“If anyone thinks you can somehow thank them for their service, and not support the cause for which they fight – our country – these people are lying to themselves. . . . More important, they are slighting our warriors and mocking their commitment to this nation.”
Those were the words of Lieutenant General John F. Kelly, United States Marine Corps, who is Secretary Gates’ senior military assistant. He went on to point out that less than one percent of the population serves in the armed forces currently, and there is a growing concern within the military community regarding their isolation in the America they are defending. Not only are our men and women facing isolation at home, they are being left on the battlefield with little support by their countrymen stateside.
A recent poll was released by ABC News and Washington Post shows that a paltry 34% of Americans find the war in Afghanistan worth fighting. Sadly, this poll came out the same day General Patraeus gave his testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee asking his audience, Senators and informed Americans alike, to “remember why we are there in the first place.”
These statistics must be detrimental to anyone who has sent a family member or friend overseas; however, these statistics must be even more harmful for those serving overseas themselves. America was founded with the military, but philosophically, as a commercial republic. The two founders who shared the greatest vitriol were Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Despite their differences, they agreed on founding a republic that was commercial in nature so as to avoid war. Thomas Jefferson was the friend of the yeoman farmer, stating that “those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God…” Hamilton hoped this commercial republic would “soften the manners of men, and [to] extinguish those inflammable humors which have so often kindled into wars…” Until what can be considered fairly recently in the grand scheme of History, America never had a standing Army, opting to draft people when the occasion called for such measures instead. Nevertheless, we find ourselves in a war at the present moment, but we also find ourselves regimented into thinking that a battlefield is where football is played, or where ideas clash in a boardroom, or where politicians vie for votes in an important election. Even our professional athletes forget the difference between what they are, and what a true United States Soldier (or Marine) is.
America has faced large battles, and won. What is the difference this time?
Marc Thiessen has a post over at The Enterprise Blog where he lays the blame at President Obama’s feet when he points out that public support for the war has plummeted since President Obama came into office.
“When Obama took office, a majority still said the war in Afghanistan was worth it. He lost majority support in July 2009, then regained it briefly when he announced the surge in December 2009, and then lost it again with a precipitous decline throughout 2010.”
Mr. Thiessen continues by addressing what he believes to be the crux of the problem, which is the failure of the President to defend his policies in Afghanistan. Why hasn’t President Obama defended his endeavors overseas with the same zeal he defended his ill-conceived and unpopular health care legislation? Mr. Thiessen does not go far enough, however, in condemning the commander-in-chief for abdicating his duties as the leader of our armed forces and making sure that the American public that is entirely separated from this war and its ramifications remembers why our men and women are over there in the first place.
Let us get something straight: President Obama never addressed the war in Afghanistan with the attention it deserved, and when he did, it was with a flaccidity that would excite an Urologist. President Obama marched into the Oval Office with a view towards “slow[ing] things down” with regard to the military. The military asking a sitting president for the tools necessary to defeat an enemy abroad was seen as a problem to be solved, but not the war itself. As a matter of fact, most people have already forgotten that the president spoke with General McChrystal just once during the general’s first 70 days as commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, and that was a via video teleconference. Finally, in October of 2009, President Obama met with then-General McChrystal in Copenhagen while the president was lobbying to have the Olympics held in Chicago. He met the then-general of coalition forces in Afghanistan for twenty-five minutes in the front of Air Force Once.
Finally, it got to the point where President Obama had to act on the general’s recommendation for extra troops. As the Guardian reported, “Obama agreed to deploy an extra 30,000 troops but only after months of dithering that many in the military found frustrating.”
To claim the president displayed some sort of ambivalence regarding the war in Afghanistan is an understatement. The one most powerful weapon at his disposal (or what used to be) was his rhetorical ability, and even then he chooses not to rally the troops around the Afghan cause. In December of 2009, President Obama gave a lukewarm speech to West Pointers that earned him considerable scorn from the right. Even during this year’s State of the Union, the president dedicated six sentences to a war costing the United States $100+ billion and hundreds of American lives a year. Those six sentences gave way to 25 seconds of applause, the same length of time it took the president to deliver those sentences.
How can we expect our fellow countrymen to continue supporting an endeavor that our own president seems to treat as a mere thorn in his political side? This recent poll can be reversed if President Obama dedicated more of his time keeping Americans in the loop about what we are doing over there, why we are there in the first place, and using some of his famous rhetorical gifts to re-energize our commitment to those who are so committed to our country that they continue to fight even though 60% of Americans are not standing behind them.
As Peter Wehner said, “this is not ‘Obama’s War,’ this is ‘OUR war.'”
On February 12th, Algerians plan to stage a similar protest that has been held in Tahrir Square. In Algeria, the square that is gaining recognition is 1st of May Square. This will be the sight on February 12th where Algerians will gather to show solidarity in an overthrow of the government. This is led by a pro-democracy group, however, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika understands the importance of the current uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. According to MEDEX Global Solutions, in an attempt to squash a reoccurrence of the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, Bouteflika has ordered 10,000 police officers and 20,000 security personnel to guard the Capitol from protesters.
The difference between Egypt with other Arab countries is the leadership. Mubarak was not willing to use extensive violent force on the protesters, however, other regimes are not as understanding. As citizens in other nations take to the streets to demand more freedoms, the hope is that the autocratic rulers listen to the citizens rather than use excessive force in an attempt to subdue their uprisings.
As the domino effect continues, future uprisings will have to take the route of the Egyptians, peaceful yet non-compromising. It is amazing that we live in a day when a region riddled with autocratic rulers and corruption decides to unite together to overthrow the governments that hold them back from becoming nations where people have a voice.
It will be interesting to see if another domino shall begin to fall Saturday, February 12th.
On February 11, the Facebook Revolution reached an apex as news media sources reported that Mubarak had stepped down. As this happens, the critical decision is how the Egyptians remain united to create their new government. I am overwhelmed seeing the Egyptians celebrate their persistence in the streets. As Mubarak’s concession is made, a new Egypt is under way.
As it stands now, victory is not complete. Egyptians must still stand united. This was not a revolt against Mubarak, this was a revolt against a lack of freedoms, the absence of unalienable rights, and a corrupt government. It just so happens that Mubarak embodied all of these. As Mubarak hands power to the High Council of the Military, the question that remains is how the Military will begin to restructure government and allow for a representative government to take hold.
One point of concern is whether this is resignation or merely delegation. It is well thought that this is truly Mubarak’s last day in power. It is good to see that as Mubarak goes, Soliman retreats with him. If Soliman would have been allowed to remain in power, concerns would have been raised that the move by Mubarak would simply be delegation, opening the door for a return. This brings to mind the “transition of power” that never really happened in Russia, when Putin stepped down and Medvedev stepped in. As everyone knows, it is Putin who really runs that nation. However, with the High Council in control, these fears can be subsided for a short time, allowing the Egyptians to form a new government.
As Egyptians are cheering in the streets, a democracy in Egypt is closer than ever before. As mentioned in my previous post, Egyptians must keep their minds on a plan that promotes their goals, more freedoms, more human rights, and a democratic government.
Egyptians, the world watched and you delivered hope of a new form of government, hope of a new future, and the realization of a new Egypt. Thank you for what you have done so far, and God Bless You as you now move to the difficult work of constructing a new government that embodies the values you have espoused.
With concentration focused on the protesters, the resignation of Mubarak and hopefully a peaceful transfer of power, few are talking about the economic impact of the protests and Mubarak’s resignation. With tourism accounting for 11 percent of GDP and the Big Three rating companies dropping the Egyptian bond rating, the nation’s citizens are being adversely exposed to a falling economy. Additionally, many foreign companies are exiting the country.
This latter point hit home to me recently as I spoke to one of my many cousins in Egypt. He explained that the Japanese company that he works for called to inform him it has “decided to abandon projects and leave Egypt.” Another relative mentioned that her bank had been burned to the ground. While the current topics of conversation in American media are correctly focused on the political aspects of the power transfer, we should remember that the economic impact of the transfer of power will be just as critical.
There are two potential transfer of power scenarios being discussed in much of the international community. In the first, Mubarak steps down in September per his recent statement; in the second, Mubarak steps down much sooner, possibly in the coming month. However, there are great risks to both approaches. Should Mubarak step down now, it could leave a political vacuum for the Muslim Brotherhood. If he were to stay in power and protests continued then the world may see the same sad violence that was observed on February 2.
Whichever scenario holds, Egypt’s economy will suffer loss and chaos will persist. Currently in Egypt, the financial market is crashing, banks are burning, capital investments inside and outside of Egypt are disappearing, tourism revenues have vanished and foreign companies are leaving projects behind. And that is the good news, at least compared to citizens in Egypt who are not working. What’s currently at stake is greater poverty which will lead to greater chaos in the streets and perhaps years of political and economic recovery at stake.
I propose a compromise that will ease the instability and tension that will likely continue until the day a peaceful exchange of power takes place. As it stands currently, the two most likely replacements at this point are Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the IAEA, and Amr Moussa, current Secretary-General of the Arab League.
For an effective compromise to take place, Mubarak would need to take control one last time by helping to orchestrate the transfer of power to an interim government. Also, a leadership core must be established that will restore unity and order to Egypt while showing international governments, tourists and businesses that Egypt is, indeed, open to them. Over the next week, I believe a private meeting should be held between Mubarak, ElBaradei, and Moussa. Currently, two out of the three can provide value to Egyptians.
ElBaradei, though accused of being out-of-touch with the average Egyptian, has obtained international respect with his involvement in global equality, the International Atomic Energy Agency and being a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2005. With this recognition, he would reinforce the prominence of Egypt in the Middle East and give hope of stability to international investors, companies and tourists. Domestically, Amr Moussa holds the respect of Egyptians and would be a formidable choice to orchestrate the domestic changes needed.
In this meeting, Mubarak should make Amr Moussa his “transition team” leader/interim president. Most of Egypt’s80 million citizens would approve of Moussa as the next leader and trust that he would rework the constitution. Several changes he would likely push for are installing inalienable human rights, providing more freedoms and ensuring protection against governmental corruption. At the same time ElBaradei would become a Vice President or a Senior Advisor managing all international relations. These two individuals would expedite the recovery of Egypt’s economy while also creating the democratic society that all Egyptians yearn for.
The success of Egypt and the new government is contingent upon the removal of the Mubarak regime now while recognizing the political and economic realities within the nation. Egypt literally cannot afford for Mubarak to wait until September. Even with a smooth transition of power capital investments, foreign companies and especially tourism may not return to pre-protest revenues for six months to a year after the Mubarak regime is out of office. If Mubarak truly wants the best for Egypt and Egyptians, as he said he did in his recent statement, than now is the time to step down.
February 2, 2011 was the first day that protesters lost sight of being a unified body. The ultimate removal of Mubarak, while creating a new interim government around Moussa and ElBaradei, would reunite Egyptian citizens while decreasing the likelihood that future generations would have to pay the economic price of today’s circumstances.
The events that have transpired over the last few days in Egypt are breathing life into protesters and exhausting others. After speaking with family, I have gained insight as to what happens at night in Egypt. In America we have heard of the neighborhood watch groups, but allow me to paint a picture as to what it looks like. The men gain minimal hours of sleep during the day and at night stay outside walking around protecting their neighborhoods. The instruments of choice for protection are baseball bats, knives, and guns. Though guns are not allowed to be in the procession of citizens, those who have served in the military usually have obtained licenses to keep arms.
The men in neighborhoods are using a lot of strong instincts in knowing how to handle the situations at night. Homes are keeping their lights on. One reason is to give looters the appearance of an alert household, but as I heard today, “we must keep the lights on in the house because if the lamp posts go out, we need the light to stay vigilant”. These neighborhood watch groups are signifying themselves by wearing similar garments. For instance, you may see everyone in a neighborhood wear red ribbons around their arm. This provides an opportunity to easily identify outsiders as no two neighborhoods use similar garments. As looters approach, shots are fired to deter them from vandalizing homes in the neighborhoods. It is likely that night patrols will not cease until Mubarak is dethroned.
The question that is being raised most often is, what should America do moving forward? Should we speak out against Mubarak? How do we treat one of our most trusted allies in the Middle East? I do not pretend to be a fellow within the Council on Foreign Relations, however, Egypt is changing before our eyes and America must stand with Egyptians at this moment. As the men in the night watch describe the situation, “These protesters will not stop until Mubarak is out of office. There is no timetable on the passion for change.” As this being the sentiment shared by most Egyptians, it must be acknowledged by President Obama and his administration that standing with a man who is on his way out could damage the relations that the United States will need with the leader that Egyptians put into power.
If however, Mubarak does not step down soon, should United States officials try to broker peace between Mubarak and the people of Egypt? Absolutely not. This is a revolt that is led by the Egyptian people and they expect to finish the work themselves. A detrimental move for the United States would be for Middle Eastern countries to look at the next Egyptian leader as “hand-picked” by the United States. President Obama is making the right decisions in advising towards a peaceful end while allowing the Egyptian people to handle what they see as most important.
The United States is and will continue to be seen as the global police, however, we have seen how the Egyptians view police. For this reason, President Obama must stand with the people on the ideologies of human rights, freedom, and the end of corruption. If we stand with the people and encourage them to choose the leader that will restore Egyptian credibility and reconstruct the constitution allowing for more opportunity, a Middle Eastern crisis could certainly be avoided.
With family in Cairo and Alexandria, I am very well attuned to the goings on in Egypt at the current moment. After speaking with uncles and cousins via landlines (all other communication is shut down in Egypt) I have begun to understand the complexity and severity of the issue.
I have been asked by many people, why is this happening and what caused this? In response, this is an issue of a corrupt government. Close to half of Egyptians are living off less than $1 a day and the citizens simply expect basic human rights and their inalienable right to freedom. Despite the stereotype of the Middle East, religion has not played a part in the protests…yet.
All of this was compounded with the brutal police killing of Khaled Mohamed Said in June 2010. This killing of a man in his twenties ignited a spark against the government. What is more amazing about this, is the impact that Facebook has had in changing the environment in the Middle East. After the brutal killing of Said, a message on a Facebook page dedicated to Said talked about a protest that would happen on the national holiday celebrating the efforts of the police force in Egypt. The date was January 25, 2011. After hearing about the protest, Mubarak’s response surrounded the theme of ‘well let the children do what they wish’. Not knowing how upset the people were and how much of an issue for change this would become, the police force was unequipped which bolstered the protesters.
As of 6:00 pm EST on January 28, 2011, President Mubarak spoke to the people promising to remove his ministers but remained bold in his belief that he should stay in power. This will not happen. Protesters are upset with the Parliament in Egypt but they are more forceful with their words and actions as it relates to President Mubarak and his corruption.
What does this mean for Egypt going forward? Egyptians must make it known quickly that they want a moderate in power. If this does not happen then the Muslim Brotherhood will find itself in power, despite what others believe. Egyptians’ best choice at the present time is Mohammed ElBaradei, though seen as an outsider and unaware of Egyptians concerns; he gives Egypt the greatest opportunity to remain credible in the Middle East. Other names like Amr Moussa (former Minister of Foreign Affairs) have come to the surface as a potential replacement. However member of Mubarak’s ministry is an unlikely choice.
The protests right now are focused on all the right things: corruption, human rights, and freedom. If however, the Muslim Brotherhood gains power it would make this protest about religion. If this does happen, it is over for Egypt. What would that mean for the rest of the Middle East? With similar revolutions happening in Tunisia, Algiers, Jordan, and Yemen; what happens in Egypt will likely control how the citizens in other countries decide to elect their leaders.
If we look at the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as an example for how countries under this type of rule act, we see irrationality in foreign affairs. Fault is absolutely on both sides. However, many of the demands from the Palestinians are so dramatic that Israel has to deny them. They are dramatic because if there is peace there would not be a need for Hamas or the PLO. If these types of regimes take over the Middle East, you can expect the same irrationality (or rationality whichever way you think). Also, if this type of regime took over, what would happen to the economy of Egypt? Despite what others believe, Egypt is not as oil rich as their neighbors and a large portion of the economy is driven by the tourism of the history rich nation. However, if the Muslim Brotherhood takes over, you would see a decline in tourism revenue resulting in even greater poverty.
It is very crucial for Egyptians to continue to fight for the right things, freedom from an authoritarian and a corrupt government and human rights. It must be stated that in this fight, Egyptians must not lose sight of a better Egypt, an Egypt that is credible around the world and a beacon for true freedom for other Arabs to see.
Make the right decision Egyptians, the world is watching!
I am trying to work some things out in my mind, and I was hoping that I might solicit the help of a few of our thelobbyist comrades-in-arms (probably a poor idiom considering the topic at hand). Am I to assume, that police departments are not allowed (according to some) to ask for documentation pertaining to a person’s legal status in these United States; but it is imperative that our troops and commanders check the citizenship of people overseas in war-torn sections of the world before we take out a target?
The specific case I am talking about has to do with an American born- Anwar al-Awlaki. “Anwar al-Awlaki is an American citizen, born in New Mexico, and now residing in Yemen, where he repeatedly issues exhortations to murder his fellow Americans,” as reported by the Washington Independent. The Obama Administration has secret intelligence, as well as overt intelligence, tying the American to Al Qaeda operating in Yemen; he ministered to the 9/11 hijackers, was the possible inspiration for the Ft. Hood shooter, and purportedly had ties to the would-be Christmas bomber. Because of this, he has been placed on a counter-terrorism ‘hit-list.’ It is important to note, that the CIA reported that he was not placed on that list until they received intelligence that would lead them to believe that the operation al-Awlaki has been working on recently has gone from the planning stages to the operational stage.
Civil libertarians are upset over the fact that the Executive would use its power to summarily strip away an American’s citizenship and have that person, what they call, assassinated. I want to clear up, however, because killing someone who happens to be an American is not “assassination.” Every surreptitious murder of a fellow American would be assassination. It is the murder of a prominent political figure-head, generally for political purposes. Strategically killing someone who is fighting for the other side is not assassination, or does every time a Taliban or Al Qaeda soldier get killed without knowing whom killed him/her considered assassination? I think the fact that people are saying “Obama is assassinating Americans” only works to hype up the readership of periodicals (like they ever do that).
I understand the plight of the civil libertarians, I understand that they think that this action is a gross misuse of government power and that Americans cannot have their liberties stripped away. Let us clear the record: yes, the government can take away your citizenship. There is a set of guidelines that shows what it takes for someone to loose their citizenship. Title 8, § 1481 details all of the reasons why someone might have their citizenship revoked:
A person who is a national of the United States whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by voluntarily performing any of the following acts with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality—
People against the policy of killing American citizens during a time of war while those citizens are operating against the United States point to the ending clause of Subsection 8:
(8) committing any act of treason against, or attempting by force to overthrow, or bearing arms against, the United States, violating or conspiring to violate any of the provisions of section 2383 of title 18, or willfully performing any act in violation of section 2385 of title 18, or violating section 2384 of title 18 by engaging in a conspiracy to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, if and when he is convicted thereof by a court martial or by a court of competent jurisdiction.
However, this final statement pertains to subsection 8 alone, because the previous seven subsections discuss other reasons why the government might revoke someone’s citizenship. Some talk about if the citizen goes to a consulate office and writes a formal letter, only then can their citizenship be officially withdrawn. Considering we are talking about people who are willing to use airplanes with civilians as missiles, and place plastic explosives in their shoes to kill Americans; I just can’t say that it is reasonable for people to expect terrorists (home-grown or not) to act reasonably. Besides, a person’s citizenship can be revoked the minute they join the ranks of a foreign army or try to usurp the United States government.
When the police are in a stand off with a suspect, an American citizen or not, they are forced to abide by the rule of law and their own standard operating procedures. In times of imminent peril and danger, either to themselves or to the hostages, they use sharp shooters to take out the suspect. No Mirandizing, no obtaining a warrant to search his persons, no trial and jury of his/her peers, the executive has the prerogative to take matters into their own hands in particular situations. I think that a war might be one of those situations. This is not the first time this question has been brought up, as Andy McCarthy writes:
The president is the commander-in-chief with primacy on questions regarding the conduct of war. Even if we were to accept for argument’s sake that at issue is a legal rather than a political judgment, Supreme Court precedent (the World War II era Quirin case and the 2004 Hamdi decision) hold that American citizens who fight for the enemy in wartime may be treated as enemy combatants, just like aliens.
The problem is that we have people who are trying to legislate war. Ironic. War is chaos, it is hell, it is the state of nature according to Hobbes. But then again, it is not the state of nature, because it isn’t all against all, it’s us against them: it’s political. Part of political justice is ensuring the safety of your own before that of those who are trying to harm you, and if it is someone who was once a part of the ‘us’ crowd, it is necessary and proper for the government to take the necessary steps to keep that person from harming the whole. We can try to contain the ravages of war with laws, but there are limits to doing this, as there are limits to everything else in life. But if we tie the hands of the president during a time of war, we tie the hands of the country and ultimately make it more possible for Americans here and abroad to perish. I support what the President is doing in this case, I think that going and throwing Hellfire missiles at every target does us no good; we loose actionable intelligence and sometimes cause collateral damage. But taking out someone that could be critical in the carrying out of terrorist operations is the duty of the President and myriad organizations that have been established to keep this country safe. When they are doing that, I will gladly thank them.
I just hope people keep this in mind when the DoJ and Attorney General Holder talk about “going after” the Bush Administration for their “detaining” and “enhanced interrogation” memos. The pro-National Security Bush crowd seems to be the only crowd (aside from the civil libertarians against both Administrations) that has a consistent policy. The real problem lies in the Obama Administration’s hypocrisy.
The annals of English history shall record you in one light or the other. You have snatched back a rudderless country out of the hands of directionless leftists – and for this, we across the Atlantic are thankful. But don’t light your cigar just yet, sir. You have failed your first test of fortitude.
Prime Minister Cameron took a step toward a Chamberlainian philosophy this last week. In a chilling statement, the PM denounced the Jewish state and embraced an anti-Semitic agenda propagated by the terrorist organization and ruling Palestinian power, Hamas. Not only did Cameron condemn Israel’s completely legal blockade of an extremist funded flotilla, but he also had the audacity to liken Gaza to a prison camp. In all due respect Mr. Cameron, the Jewish people are all too aware of what a prison camp is, particularly the few surviving with numbers tattooed on their arms. Would they not concur that a real prison camp has no access to 4 star restaurants, resorts and air-conditioned multi-level shopping centres?
Where has our ally gone? Since when does such blistering condemnation come from the historically supportive (or at least compliant) United Kingdom?
A well-placed Westminster informer had this to say about the Gaza remark:
“Whatever Cameron may be from day to day, he is always and foremost a pragmatist. He does not make mistakes. So we must assume that his “prison camp” comments were deliberate, and, given that, we must therefore assume that the effects of the comments would have been predicted. Israel furious, Israel’s critics temporarily appeased. A speech like that would have gone through the Foreign Office, Downing Street, the National Security Council, and countless policy advisors. In other words, Cameron knew that what he was saying was going to hit the headlines. So there must be a bigger agenda at play here. Turkey’s entry to the EU? Winning support in the left-wing press? Appeasing his Liberal coalition partners? The only certainty is that Cameron was certain of what he was saying.”
Just last week the German military was coordinating exercises for the Jewish state. This is a world upside down. Leave it to the enlightened Germans to realize the indispensable stabilizing force of tolerance and civility Israel has established within the region. Does anyone think for a moment that a Hamas-controlled state would allow such NATO military coordination within its borders? Particularly when the target of the exercises is the Taliban, Hamas’ ideological brethren?
Timing is everything. Unfortunately, it is not on Israel’s side. Treating the Jewish people with condescension is particularly in-vouge. President Obama’s disdainful, arrogant tone set a trend in March when he all but threw PM Netanyahu’ out of the White House. Let us not forget the Presidents bow to a Saudi King nine months earlier. The Obama Administration has conducted a policy of cooling toward Israel and warming toward the Arab world that is unprecedented. Mr. Cameron has no doubt taken pretences from his inexorably-linked political counterpart and blindly added to the atmosphere of Jewish derision.
The ultimate flaw for centrists such as Cameron and leftists like Helen Thomas is their apostatizing is done from a political runway. For them, it is always in fashion to side with the faux plight of the Palestinians and never within the context of reality. Indeed, this dogma of Palestinian land entitlement is as logical as relinquishing Texas, California and Arizona back to Mexico. The argument beholds a historical ignorance and factual bias that would make a North Korean journalist proud.
In a freak act of journalistic integrity, Ashraf Abu al-Houl, writer for Egypt’s largest news paper Al-Ahram, described his recent visit to Gaza:
“A sense of absolute prosperity prevails, as manifested by the grand resorts along and near Gaza’s coast. Further, the site of the merchandise and luxuries filling the Gaza shops amazed me. The resorts and markets have come to symbolize prosperity, and to prove that the siege is formal or political, not economic.”
Such honesty makes few waves in a media cycle bent on portraying Israeli cruelty and Palestinian injustice. Wherein the reality remains: Hamas is enriching itself by fuelling the conflict. They follow an old prescription of keeping the people poor while their aristocracy grows richer by taxing and exploiting the masses. The Jewish people are then used as a red herring. We have all seen this before.
Sadly, this would not be the first time this century we’ve witnessed a weak-minded PM capitulating to the concept that a violent, anti-Semitic enemy had the right to lay siege upon a land because they were historically entitled to it. Thank Providence that the Jewish Nation wields one of the world’s finest militaries aided by a supportive American military not in an isolationist slumber.
Our weak-minded allies should cease playing euro zone appeasement politics with our common enemy. Cameron should follow in a strong English tradition of calling evil for what it is and meeting it with force of verb and action. Failure to do so will surely condemn him to the company of the naive idea of “Peace in our time” instead of the more rational “Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”
I know RJ will vehemently disagree with me, but here is an op-ed I wrote about leaving Afghanistan that Daily Caller was kind enough to publish:
On Monday, a former professor and I were chatting, and the war in Afghanistan came up. I have been supporting a 100% pull-out from that country- as well as Iraq- for some time now, and think that with the General McChrystal issue hitting the fan (for the record, I support the president’s acceptance of the general’s resignation), it’s as good a time as any to post about why we need to leave the country.
First, we should leave for humanitarian/ethical reasons. We are sending servicemembers to that country to die for an Afghan leader who is corrupt, and whose brother is a criminal. What is our goal over there? The Afghanistan people are, at best, a tribal people with no real central government and no willingness to even have a central government. Being there to have access to Pakistan is just not a good enough reason anymore. Secondly, to (admittedly, hesitantly) quote a front page poster at Daily Kos, the worse Afghanistan gets, the less likely we are to leave. Since when does a proper cost-benefit analysis include sending good money after bad, and since when does honoring those who have valiantly served, been injured and/or died in Afghanistan include sending more young people to die without cause?
Secondly, we should leave because the American people don’t support this war. Oh, they say they do. But as New York Times columnist Bob Herbert described in December of last year, our support is minimal. Some money or other means of assistance is sent by those affected directly or indirectly by the war (friends and family with military members overseas, etc.) and some truly patriotic Americans, but most of the nation is satisfied with rhetoric pulled from blogs, talking heads and Associated Press articles. (Oh, yeah, and they have yellow ribbons on their bumpers.) As Herbert put it,
The reason it is so easy for the U.S. to declare wars, and to continue fighting year after year after year, is because so few Americans feel the actual pain of those wars. We’ve been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan longer than we fought in World Wars I and II combined. If voters had to choose right now between instituting a draft or exiting Afghanistan and Iraq, the troops would be out of those two countries in a heartbeat.
Thirdly, we should leave Afghanistan because, despite the very good reasons for entering in 2001, Bush and Congress ignored Afghanistan for half a decade while focusing on Iraq. Whether or not we should have focused on Iraq is a different debate for a different time…but they failed to conduct the war in Afghanistan with efficiency, and President Obama is not improving things. Instead, as George Will pointed out this week, we have created a military for babysitting. Even with President Obama sending 30,000 troops over to the nation, we have a timetable. Since when has letting the foe know when it’s safe to come out become American policy? Obama’s mistakes are somewhat different than Bush’s…but they have the same consequences for our young people dying over there. Again, the cost-benefit analysis is not in favor of staying in Afghanistan.
Fourth, we just don’t have a clue as to what we’re doing, as pointed out by The Washington Examiner. Period. Is Karzai a good guy for us? It depends on the day. Are we trying to kill terrorists, or win the minds of the people? Um…the answer is unclear- ask again later. Is our enemy in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen or Afghanistan? I don’t think anyone really knows, despite what they may say. It could be all four. Are we going to invade Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen next, as a result?
After our conversation, my professor sent me an e-mail with the following title: “Until: 1) We decide to WIN wars again & 2) The Harvard kids also serve …this says it all.” He was referring to a recent Herbert column, in which Herbert talked about the courage to leave Afghanistan. The fact is that if we want to win wars, we should have a beginning, a middle and an end planned out. We should bring in enough troops. We should know the culture. We should not be convinced by elitists to enter a conflict- elitists whose their total involvement in war consists of debating on TV or making a profit off of the deaths of our countrymen. Pay the taxes to support the war, or do a USO tour, or encourage your child to join the military. Something. (On that note, great credit goes to people like Senator McCain and Vice-President Biden, whose children have served in post-9/11 conflicts, and especially to Senator McCain, who supports the war despite the risk to his family.)
I wasn’t alive in 1972, but my professor, my father and an increasing number of right-of-center individuals are saying the same thing- they’ve seen Afghanistan before. Of course- and it is now clichéd- it was called Vietnam, then. Since Bush took office, our debt has risen nearly 125%, with over 10% of that cost directly attributable to entering Iraq and Afghanistan. We’ve lost thousands of young men and women. As much as it pains me to say it, the honorable thing to do is tactically retreat, starting tomorrow, and conduct a full pull-out from Afghanistan and Iraq, and honor our fallen by swearing to never, ever forget our first duty to the troops is to use them to protect our nation, not appease the egos and wallets that have benefited over the last nine years from our involvement in the Middle East.
My friend Tom Qualtere, who works for The Heritage Foundation, wrote an op-ed for Daily Caller back in March, and in it he said that Millennial/Generation Y Americans “are the 9/11 generation.” I agree with him, if only because the specter of 9/11 has dominated this nation’s, and our young people’s, thinking and culture since the towers fell. According to Tom, however, our duty is as follows:
But for those of us who’ve chosen a vocation on the home front, our support for them and their mission must be unambiguous and unwavering. It is time for conservatism’s 9/11 generation to fully embrace and defend the role that history has bestowed upon us and wear our hawk feathers more proudly than ever.
Tom and I disagree on many policy issues, and Afghanistan is one of them. He will undoubtedly respond to this opinion by saying we are letting the terrorists win by leaving Afghanistan. This would be the case if we just left Afghanistan (and Iraq) and forgot about the Middle East. However, when we leave, we must do so with the following assertions to the rest of the world (and our own citizenry):
- We are going to get the government out of the way and drill for oil within our national borders, build wind farms and build nuclear power plants. No longer will we send tens of billions every year to nations that support terrorism and hate us. While I do believe we went into Afghanistan and Iraq for good and ethical reasons, the fact is that part of that reasoning was for the benefits of oil for America. Well, take away the need for overseas oil, and we can start minding our own business for a change. Moreover, many terrorist organizations will have less money with which to fund attacks against us. This will take years, of course- but better late than never, and the sooner we start the better off we will be.
- The international community has for too long relied on our military. We have over 700 bases worldwide, and given our budget issues, this is unsustainable. If other nations- the same ones who criticize and condemn us if we don’t get involved (see Rwanda), but also if we do (see Iraq), with world affairs- want to utilize our blood and treasure, they can sign treaties and trade deals that give America a slice of the economic pie we have not asked for during our six-plus decades of world protection. Protection of other nations should be handled on a case-by-case basis, not with the assumption we will help every nation without such agreements. Supporting Kuwait in 1991, for example, was done because a) it was in our national interest, and b) because we had the ability to strike and win without a prolonged, expensive endeavor. Essentially, the cost-benefit analysis was positive.
- Protect our borders with some of the troops we bring home, among other good immigration policies (allowing border guards to shoot; encouraging legal immigration through incentives, etc.). Terrorists will have a hard time hurting us without being able to get in. Good, effective border policy will also give us the time to better our energy policies, as mentioned above.
- The jihadists will probably claim victory; after all, they drove out the “Great Satan,” much as they did with the Russians in the 1980s. This is a major concern, as 9/11 was the culmination of a nearly a decade’s worth of minor attacks that went unanswered by President Clinton. However, that’s where minding our own business and providing them with less money come into play, as well as the treaties I mentioned above. By minding our own business, we will blunt some of the jihadist propaganda. Secondly, without money they will have less success in attacking us in our own nation. Thirdly, should our intelligence see a threat, they can work with intelligence agencies in other nations and sign treaties and work together to deal with threats both before and as they arise. Lastly, should all else fail, we will have our own border control forces.
A clarification: I do not support an isolationist foreign policy platform, nor do I believe we have caused all of the world’s problems. The Middle East would have been a pit of peoples fighting among themselves even if America had never even sent a single dollar or troop there. However, other than supporting Israel and other allies with which we have treaties, or responding as we did after 9/11 to a direct threat on our nation, we should not be in that part of the world. The difficulty, of course- and this is why we have experts in government and the private sector- is striking the correct balance between leaving with our tail between our legs, thereby encouraging boldness by our enemies, and leaving with our heads held high without showing weakness. I think it is possible to do the latter by leaving now, though I admit the idea is balanced on a blade’s edge, and would require much delicate work.
It is difficult to say something is not worth vast amounts of effort- in this case, money and blood- put into it. It’s especially difficult when we have not won a major military conflict (except in 1991) since World War II. However, pride is only useful if those with the pride (i.e. politicians, think tank observers, etc.) are in the conflicts or are otherwise directly affected. Otherwise, the consequences of the pride are simply foisted onto those patriotic Americans who die or are maimed as a direct result of the pride. The delicate balance necessary to leave Afghanistan without handing a public relations boon to our terrorist enemies is an important step in owning up to the mistakes pride have bought us in the War on Terror.
*Originally published at DailyCaller.com.
Helen Thomas wants the Jews to “go home”. They are apparently occupying Palestine even though there are 5.7 million Jews of a total of 7.5 million people living in Israel. Not to mention the fact that the Israeli state existed for over TWO THOUSAND YEARS prior to the Siege of Masada. But what is more baffling is where “home” is for the 159,000 babies born in Israel this year? Why in the world would Helen think that Europe would be home for those newborns or anyone born in Israel in the last 62 years? This would be no different than someone walking up to a black person in the United States and telling them they are occupying America and should return to Africa. It would be profoundly racist on multiple levels. Not to mention the fact that you are assuming where they come from. Just like different races of people have come from all over the world to be American citizens, Jews have come from all over the world to be Israelis. But Helen wants all you Jews to go back “where you belong,” and apparently that is Poland and Germany. How does this woman have a job? She’s obviously a callous bigot who is insanely politically biased. I saw her in Morton’s in DC once. Had this happened before that occasion I would have gladly told her this to her face.