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Iran to place missiles capable of hitting US in Venezuela

Iran is again upping the ante in the game of brinksmanship it is playing with the US and the rest of the Western world. It’s latest move? An agreement with the anti-US regime in Venezuela to base medium range ground-to-ground missiles there.

Iran is planning to place medium-range missiles on Venezuelan soil, based on western information sources[1], according to an article in the German daily, Die Welt, of November 25, 2010. According to the article, an agreement between the two countries was signed during the last visit o Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Tehran on October19, 2010. The previously undisclosed contract provides for the establishment of a jointly operated military base in Venezuela, and the joint development of ground-to-ground missiles.

At a moment when NATO members found an agreement, in the recent Lisbon summit (19-20 November 2010), to develop a Missile Defence capability to protect NATO’s populations and territories in Europe against ballistic missile attacks from the East (namely, Iran), Iran’s counter-move consists in establishing a strategic base in the South American continent – in the United States’s soft underbelly.

Some of us are old enough to remember the Cuban missile crisis of the Kennedy era and the fact that we went to the very brink of nuclear war to prevent the USSR from establishing missile bases in the US.

Of course the USSR was a nuclear power at the time and so the possibility of  nuclear weaponry being a part of those missiles was both real and likely.  Iran, on the other hand, isn’t yet a power with nuclear weapons (or so say it and the rest of the world).  But it is anticipated that they will soon have that capability. 

So, if the report is true will the US allow the establishment of such missile bases in Venezuela?  And with the possibility of the regime in Iran developing nuclear weapons, the possibility they’ll “share” them with Venezuela has to be taken serious.  The agreement apparently allows Iran to establish a military base there manned by Iranian missile officers, soldiers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.  The base with be jointly occupied by Venezuelan military as well.

And then there is this bit of ominous news about the agreement:

In addition, Iran has given permission for the missiles to be used in case of an "emergency". In return, the agreement states that Venezuela can use these facilities for "national needs" – radically increasing the threat to neighbors like Colombia. The German daily claims that according to the agreement, Iranian Shahab 3 (range 1300-1500 km), Scud-B (285-330 km) and Scud-C (300, 500 and 700 km) will be deployed in the proposed base. It says that Iran also pledged to help Venezuela in rocket technology expertise, including intensive training of officers

Not only that, it is through Venezuela that Iran is planning to bypass UN weapons sanctions as well:

Russia decided not to sell five battalions of S-300PMU-1 air defence systems to Iran. These weapons, along with a number of other weapons, were part of a deal, signed in 2007, worth $800 million. Now that these weapons cannot be delivered to Iran, Russia is looking for new customers; according to the Russian press agency Novosti[2], it found one: Venezuela.

Novosti reports the words of Igor Korotchenko, head of a Moscow-based think tank on international arms trade, saying that if the S-300 deal with Venezuela goes through, Caracas should pay cash for the missiles, rather than take another loan from Russia. "The S-300 is a very good product and Venezuela should pay the full amount in cash, as the country’s budget has enough funds to cover the deal ," Korotchenko said. Moscow has already provided Caracas with several loans to buy Russian-made weaponry, including a recent $2.2-mln loan on the purchase of 92 T-72M1M tanks, the Smerch multiple-launch rocket systems and other military equipment.

If Iran, therefore, cannot get the S-300 missiles directly from Russia, it can still have them through its proxy, Venezuela, and deploy them against its staunchest enemy, the U.S..

So, thus far, this is what the US’s “unclenched fist” has brought.  A move by Iran – whether admitted or not – to establish a way at striking at the US should the US strike Iran.  Additionally, it has found an ally to help it avoid weapons sanctions and obtain advanced weaponry that would help protect it’s nuclear facilities from air strikes through a proxy (of course, training and maintenance and parts may be difficult to obtain should Venezuela buy them and send them to Iran).

Iran has obviously not been sitting idly by while the West contrived to choke it off from the weaponry it wants.  Additionally it has found a way to make any strike on their facilities much more risky for the US.

Anna Mahjar-Barducci of Hudson New York (Hudson Institute) concludes:

Back in the 1962, thanks to the stern stance adopted by the then Kennedy administration, the crisis was defused.

Nowadays, however, we do not see the same firmness from the present administration. On the contrary, we see a lax attitude, both in language and in deeds, that results in extending hands when our adversaries have no intention of shaking hands with us. Iran is soon going to have a nuclear weapon, and there are no signs that UN sanctions will in any way deter the Ayatollah’s regime from completing its nuclear program. We know that Iran already has missiles that can carry an atomic warhead over Israel and over the Arabian Peninsula. Now we learn that Iran is planning to build a missile base close to the US borders. How longer do we have to wait before the Obama administration begins to understand threats?

Her points are dead-on.  The unclenched fist, as we predicted, has caused the aggressors of the world to decide to push the envelope.  Believe it or not  And why not?  There’s no penalty evident for doing so.  As mentioned here at QandO, 2009 would be a year that the bad guys watched the new guy on the block and assessed him (weak or strong?).  If they decide he’s a weak sister, they will begin to test him in 2010 and 2011.  North Korea is right now in the middle of doing that and, as this deal indicates, Iran (nor Venezuela) has absolutely no fear of the US’s reaction to basing missiles capable of hitting the US mainland in Venezuela.  And START does nothing to address this situation, obviously.  Yet that’s the administration’s current priority.

The phone is about to ring at 3am.  You have to wonder when it does if it will just go to the answering machine.

~McQ


DADT

I think it should be obvious – even to Sen. McCain – that DADT is going to be repealed at some point whether anyone likes it or not.  That repeal can be a purposeful one, implemented in a way in which the military can decide on a timeline and methodology by which to do so, or it can be by a court order that will end it immediately and not allow the military any control of the transition.

The Pentagon’s DADT study was recently published and it essentially concluded that most troops really don’t care about gays serving openly. That sentiment mirrors what most of the country feels as well.  The Pentagon report concluded that the threat to the force of repeal is “low”.

As I’ve said for years, when the dominant culture concludes sexual orientation isn’t relevant to job performance, that would eventually filter into the military.  If the Pentagon’s study is to be believed, that’s happened.

I’m reminded of one NCO who essentially boiled down the issue in a way that best reflects my feelings.  I’m paraphrasing, but he said that in the military there are two types of soldiers – those that are squared away and those that are dirt bags.  If a soldier is squared away he wants him, and he doesn’t really give a rip what his sexual orientation might be.  If he’s a dirt bag he wants him gone, and again that means straight or gay.

The top leadership in the military seems prepared to make the change.   The majority of the military, as reflected in the study’s numbers, seem prepared to make the change.  The experience of other nations, to include Israel, seem to indicate little risk in its implementation.

One of the things both sides have trotted out at various times in an effort to score political points when considering military issues  is  we should “listen to the generals”.  In this case I think that’s exactly right.  Repeal it and let them implement what is necessary to make the transition as painless as possible.  Refusing to do so leaves only the courts as an alternative.  And the courts aren’t going to give a rip about “transitions” or “time lines”, etc.  They’re going to order it stopped now.

John McCain said he was “open” to abiding by what the Pentagon study concluded.  That was apparently when he believed it would conclude something completely different than it did.  As far as I’m concerned, we’re making official something that has been the military’s dirty little secret for centuries.  That is we who have held command in the military have always pretty much done precisely what the NCO I paraphrased above said.  If you’ve been in the military for anytime at all, you’ve been in units in which gay soldiers served.  You knew it.  Everyone else knew it.  They knew you knew.  But as long as they showed up every day, in proper uniform, did their job to the utmost of their ability – i.e. “soldiered” – no one cared.

That should be the only standard by which we judge our soldiers, and we should make it the sole standard as soon as possible.

~McQ


Defense: cut cost, not capability

One of the eternal claims of the left is that there is much that can be cut from the defense budget. Shockingly they’re right. At least in a meta-sense. There isn’t a government bureaucracy anywhere in government that can’t comfortably be cut, despite claims to the contrary. Defense is no exception. Secretary Gates plan to cut 100 billion from the Defense budget is both necessary and laudable.

But here’s the catch. Those cuts must address fat, not muscle. They must cut costs, not capability. We must address any cuts made carefully and in a way we ensure our future viability in a very dangerous world.

We also need to understand that whether we like it or not, we have the dominant leadership role in the free world. Abdication of that role could have catastrophic results for our nation and our allies and, in fact, for freedom around the globe.

Those are the facts.  And we need to understand that when the defense budget is addressed, a scalpel instead of a meat axe should be used. While it will be tempting to cut expensive programs as a means of achieving short term spending goals, their absence could, at some point in the future, lead to our defeat.

Take the F35 program for an example. The F35, known as the Joint Strike Fighter, is a 5th generation fighter that will replace many of our present day 4th generation fighters, such as the F16, F15 Strike Eagle and A10 (all designed in the ‘60s and ‘70s).  It is an expensive airplane. But there are reasons why it is expensive and those reasons are sometimes hard to explain to those only focused on the bottom line. But the fact that our potential enemies, Russia and China, are busily developing versions of their own 5th gen fighters should tell us about what sort of priority a program like that should have. Scrap heap isn’t one of them.

A fifth generation fighter is quite an upgrade from the 4th gen fighters we now have in that they include advanced stealth, exceptional agility and maneuverability, sensor/ information fusion, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment.  And these result in far greater survivability, situational awareness, and effectiveness for war fighters, as well as improved readiness and lower support costs.

The cost of the F35 appears higher than 4th gen fighters because the F35 comes as a package with all its mission equipment included on board – an important point that is rarely seen in discussions of cost. This puts the cost in line with current 4th Generation aircraft which do not carry their mission equipment in their price  (Targeting Pods, Jammer, EW System, Fuel Tanks, Infrared Search and Track and other systems). Currently that price is about $60 million a copy in 2010 dollars. And Lockheed Martin, the supplier, has transitioned to that fixed cost per copy 2 years early.

Many would like to argue that austerity precludes paying for such programs. They claim we can do this on the cheap by modifying 4th gen fighters and extend their life.  But consider this –in combat configuration, the F-35 outperforms all advanced fourth-generation aircraft in top end speed, loiter, subsonic acceleration and radius. Additionally, it is comparable or better than the best fourth generation fighters in aerodynamic performance in all within-visual-range categories and the F-35 outperforms all fourth-generation aircraft in both the “Within Visual Range” and “Beyond Visual Range” air-to-air combat arenas.

The  5th gen fighters of Russia and China will also out- perform today’s fighters. The question you have to ask is would you want your son or daughter in the cockpit of an upgraded 4th generation fighter facing that sort of threat? The obvious answer is no.

Defense cuts must be made. That’s the reality of this era of austerity. But it doesn’t have to be a conflicting priority to fielding the best for our future national defense and security obligations. Intelligence and the future needs of the nation must be factored in to the cuts anticipated in the defense budget or we could put our military and our nation at a terrible disadvantage in coming years.

~McQ


Taliban attack in US imminent?

There’s apparently corroborated intelligence which says there’s a Pakistani Taliban operative within the US preparing to stage an attack similar to the Times Square plot that failed some months ago.

I would assume the newest terrorist has undergone much more intensive bomb construction training than did Faisal Shahzad.

Of course, making bombs isn’t particularly difficult nor does it take exceptional brain power or technical knowledge.  Any fanatic boob can be taught how to do it.

Frankly I’ve been surprised that we haven’t suffered a number of these sorts of attacks.  Perhaps it is because in the past, the terrorists have attempted to send in one of their own from Pakistan or Afghanistan.  In the case of the latter, unless extensive cultural training was done prior to the insertion of such an operative, he’d be like an alien landed on a new planet.  And then there are all the visa and travel difficulties to contend with.

Nope, the way you do this is how the Taliban is proceeding at the moment.  Recruit citizens from the target country to do the dirty work.  Like the 8 “Germans” who were just killed in Pakistan.  Or, Faisal Shahzad for that matter.

That’s probably the biggest hurdle – getting someone in country who can operate without raising suspicion.  They used to tell stories in South Korea about how easy it was for authorities there to identify North Korean agents – because of the culture they came from, they were just obvious.  And they didn’t last long in South Korea (any number of them defecting when they got a quick taste of the “decadent” South).

I don’t believe defecting is a particular concern, but it is a pretty fair surmisal that a rural Afghan would not fit in particularly well in the US culture.   So stage 2, that which is apparently underway now, is to recruit those who can move easily through the culture and society – US citizens of the Muslim faith they can radicalize.

That, of course, significantly narrows the group that authorities most likely have to concern themselves with, but it also smacks of “profiling” – a sin worse than seeing Americans blown up by a terrorist, apparently.  Of course profiling has been used successfully many times in chasing down serial killers and the like, but woe be unto authorities that admit it might be useful in chasing down a terrorist.

Anyway, the other aspect of this is the availability of bomb making substances and the ease by which they can be obtained.  Certainly after the OKC bombing some steps were taken to better account for the obvious substances that can be used, but in reality, so many bomb making substances are in such wide use that unless you had unlimited manpower and unlimited time to follow up every purchase of propane, fertilizer or other bomb making substances, the probability of someone gathering the right stuff in the right quantities is high.  That too is certainly better accomplished by a citizen than by an alien.

Finally, there’s opportunity.  The bad guys want to make a bloody statement.  That means a mass casualty scenario.  The opportunities for that are almost endless in a country of this size in which large crowds gather routinely for any of a number of reasons.  This is where constant intelligence and analysis are necessary to constantly monitor those opportunities as they occur and narrow them down to a small group of “most likely”.  Not an easy job. 

If, for instance, intelligence says that the terrorist is most likely to use a device like the Times Square (failed) Bomber, then he’s going to need an outdoor venue, not an indoor one – so you cross off all the indoor venues in the time frame.  Since it is likely to have to be vehicle mounted, perhaps outdoor venues where the crowds are safely away from the streets can be crossed off as well.  So maybe, for that day, they narrow it down to a couple of political rallies held in parking lots, or similar scenarios. 

That’s all good for that day only.  Next day starts the process all over again – in addition to continually attempting to identify and find the terrorist and his network (he’s most likely going to have some in support and logistics roles as well).  One needle in a multitude of haystacks.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand – if this is an effort by the Taliban, it seems ill timed given the reports of high level talks between the Taliban and Afghan government aimed at stopping the Afghan war.  Perhaps they are of the opinion that a successful attack here (and the promise of more if the US doesn’t get behind the effort) might actually help their cause.

Having watched the American people react to such attacks in the past, I’m not so sure that’s a great read on how to proceed.  Of course they could be aiming this at the leadership here which may be much more influenced by such an attack in the way the Taliban would prefer than the people.

Bottom line: be aware.  Per the intelligence out there somewhere someone is plotting American deaths in the US.  Nothing particularly new there and nothing which should stop you from doing what you want.  But understand as well, that this is the world we live in, keep your eyes and ears open and have a situational awareness about you that is tuned to security.  I’m not trying to scare anyone – heck you risk you life every day when you drive to work.  I’m just saying that this is and will be our on going reality for years to come.   May as well get used to it.

~McQ


Quote of the day – "Post-racial" dumb quote edition

J

ake Tapper brings us today’s QoD from none other than our "post-racial" president while being interviewed in South Africa. The quote pertains to al Qaeda’s operations in Africa and in particular the bombings in Uganda.

"What you’ve seen in some of the statements that have been made by these terrorist organizations is that they do not regard African life as valuable in and of itself. They see it as a potential place where you can carry out ideological battles that kill innocents without regard to long-term consequences for their short-term tactical gains."

Per Tapper, White House aides explained that as “an argument that the terrorist groups are racist."  Not just generally racist, but their racism is aimed at blacks:

Explaining the president’s comment, an administration official said Mr. Obama "references the fact that both U.S. intelligence and past al Qaeda actions make clear that al Qaeda — and the groups like al Shabaab that they inspire — do not value African life. The actions of al Qaeda and the groups that it has inspired show a willingness to sacrifice innocent African life to reach their targets."

So what the hell was Iraq?  Who were the suicide bombers there?  And when the AQ operatives flew the planes into the World Trade Center, how many were “African” and how much “innocent African life” was sacrificed to reach their targets.

This is absurd.  Al Qaeda is an equal opportunity killing machine.  If they have a prejudice it is against all things western and all things non-Muslim.  Their method of operation is to use those locally they can recruit and, if necessary to import fighters.  But anywhere they’ve ever operated that haven’t given a rip about “innocent … life”.  In fact, their violence against innocents in Iraq was their undoing.

I can’t tell you how uninformed and, frankly scary it is to think our top leadership actually believes this stupidity.  Al Qaeda has a single purpose – to see their distorted, violent and totalitarian brand of Islam conquer the world.  And they will use anyone or kill anyone who will either advance that goal or stands in its way.

To pretend that they are merely another in a long line of racist groups and their racism is aimed only at Africans is to essentially say these people know nothing about the real al Qaeda, their history or their goals.  And that, folks, should scare the living hell out of you.

~McQ

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Russian spy swap – what’s the hurry?

Marc Ambinder attempts to spin the pending spy swap with Russia as proof that the “reset” has worked:

Sure, U.S. and Russian spy services are agitating for a spy swap, but the fact that the two countries managed to so quickly figure out a mutually beneficial solution after the arrests of Russian spies last week suggests that Moscow and Washington work together well and that both countries believe it is in their best interest to move on from the wilderness of mirrors. In other words, it’s a sign of a healthy relationship.

It is?  They’re spies Mr. Ambinder, and if you knew a stinking thing about intel you’d know that they haven’t even begun to be debriefed.  It is another example of this administration kow-towing to a foreign government and acceding to their demands instead of doing what is best for our country.

This is no more a sign that “reset” is working than was unilaterally pulling trashing our plan to deploy a missile defense in eastern Europe.  There’s a reason the Russians are interested in quickly doing a spy swap.  That reason has to do with the intelligence that could and would be gathered the longer the spies are held.

We give up 10 spies who, with prolonged interrogation, give us invaluable information about Moscow center (yes, that’s right, Moscow center is still in business), its mission, networks, purpose, directorates, etc.  Instead, we ship them back post haste and get:

Russia apparently began pushing for the swap, offering up Igor Sutyagin, a nuclear weapons expert who was convicted of espionage in 2004 and is now in jail, according to Sutyagin’s attorney and family. Sutyagin was sentenced by a Russian court to 15 years on charges of passing classified military information to a British firm that prosecutors said was as a front for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency

Sutyagin’s brother Dmitry told ABC News Wednesday that American agents met with Sutyagin Tuesday in a Moscow prison.

Oh – now there’s an intelligence gold mine.

Amateur hour in the White House continues unabated.

~McQ

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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


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


Is The No-Fly List Unconstitutional?

I have an article up at The Washington Examiner that explores whether or not the rights of Yahya Wehelie are being violated. Mr. Wehelie has essentially been deported from the U.S. without any charges being brought against him, nor any due process whatsoever:

Yahya Wehelie, 26, said Wednesday that after landing at the airport in Cairo in early May, he was told he would not be able to board his connection to New York and would have to go to the U.S. Embassy for an explanation. Embassy officials later told Wehelie and a younger brother with whom he was traveling that they would have to wait for FBI agents to arrive from Washington.

[...]

Wehelie, who was born in the United States to Somali immigrants, said U.S. officials took his old passport and issued him a new one that was good only for a one-way trip to the United States. But, he said, he was also informed by an FBI agent that he cannot board any plane scheduled to enter U.S. or Canadian airspace, leaving him in a kind of limbo.

You can read my take at The Washington Examiner.

As an aside, is there any doubt that if this had happened during the Bush administration that the hue and cry from the MSM would have been deafening?


If ignorance is bliss, this is one happy White House

The cluelessness continues in the White House about the impact of the 6 month moratorium on drilling in the Gulf in waters over 500 feet. Taking the BP disaster as 100% certain without out such a moratorium, the administration has effectively stopped work on 33 deepwater exploration rigs in the Gulf . Energy Tomorrow gives a good round up of what the experts are saying about this policy:

•Adam Sieminski of Deutsche Bank predicted that U.S. oil production could fall by 160,000 barrels of oil per day by next year. (Financial Times)

•Bernstein Research said delays from the moratorium and rising costs stemming from new safety regulations are likely to raise the marginal cost of deepwater production by about 10 percent. (Financial Times)

•Paul Cheng of Barclays Capital warned that the higher costs could eliminate small independent companies who compete for drilling projects against the majors. (Financial Times) He also predicted an 11 percent drop in deepwater oil production. (Houston Chronicle)

•The Houston Chronicle reports that two large oil-services companies are relocating workers from the Gulf of Mexico to onshore North America drill sites and Brazil.

•The National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) predicts that relocation is just part of the pain to be suffered by energy workers. Burt Adams, NOIA’s chairman, said in a statement, “the [president's] order will be felt by the families of tens of thousands of offshore workers who will be unemployed.”

The American Petroleum Institute (API) estimates that the moratorium will cost us 130,000 barrels of oil a day by 2011 and up to 500,000 a day by 2013. And it could put up to 46,200 jobs at risk short-term and as many as 120,000 over the long term.

So the blanket moratorium has some real down-side to it. And it is important that our leaders understand that and are sensitive to it, especially when we’re in the economic doldrums right how, the oil spill has all but devastated fishing in the area and the resort towns who normally thrive in the summer are feeling the impact of the spill. Risking that many jobs with a blanket moratorium is just not good policy.

So how sensitive to all of this is the White House? Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal found out recently:

Jindal said he had a conference call with President Barack Obama’s senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, and appealed to her to shorten the six-month moratorium, arguing that a half-year pause would force oil companies to move drilling operations overseas for years and that the federal government could easily impose new safety standards and monitoring in a shorter time frame.

“She asked again why the rigs simply wouldn’t come back after six months,” Jindal said. “What worries me is I fear they think these rigs can just flip a switch on and off.”

Gross ignorance is all that can be called. These rigs cost about $500,000 a day for oil companies. You do the math. Those owning the rigs probably wouldn’t mind sitting around, doing nothing and getting paid 90 million for each rig. But the oil companies are going to move them, while they have them under contract, to foreign leases they own in order to seek oil.

Exploration rigs have always been at a premium (which is why their daily rate is so high), and they’re constantly working somewhere – as long as the price of oil supports such exploration. But since half a year is the apparent non-negotiable moratorium, those rigs are going to pull up stakes and move to foreign leases – leaving the oil untapped, and providing jobs elsewhere. We end up with higher unemployment and more dependent on foreign oil than ever.

And our leaders haven’t a clue.

~McQ

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