Category Archives: Defense

President Superhero

BamIt is refreshing, at last, to find bipartisan support for not having a strategy. Last week, pundits pounced on the president’s confession that “we don’t have a strategy” regarding the terror group known as Islamic State.

This week, the press is mocking Rand Paul for saying the same. Sen. Paul said that, if he were president, he would confer with Congress to develop a strategy.

I think the strategy has to be that you have an open debate in the country over whether or not ISIS is a threat to our national security.

This is actually the correct answer, as prescribed by common sense and the War Powers Act. The president should seek the advice and consent of Congress before going to war. We recall a similar response from Gov. Romney, during the 2012 campaign. He began, “I would assemble a team and define an objective,” or words to that effect. Cue the laugh track.

The American public expects the president – and those who might someday be president – to have a glib answer for any crisis, anywhere, at all times. Granted, the Islamic State has been brewing for months, and the president has had plenty of time to develop a strategy. What he meant in the taupe jacket briefing was, in fact, that his strategy is not the same as Gen. Dempsey’s.

It often seems that American foreign policy is drafted by the guy sitting next to you at the bar. Bombing them back to the Stone Age never seems to lose its appeal (by the way, apart from American made weapons and al-Baghdadi’s Rolex, Islamic State is the Stone Age). If we took “advice and consent” seriously, we might end up with more durable policy.


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Lack of Intelligence

Pictured left is Vice President Biden yucking it up over the murder of four Americans in Libya.  His defense is that Rep. Ryan’s accusation was just too funny – administration officials, led by Ambassador Susan Rice, purposely misled the American people as to what really happened in Benghazi.

Jeremiah watched Ms. Rice offer her interpretation live on CNN.  Deliberately or otherwise, she appeared to be confusing an Islamist protest in Cairo with events in Benghazi.  At the time, there was already strong evidence that the latter was a planned terrorist attack.

The Vice President might have allowed that some officials had been misinformed.  Instead, he stands on the assertion that the “spontaneous violence” story was the best intelligence available at the time.  This is troubling, because we rely on our intelligence agencies to tell us when, for instance, Iran has developed an atomic weapon.

In fact, it is likely that American intelligence has been degraded by leaks in the New York Times, the drone campaign, and events in Pakistan.  Even Wikileaks has played a role.  America, together with Israeli intelligence, had been waging a successful campaign to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program – including the use of a sophisticated computer virus.  The FBI is investigating how classified methods ended up in the New York Times.

We have also been waging a campaign to kill Taliban and other militants using UAV drone strikes.  Ironically, the Vice President has been a supporter of this program, which is not an aid to intelligence gathering.  Intelligence is produced by capturing the enemy, with their data, and interrogating them.  Drone strikes are effective in the short term, but they “consume” intelligence.

America also needs to cultivate a network of Afghan and Pakistani informants.  This effort was dealt a blow when Wikileaks printed the list, and the enemy simply rounded up our spies and killed them.  By the way, the Pakistani doctor who helped us find Osama bin Laden?  He is still in jail in Pakistan.

It takes a long time to develop intelligence sources.  If we do not replenish the supply, and stop the leaks, then America will be in for some real trouble.  When Vice President Biden lays blame on the “best intelligence available,” we should be very worried.  That’s no laughing matter.

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On A War Footing

The New York Times has another article about what went wrong in Afghanistan.  Pundits say that, since Vietnam, America has lost the will to fight.  This is a paradox.  America has the best-equipped, best- trained army in the world– and yet it’s a paper tiger.  Why?  Because we send them off to war without moral support.  Having the American people at your back is a soldier’s most important supply line – more important than the carefully-managed supply of rations and ammunition.

Think of a soldier’s experience of fear and isolation at the front line.  He (or she) is not going to college and not making a career.  Back home, a spouse struggles to keep the household together.  The boss has long since hired a replacement.  The press writes that the war is a fool’s errand, and Senator Kerry states publicly that the army is only for kids who couldn’t get into college.  In their wildest dreams, the Taliban could not contrive a better campaign to demoralize our troops.

This cultural sabotage dates back to President Kennedy and his adventure in Vietnam.  That is indeed when America lost its will to fight.  The anti-war movement blamed our soldiers for being foolish enough to go to war, where our leaders had sent them, instead of going to Canada.  Returning soldiers were abused by their fellow Americans, whom they thought they had been protecting.  Imagine returning home in a wheelchair, only to learn that you are a stooge and a “baby killer.”

The Vietnam war, like Iraq and Afghanistan, was intended to be a little back burner war that would stay out of the press.  This very idea is cowardly and corrupt.  Imagine your son or daughter being killed in a not-quite war.  There was a draft, but college kids could opt out.

After Vietnam, Congress passed the War Powers Act.  The letter of the law is that the President may not commit troops without the approval of Congress.  The spirit of the law, which has been forgotten, is that the American people must support the war effort.  Now imagine what that looks like, in contrast to our experiences since Vietnam.

Imagine America “on a war footing,” as we were in World War Two.  The entire country is at war, not just the kids who couldn’t get into college.  There is no one back home taking your job, or your wife – because he is in the trench beside you.  Your boss has been called up by the reserves.  Food and gas are rationed.  Women, who had not previously held industrial jobs, are running the factories.  The nation’s entire productive capacity is given over to the war effort.  We are all in it together.

General Powell, among others, has stated that America should not go to war without a clear and compelling objective.  There must also be a formal declaration of war and a war footing.

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Newsflash – America is at War

The Times is shocked to learn that the CIA is fighting al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.  The only thing disturbing about this is that CIA has just taken some casualties.  They had been notching up successful strikes against the enemy.  As you may know, we are fighting al-Qaeda there, so that we don’t have to fight them here.

The UN, always ready to insult America, is whining that our joint CIA-Afghani forces are “not accountable to any international authority.”  Well, neither is the enemy.  Furthermore, the same band of patriotic Afghanis without CIA help would also be “unaccountable.”  Welcome to the real world.

Seven brave Americans were killed this week in Afghanistan.  A moment of silence, please.

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Ink Blot Test for Obama

This week’s Economist agrees with Jeremiah that President Obama needs to stop “vacillating” and send more troops to Afghanistan.

It sends an alarming message to wavering Europeans itching to pull out and to Afghans wondering whether to throw their lot in with the government or with the insurgents.

Vacillation, though, is precisely what Senator John Kerry has called for.  Senator Kerry, who was for the war before he was against it, claims that the situation in Afghanistan has changed.  It hasn’t.  What he means to say is that the situation in Washington has changed.  The strategic imperatives in Afghanistan are the same as they were, way back in March when Mr. Kerry pledged his support.

Al-Qaeda had their leisure to organize the 9/11 attacks, and many others, because the Taliban offered them a safe haven.  If we allow them to regain control of the country, they will resume their attacks.  Americans everywhere will be less safe.  Furthermore, Islamist militants will see a fresh opportunity to obtain nuclear weapons, by destabilizing Pakistan.  Let’s not forget, either, our moral obligation to the people of Afghanistan, which was once a civilized country.

President Obama asked the generals to re-assess the situation and devise a winning strategy.  Now they have done so, doves in Congress are demanding a re-assessment of the re-assessment.  “Vacillate” seems too kind a verb, especially for the mealy-mouthed Mr. Kerry.  Jeremiah prefers “shilly-shally.”

See also:  The AfPak Channel

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Adventures in Doublespeak

Today’s lesson is “antimissile system … a grave danger to Russia’s security.”  The Bush administration had planned to deploy a missile defense system in Central Europe.  Consider, for a moment, how an anti-missile system might be a threat to Russia’s security.

To be threatened, those Russian missiles would first have to be launched – at targets in Europe.  Evidently, Mr. Putin feels that Russia’s security depends on its ability to rain down nuclear destruction on Poland. Orwell would be proud.

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Send More Troops!

soldierPresident Obama has stated that the war in Afghanistan is a priority, and now the generals have submitted their bid.  Joint Chiefs chairman Mike Mullen has told the Senate that more troops are needed.  Later this month, General Stanley McChrystal – an Obama appointee – is expected formally to request 40,000 troops. But the general’s plan is opposed by Democrats in Congress.  Now is the time for President Obama to show that he can lead the Democrats, not vice-versa.

The case for a troop surge is strong, and the stakes are high.  Al-Qaeda attacked America on 9/11 from their sanctuary in Afghanistan, and now they have a chance to destabilize nuclear-armed Pakistan.  The Bush administration’s mistake in Iraq was sending too few troops, and the surge under General Petraeus reversed it.  Only a strong force will deter al-Qaeda and the Taliban.  If the Obama administration is seen to hesitate, our enemies will be emboldened.  This will not only endanger America – it will lead to more American casualties on the ground in Afghanistan.

In 2007, candidate Obama said, “The first step must be … taking the fight to the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” and pledged to send more troops.  Let us hope President Obama remembers his pledge.  Also, let the American people remember – when we go to the polls in 2010 – that Congressmen Jim McGovern, Russ Feingold, Carl Levin, and John Murtha opposed it.

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