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.

Kucinich Thrown Under The Bus

Ohio Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich is truly a far-left liberal. He supports a Department of Peace, told me he was against free trade when he visited my campus, was the only 2008 Democratic candidate for President who voted against invading Iraq and was slammed by Daily Kos founder and far-left fanatic Markos Moulitsas for being too principled on health care reform. (Kucinich is opposed to the current version of health care reform because it is not liberal enough.) Being a conservative, I disagree with Kucinich on just about every policy issue and perspective. However, as is true with most extreme Members of Congress- Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), for two examples- I respect his holding to his principles.

Unfortunately for Kucinich, President Obama has an odd way of showing his respect for Kucinich’s principles. The president was in Kucinich’s district to talk about health care reform today, where he commended Kucinich for fighting for the average person. As a follow-up, literally seconds later, Obama asks an audience member who yelled “Vote Yes” to repeat his statement.

Perhaps I’m reaching for straws here, but why is President Obama needling Kucinich? The man introduced impeachment articles against former President Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney, and supports enacting a new Fairness Doctrine. He is not going to bow to pressure. Besides, as AllahPundit put it, Kucinich could very well be the deciding vote on health care reform. Alienating him is not a good way to get his vote.

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?

Truths Self-Evident-Iraq’s Struggle For Democracy

The Wall Street Journal reports that Iraqi elections to “choose the country’s next leader” opened today “to deadly violence and fraud claims” where “at least 12 people were killed in three separate attacks.”  While violence is to be expected given Iraq’s political infancy as a republic, many may claim that such is evidence that western government is unsuited to eastern culture.  Such a position begs the question as to whether or not constitutional representative government is objectively superior to other systems of government.  Of course, the question is far less sophisticated.  All systems of governments, regardless of title, may be divided into two categories: those that restrict political power to an autonomous body–such as a king or self-perpetuating council–and those that relegate it to the people.  The answer is simple.  Democracy, like gravity, is a universal truth appropriate for all cultures.  While progress in Iraq has been and will continue to be slow, it will come.  The Iraqi people are ready for freedom.

To Fox News: Job Well Done

Since November 5, 2008, I have criticized Fox News for jumping off the deep end in its criticisms of the Obama administration and for going from relatively “Fair & Balanced” to unprofessional, over-the-top and reactionary. However, I must now applaud Fox for nailing the Obama administration on its recent no-bid contract with a Democratic campaign contributor. Why? Because the administration has decided to cancel its contract with the donor’s company, and put the contract out to bid. Kudos to Fox for being the first major news network to call out the administration on this- after all, President Obama criticized no-bid contracts on the campaign trail and after being elected as President- but also, most importantly, because such contracts are another symbol of the collusion between government and business that happens far too much in Washington. It was wrong under President Bush, and it is wrong under Obama. As a news source, Fox did its job. Furthermore, as a watchdog of the government (which all press should be), Fox also did its job.

Regarding the cancellation of the contract, though, I have a couple of questions. First, should the administration have canceled this particular contract after signing it? Whether it’s good, ethical business or not, conservatives have rightly gone after the Obama administration for not honoring the rule of law and contracts with General Motors investors. In this case, the contract was already signed. It was unethical for the administration to assign a no-bid contract to this contractor, but it wasn’t illegal. Additionally, the donor and company owner, Vincent V. Checch, told Fox that he did now know it was a no-bid contract until after it was awarded to his company. Since we have no evidence to corroborate or contradict Checch’s statement on the matter, can we assume he did nothing wrong? Or is that naive, considering that sweetheart deals are given as easily as candy in Washington, DC?

Longer-term, what solutions should conservatives offer to prevent no-bid contracts, especially as tit-for-tat campaign and donor trade-offs? Should we allow this breach of ethics this one time, and then try to pass a law limiting how contracts can be handled? Or, better yet, pass a constitutional amendment banning no-bid government contracts? Or, perhaps, shrink the size of government (by getting out of Iraq, for one) so that fewer contracts are signed while passing a constitutional amendment or law banning no-bid government contracts? After all, laws are well and good, but taking away the opportunity for corruption and ethics violations- through transparency and lessening the size and scope of government- would be even more effective.

Prayers And Support For Sad Occurrences Over Christmas

The first is a Salvation Army Major who was accosted and shot in front of his three very young children on Christmas Eve. See the linked article for where to send donations.

Secondly, a father who was sent to Iraq- he was only a few days from his actual deployment, training at a base stateside- was unable to be with his family over Christmas despite his house burning down last week. I heard about it on a local radio station based in Littleton, New Hampshire, where the man’s family lives. The father was able to come home for one day and then had to go back to his unit. The family lost everything, though none of the three young children- all five years old or younger- were injured, nor was the childrens’ mother.? Donations may be made by calling the Littleton Police Department at (603) 444-2422 and asking to speak to the dispatcher.

Iranian officials are still cracking down on those brave enough to protest. Contact your Members of Congress- Senate and House- and the White House to urge our leaders to support the protesters before it’s too late.

A bridge has collapsed in India, and dozens are feared dead. I don’t know how to offer support here, other than prayer.

Of course, there are always the military service members overseas, their families, those the soldiers are fighting and their families- prayers and support for all sides so there may be peace and justice I’m sure would help.

I know these kinds of incidents and occurrences are not happy things to think about during the Christmas season- especially when we all have our own troubles in this recession. However, as those fortunate enough to be able to celebrate Christmas in relative peace and happiness, I hope we can remember to go out of our way to help those we run into and those we don’t while the spirit of the season is still upon us, and we get too caught up in the necessities of our normal daily lives once Christmas and New Year’s vacations are over.

International Christmas Celebrations

Pope Benedict XVI gave the traditional Mass yesterday after being knocked down by a woman who is suspected to be mentally unstable. He was apparently unhurt, and finished the ceremony with no further incident. However, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray broke his leg after falling when the woman jumped over security barriers.

In Bethlehem, the birth place of Jesus Christ, a very diverse and joyous celebration was held, utilizing various Christmas traditions. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, a Muslim, attended an Orthodox Christmas Mass.

Others had greater difficulties, including Christians in the Phillipines who are dealing with an erupting volcano and troops in Iraq.

Despite the difficulties, threats and general negatives in the world, the fact that the troops and those in danger in the Phillipines are able to find some way to celebrate Christmas is yet another sign that God is watching out for those who trust in Him. Too, a diverse celebration in Bethlehem attended by a President of Palestine- following in the tradition of attendance started by former president Yassar Arafat- gives me some hope for the future of that part of the world. Things don’t always go as we want them to, but the power of prayer, faith, hope and love can and do create wonders for Christians and the world as a whole.

Again, Merry Christmas, everyone.

Iran, Nuclear Weapons, & Sanctions

A few days ago, secret documents detailing Iranian efforts to build a nuclear weapon surfaced. (SURPRISE!)

Then, on December 16, Iran launched its most sophisticated missile yet.

What was the House of Representatives’ response? 412-12, our Members of Congress voted to impose sanctions on Iran.

I’ll reiterate what I’ve said before- sanctions don’t work. They didn’t work with Iraq, they didn’t work with Cuba and they won’t do anything to stop Iran’s terrible treatment of its people. In fact, they’ll only make things worse, as they have in countless countries including Myanmar and North Korea. Instead, we should support the protesters who are still opposing their government’s murderous tendencies, support Israel’s right to defend itself and prepare for a military assault should America or one of our allies be attacked by the country.

I know there are other ways to eliminate the threat Iran’s leadership is to the rest of the world, but I must express ignorance as to what they are (plus, I didn’t sleep well last night and can’t really think very hard right now). Any ideas?

Update: Iranian-backed insurgents in Iraq have hacked U.S. Predator drones- perhaps we should back Israel’s approach to negotiation with Iran.

Daily Kos Changes Its Story

After years of attacking President Bush for his “unilateral” invasion of Iraq, are liberals changing their story? Daily Kos, a defender of extreme liberalism and one of the most popular sites on the Internet, might be with this front page comment on their daily pundit round-up as part of the commentary on a Washington Post article on Iraq/Afghanistan military material: “The military and US voters may be surprised to learn that Obama is fighting this war single-handedly. The sad part is that teabaggers will believe it.”

Mmmmm…wasn’t it just a few years ago that Bush was invading Iraq without international support, despite evidence to the contrary? Oh, wait, we have other countries with us in Iraq? Or are they talking about the War on Terror? Or are they sliding over to the war in Afghanistan?

I just don’t understand the flexible logic these people use. Of course, I’m just a knucke-dragging conservative.

President Obama Sends Troops To Afghanistan

I’m sure our own RJ Caster will have more in-depth analysis, but I join Karl Rove in applauding our president in sending 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. We can armchair quarterback President Obama- as many party leaders on both sides did after his speech last evening- but let’s wait for the results first. Just as conservatives asked for patience from liberals regarding President Bush’s revised Iraq strategy in 2007, let’s give President Obama time to get the troops over there and enact his and his military leaders’ strategy. Yes, he should have acted more quickly, and yes, he should not have dithered in the public eye for so long…but for the moment let’s hope President Obama turns over a new leaf regarding his thus-far poor military strategy. After all, it took President Bush four years to get his strategy right.

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