Loose Canons

Loose Canons

Things Obama Just Won’t Do

By 7.28.14

Watching Fox News on Friday morning, I saw my friend retired Navy Capt. Chuck Nash talking about what we need to do to help resolve the crisis in the Ukraine. What he said made a lot of sense, but it struck me that we all know that President Obama will do absolutely nothing he recommended.

There are so many crises like that around the world and here at home that could be solved entirely or at least ameliorated by the president. The long list of actions President Obama should take to resolve many crises around the world describes many that are — or at least were before Obama — in America’s interests and within America’s grasp. We can take it to the bank that Obama will do none of these things. It takes only a few examples to illustrate the point.

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Loose Canons

Death on Putin’s Playground

By 7.21.14

Most of the news coverage of the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 has been ridiculous if not positively annoying. For days, we’ve been bored by breathless reports of “black boxes” gone missing, the accident scene “contaminated,” moved bodies, and calls for independent international investigations.

Now that BFFs John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have agreed that there needs to be — according to a Russian Foreign Ministry announcement — “an absolutely unbiased, independent and open international investigation” into the “crash” of the Malaysian airliner, we are apparently being told to relax because the “crash” is in safe hands.

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Loose Canons

Irrelevant in War

By 7.14.14

Much of the reporting on the fighting between Israeli forces and those of the Hamas terrorist network describes various parts and parties as “increasingly irrelevant.” It’s a term that is generally applied well, but not widely enough. It deserves greater breadth and judgment in its application. There are those who are highly relevant, increasingly irrelevant, and entirely irrelevant. Let’s begin with the last category.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas was increasingly irrelevant to the possibilities of renewed war, but with the formation of his “reconciliation” government with Hamas terrorists, Abbas has been demoted to utter irrelevance. He has no power to speak for the Palestinians, no ability to enter into a cease-fire agreement with the Israelis. His powers are a nullity: he can make noises in the international press, which should ignore him. It would, but for the fact that the media would have to admit Abbas’s irrelevance in reaching out to interview the Hamas leaders. It is, for now, more consistent with the media narrative that Palestinians are victims and Israelis evildoers, to keep up the pretense that Abbas is still a leader of his people.

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Loose Canons

Caliphaking It in Iraq

By 7.7.14

It’s more than a little pretentious for the jihadis of ISIS — the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” itself an aspirational title — to claim they have established a new Islamic caliphate. But so they did proclaim last week, and in his inauguration address Mr. Caliph Ibrahim — aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi — told the assembled crowd that they should use the month of Ramadan to escalate their jihad against “the enemies of God,” according to a video posted online on Saturday.

The claim of a new caliphate is a power grab: a claim to have re-established an Islamic empire that hasn’t existed since the fall of the Ottoman Empire a century ago. By making that overtly religious claim, ISIS was asking that all Muslims — at least Sunni Muslims — join and fight for it. Even before the claim to a caliphate, ISIS had attracted many jihadis from Europe and some from the United States.

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Loose Canons

The Lost Lessons of World War I

By 6.30.14

Saturday was the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. That event is supposed to have caused World War I, which was commonly labeled “the war to end all wars.”

I say supposed to have caused the war because if we look at what actually happened, we can gain a far better understanding of the lessons the world should have but never learned from World War I.

We know the vast scale of the number of dead, wounded, and missing. There were more than 200,000 Americans, three million British, six million French, seven million Germans and nine million Russians among them.

Ignorance of the lessons of World War I is a commonplace. The first among the lost lessons is: contrary to what we are told by an endless string of movies and novels, great wars cannot be begun by accident or by relatively small events such as the assassination of Franz Ferdinand.

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Brothers’ Keepers, Thugs, and Weepers

By 6.23.14

On June 12, three Israeli teenagers — Naftali Frankel and Gilad Shaer (both age 16) and Eyal Yifrah (19) — were kidnapped near the town of Gush Etzion, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. They were taken, apparently by Hamas terrorists, while hitchhiking to their homes. Frankel holds dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has blamed the kidnappings on the terrorist network Hamas, which has a long track record of kidnapping Israelis. Hamas’s raison d’être, explained in its charter, calls for the destruction of Israel by violent jihad. In the crackdown on Hamas that Netanyahu ordered, almost 300 Hamas suspects have been arrested, including some of its senior leaders.

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Loose Canons

Iraq Breaks Apart

By 6.16.14

Iraq is an area, not a nation. History and geography condemn it to be without the sort of nationalism that arises from a common ethnicity or religion that binds a country together for longer than any strongman can rule with an iron fist.

A Washington Post article last week said that the collapse of the Iraqi army “marked a stark failure for the U.S. military that trained it and for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government, which has struggled to address leadership and morale problems that now threaten the force’s ability to defend the country.” That sort of faculty lounge-level reasoning overlooks the fact that no matter how well an army is trained, its soldiers have to be willing to fight for something. And fighting for the Maliki regime, which stands for its constituency — the Shiites of Iraq — and for its Iranian allies is something that tens of thousands of Iraqi military and police forces have chosen not to do.

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Hillary Bombs on Benghazi

By 6.12.14

Poor Hillary. First she had to back off the statement that she and Bill were almost penniless when they left the White House. (And what about the tens of millions they’ve made since?) Then, on Monday night, Diane Sawyer of ABC took her on about the 9-11-2012 attacks in Benghazi.

Clinton’s performance was sharp and hard-nosed. She failed in her effort to emulate Obama’s “I wasn’t there, I didn’t do it and I’m shocked and angered” standard defense because she has all the charm of a rusty hammer. What we saw was a presidential candidate fending off an attack from a network that heretofore was her ally and protector.

The segment began with films of the Benghazi diplomatic outpost and asked us to imagine what Ambassador Chris Stevens thought as he saw the armed terrorist gang approach. Sawyer showed a video clip of Stevens passionately arguing for a better Libyan future. And then she asked Clinton about the final entry in Stevens’s diary in which he wrote, as shown on camera, of “never ending security threats.”

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The Bounties of Obama’s Weakness

By 6.9.14

Asked about the backlash to the trade of the Taliban’s Fab Five for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, President Obama said, “I’m never surprised by controversies that are whipped up in Washington, all right?” In those few words, Obama made it clear that we need an American ambassador to the White House. Though the president denies it, the swap will significantly damage our national security.

The president isn’t tone deaf: he just doesn’t give a damn what the military (who advised against the swap) or the American people think. In one action, he has materially strengthened the Taliban’s ability to attack America and retake Afghanistan. The president demonstrated his concern for the severe consequences that will follow his action by chewing gum at a D-Day remembrance.

The trade of five top Taliban leaders for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is a huge boon to the enemy. And not just the Taliban. Our enemies — including al Qaeda (with which the Five are closely tied), as well as any terrorist network that can manage to kidnap an American — are celebrating. And why shouldn’t they?

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Loose Canons

The Case for Obama’s Impeachment

By 6.2.14

On December 20, 1998 the House of Representatives approved a two-article bill of impeachment against President William Jefferson Clinton. In it, Clinton was accused of lying to a grand jury, suborning witnesses’ perjury in a civil case, and other such criminal conduct. What was missing from the Senate trial on that indictment — and from the nation at that time — was the political momentum to remove Clinton from office. So, like the only other president so far to be impeached, Clinton was not convicted in the Senate trial that followed.

Andy McCarthy, a former senior federal prosecutor, has written the new book Faithless Execution, which is both a powerful case for the impeachment of Barack Obama and also a politically savvy explanation of why it will never happen. It’s brilliant and frustrating. Brilliant because of the constitutional analysis of the impeachment mechanism and frustrating because it recognizes that no matter how deserving of it he may be, Barack Obama will never be impeached.

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