President Obama Needs to Remind Us Why We Are There

“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.'”

-rj

Leave Afghanistan

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):

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Chamber the Cartridge… or Not

Chamber the Cartridge is a song by the punk band Rise Against.  It is also what US Troops on patrol in Afghanistan were ordered not to do

Michael Yon is an independent writer, photographer, and pretty much a war-zone junky.  He made this report yesterday while he was embedding himself in the middle of the Bangkok chaos:

Michael Yon An American soldier emailed from Afghanistan saying that his unit has been ordered to patrol with no round in the chamber.
Let me get this straight… ONE day following a suicide bombing that was responsible for the death of several American soldiers, one Canadian soldier, twelve Afghan civilians, and is considered the deadliest day in the war for Officers ever; and we are ordering our men to go on patrols without a round in the chamber? 
-rj 

Another Sign of the Obama Administration’s Commitment to Israel

As part of my duties as an intern with Laura Ingraham, I went to the State Department’s web site to find information about Israel. I clicked on Israel…and found this: “We’re sorry. That page can’t be found and may have moved.”

Here is a list of countries I went through that did have links: Afghanistan, Iceland, Italy, Venezuela, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Egypt, Haiti, Holy See, Honduras,  Iraq, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, North Korea, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Syria, Turkey, Tajikistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyz Republic, Bahrain, Turkmenistan, Palestinian Territories,

In short, what I believe is every Middle Eastern country (except for the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Yemen, which did not have links), plus a few others I decided to check, have a link to the State Department’s information about the site. To verify, I asked two friends to check, one from his home computer and one from his work computer, and they found the same thing. I have also checked on two different computers that have two different servers. Israel is not on the State Department’s web site.

For those who are conspiracy theorist conservatives, perhaps UAE, Jordan and Yemen are other countries we are cutting ties with under Obama, or for those believers in the military industrial complex, we are going to bomb them. For me, it’s kind of funny that- coinciding with the Biden/Obama slam of Israel this week- they do not have the page up. Perhaps we shall check in next week?

God Help Me. I Agree With Kennedy…

…now granted, there are myriad ways I agreed with John F. Kennedy (and many where we disagreed); there were not very many instances where I agreed with the old “Liberal Lion” though and let’s face it, his son Patrick is a bit of a tool.  Let’s just say, if he asked me to go for a joy ride in his Mustang Convertible, I would kindly take a rain-check. 

But Patrick Kennedy did something yesterday, that I believe deserves bi-partisan support.  He went after the media for turning our Federal government into a circus show, 24/7, and perpetuating the belief that Congress is nothing more than an episode of Maury in expensive suits.  And the media is guilty of the charges that were levied against them.

He’s right.  How many of our nation’s bravest men and women have laid down their lives in far away places, only to have their memories passed over because the press finds sexual harassment and “world’s ugliest dog” far more interesting?  And this is by no means, a liberal or conservative issue: news organizations with a favorable sway towards either ideological camp are guilty of this, even though I find FoxNews and MSNBC to be the worst offenders. 

Congressman Kennedy and I may part ways on every political issue under the sun, and we even disagree with what the objective of the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  However, I believe the impassioned monologue he delivered yesterday should speak to all Americans and remind them that the most important issues are those that have to do with our security and the security of our men and women overseas.  So what Massa might be gay (a topic unworthy of discussion, as I cannot imagine someone going on Larry King Live and having the Crypt Keeper on that show hammering them on whether or not that guest is straight … hard hitting indeed) and he may be a nutjob for lack of a better term; there are more important things out there to be talking about.  But many people in the news media wouldn’t know, because they are just as seperated from everyday Americans as politicians are. 

-rj

Hell Under Seige

Reuters reports that the offensive targeting Marjah (or Marjeh, for all those google mappers reading this), a small town in the southern province of Helmand, has been, and continues to be highly successful.  Marine Captain Abraham Sipe is quoted as saying “We are making steady progress …”, and a slightly more enthusiastic Helmand Governor Gulab Mangai has stated that “[t]he situation moment by moment is going the way the government had expected. The forces are extending their advances from points they have captured and the operation is going on successfully …”  It seems the Afghani’s are kinda’ fired up about defending their newfound freedom.  Maybe that crazy cowboy strategy of invading terrorist-funding regimes in order to replace tyrannical dictatorships with free, republican forms of government isn’t such a bad one after all.  So much for a quagmire.

Charlie Wilson’s War

Anyone who has a relationship with the state of Texas and her people, knows that a) Texas is a special state and b) she has within her borders, special people. I mean this with all seriousness. I remember Dr. Harvey Mansfield’s 2007 Lecture on the Humanities in which he uses Lyle Lovett’s “You’re Not From Texas” to help show honor’s relationship with thumos.

Lyle Lovett has a song “You’re not from Texas” that ends like this: “That’s right you’re not from Texas, but Texas wants you anyway.” Lyle teaches us the central problem of multiculturalism: if it’s so important to come from Texas, how can Texas want you if you’re not? Those of us not from Texas have to live with the shame of it, rather doubtful that Texas wants us anyway. For with honor goes the shame of dishonor.

Everything’s Bigger in Texas is how the saying goes. A telling statement about the soul of the people who inhabit the state. There is a spirit that there be told, of people who can have so much energy and perhaps more thumos than citizens of any other state, while at the same time the same people are more than willing to pull their cars (or old trucks) over and onto the shoulder so you can pass on a narrow two-lane country road. People don’t do that often in many other states. How can someone with a “If you can read this, roll me over” bumper sticker and gun rack be so overt about their spirited manliness, while at the same time demonstrating humility by pulling over and acknowledging that you are going faster than they? The two don’t mix, or so we should think.

Only a state like Texas, could produce a man like former Representative Charles Wilson. Charlie Wilson was a larger than life figure, The Liberal from Lufkin, who entered politics to get back at the man who killed his dog. Charlie Wilson’s story was brought to the younger folks of my generation in the form of (alas!) a movie staring Tom Hanks (with my personal favorite, Amy Adams, in a supporting role) which told how the extravagant Mr. Wilson became engulfed in Afghanistan’s battle for freedom against the Soviet Union. At the end of the movie, Charlie Wilson is quoted as saying:

“Those things happened and they were glorious, and then we fucked up the end game.”

It was true then, and continues to be true for us in Afghanistan today.  Charlie passed away Wednesday, after battling heart problems for the better part of two decades.  Goodbye to the Liberal from Lufkin, I’ll be having a few glasses for him tonight.

-rj

No More Terrorists in Afghanistan?

RealClearPolitcs has posted a video of Senatorial hopeful, Martha Coakley, making the most asinine statement of the new year.  Apparently, she is under the opinion that we have accomplished all that we could have hoped to in Afghanistan: 

“If the goal was and the mission in Afghanistan was to go in because we believed that the Taliban was giving harbor to terrorists. We supported that. I supported that goal. They’re gone. They’re not there anymore.”

 

The fact that this woman stands any chance of winning a Senatorial seat is a sad testament to the state of Massachusetts.  Bear in mind, however, that the fact that Mr. Scott Brown is making it more of a race is a sign of hope for the state as well.  To make such blatantly false allegations contrary to sworn testimony of our commanders in the field for the mere hopes of scoring political points is beyond sophistry, and one would not be far if if inclined to consider her actions maleficent.  Let’s listen to the people who know better than this nugatory wannabe-Senator

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ROBERT GATES: I would like to provide an overview of the strategic thinking and context behind [President Obama’s] decisions, in particular the nexus among al Qaeda, the Taliban, Pakistan and Afghanistan…Put simply, the Taliban and al Qaeda have become symbiotic, each benefiting from the success and mythology of the other..Al Qaeda leaders in particular have stated this explicitly and repeatedly…

…The lesson of the Afghan Taliban’s revival for al Qaeda is that time and will are on their side…Rolling back the Taliban is now necessary, even if not sufficient, to the ultimate defeat of al Qaeda…The president’s new strategic concept aims to reverse the Taliban’s momentum and reduce its strength, while providing the time and space necessary for the Afghans to develop enough security and governance to stabilize their own country.

Or how about this…

ADMIRAL MICHAEL MULLEN, USN, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF:  To say there is no serious threat of Afghanistan falling once again into the Taliban’s hands ignores the audacity of even the insurgency’s most public statements…we see every day of collusion between these factions on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border…through brutal intimidation, the Taliban has established shadow governments across the country, coercing the reluctant support of many locals and challenging the authority of elected leaders and state institutions.  Indeed, we believe the insurgency has achieved a dominant influence in 11 of the 34 provinces.

 Testimony from a December 3, 2009 House Armed Services Committee hearing.  Thank you to a co-worker for grabbing this up and sharing it! 

-rj

Operation: Just Cause

In December of 1989, George H.W. Bush (or Bush Senior for the liberals who do not know the proper application of a generational?suffix) sent the XVII Airborne Corps, Joint Special Operations Command and numerous other Army, Marine, Navy and Air Force units into the country of Panama.? The operation was launched in an effort by then-President Bush to depose of Manuel Noriega (the de facto leader of the Panamanian government at the time) and rescue Americans who had been trapped in the country during those turbulent times.? The operation was named Operation Just Cause, leaving some critics of the engagement to quip that the operation’s name was the only argument H.W. Bush had to justify the action (I will leave the conspiracy theories about Skulls and Bones, Mena Airport, Bush, the CIA and aliens out for the sake of time, much to the chagrin of Alex Jones supporters).

What makes a war “just”?? Surely this is a topic that has been debated and mulled over for as long as men have been around on this earth (because women do not go to war, of course; war is a bi-product if irrational manliness).? Can anyone truly justify a war to every one’s liking?? Is the nature of the state to do what is right for the population of that state, no matter what that means for other states (as the term state is understood post-Machiavelli) as we see with the realists?? Or can a state only be justified in going to war if such an engagement is for the benefit of humanity as a whole (by asking “pretty please” from the UN)?? Then again, it was once said that “those who invoke humanity on their side mean to cheat” (Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political).?

Apparently, Americans are having a sort of crisis of conscience.? According to a recent Rasmussen Poll, only 50% percent of our fellow countrymen and women feel that the War in Afghanistan is a “Just” war.? This goes along with the Quinnipiac University poll that came out about a week and a half ago, which nearly reaches the exact same conclusion.? Support for the war in the first year preceding the September 11th attacks of 2001 was close to near unanimous approval, with Gallup showing 89-93% stating that Afghanistan was not a mistake in January of 2002.? So it appears that Americans (Democrats and Republicans mind you) are waning on their support for a war that they felt was necessary in 2001 and 2002.? What has changed?

If the Afghan War was justified then, what makes it less so now?? Surely we are there for the same reason, since we did not go over and overthrow the Taliban and then leave only to return as “occupiers”.? What is it that makes this war “unjust” then?? What is “justice” to these people who?have decided that it is no more than a mere term to be thrown around in the height of passion following an attack on 3,000 innocent people?? Was it only then just because we went in and overthrew a tyrannical regime that was directly tied to forces responsible for bloodshed on our own soil?? Now is it “unjust” solely for the reason that we are being told by the news and liberal (and libertarian and some conservative) influences that we have overstayed our welcome?? Which is the more justified action: going in and sacking the regime of a country to leave it in anarchy and decay; or staying and building it up to the point that their government can run effectively and more justly than before?? Who are the 21% of voters that have obtained this retroactive prescience? and decided they are against it after they were for it?? I can understand those people who were against it from the beginning, and that is because they feel that no war is ever justified.? They should be acknowledged and applauded for their principled stand, but let us not forget the ignorance that must be evident in such a dogmatic stance.?

I must admit that it is polls like these that create a feeling of futility in the pit of my stomach.? Perhaps a majority of Americans should not be asked a question about wars and their relation to justice until they better understand what justice is.? The slow decay of support for this necessary war is a sad barometer of the fortitude possessed by the American people to support the men and women overseas, their families at home, and the mission we sent them to do eight years ago.? In the end, those 50% of Americans who now question the mission and its necessity, are not doing those soldiers or their families justice.?

-rj

What the “Buck” McKeon?

?

General McChrystal faced one of the most difficult panels he may have ever faced as a military officer.? He sat in front of the House Armed Services Committee, forced to play the political game in the real-life portrayal of Leonidas’ going before the Council of Elders.? Watching his testimony reminded me of Dr. Mansfield’s remarks during the Iran Contra hearings (this is secondary, as I was not as much into C-SPAN then in the days of my youth) in wich he referred to Oliver North as a loquacious Lacedaemonian, or a talkative Spartan.? In General McChrystal’s case, the latter is true, but the Special Operations soldier’s excessive gabbing is not done verbally but rather his steely look.

The soldier, the leader of our troops in Afghanistan, the General sat facing Representatives who had, for the moment, privied themselves as defense policy experts.? During this masquerade, Representatives ask their ‘prescient’ questions and echo their one-liners to be perpetuated by mass media sources.? During the question and answer section, Ranking HASC Republican “Buck” McKeon from California used his pedestal to try and get the?General to fall into the trap of making a sound-bite that could be carried by the evening news tonight.? Instead, we watched as Representative McKeon bordered making a mockery of his post as Ranking member of HASC in politically motivated attempt to pit the commanding general of armed forces in Afghanistan against his commander-in-chief on semantics.? We won’t mention the time when General McChrystal has to inform the Congressman that the document from which Rep. McKeon?is drawing his questions is still?Classified. ?

Representative McKeon is generally an alright statesmen, from my understanding.? However, he threw his fellow Republicans under the bus during the whole National Defense Authorization Act when he railed against the addition of the Matthew Shephard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act to the military budget, before voting for it in the end.? I found his actions today on the level of distasteful.? There is a time to campaign and score political points.? Today was not it.?

-rj

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