Squaring the Culture




"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

12/02/2009 (2:29 pm)

And the Least Realistic Part of His Speech

There are some serious factual errors in Obama’s speech, but this one, I think, constitutes the largest bending of the facts:

I am mindful of the words of President Eisenhower, who – in discussing our national security – said, “Each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs.”

Over the past several years, we have lost that balance, and failed to appreciate the connection between our national security and our economy. In the wake of an economic crisis, too many of our friends and neighbors are out of work and struggle to pay the bills, and too many Americans are worried about the future facing our children.

The claim here is that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are the reasons for the sour economy. This is the expected “It’s the Bush Administration’s fault” part of the speech, carefully disguised as expected. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been expensive, yes, but they have very little to do with the sour economy. The economic troubles are the result of the confluence of a dozen different elements, including the loosening of loan standards (something to which Mr. Obama contributed personally,) errant Fed policy, Democrats committing fraud at FNMA, short-sighted bond-rating agencies, and much more. The alleged “fix” for the economy has been much, much more damaging than these wars, and in fact attempted to spend in just two or three years considerably more than the wars cost in their entirety.

In fact, Democrats usually attempt to claim that WWII is what ended the Great Depression. For President Obama to claim in this instance that war spending is what caused the recession flies in the face of consistent Democratic posturing, and demonstrates yet again that Democrats don’t have principles, they just pick up whatever is nearby and handy to smack whatever target they’re aiming at today. If you ask him, I feel certain President Obama would also say that WWII ended the Great Depression, and would feel no sense of irony or embarrassment if the conflict were pointed out to him.

12/01/2009 (10:33 pm)

The Best Part of Obama's Afghanistan Speech

I read through the transcript of Obama’s speech and was struck by this:

But more than any other nation, the United States of America has underwritten global security for over six decades – a time that, for all its problems, has seen walls come down, markets open, billions lifted from poverty, unparalleled scientific progress, and advancing frontiers of human liberty.

For unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination. Our union was founded in resistance to oppression. We do not seek to occupy other nations. We will not claim another nation’s resources or target other peoples because their faith or ethnicity is different from ours. What we have fought for – and what we continue to fight for – is a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other peoples’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and access opportunity.

This is the first time I can recall President Obama — or any other major figure in the Democratic Party, for that matter — making this observation about America’s role in the world. It is correct, and it’s an acknowledgement that is long past due.

I just have one question, President Obama: if this is true, and you actually believe it,

WHY THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN GOING AROUND THE WORLD FOR THE PAST YEAR APOLOGIZING FOR OUR CONDUCT???

12/01/2009 (10:46 am)

The Right War

af03_16824299Byron York, in today’s editorial at the Washington Examiner, exposes the quandary the Democratic party has produced for itself by its constant lying. Go remind yourselves: the Democrats never did support either of the Mideast wars of the Bush administration, but they did not want to appear soft on national defense, so they lied and made up a meme that said “Bush is fighting the wrong war.” There was no logic to it, it was just a convenient club with which to slam the President. Now they have the power to fight the “right” war, and most of them, tellingly, do not want to do it. They haven’t changed their minds, the underlying support for the war is pretty much what it’s been all along. They’re just in the position where they have to live up to their talk, and it was never anything but talk.

Obama, for his part, appears ready to commit more troops, though not as many as requested. He also appears to be hacking around looking for a politically acceptable exit strategy. When he speaks tonight, I’m expecting to hear how the current morass is Bush’s fault (stated subtly,) how he’s agonized over this decision, and how he’s established sound performance criteria for the war. I expect that he’s creating the means to say “Well, we tried” when he yanks our troops next year. I expect that this will be transparent, both to the US public and, more importantly, the Afghan tribesmen, who will run, not walk, to the local Taliban and mend any differences they’ve had because they know that the US is about to cut and run, the way it did in Vietnam and in Iraq in 1991. This is the reality to which Dick Cheney pointed only yesterday.

Democrats pretend they know better than the rest of us about everything, and they posture to seem mature and deliberate. Because it’s a posture and not the truth, they continue to do exactly the wrong thing in every instance. Wars cannot be won by temporizing. They can only be won by resolve.

Skeptically, I wait for President Obama to surprise me and indicate that he actually cares about something other than his political survival, and intends to protect American interests competently. I’m not holding my breath; he has not surprised me on anything so far, except the speed with which he’s effected the expected radicalization of America, and the cynicism of his deals with the unions and the largest corporations.

For the record, I do not agree that the current state of Afghanistan is primarily the Bush administration’s fault, except to the extend that the Bush administration adopted one of the Democrats’ favorite strategies and invited NATO to handle the Afghan theater. NATO has botched the war, as one may easily have predicted before they appeared.

11/12/2009 (11:11 am)

Afghanistan: Exit Strategy Redux

AP reports that President Obama has rejected all the strategies proposed by his national security team, and is asking them to clarify how and when American troops will turn over the theater to the Afghan government.

I suspect that we’re looking at the consequence of leftist meme-creation. Leftists invented “no exit strategy!” as a sound bite with which to criticize the Iraq war, hoping to capitalize on the residual fear of quagmires from the Vietnam era. As with every meme created by the left with which to bludgeon the culture, leftists quickly came to believe their own invented sound bite. Now every leftist in America knows that it is folly — folly into which conservatives, who are of course far less intelligent or enlightened than liberals, are prone to fall every time — to engage in any war without a clear exit strategy. Consequently, Obama, who Knows Better™, is insisting on such an exit strategy before he takes further action.

“No exit strategy” was never sensible criticism. War is an unpredictable enterprise. Enemies always make an effort to foil our expectations. Military leaders make plans for victory, but the plan is the first casualty of the conflict, and has to be adjusted. It does make sense to think about what happens after the conflict, and both political and military leaders have always done so (including the Bush administration, by the way — in addition to being brainless, “No exit strategy” was also a lie.) But planning in detail what will happen at the end is time wasted; it’s impossible to know before we get there.

However, Barak Obama is nothing if he is not the formal assertion of leftist intellectual superiority. He is aiming to correct swiftly all the known errors of conservative and capitalist thinking, as conceived by neo-Marxian loons like himself. What leftist intellectuals have been ruminating over for a century, Obama will execute. And then we’ll all see what we’ve known all along — that neo-Marxian intellectuals are practically incompetent, are completely out of touch with reality, and that their intellectual superiority was never anything but hubris of the most laughable sort.

The Huffington Post article suggests that Obama feels that the military has deliberately presented him nothing but a greased slide into accepting Gen. McCrystal’s recommendations, and the President is pushing back in order to get real alternatives. It’s not impossible; that’s not even inconsistent with my more jaundiced scenario, above. He may be looking for more pleasant alternatives than behaving like George W. Bush, and there may be no such alternatives. It has always been possible that President Obama might be taught something useful about the real world by the realities of foreign policy.

10/26/2009 (8:30 am)

Oh, Boy, Here It Comes

torch-obama1Now that Afghanistan is no longer the “war of necessity” and has become, instead, a ball and chain around President Obama’s leg, we can expect the mainstream press to start broadcasting just how badly we’re hated in Afghanistan, how badly we fit in, how incompetently we have handled the war, and how impossible it is that the war can be won. It’s not about national defense, there’s no anti-Western sentiment throughout the Islamic world that we need to address, nobody is trying to attack America [/sarc] — Obama does not need the trouble implied by all that, so now begins the public relations deluge to convince the American public that President Obama is actually defending America’s interests by withdrawing from Afghanistan.

Consequently, the LA Times published a story noting that “hundreds” of Afghans in the capital city of Kabul protested an alleged burning of the Koran by US troops. A rumor without evidence suggested that US troops had shot and then burned a copy of the Koran in the Wardak province. Demonstrators could not identify when, where, or by whom the Koran was burned. From the description, it was not a major event, barely newsworthy. But Obama has to be rescued from the inconvenient war, so…

It seems as though President Obama’s World Apology Tour has not completely silenced hatred of the US after all. They burned an effigy of Obama.

It’s not that the Afghanistan war is going swimmingly well, it’s just that with such a clear agenda to keep the Great One safe and loved, we cannot trust what the press has to say, and need to find reliable sources for war information. During the heat of the Iraq struggle, I found that independent journalists Michael Yon and Bill Roggio consistently offered the most reliable information, and I’ve been impressed so far with the analyses I’ve read at Stratfor. Your mileage may vary.

What practically nobody has been saying about the Afghan war is that the reason we’re in such a pickle there is that the US followed a strategy suggested by presidential candidate John Kerry during the 2004 election: we turned the effort over to an international organization instead of pursuing our own interests there. NATO was called in to handle the Afghan war. The failure is not a US failure (except insofar as the Bush administration consented to make it NATO’s war), but a failure of nations across Europe to send adequate troops, commit to the effort, establish an effective policy to improve the political or economic stability of the country, and so forth. Our allies send roughly half the forces they’re requested to send, leaving the US to shoulder some 2/3 of the staffing, and they shackle their troops with caveats dictating where they may be deployed and what actions they may take. As a consequence, the British and Dutch troops which occupy the bulk of the southern areas of Afghanistan have been ineffective in stabilizing those regions (by the way, notice how the article at this link, written in 2007, asserts that the effort has been successful so far, but lists all the factors that have since turned the situation sour.) The US has been more effective, but it’s not a US war, and the efforts of some are affected by the efforts of others.

And then there’s Pakistan, where al Qaeda fled when we ejected the Taliban from Afghanistan in 2002. The Pakistanis have been trying for years to push the training camps out of their own regions. Sort of. Maybe. Al Qaeda’s training camps continue to operate there, and a long-advertised effort to push them out of South Waziristan will probably just push them somewhere else for a while.

wrybobAll of which explains why it was so essential for the US administration to maintain a whole-hearted, fully-awake, long-term effort to rid the world of Wahabi terrorists of all stripes. It also explains why we might have been enticed to turn the effort over to NATO, because the effort, addressing a world-wide network of aggressive terrorists, cannot be carried out by one nation, cooperation is required. But NATO is the wrong vehicle; the Europeans, for the most part, lack our resolve and commitment to defending ourselves. We should have kept the leadership in-house, and involved other nations only insofar as their own interests permit them to cooperate, as we did in Iraq.

Nor can it be completed by the beginning of the top-of-the-hour commercial break, which means that people will tire of the war long before it ends. The current administration — like every Democratic administration — lacks the political will to suffer the hit to its ratings that inevitably occur when a President pursues a long-term war and people tire of it. George W. Bush was criticized for his persistence in the face of criticism and difficulty (“Cowboy!” “Lack of imagination!”) but his is the sort of resolve that an effort like this requires. It is not an accident that the escalating, world-wide pattern of attacks against US citizens halted for 7 years. It will not be an accident when it resumes.

So brace yourselves. We’re about to face the same flood we’ve faced in every war since 1970, as Democrats muster the usual ammunition to entice the nation to buy into defeat . We’re the bad guys. There’s no real need. It can’t be won. They hate us. They don’t want us. It has nothing to do with the 2001 attacks. The military is corrupt. We’re only there because of greedy Republican Orcs. We should never have liberated Iraq. Blah blah-blah blah-blah blah blah.

And then, once they’ve weakened our defenses and allowed our enemies to multiply and prosper, they’ll lose an election, and a Republican President will take office — only to be greeted by a successful attack against American interests somewhere on the globe, possibly even here in the US. For which the Democrats will blame the Republicans, just the way they did in 2001, because what they did to embolden and empower the enemy notwithstanding, it happened when the President’s registration said “R,” and history began yesterday. Democrats are predictable.

Which is why the American people cannot trust Democrats with any war. Ever.

10/08/2009 (10:08 am)

Iran, and a Blast From the Past

The Wall Street Journal brings up an interesting point from the past today regarding Iran’s imminent nuclear capability, and it bears on a great deal of history from the Bush years.

Back in December of 2007, a gathering of government intel professionals produced a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) claiming “with high confidence” that Iran had ceased its nuclear development as of 2003. That this was not true is evident now. What the Journal reports is that the intelligence community was already well aware of the recently-announced uranium enrichment facilities and weapons design efforts at the time the NIE was published. This demonstrates that the NIE was published as propaganda; they knew it was false, but it served a political purpose, so they published it anyhow. I reported this at the time, and confirmed it with evidence later.

The purpose it seems to have served is to cripple the US’ response to the threat of a nuclear Iran. The Bush administration may have been planning air strikes back in 2007 to address the budding threat; the NIE was the culmination of political infighting within the Executive branch to stop the administration’s unilateral response to the Iranian threat, and more or less signaled the President’s capitulation to his internal adversaries. Scott Horton, the reliably loony leftist at Harper’s, reported this at the time in an article that errs by assuming that the NIE was the truth and that it was Cheney et al that were operating on false information (an assertion we now know to have been 180 degrees off the mark, something that sensible people would have expected even then.)

The propagandistic NIE was merely the last shot in the long-standing revolt by leftists within the US intelligence community against the Bush administration — a revolt that was only a hair shy of being a full-blown attempt at a coup d’etat. Leftist rogues within the intelligence community were actively undermining Bush administration policies, and executing plots with the sole intent of discrediting the President. I’m convinced that the entire Joe Wilson-Valerie Plame affair was one of these — an operation planned and executed by rogues within the CIA to discredit the President. I wrote about the revolt at the time, in the early days of this blog (you can review my thoughts by clicking on the Intelligence Community topic under my topical index, at the bottom of the sidebar.)

History has done us the favor of sorting out the truth quickly, but we should not miss the lesson. The lesson is not just that the NIE was wrong. The lesson is that the intelligence community was deliberately manipulating reports throughout the Bush years with the intent of discrediting the administration and crippling its policies. We should apply this knowledge to whatever we now take for granted from the Bush years that came to us by way of the intelligence community — like the claim that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Almost a year ago, Jeff Lewis at the American Thinker produced an essay explaining the cost of leftist power-seeking in the form of crippling our response to nuclear proliferation:

George W. Bush has been crucified for five long years in the media, by the feckless, hysterical and cowardly Europeans, by the United Nations, and of course by the Democratic Party, because he took the only sane action possible in the face of the apparent WMD threat from Saddam. Because presidents don’t have the luxury of Monday morning quarterbacking. They cannot wait for metaphysical certainty about threats to national survival and international peace. There is no such thing as metaphysical certainty in these matters; presidents must act on incomplete intelligence, knowing full well that their domestic enemies will try to destroy them for trying to save the peace.

But that is water under the bridge by now. What’s not past, but rather a clear and present threat to civilization are the consequences of the unbelievable recklessness of the International Left — including the Democrats, the Europeans, the UN, and the former communist powers. Because of their screaming opposition to the Bush administration’s rational actions against Saddam, we are now rendered helpless against two even more dangerous challenges. With Saddam there was genuine doubt about his nuclear program; the notion that he had a viable program was just the safest guess to make in the face of his policy of deliberate ambiguity. In the case of Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Il there’s no guessing any more. They have nukes and missiles, or will have within a year.

The entire anti-proliferation effort has therefore been sabotaged and probably ruined by the Left. For what reason? There can be only one rational reason: A lust for power, even at the expense of national and international safety and peace. But the Left has irrational reasons as well, including an unfathomable hatred for adulthood in the face of mortal danger. Like the Cold War, this is a battle between the adolescent rage of the Left and the realistic adult decision-making of the mainstream — a mainstream which is now tenuously maintained only by conservatives in the West.

And now, in the face of a growing Iranian threat, our Peerless Messianic Leader has eliminated the planned missile shield aimed at protecting Europe from an Iranian nuclear threat, in exchange for assistance in managing that threat from Russia, which arguably supplied Iran with the means to produce nuclear weapons in the first place.

David Horowitz has argued for years that there exists an unspoken alliance between radical Islam and radical Socialism. It becomes plausible to assert that radical elements in the US — read “progressives,” and include the President — have more policy goals in common with Iran than they have with conservatives in America, and would prefer a nuclear Iran to a Middle East with stable republics like Israel and a free Iraq. Might this explain President Obama’s fecklessness regarding the Taliban in Afghanistan? Can we trust the President to act in the international community with America’s best interests at heart, or is he serving a wider agenda?

For my part, I think it is long past time to revive treason as a crime suitable for legitimate prosecution. Perpetrators of active disinformation campaigns aimed at undermining actual governmental policy should be prosecuted seriously, with decades-long prison terms at a minimum for active attempts at crippling lawful policy. It is one thing to oppose policy publicly, and to argue against it; it is another thing entirely to undermine that policy actively. Congress should pass laws to that effect, with clear exceptions made for active defense of the US Constitution against unlawful acts by the Executive branch.

09/28/2009 (6:12 pm)

Priorities

Since I posted this morning on the President’s focus on obtaining the Olympics for his political mentors in Chicago, I’ll ask the question everybody else is asking today:

Why is it that the President has time to focus on Olympics for Chicago, but no time to discuss Afghanistan with his field commander?

CNN.com, July 20, 2008:

“… we have to understand that the situation is precarious and urgent here in Afghanistan. And I believe this has to be our central focus, the central front, on our battle against terrorism,” Obama said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“I think one of the biggest mistakes we’ve made strategically after 9/11 was to fail to finish the job here, focus our attention here. We got distracted by Iraq,” he said.

Obama said troop levels must increase in Afghanistan.

“For at least a year now, I have called for two additional brigades, perhaps three,” he told CBS. “I think it’s very important that we unify command more effectively to coordinate our military activities. But military alone is not going to be enough.”

Obama traveled to eastern Afghanistan on Saturday to visit American forces under NATO’s Regional Command East, the coalition’s Combined Joint Task Force said. Obama is joined by Sen. Charles Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska, and Sen. Jack Reed, a Democrat from Rhode Island…

“We need a sense of urgency and determination. We need urgency because the threat from the Taliban and al Qaeda is growing and we must act; we need determination because it will take time to prevail. But with the right strategy and the resources to back it up, we will get the job done,” they said in the statement.

And yesterday, we heard that the President has spoken to his theater commander in Afghanistan only once since he took office, and that the theater commander perceives a critical need for more troops.

“I’ve talked to the president, since I’ve been here, once on a VTC ,” Gen. Stanley McChrystal told CBS reporter David Martin in a television interview that aired Sunday.

“You’ve talked to him once in 70 days?” Mr. Martin followed up.

“That is correct,” the general replied.

This revelation comes amid the explosive publication of an classified report written by the general that said the war in Afghanistan “will likely result in failure” if more troops are not added next year.

Progressive blogs have raised the point that Obama is simply refusing to micro-manage the situation. However, the question being raised at this moment is a question of raising troop levels — and Obama declared his support for increasing troop levels in Afghanistan ‘way back in July of 2008. Surely there is some happy medium between micro-managing and ignoring a crying need that he’s already committed to meeting. Surely that medium is not being achieved.

If Afghanistan is the central front in the war against terrorism, then I believe the President has just declared the war against terrorism a very, very low priority.

I have another question: if the Olympics were not being considered by Obama’s own city, or by individuals to whom Obama was politically beholden, would he be so interested? Might the reason he has little time for Afghanistan be that Afghans do not vote Democratic in American elections? I’m just asking.