Scandalmongering the Letter of the 47

Syndicated columnist Michael Gerson has the goods on the GOP and is here to tell us “The true scandal of the GOP senators’ letter to Iran“:

“The true scandal of the Tom Cotton letter to Iranian leaders is the manner in which the Republican Senate apparently conducts its affairs.”

Opinions vary; many liberals think the true scandal was that the letter was a treasonous violation of the Logan Act. Right-winger Michael Gerson will set them straight by telling us the true nature of the scandal.  The manner in which they’ve conducted themselves, you see, not the content of the letter.  Not what they did, but how they did it.  So what was wrong with the manner in which they “apparently” conduct their affairs?

“The document was crafted by a senator with two months of experience under his belt.”

We know we’re off to a bad start when the very first sentence to address the nature of this “scandal” turns out to be an ad hominem swipe at the author. Sure, 101st Airborne combat veteran Senator Tom Cotton, the author of the letter, is a freshman, but does Gerson really mean to imply that it’s a scandal that this freshman Senator would pen this letter and pass it around for signatures? Know your place, uppity newbie!

“It was signed by some members rushing off the Senate floor to catch airplanes, often with little close analysis.”

The interesting question this raises is whether Gerson thinks this (alleged) cursory attention to detail in some way exonerates the signatories – as in, hey, you can’t blame them, they didn’t know what they were signing!

“Many of the 47 signatories reasoned that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s endorsement was vetting enough. There was no caucus-wide debate about strategy; no consultation with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who has studiously followed the nuclear talks (and who refused to sign).”

There were also no think tank studies commissioned, nor public polls taken, nor moderated televised debates, nor consultations with the United Nations, nor a hundred other bogus prerequisites Gerson can pull out of his ass.  What’s more, the reference here to Corker is disingenuous: Gerson, who first asserts his deep and intimate knowledge of the thinking of the Senate members, does not mention that Corker was working on getting legislation passed which would require congressional approval of any deal the Obama Administration is making with Iran.

Corker was a couple of votes shy so this was, at the time, a non-starter, but Corker would be unlikely to take part in a shot across the bow of the Executive Branch while he’s trying to scare up votes from Democrats. Gerson leaves this out hoping you’ll think Corker wouldn’t sign the letter because he’s the more senior and experience hand in these matters of international affairs, what with his being the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. Gerson must be highly selective in what he tells his audience lest they come to a conclusion other than the one proffered, like, for example, that Corker was busy chasing unicorns down the road to perdition, or say, digging for unobtainium.

“This was a foreign policy maneuver, in the middle of a high-stakes negotiation, with all the gravity and deliberation of a blog posting.”

Take note of the derisive characterization of this letter, then leave it aside to consider that the Senate was left few alternatives because the Obama Administration is effectively bypassing them. What’s under negotiation is an executive order, not a treaty, and as such it is not subject to a vote. Unless the Senate can come together to force their involvement (as Corker was unsuccessfully trying to do) they would have few options in terms of putting the kibosh on a done deal to which they are opposed.

“In timing, tone and substance, it raises questions about the Republican majority’s capacity to govern.”

It raises questions… by Gerson. The questions are raised by Gerson. Columnists always, always say “questions are raised” in the third person when, really, they’re the ones raising the questions.

“It is true that President Obama set this little drama in motion. Major arms-control treaties have traditionally involved advice and consent by the Senate.”

I love that – “traditionally” treaties involve the advice and consent of the Senate, as if it were optional. The reality is that this is the way our government is structured, by law, not “tradition”, and it requires their “advice and consent” in the form of an approval by vote.  The more hostile the country and the more far-ranging the ramifications of the deal, the more critical it becomes to get our government in agreement on it.  Cutting a deal on nuclear weapons development (a.k.a. “Ramifications City”) with Iran (our enemy – our mortal enemy, as they put it) unquestionably qualifies as something which should take the form of a treaty which is passed by Congress.

“Obama is proposing to expand the practice of executive agreements to cover his prospective Iranian deal — effectively cutting senators out of the process.”

… and by “proposing” Gerson means “acting” to expand the power of the POTUS to enact a de-facto faux-treaty by fiat. Gerson is soft-pedaling an Obama power-grab.

“By renewing a long-standing balance-of-powers debate — in a way that highlights his propensity for power-grabbiness — Obama invited resistance.”

… and again, while implicitly acknowledging this is a power-grab by a man prone to power-grabs, Gerson soft-pedals it by characterizing this as “renewing a […] debate”. Even if it were a debate – and what’s going on is not to be mistaken for a debate – renewing discussion of it does not “invite resistance”; it would bring to the fore the pre-existing differences regarding the issues at stake. What POTUS Obama is doing is bypassing the legislative branch in enacting a major “arms control” agreement with a hostile nation of islamofascist terrorists.

“And there is a practical argument for Senate approval of arms-control agreements: It strengthens and empowers the president in punishing violations. The whole U.S. government is placed on record promising consequences for infractions (if, of course, the Senate concurs).”

Senate approval in the form of a treaty would also bind the next POTUS in a way that an executive order does not, which was the point of the letter, and a point studiously avoided by Gerson.

“The exact shape of a possible Iran deal remains unknown. I’m on record predicting that it may be a bad one — a very unlikely throw of the dice that a terror-sponsoring, clerical regime will become a minimally responsible regional power”

Naturally the details are secret for now but we’ve gotten early intimations of the nature of what’s taking shape, and it’s outrageous. No comprehensive on-site inspections, continuation of uranium enrichment, etc., and it all comes with a ten-year expiration date. Indeed, a “glide path” to getting a nuclear weapon while Iran achieves regional hegemony at our invitation, not an “arms control” agreement. There’s a lot to hate about this deal and the SOB responsible for it.  As a precursor to a deal the Obama Administration has removed Iran and their proxy Hezbollah from the 2015 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the Intelligence Community.  Take a moment and let all of this sink in.

Getting back to this Gerson column, remember the promise of revealing the nature the “scandal” of the Senate letter? Did you spot it? Here’s the scandal: The Republican Senators reminded the genocidalist Iranian jihadists that any “agreement” they reach with our POTUS is not binding on any future POTUS.

The “scandal” is that they attempted to preemptively sabotage the deal by telling the truth: That any “deal” with POTUS Obama that doesn’t take the form of a treaty is probably time-limited and therefore of little value; what they need to get an agreement of lasting value is for that agreement to take the form of a treaty.  Any such agreement would need to pass a Senate vote, and would undoubtedly get more meaningful concessions out of the Iranians.  That’s a possibility only so long as they are under financial or military duress to do so, which is doubtful under our current POTUS; POTUS Obama won’t hold Iranian feet to the fire, and the Iranians won’t agree to a meaningful, enforceable deterrence to their pursuit of nuclear weapons without that.

The strategy of the letter isn’t so much to raise doubts about the long-term viability of such a deal with Iranians because they don’t particularly care about that anyway, what with their having no intention of abiding by it anyway.  No, that’s not too cynical, it’s why a set of on-site verification requirements would make this deal a non-starter with the Iranians.  Rather, the purpose of the letter was to raise internal domestic pressure on the Obama Administration to abandon their unilateral negotiations and involve the rest of our government and our allies in the effort to keep nukes out of the hands of the mullahs – and, absent that, to kill this capitulation baby of a deal in the crib.

I hope it works.

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Boehner Invites Netanyahu & Obama Flips Out

House Speaker John Boehner invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress, which resulted in outrage from the Left. I saw some berserker comments on a Facebook meme-image by the Daily Kos (no link for you, Kossaks!) which were predictably unhinged. Boehner violated the Logan Act! Boehner the traitor! Yes, I know, the FB comments are as brain-damaged as YouTube comments, but still, it was somehow startling and amusing in terms of extremism in stupidity. Boehner is of course neither a traitor nor in violation of the Logan act, but it’s amusing in that Liberals are often accused of possibly violating the Logan Act and they shrug it off (You want a link? Feh. Go amuse yourself by Googling “John Kerry”, or “Barack Obama”, or “Nancy Pelosi”, and “Logan Act”). No, I’m not a lawyer, but if you’ve got a few brain cells to rub together it’s obvious that what Boehner did was not a violation of the Logan Act.

Eugene Robinson doesn’t quite go so far as to make that accusation in his latest column “Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu backfires on them both“, but he comes oh-so-close. Let’s begin:

“The political ramifications are clear: House Speaker John Boehner and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a colossal mistake by conspiring behind President Obama’s back, and the move has ricocheted on both of them.”

It’s not at all clear to me what the political ramifications are, but it is clear that the reaction from the White House and Liberals has been swift and hair-on-fire furious. OK, it’s clear in that respect, but otherwise? Pissing off Liberals is not a “ramification”. Nor is it clear that this was a “colossal mistake”. It’s not even clear to me that it was a mistake at all but we’ll see what kind of case Robinson can make for that later. Here, though, in the same sentence, Robinson characterizes this as Boehner “conspiring behind President Obama’s back”, and there in the first sentence of his piece we can see that this column was clearly a colossal mistake.

So, Boehner “conspired” with Netanyahu – it’s a conspiracy – as if this were a crime instead of an invitation to speak before our government and the American people. Israel is an ally of the United States, a liberal (note the small “L”!) republic with more freedoms than all other Middle Eastern countries combined, and as such I have no problem with his speaking here in the Capital on American foreign policy issues which are of vital importance to the survival of his country. Note that this spirit of open dialog does not extend to the enemies of the United States, such as “Supreme Leader” (*giggle-snort*) of Iran, Ali Khamenei, whom I invite, along with every other member of that criminal cabal, to go screw a goat.

“The big, scary issue underlying the contretemps — how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program — is a more complicated story. I believe strongly that Obama’s approach, which requires the patience to give negotiations a chance, is the right one.”

You don’t just believe it, Eugene, you believe it strongly. Of course you do. For Liberals, when dealing with the enemies of America, negotiation is the only path, whether it succeeds or fails. Negotiations, sweetened with incentives, and forgiving of transgressions and insults, is the way they snuggle up to our enemies. There’s a soft spot in their hearts for our enemies because they both share a similar anti-Americanism. Conversely, our allies get undermined and slighted, as with the United Kingdom, Australia, and of course, Israel, because in their minds the allies of the United States share in the imperialistic and capitalist crimes of the United States. Only the far Left says this out loud but it’s a sentiment which runs through all but the most centrist Liberals, and it’s a sentiment which gets translated into policy when Leftists come into power.

“To the extent that a case can be made for a more bellicose approach, Boehner and Netanyahu have undermined it.”

Well, no, they certainly are trying to dissuade us from this course, but it’s far from clear whether it’s working or not. For Liberals, it’s worth pointing out that the very act of “undermining” – well, actually, opposing and advocating for something different – their President is unacceptable, and that’s conditional on it being their President, i.e., of their party, whereas opposing the President when he’s a Republican is all kinds of patriotic speaking of truth to power.

“First, the politics. Why on earth would anyone think it was a good idea to arrange for Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress without telling Obama or anyone in his administration about the invitation?”

Oh, dear, this has to be explained to Eugene. OK, here goes: Boehner violated the protocol of getting the informed consent of the President before inviting a foreign head of state to speak in Congress. This would be an issue if that foreign representative were from a hostile country, but we’re talking about Israel, our ally. The White House took extraordinary umbrage at this protocol violation because they do not consider Israel to be their ally – yes, an ally of the United States, but not the ally of the Liberal Left; again, something they dare not say out loud.

Boehner did this because he knew that the POTUS would try to put the kibosh on it. Israel doesn’t have a seat at the table of these “negotiations” and the Administration would like to keep Netanyahu from speaking to the United States government and people on this matter. Hearing the head of Israel tell us that these negotiations are a very, very bad thing for both Israel ans America is not what they’d like you to hear, and so they would have tried to put a stop to it before it happened, and especially before the offer was made public, the better to kill it quietly, in the crib.

So intent is the Administration to prevent further sanctions being levied on Iran that Secretary of State John Kerry falsely claimed that Mossad chief Tamir Pardo had opposed more sanctions on Iran. I’ll give them this: it takes a lot of chutzpah to tell a whopper like that. Still, with the Administration making up astonishingly flagrant lies like that, you can see how both Boehner and Netanyahu would want to address the American government and people directly.

“Yes, Congress has an important role to play in international affairs.”

In acknowledging this Robinson is also dismissing it; you can almost hear him add, sotto voce, “but not really…”  Not so much now that Congress is controlled by Republicans, that is.  When it’s a Democrat Congress vs. a Republican President, Robinson will be right there to tell you just how very important that role really is.

“And yes, the days are long gone when disputes among officials over foreign policy ended at the water’s edge; members of Congress routinely gallivant around the globe and share their freelance views of what the United States should or should not be doing. But inviting a foreign leader to speak at the Capitol without even informing the president, let alone consulting him, is a bald-faced usurpation for which there is no recent precedent.”

A usurpation! Our king Obama is being usurped! Although the definition of that word relating to the throne may not have been the one Robinson had in mind, it was the word that came to his mind, and the association doesn’t bother him or he doesn’t even hear himself. “Bald-faced” is, literally, “unshaven”, but in American English it is associated with the phrase “bald-faced liar” (and no other) and connotes “flagrant”, which is the word Robinson was looking for but could not find.  Happy to help, Eugene – see above for an example of the proper use of the word “flagrant”.

“Pending legislation, which Obama threatens to veto, would automatically impose tough sanctions against Iran if the drawn-out, multiparty nuclear negotiations fail.”

Now, remember, Robinson just asked the question of why Boehner would invite Netanyahu to speak before the House without checking with POTUS Obama. It’s as if he can’t see the connection between the two, but it’s right there. POTUS Obama’s threat of a veto in the event that negotiations with Iran fail means that the Administration wants for there to be no consequences for the failure of negotiations. For the Administration, and Liberals, the failure of a negotiated deal would necessitate another round of negotiations, as has happened multiple times in the past. This is not an acceptable outcome for Israel or the American Right because this series of failures is a win for Iran as it gives them more time to develop nuclear weapons and to produce weapons-grade fissile material. Sanctions have hurt Iran and slowed down their work, and stronger sanctions can be expected to have a greater effect on the slowdown of their nuclear weapons push. You don’t need to extrapolate here: the Obama Administration is running out the clock which will give Iran time to get the bomb. Again, something they dare not say out loud.

“If Boehner wanted to build support for sanctions, he failed spectacularly. Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee and a vocal hawk on Iran policy, announced Tuesday that he would not vote for his own bill imposing automatic sanctions — at least not until after a March 24 deadline for negotiators to produce the outlines of an agreement. Nine of his pro-sanctions Democratic colleagues in the Senate joined him, meaning the bill is unlikely to win the necessary 60 votes for passage.”

In other words, Obama turned the screws hard on Democrats who are now falling in line, to the extent that these Democrats are willing to put off the vote on additional sanctions – until after negotiations fail. Not exactly a spectacular failure, but whatevs, Eugene.

“If Boehner’s aim was to paint Obama as somehow soft on Iran, he failed at that, too. The speaker inadvertently turned the focus on himself and has had to spend the week explaining why he went behind the president’s back, not even giving the White House a heads-up until hours before the March 3 speech was announced.”

Boehner doesn’t need to “paint Obama as somehow soft on Iran” (“somehow“!). We have ample evidence that POTUS Obama is soft on Iran. Also note that here Robinson admits that Boehner did give a heads-up to the WH some hours before the announcement; recall that he started out this opinion piece by accusing Boehner of “going behind the back” of POTUS Obama and repeats it in the same sentence, because giving advance notice to the WH vs. going behind the back of the WH is completely the same, apparently.

“Netanyahu, for his part, may have thought this was a way to boost his prospects in the upcoming Israeli election, scheduled for March 17. Or he may have fantasized that somehow, by openly siding with the Republican Party, he could snatch U.S. foreign policy out of Obama’s hands. Judging by the pounding he is taking from the Israeli media, he was mistaken on both counts.”

If you think the Liberal media in Israel is giving Netanyahu a pounding – and, yes it’s the Liberal media in Israel giving Netanyahu a pounding – then consider what the Obama Administration had to say to the Israeli government: Netanyahu “spat in the face” of Obama, and “there will be a price”. Would that they would speak so forcefully to the North Koreans.

“Note to all foreign leaders: We have one president at a time. Americans respected this fact when George W. Bush was president, for better or worse. And we respect it now.”

It’s hard to know what Robinson means by his use of the word “respect” in this context, but no, Liberals did not respect POTUS W, neither in his being POTUS nor his being the only POTUS. They didn’t even believe he was the POTUS; they thought he’d stolen the election from Gore.

“The speech episode borders on farce, but the larger debate over Iran’s nuclear ambitions could not be more serious. The central issue is whether a negotiated deal will leave Iran with the theoretical capability to build a nuclear bomb if it were to decide to do so. No amount of diplomatic legerdemain, it seems to me, can avoid answering this question with a simple yes or no.”

Or, as the Blogfather noted in the comments of a WaPo “Right Turn” blogpost, the Iran nuclear deal will amount to this: “Iran pretends they don’t have a nuclear weapon program. And we pretend to believe them.”

“If you say yes, as Netanyahu does, then Iran must be stripped of all ability to enrich uranium. It is easy to understand why the Israeli government sees a nuclear-capable Iran as an existential threat — and also worries that other regional powers concerned about Iran’s growing influence, such as Saudi Arabia, might decide that they, too, need to get into the nuclear game.”

As the above paragraph clearly demonstrates, Robinson is not oblivious to the issues or stakes, which makes his position on a nuclear-armed Iran and these negotiations all the more despicable.

“Iran insists, however, that it has the right to a peaceful nuclear program. The government in Tehran is unlikely to give up that right but may be willing to limit itself to low-grade enrichment that produces material incapable of being used in a bomb. At least some infrastructure for high-grade enrichment would remain, however — and so would some risk of an eventual Iranian bomb.”

Wink-wink, nudge-nudge, the Iranians will pinky-swear to keep their uranium enrichment low-level, say no more, say no more! And make no mistake: Liberals are A-OK with that.  When the Iranians nuke Israel, directly or through a terrorist proxy, Liberals will wring their hands and lament it as if it were an act of nature, something that just sort-of happened, like a tornado that nobody could have seen coming, and in their next breath they’ll condemn Israel for bringing it on themselves.

Who Are We to Criticize? Well, Who Do We Have to Be?

[N.B.: For whatever reason WordPress doesn’t seem to have sent out subscriber emails when my post (“Unicorn Dreams Melting in the Crucible of Reality” – EoT – 2014-03-03) was published last night. Go figure; click the link if you missed it.]  Moving right along…

Eugene Robinson. He seems like a nice guy, or at least not malicious and hateful; naive and ignorant but true to his principles. I have some respect for that, as opposed to the party hacks like E.J.Dionne who employ whatever situational principles will support their side. Yesterday Eugene weighed in on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and says – we have a credibility problem (“In the Ukraine crisis, the U.S. has a credibility problem” – WaPo – 2014-03-03):

Is it just me, or does the rhetoric about the crisis in Ukraine sound as if all of Washington is suffering from amnesia? We’re supposed to be shocked — shocked! — that a great military power would cook up a pretext to invade a smaller, weaker nation? I’m sorry, but has everyone forgotten the unfortunate events in Iraq a few years ago?

No, Eugene, it’s not just you – it’s Liberals (and pinko Lefties, and conspiracy nuts). Liberals like you have indeed forgotten that the Senate Select Committee on Iraq Pre-War Intelligence found that the case for Iraqi WMDs was not fabricated. That was the bipartisan Congressional investigation which Liberals demanded – Demanded! – because they just knew that W had lied – Lied! – about Iraqi WMDs. Bush, Cheney, Feith, and the rest of those criminal neocons, all lying liars who tell lies! So they stamped their little feet and banged their spoons on their highchairs until they got the Congressional investigation they wanted.

Sort of. They got the bipartisan Congressional  investigation, all right, but the results were not to their liking. What the report said was that while some of the evidence was flawed, none of the evidence for WMDs was fabricated, and actually there was even more evidence which would have made an even stronger case but was withheld by the White House because they didn’t deem reliable enough. The intelligence agencies were, however, unanimous in their confidence that Iraq had WMDs (chemical, probably biological, and maybe nuclear), which is why the liaison to the White House of all of those agencies, CIA Director George Tenet, told POTUS W that the case for Iraqi WMDs was “a slam-dunk”. The intelligence agencies of our allies concurred; Germany even thought Iraq would get a nuclear weapon within five years.

As you might expect, this was not the conclusion Liberals were expecting or hoping for, so they demanded – Demanded! – an investigation into the intelligence agencies, because surely they had been pressured to cook up the “right” answers.  Surely Dick Cheney had paid an unofficial visit to Langley, put his arm around the shoulder of those quaking analysts, and told them just exactly what they were going to “find”, right?  They got their bipartisan Congressional investigation – see the Robb-Silberman report – and after all the intelligence analysts were interviewed, in private, with assurances of immunity, each and every one stood by their reports and denied categorically that anyone had influenced their conclusions in any way.  In fact, every bipartisan Congressional investigation has failed to deliver what the Liberals were really after – a basis for impeachment and trial for the “war criminals” of the Bush Administration – and despite that Liberals have always gone right back to accusing W and his cohort of evil neocons of cooking up a pretext to invade Iraq.  They openly maintain that fiction to this day, as above.

[…] the United States, frankly, has limited standing to insist on absolute respect for the territorial integrity of sovereign states.

This straw-man set-up needs some work. The United States does not and never has insisted on an “absolute respect for the territorial integrity of sovereign states” – Robinson is just making this up.  It should be noted, however, that after overthrowing the bloody dictatorship of Hussein and his psychopathic sons in 2003 we turned Iraq into a self-governing constitutional republic, while simultaneously crushing the internal and external jihadists and Baathists who tried to keep Iraq in thrall.  Again, not exactly a good counterpoint to Russia and Crimea today.

Before Iraq there was Afghanistan, there was the Persian Gulf War, there was Panama, there was Grenada.

Yeah, Panama and Grenada, I’ll give him those, but the Persian Gulf War? You’ll recall that this was precipitated by Saddam Hussein outright invading and annexing Kuwait – and subsequently we smashed his military and then we handed Kuwait right back to the Kuwaiti emirates, so that flies in the face of his claim, yes?  For Robinson, it doesn’t matter; at this point he’s just rattling off U.S. wars that he opposed, because War, Man, y’know, it’s just Bad!  We’re Bad!  We warmongers, bad bad people are we.  All wars bad.  We’re bad.  So thanks for clarifying that, Eugene.

Come to think of it, Panama and Grenada were also handed back to their citizens, free and democratic. This is in sharp contrast to what Russia is doing, and did you notice that Robinson throws in Afghanistan? So, let me get this straight: Afghanistan hosted terrorists who attacked the United States, and so we changed their regime into a constitutional republic and went after those jihadists who opposed us – and Robinson is effectively saying this was bad, because we didn’t respect the territorial integrity of Afghanistan? What jackassery.

And even as we condemn Moscow for its outrageous aggression, we reserve the right to fire deadly missiles into Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and who knows where else.

Robinson has a legitimate grievance here but it doesn’t apply to his thesis. I agree with him that there are problems with firing missiles into other states unless those states allow us to do so (as does, for example, Pakistan). However, in contrast to Russia/Crimea, we are not seizing territory or doing regime change, so this doesn’t really belong in Robinson’s opinion piece. Not this one, anyway.

The Obama administration has been clear in its condemnation of Putin’s operation. Critics who blame the Russian action on “weak” or “feckless” U.S. foreign policy are being either cynical or clueless.
It is meaningless to rattle sabers if the whole world knows you have no intention of using them. There is no credible military threat by the United States that could conceivably force Putin to surrender Crimea if he doesn’t want to. Russia is much diminished from the Soviet era but remains a superpower whose nuclear arsenal poses an existential threat to any adversary. There are only a few nations that cannot be coerced by, say, the sudden appearance on the horizon of a U.S. aircraft carrier group. Russia is one of them.

The accusations that POTUS Obama is weak and feckless are not predicated on his lack of a military response to the Russian invasion of Crimea. He is weak and feckless because he has not pursued economic pacts and undercut military ties to Eastern European countries (abandoning plans for missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic come to mind, by way of example).  In doing so he created a power vacuum, which is now being filled by the ruthless Russians.

I’d also add that POTUS Obama is an utter fool for pursuing arms treaties with and making unilateral preemptive concessions to Russia despite their having violated every major weapons treaty they’ve ever signed, as well as having repeatedly flown nuclear bombers into our Air Defense Identification zonesimulated an attack run on our missile defenses in Asia, and prowled around our East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico with attack submarines.   I’ll further add that POTUS Obama has pursued this despite Russia having been most helpful to Iran and Syria in waging wars against their own people.  I’ll further assert that the “weak” and “feckless” accusations are probably based more on Obama’s tendency to stay out of world political events in the hopes that they’ll resolve themselves without his having to say or do much of anything, and then when the problems get bigger he wades in cautiously and noncommittally, usually too late.  Much as he did with Iran in 2011/2, Syria 2011-present, and today in the Russia/Crimea invasion.

If the man had brains or balls, in response to the Russian invasion of Crimea, he’d be publicly and enthusiastically invite former Soviet Bloc countries into talks on free trade and military preparedness.  Countries like (what’s left of) Ukraine, (what’s left of) Georgia, Poland, Hungary, and Romania.

Message: “There’s a big bad bear in them thar woods; let’s partner up.”

A World of Difference in Red Lines

Today on “Instapundit“, the blogfather posted that the Syrian “red line” on chemical weapons was set by Secretary of State Clinton on August 11, 2012 at a joint press conference in Turkey.

Well, no, not so much.  POTUS Obama was quite specific when he said the “red line” was ours, and would affect his “calculus” and our response.  What’s the difference?  Nobody took SecState Clinton’s red line seriously because she, as the U.S. SecState, was referring to the “red line” the world had set.  It’s not a meaningful statement because, simply put, “the world” in general terms doesn’t have the military means to make good on a threat;, only a nation or coalition of nations can do that, and there wasn’t a coalition either of armed nations or trading partners ready to force project and/or enforce sanctions.

The U.N. can stamp its little feet in anger or pen as many sternly-worded memos as it likes, but that won’t change the fact that it has no armed forces of it’s own; the ability to project military power is reliant entirely on the coalitions that are cobbled together by nations amongst themselves or individual nations acting alone.  Sanctions need to be agreed-to and abided-by, and enforced by coalitions, regardless of whatever binding resolutions the U.N. may pass.  So, talk of the world’s “red line” on an issue may raise an eyebrow, but always the follow-on question is “who will enforce it” – and if there’s no answer to that, then the red line is moot.  Remember back when W was POTUS, time and time again the U.N. set red lines and sent stern memos with hard deadlines to Iran about their nuclear program.  Iran blew them off, all of them, without consequence, because they were unaccompanied by a credible threat of enforcement.

When a nation sets a red line, one that specifically will be enforced by that nation – and that nation has the means to do so – then the red line has meaning.  Consequently, follow-through is necessary if red lines in diplomacy are to have any effectiveness as a warning.  What being said is, “don’t do this, or we’ll have to take drastic measures, and we don’t want that, and you especially don’t want that, so don’t do it”.  The corruption and blustering posturing of the U.N. has, over the course of decades, fully eroded its realpolitik credibility.  When we issue a red line and then let it slide, transgressor nations will consider that in the future regardless of which party holds the levers of government – this is one of the problems with how POTUS Obama handled the Syrian problem.  He put himself and our country in a box, and if he doesn’t deliver then our red lines may be perceived as having as little relevance as those of the U.N.  Because we have national interests which need defending, and a military with which to defend them, the blurring of our red lines makes armed conflict more likely.  [Granted, striking Syria at this point would of course mean that armed conflict is a certainty, but when I say that not enforcing the red line makes armed conflict more likely, I’m saying that Syria and other countries will take all of our red lines less seriously now and in the future, even the ones we mean to enforce, because they won’t be able to discern the difference between which ones are bluffs and which ones are real.]

With China and Russia (security council members, both) stating their opposition to punishing Syria for their use of chemical weapons, it’s obvious that, in fact, the “red line” on chemical weapons was more aspirational than actual, and it’s clear that it can now safely be ignored.  POTUS Obama was naive to think that it had real meaning in the real world without the enforcement mechanism – which it was up to him to have put in place before issuing the red line – but let’s put the blame for the chemical weapons atrocities which will surely follow squarely on the shoulders of China and Russia as well as the perpetrators.  We’ll have to do it ourselves, though, because liberal-leftists are loathe to cast aspersions, however justified, on leftist tyrannical governments; just look at how long they’ve carried water for Cuba.

Who’s Red Line Is It Anyway?

Today POTUS Obama declared that it wasn’t really his red line in Syria, but the world’s red line, so, you see, it wasn’t his credibility on the line, it was the credibility of the world, and the U.S. Congress.  That’s just – what’s the word I’m looking for?  that’s just adorable.

He’s right, you know.  Chemical weapons use is a war crime, and that’s an international no-no, and in theory you can get in real trouble for breaking the rules, mister.  Here in the real world there is no red line, per se, only the words, which mean nothing until they do.  You need to really sincerely piss off the movers and shakers, and also make yourself useless to any of them, before you’ll get hauled into a prison hotel and face an interminable trial.  Call that “the Milošević Option”.  So he’s right, after a fashion – the credibility of the nations and peoples is being put to the test; it’s just that you’d have to have been a fool to think there was any credibility there to begin with.

International Law, and international “norms” for that matter, don’t matter.  Not that they shouldn’t, it’s just that they don’t, unless there’s a strategic advantage in pressing the point.  That advantage may be offensive or defensive, but it’s the self-interested principle of the thing that counts, nothing more.  The U.N. yawns and snores when it’s not huffing and puffing, but in general it accomplishes nothing in geopolitics.  To understand the role of the U.N. in the minds of American liberals you have to understand that they see it as the prototype for a unifying planetary government, Star Trek style.  You know, like when Federation bureaucrats talk about what the Tellarites say about such-and-such political matter, as if this entirety of the race speaks with one singular voice, and it’s the more primitive Federation wannabes who have any political diversity which is, of course, divisive in practice.  But I digress.

Red lines are established when they are specifically declared to exist. POTUS Obama did just that, without consulting the Joint Chiefs of Staff, his cabinet, either branch of Congress, or our allies, and that’s how an American POTUS builds a coalition of support to carry out a military action, and he had a year to prepare. It looks to me as if he has been caught flat-footed, relying on the power of his word to keep Syria from using chemical weapons, and by setting that as the trigger he also hoped to avoid getting involved in the conflict entirely by setting such a high threshold.

Note that tens of thousands have been killed in this war and he’s avoided blame for it – you know, allowing it to happen.  For the Liberal Left, it’s always America’s fault: we did the wrong thing, we did it too late, we did too little, we didn’t do anything, one way or another we’re to blame.  Domestically, and it seems internationally, he’s gotten a pass on this. What I think he failed to realize is that it would be obvious to outside intelligence agencies that the U.S. was not preparing for a conflict.  No coalition building was going on inside or outside the United States, and that doesn’t go un-noticed by Russia, Iran, or China, and they’re more than likely to pass that information along to Syria.  I’m guessing that this is another example of how preparing for war is the best way to avoid it.

Still, POTUS Obama is taking the position that it’s up to everyone else in the U.N. to live up to their rhetoric about chemical weapons being off limits and their use incurring severe repercussions.  That’s – adorable?  No, strike that, the word I’ve been looking for is pathetic.

Obama’s Syria Box

POTUS Obama has boxed himself into a no-win geopolitical mess in Syria. From what I’ve read, the warning to Syria’s dictator Assad that using chemical weapons in their ongoing civil war would “cross a red line” was off-the-cuff.  That’s just remarkably inept, amateurish, and egotistical.  The POTUS should never issue a “red line” warning without consulting his cabinet, the DOD, and State Department, and that’s just for starters.  There are probabilities to estimated and risks to be weighed, but no, he just walked right into Mordor.

I’m guessing he was, once again, playing at being presidential, just like he’s seen past presidents do.  It’s worth noting that those “red lines” have a mixed track record; note that POTUS W issued an ultimatum to Saddam Hussein, and Hussein doubted its sincerity and so tried to call that bluff.  The difference was that W was no wishy-washy warm-n-fuzzy Bill Clinton; W had issued the ultimatum to placate wishy-washy allies rather than to try to get Hussein to fall in line; what’s more, W had correctly assumed that Hussein would ignore the warning and so we were prepared for that eventuality, but had Hussein caved then we would have gotten our way with just words – a geopolitical win-win for the U.S.

The dilemma for POTUS Obama is that we don’t want either side to prevail.  Syria’s Assad is a monster, and the insurgents are mostly Al-Qaeda monsters, so it’s better that they kill off as many of each other as possible in this meatgrinder of a bloodbath war.  As for the innocent casualties of this war, I have, at best, a moderate sympathy for the anti-American anti-Jew Syrian civilian population – sort-of a combination of the mild sensation of “that’s a shame” which is overshadowed by a chin-jutting angryfaced “screw them!”

POTUS Obama’s threat was ill-considered and he was unprepared for the eventuality of his bluff being called, even though he’s had a year to man-up and consult with wiser minds. Granted that the State Department is staffed almost entirely by liberal world citizens and socialist policy-wonks who are as useless and stupid as Obama, but had he consulted the Joint Chiefs of Staff beforehand he would probably have been advised that the extent to which POTUS Obama was willing to punish Syria would probably not be sufficient to act as a deterrent.  Assad, fighting a devastating 2-year long civil war, might welcome a limited airstrike.  It might ignite a regional firestorm, as Iran has threatened it will; that would draw fighters out of Syria and into Lebanon, shifting the conflict in Syria’s favor.  Alternatively, it might garner sympathy and support from anti-American a-holes from around the world – the usual a-hole countries, like Russia, China, Venezuela, Cuba, the Norks, and so on.  The downside is that there might be more airstrikes if he uses chemical arms again – maybe, and then again maybe not.  All things considered, it’s not a bad bet for Assad.

The best bet for Assad would be to call POTUS Obama’s bluff, and make no mistake, that was Assad’s intent – he ordered the attack to coincide with the very  day of the one-year anniversary of the red-line threat.  With no serious repercussions he would be free to use chemical weapons (provided his soldiers actually carry out those orders), and that would tilt the conflict in Syria’s favor.  As it’s shaping up, POTUS Obama, unable to parlay his smart diplomacy and personal charm into a coalition of the willing, is now in the position of having to back up his threat using U.S. warpower alone, which is a loss of face for Obama and America.  It’s also a rebuke to the dumbass Liberals who elected him, who are apparently too stupid to experience the cognitive dissonance which should have them screaming themselves to sleep every night.  Going to war, without Congressional approval, without U.N. approval, against an enemy that is posing no threat to the United States, again.  Remember Libya, folks?  Again.

Still, we have to make a token effort, something that will inflict a stinging punishment but not a crippling blow.  We can do that, and we must in order to preserve the credibility of POTUS-issued “red line” threats.

Bngladsi Amercn for Obama

[by Slab Hardrock]

I just got an email from the DNC – I’m on their mailing list – urging me to volunteer for the Obama campaign.  On a lark, I took a look.  There are a few “events” near me, but this is my favorite, copied & pasted, verbatim, for your amusement :

 Bngladsi Amercn for Obama
(Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for Obama Event)
Bangladeshi American in America specially in New York like to have an fundraising event for President Obama and vice President Biden.we may not raise large amount of money but can help with lots of votes.we don’t want to be mixedup with as Indians or Asians.
 

Oh, and Put It On the Children’s Tab

[by Mr.Hengist]

Republicans are a bunch of terrorist hostage-taking criminals for trying to impose their ideological insanity upon the nation, according to the excitable and apoplectic Left. In actuality they failed to bring fiscal sanity to our budget process – caved – and the can has once again been kicked down the road. Europe is circling the fiscal drain, America is trying to catch up with them, and Eugene Robinson is mad at the GOP. Oh, and the sun rises in the East, and – there! – I’m done with trite clichés for the time being.

Let’s have a look at the talking points Robinson has regurgitated for us this time:

“The so-called analysts at Standard & Poor’s may not be the most reliable bunch, but there was one very good reason for them to downgrade U.S. debt: Republicans in Congress made a credible threat to force a default on our obligations.”

Well, no, they didn’t; that power rests solely with the POTUS. In the event that the Federal Government does not have enough money to pay all its bills, the POTUS has the legal authority and obligation to allocate what monies are available on a discretionary basis. In that context, Robinson’s statement could be taken to mean that he believes the POTUS would not have prioritized our debt obligations, but that would be giving him too much credit.

“This isn’t the rationale that S&P gave, but it’s the only one that makes sense.”

Like most Liberals, when their opposition states something which doesn’t gibe with their worldview, they discard what they’ve been told and substitute their own fantasies. I believe him when he says that S&P’s rationale doesn’t make sense to him, but the problem lies with Robinson, not S&P.

“Like a lucky college student who partied the night before an exam, the ratings agency used flawed logic and faulty arithmetic to somehow come up with the right answer.”

In short, Robinson likes the result, but the reasoning is in conflict with his worldview, so he’s openly discarding it but keeping the conclusion. The right answer, for Robinson, is that America should be downgraded because of the intransigence of the GOP, so long as that downgrade can be pinned on them. To the extent that S&P was critical of anything that might make the Left look bad – well, that’s just crazy talk!

Take a moment to review the actual document issued by S&P. S&P’s rationale for the downgrade is that the deal won’t stabilize our fiscal situation, and with an additional $2.4T increase in debt, that’s correct. They also say that the differences between the parties are “contentious and fitful” and that the debt ceiling has become a political bargaining chip, and that’s also correct. As far as bridging the chasm between revenues and spending, S&P notes simply that the two sides can’t agree on spending cuts and/or tax increases. S&P does not take sides in that debate.

“And no, I can’t join the `we’re all at fault’ chorus. Absent the threat of willful default, a downgrade would be unjustified and absurd. And history will note that it was House Republicans who issued that threat.”

Not exactly true, since the decision to default would lie with the POTUS. At any rate, history will also note that the POTUS threatened to veto any bill which did not extend the debt limit sufficiently to get us past the next election. To get him past the next election – and the Left has no problem with that.

“There is no plausible scenario under which the United States would be unable to service its debt.”

That’s true – in medium term. Not servicing the debt would be a choice, not a necessity, and that choice lies with the POTUS.

“If political gridlock were to persist, our government would be able to pay bondholders with a combination of tax revenue and funds raised by selling more Treasury bills.”

Tax revenue alone would cover our debt obligations and avert default, albeit without enough left over to meet other obligations. Treasury bills could not be sold, however, unless they came from the Social Security “Trust Fund” in which case every T-note sold would lower our debt by equal measure, allowing for us to borrow that much more.

“And in the final analysis, as Alan Greenspan noted Sunday on `Meet the Press,’ the United States `can pay any debt it has because we can always print money to do that.’ I know this kind of talk is horrifying to Ron Paul and others who believe we should be walking around with our pockets full of doubloons, but most of us find paper money more convenient.”

… aaaaand, just like that, there it is. No apology, no regret, no pleading for the possibility of considering the necessity of doing the unthinkable. That last-ditch seawater-on-the-reactor cut-off-your-leg-to-save-your-life nuclear bomb of fiat currency mismanagement is casually put on the table with snide contempt.

Sure, the Treasury could simply create as much money as we owe and pay it off that way, and if it really were no big deal, why isn’t Robinson wondering why we haven’t done it already? $14T in the hole? Clickety-Clack, the Treasury can create that amount. Heck, why stop there? Why not turn that minus sign into a plus sign! Why not fill our coffers with $140T and fix this deficit problem for the foreseeable future?

The answer is this: “printing” our way out of this would rightfully be considered a default, both by the rating agencies and the rest of the world. It would literally destroy our economy, and, by the way, we’d never be able to borrow again. The result looks like Zimbabwe, and here, Robinson floats the idea as a viable alternative.

Eugene Robinson: charitably speaking, you are an idiot.

“What happened this summer is that Republicans in the House, using the Tea Party freshmen as a battering ram, threatened to compel a default.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Aside from the repetition of the false assertion that the Congress could force a default, Robinson has the dynamics of this completely inverted. The Republicans did not “use” the Tea Party freshmen; the Tea Party freshmen held firm and forced the Republicans to get a better debt deal. He writes in the WaPo, but does he even read it?

“More accurately, they demanded big budget cuts as the price of raising the debt ceiling. If the Senate and President Obama did not comply, the Treasury’s access to capital through borrowing would have been cut off.”

Well, one could have simply said so, but what’s a Liberal opinion piece without throwing up partisan hyperbole?

“The government’s cash flow would have been slashed by 40 percent, leaving not nearly enough to fund essential operations, pay entitlements and also service the debt. Somebody was going to get stiffed. Paying interest to bondholders could have been given priority over competing obligations such as salaries for our people in military service and Social Security checks for retirees. But for how long?”

OK, so did the House Republicans threaten to default or was default always an option of the POTUS? As Robinson admits here, it was always an option. Social Security, on the other hand, was never threatened; as I described above, the “trust fund” – which has in excess of $2T – is guaranteed convertible into U.S. dollars and allows for an equal amount to be borrowed through the sale of regular Treasury bills. Sure, it exchanges one IOU for another, but the SS recipients would get paid. In fact, we could do that and not touch tax revenues at all, for a while.

That, by the way, is the answer to, “But for how long?” For a while, until we can get more tax revenue and/or cut our spending. A better question would be, “How, by Crom, did we get to the point that 40% of our spending has to come from borrowing?” There’s a reason this keeps getting called “unsustainable.” It might be a debate worth having whether we should increase taxes or not, but when our elected officials keep finding new entitlements to grant (as noted below), it’s easily demonstrable that no amount of taxation will ever sustain the nanny state they envision.

“S&P, however, gave a host of largely bogus reasons for its action. Why am I not surprised? This is a firm that aided and abetted the subprime crisis — and the devastating financial meltdown that ensued — by giving no-risk ratings to dodgy securities based on mortgages that should never have been written. The firm’s credibility is spent, as is that of the other ratings agencies, Moody’s and Fitch.”

The reasons S&P gave for the downgrade were far from bogus, but Robinson is correct in that the ratings agencies were complicit in the financial meltdown. However, the assertion that S&P’s “credibility is spent” is contradicted by the ensuing drop in the market. Obviously not, then, eh?

“Initially, S&P pinned the downgrade on the sheer size and weight of the mounting federal debt. Treasury officials noticed that S&P had made an error in its calculations, overstating the debt burden by a whopping $2 trillion. This discovery negated the ratings firm’s rationale — so it simply invented another.”

Reading this, you might be led to believe that those numbers alone formed the basis of S&P’s rationale for a downgrade. Not so; Robinson is outright lying here. I’ve already linked to the original S&P report and it’s worth reading. What’s really more compelling here is that this “mistake” appears to be anything but a mistake. Here’s what appears to have happened: S&P used actual budgeting numbers vs. the Administration’s having used CBO numbers – and the CBO uses assumptions dictated by the WH, and those assumptions are completely implausible (The WH numbers assume that baseline expenditures grow with a nominal GDP increases of 5%/yr while inflation sits at 2.5%.) This is what Liberals are calling a “math error.” S&P revised that part of the budget analysis as the Feds implicitly threatened to strongarm S&P by holding hearings.

“Instead of basing its argument on economics, S&P made an ill-advised foray into political analysis. In its `revised base case scenario,’ the firm assumed that all the Bush tax cuts will remain in place past their scheduled expiration at the end of next year — even for households making more than $250,000 a year. But Obama vows not to let this happen, and S&P apparently fails to understand that after the election he will be in the strongest possible position to stand firm.”

It’s amusing to read Robinson chastise S&P for making “an ill-advised foray into political analysis” when his own political analysis is so deeply flawed, and then to see that he in turn has no qualms in blundering about on his own ill-advised forays into economic analysis. You’ll recall that, the last time around, Democrats wanted to keep $298B of the $366B in “Bush” tax cuts. The Dems also promised to eliminate the Doc Fix as a part of the “savings” of Obamacare, but then reneged on that in a matter of months. Really, when you consider all the things POTUS Obama said he’d do, or not do, and then ended up doing the opposite – well, one can hardly blame S&P for a lack of faith. Heck, even in the midst of this Mexican hatdance around the fundamental problem of unsustainable entitlements the Obama Administration created a brand new entitlement.

“Obama should have made clear from the start that if necessary he would take unilateral action, based on the 14th Amendment, to ensure there could never be a default.”

Actually invoking the 14th Amendment for this purpose would have precipitated a constitutional crisis and, if his own party didn’t have control of the Senate, would surely and rightly have led to his impeachment. What’s more, the validity of any T-bills issued under such circumstances would have been of dubious authenticity and would therefore have commanded a high premium for the risk of their turning out to be worthless. Another excellent plan, Robinson.

Afghanistan: They’ll Cut (a deal) and Run

[by Mr.Hengist]

The initial reports had the casualties at 80 dead and 120 wounded in Charsadda, Pakistan, on May 13, 2011. The attack was loosely targeted at a training center for Pakistani security forces. One bomb killed cadets and, notably, bystanders at a nearby market. The second bomb, by design, killed first responders tending the victims of the first bomb. In this how the Taliban expressed their sympathy and anger, in deeds fitting their words, at the U.S. having sent ObL to sleep with the fishes. In deeds, how like ObL and Al Qaeda; their aims and methods make for a well-suited match. It’s a timely and poignant reminder of why we unleashed our fury on them in the aftermath of 9/11, and a rebuke of our having let so many flee to safety. We should have done a better job of cutting off their escape routes and killed them in in far larger numbers.

POTUS Obama reluctantly fulfilled his campaign pledge by increasing our troop presence in Afghanistan by paltry numbers. Having done so, POTUS Obama is now once again looking for the exit. Instead of redoubling our efforts in response to Taliban atrocities, the Administration “has accelerated direct talks with the Taliban” and “U.S. officials say they hope [this] will enable President Obama to report progress toward a settlement of the Afghanistan war when he announces troop withdrawals in July.” Let’s hope the Taliban don’t cut a deal until at least the next round of U.S. elections so that we can replace these Democrats before they can run away.

Two Shots and a Splash

[by Mr.Hengist]

The news came late and I was already visiting the Land of Nod, during which all I could dream about was making stock. Vegetable & meat stock in my slow-cooker. All night long, dream after dream. I kept waking up and thinking, “Augh, another one – why can’t I have better dreams?” I’ve been planning on making that dream come true this weekend when I’ll use my slow-cooker for the first time to make vegetable/meat stock, and I’ve been sort-of looking forward to it, but spending a whole night dreaming about is kind of lame.

When I woke up and checked the news I learned that another dream had already come true. A desire, really, not a dream – an angry, blood-lust desire for death upon that POS ObL. I read the banner headline and, as is typical of me, I had no reaction but an unverbalized need to read more, to learn more, to put the headline into a context into which I could weigh its veracity. ObL dead, they say, but we know that many of Al Qaeda leadership have been declared killed many times, only to pop up alive again whack-a-mole style. The more I read the more certain I became that it was a believable claim, although I will admit that when I read that the body had been dumped at sea I had my first verbal thought, which was “How convenient.” I’m a skeptic by nature. I guess it just takes time to sink in when the news is big; further reflection elevated the probability of the truth status of this news to high. OK, look, I hadn’t had any coffee that early in the morning and, in retrospect, it probably would have helped things along. The news started to sink in when I got into the shower.

ObL is dead. Well, good.


Surprisingly, that’s all it’s amounted to for me, in terms of the emotional resonance it’s had on me. Not triumphalism, not jubilation, not even satisfaction. Pity, that; I’d hoped to get more mileage out of it. Granted, I’m not one for celebrations in general, but I’ve gotten more jollies out of finding a stray sawbuck on the sidewalk. I’m not sure why. I still feel anger and sadness at 9/11 when I think about the horror of that day, and I still feel the hot anger and bloodlust well up when I think about the jihadists and their evildoings. I don’t know and I’m not going to dwell on it because it’s not important. ObL is dead and that’s a good thing, even if that’s all there is to it for me.

Kudos to our combined intelligence and military which carried out the mission, with well-deserved accolades to follow. Surely the kill-team need never buy their own drinks again. Kudos to the Obama Administration for following through with the pursuit and having the cojones to execute when the opportunity was established. Really, you have to hand it to POTUS Obama: candidate Obama said he would go into Pakistan to get high-value targets, and, by Crom, he has. He’s long-since stepped up the missile attacks inside of Pakistan, and with this mission he’s ordered a boots-on-the-ground assassination of a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, highest value target. May the Cambodianization of Pakistan continue until we’ve reached a satisfactory outcome.

There’s snark and criticism to be had at the expense of the Obama Administration, yes, but it’s mostly persnickety. I will add the following thoughts:

– Assassination mission against ObL, not “kill or capture”: good. The potential for intelligence gleaned from interrogation has little promise in this case. Let’s face it: there’s nothing we could offer to coax it out, and this administration would probably not extract it by force. The fiasco of trying to apply the due process of a civil prosecution which we’ve already seen with the Gitmo detainees would go to 11 for ObL; better to avoid it altogether.

– Burial at sea: good. For exactly the reasons given for doing it, it’s good. Granted, my first impulse was far more excessive even than Glenn Beck’s (“wrapped in bacon”), so much so that I will not sully this blog with my dark and profane fantasies, but I’ve reconsidered the matter and the disposal of the corpse as it was done was the correct strategic decision, IMHO.

– The ever-changing details of the mission: sadly, it’s to be expected. I’ve come to the point where I note with a mental “Asterisk of Doubt” all information we get in the opening days of crisis. Even seemingly unmistakable chunks of a story can later turn out to be altogether wrong.

– Not releasing the ObL kill-photo: my loss. I’d like to add it to my collection, as a trophy. At any rate, the era of photographic “proof” has passed for this kind of thing, as everybody knows that, given enough time and a motivated forger with good photoshop chops, one can fake such a thing. It reminds me of a podcast to which I’d listened of an event at the Heritage Foundation, “The Role of Psychological Operations in Strategic Communications” in which one of the speakers describes talking to Afghan villagers after 9/11 and how they didn’t believe it happened, even after being shown video. Oh, they knew about airplanes, sure, because airplanes flew over the skies of Afghanistan, but skyscrapers? Why, everyone knows you can’t build a building that high! They were convinced it was some kind of Hollywood trickery. At any rate, there is an accounting to be made amongst the Leftists who oppose the release of the ObL death-photo yet clamored for the release of Abu Ghraib photos – another time, surely.

Not surprisingly, there’s a chorus from Liberals that the death of ObL means we should get out of Afghanistan. As if that was ever the point. Well, I’ll give the hippy-dippy peaceniks credit for consistency on this: when things go well, they see that as a reason we can finally leave, and when things don’t go well, they use that as an argument for why we should leave. They did that for Iraq just as they’re now doing it for Afghanistan; it’s sort-of an unfalsifiable assertion in that regard.

This is why it’s important for the Obama Administration to make it clear that our fight wasn’t just against Al Qaeda, but rather it is against the jihadists who seek to destroy the West and subjugate the world under Sharia Law. Sadly, of course, he won’t do any such thing, as neither he nor Democrats in general seem to believe any such thing.

At the very least there must be a dear price to be paid by Pakistan for their complicity and aid to Al Qaeda, and the jihidists who fight us and our Allies in Afghanistan and India and elsewhere. Perhaps Obama has the temerity to cut off aid; I suppose it possible he might more closely ally the U.S. with India. I’m ready to be pleasantly surprised – but not hopeful.