KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A Taliban suicide bomber struck the entrance to the Afghan parliament on Monday and gunmen tried to storm the heavily guarded compound, setting off a gunbattle with police that left two people dead as lawmakers were meeting inside to vote on the appointment of a new defense minister.
“Targeting innocent people in the holy month of Ramadan is a clear act of hostility against the religion of Islam,” his office said in a statement, adding that the perpetrators “are criminals who are bound by no creed or religion.”
Afghan security forces managed to repel the attack, killing all seven gunmen and ensuring that no members of parliament were harmed. But the audacious assault came as the Taliban captured two districts in as many days in the country’s north, displaying their ability to operate on multiple fronts.
Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said the attack began with a car bomb explosion near the entrance to parliament. Gunmen then attempted to storm the compound but were pushed back by security forces and eventually corralled into a nearby building that was under construction.
Sediqqi later said all seven attackers were killed by police and that no members of parliament were harmed. “It is over now,” he said.
Sediqqi said a woman and a 10-year-old girl were killed. Health Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ismail Kahousi said 31 civilians were wounded in the parliament attack, including two women and two children.
Sidiqa Mubarez, a member of parliament, said the building was rocked by the large explosion and that some people were wounded by flying glass. She said the explosion happened shortly after Masoom Stanekzai had arrived to be confirmed as defense minister, a post that has been vacant for nine months. The vote was delayed by the attack.
The Taliban claimed the attack. The militant group’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, told The Associated Press by telephone that it targeted Stanekzai and the parliament itself. He said the assault showed the “capability of the mujahedeen, who can even attack the parliament in the capital.”
An AP reporter who witnessed part of the assault heard heavy gunfire outside parliament and saw black smoke billowing from the entrance as ambulances raced to the scene. The reporter later heard sporadic shooting from the building where the militants were said to be holed up. Read the rest of this entry »
WASHINGTON—Saying there were no other options remaining and that continued intervention would only prolong the nation’s suffering, experts concluded Tuesday that the best course of action is to keep the United States as comfortable as possible until the end.
“We need to accept the fact that the U.S. doesn’t have long—simply helping it pass that time in comfort is the humane thing to do.”
According to those familiar with its condition, the country’s long, painful decline over the past several decades has made it clear that the most compassionate choice at this juncture is to do whatever is possible to ensure America is at ease during its last moments.
“Attempting to stabilize the country in its current enfeebled state would not only be extremely expensive, but it would also cause unnecessary agony as it enters this final stage.”
— Economist Danielle Martin
“We need to accept the fact that the U.S. doesn’t have long—simply helping it pass that time in comfort is the humane thing to do,” said economist Danielle Martin, speaking on behalf of a large group of experts ranging from sociologists and historians to lawmakers and environmentalists, all of whom confirmed they had “done everything [they] could.” “Attempting to stabilize the country in its current enfeebled state would not only be extremely expensive, but it would also cause unnecessary agony as it enters this final stage. Read the rest of this entry »
The omnipresent power behind the throne some have called the president’s Rasputin had the power to call off three strikes against Osama bin Laden. She may have used that power again the night four Americans died in Benghazi.
The Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on our diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, came while America failed to mount a rescue mission despite sufficient time and assets.
“The biggest scandal of all, the biggest question is: What was the president doing in those eight hours?”
— Columnist Charles Krauthammer
Included in that disaster were the unaccounted whereabouts of President Obama during eight critical hours, the lack of Situation Room photos, the failure by the president to follow up with subordinates before his trip to Las Vegas and the fabricated story that the whole thing was prompted by an Internet video.
“I think there is a bigger story here … that will in time come out,” Krauthammer said. “The biggest scandal of all, the biggest question is: What was the president doing in those eight hours?”
The columnist noted: “He had a routine meeting at 5 o’clock. He never after, during the eight hours when our guys have their lives in danger, he never called the secretary of defense, he never calls the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, he never calls the CIA director.”
One of the people Obama always talks to is Valerie Jarrett. She emerged from the same Chicago cauldron of radicalism where Obama got his ideological baptism.
The Iranian-born Jarrett (her parents were American-born expatriates) is the only staff member who regularly follows the president home from the West Wing to the residence and one of the few people allowed to call the president by his first name.
Her influence is shown by an account in Richard Miniter‘s book “Leading From Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors Who Decide for Him.” Read the rest of this entry »
With the Middle East engulfed by the flames of sectarian conflict, Europe’s borders menaced by the threat of war and China starting to flex its muscles in Asia-Pacific, it is clear the world has entered a new period of volatility.
Ian Bremmer, the American foreign policy guru who coined the phrase “G-Zero” to describe this new and unstable world, is the author of ‘Superpower’, a best-selling new book that explores America’s options as a superpower in the 21st century…..(read more)
[VIDEO] Obama Defense Dept. Forced Soldiers to Sign Non-Disclosure Statements on Turncoat Bowe Bergdahl’s BehaviorPosted: May 28, 2015
General Mullins told Bowe Bergdahl’s closest comrades to sign non-disclosure statements on Bergdahl’s behavior before he deserted his platoon.
Margherita Stancati reports: Afghanistan’s most prominent peace envoy held secret talks with former Taliban officials in China last week, accelerating regional efforts to bring the insurgency to the negotiating table, according to individuals briefed on the matter by the warring parties.
The two-day meeting, which took place in the northwestern Chinese city of Urumqi, was aimed at discussing preconditions for a possible peace process, those people said.
“These were talks about talks,” one diplomat said.
The meeting was significant for another reason: It was facilitated by Pakistan’s intelligence agency in an apparent show of goodwill aimed at a negotiated solution to the insurgency. Read the rest of this entry »
(WASHINGTON)—The United States is sending a disaster response team and $1 million in aid to Nepal following a devastating earthquake that shook three countries.
The White House and Secretary of State John Kerry are offering condolences along with pledging the support.
The magnitude 7.8 earthquake outside the capital Kathmandu killed more than 1,000 people in Nepal, India and Bangladesh. It also toppled buildings and triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest.
Kerry says in a statement that the United States stands with the people of Nepal and sends heartfelt sympathies.
National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan says the U.S. stands ready to provide further assistance in the region.
The debate over religious liberty has brought out some odd readings of American history
Fred Bauer writes: A number of forces are fueling the current debate about religious liberty in the United States: among them, good-faith efforts to promote the continued improvement of the Union, senses of cultural grievance, anti-religion paranoia, ignorance, self-righteousness, opportunism, partisanship, and new-wave authoritarianism. However, it might be helpful to see this debate as taking place against the backdrop of a clash between two different views of the role of religion in public life. On one side stand sectarian secularists, who want to remove religion from public life altogether, and on the other stand pluralists, who support a more open society.
“Leaving aside the religious and political beliefs of Americans before 1776, appeals to the divine suffuse American culture and politics. Many of the Founders — along with Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Martin Luther King Jr., and countless others — would have a bone to pick with those who say that our foundational rights do not come from God.”
Modeled in some respects on the French tradition of laïcité, sectarian secularism holds that appeals to religious ideas have absolutely no place in the public square, and its adherents will ridicule as out of bounds any appeal to the divine. This position goes well beyond a separation of church and state, which is about distinguishing the institutions of religion from those of governance, and instead suggests that the religious and the political should be entirely separate spheres. Unlike a more moderate and open-minded secularism, sectarian secularism seeks to police the bounds of public debate by rendering religious approaches to politics illegitimate.
“This sectarian-secularist approach seems to inform Chris Cuomo’s much-mocked declaration in February on CNN about the source of our rights: ‘Our rights do not come from God. That’s your faith. That’s my faith, but not our country’.”
This sectarian-secularist approach seems to inform Chris Cuomo’s much-mocked declaration in February on CNN about the source of our rights: “Our rights do not come from God. That’s your faith. That’s my faith, but not our country.” Particularly telling, and demonstrative of a sectarian-secularist viewpoint, is Cuomo’s insistence that it is somehow un-American to believe that our rights do come from God — that’s not “our country.” In a later Facebook post, Cuomo continued to insist that the language of the Declaration was not really part of American life: “Because the US does not draw on divine authority for recognition of rights.
“Particularly telling, and demonstrative of a sectarian-secularist viewpoint, is Cuomo’s insistence that it is somehow un-American to believe that our rights do come from God — that’s not ‘our country’.”
Founding documents were the beginning of course but the first amendment in that seminal constitution, which has infinitely more authority than the dec of indep obviously keeps faith out of government.” Cuomo is far from an outlier here. The past few weeks alone have offered numerous examples of attempts to stigmatize religious references in public debates. The sectarian secularists have defined once and for all what the U.S. is: a society where religion should be kept in the closet and not influence politics or policy-making.
“Pluralism offers a radically different account of the Republic. A pluralist welcomes all to the public square: Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and atheists alike.”
Pluralism offers a radically different account of the Republic. A pluralist welcomes all to the public square: Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and atheists alike. Pluralism does not seek to make the public square a hermetically sealed chamber, nor do pluralists ask believers to take off their faiths the instant they enter it. Indeed, pluralists believe that such a sealing off is practically and philosophically impossible.
“Pluralism does not seek to make the public square a hermetically sealed chamber, nor do pluralists ask believers to take off their faiths the instant they enter it.”
From a pluralist perspective, religion can perhaps never be fully separated from politics. Politics is shaped by broader philosophical principles about the ends of human existence, and one’s religious beliefs will undoubtedly influence one’s understanding of these principles. If one believes that all men and women are made in the image of a divine Creator, that will likely lead to a different set of principles from those that one would espouse if one believes that some people are innately better than others. Read the rest of this entry »
The Obama administration refuses to negotiate openly, lest the extent of its diplomatic surrender to Iran be prematurely and fatally exposed.
“We know they don’t need to have an underground, fortified facility like Fordo in order to have a peaceful program,” Mr. Obama said of the Iranians in an interview with Haim Saban, the Israeli-American billionaire philanthropist. “They certainly don’t need a heavy-water reactor at Arak in order to have a peaceful nuclear program. They don’t need some of the advanced centrifuges that they currently possess in order to have a limited, peaceful nuclear program.”
Hardly more than a year later, on the eve of what might be deal-day, here is where those promises stand:
Fordo: “The United States is considering letting Tehran run hundreds of centrifuges at a once-secret, fortified underground bunker in exchange for limits on centrifuge work and research and development at other sites.”—Associated Press, March 26.
Arak: “Today, the six powers negotiating with Iran . . . want the reactor at Arak, still under construction, reconfigured to produce less plutonium, the other bomb fuel.”—The New York Times, March 7.
Advanced centrifuges: “Iran is building about 3,000 advanced uranium-enrichment centrifuges, the Iranian news media reported Sunday, a development likely to add to Western concerns about Tehran’s disputed nuclear program.”—Reuters, March 3.
But the president and his administration made other promises, too. Consider a partial list:
Possible military dimensions: In September 2009 Mr. Obama warned Iran that it was “on notice” that it would have to “come clean” on all of its nuclear secrets. Now the administration is prepared to let it slide.
“It was never especially probable that a detailed, satisfactory verification regime would be included in the sort of substantive framework agreement that the Americans have been working for.”
— The Economist
“Under the new plan,” The Wall Street Journal’s Jay Solomon and Laurence Norman reported last week, “Tehran wouldn’t be expected to immediately clarify all the outstanding questions raised by the IAEA in a 2011 report on Iran’s alleged secretive work. A full reckoning of Iran’s past activities would be demanded in later years as part of a nuclear deal that is expected to last at least 15 years.”
Verification: Another thing the president said in that interview with Mr. Saban is that any deal would involve “extraordinary constraints and verification mechanisms and intrusive inspections.”
Iran isn’t playing ball on this one, either. Read the rest of this entry »
Time Magazine Parody cover by punditfromanotherplanet
From Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey:
Just how badly has Barack Obama and his administration damaged relations with our allies in the Middle East? NBC’s Richard Engel reports that the Sunni nations in the region have begun to fear that the Obama administration leaks intel to Iran as part of its efforts at rapprochement with the mullahs, which is why the US got blindsided by the Saudi-led coalition’s operations in Yemen. The White House’s “incoherence” in policy, Engel reports, has most of them losing confidence in American leadership, according to Engel’s contacts. (via Free Beacon):
Initially, this looked like material for an update on my earlier post regarding the Saudi-GCC coalition and its decision to work around Obama, but it deserves its own thread for a couple of reasons. First, Engel reported this for NBC, and on MSNBC, the “Lean Forward” cable channel that usually acts as a clearinghouse for Barack Obama apologists (and the occasional slam on Middle America). Engel’s not among the apologists; he’s a first-class foreign correspondent whose reports follow no partisan agenda, and whose sources have usually provided him with highly accurate reporting.
More importantly, Engel’s report advances this to an allegation of betrayal, not just incompetence. Clearly, Saudi Arabia has little confidence left in the Obama administration; that much is evident from their actions to cut the US out of the loop on this coalition. Read the rest of this entry »
State Dept. Again Refuses To Say Whether Clinton Signed Separation Agreement (March 16, 2015)
Iran unveils newly developed long range cruise missile called Soumar that looks like a reverse engineered KH-55
“Soumar long-range ground-to-ground cruise missile system has been designed and built by experts of the defense ministry’s aerospace industries organization,” Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan told reporters after the unveiling ceremony.
“The designing and building of this weapon whose navigation and propulsion systems and its structure enjoy complicated and new technologies is seen as a wide stride taken to enhance the Islamic Republic of Iran’s defensive and deterrence power,” he added.
Dehqan also announced the mass delivery of Qadr and Qiyam long-range ballistic missiles to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)’s Aerospace Force, and said these missiles are capable of destroying different types of targets under any type of conditions due to their tactical capability, sustainability in the battleground and radar-evading features.
He also announced that the defense ministry will deliver upgraded versions of these long-range and high-precision missiles to the Iranian military forces next year.
Also during the ceremony, IRGC Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh hailed Iran’s advancements in missile technology under the harshest sanctions imposed on the country, and underlined that Iran will never allow its defense program and cruise missiles become a topic in its negotiations with the world powers.
The Iranian Armed Forces have recently test-fired different types of newly-developed missiles and torpedoes and tested a large number of home-made weapons, tools and equipment, including submarines, military ships, artillery, choppers, aircrafts, UAVs and air defense and electronic systems, during massive military drills.
Defense analysts and military observers say that Iran’s wargames and its advancements in weapons production have proved as a deterrent factor.
Iran successfully tested second generation of Sejjil missiles and brought it into mass production in 2013.
Sejjil missiles are considered as the third generation of Iran-made long-range missiles.
Also, Iran’s 2000km-range, liquid-fuel, Qadr F ballistic missile can reach territories as far as Israel. Read the rest of this entry »
The White House Portrait of a Crumbling Terror Group is Contradicted by Documents Seized in the Bin Laden RaidPosted: March 5, 2015
How America Was Misled on al Qaeda’s Demise
Stephen Hayes and Tomas Joscelyn write: In the early-morning hours of May 2, 2011, a small team of American military and intelligence professionals landed inside the high white walls of a mysterious compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The team’s mission, code-named Operation Neptune Spear, had two primary objectives: capture or kill Osama bin Laden and gather as much intelligence as possible about the al Qaeda leader and his network. A bullet to bin Laden’s head accomplished the first; the quick work of the Sensitive Site Exploitation team accomplished the second.
“The leadership down at Central Command wanted to know what were we learning from these documents. We were still facing a growing al Qaeda threat. And it was not just Pakistan and Afghanistan and Iraq. But we saw it growing in Yemen. We clearly saw it growing still in East Africa…The threat wasn’t going away, and we wanted to know: What can we learn from these documents?”
— Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency
It was quite a haul: 10 hard drives, nearly 100 thumb drives and a dozen cellphones. There were DVDs, audio and video tapes, data cards, reams of handwritten materials, newspapers and magazines. At a Pentagon briefing days after the raid, a senior military intelligence official described it as “the single largest collection of senior terrorist materials ever.”
The United States had gotten its hands on al Qaeda’s playbook—its recent history, its current operations, its future plans. An interagency team led by the Central Intelligence Agency got the first look at the cache. They performed a hasty scrub—a “triage”—on a small sliver of the document collection, looking for actionable intelligence. According to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, the team produced more than 400 separate reports based on information in the documents.
But it is what happened next that is truly stunning: nothing. The analysis of the materials—the “document exploitation,” in the parlance of intelligence professionals—came to an abrupt stop. According to five senior U.S. intelligence officials, the documents sat largely untouched for months—perhaps as long as a year.
In spring 2012, a year after the raid that killed bin Laden and six months before the 2012 presidential election, the Obama administration launched a concerted campaign to persuade the American people that the long war with al Qaeda was ending.
“At precisely the time Mr. Obama was campaigning on the imminent death of al Qaeda, those with access to the bin Laden documents were seeing, in bin Laden’s own words, that the opposite was true. Says Lt. Gen. Flynn: ‘By that time, they probably had grown by about—I’d say close to doubling by that time. And we knew that.’”
In a speech commemorating the anniversary of the raid, John Brennan , Mr. Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser and later his CIA director, predicted the imminent demise of al Qaeda. The next day, on May 1, 2012, Mr. Obama made a bold claim: “The goal that I set—to defeat al Qaeda and deny it a chance to rebuild—is now within our reach.”
The White House provided 17 handpicked documents to the Combatting Terror Center at the West Point military academy, where a team of analysts reached the conclusion the Obama administration wanted. Bin Laden, they found, had been isolated and relatively powerless, a sad and lonely man sitting atop a crumbling terror network.
“This wasn’t what the Obama White House wanted to hear. So the administration cut off DIA access to the documents and instructed DIA officials to stop producing analyses based on them.”
It was a reassuring portrayal. It was also wrong. And those responsible for winning the war—as opposed to an election—couldn’t afford to engage in such dangerous self-delusion. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] State Department’s Harf: ‘We Cannot Kill Our Way Out of this War’ with ISIS, ‘We’re Not in a Time of War’ Says Eric HolderPosted: February 17, 2015
From Andrew Johnson:
…on last night’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf stopped by to argue that the solution to defeating the Islamic State is finding economic opportunity for young Muslim men, because “we cannot kill our way out of this war.”
“If I were ISIS, I wouldn’t be afraid right now. Nothing we do right now seems to be directed at stopping this.”
— Chris Matthews
Harf’s appearance came after a weekend that saw 21 Coptic Christians beheaded and a gunman open fire at a free-speech debate in Copenhagen, as Brendan notes. Matthews pressed Harf on the lack of a strong and meaningful response to the growing threat of Islamic extremism worldwide.
“If I were ISIS, I wouldn’t be afraid right now,” Matthews said. “Nothing we do right now seems to be directed at stopping this.”
— National Review (@NRO) February 18, 2015
While Harf assured viewers that “a lot” of Islamic State fighters have been killed, she also claimed that force isn’t the most effective strategy for combatting ISIS. “We cannot win this war by killing them — we cannot kill our way out of this war,” she said.
Instead, she argued that…(read more)
Holder: ‘We’re Not in a Time of War’
Brendan Bordelon has this:
With 10,000 American soldiers patrolling the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan, thousands more deployed to Iraq, and U.S. military aircraft conducting daily strikes in both those countries and Syria, Attorney General Eric Holder claimed the nation is “not in a time of war.”
Holder made the comments Tuesday during a talk to journalists at the National Press Club, broadcast on C-SPAN. Asked about the Obama administration’s zealous prosecution of reporters for allegedly endangering national security by publishing sensitive material or refusing to reveal sources, the nation’s top law enforcement officer inadvertently provided insight into how the White House views America’s overseas engagements….(read more)
Chris Matthews: America Being ‘Morally Humiliated’ by ISIS
Brendan Bordelon has more:
Liberal cable news host Chris Matthews called out American apathy in the wake of the latest Islamic State massacre, saying the United States is being “morally humiliated” by the terrorists.
Islamists associated with the Islamic State murdered 21 innocent Egyptian Christians in Libya on February 15, filming their mass beheading and posting the video online. The Egyptian government responded the following day, with warplanes striking targets in Libyan cities controlled by the Islamic State.
“I know, we all know we need a plan. We need a route that takes us to a destroyed ISIS, because the alternative is too sick, too un-American, too un-human. We can’t see people killed like this in our face and simply flip to the sports page or the financial news or what’s at the movies or who’s going to win the Oscars and act like America, our country, is not being morally humiliated.”
Often skeptical of American intervention, on Monday night Matthews expressed his desire that the latest atrocity not go unpunished. “Can we do nothing?” Read the rest of this entry »
Byron York writes: Members of the House Armed Services Committee met with Jordan’s King Abdullah Tuesday not long after news broke that ISIS had burned to death a Jordanian pilot captured in the fight against the terrorist group.
“He said there is going to be retribution like ISIS hasn’t seen. He mentioned ‘Unforgiven’ and he mentioned Clint Eastwood, and he actually quoted a part of the movie.”
— Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr., who was in the meeting with the king.
In a private session with lawmakers, the king showed an extraordinary measure of anger — anger which he expressed by citing American movie icon Clint Eastwood.
“He said there is going to be retribution like ISIS hasn’t seen,” said Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr., a Marine Corps veteran of two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, who was in the meeting with the king. “He mentioned ‘Unforgiven’ and he mentioned Clint Eastwood, and he actually quoted a part of the movie.”
“He’s angry. They’re starting more sorties tomorrow than they’ve ever had. They’re starting tomorrow. And he said, ‘The only problem we’re going to have is running out of fuel and bullets.”
Hunter would not say which part of “Unforgiven” the king quoted, but noted it was where Eastwood’s character describes how he is going to deliver his retribution. There is a scene in the picture in which Eastwood’s character, William Munny, says…(read more)
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide bomber attacked a volleyball tournament in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing at least 45 people, officials said.
Dozens more were wounded when the bomber, who was on foot and mingling with the crowd, detonated his explosives, said Mokhis Afgha, the spokesman for the governor of Paktika province.
“There were too many people gathered in the one place to watch the game. Dozens of others are wounded and we have reports that many of them are in critical condition.”
He said the attack happened during an inter-district volleyball tournament attended by large crowed in Yahyakhail district late Sunday afternoon.
“We need urgent help from the central government because we might need to transfer wounded people to Kabul for treatment.”
“There were too many people gathered in the one place to watch the game. Dozens of others are wounded and we have reports that many of them are in critical condition,” Afghan said. Read the rest of this entry »
Max Boot writes: Last week brought a reminder of what the United States has lost since Bob Gates and Leon Panetta left the Obama cabinet. Both are straight shooters with a centrist, hardheaded sensibility.
“What happened? How did the centrist Obama of his early years in office give way to the dovish Obama of more recent times? “
Panetta has been making headlines with his criticism of Obama on 60 Minutes for pulling out of Iraq too soon (“I really thought that it was important for us to maintain a presence in Iraq”) and not doing more early on to aid the Syrian opposition (“we pay the price for not doing that in what we see happening with ISIS”).
“Obama suffers from the not uncommon defect of the intellectually able: He imagines that he is always the smartest guy in the room and thus has trouble taking advice that does not accord with his own predilections.”
Meanwhile, Gates has been critical of Obama for prohibiting U.S. “boots on the ground” to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria: “The reality is, they’re not gonna be able to be successful against ISIS strictly from the air, or strictly depending on the Iraqi forces, or the Peshmerga, or the Sunni tribes acting on their own,” he told CBS This Morning. “So there will be boots on the ground if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy. And I think that by continuing to repeat that [the United States won’t put boots on the ground], the president, in effect, traps himself.”
[Check out Max Boot’s “Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present” at Amazon.com]
In retrospect, it is clear, the first Obama term—when Gates was at Defense (followed by Panetta), Panetta at CIA (followed by General David Petraeus), Hillary Clinton at State, Admiral Mike Mullen at the Joint Chiefs, and retired General Jim Jones at the National Security Council—was a golden age (by Obama standards) when there were grown-ups more or less in charge of U.S. foreign policy. Obama at first tended to accede to the advice of his more seasoned foreign policy hands because as a first-term senator he was acutely aware of his own lack of experience or credibility in the field. Read the rest of this entry »
Charles Fourier, the utopian socialist who lived from 1772 to 1837, has been on my mind. Long ago, Fourier was considered a deep, monumental, visionary thinker.
“Among Fourier’s more spectacular beliefs: One day the oceans will turn into pink lemonade. He wasn’t joking.”
His theories of social organization inspired the establishment of a communal society, the North American Phalanx, in Monmouth, New Jersey, in 1843. It collapsed a little more than a decade later.
Among Fourier’s more spectacular beliefs: One day the oceans will turn into pink lemonade. He wasn’t joking. “His temperament was too ardent, his imagination too strong, and his acquaintance with the realities of life too slight to enable him justly to estimate the merits of his fantastic views,” wrote the Scottish philosopher Robert Adamson.
As with Fourier’s North American Phalanx in the 19th century, so it is with the Juicebox Mafia Phalanx in the 21st. The Juicebox Mafia, of course, is the dismissive term assigned to the Beltway clique of twenty- and thirtysomething journalists known for their love of President Obama, their hatred of conservatives, their opposition to the war on terror, their quasi-religious faith in social science, and, above all, their earnestness.
“The Juicebox Mafia arrived in Washington a little less than a decade ago, just as the progressive left assumed its upward trajectory. Everything seems to be going their way.”
The Juicebox Mafia arrived in Washington a little less than a decade ago, just as the progressive left assumed its upward trajectory. Everything seems to be going their way. A larger government, universal health insurance, cuts in military spending, withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, same-sex marriage, marijuana legalization—bliss it should be in this dawn for these ardent temperaments, these possessors of strong imaginations, to be alive.
And yet, reading liberal websites and magazines over the last few months, one cannot help but think that their acquaintance with the realities of life is growing increasingly slight.
Someone is filling those juiceboxes with pink lemonade. Read the rest of this entry »
CHICAGO — Senator Barack Obama writes: The call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq presents an enormous opportunity. We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated, and that is needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States.
The differences on Iraq in this campaign are deep. Unlike Senator John McCain, I opposed the war in Iraq before it began, and would end it as president. I believed it was a grave mistake to allow ourselves to be distracted from the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban by invading a country that posed no imminent threat and had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. Since then, more than 4,000 Americans have died and we have spent nearly $1 trillion. Our military is overstretched. Nearly every threat we face — from Afghanistan to Al Qaeda to Iran — has grown.
In the 18 months since President Bush announced the surge, our troops have performed heroically in bringing down the level of violence. New tactics have protected the Iraqi population, and the Sunni tribes have rejected Al Qaeda — greatly weakening its effectiveness.
But the same factors that led me to oppose the surge still hold true. The strain on our military has grown, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated and we’ve spent nearly $200 billion more in Iraq than we had budgeted. Iraq’s leaders have failed to invest tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues in rebuilding their own country, and they have not reached the political accommodation that was the stated purpose of the surge.
The good news is that Iraq’s leaders want to take responsibility for their country by negotiating a timetable for the removal of American troops. Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. James Dubik, the American officer in charge of training Iraq’s security forces, estimates that the Iraqi Army and police will be ready to assume responsibility for security in 2009.
Only by redeploying our troops can we press the Iraqis to reach comprehensive political accommodation and achieve a successful transition to Iraqis’ taking responsibility for the security and stability of their country. Instead of seizing the moment and encouraging Iraqis to step up, the Bush administration and Senator McCain are refusing to embrace this transition — despite their previous commitments to respect the will of Iraq’s sovereign government. They call any timetable for the removal of American troops “surrender,” even though we would be turning Iraq over to a sovereign Iraqi government. Read the rest of this entry »