Between the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012 and the presidential election on November 6, there were only fifty-six days. What followed in those fifty-six days was a calculated effort by the president, his administration, and the media to conceal what happened in Benghazi before, during, and after the attacks. That effort was motivated with one goal: to manipulate the news before the election to protect the Obama campaign.
Tomorrow, April 29, will come and go and no one will be the worse for it. If the date is remembered at all, it will mark yet another failure of President Obama’s diplomacy which did not produce a breakthrough peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Obama and Kerry established the date as an artificial deadline for a peace deal. Because the deadline was artificial, it placed no pressure on the parties for agreement in the latest round of the never-ending Middle East “peace process.” It is never-ending for two reasons, neither of which Obama and Kerry understand.
First, peace — any peace — is reached when and only when one of the belligerents has been defeated or so reduced in its ability to resist that it is compelled to make peace on terms that benefit the other. Israel, though weakened by Obama’s efforts to isolate it and Europe’s strong financial and political support for the Palestinians, is still strong enough to refuse a deal like the one Obama and Kerry were peddling, which would have forced Israel to make concessions on borders and other matters it considers destructive to its national security.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) will never be elected president and that is a very good thing for our country for a great many reasons.
Paul is a libertarian first, a Republican second, and a conservative only when his libertarianism accidentally intersects with conservative values. And that’s not very often.
Republicans, especially conservatives, have fought for civil rights for more than fifty years. Democrats were the principal opponents of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Today, Paul has refused to say he’d have voted for it if he were in Congress at the time. And it gets worse. For example, in an April 2010 videotaped interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal, he tried to get around that precise question. Within his rambling answer he said, “I don’t like the idea of telling private business owners…I abhor racism…I think it’s a bad business decision to ever exclude anybody from your restaurant but at the same time I do believe in private ownership.” (The pauses are in the original.)
Judging by the horse he gave Defense Secretary Chuckie Hagel a couple of days ago, Mongolian Defense Minister Dashdemberel must be a very diligent student of the defense budget that Congress is now trying to craft. The horse, of course, is a gelding.
When the president announced his proposed budget and Hagel went to Congress to state the party line, I wrote that several indispensable weapon systems — the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, the A-10 Warthog attack aircraft, and half of the Navy’s 22 cruisers among them — would be retired. Under the president’s plan, military pay raises would be capped at 1% for the second straight year. Most of the fictive strategy the president brags about would have to be abandoned if the budget went through.
Because of these and other inanities in the president’s proposal, the House rejected it out of hand earlier this month by a margin of 413-2.
With former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell’s congressional testimony, a new Iranian ambassador to the UN, and a great UN report on global warming, there’s a lot in one week SGO to catalogue and remember. And to do justice to the week, we have to go at it in reverse order
(For those just joining us, “SGO” is the comprehensively useful acronym for “s*** goin’ on” created by my pal and former SEAL Al Clark.)
At week’s end, retiring Cong. Jim Moran (D-of course, VA-unfortunately) told Roll Call that Congress was underpaid. Before we could see clearly through our laughter-teared eyes, he added that “I understand that it’s widely felt that they underperform, but the fact is that this is the board of directors for the largest economic entity in the world.” And he said all that with a straight face.
President Obama’s diplomacy by tourism has gone very sour. After being scolded by the Pope for Obamacare’s forcing religious institutions to provide contraception and abortion coverage, Obama jetted to Saudi Arabia where he was scolded by the Saudi king about his failure to send aid to the Syrians fighting Bashar Assad and his nuclear agreement with Iran.
It’s getting tiresome. President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry are carrying on as if they have everything under control, every crisis has abated, and no one should be overly concerned. By now they must have noticed that every world leader disagrees with them. And some take pleasure in demonstrating their disregard for the weakness Obama and Kerry display every day.
The Obama-Kerry show delights Russian President Putin. He is enjoying his ability to play them both as puppets on strings. All is decidedly not well, especially in Ukraine and the entirety of Eastern Europe.
If Henry Kissinger were dead, he’d be spinning in his grave. The fact that he is very much alive is a good thing that may make us dream of the day when someone with the essential education, skills, and training will again be in charge of our foreign policy.
Unfortunately, no such person is and one of the men most observant of our sad condition is in a position to take advantage of it. Vladimir Putin, Russia’s often bare-chested strongman, has managed with very little effort and hardly a shot fired not only to destabilize Europe but to do so in a way that makes the European governments and our president believe that it is too hard, too expensive, and too dangerous to do anything about it. Putin’s managed to bring back the atmosphere of the Cold War — the intimidation that the Soviets brought about — so easily it’s almost admirable.
These days it’s a commonplace to diagnose a clash between two parts of our government and conclude that both are wrong. The case at bar this week is the uncharacteristically rancorous fight between the CIA and Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal).
On one hand is the Senate committee which has, since 2009, been investigating the Bush-era program in which terrorists would be subjected to rendition — capture and removal to another nation for interrogation — and the “enhanced interrogation methods” that have been loosely (and incorrectly) lumped together with torture.
On the other hand is the CIA which has been playing hide and seek with Senate investigative staff even to the degree of depriving them of documents previously made available and complaining to the Justice Department of possible criminal conduct by Senate staffers. (Some of them took printed versions of some documents back to the Senate’s own classified information facilities.)
It’s not at all clear what Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk thinks he can accomplish during his visit with President Obama later this week. It’s a good bet that he’s not coming to urge on Obama the advice offered by New York Times columnist Tom Friedman.
I had to read Friedman’s March 4 column twice to be sure I hadn’t fallen for a parody from The Onion. Friedman has a prescription to weaken Vlad Putin that sounds like something written by Al Gore and edited by the folks who publish Mad Magazine.
According to Friedman, if Obama wanted to frighten Putin, we’d invest in (i.e., have the government pay for) facilities to liquefy and export natural gas, making Europe more dependent on us; (2) raise the tax on gasoline; (3) create a national carbon tax and a “national renewable energy standard” all of which, as Friedman admits, would increase the price Americans pay for energy.
Sometime last Thursday, our intelligence community was telling its bosses that there was little or no chance that Russian President Putin would order his troops to seize control of Ukraine. These are the same guys that are telling us that Iran isn’t building nuclear weapons.
Fortunately, I have better sources. My friend Matt Keegan is a Russia expert and a serious student of their military. On Friday, Matt emailed me to point what should be in the front of the minds of President Obama and the other naïfs trying to figure out what was (and is) going on.
First, he said, Russia wants to control Ukraine because it believes it needs a land bridge to its strategic naval base at Sevastopol on the Black Sea. (The base has been there for about 200 years. When the Evil Empire fell apart, Russia began renting it from Ukraine.) He also pointed out that there are about eight major gas pipeline routes from Russia through Ukraine to reach Europe and Sevastopol. Without controlling Ukraine, Russia risks Ukrainian tariffs on gas or even pipeline sabotage. All of which meant, he said, that the Russians would send military forces into Ukraine to control some or all of that nation.