Free Markets, Free People
A little more on the abject ignorance Obama displayed concerning the Navy. Or was it, instead, the usual attempt to have it both ways? You know, talk about how everything is under control while in reality it is spinning out of control? Or, as we’ve warned many times, don’t believe a thing the man says, look at what he does.
The Obama administration’s neglect of the Navy can be typified by the early retirement of the USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and its plans to decommission other naval assets. In August of this year, I outlined on NRO why the Enterprise should remain in service, but the Big E is only the most prominent asset slated for premature retirement. The administration also plans to decommission and scrap six Ticonderoga-class cruisers, although the vessels have as many as 15 years of service life left (even without further overhauls). Maintaining freedom of the seas requires hulls in the water — and the Navy hasn’t even started building the replacements for these cruisers. At present, all we have is a design study called CGX, which may or may not enter production.
Got that? 6 Ticonderoga-class cruisers being decommissioned, all with at least 15 years service life left. These are the cruisers, as mentioned yesterday, which protect those things we have called aircraft carriers.
Here’s another report that makes it clear that the administration’s plan is, in fact, leaving the carrier strike groups even more vulnerable than they are now:
As noted at the Navy-oriented Information Dissemination blog, when the proposed cuts were first outlined in late 2011, the decommissioning plan will take out of service cruisers that can be upgraded with the ballistic missile defense (BMD) package – now a core capability for the Navy – while keeping five cruisers that cannot receive the BMD upgrade.
Emphasis mine. That borders on criminal. After bloviating about technology and capability, his plan is to reduce both.
Meanwhile, here’s the stark reality of the situation the Obama administration has created:
His administration, in an effort to cut costs, proposed the retirement of the USS Enterprise (which his allies in Congress passed in 2009) and the six cruisers. Numerous crises are heating up around the world, as recent events show, but there is no indication that Obama has reconsidered these retirement plans. Certainly, it would not be hard to halt the retirements, and extenuating circumstances clearly warrant a supplemental appropriations bill. None of our carriers or submarines — no matter how high-tech they are — are capable of covering the Persian Gulf and South China Sea at the same time, or the Mediterranean Sea and the Korean Peninsula simultaneously.
Or, said a much simpler way, and despite Obama’s ignorant claims, we don’t have enough ships to cover all the contingencies that his failed foreign policy has helped foment. Technology still can’t have you in two places at once.
Instead, we have a Commander-in-Chief who apparently thinks those things we call aircraft carriers are like magic unicorns. You kind of wave one toward a crisis and everything works out. He has no concept of force protection. He has no idea how a carrier strike group operates. He just knows we have these things called aircraft carriers and they’re apparently magic because, you know, we have this “technology” and we’re much more “capable” than when it was all about horses and bayonets. Or something.
Yet in 2010, the Navy could only fulfill 53% of the requirements for presence and missions levied by the combatant commanders (e.g., CENTCOM, PACOM). Cutting this Navy will reduce further its ability to fill warfighter requirements.
This guy is dangerous, folks. His ignorance is both appalling and frightening.
He needs to go.
Reuters is reporting tonight that, "Officials at the White House and State Department were advised two hours after attackers assaulted the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11 that an Islamic militant group had claimed credit for the attack, official emails show."
These emails were sent from the State Department’s Operations Center to the White House, Director of National Intelligence, Pentagon, and FBI, and the first email was sent within 1/2 hour of the start of the attack. Two hours after the attack began, a third email was sent, bearing the subject line, "Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack".
The president then nipped off to bed, as he had to fly to an important campaign fundraiser in Las Vegas the next day.
Obama the arrogant had quite a time last night … being arrogant, that is.
And, as usual, anyone who knew reality had to laugh at his posturing, since it revealed a horrendous level of ignorance.
What am I talking about? His quip about “horses and bayonets” and his nonsense about the size of the Navy.
We’ve all heard, I’m sure, the line that “amateurs talk tactics while professionals talk logistics”.
Question: Are those “more capable ships” more capable of supply and support than ships of old? No. There’s a “tooth to tail” ratio that is required for any fleet to function and function well. We have 11 carrier strike groups out there. They have a certain number of ships in each battle group that are designed to do what? Protect the carrier. But those ships have to be resupplied. Having stood on the deck of the USS Kearsarge and watched at sea refueling take place, I can confidently tell you it requires another ship.
Additionally, there’s now concern, given the lethality and accuracy of weaponry out there, that the ships assigned to protect the carriers may not be adequate to the job. In other words, we many need more (presently they have 2 Ticonderoga class Ageis guided missile cruisers, two to three Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyers and to LA class attack submarines plus a carrier air wing). We’re talking about the possibility of overwhelming missile attacks as they’re presently configured. Reality.
Then, consider we have a “gator navy” as well, which is also in need of further protection. Put the new littoral combat ships into the mix and you are again in need of the ability to refuel and resupply. Pretending the current fleet configuration and number is adequate to the new expanded mission pointed toward the Pacific is about as “horses and bayonets” as one can get. Pure defensive nonsense and ignorant posturing.
And by the way, we still use bayonets. The reason we don’t have as many as we once had is because this President had cut the Army and Marine Corps during his tenure.
But to the point, all that bloviating by Obama about how he carefully set out the fleet size with the SecNav etc. is just that, bloviating. He made unilateral and deep cuts in defense spending all by his lonesome. $500 billion over 10 years. That’s his. No one else’s. They have nothing to do with sequestration which promises another $500 billion in cuts.
And don’t believe his promise that “sequestration won’t happen”. While it may not, it won’t have a thing to do with him. He’s provided nothing in terms of leadership on the question and no one believes he will. He’s just “hoping” it won’t happen and prove him right. But don’t expect him to actually do anything to try to prevent it.
Oh, who won?
Given the spin, pretty much a draw at worst. Both sides are claiming victory. A prickly, defensive and condescending Obama, given his abysmal record, didn’t help himself at all. He just proved how small he really is.
UPDATE: Like minds.
Why? Because it sets up a question to be answered which will give proof to the nonsense of both Obama and Crowley’s claim about Obama’s supposed Rose Garden acknowlegement that the Benghazi attack was an act of terrorism:
If Obama knew it was terrorism on Day Two, then why did his administration continue to blame the video for days afterward?”
Seriously. After spending 8 years holding Bush responsible for everything from 9/11 (it was an “inside job”) to a Pelosi’s hangnail, we now have the left settling on “it’s Hillary’s fault”?
Truman’s “buck” stops at the State Department now?
The point, of course, as any good commander in the military knows, is that everything that happens or doesn’t happen while you are in command is your responsibility.
“I take responsibility,” Clinton said during a visit to Peru. “I’m in charge of the State Department’s 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts. The president and the vice president wouldn’t be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They’re the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision.”
Hillary, for political reasons, is trying to fall on Obama’s sword for him. Someone has to take the blame (and Bush is unavailable for this one) so Obama can once again seem faultless. He does no wrong, you know. And besides, he has a debate tonight and he wants someone to point his finger at when the subject is inevitably brought up. Now he has her.
Jumped? Or pushed?
This episode illustrates how spot on Eastwood’s empty chair metaphor really is. John McCain, the stopped clock that is right twice a day, actually gets this one right:
“The security of Americans serving our nation everywhere in the world is ultimately the job of the commander-in-chief. The buck stops there.”
Of course the left first tried to blame it on the GOP claiming they’d cut millions from State’s security budget.
Here’s the bottom line on that line of attack: If you have a security contingent of Marines in the Embassy at Barbados, but not Tripoli or Benghanzi, your problem isn’t “funding”. It’s resource allocation and politics.
Secondly, when something like this happens, you don’t act like a politician, you act like a leader. IF you’re a leader.
This past weekend we were treated to the spectacle of David Axlerod avoiding answering Chris Wallace’s direct question about whether or not Obama met with his national security advosors and State in the aftermath of the murder of the US ambassador in Libya.
We all knew the answer before Wallace finished the question. And Axlerod’s non-answer answer confirmed it.
Hell no, he was late for a political fund raiser in Las Vegas, and besides, these are just “bumps in the road”.
While Clinton’s attempt will seem courageous and loyal to some, it is pure, calculated politics. Hillary knows that by 2016 this will be well behind here and, actually, an advantage, since she’ll have stepped up into the leadership void and acted like a leader. Obama? Not so much.
And make no mistake, as the state of the world and our foreign policy have announced loudly this past month – we are indeed suffering from a leadership void.
The empty chair we now have must be filled. We, nor the world, can afford 4 more years of it remaining empty.
That’s an amazing quote. Jake Tapper, who has done a pretty fair job of chasing the Benghazi debacle through the denials of the administration, reports on the Congressional hearings held yesterday about the terrorist attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya:
The former regional security officer in Libya, Eric Nordstrom, recalled talking to a regional director and asking for twelve security agents.
“His response to that was, ‘You are asking for the sun, moon and the stars.’ And my response to him – his name was Jim – ‘Jim, you know what makes most frustrating about this assignment? It is not the hardships, it is not the gunfire, it is not the threats. It is dealing and fighting against the people, programs and personnel who are supposed to be supporting me. And I added (sic) it by saying, ‘For me the Taliban is on the inside of the building.’”
Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wood, the commander of a Security Support Team (SST) sent home in August – against his wishes and, he says, the wishes of the late Ambassador Chris Stevens – said “we were fighting a losing battle. We couldn’t even keep what we had.”
Nordstrom agreed, saying, “it was abundantly clear we were not going to get resources until the aftermath of an incident. And the question that we would ask is again, ‘How thin does the ice need to get until someone falls through?’”
Patrick Kennedy, a career foreign service officer, claims, on his honor, that the denial wasn’t driven by politics. And, when questioned, the State Department claimed funds or the lack thereof had nothing to do with it.
So what did? Why in the world wouldn’t the request of a regional security chief be filled? After all, isn’t that what you pay him for, to assess and recommend? And doesn’t it make sense, unless he’s crying “wolf” every 30 seconds (in which case he should be replaced), to listen to his assessment and err on the side of safety for your people? That is if politics and money weren’t a factor.
Tapper later confronts Presidential spokesman Jay Carney with a very pointed question:
TAPPER: President Obama shortly after the attacks told “60 Minutes” that regarding Romney’s response to the attack, specifically in Egypt, the president said that Romney has a tendency to shoot first and aim later. Given the fact that so much was made out of the video that apparently had absolutely nothing to do with the attack on Benghazi, that there wasn’t even a protest outside the Benghazi post, didn’t President Obama shoot first and aim later?
Carney, of course, goes into full dissemble and evade mode. Read the whole exchange, it’s interesting.
Big point? Tapper’s exactly right. What we know now, as opposed to what we were told prior too and during the “60 Minutes” broadcast, are totally different. We went from a spontaneous protest over the anti-Islam video that mophed into a murderous attack on our ambassador there to no protest at all, a planned terrorist attack and all of it having to nothing to do with any video.
We know as a matter of course that the terrorists like to do things on certain anniversaries (it was 9/11) and since this was the year their leader had been killed, it stood to reason something like this would likely happen.
We also learned the US was warned about it 24 hours prior to it happening. And, as the hearings have pointed out, additional security assets were denied numerous times and an unacceptable security situation was left in place with the ultimate outcome being an attack, the murder of US citizens to include the Ambassador, the compromise of sensitive information and then a massive attempt at coverup.
Obama has a second debate coming up. It’s the foreign affairs debate. If this isn’t the topic of the night, then it will be clear he’s being covered for by those moderating the debate. Fair warning. Don’t be surprised if that’s the case. What should also be a topic is Russia’s refusal yesterday to renew it’s nuclear arms treaty with the US (how’s that “reset” working out?) as well as it’s overt and material support of both Syria and Iran, China’s apparent comfort with bullying our ally Japan over some South China Sea islands, why our relationship with Israel is so strained, how well he thinks the Muslim Brotherhood takeover of Egypt is working out in terms of the best interests of the US (which is, by the way, why we supposedly conduct foreign policy), and the obvious failure of his Afghanistan “strategy” (announce a surge at the same time you announce the pull out).
If those are actually things which are brought up and he walks off the stage afterward thinking he won, Dems can pack it in.
My guess is we’ll be hearing questions and comments about Bain’s investments in China (they have to be careful there since it seems one of Obama’s campaign finance bundlers is in China), as if that has anything to do with foreign affairs.
Hopefully I’m proven wrong and that dismal foreign affairs record (supposedly his “strength”) of this awful administration is actually brought out that night.
I’ll not be holding my breath though.
“Freedom is the right to question and change the established way of doing things. It is the continuous revolution of the marketplace. It is the understanding that allows to recognize shortcomings and seek solutions.”
Ronald Reagan — Address to students at Moscow State University, May 31, 1988
Remember the Orange Revolution? Believe it or not, it’s still pretty darned important.
We’re knee-deep in a presidential election. The European Union is witnessing a slow-motion meltdown. Syria is quickly becoming a bloody nightmare, while North Africa seethes under the vicissitudes of the Arab Spring. Iran marches closer to nuclear arms, and perhaps war with Israel. And Sino-Japanese relations threaten to simmer out of control. So why care about the Ukraine?
The simple answer is because Ukrainians have had a taste of freedom, and liked it, and we should encourage that journey towards liberalization to continue. We have an interest in such development – via free and fair elections, open markets and greater legal protections in its reformed court system – because this is how individuals become personally invested in the growth of the nation, and thus how liberty spreads. As President Reagan emphasized in 1981, “only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefiting from their success — only then can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, progressive, and free.” The more societies like that in the world, and especially in the Eurasian region, the better. And this is exactly where Ukraine is poised to go.
Unfortunately, we may be taking steps to discourage further liberalization in the form of a Senate resolution essentially demanding that Ukraine act exactly like a western democracy immediately or face consequences. The reality is that the former soviet republic of nearly 50 million souls is at a crossroads. Will they continue to move towards alignment with the West, or turn back towards familiar haunts in Moscow?
To be sure, the current government has expressed great interest in being integrated into the European Union, going so far as to ink an Association Agreement in March:
The Association Agreement creates a framework for cooperation and stipulates establishing closer economic, cultural, and social ties between the signees. Moreover, Brussels officials expect the document to promote the rule of law, democracy, and human rights in Ukraine.
This first step to entering the EU (which still needs to be ratified) requires a concrete demonstration from Ukraine that it is moving towards “an independent judicial system, free and fair elections and constitutional reform.”
These are exactly the sorts of reforms that serve to expand liberty. Indeed, as Ukraine has liberalized over the past two decades since independence, it has since fits and starts of great economic growth and expanded prosperity. For example, between 2001 and 2008, the economy expanded at an average rate of 7.5%, and despite a severe downturn in 2009, it has continued to grow with exports increasing by 30% in 2010 alone. Indeed, Ukraine is ranked by CNBC.com as the second best country for long-term growth in the world, right behind the Philippines. Ukraine has also begun to institute judicial reforms that promise to train better judges, hold them accountable, and strengthen the fairness of the system that has long been burdened with rampant corruption and cronyism. And for the first time ever, outside election observers will be allowed to monitor the parliamentary elections this month.
Yet, these necessary and welcome reforms lie on a fragile bed.
Ukraine has been moving toward a market economy since it declared independence in 1991. The way has been extremely difficult and bumpy. Twenty years after the beginning of market reforms, Ukraine is still struggling to build a strong, transparent, and sustainable economic system that can provide the Ukrainian people with economic prosperity and social security.
Moving towards greater integration with the West, via the EU, will strengthen that bed. Demanding that Ukraine act as a long-established western democracy right now, today, only serves to further weaken it :
Economics 101 defines the problem of scarcity as unlimited wants with limited resources, and, to paraphrase George Shultz, the laws of economics apply as much in foreign policy as they do at home. While it may be rhetorically satisfying and politically convenient for Americans to assert an equal commitment to every priority in Ukraine, ranging from democratic development to removal of weapons-grade uranium, the reality is that some priorities are achievable, at an acceptable cost and within a realistic timeframe, while others are not.
If we cannot advance all of our values and all of our interests all of the time, then we are left with the necessity of ranking our national priorities. While it is clearly important that Ukraine put an end to politically motivated prosecutions, it bears asking whether resources and attention from Washington that have been focused exclusively on this issue are crowding out other compelling U.S. national interests.
The Orange Revolution was not a battle or a war. It was, and is, a movement. Our national interests will always be aligned with fostering greater liberty, which is what the Orange Revolution movement is all about. Instead of throwing up roadblocks in the Senate, we should be helping build road signs that lead towards further peace, prosperity and freedom.
Sometimes it takes Charles Krauthammer to succinctly put matters in perspective:
It’s now three years since the Cairo speech. Look around. The Islamic world is convulsed with an explosion of anti-Americanism. From Tunisia to Lebanon, American schools, businesses and diplomatic facilities set ablaze. A U.S. ambassador and three others murdered in Benghazi. The black flag of Salafism, of which al-Qaeda is a prominent element, raised over our embassies in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Sudan.
The administration, staggered and confused, blames it all on a 14-minute trailer for a film no one has seen and may not even exist.
What else can it say? Admit that its doctrinal premises were supremely naive and its policies deeply corrosive to American influence?
Can’t do that. This is his “strong point”. Foreign policy. How are we perceived in the world right now? Well as Mitt Romney quoted Henry Kissinger when asked the same question “Veak!”
Again we go back to human nature, especially as it concerns the behavior of nations. Like it or not, “international laws” and “governing bodies” and all, the world is, in effect, anarchy. We’re all born into national groups or some might even say gangs. And, like all disparate groups, the strongest ones run the place.
Apparently Barack Obama thought that was a bad thing, or at least bad if the US was the one doing so, so he essentially apologized, had America step back from prominent leadership and a position of strength to the new doctrine of “leading from behind”, and these past few weeks have been the result.
The administration’s excuse (because it’s always someone else’s fault)? A 14 minute movie trailer made by a Coptic Christian. That’s it. That’s why it happened.
Sovereign U.S. territory is breached and U.S. interests are burned. And what is the official response? One administration denunciation after another — of a movie trailer! A request to Google to “review” the trailer’s presence on YouTube. And a sheriff’s deputies’ midnight “voluntary interview” with the suspected filmmaker. This in the land of the First Amendment.
What else can Obama do? At their convention, Democrats endlessly congratulated themselves on their one foreign policy success: killing Osama bin Laden. A week later, the Salafist flag flies over four American embassies, even as the mob chants, “Obama, Obama, there are still a billion Osamas.”
A foreign policy in epic collapse. And, by the way, Vladimir Putin just expelled the U.S. Agency for International Development from Russia. Another thank you from another recipient of another grand Obama “reset.”
But it’s all about a movie, isn’t it?
Because it couldn’t be about epic incompetence and criminal naivety, could it?
That’s when, if he wins, Obama promises to be “more flexible”:
The Obama administration is weighing the release of blind Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman — the spiritual adviser to the 1993 World Trade Center bombers — in a stunning goodwill gesture toward Egypt that has touched off a political firestorm, officials said yesterday.
The Egyptian government “asked for his release,” an administration source told The Post — and Rep. Peter King (R-LI) confirmed the request is being considered.
The White House, State Department and Justice Department each issued statements denying any deal is in the works, but, “There’s no way to believe anything they say,” said Andrew McCarthy, the former assistant US attorney who prosecuted Abdel-Rahman. “I believe there may already be a nod-and-wink agreement in place.” Abdel-Rahman, 74, was convicted in 1995 of plotting terror attacks throughout the city and is locked away in the medical wing of the Butner Federal Correctional Institution in North Carolina.
That would rock the house, wouldn’t it? Wonder what the Egyptians are promising … not to attack the Embassy anymore? Or to at least try to protect it?
This crew in the White House really needs to go home in a few months.
The question is, will the real story ever be told by the media of this country:
After the American media grabbed and held the pro-Obama headlines against Romney’s comments and took Obama’s “Romney shoots first and aims second” quote to iconic proportions, the rest of the world is reporting that the Obama administration knew about the planned-attack on the Benghazi, Libya Embassy where four Americans, including United States Ambassador Christopher Steven was murdered.
That strong allegation needs to be “the story”, not the political-trouncing of Mitt Romney, a man who has nothing to do with the White House, the U.S. Embassy, or the deadly and non-deadly attacks on our United States Embassy’s around the world. “The story” obviously involves the White House and the president within – Barack Obama – not the Massachusetts challenger.
The reporters and bloggers who have made Mitt Romney the story – instead of the attacked-United States Embassy, the innocent Americans who were attacked, and the White House with its president in abstention as he continually treks the campaign trail regardless of the duties left behind in Washington, D.C. – are guilty of letting another American tragedy remain buried.
To me this is the stunner of the month. It isn’t about what Romney said, it’s about an administration who doesn’t do the elemental things necessary to protect it’s own embassy staff in Libya, even when they knew something was brewing (Word on the street and the anniversary of 9/11? You don’t have to be a rocket scientist, do you?).
And yet somehow this has all become about Romney? Meanwhile the administration has said they’re not going to talk about Libya anymore and the media say, “okay”.
You know, it wasn’t too long ago that dissent was the highest form of patriotism, remember?
Yeah, not so much.
But if you want the real story, this is where the press ought to be digging:
Reports from a number of knowledgeable sources are being widely-circulated regarding the United States State Department’s having received knowledge of the attack in Benghazi as early as September 9 – two days before the four Americans were killed. That’s “the story”. There were also similar reports that the attack in Cairo was revealed prior to its occurrence. The knowledgeable sources report that no warning was given to persons in the U.S. Embassies in Cairo or Benghazi after the State Department was warned. In Libya, there were approximately 30 people in the main consulate building who could have been warned but weren’t.
Additionally, Wanis el-Sharef, Libya’s deputy interior minister, told the Associated Press that the heavily armed militants “used” a protest of an anti-Islam film as a “cover” in their deadly attack on the U.S. Embassy while screaming “God is great!”
But instead, page 1 is what Romney said. Meanwhile, the compliant media accepts the “we’re done talking about it” from the most transparant administration ever.