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

Obama Might Be Targeting Americans… and I’m OK With That

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.

-rj

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 

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

Defending the Indefensible? Liz, McCarthy(s) and the GWOT

An old charge has been brought back from the grave and used against members of Keep America Safe, the political action committee dedicated to ensuring America’s benevolent hegemony abroad, as well as her safety at home.  The PAC was started by William Kristol, son of the late (great) Irving Kristol; Elizabeth Cheney (daughter of Dick Cheney); and Debra Burlingame,sister of Charles F. ‘Chic’ Burlingame, III, pilot of American Airlines flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.”  It would behoove us to keep in mind the effort that critics of KAS take in singling out only Kristol and Cheney in their attacks.  Let’s be clear however, that members of both the Right and Left are calling all three Founders “McCarthy-ites” when they levy these charges of “fear-mongering” and borderline Neo-Nazism. 

What’s funny, is that being called a McCarthyite is extraordinarily mild compared to the perpetual reduction ad Hitlerum the left consistently employs against National Security Conservatives.  While Washington Post editorial columnist Jonathan Capehart dares not tread past the label “fear-mongering” in his quaint and insipid blog post about the matter of “The Al-Qaeda 7,” one of the members of his amen corner dares tread where… well, most liberals dare to tread:

The Rabid Reichwingers like Lizzy Borden Cheney, and Dick Adolf Cheney, are liken to Vampires. Once they get a taste of BLOOD, they want more.

They know by attacking these Lawyers, that their Reichwing Minions will pressure any Lawyer who would dare defend the Terrorist.

They assume everyone’s as Ignorant as their Minions, and won’t remeber all the court cases doing the Bush Error, concerning Terrorist.

In reality the real Terrorist America should be concern with are people like Lizzy B. Cheney and the ever increasing “RABID REICH”.

(Spelling mistakes in the original, due in part to modern liberal education I assume)

Andrew Sullivan also falls into the old reduction ad Hitlerum a number of times, one instance being his 2007 rant against President Bush’s enhanced interrogations.  How depressing, that an erudite student of Dr. Harvey Mansfield would resort to such empty hyperbole.  But I digress.

So liberals like to associate Republicans with a political party responsible for the extermination of twelve million plus fellow human beings; all of a sudden being called a McCarthyite doesn’t sting as bad.  One of these days, it is my hope that being called a Neo-Nazi, a Klansmen, a McCarthyist, et cetera will ring hollow, like the heads from whence they were spoken.  I guess this makes me an idealist. 

The fury is over a recent KAS add which addresses the hiring of nine attorneys in the Department of Justice, who also happened to have represented suspected terrorists in the past.  This matter is a bit unnerving for some as I am sure the ACLU would not be so inclined as to hire, say, Robert Bork; or how about the Southern Poverty law Center giving jobs to a handful of lawyers who represented Aryan Nations, the Klan, or real Neo-Nazis.  Does that mean that those people should not be hired?  Of course not, and by now anyone who has been keeping up with the news has heard all of the historical anecdotes where good Americans represented clients who went against America’s principles in the name of justice in the rule of law.  The most famous example being reiterated is that of John Adams’ representation of the English soldiers who opened fire on a crowd of Colonialists in Boston, Massachusetts in 1770.

The main point, however, is not that the Department of Justice hired people who used to represent suspected terrorists.  Perhaps this entire issue would have been avoided if Eric Holder, the Attorney general, had just given the names to the Senate back in November 2009 when they requested further information on the matter, as Marc Thiessen points out in the Washington Post:

 

In November, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee sent Holder a letter requesting that he identify officials who represented terrorists or worked for organizations advocating on their behalf, the cases and projects they worked on before coming to the Justice Department, the cases and projects they’ve worked on since joining the administration, and a list of officials who have recused themselves because of prior work on behalf of terrorist detainees.

Holder stonewalled for nearly three months. Finally, two weeks ago, he admitted that nine political appointees in the Justice Department had represented or advocated for terrorist detainees, but he failed to identify seven whose names were not publicly known or to directly answer other questions the senators posed. So Keep America Safe, a group headed by Liz Cheney, posted a Web ad demanding that Holder identify the “al-Qaeda seven,” and a subsequent Fox News investigation unearthed the names. Only under this public pressure did the Justice Department confirm their identities — but Holder still refuses to disclose their roles in detention policy.

Andrew McCarthy also addresses the issue:

Only our terrorist enemies get the red carpet treatment. “Enemies” in this context is not hyperbole. We are at war under a congressional authorization. Nearly 200,000 young Americans are in harm’s way. But enemy operatives are returning to their jihad against our troops and our citizens thanks to the help of American law firms. Only lawyers demand immunity from the ordinary duties of citizenship in a nation at war. And they further demand to be above criticism for donating their skills to al Qaeda operatives (though American prisoners must represent themselves in habeas corpus actions). The profession would reinterpret “patriotism” in total relativism: some risk their lives to fight the enemy for us, while others litigate so the enemy may be freed to return to the fight. Americans are not buying – that’s why Liz Cheney’s common sense resonates.

 

As for Jonathan Capehart and the sycophantic left, I look forward to their confrontations with their peers about the way they treated Bush Administration lawyers who meticulously explored the issue of torture, enhanced interrogations, the War on Terror, and the law.  That was exactly what lawyers like John Yoo, David Addington, Jim Haynes, Steve Bradbury and other lawyers did when they wrote what are considered the ‘nefarious torture memos’ now.  Writing in-depth analysis into the heart and soul of security and the law warranted harassment by the fringe left at their private residences and even possible criminal indictments from Congress

In the end, Senator Grassley, Liz Cheney, Keep America Safe, and FoxNews were asking their government a question regarding the most important issue facing our Federal government.  This should be an issue that Conservatives and some libertarian-leaning friends can unite around, considering both consider the Federal government’s central role to be protecting citizens.  We have a right to ask questions regarding our safety; and the Obama Administration has a right to not answer us.  But don’t get your panties in a bunch when you get called out for promising transparency, and again fail to deliver on your campaign promise.  It’s politics.  Grow up. 

-rj

Secretary Gates… I Disagree Sir

There is a scene in the movie Clear and Present Danger after Admiral Greer passes of cancer, and they are holding his funeral at Arlington complete with flag-draped coffin and honor guard. In the background, the Jupiter movement?s sorrowful minor notes from Holst?s The Planets symphony float through the air while friends and family pay homage. The entire scene elicits a plethora of emotions that include humble sadness but subtle adulation for the dead; a fine example of gesamtkunstwerk. Scenes like this are common in modern media, depicting the fallen soldier in his weakest, as well as strongest, moment. It is the truest testament of man?s mortality, and as a warrior, invincibility is a virtue. The strength of the phenomena lies in how the flag draped coffin is a symbol; it symbolizes immortality as well. The warrior has passed, but there is something greater, whatever you want to believe whether it is a noble cause justified in God?s eyes, or for your country and in that, your countrymen. We are fortunate enough to have people willing to wager the biggest bet possible in an effort to ensure the freedom or security of his or her friends, family or even strangers.

I am a strong supporter of Secretary Gates. I must part ways with him on his recent announcement to allow the media to utilize this powerful symbol for whatever purpose they may. There is a stipulation, of course. Sec. Gates stated that members of the family have to allow the media to do so. Sadly, these images will be used for political purposes and whatever the family?s intent may have been in allowing these pictures, what is to stop many of the malicious media (not all media of course) from doling them out to be used as propaganda? The precession of coffins off the C-17 onto an air strip is a hollowed moment. It is the return of the fallen to the land for which they fell. Revoking President George H. W. Bush?s policy banning the media from exploiting these deaths is a step in the wrong direction, and whatever the intent may be, opens the door to bastardize the reasons why any of those men and women laid down their life.

rj