Editor’s Note – The author of the following article is James A. Lyons, a U.S. Navy retired admiral, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations. Admiral Lyons is also a Kitchen Cabinet member of Stand Up America US.
The fallout from foreign-policy malfeasance and nonfeasance
The U.S. abandons ‘peace through strength’ and the globe spins in turmoil
With the weakest national security team since World War II, it is no wonder that both our foreign- and national-security policies lack coherence and direction. The administration’s faculty-lounge logic that in the 21st century, “diplomacy” will substitute for military solutions to international crisis, overlooks or chooses to ignore a key factor: recognized military power that provides the essential underpinnings to successful diplomacy. It is called “peace through strength.”
How did we get to the rudderless position we are in today? Clearly, a series of policy mistakes have been made. It should be remembered that it was President Carter’s misguided policies that gave rise to Islamic resurgence by undercutting our key ally, the Shah of Iran, by fostering the return of the Islamic zealot Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini with his 7th-century mentality. Furthermore, much like President Obama today, he oversaw a deliberate drawdown of our military forces and capabilities.
Regrettably, each successive administration, be it Democrat or Republican, has also contributed to the chaotic situation we now face in the Middle East by essentially ignoring the 34 years of acts of war by Iran against the United States. These have included the takeover of our embassy in Iran; the bombing of our embassy and U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut without responding; and the material and training support to the Sept. 11 hijackers, as well as a host of other acts of war that have caused the loss of life of thousands of American military personnel and civilians.
Recently, we have witnessed the Obama administration’s embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has clearly facilitated the advance of the Islamic global agenda. Mr. Obama’s June 2009 Cairo speech was the catalyst for the Arab Spring movement, which evolved under the political direction of the Muslim Brotherhood.
We all know how that has turned out. In the current Israeli-Hamas conflict, it should not be forgotten that Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose creed is to eliminate Israel’s very existence. Clearly, no peace can be achieved as long Hamas remains in control, and the Palestinians continue letting themselves be used to further the agenda of these merchants of hate.
There are some indications that Hamas maybe losing some of its luster. Many hold Hamas responsible for the current Gaza humanitarian crisis. It must be made clear that the only way the Israeli and Egyptian blockade will be lifted and border crossings opened is with the removal of Hamas. There can be no reward for terrorism.
It appears no matter where you look, we have serious global instability. The Middle East essentially is in a total meltdown. Russia continues its aggressive move into Ukraine’s eastern provinces. With China continuing to press its illegal claims in both the South China Sea and East China Sea, the impotence of American leadership is clearly evident. As a result, our allies don’t trust us, and worse, our enemies don’t fear us.
Russia has embarked on an accelerated modernization of both its strategic and conventional forces, while China continues with an unprecedented military expansion of both its strategic and conventional forces. The Obama administration’s response has been to continue with the unilateral disarmament of our military forces This will leave us with the smallest Army since prior to World War II, and the smallest Navy since prior to World War I. Furthermore, our strategic forces have been allowed to atrophy over the past two decades. Our national leadership is deliberately jeopardizing our national security.
The draconian budget cuts to our military under the Obama administration’s sequestration mandate must not only cease immediately, but be reversed to meet these new and dangerous challenges. Such an announcement by the administration would provide a much-needed morale boost to our allies, as well as sending an unmistakable message to our enemies.
Aside from Ukraine, which should be provided the necessary requested military equipment to protect its sovereignty, the most pressing problem facing the Obama administration is the Islamic State’s threat to Kurdistan and what remains of Iraq. This threat must be destroyed before it expands into surrounding countries of Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. The half measures we have taken so far are clearly inadequate.
To protect and support Kurdistan, the only viable ally we have in the region (besides Israel), will require a sustained comprehensive air campaign. To complement the current naval airstrikes and sustain such a campaign, we should establish a forward operating base alert element of F-16 fighters and A-10 close air-support aircraft in Kurdistan, which has one of the longest runways in the world at Irbil International Airport. Further, we should fly in the heavy military equipment that the Kurds have requested, as well as additional anti-tank weapons and ammunition.
The Obama administration’s position that they would only provide support through an all-inclusive Iraqi government was nonsense. Even with widespread support for his former lieutenant, Haider al-Abadi, current Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has refused to accept him as a successor. However, this should be short-lived. While they have endorsed the new prime minister, Iran’s leadership most likely wants to see an inclusive Baghdad government so that Iraqi and U.S. forces will prevent the Islamic State from threatening Iran.
The Islamic State is a barbaric, murderous, evil terrorist group, which must be crushed. However, our involvement should not be as a protector for Iran. Will the Obama administration change its strategy? Whatever plan the administration implements, it must remember that the objectives of the Islamic State, al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Iranian regime are all the same — destroy Israel and the United States. The administration must decide which side it is on.
Editor’s Note – Credibility – the term should be on the tip of everyone’s tongue and the question in everybody’s ears as Obama or anyone speaks in DC, on any subject. There simply is no credibility in the Oval Office and in a lot of offices in Congress.
From Fast & Furious, to the IRS Scandal, to the NSA Scandal, to the “Grenade Walking” follow-on from Fast & Furious, to the complete flip flops on the debt ceiling, to the promises broken and the disastrous failure that was the roll-out on Obamacare – credibility?
Ask the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee as they have to handle people in all the many scandals like Kathleen Sebelius, Lois Lerner, Eric Holder, National Parks Director Jonathan Jarvis, and Hillary Clinton, et al.
Ask the Saudis about credibility, ask the Israelis, ask the Syrian freedom fighters, ask German Chancellor Angela Merkel, ask the Brazilians, ask the French – credibility? Ask MG Vallely who wrote on this very subject many times as well.
This is only a short and incomplete list of the administration’s failures, but first and foremost, ask the families of the lost heroes of Benghazi – CREDIBILITY?
Obama and his entire team, including his sycophants, apologists, and surrogates – zero credibility. How can anyone defend anything the Obama administration has done with a straight face anymore – it defies all credulity. These were the very people who blamed the “shutdown” on Ted Cruz and the Tea Party – again zero credibility, but they are not the only ones to question.
What is worse to many including SUA though are the many establishment Republicans who cried that what Ted Cruz did ruined their plan for recapturing the power in DC, it was the wrong tactic. Their credibility is also suspect now. At least in the House there were many votes to keep the government from partially closing, but establishment folks called Cruz and others names, just as the left did.
The abysmal Obamacare roll-out shows that what Ted Cruz and the Tea Party wanted was correct – to save Americans from this imminent train wreck, one aimed at the American citizenry, and now John McCain wants to run for President again – credibility?
And then there are the democrats who are seeking reelection in 2014 now pushing for exactly what Cruz and the Tea Party wanted – a delay and fairness at a minimum – will we see them flip flop more as Obamacare disintegrates before our eyes as well?
Henninger: Obama’s Credibility Is Melting
Here and abroad, Obama’s partners are concluding they cannot trust him.
The collapse of ObamaCare is the tip of the iceberg for the magical Obama presidency.
From the moment he emerged in the public eye with his 2004 speech at the Democratic Convention and through his astonishing defeat of the Clintons in 2008, Barack Obama’s calling card has been credibility. He speaks, and enough of the world believes to keep his presidency afloat. Or used to.
All of a sudden, from Washington to Riyadh, Barack Obama’s credibility is melting.
Amid the predictable collapse the past week of HealthCare.gov’s too-complex technology, not enough notice was given to Sen. Marco Rubio‘s statement that the chances for success on immigration reform are about dead. Why? Because, said Sen. Rubio, there is “a lack of trust” in the president’s commitments.
“This notion that they’re going to get in a room and negotiate a deal with the president on immigration,” Sen. Rubio said Sunday on Fox News, “is much more difficult to do” after the shutdown negotiations of the past three weeks.
Sen. Rubio said he and other reform participants, such as Idaho’s Rep. Raul Labrador, are afraid that if they cut an immigration deal with the White House—say, offering a path to citizenship in return for strong enforcement of any new law—Mr. Obama will desert them by reneging on the enforcement.
When belief in the average politician’s word diminishes, the political world marks him down and moves away. With the president of the United States, especially one in his second term, the costs of the credibility markdown become immeasurably greater. Ask the Saudis.
Last weekend the diplomatic world was agog at the refusal of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah to accept a seat on the U.N. Security Council. Global disbelief gave way fast to clear understanding: The Saudis have decided that the United States is no longer a reliable partner in Middle Eastern affairs.
The Saudi king, who supported Syria’s anti-Assad rebels early, before Islamic jihadists polluted the coalition, watched Mr. Obama’s red line over Assad’s use of chemical weapons disappear into an about-face deal with Vladimir Putin. The next time King Abdullah looked up, Mr. Obama was hanging the Saudis out to dry yet again by phoning up Iran’s President Hasan Rouhani, Assad’s primary banker and armorer, to chase a deal on nuclear weapons. Within days, Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief, Prince Bandar, let it be known that the Saudis intend to distance themselves from the U.S.
What is at issue here is not some sacred moral value, such as “In God We Trust.” Domestic politics or the affairs of nations are not an avocation for angels. But the coin of this imperfect realm is credibility. Sydney Greenstreet’s Kasper Gutman explained the terms of trade in “The Maltese Falcon”: “I must tell you what I know, but you won’t tell me what you know. That is hardly equitable, sir. I don’t think we can do business along those lines.”
Bluntly, Mr. Obama’s partners are concluding that they cannot do business with him. They don’t trust him. Whether it’s the Saudis, the Syrian rebels, the French, the Iraqis, the unpivoted Asians or the congressional Republicans, they’ve all had their fill of coming up on the short end with so mercurial a U.S. president. And when that happens, the world’s important business doesn’t get done. It sits in a dangerous and volatile vacuum.
The next major political event in Washington is the negotiation over spending, entitlements and taxes between House budget chairman Paul Ryan and his Senate partner, Patty Murray. The bad air over this effort is the same as that Marco Rubio says is choking immigration reform: the fear that Mr. Obama will urge the process forward in public and then blow up any Ryan-Murray agreement at the 11th hour with deal-killing demands for greater tax revenue.
Then there is Mr. Obama’s bond with the American people, which is diminishing with the failed rollout of the Affordable Care Act. ObamaCare is the central processing unit of the Obama presidency’s belief system. Now the believers are wondering why the administration suppressed knowledge of the huge program’s problems when hundreds of tech workers for the project had to know this mess would happen Oct. 1.
Rather than level with the public, the government’s most senior health-care official, Kathleen Sebelius, spent days spewing ludicrous and incredible happy talk about the failure, while refusing to provide basic information about its cause.
Voters don’t normally accord politicians unworldly levels of belief, but it has been Barack Obama’s gift to transform mere support into victorious credulousness. Now that is crumbling, at great cost. If here and abroad, politicians, the public and the press conclude that Mr. Obama can’t play it straight, his second-term accomplishments will lie only in doing business with the world’s most cynical, untrustworthy partners. The American people are the ones who will end up on the short end of those deals.
It is a depressing characteristic of government today to loudly enact legislation and impose regulations of little utility, while neglecting to address the root causes of truly serious problems. We do not know to what degree a Sandy Hook or a Columbine is caused by improperly treated mental illness, violent video games, Hollywood’s saturation of the popular culture with graphic mayhem — or access, by hook or by crook, to semi-automatic “assault” rifles. But we do know that the latter play almost no role in Chicago’s horrific annual tally of 500 murders — and account for less than 1 percent of the gun-related deaths in the United States each year. Yet we also confess that taking on Hollywood, the video-game industry, or the mental-health establishment would be far more acrimonious and politically risky than demonizing the National Rifle Association.
In the case of big-city murdering, serious talk about the culture of gangs and the causes of the pathology of thousands of minority males, who are vastly overrepresented as both victims and perpetrators of gun violence, is a no-win proposition, given the politically correct climate and the existential issues involved. Can one imagine any politician decrying the violent lyrics of rap music, the culture of dependency on government, or the absence of stiff incarceration for the use of a gun during a crime with the same zeal that he has shown in going after the NRA?
The result of such selective and easy morality is that we are now engaging in banning certain types of guns with little understanding of how they work. Take your grandfather’s semi-automatic .22 varmint gun, beef up the round a bit, add some scary-looking black plastic M-16-like adornments, and you now have a demonic “assault rifle.” The gun debate will cause needless divisions and acrimony, but in no measurable way will it either prevent another Sandy Hook or reduce the yearly slaughter of young males in our cities. When the next Columbine occurs — with the perpetrators using pump shotguns, or multiple ten-shot magazines, or sticks of dynamite — we will pat ourselves on the back and say it would have been worse had an “assault rifle” been used. And if the latter is employed, it will probably not have been legally acquired and more likely than not will be used by someone long recognized as unhinged.
After all the fighting over the fiscal cliff, and all the demagoguery over the rich paying their fair share, we have achieved almost nothing tangible in terms of reducing the debt. The president offered no budget freeze, no curtailment of entitlement costs, no adjustments in age or other conditions of eligibility — nothing at all that would have addressed the astronomical rate at which the government has been spending since 2009. Obama is therapist-in-chief, and he avoids any tragic admission that there are sometimes just a bad choice and a worse one — in this case, between cutting back and going broke.
We used to talk of going back to the “Clinton tax rates” — a campaign sound bite that of course meant that we most certainly would not increase the once-hated but now-popular Bush rates on the 99 percent, much less return to Clinton-era spending levels. In other words, we taxed the 1 percent more, felt great about it, declared success, and now still face financial Armageddon — terrified to tell the 99 percent that either their taxes must go way up, or their entitlements must go way down, or more likely both. What we have failed to do would solve the problem and cause a national outcry; what we have actually done is as widely popular as it will do nothing.
Note that the war is not between the easily caricatured 1 percent, who pay almost 40 percent of aggregate federal income taxes, and the put-upon 99 percent; rather, it is a far more messy fight between the struggling 53 percent who pay income tax and mostly do not receive food stamps, unemployment insurance, or disability coverage, and the 47 percent who do not pay income tax and are more likely to receive state and federal assistance.
Foreign Wars and Policy
Keeping small residual forces in Iraq and Afghanistan might well have allowed the provisional consensual governments in those two countries to remain viable and not be transmogrified into tyrannies. To do so might have ensured that the terrible cost in American blood and treasure over the last decade at least had offered Afghans and Iraqis — and the world — something better than the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. Yet to keep small bases there would also have angered American voters, sick of both wars and of the seeming ingratitude of those we did so much to help.
In contrast, packing up and going home, as we have from Iraq and will from Afghanistan, offers instant sound bites — something like “ending perpetual wars.” When the videos pop up of Taliban lynchings or a civil war in Iraq — remember the Kurds in 1991 and the Vietnamese in 1975 — we can shrug that this was the inevitable wages of President Bush’s sins, not something that President Obama could have prevented.
No one knows how to break the cycle of Middle East violence, much less how to address the tribalism, statism, lack of transparency and freedom, gender apartheid, religious fundamentalism, and intolerance so ubiquitous in the Arab world and so much at the heart of its wide-scale poverty and violence. To attempt any such discussion would be caricatured as neo-colonialist, imperialist, racist, naïve, or culturally ignorant.
Iraq and Afghanistan have been too costly to serve as models; Libya is now a hushed-up embarrassment; our positions have changed so much on Syria that there now are no positions; and Mohamed Morsi’s achievement in Egypt will have been to create nostalgia for the authoritarian Hosni Mubarak. No need to touch on the events in Algeria. The French, alone, are leading from the front in trying to save Mali from Islamists. Who would wish to wade into these morasses, or even talk about them with any degree of honesty?
It is far easier to focus on the Israelis: They are few. They have not until recently had oil or gas; the world hates them; and their government is lawful and Western. The result is that demonizing Mr. Netanyahu as the nexus of Middle East violence carries no risks, and offers no solutions, and therefore is preferable to the dangers of candidly crafting a policy to attempt to deal with the pathologies of the modern Arab world. If it is a question of attempting to deal fairly with Netanyahu or declaring jihad a personal spiritual journey, the latter wins every time.
Immigration and the Illegals
Nowhere is tokenism more manifest than in the debate over illegal immigration. No one knows whether there are 11 or 18 million illegal immigrants in the United States. It is taboo to suggest that the nearly $50 billion sent annually to Latin America from the US is largely from illegal immigrants, or that the remittances increase the likelihood that these foreign nationals must seek public assistance here, which drains local and state economies. Nor would any sane person publicly associate illegal immigration with the alarming DUI statistics in California or point out that it contributes to the record number of hit-and-run accidents in Los Angeles County.
Instead we talk grandly of “comprehensive immigration reform” and the “Dream Act,” but both opponents and supporters avoid the subsequent details like the plague. Everyone knows that there are millions of hard-working Latin American immigrants, who steer clear of public assistance and crime, have worked for years in the US, and deserve some sort of pathway to citizenship — contingent upon English proficiency, a trial period of legal residence, and a small fine for having broken the law in coming here illegally.
But we also dare not speak the truth about the hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens, perhaps a million or more, who are unemployed and on public assistance, who have been convicted of a crime, or who have just recently arrived. We know that unenforced laws erode respect for jurisprudence, and that simply granting open access to Latin Americans shorts those from elsewhere who wait lawfully for their turn and who may in fact have capital, education, and expertise that would allow them to contribute to the US far more quickly.
Given that mess, we prefer the banality of “a grand bargain,” without acknowledgment that the Latino elite community would hardly be willing, as the price of a pathway for millions, to agree to the deportation of hundreds of thousands of illegals who are unemployed, have criminal records, or have just arrived — much less to sign off on closing the border, securing it, and making legal immigration ethnically blind, contingent on skills and education, and roughly equal in its treatment of all applicants. So we blather on.
There are two general types of leaders: the vast majority who talk in banalities while they offer tokens in lieu of solutions, and the rare tragic statesmen like Lincoln and Churchill who tell the truth, endure odium in their lifetime, find solutions, and do not live to see the full appreciation of their courage.
Unfortunately, we live in a low era of tokenism and banality.
In the post-9/11 era, it’s fair to say we have mainly followed a “neoconservative” foreign policy. This policy has been based on the rock-solid belief that there exist universal values that all peoples everywhere share and indeed yearn for if they don’t already enjoy them. Our neoconservative foreign policy, then – our war-fighting policy, too – has been a matter of spreading such universal values.
This has been a disaster. Think of nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan — policies predicated on this denial of the existence of cultural difference. Certainly in this decade since 9/11 we should have learned that cultures, the West and Islam, namely, are different and that such universal-ism is a fantasy. The West enshrines the liberty of the individual, while Islam, like other totalitarian systems, enforces a collective will. Still, to this day, we don’t permit this simple reality to be discussed let alone reflected in any meaningful policy way.
The main dissent to neoconservative foreign policy on the Right comes from the libertarian point of view, most popularly expressed by Ron Paul – and not too dissimilarly expressed by President Obama’s nominee for Defense Secretary, Sen. Chuck Hagel. This is the policy of “Come Home, America.”
I, too, subscribe to coming home, America, but with a difference. What I hear from our libertarian friends is that the way to fill the resulting vacuum is with a foreign policy that seeks negotiation and accommodation with Islam. Such a policy, exactly like that of the neo-conservatives, fails to take into account Islamic realities that make such negotiations worse than fruitless, and such accommodations quite dangerous to our liberty.
So, what should a conservative foreign policy that is neither neoconservative nor libertarian look like?
To formulate a conservative alternative, I am starting with love of country. This is not to suggest that any of the other competing voices or views do not represent love of country. But I think it’s essential to start building a new foreign policy from the desire to live by and protect the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
It’s really that simple. My closest allies in the world would be those with compatible philosophical views — what cousins we still have in the Western democracies, Israel, nations fighting jihad such as India. Not Pakistan, and not Saudi Arabia. My conservative foreign policy would therefore require energy independence, beginning immediately with vigorous exploitation of our ingenuity and energy resources. It would also require leaving the United Nations, where an immoral charade of nearly seventy years has permitted rule-of-law democracies to vie with thuggish dictatorships in a rigged wheel that elevates the dictatorships and tarnishes the democracies.
It does nothing for world peace to invite dictators to preen on the world stage in midtown Manhattan. It does nothing for world peace to invite Iran’s Ahmadinejad — or Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah for that matter, or the rest of the OIC nations – into the United States to fulminate against free speech, Israel and other targets of jihad. Better to meet with an international organization of democracies, supporting each other as natural allies – which, of course, would include support for Israel from the U.S. and all other democratic nations facing jihadist aggression as the clock ticks on a nuclear Iran.
But I believe a conservative foreign policy would not, first and foremost, be global in scope or application, but rather designed with the interests of the American people in mind. I have always found it extremely disturbing to listen to US generals such as Gen. Stanley McChrystal discuss “the Afghan people” as the supreme reason for our fighting the war in Afghanistan. We should be fighting for the American people. And who are they again? It’s very simple: those people blessed to be citizens in this land of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which protects liberty. By default — and this is very important — our rivals, our opponents, and our enemies become those who are hostile to, or try to deprive us of those same liberties, such as freedom of speech.
With these admittedly simple truths in mind it should become easy to perceive how far we have strayed from our small ‘r’ republican values in world affairs. Under George W. Bush we began negotiating with terrorists — al Qaeda insurgents in Iraq; at home, we flouted our own First Amendment as the government sought to create lexicons to discuss Islam without using the terminology of Islam. We created and defended sharia-supreme constitutions in Iraq and Afghanistan. And that was just the beginning. We now go so far as to blame US troops for their own murders as infidels by their Muslim partners.
I don’t know how else to characterize a recent draft of a new Army handbook which cites “ignorance of, or lack of empathy for Muslim and/or Afghan cultural norms” as a cause of so-called insider attacks. Such religious and/or tribalistic norms, it should be noted, include anything from child rape to misogynistic repression to cruelty to dogs. These are “norms” we better hope young Americans in uniform never become empathetic toward.
Their leaders, however, are already lost. In an endless effort to “win” Islamic hearts and minds they have lost their own. By the time “Arab Spring” came along, the US had switched sides altogether. Uncle Sam joined the jihad in Libya. It’s true. It didn’t really register and was rarely discussed, but as the dominoes fell across the Middle East, we found ourselves supporting al Qaeda, other jihadists, and sharia-supremacists from Tunisia to Libya to Egypt, increasingly to Syria and elsewhere.
We have now crashed through the traces of anything resembling an American foreign policy based in love of country.
How else to explain the Wikileaks record that shows Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussing, matter-of-factly, Saudi, Kuwaiti, UAE, Pakistani, Qatari financial support for jihadists everywhere even as the US government (and business) clings to the Big Lie that these totalitarian nations are allies in counter-terrorism?
Or the Wikileaks record of our late Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, back in 2008 trying to think through a way to work with jihadists who might well have just returned from killing Americans in Iraq?
How else to explain the barely remarked upon shipment this month of F-16s to the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohammed Morsi?
How else to explain Hillary Clinton’s working hand in glove with the Islamic bloc to criminalize blasphemy – criticism of Islam – via the “Istanbul Process” and promising to arrest and prosecute a video-makerin retribution for the terror attacks on the US compound in Benghazi?
And why — why — did the Obama administration lie for two weeks to the effect that lawfully protected free speech in America had caused the terrorist attack in Benghazi?
Where is our America of the First Amendment when the President of United States tells the UN General Assembly that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam”?
And why didn’t Mitt Romney ask any of these questions? (That’s another story.)
Perhaps worst of all of these things is hearing sincere, brave Americans in uniform tell reporters they are fighting — nation-building, mentoring, etc. — abroad to protect our liberties at home. Is that true? If it ever was true, did it stay true? Do their sacrifices really protect liberty at home? Do our leaders ever ask themselves these questions?
There has been what we might think of as Big Bang at the leadership level in which American interests have been blown to smithereens.
So how do we put them together for a new century? Where does a conservative foreign policy begin? All foreign policy begins at the border, and clearly our policy at the border shows no love of country. Our borders, even more than a decade after 9/11, are still open. We have plenty of National Guard units who could help, but they are patrolling roads and borders in Afghanistan — and losing life and limbs to IEDs while they’re at it. Meanwhile, all manner of hostile actors and dangerous materiel, illegals aliens, slip across US borders. Does that make sense? Not with love of country in mind.
Regarding the more bureaucratic aspect of border security, that first line of our foreign policy, we have an immigration system that legally opens our borders to tens of thousands of people every year from cultures that inculcate an aversion or even hostility to the rights and responsibilities inherent to the American people, we, citizens guided by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For example, Pew polling last year told us that 75 percent of Hispanics (the ethnic group, of course, that constitutes the largest bloc of immigrants, illegal, legal and perhaps soon-to-be-amnestied) want bigger government with more services, while 41 percent of the American people overall wanted the same. This sentiment bodes ill for smaller, limited government — Constitutional government — at the voting box in the future, as it did in the last election.
The teachings of Islamic law, which Muslims hold supreme above all other law, clash directly with Article 6 of the US Constitution, which holds that the US Constitution shall be the supreme law of the land. And that is a break point even without mentioning the many laws and beliefs of Islam that are directly at odds with our laws and liberties. Given that we are a democratic country, and that demographics become democratic destiny, do these immigration policies make sense? Not with love of country in mind.
But there’s another problem. One of the strangest phenomena of the past presidential campaign was the extent to which foreign policy of any kind went unaddressed even though we had just ended one disastrous war in Iraq, and were in the midst of another such disastrous war in Afghanistan, making headlines all summer long for so-called “insider” killings — the murders “inside the wire” of Westerners, mainly Americans, by their Afghan “partners.” Neither candidate running for commander-in-chief ever addressed the issue, which, in itself, is shameful. But it also illustrates the unbroken nature of the official silence.
I wonder how many people here remember that on Dec. 31, 2011, Iraq’s Nouri al-Maliki declared a national holiday to celebrate the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. He wasn’t saying thank you. The prime minister, as the AP reported, was “trying to credit Iraqis with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and made no mention of the role played by U.S. forces.”
It was all just a dream, just a trillion-dollar mirage. Who doesn’t believe our efforts in Afghanistan will one day soon be just as much a gigantic non-event?
I noted at the time that this Iraqi silence suited the American political classes just fine. Our withdrawal after more than 8 years of fighting prompted no such questions as: “What was that all about?” or, “What went wrong in Iraq?” Or even: “Did something go wrong in Iraq?” And never: “Is it really a good idea to replicate the nation-building counterinsurgency of Iraq in Afghanistan”? Any scant discussion during the Republican primaries was over by the time of the general campaign between President Obama and Mitt Romney. There was no talk of foreign policy, period. At the final “foreign policy” debate between the two candidates, Romney spent most of the time agreeing with Obama.
Perhaps this lack of debate is not surprising, given the continuity between Republican and Democratic White Houses in prosecuting these wars. Indeed, there is a continuum of sorts to be seen extending from 9/11 to “Arab Spring,” which, not incidentally, former President Bush has openly applauded as a phase in his so-called freedom agenda.
But sharia-supreme constitutions — exactly what we fostered and spent blood and treasure to defend in Iraq and Afghanistan and now see emerging in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere — are not “free.” Not in the Western understanding of “freedom.” The Islamic understanding is totally different — sometimes defined as “perfect enslavement to Allah,” which surely is not what neoconservative “universalists” or libertarians have in mind. It is exactly such break-points of culture-clash, these glossed-over flaws in our policy-making, that we must begin to confront if we are to work our way to a more successful policy.
Some of the obstacles include:
A bifurcated culture. Our military and society-at-large exist separately. Military culture has become both professional and self-perpetuating, with children of military parents joining the service, creating an excellent but almost foreign-legion-like force. Surely a a national draft would seem to be the democratic corrective to endless war – but I hesitate to advocate increased federal powers. I would much prefer to see serious and engaged Congressional oversight – better-functioning checks and balances – in our foreign policy. Obama was able to run rough-shod over Congress regarding Libya, for example. Congress has the power of the purse to defund a president running amok, and they should be encouraged to do so. It is also time to end the cult of the general on Capitol Hill, which permitted losing military strategies to go unquestioned in hearings.
Too much secrecy and presidential fiat in foreign-policy-making. Since FDR’s time, American foreign policy has been more or less conducted by the White House, at the historical expense of both traditional treaty-making and senatorial oversight. This, too, must change to bring about a more conservative foreign policy. Our mindset as citizens, however, has become quite abject on this point. Note the general reaction to the vast majority of Wikileaks cables, which are of the lowest classification — “classified” or “confidential.” (Only a small slice was “secret” and I haven’t yet found evidence of real damage from them.) There was and is a widespread sense that We, the People, shouldn’t be allowed to see this evidence of instances of lying, ineptitude and concession by our public servants. A free people, I submit, would instead feel outrage.
Islam. The main obstacle to natural debate about US foreign policy is we’re even more uncomfortable discussing Islam than ever. Since so much foreign policy in our time deals with the Islamic world, we must get over such childishness.
While we dither in embarrassed silence, the world is changing and our liberties are shrinking. Before it is too late — and I hope it still is not too late — we need to consider seriously the notion that the war that has fallen to our generation is not the war we have been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and perhaps Syria and Mali. It certainly isn’t the war for “hearts and “minds in the Islamic world, as our presidents and generals have been telling us since 9/11. It is not our mission or our place to bring Western-style liberty to the world Islam.
It is, however, up to us to save liberty at home — for love of country. The war we must gear up to fight to save our country and protect its Constitution and the Bill of Rights is the war against sharia. Not in the Islamic world but here in America and across the wider West. So, yes, I reject the neoconservative foreign policy and agree with the libertarians that it is time to come home — to leave Afghanistan as soon and as completely as possible, blowing up what we can’t take with us, as a former Green Beret friend has suggested to me, but armed with knowledge that the most important fight is still ahead. Liberty is imperiled, right in our own backyard.
The M.A.S.T. Project – (Military Advisory and Strategy Team)
Stand Up America and a great many other constitutional conservative organizations are simply appalled by the lack of understanding about the most important issue facing the nation today – the fact that the economy and US foreign policy are integrally tied. To many people, the two issues are separate from each other and need to be dealt with independently; quite possibly, a fatal error.
In this campaign season for the Presidency, these two issues are at the forefront. Last night, the first debate focused upon domestic policies and by all accounts the challenger, Mitt Romney scored a resounding victory. Fortunately, more debates are scheduled to address foreign policy as well. The next Presidential debate is scheduled for October 16th, and like the Vice Presidential debate scheduled for next Thursday, the topic will be domestic and foreign policy.
The fact is, foreign and economic/domestic policy are not mutually exclusive by any means because the failure of one or both means the demise of our way of life – our security depends on both equally. Yes we have the most technologically advanced weaponry, employed by the most superior, well-trained troops in quantity and quality, but it is hamstrung by ham-handed foreign policy and politically active Pentagon elites.
Our economy also still leads the world, and how we fare means the success or failure of the world economy, but it too is being hamstrung by ham-handed domestic policy. The two candidates tackled one aspect last night, now, if handled correctly, the candidate who demonstrates a mastery of the integral nature of the two will succeed, not just in gathering votes, but more importantly, will correct the course of our ship of state and allow our economy to truly rebound.
The biggest threat to American security is a failed economy, and that failure, when married to the spate of foreign policy and diplomatic failures of the past three plus years means we are on the brink of complete collapse if we stay this course. Our status in the world will have collapsed, and our society will have followed suit.
The differences in philosophy between the candidates are oceans apart. The first of the two means proceeding with the status quo based on “getting your fair share”, from a re-distributive government bent on, at a minimum, equalizing our standing among nations. The second setting a course based on sound advice from people who have the type of experience that marries the two issues, where the nation will regain its necessary standing as the economic engine of the world. A stable environment supported by a state of peace through strength once again.
The question is therefore: do enough people in the electorate understand this? Do our two Presidential candidates understand this? The answer is a resounding no, at least emphatically on the left. The status quo candidate who “fundamentally transformed” our place in the pecking order of nations certainly does not desire America to lead, domestically or internationally. The challenger has demonstrated to the nation in the first debate that he already possesses a mastery of what it takes to revive this great economic engine, but does he have equally good advice and experience with its partner, foreign policy, and a strategic plan that will knit a new fabric of leading the world from the unraveling rag we are now using to clean up the mess?
Each campaign is advised by a slate of “experts”, most derived from two camps. On the left, the Chicago “thug-ocracy” rules, a group advised by a very well entrenched and intertwined core of Marxists, Communists, and Socialists, inextricably entwined with pro-Islamic fundamentalists who rule the day. On the right, we see advice arising from the usual cast of ‘belt-way’ insiders, woefully ignorant, yet arrogant in their understanding of the world stage. Yes they have business bona fides, and previous administration chops, but they lack one thing – mastery of the concept of victory. Of those advising the challenger, is there a true understanding of our disparate cultures? Is there the type of advice from leadership in our military and intelligence forces that not only understands the cultures of the many troubled zones of the world, but also understands the interconnectedness of the many players so artfully plying their cunning ways on the chessboard?
The right strives to identify with the conservatism and leadership demonstrated so well by Ronald Reagan who led our nation into prosperity through the policy of peace through strength. In that period of time there were true commanders and flag officers that knew how to lead and win. They were supported by members of the intelligence trade craft of yore, all successful because they were not constrained by lawyers and self-serving politicians. These men and women still thrive today, yet few listen – a fatal error compounded.
To offset these fatal errors, SUA proposes an advisory policy group called the MAST Project (Military Advisory and Strategy Team). This is a group of people who have demonstrated mastery for the Battle for America; understand the threat of radical Islam the failed Nation Building strategy under COIN, the forward strategy of Joint Strike Force Operations (The “Lily Pad” Strategy), and the experience in analyzing information and real-time intelligence and producing actionable strategies, tactics and foreign policy.
These people offer their advice and counsel at this most critical stage in American history. These people are from, or learned from the “Greatest Generation” and are here once again to save this great country.
These people are people of wisdom, experience, common sense, vibrancy, awareness, and are well-versed and supported by networks of intelligence professionals, economic titans, and patriotic self-sacrificing experts. Imagine the room populated by the following people and more:
Thomas McInerney (LTG USAF – Ret.)
Paul E. Vallely (MG US Army – Ret.)
Charles C. Jones III (BG USAF – Ret.)
William G. Boykin (LTG US Army – Ret.)
Ambassador John Bolton
Michael V. Hayden (General USAF –Ret., former CIA Director)
Mayor Rudy Giuliani
Andrew C. McCarthy III
A first task of MAST is to suggest the most experienced and the best of the best for Senior Cabinet positions and other key positions of the Romney administration.
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