Daily Archives: May 6, 2011
Sometimes something is written which has you shaking your head in both wonder and disgust as you read it. Michael Hirsh manages that in his National Journal article entitled “Obama’s War” where he states:
Ever so gingerly, even as they praised President Obama’s success against Osama bin Laden, some former senior Bush administration officials have sought to take a little credit for the mission themselves. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, interviewed by MSNBC this week, even called the operation “a good story for continuity across two presidencies.”
That assessment couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, in a convoluted way, he’s right – the major kudos should go to the Bush administration.
Look, you expect a little cheerleading concerning the killing of Osama because of the desperate desire by the left to make Obama into something he’s simply not – the steely eyed Commander-in-Chief solely responsible for the result of the bin Laden raid.
But any impartial observer who knows a thing or two about how taking down someone like OBL occurs simply knows that’s not the case.
Given, Osama bin Laden was killed on Obama’s watch. He gave the order. Good for him, and thank you for making the decision. But let’s be real – it wasn’t much of a decision to make. This was America’s most wanted – heck, he was the West’s most wanted. How do you not make that decision?
But Hirsh, goes off into history revision-land in an attempt to give all the credit to Obama and none to Bush. He seems to understand that making the decision really isn’t that special so he attempts to rewrite recent history in such a way that he can, one assumes, credibly make the claim that this was all Obama. He, among a long line of journalists who may know politics, but have little knowledge of intelligence operations, makes a hash of his attempt. He attempts to convince us the only thing Obama didn’t inherit from Bush was anything to do with taking out bin Laden.
Hirsh pitches this:
From his first great public moment when, as a state senator, he called Iraq a “dumb war,” Obama indicated that he thought that George W. Bush had badly misconceived the challenge of 9/11. And very quickly upon taking office as president, Obama reoriented the war back to where, in the view of many experts, it always belonged. He discarded the idea of a “global war on terror” that conflated all terror threats from al-Qaida to Hamas to Hezbollah. Obama replaced it with a covert, laserlike focus on al-Qaida and its spawn.
This reorientation was part of Obama’s reset of America’s relations with the world. Bush, having gradually expanded his definition of the war to include all Islamic “extremists,” had condemned the United States to a kind of permanent war, one that Americans had to fight all but alone because no one else agreed on such a broadly defined enemy. (Hezbollah and Hamas, for example, arguably had legitimate political aims that al-Qaida did not, which is one reason they distanced themselves from bin Laden.) In Obama’s view, only by focusing narrowly on true transnational terrorism, and winning back all of the natural allies that the United States had lost over the previous decade, could he achieve America’s goal of uniting the world around the goal of extinguishing al-Qaida.
Very quickly after taking the presidency he “reoriented the war back to where … it always belonged?”
Nonsense. In Iraq – the”dumb” war – Obama followed the Bush plan to the letter, not changing a thing. Nothing. It still continues down the Bush timeline.
In Afghanistan, where Obama said we should be fighting, he actually surged conventional troops, and not to hunt al-Qaeda. Instead the focus of the surge were the Taliban. Again, the same focus the Bush administration had and one upon which Obama doubled down. So much for that laserlike focus on al-Qaeda.
And unfortunately for Hirsh’s narrative, the focus on al-Qaeda was already in place and functioning when Obama took office. We immediately learned, upon hearing of bin Laden’s death, that the beginning threads of intelligence came from interrogations in secret CIA prisons 4 years ago. Prisons which no longer exist under Obama, nor would have existed had he been president on 9/11. Where was Mr. Obama 4 years ago?
We also know that during the Bush administration, our intelligence community was put through a major overhaul that has yielded much better, fresher and actionable intelligence – all of which Obama “inherited.” Drone strikes generated by fresh actionable intelligence didn’t start on Mr. Obama’s watch.
Finally, a robust Special Operations Force command was created by, oh my, the “dark knight” – Donald Rumsfeld.
At the time of the Sept. 11 attacks, special operations – Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets and Delta Force, and Air Force AC-130 gunships – were generally neglected. The previous Clinton administration had not called on them to go after bin Laden or his network.
All that changed under Mr. Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld: Green Berets led the initial invasion of Afghanistan. Joint Special Operations Command enlarged and expanded its manhunting skills worldwide. The Marine Corps created its first special forces command.
“We increased the size of special operations forces,” said former Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican and former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. “We obviously increased their funding for new technical capabilities.”
One key move was to make Special Operations Command a “supported” command, not just one that did the bidding of other commands, but could plan and execute battles.
“Rumsfeld elevated special operations to where they had field command empowerment, which is something they never had before,” Mr. Hunter said. “We increased generally across the board the size and the capability of special operation commands. … We made them more robust than they were.”
Shocking, I know, but then the media cheerleaders have never been particularly concerned with facts and history when they have a narrative to peddle.
It was Bush and Rumsfeld who built the organization that eventually got bin Laden:
President George W. Bush’s war on terrorism translated into robust spending on what are affectionately called “snake eaters.”
Special Operations Command’s budget grew from $2.3 billion in 2001 to nearly $10 billion today. Manpower expanded from 45,500 to 61,500.
“It’s an order of magnitude better,” said Adm. Worthington. “The training these guys are getting, it’s 10 times what we were getting when I went through. They’re getting training right now that makes them the best in the world.”
And it’s first success in getting a high profile al-Qaeda member didn’t come last Sunday. It came in 2006, something I’m sure Mr. Hirsh would find an inconvenient fact:
In Iraq and Afghanistan, the Joint Special Operations Command has teamed with aviation units, CIA officers and agents of the eavesdropping National Security Agency to form potent manhunting groups.
This fusion first gained wide public notice in 2006, when the command, then led by Army Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, hunted down Abu Musab Zarqawi, a particularly deadly al Qaeda terrorist in Iraq.
That is the “gun” Mr. Obama inherited from Mr. Bush. And it had been fired a number of times successfully well before Mr. Obama ever darkened the entrance to the Oval Office.
Oh, and Mr. Hirsh? Even the Obama White House isn’t buying your claptrap theory:
An Obama White House official told reporters that killing bin Laden was the result of years of work.
“This remarkable achievement could not have happened without persistent effort and careful planning over many years,” the official said. “Our national security professionals did a superb job.”
Yes, Mr. Hirsh, Obama got Osama – but he pulled the trigger of the gun built and loaded by the Bush administration, and whether you like it or not, there’s simply no question about that.
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The world is officially nuts. I’m not sure how else you classify what follows. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany recently remarked on the death of mass murderer Osama bin Laden saying was “glad” he’d been killed. That prompted the following from a German judge:
But Hamburg judge Heinz Uthmann went even further. He alleges that the chancellor’s statement was nothing short of illegal, and filed a criminal complaint against Merkel midweek, the daily Hamburger Morgenpost reported Friday.
"I am a law-abiding citizen and as a judge, sworn to justice and law," the 54-year-old told the paper, adding that Merkel’s words were "tacky and undignified."
In his two-page document, Uthmann, a judge for 21 years, cites section 140 of the German Criminal Code, which forbids the "rewarding and approving" of crimes. In this case, Merkel endorsed a "homicide," Uthmann claimed. The violation is punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment or a fine.
"For the daughter of a Christian pastor, the comment is astonishing and at odds with the values of human dignity, charity and the rule of law," Uthmann told the newspaper.
Of course the judge is assuming it’s a “homicide” (certainly no proof exists that’s the case) and thus a criminal act. In fact, the Geneva Conventions will clearly show otherwise. Obviously he files his complaint with nothing more than his opinion as a basis.
So you say, it’s one extremist view, why get excited about it?
While the judge’s reaction may seem extreme, his sentiments are apparently shared by 64 percent of the German population. That was the proportion of Germans who said bin Laden’s death was "no reason to rejoice" in a poll published by broadcaster ARD on Friday.
Germany – never a bastion of human rights or individual freedoms – continues to live up to its past with a new extremist but pacifist twist. This is an example of absurdity masquerading as reason, extremism as normalcy and stupidity as compassion.
Everyone who loves freedom and hates mass murderers should be “glad” Osama bin Laden has been killed. He was a monster, just like one which once ruled the land this puffed up pratt Uthman lives in. As much as Germans claim to have been “disgusted” with the “jubilation” over OBL’s death, nonsense like this does them no favor. The disgust on this side of the Atlantic for a country that assaults free speech and protects the memory of a mass murderer by going after those who express satisfaction at his demise isn’t one that I or most anyone here would ever care to live in.
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Like uncovering more nonsense to be found in the promises made for ObamaCare.
Such as, “when everyone has insurance, Emergency Rooms will no longer be overcrowded.”
Hospital emergency rooms, the theory goes, get overcrowded because people without health insurance have no place else to go.
But that’s not the view of the doctors who staff those emergency departments.
The real problem, according to a new survey from the American College of Emergency Physicians, isn’t caused by people who don’t have insurance — it’s caused by people who do, but still can’t find a doctor to treat them.
A full 97 percent of ER doctors who responded to the ACEP survey said they treated patients "daily" who have Medicaid (the federal-state health plan for the low-income), but who can’t find a doctors who will accept their insurance…."The results are significant," said ACEP President Sandra Schneider in prepared comments. "They confirm what we are witnessing in Massachusetts — that visits to emergency rooms are going to increase across the country, despite the advent of health care reform, and that health insurance coverage does not guarantee access to medical care."
Yes, that little 1/50th scale ObamaCare model that’s been functioning – well sort of – in Massachusetts (aka RomneyCare) has proved to be the debacle it was predicted to be.
And the ObamaCare promise hasn’t tested out there at all.
The Massachusetts story Schneider refers to is important because it shows exactly what we can expect under the new health care law. In the wake of the Bay State’s 2006 health care overhaul, which provided the model for ObamaCare, emergency room visits soared. Backers of that overhaul made arguments similar to President Obama’s, saying that they hoped that by expanding insurance coverage, they’d get people set up with primary care physicians and thus reduce the number of emergency room visits. Didn’t happen. Lines to see doctors got longer. And as they did, emergency room visits rose 9 percent between 2004 and 2008, at which point the commissioner of the state’s Health Care Finance and Policy division kind of shrugged his shoulders and admitted that the uninsured aren’t really the cause of emergency room crowding. Too bad, I guess, and too late: Massachusetts passed the law anyway. And now the rest of us are stuck with it too.
Yup. And the cost?
But John Goodman, the head of the National Center for Policy Analysis, did some rough calculations for the health policy journal Health Affairs last year, and he estimated that thanks to the law’s coverage expansion, we can expect somewhere in the range of 848,000 to 901,000 additional emergency room visits each and every year. ObamaCare’s backers are right that, as passed, the law will result in significantly greater health insurance coverage across the country. But all that coverage will come with a hefty price tag attached: about a trillion dollars over the next decade, and more like $1.8 trillion in the first full decade of operation. In return we’ll get longer wait times at the doctor, and even more crowded emergency rooms—but nothing like a guarantee of actual access to care.
Sucks, doesn’t it?
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Allahpundit provides a roundup of quotes out of Europe concerning the celebration here of the death of Osama bin Laden. As you might expect, the latent anti-Americanism isn’t so latent anymore and the incident of bin Laden’s death provides the superior Euros a chance to do a little self-serving moral preening. For instance:
“At a press conference at Lambeth Palace, The Daily Telegraph asked [the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan] Williams whether he thought the US had been right to kill bin Laden.
“After declining to respond initially, he later replied: ‘I think the killing of an unarmed man is always going to leave a very uncomfortable feeling, because it doesn’t look as if justice is seen to be done in those circumstances.’”
Really? It doesn’t? How does one define “justice” then? Certainly Europe doesn’t think “death” is justice regardless of how monstrous the deed is. Kill 3,000 people in NY plus Khobar Towers, two African Embassies and the USS Cole? Oh, and those subway deaths in London? Those deeds obviously don’t justify what just happened.
Nope - we should have caught him, tried him (and given him an international platform to spew his hate) and then locked him up? How’s that anymore justice than what happened? We have a mad dog on tape bragging about being the man responsible for all those deaths. We have intel that says he was going to kill more (attacking trains in the US on the 10th anniversary of 9/11). If ever justice was served anywhere, it was served on the night of May 1st in a compound in Pakistan. And no, I’m not uncomfortable in the least about that. Someone needs to remind the Archbishop that “justice” isn’t a process, it’s a result.
Next come those who would like to ignore the elephant in the room and those celebrations simply won’t let them do it:
“Nicolas Demorand, editor of the left-leaning French daily Libération, on Tuesday bemoaned the ‘toxic rhetoric’ of the campaign against terrorism. From that rhetoric, he wrote, stems ‘this base, uncomfortable joy, unprecedented in a democracy, that blew yesterday over the streets of New York.’
“Even the editor of the centrist weekly L’Express, Christophe Barbier, cautioned, ‘To victory one must not add provocation.’ He added: ‘To desecrate the cadaver or the memory of Bin Laden is to revive him. To cry one’s joy in the streets of our cities is to ape the turbaned barbarians who danced the night of Sept. 11. It is to tell them the ghastly competition continues between them and us.’”
Someone get a clue bat for Barbier will you? The “ghastly competition” does continue. Because they initiated it and haven’t said “uncle” yet. And it will continue until the murderous organization that has killed thousands over the years – primarily Muslims, btw – is destroyed, root and branch. Sniffing at the celebrations and calling them an “aping” of the barbarians is to use an equivalence that indicates moral cowardice that would welcome submission before resistance.
Finally, perhaps the most ironic condemnation comes from the country that was on the wrong side of two world wars, one of which required the civilized world rid itself of a monster that country put into power:
“The fashionable critique of Obama and the U.S. achieved its purest form on ARD Television, Germany’s equivalent of the BBC, where commentator Jörg Schoenenborn pompously observed that nothing good could come from Obama’s Bush-like breach of international law. ‘Al Qaeda will seek revenge,’ he asserts, ‘so, is the world any safer? No.’ Yet Americans dance in the streets, which Scheonenborn attributed to something essential, and essentially primitive, in the American character. The USA is, after all, ‘quite a foreign land to me. What kind of country celebrates an execution in such a way?’
I’ll take “primitive” over “barbaric”, “anti-Semitic”, and “murderous” any day. And no, Germany, you haven’t lived down your reputation yet. Not enough to take this sort of a position.
Of course AQ will seek revenge. But as mentioned above, they planned to attack anyway. So should we just sit back and let it happen? Would a few thousand more deaths have soothed your conscience enough to have you condone aggressive and justified action against the murderer? Or would it still have been considered a “primitive” action driven by blood lust? Instead, obviously, we should just roll over and allow these murderers to have their way. Apparently, that’s the European way.
There’s even more irony in this reaction though:
“[N]ow many of Obama’s erstwhile Euro-fans are feeling a twinge of buyer’s remorse. By ordering a covert raid on Pakistan that resulted in Osama bin Laden’s death at the hands of Navy SEALs, Obama has earned the kind of condemnation [from] Europe’s cognoscenti once reserved for his predecessor, George W. Bush…
I’m waiting for the first mention of “cowboy” to come floating across the Atlantic. It does make the point though that as long as you’re submissive and not aggressive in pursuing the best interests of the US, Euro’s will sort of, kind of pretend to like you. And we’ve all seen what that will buy. I wonder when the first calls for Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize to be withdrawn will begin?
I think Jonathan Tobin at Commentary best summarizes the reasons for Europe’s false and snobby self-righteousness:
It’s true that European snobbery is silly. But the factors underlying the Euro unwillingness to treat the battle with Islamist terrorism as a fight to the death are anything but a laughing matter. As Erlanger notes, the Europeans are genuinely afraid of the Islamic world, something that may have a great deal to do with the growing and increasingly assertive Muslim populations in Western European countries.
But the disdain for American joy about bin Laden’s death goes deeper than mere snobbery or concerns about local Muslims. It’s not just that Western European intellectuals don’t like the United States—they never have—but their unwillingness to countenance aggressive Western self-defense against Islamist terror is a function of their loss of belief in Western civilization itself. Many on the continent seem to have lost any sense that their countries and way of life as well as their faith is something worth defending. When it comes down to it that, and not the faux sophistication of Euro elites, is the difference between America and Europe these days.
For all of our problems and divisions, most Americans still believe in their country. All too many of our friends across the pond have lost faith in theirs. And that crisis in confidence, not good taste, is why Americans and not Europeans are celebrating the death of bin Laden.
It is a form of capitulation. If they can successfully continue to delude themselves into inaction by condemning our methods while draping themselves in false moral outrage, they can safely ignore the threat, even as it continues to build and subvert their own cultures. They don’t want to fight. They’ve already given up. All they want now is a way to justify their craven surrender. And that damn America keeps doing things that make that more and more difficult to do.
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