Saturday, October 31, 2009

Obama Afghanistan Meeting Seven Is In The Books

And Still No Decision: President Obama Is No John Kennedy
Since the McCrystal report asking for additional troops was made public quite some time ago, the President has had seven meetings totaling about 20 hours, and spent about 25 minutes on a tarmac with the General. During that time, the President has spent much more of his time on issues having nothing to do with national security. Now no one begrudges some of the public relations work that the President has done, but we are in a WAR. Soldiers are dying and being critically injured. His one job right now is not to stretch this decision over months, but to meet every day for hours a day in order to make this decision.

The Presidency is not a job by consensus. It is the loneliest job in which critically important decisions need to be made, particularly on the safety of troops and the security of the country. If you cannot make a decision, be it to send troops or to pull out, then you should not be in the job. Is the next person he consults with the cleaner of the White House bathrooms, because it seems he has sought out the opinion of just about everyone else. And he has taken months to do it, meeting with the various consultants only once a week or so.

My suggestion would be to make this decision a slightly higher priority than healthcare, as it is an outrage that his attention is not glued to this problem. He made a great publicity trip to view the return of fallen soldiers, yet his actions show that his only priority is his political constituency. What are some of the things his time has been spent on, rather than being holed up in the Situation Room making a decision on national security?

• Sept. 1: hosted a Ramadan dinner at the White House.
• Sept. 2-6: took a family vacation trip to Camp David.
• Sept. 8: met with Professional Golf Association of America champions.
• Sept. 10: met with NHL champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Also on that day, sent letters to several International Olympic Committee members to lobby for Chicago getting the 2016 games.
• Sept. 15: traveled to Pennsylvania for campaign fundraiser for Democrat Senator Arlen Specter.
• Sept. 17: hosted a screening of a portion of the Ken Burns documentary The National Parks.
• Sept. 21: appeared as the sole guest on the Late Show with David Letterman.
• Oct. 2: traveled to Copenhagen to lobby for Chicago 2016 Olympics. Didn’t get them.
• Oct. 5: met with doctors assembled in Rose Garden; doctors were provided white coats to create appearance of united support for president’s health care reform.
• Oct. 7: played basketball with assorted Cabinet members.
• Oct. 9th: spoke to nation upon winning the Nobel Peace Prize.
• Oct. 10: spoke at dinner for gay rights organization.
• Oct. 13: attended “Fiesta Latina” concert on White House lawn.
• Oct. 14: spoke at event celebrating establishment of the Edward Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate, which is reportedly being funded with $20 million diverted from defense spending.
• Oct. 15: spoke at San Francisco fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee.
• Oct. 20: spoke at New York City Democrat fundraiser; made headlines by opining that Republicans “….just kinda, sometimes, do what they’re told.”
• Oct. 21: traveled to New Jersey to attend fundraiser for Democrat Governor Jon Corzine.
• Oct. 23: traveled to Boston to attend fundraiser for Democrat Governor Patrick, and to Connecticut for fundraiser for ethically challenged Democrat Senator Chris Dodd.
• Oct. 25: golfed at Fort Belvoir.
• Oct. 26: shortened White House meeting with Afghanistan advisors to attend two Democrat fundraisers in Florida.
(List from The Barnstable Patriot)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pakistani Violence and the Iranian Farce

The Pakistani Problem

(rediff News) "A government unable to control large parts of its territory, a military in disarray, loss of control over the nuclear assets, radical Islamists intent on acquiring WMDs -- that's the stuff nightmares are made of, at least for the West. And Pakistan's current turmoil is causing jitters around the world precisely because the nightmarish scenario evoked above might just come to pass as the Talibanisation of the country drags it to the brink of collapse."

On October 16, Pakistan's political and military leaders held a crisis meeting to discuss the options for containing the dramatic rise in terrorist violence.

On the 29th, a car bomb detonated in a Pershwar market that killed at least 100 people. Those people were comprised mainly of woman and children doing their daily shopping. No one has claimed responsibility but Al-Qaeda or the Taliban may be a good bet.

During her visit in Pakistan, Hillary Clinton put forth the opinion that some Pakistani officials probably know where Al- Qaeda is holed up within the country, and she urged the government to do more in the way of hunting the terrorist group down.

In a discussion with editors in the city of Lahore, Clinton said, “Al-Qaeda has had safe haven in Pakistan since 2002, I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn’t get them if they really wanted to. Maybe that’s the case; maybe they’re not gettable. I don’t know.”

This brings us to the discussion of the Pakistani military, and whether some in the institution have ties or allegiances other than to the people and the government of Pakistan. It has long been suspected that those with militant views within this nuclear power may hold positions relatively high up in the government. The question that this poses is obvious, particularly as Pakistan gets more involved in a search and destroy mission against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Who is in control? A militant military with nuclear access, or a moderate government friendly to the United States? As violence in the region grows along with uncertainty surrounding Afghanistan, the United States, India and the world wants to know.

It is good that Hillary Clinton seems to be taking a skeptical and a more hard-line stand, but is she on the same page as Obama and does she have any real influence?

The Iranian Farce Continues

As hard as this may be to believe, Iran has said that they want changes to the agreement that they had agreed to in principle with the IAEA. This will not only delay or destroy the plan to have Iran ship uranium out of the country, but delay or destroy the meetings between the 5 permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, Germany and Iran concerning its overall nuclear program.

Not that this should come as any surprise to anyone, but what is the master plan now? Threaten sanctions a little more, express disappointment, tell them they will pay for this? This is an incredible joke, and the joke is on the world.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Is A Potential Missile Attack Just A Figment Of The Conservative Imagination?

The Left Would Have You Believe That It Is

Whenever I opine on the incredible dangers that exist around the world regarding the proliferation of nukes in the wrong peoples hands, the general consensus from the left is that there really is no actual problem. Their naive and tongue in cheek response will be to go in and nuke them out of existence before any launch is possible to alleviate the problem. Isn't that what George Bush would do they say? Of course this the the polar opposite to the actual liberal view. That view would have us kowtow to our enemies and kill them with diplomacy. Sanctions would be the next least preferable action with military force a far distant third.

This could lead us into a discussion of the weak, almost non-existent presence of credible foreign policy and national security measures under the new administration, but instead I will stick to the proliferation issue.

If the answer was as simple as going in and taking out the country that posed a clear and imminent threat to either the United States or one of our allies, that would be one thing. There would certainly be cross-currents and serious ramifications to that type of strategy, but should Iran appear ready to fire, it could be done. The problems in the world today unfortunately goes much deeper.

It is not necessarily the country doing the actual manufacturing of either the weapons or nuclear material, but the confluence of rogue states and organizations that would be eager to purchase them, and even more eager to use them. That is why it is so critical to cut off the potential source.

If the left could lose the obsession with focusing on the Bush years and look at the present and the future, even they would be able to see the immensity of the problem. What are the chances of a light going off over the collective liberal head? About as good as Nancy Pelosi winning Miss Congeniality at the Miss America contest.

That said, the video below is a sobering look at the problem.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Iran, Uranium and FlimFlam Florio

Keep Giving Iran More Time, The Only Result Will Be More Time Lost

As could have been expected and predicted, Iran, given and apparently accepting the structure of a deal by the United Nations to ship its enriched uranium to France and Russia, is once again making a mockery out of the international community.

This past Friday they missed the deadline to respond to the draft proposal drawn up by the IAEA, and today was quoted by a news source as saying that while they agree in principle to the framework, they want very "important" changes made to it. Iran says that they will let the world know what the changes are within 48 hours.

Like a parent who gives warning after warning and threat after threat to the disobedient child, Iran puts little if any credence in the resolve of the countries involved to actually back up any tough rhetoric with substantive action. As the perfect example, this was what the Foreign Minster of France had to say regarding these new stall tactics:

"We have been waiting for light at the end of the tunnel for almost three years. We will wait until we decide that enough is enough and that the process is exhausted," ... "One day it will be too late."

That is a very open ended statement, and one which would lead anyone reading, particularly the leaders of Iran, to think that there is time plenty of time for more games and deceptions. The only action, unfortunately, that will hold any weight is that of military action.  Anything else is merely a killer of time leading up to the inevitable, all the while Iran goes on about it's merry way. Sanctions and diplomacy are merely a way of giving this country more time to do what it is that it wants to do. For starters, as articulated by its leader, Iran would like to blow Israel out of existence. 

The enablers around the world, posing as leaders, need to take a stand.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Foreign Policy In A War Zone Is Not A Soap Opera

Episode Number Six On “To Surge Or Not To Surge”

Not The Time, Place or Situation For A Soap Opera

On Monday, for the sixth time, the President met in the White House Situation Room to discuss whether or not to agree to the addition of troops requested by General McCrystal. General McCrystal, at the time of the request, painted a dire picture of how things would develop if the troops were not provided.  He also said that speed in the decision making process was critical. The word being provided is that the meeting Monday should not be construed to mean that a decision is imminent. The President wants to get it right and not fast.

Getting it right is certainly the correct strategy, one that might have worked a little bit better with the stimulus package that was rushed through or with the government run healthcare, but it seems to me that the President has had all of the time and input from those around him to make a decision. It is lonely at the top, and the American public was under the impression that they were electing a decision maker to be the Chief Executive of the country. By the sixth meeting, is there other information to decipher or people to consult who have not been consulted already? If so, why is that the case?

It is obvious based on the increased violence in the region that the enemy is emboldened by the fact that there is apparent weakness and glaring lack of resolve emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  National security is a different animal than that of trying to ram a healthcare bill through the Congress. Military decisions take bold and confident leadership, as much for the troops on the ground as for the terrorists we are fighting.

Like a shark that smells the blood in the water, the Taliban and al-Qaeda, observing six meetings with more on the way in search of consensus for a plan, must get the feeling that the inmates are in control of the asylum. The world is waiting, so please live up to the job that you were so eager to obtain.

Monday, October 26, 2009

All The News Considered Fit To Dispense

According To The White House That Is

What does it take to be considered a viable news outlet by the Obama administration? Put another way, what type of news delivery is considered to be welcome and what type is considered persona non grata in the White House press room? In the new way of doing business in Washington, to be welcome there is only one way to both gather and dispense the news; with blinders on the eyes, a government issue mouthpiece and/or muzzle, earplugs and a closed mind.

Simply put, as long as you tow the line, report what they want you to report in the way they want you to report it, ask nothing tougher than fluff questions and get tough on citizens who for one reason or another may disagree with policy (i.e. Tea Party participants), you will have earned your way to the first class section of Air Force One. Divert in any way from this path, and you will find yourself on the runway or with an aggressive administration attempt made against your credibility and very existence.

Needless to say that in any White House there will be a media outlet or two who is overtly disliked, but today there is one feared and reviled in an unprecedented way. In the partisan world of the Democrat controlled Congress and White House, the style utilized by this television station is as foreign to our politicians as foreign policy is. It is the reporting on both sides of an issue that is frowned upon, with attempts made to punish and prevent it. The approach of digging into a story and getting down to the nitty gritty facts is all well and good as long as the outcome is the way the White House wants it to be.

As an example, when a well-known mainstream media figure was asked about ACORN and said that he wasn't really following the story, the White House loved it although it does not help the viewers watching. 

Heavy Handed Attempt By The Obama Administration to Stifle Dissent

The old saying that there is nothing to fear but fear itself has some relevance in the current White House. If administration policies are true and in the best interest of the American people, then why shouldn't they bear up well under the scrutiny of the press or any other method of investigation? The simple fact is that if you are telling the truth, whether it be about policy, budgets or anything else, you should welcome the investigation, as it would only make your position more credible. When any attempt to verify or seek out those facts are met with protests, it raises red flags. 

Now I am not here to argue about the partisan nature of the media outlets such as CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS or NBC, but why is it, do you suppose, that they are the very welcome guests of the Obama minions and Obama himself? Could it be, to the detriment of the American public, that they are in the pocket of the administration? That whether it be an Obama infomercial disguised as a press conference or any other event, they can be counted on to fall into line and only report things in a certain, administration friendly way? Who is telling the American public the real story, and why is the attempt being made to usher them out of the door?

As I am sure you have guessed by now, this "rogue" media outlet I speak of is Fox News.

Even The Other Networks Have A Limit (If Limited Backbone)

The White House may have actually gone to far in the attempt to portray Fox as nothing more than a visual version of talk radio or a basic partisan mouthpiece for the conservative right. When the edict was issued to exclude Fox from an interview with Pay Czar Kenneth Feinberg, the other members of the "pool" of stations mentioned above (excluding MSNBC) said that if this was the case they would not participate either.  To reach the level that would lead these networks to issue an ultimatum about media access concerning Fox, the President has gone well beyond the pale.

Perhaps the White House focus should be on issues other than on excluding media critical of its actions, on developing a socialist domestic policy and on hiring of a multitude of Czars. Some of that energy should instead focus on creating foreign policy designed to protect the country, a domestic policy centered on job creation and an improved economy and fighting the corruption within the Democrat party itself. In other words, live up to a standard that could withstand scrutiny of any kind. This petty and arrogant focus on trying to stifle anything considered to shine a negative light on the administration is not only an embarrassment, but an outrage as well. 

Saturday, October 24, 2009

That Special Something For The Holidays

For That Hard To Buy A Gift For Friend Or Special Someone

What do you get for that friend or relative on you holiday list who already has everything? How about for the office party? Here is the perfect solution! It has been around for as long as I can remember, most don't have one, but who wouldn't want one of these?

Send one to General McCrystal so he can see the President more often. Send one to the Republican leadership so that if they can't get an invite to the Oval Office, they can still feel like they are part of the process. It would be the perfect ornament for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations meeting room as the President does not get much time to focus on foreign policy with healthcare the burning priority that it is.

Don't bother sending one to most of the American people, because we see the President on T.V. more than we see re-runs of I Love Lucy.

Thanks to Fort Hard Knox for pointing it out.

No kidding

Friday, October 23, 2009

Afghan Elections: A Procrastinators Dream

One More Reason To Put Off The Ultimate Decision

The decision to send additional troops to Afghanistan or not has been bandied about by the Obama administration as if it were the decision of what main course to serve at a party. That is, no urgency at all. September 26 General McCrystal placed his request for 40,000 additional troops. While this was a discussion the Obama administration knew would be coming, they treated it as if this was the first that they had heard of Afghanistan. That day became the jump off point for the administration to begin deliberations, not with the General who received 25 minutes with the Commander in Chief on a tarmac in London, but with the politicians and military yes men surrounding the President.

While the country, the world and particularly the combat troops who are risking their lives daily wait for the decision from on high, daily meetings on this issue are not taking place. Rather, the President continues on his domestic agenda, frivolity (shout-outs to Lady Gaga and dancing with Thalia), fundraising and finally campaigning for Democrats at risk of losing next month. All while soldiers are well in harms way.

Rahm Emanuel, the White House consigliore, had some comments on Sunday morning shows that are quite instructive, indicating that only now, and at a snails pace, is this administration, in office over 9 months, examining the strategies and options in a major war theater. To this point health care, executive pay and the Olympics have not only been on the front burner, but the only burner lit.

“Before you commit troops, which is not irreversible but puts you down a certain path, before you make that decision, there's a set of questions that have to have answers that have never been asked..."

“It would be reckless to make a decision on U.S. troop levels if, in fact, you haven’t had a thorough analysis of whether, in fact, there’s an Afghan partner,...”

While those on the left love to hate former Vice President Cheney, these are the comments that he made on Wednesday night pointing out the hypocrisy of the President:

(LA Times) "Having announced his Afghanistan strategy last March, President Obama now seems afraid to make a decision, and unable to provide his commander on the ground with the troops he needs to complete his mission....It’s time for President Obama to make good on his promise. The White House must stop dithering while America’s armed forces are in danger.

Make no mistake, signals of indecision out of Washington hurt our allies and embolden our adversaries. Waffling while our troops on the ground face an emboldened enemy endangers them and hurts our cause.
Now they seem to be pulling back and blaming others for their failure to implement the strategy they embraced. It’s time for President Obama to do what it takes to win a war he has repeatedly and rightly called a war of necessity."

The Run-off Elections

The newest opportunity for the President to put off any decision on strategy is the run-off election due to take place November 7 between Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah. As you can see by the statement above, the outcome in two weeks will be a major cog in the administration decision making process.

My take is that regardless of the outcome of this election, the United States, greatest power on earth, needs to make a tactical decision in order to make the most solid attempt that we can to put a cap on a terrorist breeding ground. This breeding ground will be there regardless of who wins, and plans have to be implemented accordingly.

It is time for the health-care cheerleader in chief to become what his most critical job actually is, Commander in Chief of the world’s last remaining superpower. This is not the time to be exhibiting weakness and indecision not seen in the White House for some time.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sleepwalking Towards Armageddon

The Political Commentator Meets John C. Wohlstetter

I had the great pleasure of being introduced to John C. Wohlstetter, who is a foreign policy and national security expert and the founder and editor of the blog Letter from the CapitolHe is currently the senior fellow of technology and democracy at the Discovery Institute and a board member of the Hudson Institute. His articles have appeared in Town Hall and the Washington Times amongst others, and he recently gave a speech on nuclear proliferation and Iran, topics that I spend quite a bit of time on.

The introduction to the speech is below, along with a link to the presentation.


"On September 30, 2009 I gave a talk in Seattle, entitled "Nuclear Arms: Sleepwalking Towards Armageddon".  My topic then is a first airing of the subject matter of my second book, which I aim to complete in time for publication next fall.  I begin with an historical overview of 64 years 1945-2009, the Nuclear Age.  I then use country studies, so to speak, to illustrate the problems of nuclear proliferation & arms control.  Russia presents problems of big power linkage, in which arms control is conjoined with a host of other problems Russia poses; Iran represents the problem of an aspiring regional hegemon, with perhaps still a messianic streak that makes deterrence exceptionally problematic; North Korea is the "crazy aunt in the attic"--a rogue proliferator; Pakistan presents problems of command & control of its growing nuclear arsenal; the United States faces the problem of negotiating agreements with disagreeables.
The talk runs about 20 minutes.  It is followed by a Q&A of about twice that length."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Iran Ratchets Up The Games In Vienna

Who Is Offering The Carrot and Who is Holding the Stick

Hard To Tell

The United States, along with our other negotiating partners, are in Vienna trying to cajole Iran to realize the errors of its nuclear ways. They are of course running up against a scenario that was more than predictable. President Obama has spent a good deal of political capital on his desire to utilize diplomacy as the weapon of choice against Iran. However, as discussed here ad nauseum, diplomacy requires two sides willing to work out a solution. Obama's number two option, sanctions, have as a stumbling block the fact that Russia and China have clearly indicated that they do not favor this choice.

The sad but true reality is that Iran has said that they do not intend to stop enriching uranium even if they do ship some of theirs to other country's. The sheer scope of the naivete being exhibited by President Obama would be funny if not so terrifying. Is his stance merely pandering to his leftist base, or is it truly his belief that diplomacy with a regime the caliber of Iran has the potential to succeed? I fear the latter.

Many on the left will say the following tongue in cheek: Why don't we just go in and nuke Iran the way that George Bush would. In reality what they say is why go in and impose our will on Iran when there is no proof that they have any ill intentions, let alone the ability to weaponize nukes. Again, an extremely naive position I fear intended by them to try and negate the 8 years of the Bush administration. Proaction versus reaction in the case of nuclear weapons has its obvious advantages.

Some Tuesday Goings On In Vienna
  • Iran objected to France participation in shipping nuclear fuel out of Iran. It had been agreed to in the October 1st meeting in Geneva.
  • Iran refuses to talk to France at the negotiating table
  • Iran asserts its nuclear right to enrich uranium
  • Talks started at 10 AM, recessed, and did not resume until 8:30 PM.
  • Iranian prime Minister called France an "untrustworthy party"
  • The top Iranian diplomat said that by its presence at the talks, Iran has shown itself to be a responsible power
  • The Iranian diplomats at the meetings are not senior enough to authorize any deal
  • The recent terrorist attack inside Iran further complicates things
  • The top Iranian diplomat asserted that they will never give up the right to pursue peaceful nuclear power

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Afghan Decision: Still Waiting

The Politicians In The White House Continue The Military Debate

As many stories will, the debate within the White House over whether to send the additional troops requested by General McCrystal drones on, while at the same time fades slightly from media scrutiny as the next story du jour takes its place. Why follow a story over securing a terrorist playground when coverage of a balloon over Colorado can dominate the airwaves for hours, and then for days.

The Obama administration continues to discuss whether the troop surge strategy would ultimately be successful as if they are trying to figure out the best way to rearrange the furniture in the Oval Office. As said here previously, these discussions should have taken place months ago, and might have if only the President had been as engaged in this war as he was in bringing the Olympics to Chicago. Had he only been in contact with his General more than not at all, this debate that drags on and on would have already been completed and a decision made.

Speaking of decisions made, the problem may be that Afghanistan does not provide the same opportunity for a rhetorical appeasement solution as say Iran or North Korea. Firm and decisive action is required for the Commander in Chief, and Obama is acting in the capacity of the consensus builder in chief. In the meantime, soldiers continue to die as the indecision shows no signs of abating, and our friends and enemies around the world watch yet another episode of Administration weakness.

To put a face to the war, visit Good Soldiers.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Preemptive Strike Doctrine: A Necessary Evil

The Preemptive Strike Doctrine
Clear and Present Danger

If an individual, or the United States as a sovereign nation is aware of a building danger to security or safety, is the optimal plan to wait until it is a clear and present danger before dealing with it? Common sense would seem to dictate that the line separating danger and imminent danger is extremely fine, and that waiting is in no way consistent with the premise of either personal or national security.

As an individual you would work the problem through the system to try and contain it. As a nation facing entities and regimes that seek to inflict as much damage and destruction as possible on innocent men, women and children, the solution is more complex. And yes, this solution may in fact require the use of military force to take that threat out.

The Preemptive Strike Doctrine was put in place by the Bush administration in 2002 with the expressed purpose of giving the United States the right to protect, not only our citizens, but our allies around the world from the ever increasing threats that exist. It stated that the United States had the right to deal with a building threat to security in addition to a threat that presented a "clear and present danger" Unfortunately for all involved, because it was implemented by President Bush, it is a pariah that President Obama wants to eradicate.

Obviously, Iran is the textbook case for the fine line that we have to walk. There is a quickly building danger posed to world security by the Iranian nuclear program. Our "allies" in the fight to end or contain this threat, Russia and China, are not true allies. In fact, China and Russia have their own agendas, which will prevent them from taking any real action against this regime. China has a need for the Iranian oil to fuel its 6% plus economic growth. Russia has economic ties to Iran and is in fact helping them in building its’ nuclear infrastructure and missile defense system. This very missile defense system will make dealing with the nukes problem, when it does become a clear and present danger, that much more difficult to deal with. Is waiting for this point in the best interest of United States national security?

The Obama Doctrine

This apparent method of the Obama administration for dealing with threats to the United States and our friends around the world has become clear. Ominously clear. It is the idea of diplomacy first and second, with the implementation of sanctions and deal making together with our supposed allies to gain the help needed to deal with the problem third. The fallacy of this plan?

You cannot enter into substantive and valid negotiations with when the other party to those negotiations is a rogue regime with the stated goal of destroying our allies and the U.S. You cannot implement economic sanctions against a government who does not have the vested interests of its' own population at heart. Additionally, when your partners in imposing the sanctions will most likely not abide by them, this method of containing the threat will fail. China and Russia have clearly stated that they do not favor sanctions at this time.

At the same time, through the Obama Doctrine premise of appeasement, the United States has portrayed itself as the polar opposite of Bush. Weak and willing to give up most anything to achieve our goals in ways that will make them unachievable. We gave up missile defense in Poland and Czechoslovakia to appease the Russians with the understanding that they would back sanctions, and they did not.

Our allies in this fight against global threats, as well as Iran and North Korea, do not respect weakness, but they will take full advantage of it. For the Russians under acting leader Putin, they will get whatever they can from the United States, and in return most likely never come through on their side of the bargain. For Iran, they will play the game and dance the dance, stringing us along while continuing on the way to a nuclear capability.

What the Obama Doctrine does not seem to account for is that rhetoric, flowery speech and empty threats do not scare anyone. Anyone, except for those around the world who see it for what it is: “Clear and present danger" to the United States itself. In the end, those nations who live under a daily threat to security will be forced to take matters into their own hands, act unilaterally, and pay a price to ensure national security.

What the Obama Doctrine needs to account for is that in the world today, the emphasis has to be on a pragmatic approach to events, and not an approach designed to simply be "not George Bush." While the far left may endorse that, the rest of us will pay the price. 

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday Note: Noble versus Nobel

The recent Nobel Prize given to President Obama is fading from the news, but this morning I wanted to clarify what the definition of is, is.

No Awards Given For What Might Be

For all of the children and young adults who have witnessed the recent travesty called the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to President Obama, I wanted to provide a small dose of reality.

When doing your job or competing in a sport or contest, winning or losing is typically not determined by what it is that you intend to do or for who you are not, but by the tangible results of your endeavor.

For our young people old enough to understand, this Nobel Prize recently awarded to the President sent a very bad message about words versus deeds. All of the best intentions to get something done does not rise to award worthy status until you have hit your bogey. A couple of simple examples:

If you win a tennis tournament or football championship, it is award worthy. If you give a great locker room speech before the game, it is not yet award worthy.

Finding a cure for a disease or a medicine to help mitigate the symptoms of that disease is incredibly award worthy. Saying that you will find a cure for cancer some day is not.

Saying that you will increase sales 50% does not win you salesman of the year award, but actually hitting that number will.

Saying that you want peace on earth is noble, but not a Nobel worthy achievement! There is an extremely large distinction. 

Friday, October 16, 2009

Iran: Whose Side Are Russia and China On Anyway?

The Easy Answer Is That Russia Is On Russia's Side and China is on China's Side

Diplomacy sanctions or force? That is the question. Whether it is nobler to continue down the path of a diplomatic solution, impose harsh sanctions or take out the Iranian nuclear installations by force is the question being bandied about by the nations negotiating with this rogue regime.

When we speak of the Iranian nuclear capability, it is Russia that is enabling them to build it. When we speak of Iranian missile defense it is Russia that is enabling them to build it. From an economic standpoint, Russia is in no hurry to impose sanctions on its trading partner. The same can be said for China who is dependent on Iranian oil to fuel its economic growth.

Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that sanctions imposed now would be premature. China Thursday had glowing comments about its growing economic alliance with Iran. So when, according to these two countries, would the time be right? The larger question, which is really a rhetorical one, is whether Russia and China are really our allies in this battle at all, or just self-serving players in this negotiation charade? The answer is obvious, and before the world reaches the nuclear day after tomorrow, action has to be taken.

In essence the United States is negotiating against itself. We have the spoken desire to examine the potential of sanctions, but the reality is that this dance is going to go on for quite some time, while the danger continues to grow and grow.

To compound the problem is the fact that the rhetoric of President Obama is not taken very seriously by anyone!

What Is The Success Rate Of Sanctions Anyway?

As discussed here before, the idea of sanctions is that they represent a consumer of time and a delay of the inevitable anyway. Totalitarian regimes that could care less about its people will not be affected, and will continue on their merry way aided by back door efforts by countries that circumvent the sanctions.

In the end, military force will be used by someone to at least delay the efforts of Iran and its' nuclear ambitions.

Some Statistics

(Economic Sanctions Reconsidered: History and Current Policy): "Historically, economic sanctions have a poor track record. Between 1914 and 1990, various countries imposed economic sanctions in 116 cases. They failed to achieve their stated objectives in 66 percent of those cases and were at best only partially successful in most of the rest.1 Since 1973, the success ratio for economic sanctions has fallen precipitously to 24 percent for all cases"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Political Correctness Gone Wild

At What Point In Time Do We Stop Apologizing For Being American?

In one sense, this argument does not rise to the level of other issues plaguing the Country today whether it be national security or domestic issues such as the economy or healthcare debate. On the other hand, when Americans are asked to deny their pride or repress their feelings of country for fear of offending someone who may not agree, where does it all end.

Does it end with the ban of holiday displays or by having multiple official languages? When is the line in the sand drawn where people say enough? I believe that we are getting extremely close, ACLU be damned.

( ALBANY, Ore. - "At the Oaks Apartments in Albany, the management can fly their own flag advertising one and two bedroom apartments - but residents have been told they can't fly any flags at all..."

From the "you can't make this stuff up" department, it appears that there are apartment complexes around the country that feel it is inappropriate to fly an American flag, display an American flag decal or to have any such display on your car. Why? For fear of offending. But offending who would be the operative question? Those who dislike the United States and its' emblems are free to go, either back to their homeland or to create a new home in a new land.

Now on any given day there are objectionable things that violate and offend our senses. Rap music, the smell of sulfur, the smell of a New York City subway station, the smell of sulfur in a New York City subway station, drivers going 50 in the passing lane, overt displays of hatred... you get the idea. But the American flag? If the American flag offends someone, let them fly their own flag, move or just keep their mouths shut. In no other country in the world would the repression of national pride be tolerated, so why here?

When love of country is forced to take a back seat to the fear of offending, then the moral fabric of that society is coming apart at the seams. While at first glace this subject does not rise to the level of a nuclear Iran, maybe it does.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Joe Biden, Your Source For Intelligence?

Houston, We Have A Problem!

When Joe Biden becomes the administrations source for intelligent (intelligence) analysis, what does that say about the other players that are involved? The idea behind a presidents War Room is for him to get the down and dirty, nitty gritty truth about a crisis, consolidate it and make a decision. Those present are supposed to be some of the top minds that the country has to offer in different areas of expertise, having been chosen by the president for the quality of their thoughts and willingness to relate them. They are to relate honest opinion and strategy regardless of the anger they may incurr from the chief executive. They are there to do whatever it takes to protect and secure the American people and not their own hides. Period the end.

Newsweek Article: Joe Biden, White House Truth Teller

This article was written to convey a message about the stature of Joe Biden. My read, however, was a little bit different. In my mind it tells more of a story about the quality of the administration and its foreign policy. One particular paragraph would seem to summarize the opinion of many when it concerns Biden, a key player in the foreign policy debate, and his foreign policy acumen. It reads:

"Biden, it should be noted, has not always showed the most clear-eyed judgment. In 1990 he voted against American involvement in the first Gulf war, which turned out to be a relatively low-cost success, whereas he voted for the invasion of Iraq, which turned into a near fiasco. He opposed the 2007 Iraq surge, which rescued the American effort from near defeat."

In questions of policy, the Biden position has often been the wrong position, and yet he is the seeming voice of reason within the Situation Room.

Another annecdote from the article describes a discussion concerning the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ideas were being bandied about when Biden stepped in and asked a bombshell of a question:

"Joe Biden had a question. During a long Sunday meeting with President Obama and top national-security advisers on Sept. 13, the VP interjected, "Can I just clarify a factual point? How much will we spend this year on Afghanistan?" Someone provided the figure: $65 billion. "And how much will we spend on Pakistan?" Another figure was supplied: $2.25 billion. "Well, by my calculations that's a 30-to-1 ratio in favor of Afghanistan. So I have a question. Al Qaeda is almost all in Pakistan, and Pakistan has nuclear weapons. And yet for every dollar we're spending in Pakistan, we're spending $30 in Afghanistan. Does that make strategic sense?" The White House Situation Room fell silent. But the questions had their desired effect: those gathered began putting more thought into Pakistan as the key theater in the region."

This is a question that a fourth grader could have come up with, let alone our top foreign policy and national security advisors. I applaud Biden for bringing the attention of the meeting to an important question, but why should he have had to. While it was a nice fluff piece, I don't think the Newsweek article painted any of the participants in a very good light. It took the Vice President to point out such a mundane fact, and after he did the other members of the meeting jumped on board.

It doesn't give me that warm and fuzzy feeling to know that a man who has typically been on the wrong side of the debate is the point man in framing the debate for the president.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

North Korea, Red-Headed Stepchild

North Korea Wants A Little Attention Too

Iran is all about the nukes. Do they have them? What is their intention with them? Will they stop developing them? Will our "allies" support action against them? Diplomacy, sanctions or force? Will China go along with any of them? Will Israel be forced to take the nuclear installations out unilaterally? You get the idea. United Nations, IAEA and the Geneva Conference, it is all Iran all the time.

Afghanistan is all about the troop surge. General McCrystal says that we need one in order to avoid mission failure. President Obama is only now arranging consensus among his non-military, more political advisiors knowing for some time this decision was coming. The liberal left wants none of a surge, while one prominent Democrat, Senator Dianne Feinstein from of all places California has just signed on for it. She recognizes the impact pulling out could have on Pakistan as well as the fact that President Obama chose McCrystal as his expert on the ground. Will he, won't he and when will he? Troops already in the theater need a decision one way or the other.

Now we have North Korea. Remember them? One third of the Axis of Evil. Nuclear armed, run by an unstable dictator with one of its borders one of the most dangerous places on earth. Not that many months ago North Korea and Kim Jung-Il had the headlines. Test firing missiles and setting off an underground nuclear test. The world was focused on the Korean Peninsula just as it is now focused on Iran and Afghanistan. What is a deranged leader to do to make the world pay attention?

This rhetorical dance with North Korea is getting very tiresome. On October 1st in a letter to the U.N. North Korea said that dismantling its nuclear arms was "unthinkable even in a dream." On October 5th, while meeting with the Chinese, North Korea said they were willing do resume nuclear dismanteling talks. October 10th there was noise out of Japan, South Korea and China about restarting the six nation talks.

These problems, along with the Taliban violence in nuclear Pakistan, provide some huge challeges for the world community with few obvious solutions. Sane people negotiating with insane people is not going to provide any solution that has staying power. The diplomatic overtures are all well and good, but are only fluff to keep up the appearance of making goodfaith attempts to deal with these regimes. The actual outcome I fear will involve force, becuase diplomacy and sanctions are a joke to them.

In the meantime, North Korea got itself back into the discussion.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Is The NYPD Racial Profiling?

A Terror Cell Is Uncovered In Queens

Najibullah Zazi is arrested along with his father and another man, charged with plotting a terrorist act against our country. Raids on apartments found the bomb making material, and information found on a computer showed the blueprint for making the bombs. Nazi Khan, whose apartment Zazi stayed at says that he can't find work. Leaders of the Muslim community say that they haven't been this scared since after 9/11.

Well, you know what, neither have millions of New Yorkers. Having lived through 9/11/01, the people of the City know what fear is. Having been terror free for eight years, this arrest is a wakeup call. The war on terror is not over and has certainly not been won. It goes on day after day predominatly behind the scenes, with law enforcement doing one hell of a job protecting us. When reality appears on the surface, as in the case of these arrests, it reminds us that we live with the danger every day. It requires that a total cleanup be done (or as much as possible), an action which is in the best interest of every New Yorker regardless of race, gender or religion.

The Muslim community, rather than making a racial profiling claim should be concerned with the safety of all of its citizens as well.

Men With Red Hair

Hypothetically, let's say there was a worldwide population of men with red hair of 1 billion. There was a group of a few thousand that were smuggling a deadly form of heroin into the country through our airports. Should the customs agents focus their attention towards the red haired men, or towards everyone else so as to appear not to be profiling? It is simple common sense.

Here is a great article written by an Arab-American man back in 2002, but still extremely relevant today. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to be afraid of.

"Profile Me, Please" by Joseph Farah

Airport security in the United States is a joke.

Every time I go through security checks I am shocked and dismayed to see elderly women pulled from lines for extra security checks. I see little kids getting scanned for metal on their persons. In short, I see the least likely "terrorists" getting the most scrutiny from security personnel.

I don't get it.

Meanwhile, I never seem to get checked.

Why am I complaining? Because I fit the profile of the very people who are most likely to hijack an airplane or blow it up in a suicide attack.

I am an Arab-American. I have an Arabic surname. I look Arabic.

I know what you are going to say: "Farah, pulling you out of line would be profiling. It's not American to discriminate against people because of their national origin or racial characteristics."

Need I remind my fellow Americans that we are at war? I personally would much prefer to see our country use its precious security resources more wisely. Not everyone is a security risk. Common sense needs to be employed if we are to make this country safer. Isn't it preferable to inconvenience me and people who look like me than to turn our entire country into a virtual police state?

Indeed that is what's happening in America today.

More and more laws are being passed to give government sweeping powers to snoop on every American.

We have the USA Patriot Act. We have Total Information Awareness. We have Big Brother on the rise.

Meanwhile, we have Colin Powell suggesting what America needs is more Muslims. We have President Bush and others in government attacking anyone who dares warn about the dangers of Islamism. We have federal officials sucking up to Saudi Arabia, which finances terrorism around the globe and the nation we have to thank for most of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers.

This is not the way to fight the war on terrorism. This is not the way to make our country safer. This is not the way we will beat our enemies.

There is a way to make our airliners safe. We should follow the El Al model. I have flown El Al often. On El Al, I am treated with suspicion. All Arabs are. And that is why El Al had not witnessed a hijacking in 20 years until last week when an Arab secreted a knife on board a flight with a plan to commandeer the plane into an Israeli skyscraper. Sky marshals wrestled him to the ground and averted a disaster.

Why would I want to see a security system that would cause me more hassle? Because I want to see my flights land at airports – not in buildings. A few moments of irritation are well worth it. When I fly El Al, it gives me peace of mind to have my bags searched, to go through extra security checks, to be interrogated longer than non-Arabs.

Are my rights violated when I fly El Al? Absolutely not. El Al follows sensible security precautions because it is the national airline of a country under siege by terrorists – a nation that understood the threat of Arab airline hijackings 25 years before Sept. 11.

In short, El Al procedures make perfect sense – if the objective is making the skies safer and preventing terrorism.

But if the objective is non-discrimination, then we are in big trouble. This "diversity" madness will be our undoing as a nation. This "tolerance" obsession will be used as a weapon against us. This "multicultural" preoccupation should not be a higher calling than national or personal security. This "pluralism" desire needs to be kept in perspective and checked at the gate along with the terrorists.

Our enemy understands our weaknesses. And, believe me, our infatuation with anti-discrimination policies can be a lethal weakness.

That's why I am begging America to get a clue: Profile me, please. It's not because I am a threat, but because I am not. I have nothing to fear from an extra baggage check, a few extra questions or one extra scan of my person. But people who look like me – Middle Eastern men – pose a much higher security risk.

Not to acknowledge that fact after the carnage of Sept. 11 would be nothing short of insanity.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

New York's War On Terror Over?

The Feds Seem To Think So

New York has plans to build a system designed to prevent a dirty bomb attack. Given the recent arrest of Najibullah Zazi, this would seem to be a high priority as the war on terror is alive and well and New York City is at the center.
Apparently in the porkfest that is Washington, the federal government is of the opinion that funding for this type of system is only half necessary, or potentially not necessary at all. 
NEW YORK (CBS) ? After facing one of the most serious terror threats since the 9-11 attacks, Department of Homeland Security officials are slashing a big chunk of anti-terror funding to New York City.
Local lawmakers say the cut could put American lives at risk.
Just weeks after Najibullah Zazi was nabbed in an al-Qaida terror plot to explode dirty bombs here, the feds have inexplicably slashed Big Apple terror funding designed to build a network of sensors to uncover nuclear or radioactive devices in a 50 miles radius of the city.
"To me this is beyond comprehension that less than a month after al-Qaida attempted an attack against New York City that you would have the Congress cutting the money that New York City needs to defend itself from a dirty bomb attack. It's absolutely mind-boggling," Rep. Peter King, R-Long Island, told CBS 2 HD on Thursday afternoon.
The city wanted $40 million to build the network at bridges, tunnels and other locations in the metropolitan area. Congress only earmarked $20 million for the program and then slipped NYC a doubly whammy -- the money is in a pot that other city's can apply for, so we may not even get the $20 million.
"This $20 million can be spread around like political pork the way other homeland security funds have been spread around the country," King said.
"This is a bad day for New York."...