going well here.  Violence has escalated, almost close to the levels of the civil war of 2006.  And because we withdrew from the Bush-era force agreement, we have no leverage there, as Iraq, like Syria before it, starts to become a proxy state for the Iranians.

Syria:  The biggest, most glaring hole in Obama’s claim.  100,000 Syrians have died during the two-year civil war, and tens of thousands more will die before the war is over.

Israel/Palestine:  The peace process has been dead as a doornail, with neither side even approaching the negotiation table.

Egypt:  After Syria, maybe the next most glaring example of failure.  Violence has been rampant all year, as the Muslim Brotherhood was pushed out of the democratic process.  Ever since Obama helped displace Mubarak from the leadership, Egypt has been in a slow death spiral.  Now, ironically, it looks like only the Egyptian military, from which Mubarak himself originated, can save the country.

Libya:  We helped oust Qadhafi, and ever since, it has been a failed state.  The central government controls less than 1/3 of the nation. Islamists control the rest. Many of the weapons we sent to the rebels has been used in other Islamist conflicts through out Africa, the most prominent being the Mali civil war.

Russia: Outside of the Middle East, the biggest diplomatic failure.  We are closer to a new Cold War than we have been since 1991.  Putin has no respect or love for Obama, and opposes him at every turn.

Al Qaeda/Islamic terrorists;  Probably deserves its own category.  Whether you are discussing Yemen, Kenya, or elsewhere, the death of Osama Bin Laden has done little if anything to stop the generational war that Islamists continue to fight, whether we admit it or not.

Simply put, no rational analysis of the world situation can result in thinking the world is more stable today than five years ago.  We can argue whether this is Obama’s fault or not, whether this is a historical trend we are swimming against, whether this all the fault of George W. Bush, or maybe the fault of Aliens.  But in short…Obama’s view is simply delusional.  There is no other way to describe it.

 

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John McCain: Goodbye, And Thanks For All The Fish

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I own a shirt very much like the one above.  Yes, I campaigned for John McCain and Sarah Palin in 2008.  I blogged and worked hard for his election, even knowing that the reality made it highly unlikely.  I defended all of his past mistakes and bad behavior, and in the end…we got pummeled.

Now, I don’t mind getting pummeled.  The litany of campaigns that I could name that were hopeless causes runs a mile.  I can live with picking a candidate, fighting, and losing proudly.

But I am honestly ashamed of my voting for John McCain.  I am sure many of you feel the same way.  Pretty sure the entire state of Arizona is feeling somewhat like that as well, this morning.

McCain had long ago jumped the shark, and after than, he nuked the fridge, and yesterday, he he nuked the shark with a fridge or something.  In comments following Sen. Ted Cruz’s 21 hour Senate floor speech, McCain could only revert to being his smarmy, irritating, old codger self.  No, he couldn’t hand out any praise, or even simply keep his mouth shut.  No, the old crotchety Cold War warrior had to make his normally stupid remarks.

McCain also recalled the 2009-2010 debate over Obamacare — before Cruz was elected to the Senate — saying “the people spoke” on the issue when they reelected President Barack Obama in 2012. McCain said lawmakers shouldn’t “give up our efforts to repair Obamacare” but said it wasn’t worth shutting down the government.

“We fought as hard as we could in a fair and honest manner and we lost,” McCain said. “One of the reasons was because we were in the minority, and in democracies, almost always the majority governs and passes legislation.”

This is classic, ‘Maverick’ McCain.  The McCain the left and the media adores.

Why?  Because this McCain is basically a shill, a Democrat, a man worthless to the Republican Party and to conservatives everywhere.

Oh, I don’t mind that he disagrees with Cruz.  I don’t mind if he doesn’t like the defunding strategy.  But to say ‘We lost!’ and that is it…completely misunderstands his place within the minority party in America.  He also misunderstands the ‘public’ debate.  Obamacare was passed with minority support…from the public.  It never won the hearts and minds of Americans.  Just because Democrats were able to ram the ill-conceived law, no matter what debate did or did not occur, belies the point that simply accepting it is a moronic political policy.

At this point, I hope he leaves the party, pulls a ‘Arlen Specter’ and becomes a Democrat.  He has long wanted to anyway.  He would do less damage to Republicans by simply converting than his idiotic tirades on a weekly basis is already doing.

McCain is a war hero, and for that, he will forever deserve our thanks.  I am not sure that anything he has done after that point has really helped America though.  One way or another, he needs to be seen to the door, and metaphorically placed on a ship and sent to parts unknown.

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9/11…Never forget.

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Never forget.

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Syria: What Now?

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So, I have spent much of the last two weeks contemplating the logic of war, what should determine if we send troops into the field and kill and destroy people of a far off land.  I think, and I hope, I took a fair look at the decision-making involved.  You can see my prior posts here.

That said, where does that leave us?

I believe wholeheartedly that Barack Obama made the right decision in 2012 when he refused to get involved directly in the Syrian Civil War.  None of the arguments I have heard, to this day, make me believe that anything we could have done would have dramatically altered the landscape in such a way to benefit us in any significant way.

That doesn’t mean we couldn’t have had an effect.

First and foremost, we could have pushed a diplomatic solution long ago. Yes, it would have required agreement by Russia and China…but isn’t that what diplomacy is always about?  And don’t tell me it was impossible.  Today, with the deal the Syrians are making with the Russians, we are seeing how impossible such a path was.  Simply put, our diplomatic forces failed miserably.

Additionally, if we wished it, we quite easily could have pushed Assad out of power.  But to what end?  To allow a host of rebel groups, most of whom are to one degree or another Islamists, and many who have direct ties to terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and Hezbollah, to take control of a key piece of real estate in the Middle East?  There was no western-style democracy to be had in Damascus.  Every alternative was a bad one.

Then, for reason unknown to this day, President Obama drew his now infamous ‘red line’.  This may go down in history as one of the most inept Presidential statements ever.  In one single sentence, Mr. Obama placed the credibility of the U.S.A., not to mention the credibility of his own Presidency, on the line if Assad or the rebels ever decided to use their chemical weapons stockpiles.

Imagine:  placing the credibility of the greatest nation on earth on the decision-making of dictators and Islamists groups, who would happily die for the greater good that they envision.

That was madness.

Everything that has occurred on this side of the pond since has largely occurred because Mr. Obama said something extremely stupid in that press conference.

To compound this initial mistake, which could have been corrected by an apology, Obama then went on to double down, as he built a case for war against Syria.

At this point, he has laid this mess on the laps of Congress, because frankly, he had no where else to go.  He couldn’t go to the public, because they are about 90:10 against the concept; heck, his own wife is not on board.  He couldn’t go to the United Nations, because his leverage there may be less than mine. He tried to go to America’s great backup plan, the United Kingdom, and David Cameron failed in epic proportions to muster the votes needed for military action.

Now, Obama stands alone.  And honestly, this is unique in his entire political career.  Obama has always made sure he had political cover for every decision he has ever made.  That is one reason he has tried to go back to Congress; he believes that their support may give him the cover he needs to take the country to war again.

So, the question remains:  what should Congress do?  This is a terrible decision all around.  First and foremost, the President already had the power to attack Syria under the War Powers Act.  I wholly believe this, although I have made much hay about Obama’s hypocrisy on the subject (he openly opposed those same powers when George W. Bush was in office).

If Congress blocks military action, the President and the country will be further diminished in the eyes of the world.  If they vote for military action, Obama could take the country on another unnecessary and possibly dangerous adventure in the Middle East…and we all know how well those have gone in the past.

In other words…damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

In a last-minute brilliant move by Vladimir Putin (brilliant for him; not so good for the United States), Putin offered a roadmap to peace.  He would allow the Syrians to give up their chemical weapons, in exchange from protection from military attacks from the West.

This is, of course, ridiculous policy after the past few weeks.  First and foremost, Assad has been accused of wars against humanity.  So all he has to do is give up the weapons for which he is accused of those crimes?  It is like allowing a murder to walk following a shooting, if only he hands over his gun.

It should be interesting how Democrats play this.  For the last several weeks, Obama supporters like John Kerry and Harry Reid have made the case that Assad is the modern Hitler.  So now, if we allow Assad to stay in power…the natural progression of their logic is Barack Obama is the modern Neville Chamberlain.

Secondly, we all know this is a delay tactic. Much like Saddam Hussein, time is on the side of the tyrant.  The longer he survives, the more time he has to wipe out his enemies, in what ever manner possible. Furthermore, if you see news reports in the German press, there is an open question to whether Assad ever was inclined to use chemical weapons in the first place.  This raises the question:  is he even in control of his weapons?  And if he isn’t, that means that he benefits from any steps the international community takes, by allowing him to consolidate his power.

Furthermore, the reality is Assad will never give up his chemical weapons.  Not really.  Even if he gave up every ounce of weapons he has today, he will forever have the capability to make more.  Chemical weapons are a low-cost entry in to the world of weapons of mass destruction.  He may talk about eliminating his stockpile; he may even let inspectors come and look at his weapons depots.  But the possibility of him handing over his trump card, including potential capabilities to produce future weapons, is next to nil.

So, the joke is on us if we even consider this proposal for a nanosecond.

On September 10th, the President plans to talk to the American people.  I have no idea what he plans to say.  At this point, I almost don’t care.  The last few weeks of foreign policy from this administration has been a comedy of errors, and sadly, none of it is funny.  As they have made their case for war, their support for war among the public has dramatically dropped; as much as 20% in a recent poll over the past week.  In other words, the more Obama makes his case, the more people are opposed to it.  So what difference will a Presidential primetime speech make?  Likely, none at all.

So, Congress is likely to shoot down Obama’s war proposal; possibly even the Senate.  That will be one of the loudest votes of no confidence in an American President in modern times.  The decision-making will then shift to the Kremlin, where Putin has outplayed Obama, and he now holds all the cards.  And where Obama goes from there, nobody knows.  But America will be weaker off for it.

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The Logic of War, Part II – The Syrian Conundrum

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Yesterday, in the post linked here, I discussed generally what I believe should be our logical process in evaluating whether a war was reasonable and necessary.

Today, I am going to put Syria to the test.

1.  U.S. National Interest.

Clearly, we must have some vital interest that involves us in a conflict.  If a war goes on in a region of the world where we have no diplomatic, military, or financial objective…we simply must turn away.  We are not the world’s policeman, as much as Barack Obama, John Kerry, John McCain and others would apparently like to make us so.

As for Syria, do we have a vital interest?  Syria probably falls into that over broad category.  Like the Cold War, Misters Obama and Kerry are arguing that any destabilization of the Middle East is worrisome.  Syria could potentially be a threat to our allies, Israel and Turkey.  And they fear the conflict spilling over its borders into places such as Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq.

I find this argument less than compelling.  If destabilization is a threat…then why are we not more involved in Egypt today? Or, for a larger question:  why are we allowing Iran to build nuclear weapons?  Both likely have far more national implications for the United States.  One could even make the argument that pulling our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan destabilizes the region.

But, history has given Presidents broad leeway on this, and I guess I should do the same for President Obama.  Syria does in the broadest and most vague terms fit the arena of American national interest.

2.  Do we have a list of defined goals and objectives?

I think the clear answer here is a categorical ‘No’.

During yesterday’s testimony to Congress, Secretary of State John Kerry was asked this time and again, and could not provide a rational response.

Does anyone, including the President, have any idea what the endgame is?  We have already been assured that regime change is out of the question, so removal of Assad from power is not a goal of these strikes (Ironically, Kerry stated it may be a goal of our diplomatic approach, but not the military action; if that makes any sense).  That also means they don’t want to wipe out the current Syrian army.

The Defense Department has stated that there is no tactical way of destroying the chemical weapons stashes around the country…so ridding the country of WMD is not possible.

And a ground invasion is off the table, at least theoretically.

The only argument for a defined goal that I can fathom is that we are acting as the world’s policeman, and wish to ‘punish’ the Syrian authorities for use of chemical weapons.  This might be meaningful, if we had the world community supporting us.  Of course, we don’t.  The United Nations refuses to authorize this, and most of our major allies have decided to stay at home.

3.  Are the goals worthwhile?

Not sure how to answer this after the answer in question #2, but I think it is fair to say that if you have no real goals in mind, there is nothing worthwhile in the effort.

If the only goal is to punish Syria, then will the missile strikes that are being contemplated achieve even that minimal goal?

 4.  Are the goals achievable?

What goals?

OK, let us, for the sake of argument, say our goal is policing the world community, and to punish Assad for violating international norms.

If that is the case, what punishment would suffice?  Clearly not a few Tomahawk missiles, that is for sure.  In the past two decades, such action against the likes of Saddam Hussein did nothing but bolster their regimes hard-line stances.

You would need a systematic disruption of the ability of the Syrian army’s ability to fight the rebels; strategic destruction of the Syrian air force; and some sort of diminshed ability of the Syrians to use chemical weapons.  Furthermore, direct assault on Assad’s own power base would be helpful.

After the testimony of Defense officials, other than the destruction of the Syrian air force, none of these goals are achievable.  And even the Syrian Air Force may be a tough target to destroy. Certainly, we could hurt Assad’s forces.

That said, how would we hurt Assad in such a way, when Mr. Kerry specifically stated that our goal is not to hurt Assad in such a way?

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I admit there may be a logical reason to strike Syria.  The use of chemical weapons should be considered beyond the pale, an act of evil against civilians that should not stand.

However, nothing in this strategy from the Obama Administration makes the least amount of sense.  They probably have, in the most lenient definition imaginable, some national interest involved.  But they have yet to articulate a rational set of goals that are worthwhile and achievable considering the situation on the ground.

Until they meet those criteria, they should not involve the United States in any foreign intervention.

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The Logic Of War, Part I

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As Barack Obama continues on his weaving, hesitant and confused path toward attacking Syria, we continue to see his utter lack of a true philosophy or method when it comes to deciding America’s role in foreign interventions.

For decades, we as a country became involved in numerous conflicts, but all were, to a greater or lesser extent, related to American interests, either political, military, or economic.  Unfortunately, the last century’s wars mostly involved the Cold War, and the appearance that we were countering the ‘Communist threat’.  That was an  overly broad vision of ‘American national interest’ that involved us in conflict after conflict that, as history showed, did little truly to benefit America.

Many keep discussing what our involvement should be in these conflicts,  As I wrote last week, Mr. Obama now seems to have completely accepted the U.S. role as the world’s policeman.  It is fascinating that a man who so clearly opposed our war in Iraq, and did not outwardly support our specific strategy to win in Afghanistan, now has such an expansive view of foreign policy.

It does bring us back to the core question:  how do we determine if a war is ‘necessary’?  Clearly it is an issue we deal with time and again, and the President Obama appears to be struggling with. I personally think that to come to the decision of getting involved in any foreign conflict, we must achieve these four goals.

1.  Is there a U.S. National Interest?

I believe there are several levels of importance when in comes to issue of national interest.

First and foremost is safety and security.  A response to a direct attack on the United States of America clearly falls under this category.  The most glaring examples of this are Pearl Harbor and the September 11, 2001 attacks.   Nobody who is reasonable would question the U.S.’s right to respond to such attacks on our vital interests, our homeland, and most importantly, our citizens.

The next level of importance is an attack on our allies.  We live in the world where we need friends, and as such, we have created military alliances in order to keep the peace. Sometimes, this can backfire, as the snowball effect of the road to war in World War I showed.  However, a direct attack against one of our close allies, such any member of NATO, clearly would fall into our national interest.  Of course, a larger debate would occur if our more peripheral allies, such as Israel or Taiwan, were attacked.

The third, and weakest level of American national interest is when people make the argument that regional stability is essential for American well-being.  This covers a wide range of issues, whether it be political stability, economic interests, or involvement in other relationships we have across the globe.

Most wars in the post-WWII era have fallen under this category:  Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, The First Gulf War, Kosovo War, and even the wars in Iraq and Libya more recently.  Each of these have, in one manner or another, altered the political dynamic in a region of the world we consider important, and thus, we have felt the need to move to military action.

The problem with this category is simple:  there is no clear, definite U.S. interest.  What appears to be important to some is clearly not important to others.  Iraq is the perfect example.  We can argue the issue of pre-emption, but to some, Saddam Hussein provided a threat to the United States, both because of his potential weapons, but also because of his destabilizing force on the region.  Ironically, the Obama Administration makes similar claims today about Syria.

 2.  Do we have a list of defined goals and objectives?

This is an essential consideration for a multitude of reasons.  First, to prevent the use of military use as a diversion for some other issue, such as a political crisis (Clinton firing missiles into Iraq at the height of the Monica Lewinsky crisis, for example).  Second, to have a limited number of goals to prevent expansion into a larger conflict (Vietnam comes to mind).  Lastly, to understand when the war is over; how can you end a war, if you have a shifting goalpost of what the war must achieve?

Afghanistan is a good example of this.  Clearly, there was a vital national security interest there after 9/11.  But what was the goal? Was it to simply rid the country of terrorist elements? That could have been done with air strikes most likely.  Was it for regime change, to punish the Taliban?  Or was it nation building?  Even after a decade of fighting there, some of these questions remain unanswered.  And it appears that we may be leaving that conflict before we ever really answer any of those questions.

3.  Are the goals of war worthwhile?

I think this is an important question that we have more often than not skipped over in recent years.  Even if we go to war, and achieve our ends…are the goals justified and meaningful?

Let us take the Korean War.  Clearly, we were in the midst of the Cold War, and so any communist aggression was to be fought against, no matter the cost nor outcome.  And South Korea, a strong democracy today and a stalwart ally, would say the war was worth it.  But would we fight a similar war today, at the cost of over 33,000 American deaths? I find that doubtful.

Consider Iraq.  We actually achieved many of our stated goals.  Iraq is far from perfect, but they are relatively stable compared to the rest of the region.  They have a sort of constitutional democracy; they certainly aren’t a dictatorship like their immediate neighbors.  And they are no longer a threat to the larger region.  However, at the cost of 4,500 American deaths, it is considered a relative failure by most.

So, even the costs of war have changed over time.  The Korean War is considered a success, Iraq War a failure…although the former had 10x greater cost in American blood.

Furthermore, there is the financial cost involved.  We cannot decide to go to war or not to go to war based on cost alone, but we cannot ignore the issue all together either.  The Iraq War costed $784 billion in today’s dollars.  The Korean War would have cost $341 Billion; Vietnam costed around $738 billion, and in turn, was a military loss.

 4.  Are the goals achievable?

Once you have determined if a war is of national interest, and you have a list of achievable defined goals, then you must clearly ask if such goals are achievable, under the prescribed limits set forth by the nation.

The latter part of that statement is actually more difficult than the former.  That is a political question.  For example, if in 2003 George W. Bush had told America that the Iraq war would take a decade, cost four thousand American lives, and would cost $700 billion dollars…I  highly doubt even most Republicans would have backed the effort.  Some of this cannot be known, as wars are highly unpredictable. But even within the realms of our prognostication abilities, to convince the American public such a cost was worthwhile would have been a long, hard slog. 

The core of the question, whether the goals are achievable, is critical to any endeavor, not just a war effort.  Can the United States, with our military force and diplomatic power, achieve victory as we have defined it?  Many times in our past, we refuse to define what victory is, for a simple reason:  we haven’t a clue what we are trying to achieve.  Could Vietnam, for example, have been avoided if we had honestly confronted this question?  Could we ever have pushed the communists out, considering the involvement of the Chinese? 

One ancillary point out of this particular discussion:  are we willing to make the sacrifices necessary to win the war?  Are we willing to lose thousands of men, spend billions of dollars, and spend years in a concerted effort to win the conflict?  This was a question we were not truly honest about with ourselves prior to Iraq, for example.

And that leads to a final point:  if you can’t win the war with conventional weapons…are you willing to win the war in other methods?  For example, we could have ‘won’ the war in Vietnam with tactical nuclear weapons.  After all the blood and treasure we poured in there, should we have considered such drastic action?  And if not, why were we there in the first place?

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These questions are essential discussions that should be had before we enter any foreign conflict.  We have been too laissez faire in our approach to intervening overseas, as a slow progression of more and more lackadaisical use of military force has become the norm.  We certainly cannot blame Barack Obama for this, as this has been going on for decades, but a return to a more logical, thoughtful approach is necessary.

Furthermore, the belief that Congress and the American people should follow a logical, thoughtful process toward international interventionalism is not an ‘isolationist’ position.  I certainly am willing to intervene overseas if the necessity arises.  For example, Afghanistan was a necessary war, even though we did not do a great job answering questions 2 and 4 above before entering that conflict.  I do think we could have done the country a great service however if we had answered those questions; it may have more clearly defined what our strategy was, and what steps were necessary, instead of the sometimes confused strategy that has been the hallmark of the Bush and Obama administrations for the past few years.

Tomorrow, part two of this series, with the essential question of the day:  How do we answer these questions now that we face a conflict with Syria?

 

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Jennifer Rubin Jumps The Shark

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Jennifer Rubin, in a piece in yesterday’s Washington Post, takes umbrage at the likes of Rand Paul and Ted Cruz’s vision of what America’s role in the world should believe.

Calling them a ‘group of isolationists’ she goes on a diatribe of immense proportions.  She concludes with this little tidbit:

In short, for isolationists, there is no amount of dead Syrians, refugees and WMD deaths that would justify us doing anything effective.

This is, as usual, the wrong argument to have.

The isolationist moniker is a false one to begin to label many of these politicians, on both sides of the aisle.

As I have written on numerous occasions, there is a logical method to deciding if war is necessary.  We do not, as Ms. Rubin alleges, simply put number deaths in one column, number of bombs in another column, and use an equation and arrive at an answer.

For example, cannot those who support Ms. Rubin’s argument use their imagination to dream up a scenario where hundreds of thousands of people were dying…and that America still had no military inclination whatsoever?

Of course, nobody needs to imagine such an event…we saw it just two decades ago.  Bill Clinton oversaw the murder of 1 million Rwandans…and nobody would claim he was an isolationist. And although some historians may lay some of those deaths at his feet, I believe that is also unfair.  Entering a civil war where America had no national interest, no vested interested, no strategic importance whatsoever would have been foolish.  Hindsight is very convenient for these armchair quarterbacks, but even if that occurred today, I am doubtful the likes of Barack Obama or George W. Bush would do much different.

Rubin goes on…

Is that the world we want to live in? Once Assad used chemical weapons, then all despots will feel free to do the same. And the green light would not entice merely rogue regimes in Syria and North Korea.

We already live in this world.  That people were not able to recognize that simply shows their own extravagant self delusion.  Does anyone believe, no matter what we do to Assad, that the next dictator won’t go ahead with their plans for weapons of mass destruction?

Look at history.  We wiped out Saddam Hussein, who also gassed his own people.  We took out Gaddafi, who at one time had WMD but gave them up.  Did that change Bassar al Assad’s calculations in the least?

And who is to say that our tepid response to Assad won’t actually do the opposite, and give more credence to the ideas that despots and dictators should build up their weapons systems?  The lesson is, if you can make it inconvenient for America to mount a ground invasion, basically it is fine to have weapons of mass destruction.

The reality is, short of going back to the Bush-era concept of pre-emption, we will have to accept these minor states having chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.  I see little if not any belief among any of the political class that, for example, we should mount a full-scale attack on Iran to stop them from obtaining nuclear weapons.  Neither the public nor the political class have the stomach for such an operation. And that doesn’t just include the so-called isolationists.

The larger discussion is how we stayed involved in the politics of the world, without becoming arrogant and overbearing.  We are already hated in many quarters for what many feel is American arrogance and self-righteousness.  The error in Syria is not that we haven’t done anything; the error was ever assuming we should even consider doing anything, unless our direct national interests were at stake.

The better question for people Rubin’s ilk is, do we now accept the role of the world’s policeman?  And who anointed us as such?  Did we simply place that crown on our own head?  And if we are arrogant enough to believe we have that right, to unilaterally declare what is and is not acceptable in this world…where does that eventually take us as a nation?

I fear she doesn’t really have the courage to answer that.

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The New Obama Doctrine On Foreign Wars

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Liberals made much  hay about the Bush doctrine in the previous administration, but not much has been made of the Obama doctrines during the current one.

One reason is simple:  Obama has no grand vision on foreign policy.  He flies from one conflict to another, neither caring nor obsessing over whether his actions will have later consequences

But from his response from Syria, we can learn a couple valuable things about how Obama thinks, not to mention how the left in a larger perspective feels about foreign policy.

1.  There is no national interest necessary.

Syria may be a central player in the Middle East, but this is an unlike foe for the United States.  Three short years ago, the Obama Administration was openly looking a Bashar al Assad as an ally.  Hillary Clinton famously referred to him as a ‘reformer’.

Now, they are a threat to the United States?

They may very well be a threat to Israel. Possibly to their other neighbors.  But only in the most extreme stretch of the imagination are they a threat to the United States of America.  In fact, they are likely a larger threat only if we attack.

Heck…they don’t even have a significant oil source.

2.  We are now the world’s policeman.

The most common argument I have heard from progressive friends is that Assad violated international standards, and therefore, must be punished.

This is a fascinating argument from a political movement whose main cry for the last decade is that we specifically should not be the policeman for all the world’s problems. Today…they specifically want us to take on that role.

3.  No allies necessary.

Obama has done one remarkable thing in his foreign policy:  he has made Britain, a steadfast ally of ours, no longer….steadfast.

Yesterday the U.K. Parliament rejected Prime Minister David Cameron’s request to have power to intervene in Syria.

How remarkable an event was this?  The last time that Parliament rejected such military action was…1782.

In Afghanistan, George W. Bush was able to rally more than 40 countries and all of NATO.  In Iraq, which was clearly a heated political discussion, Bush got the support of 30 other countries, including Britain and Spain, and came very close to getting the support of Turkey and India.

Barack Obama could not get the support of England.

Now, this is not so important, except for the simple fact that Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden, along with the likes of Chuck Hagel, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid scolded President Bush for his ‘limited’ allied force, and some even remarked that Bush’s claim was a ‘fantasy’.

I wonder what spin they will provide now?

4.  UN?  What’s the UN?

No United Nations Security Council resolution is coming.  Not in the near term.  Russia and China are adamant that more time is needed before they can decide on any action, and even then, they view this as an internal Syrian matter.

So Obama, because of this ‘roadblock’ (and where have we heard that before) will simply act…unilaterally.

The irony, of course, is that George W. Bush, who was labeled a ‘cowboy’ and a ‘unilateralist’ actually did go to the U.N. and, in fact, did obtain Security Council resolutions for his actions.

5. Constitution matters only for Republican Presidents

This is Senator Barack Obama in 2007:

“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat,” Obama told the Boston Globe.

Today, President Obama and his staff are quite clear: no Congressional authority is necessary.   And neither would this be unique; they took the same tactic with Libya.

Now, if they are going to make this argument, they should at least have the honesty to admit they were wrong in 2007, and the likes of Dick Cheney, John Yoo and others were right.  Of course, that would make their liberal base go over the edge, but whose fault is that?

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In conclusion, President Obama is rapidly expanding the powers of the Executive to go to war.  These are expansions of those powers that Dick Cheney and other neocons in the prior administration urged President Bush to take, but he never did so.  Bush, ironically, had more respect for the Constitution and international law than our current Oval Office occupant does.

Those that say that Assad and the Syrians who used chemical weapons against their own people are correct that those actions should not go unpunished.  But following a course to war that has neither the support of the American people or the world, and cannot get approved by the Congress and the United Nations, is one of folly.

But that is the heart of the Obama doctrine on foreign intervention, as it stands today.

0

I Too Have A Dream…

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On the 50th Anniversary of MLK’s “I Have A Dream” speech.

Two score and ten years ago, one of the great African-American leaders of all time came to the Lincoln Memorial, to give his view of the direction of race relations in America, and the ever continuing fight for civil rights and equality.

At the time, civil rights was an enigma.

Jim Crow still persisted.  Segregation and discrimination were the norm.  The upward mobility of the middle class Black man was limited by an opaque glass ceiling. Access to educational and financial institutions was limited. And the ability for minorities to affect the political system was virtually non-existent.

How times have changed.

A two-year old boy of mixed heritage that day saw a Black man praise the virtues of America’s heart, and 50 years later would be a two term President of the United States.

In fact, the opaque class ceiling that existed in 1963 has largely been destroyed.  People of all races, creeds, sex and background can reach any level in society.  Barack Obama simply is the penultimate example.

This is not to say our great quest for equality has been achieved.  In fact, it will never be achieved. Martin Luther King understood this basic concept:

“When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

So the march for equality proceeds.  The fight goes on.  But the issues that confront us have evolved, and led to a much broader, wider issue than MLK faced.

Today, America is once again failing the words of our Founding Fathers, and the promise it made to all Americans.  We face great challenges, but our leaders fail at every turn.  As Mr. King stated that day:

When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

America is failing its people.  And yes, that includes African-Americans, who still are lagging in economic freedom and educational access.  But it is not failing those Americans alone.

White Americans are growing ever poorer and less educated.  Hispanic Americans are struggling economically, as the economy and the government fail to meet the demands of today.  Across the board, government becomes ever more burdensome, tries to give away more, and ultimately provides access to far less.

Every day, the rich get richer, not only on their own merits, but because we have a government that grows larger and larger, and thus, helps the rich benefit from the teat of big government.  We have corrupt officials who make corrupt bargains with those ensuring their place in the power structure, while the remainder of America can only sit and watch.

But I say to you, my friends, my fellow Americans, that does not deter my optimism for the future.  Because I also have a dream.  My hopes reside in the core of what the American Dream truly means.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”  But that means that we will not first look to the color of one’s skin to make our fair determination, but to the core of their being and their soul.

I have a dream that the few enclaves of prejudice that exist in America will continue to be marginalized and be wiped out.  I dream that many of these places, not all of them in the south, will be called out for their bias and bigotry, not only against races, but also religions, political beliefs, and other concepts of social construct and politics.

I have a dream that one day, voters of all races will not vote by race.  They will vote by ideas.  They will look at the arguments openly and honestly, and give a fair chance for all ideas.  I dream that people that disagree with conventional wisdom will no longer be treated as pariahs and traitors to their race, and we will never ever hear the term ‘Uncle Tom’ used again.

I dream of a day where every vote will count as a single vote; where access to the voting booth will be guaranteed; but also where we can verify that those that do vote have the right to vote, so we are confident in the democracy we all hold so dear.

I dream that children of all races, in all corners of this country, will have the choice and access to the educational institution of their choosing, because the great bigotry of today is the soft bigotry of low expectations that now is the rule of thumb for our public schools.

I have a dream people will not accuse honest patriotic Americans of bigotry or hatred, only because of differences in political thought.

I dream that people will accept the great strides we have made in this country over the last several generations, without clouding the fact that some improvements are still obviously necessary.  I hope people realize how egalitarian our society truly is, compared to much of the world, even other places in the Western world.  I see inequalities, but many of those are self-inflicted, and I hope and pray we figure out that many of our failures are because of our own stupidity than about skin color.

I have a dream that one day, persons of all colors, races, sexes, and political parties can talk openly and honestly about many of the societal and cultural issues that plague America, that hold its people back, that deter certain groups from achieving the American dream, without being accused of having racial prejudice in our hearts simply for discussing the issue.

And this is my final dream.  My final dream is that my children, who are now 7 and 3, who are minorities in the great melting pot of the American experiment, will grow up in an America where they barely discuss race or ethnicity.  That when they do discuss it, it will be in passing, and not at the heart of every political dialogue and discourse.  Where their favorite political candidates are not scored based on how many boxes they can check on a census card, but the quality of their ideas and the content of their character.

That is my dream.

Only then will I believe America will be free at last.

 

2

Regarding citizenship and media stupidity

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For some unknown reason, we have to talk about the citizenship rules that allow a person to be qualified to be the President of the United States again.

The stupidity of this discussion boggles the mind.  It was stupid when it was brought up when Barack Obama first ran in 2008, it was even dumber when issues about John McCain’s Panamanian birth arose, and now is compounded with a new level of stupidity based on the recent disclosure of Sen. Ted Cruz’s birth certificate.

Furthermore, the trolls in the media that have nothing better to do than discuss established law without understanding the law they are discussing are roping in Conservatives, who are falling for the trap.  My good friend Leslie P has an excellent piece on this at the Liberty’s Torch.

There are some subtle rules in here, but here is the basic gist of the situation:  if you are a child of an American citizen, and you claim American citizenship upon your birth…you are a naturally born citizen of the United States.

There are some minor hurdles however.  For example, before a certain date, you needed that parent to reside in the U.S. during some period within 5 years of the birth. And you cannot immediately claim another country’s citizenship, and the later proclaim U.S. Citizenship…that would renounce your American citizenship as natural born.

If you want an extensive run down on the legal case, this was an excellent article from Redstate.com, in two parts.  Many little details and nuances are in the laws, but my gestalt is pretty much accurate.

Now, the media has jumped on another little nuance…that Cruz (who is, by all legal criteria, a Natural Born Citizen) is also potentially a Canadian citizen.  This actually may be true, based on what some legal scholars in Canada are stating.  This is, additionally, also completely irrelevant to the discussion whether Cruz is eligible for the Presidency.  Nothing in the Constitution precludes a Natural Born Citizen from having dual citizenship.

What is really intriguing about this is that, if the media had any inquisitive nature at all, that Barack Obama, under Kenyan law, was a KENYAN citizen by birth until the age of 23.  Because his father was a Kenyan citizen at birth, Obama automatically was a Kenyan citizen with dual citizenship until the age of 23.  At that time, he either had to become a Kenyan citizen in toto, or automatically lost his claim on his Kenyan citizenship, because adults cannot have dual citizenship in Kenya.

Intriguing how the media never picked up on that.

Don’t let the media drive a silly narrative.  This is strategic on their part; they think that they can use the birther issue to divide the Right.  We conservatives should always base the decision on what the law specifically states.  And in this question, there is no debate.

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