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Foreign Affairs

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Accountability? Not with this administration

After a scathing after action report we the public were told that four individuals at the State Department were being held responsible for security the debacle in Benghazi. Supposedly all four were being forced to resign.

However, it now appears, that is untrue.

The four officials supposedly out of jobs because of their blunders in the run-up to the deadly Benghazi terror attack remain on the State Department payroll — and will all be back to work soon, The Post has learned.

The highest-ranking official caught up in the scandal, Assistant Secretary of State Eric Boswell, has not “resigned” from government service, as officials said last week. He is just switching desks. And the other three are simply on administrative leave and are expected back.

The four were made out to be sacrificial lambs in the wake of a scathing report issued last week that found that the US compound in Benghazi, Libya, was left vulnerable to attack because of “grossly inadequate” security.

State Department leaders “didn’t come clean about Benghazi and now they’re not coming clean about these staff changes,” a source close to the situation told The Post., adding, the “public would be outraged over this.”

This is typical of our government today. Few if any top government officials are held accountable for their actions or the result of their actions. In this case we were simply lied to. Straight up, in-your-face lies. There apparently was never any intention of actually firing anyone. The deaths that resulted from these peoples gross incompetence are to be ignored.

Until we began to demand that heads roll when this sort of incompetence is encountered, there is no penalty for being incompetent. There is also no lesson learned, or applied. Consequently, you can expect pretty much the same result in other areas.

All of this is a result of the politics of today. The unwillingness to admit a mistake and take proper corrective action because such an admission would reflect poorly on the party in power. No thought or concern about the country. Those responsible for security lapses that led to the death four good men in Libya -men who were depending on their higher ups to do their job – deserve to at a minimum lose their jobs and be forced out of civil service. That’s obviously not going to happen.

If I were a member of the family of one of those men, I be considering a civil lawsuit against those responsible for the failed security that ultimately led to their deaths. It may be a poor alternative to these people being sacked (and likely an alternative that would be a long and expensive process), but I’d be damned if I’d let them get away scott free with being responsible for the murder of my loved one.

Back to the main point, however – this is an example of a government that is both imperious and out-of-touch – more concerned with the health of the bureaucracy than justice and certainly more concerned with party vs. country.

~McQ


Meanwhile in Egypt, an Islamic Constitution is signed into law

And apparently, our current government, given their history, will really have no problem with it.   Why do I say that? Because their love affair with the Muslim Brotherhood extends back quite some time. Despite all the warnings that the Brotherhood was radical and Islamist, this administration and Democrats have been making overtures for years.

Going back to April 2007, Democrats made special efforts to link up with the MB when visiting then-House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., met with Dr. Saad el-Katatni, the MB’s parliamentary leader, at former U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardone’s home, at a time when then-Secretary Condoleezza Rice has publicly refused to meet with the Brotherhood.

Mr. Ricciardone, who I can call a friend, once told me that his friendship with another MB leader, Essam El- Erain, extended for close to 30 years. Perhaps that was the catalyst for this meeting and subsequent meetings that took place at his residency.

A stream of meetings as well as public and private contacts followed between current U.S. Ambassador Ann Paterson and members of the Brotherhood since her arrival to Egypt shortly after the revolution. The ambassador seemed to favor the Brotherhood and the hardliner Salafis over the rest of the secular players in Egypt.

In fact, she has turned down requests for meetings from heads of political parties and other secular politicians, myself included, who opposed the Brotherhood.
In addition to the ambassador, other U.S. officials such as Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Sen. John Kerry made the pilgrimage to the MB headquarters and made sure to meet with their leader, Khairat El-Shater, at times even publicly praising him, as did Mr. Kerry. Those visits were made during a time where no political group had emerged as a leader in post-revolution Egypt.

The result, of course, is a state much more inclined to hostility toward Israel and the United States. Additionally, with the signing of the new Constitution, the secular state is dead. It will relegate women and minorities to second-class status. Additionally, given the Brotherhood’s history, Egypt is likely to lend more support to Hamas and Hezbollah. It is also likely, given the fact that it controls a border area on Gaza, that weaponry into that area will flow unimpeded.

I wanted to bring John Kerry’s role in this  to light, since it is likely he will be the next Secretary of State. Just as he provided propaganda fodder for the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam war, he and other Democrats have provided “justification” for the Muslim Brotherhood’s move to establish Sharia law in Egypt.

The MBs used these high-level meetings to tell the Egyptian people that the U.S. was supporting them and did not object to their rule. Many of us reached out to U.S. officials at the State Department and complained that the U.S. policy regarding the MB was putting the secular forces in Egypt at a disadvantage because it seemed to be propping up the MB, but our concerns were dismissed.

We warned of the MB’s desire to impose Sharia law once in power and the grim effect it would have on the rights of the millions of Christians and moderate Muslims, including women and children, yet all of our warnings were dismissed. It seems that a policy decision was made to bring the MB to power in Egypt at all costs, and it happened.

As it turns out, the situation in Egypt, backed by Democrats and this administration, has made the country a less reliable US ally, has turned the cultural clock there back to the seventh century with the establishment of Sharia law, and has relegated a large portion of Egyptians to second-class status all the while becoming much more of a threat to the country of Israel.

If the purpose of foreign relations is to create situations that are favorable to the United States, this has been an epic failure.

~McQ


Laugh of the day: Arab Spring

I do love this title in The New Republic … TNR of all places: “Shame on Anyone Who Ever Thought Mohammad Morsi Was a Moderate”

I do admit to laughing out loud when I read it, but I also thought that it was a bit too specific. In fact, and when you read the article I’m sure you’ll agree, the title should have read “Shame on Anyone Who Ever Thought the Muslim Brotherhood Was Moderate.”

But if that sort of article can show up in TNR, it indicates that at least some Western Liberals may have taken off the blinders and are now, finally, dealing with the reality of what “Arab Spring” brought. In Egypt’s case an extremist Islamist with dictatorial tendencies.

Granted Hosni Mubarak wasn’t exactly a peach of a guy. A dictator by any other name is still a dictator. But in terms of the interests of the United States and peace in the Middle East, he did a fair job on keeping a lid on the Islamists in his country like, well, Morsi.

It appears, though, and I hate to say we told you so, but a) the best organized group took power (i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood) and b) they’re reverting to form (i.e. Islamist totalitarianism).

Oh, sure, there are demonstrations and riots going on in Egypt right now against Morsi’s move, but you had better believe the Muslim Brotherhood is mobilizing to counter them. The only reason Morsi hasn’t stomped them right now is likely two-fold. World opinion (he just got a huge pat on the back for the Israeli/Palestinian cease fire – one “aw crap” negates any “attaboys”) and the fact that he likely hasn’t consolidated power to the point that he feels comfortable in doing so via the army. But his power grab certainly removes all doubt about his “democratic” leanings or lack thereof, doesn’t it? And, like I said, he’ll let the Brotherhood do the heavy lifting if it comes to that.

I’m sure this is quiet disappointing to the liberals who were sure democracy would flower in a country with no democratic institutions, no democratic history and an organized extremist group poised to exploit the troubles and sieze power, but then they’re the same sort of “fellow travelers” who thought Uncle Joe Stalin ran a heck of a good gulag show in the good old USSR, weren’t they?

~McQ


Egypt’s Morsi grants himself new powers – So much for Arab Spring

It’s a bit of “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” but with an Islamist slant:

Egypt’s president on Thursday issued constitutional amendments that placed him above judicial oversight and ordered the retrial of Hosni Mubarak for the killing of protesters in last year’s uprising.

Mohammed Morsi also decreed immunity for the Islamist-dominated panel drafting a new constitution from any possible court decisions to dissolve it, a threat that had been hanging over the controversial assembly.

Liberal and Christian members withdrew from the assembly during the past week to protest what they say is the hijacking of the process by Morsi’s allies, who they saw are trying to push through a document that will have an Islamist slant marginalizing women and minority Christians and infringing on personal liberties. Several courts have been looking into cases demanding the dissolution of the panel.

The Egyptian leader also decreed that all decisions he has made since taking office in June and until a new constitution is adopted and a new parliament is elected — which is not expected before next spring — are not subject to appeal in court or by any other authority. He also barred any court from dissolving the Islamist-led upper house of parliament, a largely toothless body that has also faced court cases.

In essence he has declared himself (by issuing his own handy “constitutional amendments”) supreme and above the law.

I’m not sure why anyone is particularly surprised.  He promised no one from the Muslim Brotherhood would run for president and then ran for president.  He claimed that they’d do the will of the people and now he’s actively making women and religious minorities into 2nd class citizens.  And his government will have a pronounced Islamic theocratic slant all written into law.

He also supports the terrorists in Gaza.

Yup, that “Arab Spring” thing is just working out about as well as one could hope, huh?

Forward.

~McQ


Well, this is sure to help: Turkey calls Israel a “terrorist state”

I know, like me, you’ve been watching with some wonder as Israel gets called everything but a child of God for defending itself from hundreds of rockets being fired into its country and then having the unmitigated temerity to strike back. Now we have a member of NATO upping the tensions just a bit more:

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan described Israel on Monday as a “terrorist state” in carrying out its bombardment of Gaza, underlining hostility for Ankara’s former ally since relations between them collapsed in 2010.

His comments came after nearly a week of Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel and Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip. An Israeli missile killed at least 11 Palestinian civilians including four children in Gaza on Sunday.

“Those who associate Islam with terrorism close their eyes in the face of mass killing of Muslims, turn their heads from the massacre of children in Gaza,” Erdogan told a conference of the Eurasian Islamic Council in Istanbul.

I’d go through the litany of the whys and wherefores that detail why there are “civilian” casualties when Israel strikes back (hint: because that’s part of the plan when Hamas does these sorts of things as a means of swaying the ignorant and those who tend buy into the “poor, wronged victims” they love to portray themselves as), but you know them as well as I do.

We’ve talked about Turkey’s inexorable slide toward radical Islam for quite some time, so in reality, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise.  Turkey, which once looked west has turned its view to the east and is eyeing regional power.  Turkey knows that there’s one requirement to admission to power in that region, and that’s embracing and touting Islam.  In fact, it is about embracing a radical form of Islam that refuses to recognize Israel or it’s right to exist.  This is just another shot among many that Turkey has taken.  The NATO reference just reminds us of the possible difficulties their membership could pose in a situation like this.

And speaking of the present situation, as soon as Israel strikes back we begin to hear the false arguments about “proportionality” begin to surface.  No one mentions that 750 to 1,000 unanswered rockets and mortars have flown disproportionally into Israel, it’s always about those 100 air strikes the Israelis put into Gaza that are condemned as violating this new law of proportionality.  Yes, proportionality is only a concern when Israel acts, not when the terrorists attack.

The real reason that it comes up at all is because Hamas surrounds its launchers with civilians and are lousy shots and Israel isn’t.

It’s just not fair.

~McQ


Obama’s “news conference”

Such that it was.  4 things.

One: There were no ‘hard questions’.  If you look at the transcript you’ll note that the President called on reporters by name.  You know why, don’t you?

Two: The Susan Rice thing.  Let’s do a Candy Crowley and go to the transcript:

But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.

What’s outrageous is he just admitted that he didn’t say that Benghazi was a terrorist act as he asserted in a debate, or, one assumes, Ms. Rice wouldn’t have been spouting the video line.  If Obama knew on day two in the Rose Garden that it was a terrorist attack (and the only way he’d know was through intel reports), why didn’t Rice?

Three:

What I’m concerned about is not finding ourselves in a situation where the wealthy aren’t paying more or aren’t paying as much they should; middle-class families, one way or another, are making up the difference. That’s the kind of status quo that has been going on here too long, and that’s exactly what I argued against during this campaign. And if there’s — one thing that I’m pretty confident about is the American people understood what they were getting when they gave me this incredible privilege of being in office for another four years. They want compromise. They wanted action. But they also want to make sure that middle-class folks aren’t bearing the entire burden and sacrifice when it comes to some of these big challenges. They expect that folks at the top are doing their fair share as well, and that’s going to be my guiding principle during these negotiations but, more importantly, during the next four years of my administration.

I’m not sure how many times we have to publish the percentage of taxes the top 5%, 2% or 1% pay in comparison with the rest of the population, but in reality, they pay much more than their “fair share”.  This isn’t about “fair share’s”.  It’s about perpetuating a myth that taxing them more will ease the debt/deficit problem (as Dale has pointed out, it will yield about $42 billion) and give Obama someone to blame if “negotiations” fail.  This tax the rich scheme is the reddest of red herrings.

Four:  Perputuating the “Big Lie”:

You know, as you know, Mark, we can’t attribute any particular weather event to climate change. What we do know is the temperature around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted even 10 years ago. We do know that the Arctic ice cap is melting faster than was predicted even five years ago. We do know that there have been extraordinarily — there have been an extraordinarily large number of severe weather events here in North America, but also around the globe.

There has been no warming for the past 10 years, Arctic ice is fine, thank you very much, and there have not been an “extraordinarily large number of severe weather events” here.   In fact, we’re in a “hurricane drought” per the experts.

The good news, if you believe him, is that climate change will take a back seat to jobs and the economy.  How do we measure whether this is more Obama hot air (i.e. saying one thing, doing another) or he means it?

Watch the EPA.

~McQ


Best. Analysis. Of. French. Politics. EVER.

I needed a laugh today, and John Lichfield of the UK’s Independent was kind enough to provide it.  It is readily apparent, as you read the article, that Lichfield is “underwhelmed” with new French President Hollande.  But this paragraph is about as brilliant a summary of French politics as I’ve seen in a while and had me belly laughing when I read it:

After the whirl of the Sarkozy years, Mr Hollande was elected as a muddle-through kind of politician. He is now being accused of trying to muddle through. This is, at least, a variant on the usual French pattern of electing politicians to bring “change” and then protesting against the changes.

Thank you, sir.

I needed that.

~McQ


“Leading from behind” is not a doctrine that serves the best interests of the US

Jackson Diehl takes an interesting look at the Obama doctrine for foreign policy or, as some have called it, “leading from behind”.  Diehl prefers to call it the “light footprint” doctrine:

Contrary to the usual Republican narrative, Obama did not lead a U.S. retreat from the world. Instead he sought to pursue the same interests without the same means. He has tried to preserve America’s place as the “indispensable nation” while withdrawing ground troops from war zones, cutting the defense budget, scaling back “nation-building” projects and forswearing U.S.-led interventions.

[...]

It’s a strategy that supposes that patient multilateral diplomacy can solve problems like Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability; that drone strikes can do as well at preventing another terrorist attack on the U.S. homeland as do ground forces in Afghanistan; that crises like that of Syria can be left to the U.N. Security Council.

Okay.  I really dont’ buy into the claim that Obama hasn’t led a “U.S. retreat from the world”, but I’m willing to stipulate that to get to the rest.

The rest, of course, has to do with the ineffectiveness and potential problems this doctrine presents.  And they’re not small problems either.  One thing that observers of world affairs seem to pick up on fairly quickly is that someone or something will fill a power vacuum.  Say what you want about “light footprints” or “leading from behind”, it has indeed created that sort of vacuum.  And other countries, notably Russia and China globally and Iran regionally, are busily trying to figure out how to fill that vacuum.

Perhaps, in the long run, it is best we do withdraw somewhat.  Fiscal reality demands at least some reductions and foreign policy is not exempt.  But it should be done shrewdly and according to some overall plan that carefully considers the ramifications of such a withdrawal.

Secondly, it likely makes sense not to involve ourselves too deeply in situations that don’t really concern us or threaten our security.  Like Libya.  It is interesting that Libya was a “go”, but Syria was a “no-go”, considering the stated reasoning (or propaganda if you prefer) for intervention in Libya.

So how has it worked?  Well, for a while it seemed to be working well enough – and then:

For the last couple of years, the light footprint worked well enough to allow Obama to turn foreign policy into a talking point for his reelection. But the terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 should have been a red flag to all who believe this president has invented a successful new model for U.S. leadership. Far from being an aberration, Benghazi was a toxic byproduct of the light footprint approach — and very likely the first in a series of boomerangs.

Why were Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans murdered by Libyan jihadists? The preliminary round of official investigations may focus on decisions by mid-level officials at the State Department that deprived the Benghazi mission of adequate security, and a failure by the large CIA team in the city to detect the imminent threat from extremist groups.

But ultimately the disaster in Libya derived from Obama’s doctrine. Having been reluctantly dragged by France and Britain into intervening in Libya’s revolution, Obama withdrew U.S. planes from the fight as quickly as possible; when the war ended, the White House insisted that no U.S. forces stay behind. Requests by Libya’s fragile transition government for NATO’s security assistance were answered with an ill-conceived and ultimately failed program to train a few people in Jordan.

Where does that leave us?

A new report by the Rand Corporation concludes that “this lighter-footprint approach has made Libya a test case for a new post-Iraq and Afghanistan model of nation-building.” But the result is that, a year after the death of dictator Moammar Gaddafi, Libya is policed by what amounts to a mess of militias. Its newly elected government has little authority over most of the country’s armed men — much less the capacity to take on the jidhadist forces gathering in and around Benghazi.

The Rand study concludes that stabilizing Libya will require disarming and demobilizing the militias and rebuilding the security forces “from the bottom up.” This, it says, probably can’t happen without help from “those countries that participated in the military intervention” — i.e. the United States, Britain and France. Can the Obama administration duplicate the security-force-building done in Iraq and Afghanistan in Libya while sticking to the light footprint? It’s hard to see how.

It certainly is.  In fact, Libya is a disaster.  If the purpose of US foreign policy is to enhance the interests of the US I defy anyone to tell me how that has been done in Libya.  And now there are rumors we’re going to do the same thing in Mali (mainly because much of the weaponry that the Gaddafi government had has spread across the Middle East after their fall, to include terrorist groups which are now basing out of Mali).

How will the Obama administration answer these challenges?  Diehl thinks he’ll rely even more heavily on drone strikes.  But again, one has to ask how that furthers and serves the best interests of the United States:

A paper by Robert Chesney of the University of Texas points out that if strikes begin to target countries in North Africa and groups not directly connected to the original al-Qaeda leadership, problems with their legal justification under U.S. and international law “will become increasingly apparent and problematic.” And that doesn’t account for the political fallout: Libyan leaders say U.S. drone strikes would destroy the goodwill America earned by helping the revolution.

Anyone who still believes the myth that we’re better loved in the Middle East right now, needs to give up smoking whatever it is they’re smoking.  Adding increased drone strikes in more countries certainly won’t promote “goodwill” toward America.  It will, instead, provide jihadists with all the ammunition they need to demonize the country further – which, of course, helps recruiting.

I’m not contending this is easy stuff or there’s a slam-dunk alternate solution.  But I am saying that doing what was done in Libya for whatever high sounding reason has been a disaster, has not served the best interests of the United States and, in fact, will most likely be detrimental to its interests.

It is, as Deihl points out, a huge red flag.  The doctrine of choice right now is not the doctrine we should be pursuing if the results are like those we’ve gotten in Libya.  If ever there was a time for a ‘reset’ in our foreign policy approach, this is it.

~McQ


Benghazi bottom line

Two things we now know the President didn’t do.  First from CBS:

CBS News has learned that during the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, the Obama Administration did not convene its top interagency counterterrorism resource: the Counterterrorism Security Group, (CSG).

“The CSG is the one group that’s supposed to know what resources every agency has. They know of multiple options and have the ability to coordinate counterterrorism assets across all the agencies,” a high-ranking government official told CBS News. “They were not allowed to do their job. They were not called upon.”

The second from a former SEAL officer who knows the protocol necessary to launch a rescue from outside Libya:

No administration wants to stumble into a war because a jet jockey in hot pursuit (or a mixed-up SEAL squad in a rubber boat) strays into hostile territory. Because of this, only the president can give the order for our military to cross a nation’s border without that nation’s permission. For the Osama bin Laden mission, President Obama granted CBA for our forces to enter Pakistani airspace.

On the other side of the CBA coin: in order to prevent a military rescue in Benghazi, all the POTUS has to do is not grant cross-border authority. If he does not, the entire rescue mission (already in progress) must stop in its tracks.

So, bottom line – He didn’t convene the CSG which would have been the lead agency to coordinate an attempted rescue from outside the country and he apparently never gave the CBA (which only he can issue) necessary to do so.

Or, in other words, he lied about doing everything necessary to save and protect the lives of those in combat in Libya.

Finally, the cover-up and attempting to deflect the blame:

Leon Panetta is falling on his sword for President Obama with his absurd-on-its-face, “the U.S. military doesn’t do risky things”-defense of his shameful no-rescue policy. Panetta is utterly destroying his reputation. General Dempsey joins Panetta on the same sword with his tacit agreement by silence. But why? How far does loyalty extend when it comes to covering up gross dereliction of duty by the president?

Great question.  Don’t expect an answer anytime soon.

~McQ


Benghazi: Cowardice and incompetence

A deadly combination. If this election is about “trust” as Obama likes to say, then I trust him about as far as I could throw him.

This lady does about as good a job as you’ll see laying it all out:

Interesting footnote and something the Obama campaign has apparently forgotten:

A strikingly similar story from across the pond proves that honesty in the wake of terrorist attacks matters to voters.

On March 11, 2004, an al-Qaida terrorist cell bombed the commuter train system in Madrid, Spain. Nearly 200 people were killed.

The attack came just three days before Spain’s prime ministerial election. At the time, incumbent Jose Maria Aznar was enjoying a small lead in the polls. But the attack changed everything — and Aznar ended up losing to challenger Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero by five points.

Today, the consensus is that Aznar lost the election because of his mishandling and misrepresentation of the Madrid bombings. Aznar and his party claimed the bombings were the work of a Basque separatist organization, despite evidence to the contrary. The theory is that because Spain had recently entered the Iraq War — something that was unpopular with the Spanish electorate at the time — Aznar believed that admitting al-Qaida was behind the attack would damage his re-election chances.

The parallel between the Madrid bombings and the Benghazi attack is obvious. Like the Madrid bombings, the Benghazi attack happened in the midst of a heated campaign season and was followed by confusion, false assertions, and — worse — misrepresentations by the very political leaders asking for the electorate’s trust.

At the very least, the Obama administration bungled its response to the Benghazi attack. And the more information about the attack that surfaces, the worse President Obama looks.

Indeed. Keep this alive, because it illustrates explicitly why Obama is not someone this country can trust.

~McQ

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