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SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2009
GIULIANI BLASTS TRIAL DECISION - AT 9:34 P.M. ET: The decision to try the self-confessed mastermind of 9-11 in a federal courthouse in New York is turning out to be one of the most controversial of this administration. It is also one of the worst. Former New York City Mayor Giuliani, who, covered with soot and debris from the falling towers, walked right past that U.S. federal courthouse on 9-11, blasts the Obama administration for its recklessness and arrogance:
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani accused the Obama administration of "repeating the mistake of history" by bringing the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks and his accomplices to New York for a civilian trial, saying the administration has definitively reverted to a "pre-9/11 approach."
The mayor who oversaw rescue and recovery efforts in the wake of the attacks on lower Manhattan told "Fox News Sunday" the president is only granting the "wish" of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad at the expense of the American people and that the conspirators should be tried in a military tribunal.
It is not only the wish of Mohammad. It is the wish of the hard left, which wants to put America on trial. The left sees creatures like KSM as temporary allies in anti-Americanism. Remember, the left in 1939 made common cause with Adolf Hitler in the Hitler-Stalin pact. The hard left is without conscience, but believes it is possessed of a higher morality.
"What the Obama administration is telling us loud and clear is that both in substance and reality, the War on Terror from their point of view is over," Giuliani said. "(Mohammad) should be tried in a military tribunal. He is a war criminal. This is an act of war."
To the Democratic left, 9-11 wasn't an act of war, it was an awkward political expression of aggrieved people.
The Obama administration's decision Friday to bring the alleged conspirators to New York has triggered a backlash from those who say a civilian trial affords the defendants rights they do not deserve, treats them as ordinary criminals and could be used as a platform to spew anti-American rhetoric as well as critique the actions of the Bush administration.
Giuliani said the biggest problem is that the United States is treating terrorists as it did after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which was followed by a string of other terrorist attacks on Americans overseas and finally by the Sept. 11 massacre.
And he suggested that such a high-profile trial in New York City would burden New York City both with the added risk of an attack and the added cost of security expenses.
COMMENT: The administration doesn't care, Mayor. It has political points to make, and George Soros to please.
November 15, 2009 Permalink
BULLETIN - AT 5:49 P.M. ET: Iran has now proclaimed its sacred judgment on Barack Obama:
U.S. steps to renew sanctions and seize a New York skyscraper linked to Iran show that President Barack Obama is no better than his predecessor George W. Bush, Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani said on Sunday.
Larijani's statement, which was followed by chants of "Death to America" among MPs in the legislature, was the latest from Tehran voicing disappointment in the new U.S. administration's policies toward the Islamic Republic.
It came as Obama, during a visit to Asia on Sunday, said time was running out for diplomacy in a dispute over Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran says is for peaceful purposes but which the West suspects has military aims.
Since taking office in January, Obama has sought to reach out diplomatically to Iran, but the dispute over Tehran's atomic activities continues.
"After one year of giving speeches and baseless slogans, it is a disgrace to see the behavior and the attitudes of this president are not better than his predecessor's," Larijani told parliament, the official IRNA news agency said.
COMMENT: Y'mean, they can't tell the difference? And these guys are building nuclear weapons?
Larijani's comments may well panic the Obama White House, which will have to explain them to the Massachusetts and California delegations to Congress, as well as to Christiane Amanpour and Keith Olbermann.
November 15, 2009 Permalink
WE'RE NOT THERE YET - AT 5:10 P.M. ET: There will be at least one Congressional investigation of Fort Hood, but I don't think it's satisfactory. From The Politico:
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) plans to hold a committee hearing this week searching for clues about why the accused Fort Hood shooter was never flagged as a danger to troops on the base.
Appearing Sunday on CBS's “Face the Nation,” Leahy said Congress would be keeping close watch on the investigation.
Yeah, yeah, but Leahy is one of the most left-leaning members of Congress. Maybe he'll do a good job, but maybe he'll be running interference for the administration.
“We don’t want to step on things that will make it more difficult for prosecutors, but obviously in this Congress, we have reason for oversight,” Leahy said.
The ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Michigan Rep. Peter Hoekstra, indicated that congressional investigations will help pressure the government to speed up its release of information about the alleged shooter.
“The government has been too slow about giving us answers,” he said.
That's because it doesn't like the answers. It wants better answers.
Oh, and get this one, also from The Politico:
Council for American-Islamic Relations national communications director Ibrahim Hooper said Sunday that the U.S. still isn't clear if the shootings at Fort Hood were an act of terrorism.
"To call it an act of terror is to jump to conclusions, to rush to judgment," Hooper said in an appearance on TV One’s "Washington Watch."
COMMENT: Ah, yes, I remember it well. "Rush to Judgment" was the name of the first major conspiracy-theory book about President Kennedy's assassination. It was written by Mark Lane, a controversial left-leaning lawyer, who questioned the Warren Commission's official account. The book made Lane famous, and rich. The term "rush to judgment" has been a favorite in some circles ever since.
The Council for American-Islamic Relations is a very problematical group that the FBI once worked with. The Bureau has severed its connections. Good for the Bureau.
November 15, 2009 Permalink
ABOUT THAT PICTURE - AT 5:01 P.M. ET: You've all undoubtedly seen the photo of President Obama deeply bowing to the emperor of Japan, son of Hirohito. There has been an entirely appropriate uproar, and the administraton has reacted...with an anonymous statement, as the Weekly Standard notes:
Politico reports that “A senior administration official said President Barack Obama was simply observing protocol when he bowed to Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko upon arriving at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Saturday.”
Why won’t that “senior administration official” come out from behind the curtain and make that assertion in his own name? Because it’s nonsense....
...numerous heads of state and the former U.S. vice president didn't bow to the emperor; they shook hands. The New York Times criticized Bill Clinton in 1994 for almost bowing to the Japanese emperor.
We await the release of a State Department briefing paper that says it’s “protocol” for an American president to bow to a Japanese emperor.
COMMENT: The term "senior administration official" normally applies to someone very senior - the president, the secretary of state, the White House chief of staff - that level. It is remarkable that someone that senior would claim that the photo represented protocol.
The president's bow was inappropriate, embarrassing, and disgraceful. But, of course, it was Bush's fault.
November 15, 2009 Permalink
WHO NEEDS THOSE SENIORS? THEY DON'T SKI IN ASPEN ANYWAY - AT 12:59 P.M. ET: My, my, my, how the Democratic Party has changed. At one time it was the champion of the elderly. Now it doesn't care. After all, people get more conservative as they get older, don't they? Who needs 'em? About as useful as the unborn.
The truth is starting to come out about the Democratic health "reform" plan. The Washington Post, admirably for a liberal paper, reports:
A plan to slash more than $500 billion from future Medicare spending -- one of the biggest sources of funding for President Obama's proposed overhaul of the nation's health-care system -- would sharply reduce benefits for some senior citizens and could jeopardize access to care for millions of others, according to a government evaluation released Saturday.
The report, requested by House Republicans, found that Medicare cuts contained in the health package approved by the House on Nov. 7 are likely to prove so costly to hospitals and nursing homes that they could stop taking Medicare altogether.
Congress could intervene to avoid such an outcome, but "so doing would likely result in significantly smaller actual savings" than is currently projected, according to the analysis by the chief actuary for the agency that administers Medicare and Medicaid. That would wipe out a big chunk of the financing for the health-care reform package, which is projected to cost $1.05 trillion over the next decade.
COMMENT: One of the scare lines used by Democrats over the decades was that the Republicans would take away Social Security. Of course, they never did. Now we find that it's the Democrats who are short-circuiting their own creation, Medicare. And why? Because they really don't care about people. They care about political theory, and radical theory at that.
This is the same crowd that "wept" for the "people of Vietnam," but said nothing when those people were enslaved. These are the same people who run to Cuba to marvel at its health-care system, but are silent about the hundreds of thousands of political prisoners.
Expect no good of these people. Harry Truman must be fighting to get out of his grave and shout.
November 15, 2009 Permalink
THE GROWING FEELING - AT 11:15 A.M. ET: There's a growing feeling, reflected in press articles even in the liberal media, that Mr. Obama is weak and indecisive. Surprise! Consider Doyle McManus in The Los Angeles Times:
Barack Obama is in danger of giving deliberation a bad name.
The decision about whether to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan was never going to be easy, but events -- and a collision of egos in Kabul -- have conspired to make it even harder.
Obama was right to insist on a full review of whether U.S. interests are better served by expanding the American military footprint in Afghanistan or shrinking it.
But now, two months into his second "comprehensive policy review," after eight Cabinet-level meetings and several slipped target dates, the president still hasn't made up his mind.
In George W. Bush, we had a president who shot first and asked questions later. In Barack Obama, we have a president who asks the right questions but hesitates to pull the trigger.
Three weeks ago, former Vice President Dick Cheney accused Obama of "dithering." At the time, the charge sounded premature and partisan -- but now some of Obama's own supporters have begun to wonder whether Cheney was right.
COMMENT: Whether Cheney was right? Did you ever think you'd hear that? From Obama's own supporters? Maybe the clergy is right. There is redemption. It may be morning in America again...after the long Obama night.
What may be missing here is that Obama heads a wing of his party that is fundamentally hostile to national defense. It is a wing that was produced by the 1960s - national defense bad, enemies of the United States merely misunderstood. Our legitimate fear is that Obama honestly believes that wing to be correct. If he does - and he does - we are in for major trouble, and our children will pay the price.
November 15, 2009 Permalink
THE RISKS OF OBAMA'S LEGAL STRATEGY - AT 10:35 A.M. ET: Several days after the bombshell announcement that the mastermind of 9-11, and some of his closest friends, will be tried in an ordinary federal courtroom in New York, an increasing number of experts are warning about the dire consequences that could result from that and other legal decisions made by the Obamans, including the possibility that judges could release terrorists on American soil. From The Politico:
While some Americans fear that Guantanamo prisoners brought to U.S. prisons might break out, a far more likely possibility is that some of the terror suspects will simply walk out at some point in the future on the order of a federal judge.
On Friday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced plans to bring five men from Gitmo to New York to face trial in a civilian court for allegedly plotting the Sept. 11 attacks. The Justice Department is likely to transfer several dozen inmates to the U.S. later for open-ended detention, and dozens more could join them if the U.S. can’t find another country to accept them.
Critics are warning that prosecutions are inherently unpredictable and that bringing prisoners onto U.S. soil dramatically improves their chances of being released here some day.
“All the media focus on bringing them into the U.S. has talked about the physical threat [of an escape]. That’s the least of our problems. We’ve got prisons that can contain a physical threat.” said Jan Ting, a law professor at Temple University and a top immigration official under President George H.W. Bush. “That’s really the wrong question to ask. There are legal entanglements that happen when you bring people to the U.S.”
Gives us confidence in the decisions of this administration, doesn't it? Not that we've had such confidence before.
What's obnoxious is the cynical comments coming from the very top:
During a speech in May, Obama vowed not to release Guantanamo prisoners who pose a threat to the U.S., but stopped short of promising that no one presently at Gitmo would ever be free in this country.
“I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people,” Obama declared.
However, the president also made clear that he would not defy the courts. “I cannot ignore these rulings because as President, I, too, am bound by the law. The United States is a nation of laws and so we must abide by these rulings,” he said.
It's the old "my hands are tied" game. But his hands wouldn't be tied if he'd pursued the sane policy of treating the prisoners as enemy combatants, which they are, rather than as shoplifters. That, however, would go against the grain of his hard-left beliefs, which are becoming clearer by the week.
November 15, 2009 Permalink
ACCEPTING REALITY - AT 10:08 A.M. ET: There may, stress may, be some rationality coming to the climate-change issue, as nations begin to take a second look at the fast hustle that's been imposed on them by the Gore Groupies. From the Times of London:
President Obama and other world leaders at a trade summit in Singapore have accepted that next month's Copenhagen summit is now unlikely to produce a legally binding deal on emissions, with agreement on climate change set to be deferred until the middle of 2010.
A meeting of 19 leaders of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum, which included Mr Obama and Chinese president Hu Jintao, agreed that the forthcoming United Nations summit in Copenhagen should merely aim to make progress on cutting emissions.
Instead they backed a face-saving proposal from Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, who jetted in at short notice after climate change was belatedly inserted into the agenda for Singapore, aimed at forging a political statement of intent at the December meeting.
Complex negotiations towards a legally enforceable successor to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which expires in 2012, would then continue to work out differences between rich nations and developing countries including China, with agreement delayed until a meeting in either Germany or Mexico in mid 2010.
COMMENT: There are times when delay is good. It allows the debate to blossom.
As time slips, we get closer to America's 2010 midterms, when Obama will be reluctant to agree to anything that will threaten the American economy. In the meantime, more and more people are questioning the "scientific consensus" about global warming, a consensus that often seems more contrived than real.
Science, of course, isn't about consensus. There is no show of hands. Science is about observation and proof. Much of the "proof" is coming under increased scrutiny.
And there is more and more observation, indicating that some of the effects of "warming" may well be greatly exaggerated and distorted. Or, as the observing songwriter once wrote, "Baby, it's cold outside."
November 15, 2009 Permalink
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2009
OUR UPCOMING TRIAL FARCE - A BRITISH VIEW - AT 7:02 P.M. ET: We've written here before, many times, that British reporters are doing some of the best work in covering the American political scene. They were the first foreign reporters to understand the shallowness and incompetence of the Obama administration.
Now, Tim Reid of The Times of London, examines our latest delight - the decision to try the mastermind of 9-11 in an ordinary federal courtroom in New York:
Mr Holder said that he would not be bringing the prosecutions unless he thought the outcome would be successful. He added that he had seen evidence not in the public domain that bolstered such confidence. He said that the men would be charged with masterminding and carrying out the September 11 attacks and “I fully expect to direct prosecutors to seek the death penalty”.
Yet trials are unpredictable, and Mr Holder did not address what would happen to Mohammed if he was acquitted and presumably allowed, under US law, to walk free.
Mohammed has also claimed to have beheaded the Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl and to have been responsible for many other terror attacks.
Some families of the September 11 victims called the decision to try the plotters in a civilian US court a terrible mistake. Other victims’ relatives said that the trial would give the men a platform to “spew” their antiAmerican hatred and invective.
Ed Kowalski, of the 9/11 Families for a Secure America Foundation, said: “To allow a terrorist and a war criminal the opportunity of having US constitutional protections is a wrong thing to do and it’s never been done before. President Obama is wrong to do this.”
The President’s political opponents, who are opposed vehemently to moving any Guantánamo detainees on to US soil, let alone the mastermind of the worst crime in US history, decried the move.
John Cornyn, a Republican Texas senator, said that treating the alleged plotters like ordinary criminals was unconscionable.
John Kyl, a Senate colleague, said that the Obama Administration was “more concerned about extending legal protection to terrorists than security protection to Americans”. Peter King, a New York congressman, said the trial would make the city more of a terrorist target.
COMMENT: Even if the trials result in convictions, it's a terrible precedent. These are enemy combatants, not common criminals. John Kyl is right: This is an administration obsessed with extending "rights" to people who are not American citizens, and do not deserve the protection given to American citizens.
But I guess all men are brothers, as long as they're out to kill us.
November 14, 2009 Permalink
PROPER TRIBUTES - AT 6:25 P.M. ET: Funerals are being held throughout America for the victims of the Fort Hood gunman. Ordinary Americans know how to do this far better than the commander-in-chief who presumes to lead them:
KIEL, Wis. (AP) -- The hundreds of people who lined the main street of a small Indiana city Saturday fell solemnly silent as a white hearse passed by on its way to the church. Mourners streamed into a Wisconsin gymnasium to remember a soldier who once promised to take down Osama bin Laden.
Instead, he was taken down by one of bin Laden's disciples because political correctness allowed a fanatic to serve as an Army doctor.
Across the country, many stood before several flag-draped coffins during funeral services for several of the 13 victims of the Nov. 5 shootings in Fort Hood, Texas.
In Plymouth, Ind. Sheila Ellabarger had placed two foot-high American flags in the grass where she watched the procession for Army Staff Sgt. Justin DeCrow. She said her children went to school with DeCrow and his wife -- his high school sweetheart -- and she knew other members of his family.
''He was killed by a terrorist in my mind but he was still killed in the line of duty. We owe him a debt of gratitude, him and his family and the other soldiers. We owe them our lives, our freedom,'' Ellabarger said.
COMMENT: And the president of the United States - see story just below - ridicules the idea of a Congressional probe into the worst terror attack on American soil since 9-11.
November 14, 2009 Permalink
DISGRACEFUL - WHAT ELSE CAN ONE SAY? - AT 6:01 P.M. ET: The ability of the Obama administration to embarrass itself seems endless. If only this creativity were applied to governing, we'd be in much better shape.
The president has responded to plans for Congressional probes into the Fort Hood shootings in a manner that is entirely tasteless and inappropriate. From AP, via the Washington Times:
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Saturday urged Congress to hold off on any investigation of the Fort Hood rampage until federal law enforcement and military authorities have completed their probes into the shootings at the Texas Army post, which left 13 people dead.
On an eight-day Asia trip, Obama turned his attention home and pleaded for lawmakers to "resist the temptation to turn this tragic event into the political theater." He said those who died on the nation's largest Army post deserve justice, not political stagecraft.
"The stakes are far too high," Obama said in a video and Internet address released by the White House while the president he was flying from Tokyo to Singapore, where Pacific Rim countries were meeting.
COMMENT: Utterly patronizing and outrageous. Can you imagine the reaction if George W. Bush had made such a statement? The people calling for a Congressional probe are serious men and women with fine national-security credentials. They know that a probe by the executive branch means that the government will be investigating itself. They want their own investigation, and that's entirely appropriate and necessary. To charge them with "political theater" is outrageous.
Even more outrageous is to suggest that those who died on 9-11 will get only "political stagecraft" in a Congressional probe. They'll probably get a much more thorough investigation than Mr. Obama's Justice Department will award them.
Wasn't it the Democrats who were always demanding Congressional investigations during the Bush years? Now, with the shoe on the other foot, they resist.
Yes, Mr. President, "the stakes are far too high." They're far too high to trust the truth to an investigation by your leftist appointees. Bring on Congress.
November 14, 2009 Permalink
THE WAY THE MUSLIMS HANDLE IT - AT 12:17 P.M. ET: Melik Kaylan is originally from Britain, and writes for The Wall Street Journal and Forbes. It was my pleasure to chat with him recently.
Here, reflecting on Fort Hood in his Forbes column, he gives us a sharp insight on the way the armies of Muslim nations handle religious extremism in their own ranks. This is original reporting at its best:
Some commentators place Major Nidal Hassan's outrage at Fort Hood in the continuum of nonreligious psychotic mass killings like those at Columbine and Virginia Tech. Others liken it to Islamist terror outrages such as suicide and car bombings. Those on the left seem to favor the former view, while those on the right prefer the latter.
Debate like that is not a favored form in the Muslim nations:
In most Muslim countries, the military would not dither over the issue. In Turkey, for example, the armed forces impose a strictly secular ethos on their personnel. Over the years, scores of stealthy Islamists have been identified and unceremoniously booted out for trying to proselytize fellow soldiers and generally undermine the army's values.
In places like Algeria, Egypt and Libya, Muslim officers watch over their Muslim conscripts with relentless scrutiny lest any unscripted forms of freelance worship sneak into the picture. Their prisons are full of Muslim Brotherhood conspirators undergoing torture--if they haven't already disappeared into secret graves.
What's a Muslim extremist in these countries to do?
Many Muslims desperately flee these countries for the West in order to pursue their more extreme brand of Islam. We give them the freedom to do so--in effect the freedom to hate us.
And in the precincts of our universities, such hatred is tolerated, even respected, under the rubric of "multiculturalism." The role of our universities in undermining this society is a volume in itself.
Kaylan asks a provocative question that I've not seen asked anywhere else:
Does the Army have any propaganda courses at officer level? Was anyone tasked with the job of telling Major Hasan what life might be like for him in a Muslim military? He would not have stayed around, or alive, long enough to explore his hurt feelings as a Muslim.
This is the first time I've ever felt that we could learn something from the Muslim armies.
In the Army, as in civilian life, we take infinite care to be inclusive, to allay the disaffections of minorities. We do not ask them why their families are here of all places.This is especially true of the U.S. military, an institution as color-blind, meritocratic and humane as no other genuinely fighting force in the world.
The U.S. as a whole and the West in general do not ask Muslims or any other minorities to cast doubt on the virtues of their own culture. For many that would be tantamount to "hate speech." But as the conflicts of the world have migrated into the U.S. and its armed forces, the conflicts of ideas have become a part of our daily lives. Our strength--our appeal for the disaffected--lies in our tradition of open debate. For those minorities less accustomed to such openness, criticism can seem like a species of bigotry or a kind of culture war. To them we must say, repeatedly, that they are lucky to hear the sounds of such debate. Where they come from, too often, it would be settled in exactly the manner in which Major Hasan chose, only he would not have lived long enough to carry it out.
COMMENT: That is fine writing. We will be looking to Mr. Kaylan for more. Please read the entire column, and others by the author.
November 14, 2009 Permalink
DIDN'T HE LEARN THE FIRST TIME? - AT 10:53 A.M. ET: Early in his administration, President Obama was lambasted for giving a deep bow to the king of Saudi Arabia. He apparently had never heard of the tradition that Americans do not bow to foreign leaders.
It's clear that Mr. Obama didn't learn the lesson. He's visiting Japan, and dropped in to see the emperor. As Ronald Reagan liked to say, there he goes again:
Reader Errol Phillips writes:
After living in Japan for 8 years .... I can assure everyone this is an incorrect bow. A slight 2-inch downward nod of the head is the appropriate bow among equals.
What Obama shows is complete subservience ... the kind of bow a typical salaryman might make when meeting a superior.
COMMENT: Or, the kind of bow a president who doesn't like his own country might make when meeting a foreign leader.
This is embarrassing. Will someone who knows about these things please speak to the man.
And Andrew Malcolm of the L.A. Times's Top of the Ticket, supplies us with the earlier photo of Obama bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia:
Choose your bow. Looks like the president was wearing the same suit.
November 14, 2009 Permalink
OBAMA LOSING INDIES - AT 10:30 A.M. ET: Scott Rasmussen, whose polls we often cite here, and Doug Schoen, a Democratic pollster and strategist, agree in a Wall Street Journal column, that the president faces a political crisis among independents:
Mr. Obama's approval among likely voters has dropped to the low-50s in most polls, and the most recent Rasmussen Reports poll of likely voters shows him slightly below the 50% mark. This is a relatively low rating for new presidents. Mr. Obama's approval rating began to slide in a serious way in early July, triggered by a bad unemployment report.
A look at more detailed data shows why Mr. Obama's ratings are likely to drop even further.
A CNN poll released Nov. 6 found that 47% of Americans believe the top issue facing the country is the economy, while only 17% say its health care. However, the bulk of the president's efforts over the past six months have been not on the economy but on health care, an issue in which he continues to draw negative ratings.
Even more fundamentally, a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted from Oct. 15-18 shows that the president has now reached a point where less than a majority of Americans believe he will make the right decisions for the country.
And the strategy?
What then, is Mr. Obama to do?
He has found himself in a false and arguably artificial conundrum on health care, with the two alternatives being his bill with a public option and a trillion-dollar price tag, or no bill at all. While the failure to pass a health-care bill could be devastating for his administration, polling suggests that ramming through an expensive bill with a public option (potentially using procedural techniques in the Senate) could divide America and not improve his standing with the public.
What is remarkable is the administration's indifference to public opinion.
The off-year elections in New Jersey and Virginia were indeed a warning sign to Mr. Obama. While the presidents ratings aren't likely to dip much further by year's end—given the size and support of his base—by focusing exclusively on his base he could create lasting political problems that plague the remainder of his term.
Unless Mr. Obama changes his approach and starts governing in a more fiscally conservative, bipartisan manner, the independents that provided his margin of victory in 2008 and gave the Democrats control of Congress will likely swing back to the Republicans, putting Democratic control of Congress in real jeopardy.
COMMENT: Part of the problem seems to be the insistence of liberals that they know what is best for us, and that we'll eventually understand once they work their intellectual magic.
Another problem is the Democratic belief that, the more they give away to constituent groups, the stronger is their political machine. Some truth there, but it doesn't get you past 50%, which, the last time I looked, is what is needed to win an election. The president got 53% in 2008, not exactly a guarantee of the future.
November 14, 2009 Permalink
THE BLOOM IS OFF THE ROSE - AT 10:15 A.M. ET: David Broder, never one to be associated with conservatism, and one of the most respected columnists in Washington, strongly blasts President Obama over Afghanistan:
The more President Obama examines our options in Afghanistan, the less he likes the choices he sees. But, as the old saying goes, to govern is to choose -- and he has stretched the internal debate to the breaking point.
It is evident from the length of this deliberative process and from the flood of leaks that have emerged from Kabul and Washington that the perfect course of action does not exist. Given that reality, the urgent necessity is to make a decision -- whether or not it is right.
The cost of indecision is growing every day. Americans, our allies who have contributed their own troops to the struggle against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and the Afghans and their government are waiting impatiently, while the challenge is getting worse.
Broder notes that there is a split between General Stanley McChrystal, in charge of our operations in Afghanistan, and our ambassador to the country, and former General Karl Eikenberry.
The president, notwithstanding his earlier rhetoric and actions, has hesitated to resolve the issue. Obama needs to remember what Clark Clifford, one of Harry Truman's closest advisers, said: that the president "believed that even a wrong decision was better than no decision at all."
There's a certain wisdom in that, up to a point: No decision flashes weakness and confusion, which can easily result in a situation that is worse than a wrong decision.
Meantime, events in Afghanistan support McChrystal's prediction that delay in expanding the U.S. troop commitment will almost certainly lead to gains for the Taliban and greater risk for U.S. and allied troops.
In all this dithering, it's easy to forget a few fundamentals. Why are we in Afghanistan? Not because of its own claim on us but because the Taliban rulers welcomed the al-Qaeda plotters who hatched the destruction of Sept. 11, 2001. The Taliban also oppressed its own people, especially women, but we sent troops because Afghanistan was the hide-out for the terrorists who attacked our country.
The chickens are roosting. The Obama administration, by deciding to try the mastermind of 9-11 in an ordinary federal courtroom, have reduced the attacks to street crimes.
George W. Bush said -- and Obama seemed to agree -- that withdrawal was not an option.
That imperative is reinforced by the presence of Pakistan, a shaky nuclear-armed power across a porous mountain border. If the Taliban comes back in Afghanistan, the al-Qaeda cells already in Pakistan will operate even more freely -- and nuclear weapons could fall into the most dangerous hands.
Given all of this, I don't see how Obama can refuse to back up the commander he picked and the strategy he is recommending. It may not work if the country truly is ungovernable. But I think we have to gamble that security will bring political progress -- as it has done in Iraq.
Obama did not believe that could happen there. But given what he inherited, and given what he has done so far, I think he has no choice but to play out that hand. If we can't afford to lose, then play to win.
COMMENT: That is the best argument I've read, made by a journalist, on what our course should be. I hope Broder's column is examined at the White House, for it brings with it the voice of experience, a quality dramatically lacking in this administration.
November 14, 2009 Permalink