Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: June 24, 2010

Dale’s Observations For 2010-06-24

The government required BP to use flawed models to create their accident contingency plans for oil spills. http://bit.ly/bjn3Qy #

There's not a lot of happiness about the Feds' response to the Gulf spill. REALLY not happy. Mutiny-level unhappiness. http://bit.ly/cEecZp #

Medvedev thinks Russia could have a hi-tech economy. Maybe rural electricity and plumbing would be a good start. http://bit.ly/cRZ9ZX #

NYC exhibit shows shiny, green utopian cities in 2030. Like people in the 1930's imagined we'd have flying cars today. http://bit.ly/aEzjxX #

Shoddy disposal work mars Gulf spill cleanup. http://bit.ly/9E4ZGI #

RT @dmataconis @CalebHowe @CO2HOG @TejasKat Is BP burning sea turtles alive? | Yes, but then you crack them open and have yummy turtle soup. #

RT @dmataconis: Americans Love Their Country, Fear Their Government. | But not quite enough to eliminate the things that make gov't fearful. #

In the worst idea since direct election of senators, the electoral college is on the verge of being eliminated. http://bit.ly/cCo46e #

There's a good chance that BP will declare bankruptcy. File in London, get relief from spill liability. http://bit.ly/biUBU7 #

Venezuela nationalizes some US-owned oil rigs. This is how poor countries tell the world, "Never invest here again." http://bit.ly/929IAF #

RT @GayPatriot @FloridaJayhawk: $540 Massage? What Kind of Massage Did Al Gore order? | I believe it's known as a "Happy Ending". #

RT @JoeNBC SOCCER GAME: For me, it was as exciting as any sports event since Lake Placid. | Seriously? Since Lake Placid? #

Hey, Belarus, all your gas are belong to us! #MedvedevTweets http://bit.ly/9L4k0t #

Obama DoJ to take AZ to court over immigration law – Mexico joins suit, AZ Dems scream

That’s right folks, instead of fixing the problem, the Department of Justice, at the behest of President Obama, has chosen to sue a state trying to protect itself.

And guess who thinks it is a good idea and wants to join in the fun?

Mexico on Tuesday asked a federal court in Arizona to declare the state’s new immigration law unconstitutional, arguing that the country’s own interests and its citizens’ rights are at stake.

Like the “right” to illegally enter another country? When I see Mexico take down its border stations and yell, “come on down” in Spanish, then I might think it has a moral leg to stand on. But in this case, it’s just hypocritical nonsense.

More interesting than even Mexico joining the law suit is the fact that AZ Democrats are livid about the DoJ suit:

Rep. Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.) on Monday sent a sharply worded letter to President Barack Obama urging him not to sue.

“I believe your administration’s time, efforts and resources would be much better spent securing the border and fixing our broken immigration system,” the two-term congressman wrote in the letter. “Arizonans are tired of the grandstanding, and tired of waiting for help from Washington. … [A] lawsuit won’t solve the problem. It won’t secure the border, and it won’t fix our broken immigration system.”

Heh … change a few words and he could be talking about the effort in the Gulf.

Mitchell isn’t the only Democrat upset with Obama. Facing tight races in AZ this year, a number of Democrats see this as an unnecessary and even foolish effort by the Obama administration.

“Congresswoman [Gabrielle] Giffords wants more federal agents on the Arizona border, not federal lawyers in court arguing with state lawyers about a law that will do nothing to increase public safety in the communities she represents,” C.J. Karamargin, a spokesman for the congresswoman, told The Hill.

Well there’s your bi-partisanship. All in opposition to the administration’s decision to sue AZ.

My favorite quote comes from Democratic Rep. Ann Kilpatrick though:

“I am calling on the president and the attorney general to abandon preparations for a lawsuit against Arizona, and to recommit to finding a national solution to fixing this national problem,” the freshman lawmaker said in a statement released Monday. “The administration should focus on working with Arizona to put together a long-term strategy to secure our borders and reform our immigration policy. … The time for talk is over, and the time for action is here.”

With this president, the “time for talk” is never over. And the “time for action?” Well they haven’t sued yet, have they? Or closed Gitmo. Or pulled out of Iraq. Or ended DADT. Or …

~McQ

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McChrystal wasn’t the problem in Afghanistan

Of course the irony is thick – Gen. David Petraeus, the man the left labeled "General Betrayus" and then Senator Hillary Clinton essentially called a liar about Iraq, has now been called upon to pull the presidential bacon out of the fire in Afghanistan.

If winning in Iraq was a tall order, winning in Afghanistan is a giant order. We’re not much closer now than we were 9 years ago, we’re operating under a strategy that takes time and massive manpower, yet we’re dealing with a “firm” withdrawal date of next year, and the civilian team in country has been less than successful.

It is on that latter point that I wish to dwell. Before going there though, as I stated yesterday, changing “firm” to “conditions based” will go a long way toward heading off dissent and disillusionment by the Afghan people and government. The massive manpower, of course, has to come from the Afghan government (and army/police). There’s no reason for an Afghan to join those security forces if we’re leaving next June. The commitment from our government to their cause has got to be what is “firm” – not a withdrawal date.

If we’re not able to make that commitment, then we need to withdraw – completely.

But assuming our goal there is to leave a relatively intact, democratic and functioning country, that in-country civilian team needs to be challenged to do a much better job than it is or be replaced. And that begins with Amb. Eikenberry.

The basics of COIN say the military/host country forces clear/hold/protect. That protection is key and the obvious goal of the military is to turn that job of clear/hold/protect over to the ANA. However, the civilian side of things comes into play during and after that military goal has been accomplished.

First a functioning national government must be in place. The job of the civilian side of the house in the sort of nation building COIN calls for is to be intimately involved in helping the national government function properly.

The one way you don’t do that in an honor/shame society, is go on yelling rants against the president of the country as it has been reported both Eikenberry and Biden have done. Whether or not one thinks the man is corrupt or not doing enough is irrelevant – once shamed like that, his cooperation has been lost. That is the sort of toxic relationship now existing there.

Gen. Petraeus, other than his military success in Iraq, had a very close working relationship with Amb. Crocker. It was that relationship, plus the military side of things (plus the awakening and surge) that spelled success in that country.

McChrystal and Eikenberry had a very hostile and adversarial relationship (Eikenberry is not lamenting the fact that McChrystal is gone). It wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see the same sort of relationship begin to develop between Petraeus and Eikenberry, given the latter’s mode of operation. If that happens, it would be Eikenberry who would likely go down. Obama can’t afford to change generals again and Petraeus is seen by the vast majority of Americans as a winner.

Anyway, back to COIN – once clear/hold/protect is in place, government has to be extended into those areas and the people have to see the benefit of that connection. Enough so that they reject the insurgent once and for all.

That’s a very difficult and so far unobtainable goal for the civilian side of the house. Marjah is the perfect example. “President” Karzai is really the mayor of Kabul. Until he or the leader of a subsequent government is seen as and acknowledged as the president of the country in the outlying provinces of Afghanistan, the “country” will always be a collection of tribal areas, overlaid with a single religion and no real governing power.

That’s the civilian side of the house and apparently there’s a move afoot within the Senate to use the Petraeus hearings to address that problem. This is probably the most pressing need to address at the moment.

“The civilian side, in my view, is completely dysfunctional,” said Graham.

Lieberman said the magazine article “revealed what we have known, that there is not the kind of unity in Afghanistan between our civilian and military leadership” that is necessary.

Though none of the senators would name specific civilian leaders who should be replaced, McCain suggested “re-uniting the Crocker-Petraeus team,” a reference to former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, who served in Baghdad while Petraeus headed up military operations in the country.

The current ambassador to Afghanistan, retired Gen. Karl Eikenberry, had a notoriously rocky relationship with McChrystal.

If this situation isn’t addressed and addressed quickly and forcefully, it isn’t going to matter much what the military does in Afghanistan. If the civilian team isn’t functional and working in harmony with the military toward the commong goal, then that goal won’t be reached.

Obama made the right decision about McChrystal, but not for these reasons. Now he needs to listen to the Senate, review the progress, or lack thereof, on the civilian side of the effort, and sack and replace those who aren’t serving him well in the critical positions there. And that would include Amb. Eikenberry.

~McQ

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