Shirley, You Can’t Be Syrias

Ok, now that I’ve gotten over the juvenile urge to tip my hat to the disaster movie spoof “Airplane”, let’s break down this Syria thing.

Humanitarian Intervention

Let’s get this one out of the way immediately. Please don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining. The folks killed by chemical weapons are a drop in the bucket compared to the total number of folks killed in Syria in the past two years. Where was our humanitarian urge for the past two years?

Basically our policy has been “you can keep killing your people by the hundreds so long as you don’t do it in a way we deem too nasty.” If that is humanitarianism then it defies logic. But then the entire global sanction against chemical weapons makes no real sense. Either we condemn countries for senseless slaughter or we don’t.

Punishment

A limited targeted strike against Bashar al-Assad will punish him for killing people in a really nasty way (as opposed to the nicer ways to kill people). Really? We are going to kill innocent people while punishing Assad. Why don’t we send in a mercenary to kill Assad? Isn’t that the real punishment we want to deliver? Assad is dealing with a civil war. He is managing daily chaos whether we like his methods or not. Do we really think a slap on the wrist will really keep him up at night? Please, we’ll be a minor distraction. Unless of course we sign up for …

Scope Creep

Obama said “Assad must go”. Assad’s natural response is “who’s gonna make me? You and what army?” And in steps John McCain and his merry band of war mongers who never saw a war they didn’t like. That combined with Obama’s secret delight at defying the wimpy liberal stereotype almost guarantees “boots on the ground” despite the President’s claims to the contrary.

This brings us to another totally baffling side of this story …

The Element of Surprise

As in, there is none. I find it profoundly embarrassing that we are having a public discussion about how big a badass we are going to be. I’m not alone in this. Retired Major General Robert Scales writes in the Washington Post

So far, at least, this path to war violates every principle of war, including the element of surprise, achieving mass and having a clearly defined and obtainable objective.

My only solace is we are not alone in our public hand wringing as Great Britain has already made a spectacle of itself with Parliament telling David Cameron “bloody hell no!”

How ’bout Minding Our Own Business?

Remember back in 1963 when we turned fire hoses and dogs on innocent Americans including minors? Remember how Khrushchev sent ships to our Southern shores and warned Kennedy that if we didn’t stop abusing our own people he would attack the US?

Me neither. In fact when Khrushchev had the balls to put missiles in Cuba we threw a hissy fit that brought us to the brink of nuclear war. So where do we get off putting our ships within striking distance of Syria when they have presented no direct threat to us? How might this story evolve if Assad said “Barack, you’ve got 48 hours to get your ships away from my country or I’ll blow them out of the water.”

He won’t do that because he and everyone else has gotten used to America patrolling the globe as the self-righteous guardian of all that is decent and good. It’s one reason why a handful of nations hate our guts.

To me with each passing day this Syria thing becomes a no-brainer. It’s way too late to play humanitarian; we can’t really punish Assad without overcommitting; we look incompetent and ham-fisted in our public debate about what should be confidential military strategy; and finally, a sovereign country’s civil war is none of our business no matter how nasty it gets.

A no from Congress will humiliate Obama. Tough. There is no reason for us to lose a single American life to protect the street cred of a President.

Respectfully,
Rutherford.

Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right

When it comes to Libya, you can look on either side of the political ping-pong table and find total nonsense. To my left is Senator John Kerry who proved he believes in fairy tales when he appeared on “Meet the Press” this past Sunday.

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John, I hate to let you in on this but when you drop bombs on a country, you are at war with them. To say otherwise makes you look like a fool. To suggest that we can finish this mission with Gaddafi still in power makes you look sillier still. The threat to the Libyan rebels is Gaddafi. To remove the threat, you must remove Gaddafi, and unlike other examples of diplomatic measures pushing a despot out, here we have a bona fide madman. He is not going anywhere without a strong push. Either Kerry lives in a fantasy land or he is lying to me. I don’t like either possibility.

To my right is Senator Lindsay Graham. He appeared on “Fox News Sunday” and uttered his own brand of inanity.

Lindsay, this is not about who has the biggest dick. So France was out in front of us on this Libyan attack. So what? We didn’t play cowboy this time and we actually waited for someone else to push the agenda before we jumped in. Imagine that? We actually attempted to join a coalition instead of calling all the shots. No shame in that Lindsay if you’re really interested in the end game of saving lives. But no, Lindsay is more interested in our pumping our chest out and being the big bad leader of the free world.

But then I can almost forgive Kerry and Graham because our motives in this Libyan fiasco are as clear as pea soup. Clearly the humanitarian motives are suspect. We’ve got government snipers shooting citizens of Yemen in the head. We’re “appealing” to Yemen’s conscience. Not a bomb being dropped there. Pure bull. We are in Libya only to maintain a no fly zone. More bull. You don’t need to bomb Gaddafi’s compound to maintain a no fly zone. And the whole notion that we’re not leading (Graham’s big gripe) is itself a farce. We are leading the effort and it is not at all obvious to whom we will turn leadership over, in the next days — not weeks — as Obama has promised.

The fact is we’re being lied to folks. Yet I suspect many of the players don’t even know they’re lying. They buy their own malarkey. Whether it’s folks on the left or the right, Congress or the President, State or Pentagon, it’s a bunch of clowns and jokers.

Frankly, I’m filled with bipartisan disgust.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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Hot in Herre — Obama Video Address: August 29, 2009

When Nelly sang “Hot in Herre”, he wasn’t talking about the weather but this week, President Obama was. In this week’s video address, Obama addresses his renewed commitment to emergency preparedness as we approach the fourth anniversary of hurricane Katrina.

I distinctly remember being on vacation in a hotel room in 2005 watching a grown man cry on TV as he pleaded to the government for help down in New Orleans. Of course, we all remember then President Bush’s accolade “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job” to his incompetent head of FEMA, Michael Brown. One of Obama’s campaign pledges was effective government in times of crisis and it is good to see him reinforcing this in this week’s message.

Of course, when we talk about the weather, we can’t skip the topic of “global warming” or perhaps the more accurate term “climate change”. That so many are still climate change skeptics is truly frightening for our nation. In Monday’s “Huffington Post”, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry makes a clear and chilling case for the impending crisis.

Facts, as John Adams said, are stubborn things. Here are a few you need to know: Atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels have risen 38% in the industrial era, from 280 to 385 parts per million (ppm). Scientists have warned that anything above 450 ppm — a warming of 2 degrees Celsius — will result in an unacceptable risk of catastrophic climate change.

The truth is that the threat we face is not an abstract concern for the future. It is already upon us and its effects are being felt worldwide, right now. Scientists project that the Arctic will be ice-free in the summer of 2013. Not in 2050, but four years from now. — via John Kerry: We Can’t Ignore the Security Threat from Climate Change.

Kerry goes on to say that this ecological deterioration is not only a biological threat but a security threat as well. Groups like al-Qaeda will use any weakness to attack our country and an ecological destabilization could be just the opening they need to strike us again.

There are those who stubbornly call climate change much ado about nothing. As Kerry points out, the memo “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” was viewed similarly and we see how that ended up. This is definitely an instance where “better safe than sorry” is the best way to go.

And now the President of the United States of America:

Afghanistan — A Different Kind of Heat

I kind of thought hell would freeze over before I found myself agreeing with conservative pundit George Will but he has hit the right note where Afghanistan is concerned. In Tuesday’s Washington Post, he writes:

Even though violence exploded across Iraq after, and partly because of, three elections, Afghanistan’s recent elections were called “crucial.” To what? They came, they went, they altered no fundamentals, all of which militate against American “success,” whatever that might mean. Creation of an effective central government? Afghanistan has never had one. U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry hopes for a “renewal of trust” of the Afghan people in the government, but the Economist describes President Hamid Karzai’s government — his vice presidential running mate is a drug trafficker — as so “inept, corrupt and predatory” that people sometimes yearn for restoration of the warlords, “who were less venal and less brutal than Mr. Karzai’s lot.”

Mullen speaks of combating Afghanistan’s “culture of poverty.” But that took decades in just a few square miles of the South Bronx. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, thinks jobs programs and local government services might entice many “accidental guerrillas” to leave the Taliban. But before launching New Deal 2.0 in Afghanistan, the Obama administration should ask itself: If U.S. forces are there to prevent reestablishment of al-Qaeda bases — evidently there are none now — must there be nation-building invasions of Somalia, Yemen and other sovereignty vacuums?

via George F. Will – Time for the U.S. to Get Out of Afghanistan – washingtonpost.com.

I’ve said before in the comments section of this blog that I’m all for stopping al-Qaeda but lately there is talk of nation building in Afghanistan and Will points out with unusual humility and all nationalistic pride put aside, that we still have nation building to do in our own country (can you spell Katrina?). There has been talk of the right war and the wrong war. The typical construct is that Iraq was the wrong war, Afghanistan is the right one. But Afghanistan was the right war. Time changes everything. We squandered our riches on Iraq. We no longer have the money to pour into Afghanistan and at this point in time we’ve reached the point of diminishing returns. al-Qaeda has been pushed into the Afghan-Pakistan border so, as Will points out, bringing the fight to al-Qaeda in Afghanistan is no longer critical. With Afghanistan’s tribal structure, bringing democracy there is next to impossible. For that matter, we are not even nation building in a grateful nation. As I pointed out in a May article, Hamid Karzai is very quick to criticize American military strategy in his country, not realizing our presence there has been a substitute for his incompetent leadership.

Our priority should be working with Pakistan to ensure that neither al-Qaeda nor any other terrorist organization gets hold of Pakistan’s nukes. As for Afghanistan being another Vietnam, no, it is worse than that. In Vietnam we had the bogeyman of communism to fight. The enemy was clear, if over dramatized. The mission, easy to define even if we were nosing into another country’s business. With Afghanistan there is no clear end-game and  no government worth defending. The enemy is elusive and in my opinion better defeated through effective intelligence and selective strikes.

You know the old saying about if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen? Afghanistan has become too hot. It’s time to get out.

A Michele Bachmann Aside (or Should That be Ass-ide?)

The dumber half of the dumb and dumber Bachmann-Palin Overdrive, dropped another brain-turd Monday night when she said:

What we have to do today is make a covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing. This will not pass. We will do whatever it takes.

“This thing” was opposition to health care reform. Is Michele aware that blood brothers prick fingers? Suicide pacts slit wrists. The only explanation can be that in her daily conversation with her Lord, she was instructed to go to any length not to say the word “prick”.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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