Washington’s foolish approaches to the Islamic State will not destroy them or discourage others from following in their footsteps. Angelo Codevilla’s advice: Get Your Heads Out of
Your Ass The Sand
“As in Bush’s war, as is the custom in Washington nowadays, our ruling class’s several sectors decide what actions they feel comfortable undertaking about any given problem, while avoiding reasonable judgment about whether these actions will actually fix the problem.”
Angelo Codevilla writes: The American people’s reaction to Muslim thugs of the “Islamic State” ritually knifing off the heads of people who look like you and me boils down to “let’s destroy these bastards”—which is common sense. But our ruling class, from President Obama on the Left to The Wall Street Journal on the Right, take the public’s pressure to do this as another occasion for further indulging their longtime preferences, prejudices, and proclivities for half-measures in foreign affairs—the very things that have invited people from all over the planet to join hunting season on Americans.
“We need to crush ISIS and not work on arming more Islamic radicals. Just what would arming these people accomplish?”
– Representative Duncan Hunter, a Marine veteran
This indulgence so overwhelms our ruling class’s perception of reality that the recipes put forth by its several wings, little different from one another, are identical in the one essential respect: none of them involve any plans which, if carried out, would destroy the Islamic State, kill large numbers of the cut-throats, and discourage others from following in their footsteps. Hence, like the George W. Bush’s “war on terror” and for the same reasons, this exercise of our ruling class’s wisdom in foreign affairs will decrease respect for us while invigorating our enemies.
[Check out Angelo Codevilla's book "To Make and Keep Peace Among Ourselves and with All Nations" at Amazon.com]
The WSJ’s recommendations, like the Obama administration’s projected activities, are all about discrete measures—some air strikes, some arming of local forces, etc. But they abstract from the fundamental reality of any and all activities: He who wills any end must will the means to achieve it. As in Bush’s war, as is the custom in Washington nowadays, our ruling class’s several sectors decide what actions they feel comfortable undertaking about any given problem, while avoiding reasonable judgment about whether these actions will actually fix the problem. This is the very definition of irresponsibility. But they call it “strategy.”
Irresponsibly Avoiding Debate
Our Constitution prescribes that war happens subsequent to votes by elected representatives. By debate and vote, presumably they reconcile the war’s ends with the means to be employed. But to reconcile ends and means is to banish illusions and pretenses. Read the rest of this entry »
That’s Show Business: Harry’s Cynical plot to keep the Senate
Everything you’ll see from the Senate in the next few weeks will be complete bullshit. POLITICO grinds out the story on the Senate leaders’ familiar playbook. Here’s the money quote:
Reid has scheduled votes on a politically populist agenda devised by Schumer aimed at forcing Republicans to block bills aimed at wooing students, women, seniors and the middle class. Democrats have repeatedly put forth bills that have little chance of passing — like on increasing the minimum wage, gender pay equity, contraception access and student loan assistance. And even when there are efforts they actually support — such as Obama’s executive action on immigration — Democratic leaders have lobbied the White House to punt on the issue to avoid hurting their vulnerable incumbents and candidates in red states. Read the rest of this entry »
The White House and Pentagon have scurried this week to insist there is no hint of dissent in the ranks, though in some cases their efforts have focused only more attention on the issue.
“Half-hearted or tentative efforts, or airstrikes alone, can backfire on us and actually strengthen our foes’ credibility. We may not wish to reassure our enemies in advance that they will not see American boots on the ground.”
– Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis
WaPo‘s Craig Whitlock reports: Flashes of disagreement over how to fight the Islamic State are mounting between President Obama and U.S. military leaders, the latest sign of strain in what often has been an awkward and uneasy relationship.
“I think it’s very important that he does follow the advice and counsel that he receives, the professional advice of the military. They are the ones best suited to do that.”
– Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon
Even as the administration has received congressional backing for its strategy, with the Senate voting Thursday to approve a plan to arm and train Syrian rebels, a series of military leaders have criticized the president’s approach against the Islamic State militant group.
“There will be boots on the ground if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy.”
– Former defense secretary Robert M. Gates
Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, who served under Obama until last year, became the latest high-profile skeptic on Thursday, telling the House Intelligence Committee that a blanket prohibition on ground combat was tying the military’s hands. “Half-hearted or tentative efforts, or airstrikes alone, can backfire on us and actually strengthen our foes’ credibility,” he said. “We may not wish to reassure our enemies in advance that they will not see American boots on the ground.” Read the rest of this entry »
— ABC News (@ABC) September 18, 2014
ABCNews.com reports: A British citizen captured in Syria two years ago has resurfaced today in a new ISIS propaganda video released on YouTube. But unlike the previous gruesome beheading videos of three westerners, journalist Cantlie is seen alive, seated alone at a desk in a darkened room, delivering what he says is the first of a series of “messages” about ISIS.
Cantlie was abducted in November 2012 along with slain American journalist James Foley, who was beheaded by his ISIS captors, according to a former law enforcement official and others familiar with the journalists’ kidnapping. Read the rest of this entry »
The Madison Paradox and Obama’s Constitution Day Stealth Comment: Referring to Our Constitutional Rights as ‘Privileges’Posted: September 18, 2014
Maybe James Madison was right. Maybe the Bill of Rights wasn’t just unnecessary, it was a bad idea, destined to be viewed in the distant future exactly the wrong way
For United Liberty, Jason Pye catches Obama’s shaded wording, and writes a welcome blast of corrective historical clarity. Though I can’t resist including my own comments in the margins, the piece stands as testament to the power of word choices. Pye writes:
…In his presidential proclamation marking Constitution Day, President Barack Obama offered some insight into how he views the Bill of Rights. “Our Constitution reflects the values we cherish as a people and the ideals we strive for as a society,” Obama said in the release. “It secures the privileges we enjoy as citizens, but also demands participation, responsibility, and service to our country and to one another.”
“It secures the
rights privileges we enjoy as citizens, but also demands participation, responsibility, and service to our country and to one another.”
Given that this White House is known for its expansive view of executive power, the assertion that the rights guaranteed and protected under the Bill of Rights, the fact that President Obama views these fundamental liberties to be “privileges” isn’t too terribly surprising. After all, President Obama treats the legislative branch — which, again, is supposed to be a co-equal branch of the federal government — as an afterthought as it arbitrarily changes statues and even refuses to enforce laws.
But words matter. To say the rights secured by the Constitution are “privileges” implies that they can be revoked. Let’s put this another way: a high school-aged kid is given the privilege of taking their father’s car out to go hang out with friends, that is until they abuse it by getting caught speeding or into a car accident. The disappointed father would, no doubt, take away the privilege.
Rights and liberties, however, are based on a solid foundation. They can’t be taken away by some paternalistic president. The view of the framers was that the rights protected under the Bill of Rights existed before the formation of the federal government under the Constitution. In short, they were natural rights.
In fact, James Madison believed that a list of specific rights was unnecessary.
Though we celebrate the ratification of the Bill of Rights, I can’t help but interrupt to expand on Jason Pye‘s oversimplification — Madison didn’t believe that a list of specific rights was unnecessary, Madison and others believed listing individual rights would set a dangerous precedent. As illustrated in my half-remembered reading of Joseph J. Ellis’ “Founding Brothers” the dissenters wisely understood that making a special top-ten list of rights could lead to a troubling misperception that individual rights are limited, reducible to a specific list. Which could then be used to mislead future generations into accepting false limits.
It’s federal powers that are finite, narrow, and limited. So limited you could number them. (enumerated powers) Individual rights, as conceived by the founders–aren’t limited, they’re virtually infinite. Not reducible to a list. Enshrining some of them in a list would lead to, well, exactly the misunderstanding that persists to this day. The argument resisting an enumerated “Bill of Rights” wasn’t perfect, but it had merit. It showed foresight.
Jason Pye continues:
Thankfully, George Mason and others, to ensure ratification, convinced Madison to come up with proposals, ten of which were passed by Congress and approved by at least three-fifths of the states. Read the rest of this entry »
“Effective today, the president? A photo-op? or something in between?” Susteren asked.
“Photo-op. Complete photo-op. This indicative of a global failure of his foreign policy.”
Higbie explained. “He has toted that he is behind the troops before and he stands in front of these guys, gets a photo-op, everything like that, while saying he’s going to send 3,000 guys to combat Ebola, but I’m not going to send any to combat an actual enemy that’s really threatening America.”
“What do you think they think? I mean, I suppose it’s kind of a mixed bag?” Susteren pressed.
“I’d say most of the troops. Probably over 90 percent, do not support the president.”
Susteren then asked Higbie about his time as a Navy SEAL, “As a Navy SEAL, you have trained foreign troops? Right? How many times? More than one trip to Iraq?”
“Absolutely, we did two deployments,” Higbie said. Read the rest of this entry »
Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere Gambles His Sanity on a 4000-word Article About Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Predictable FlameoutPosted: September 17, 2014
She’s become a liability to the Democratic National Committee, and even to her own prospects, critics say
This news isn’t surprising, to anyone but hard-core Wasserman supporters (they must exist, somewhere, not counting her immediate family) but what is surprising is that Edward-Isaac Dovere could actually write (or Politico would publish) a 4000 word article about Debbie Wasserman Schultz, without achieving spontaneous composition, acute nausea and raging headaches, or having the urge to hurl the keyboard out the window, and then follow it, head first. Though, to be fair, perhaps it’s premature to suggest Dovere gambled his sanity.
Third-rate Palace Intrigue involving a failed administration and its loyal-but-doomed messengers is like black-tie Shakespearean drama for the insider class. In Washington D.C., surviving an assignment like this can get you promoted. If there’s a national journalism award for sheer endurance, Dovere should be nominated for the newly-minted “Debbie Wasserman Schultz” award.
If Politico thinks this merits a New Yorker-length expose (4000 words, yes, really) who are we to disagree? it’s not written for readers, mind you, but for other media people and fellow insiders. However, if you have an appetite for democratic party politics exceeding that of even the most seasoned Democratic party operatives, you can find the whole ungodly thing here.
Democrats turn on Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Edward-Isaac Dovere writes: Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is in a behind-the-scenes struggle with the White House, congressional Democrats and Washington insiders who have lost confidence in her as both a unifying leader and reliable party spokesperson at a time when they need her most.
“I guess the best way to describe it is, it’s not that she’s losing a duel anywhere, it’s that she seems to keep shooting herself in the foot before she even gets the gun out of the holster.”
Long-simmering doubts about her have reached a peak after two recent public flubs: criticizing the White House’s handling of the border crisis and comparing the tea party to wife beaters. [See Walker gives 'back of his hand']
“One example that sources point to as particularly troubling: Wasserman Schultz repeatedly trying to get the DNC to cover the costs of her wardrobe.”
The perception of critics is that Wasserman Schultz spends more energy tending to her own political ambitions than helping Democrats win. This includes using meetings with DNC donors to solicit contributions for her own PAC and campaign committee, traveling to uncompetitive districts to court House colleagues for her potential leadership bid and having DNC-paid staff focus on her personal political agenda.
She’s become a liability to the DNC, and even to her own prospects, critics say.
“The Obama team was so serious about replacing her after 2012 that they found a replacement candidate to back before deciding against it, according to people familiar with those discussions.”
“I guess the best way to describe it is, it’s not that she’s losing a duel anywhere, it’s that she seems to keep shooting herself in the foot before she even gets the gun out of the holster,” said John Morgan, a major donor in Wasserman Schultz’s home state of Florida.
“Obama and Wasserman Schultz have rarely even talked since 2011. They don’t meet about strategy or messaging. They don’t talk much on the phone.”
The stakes are high. Wasserman Schultz is a high-profile national figure who helped raise millions of dollars and served as a Democratic messenger to female voters during a presidential election in which Obama needed to exploit the gender gap to win, but November’s already difficult midterms are looming. Read the rest of this entry »
“If the objective is to destroy ISIS, I don’t think we have a strategy in place that will accomplish that goal…I’m just concerned about poking that hornet’s nest with a stick for three years.”
Republican Senator Ron Johnson is concerned about blowback from America’s limited air campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria — if the U.S. fails to destroy the group entirely, President Obama’s plan to intervene will be just like poking a hornet’s nest with a stick, he says. Read the rest of this entry »
The most revealing part of the Op-Ed isn’t the Op-Ed, it’s this:
“The comments section is closed.”
I’ve been trying to read as much as time allows of the left’s reaction to the President’s recent speech in which he unleashed at least a couple of the dogs of war. Here’s something from this morning’s sampling:
So far this year, the federal government brought in more money than ever, but even at record tax receipts, the government is far outspending its intake.
During these first 11 months of fiscal year 2014, the feds brought in $2.66 trillion in tax receipts. Despite this, the federal government is still running a $598 billion deficit, according to the latest Monthly Treasury Statement…(more)
David Haines Murdered by Islamic Death Cult
BAGHDAD —The Islamic State militant group released a video late Saturday that it said showed the beheading of David Haines, a British aid worker.
“The United States
vows to avenge strongly condemns the act of pure evil barbaric murder of U.K. citizen David Haines by Islamic Muslim the terrorist group ISIL.”
– U.S. President Barack Obama
Islamic State militants had previously released videos showing the beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.
“This is a despicable and appalling murder of an innocent aid worker. It is an act of pure evil.”
– U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron
The video released Saturday showed what a masked person said was Mr. Haines’s beheading before proposing that Alan Henning, another Briton, might face the same fate if British forces didn’t stop their aggression against the militant group. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] DESPERATION: Nancy Pelosi: ‘Civilization as We Know It Would Be in Jeopardy’ if GOP Wins SenatePosted: September 13, 2014
Bill Maher spoke with Nancy Pelosi tonight in his live D.C. show, Pelosi said, “It would be very important for the Democrats to retain control of the Senate. Civilization as we know it today would be in jeopardy if Republicans win the Senate.” and talked with her about all things midterm-related. But Maher also challenged Pelosi on how “warmongers” appear to be the dominant voice not just in the GOP, but in the Democratic Party too.
Maher brought up the predictions that the Democrats will lose the Senate in November, and asked Pelosi if things are so gridlocked in that chamber anyway, “why do I care if they lose the Senate?” Pelosi said (somewhat jokingly), “Civilization as we know it today would be in jeopardy.”
Pelosi said Democrats need to turn out, but Maher said they generally don’t, because no one votes to say “thank you,” but “the angry people” (a.k.a conservatives) always come out in droves. 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 »
Americans haven’t suddenly turned interventionist. They’re moved by the Islamic State’s particular evil.
Peggy Noonan writes: President Obama would have been rocked the past few months by five things. One is the building criticism from left and right about his high need for relaxation—playing golf while the world burns. Another is that he misread the significance and public power of the beheadings of American journalists. Third, he has been way out of sync with American public opinion on Islamic State, which must be all the more galling because he thought he knew where Americans stood on the use of military force. Fourth, with his poll numbers declining (32% approval for his handling of foreign policy, according to The Wall Street Journal and NBC), it has probably occurred to him that he is damaging not only his own but his party’s brand in foreign affairs. (Yes, George W. Bush did the same to his party, but Mr. Obama was supposed to reverse, not follow, that trend.) Fifth, he surely expects he is about to take a pounding from the antiwar left.
“Evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics who would normally back strong military action were relatively silent in 2013. Why? I think because they were becoming broadly aware, for the first time, of what was happening to Christians in the Middle East.”
Most immediately interesting to me is the apparent change of mind by Americans toward military action in the Mideast. The president’s long-reigning assumption is that a war-weary public has grown more isolationist. But, again according to the WSJ/NBC poll, more than 6 in 10 back moving militarily against Islamic State. Politicians and pundits believe that this is due to the gruesome, public and taunting murders of the U.S. journalists—that Americans saw the pictures and freaked out, that their backing of force is merely emotional.
I think they’re missing a big aspect of this story. Read the rest of this entry »
The CIA said Thursday that the number of Islamic State fighters has grown to as many as three times previous estimates; a day after President Obama announced he is drastically expanding the U.S. military campaign against the militants.
“This new total reflects an increase in members because of stronger recruitment since June following battlefield successes and the declaration of a caliphate, greater battlefield activity, and additional intelligence.”
A spokesperson for the agency told Fox News that new assessments show that the militant group can muster between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria.
“The new numbers are a big jump from the agency’s previous estimate that there were at least 10,000 Islamic State fighters.”
The spokesperson said the new figures were determined after a review of “all-source intelligence reports” on the group from May to August. Read the rest of this entry »
Shorter Obama administration: We’re not at war with ISIS, we’re at war with the English language
— David A. Graham (@GrahamDavidA) September 11, 2014
David A. Graham’s timely tweet (
is that an original epigram, David? Update: he confirms it is) reminded me of this item from a few years ago, a reference to an ancient figure, before Reagan, before Clinton and Bush, even way back before Lyndon Johnson.
[Also see - John Kerry: America Isn’t at War with ISIS]
From a column by Roger Kimball…
March 27th, 2011, Roger Kimball writes:
…what Obama’s minions are calling our “kinetic military activity” in Libya, I noted that the folks presiding over Orwell’s Newspeak would have liked the phrase “kinetic military activity.” As a mendacious and evasive euphemism for “war” it is hard to beat. But Orwell is not the only important thinker the Obama administration’s assault on the English language brings to mind. There is also Confucius.
…Asked by a disciple how to rule a state properly, Confucius replies that it begins with rectifying the names:
“If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be conducted successfully. When affairs cannot be conducted successfully, propriety will not flourish. When propriety does not flourish, punishments will not be properly meted out. When punishments are not properly meted out, the people will not know how to conduct themselves.”
That was written about 475 B.C. When will we catch up with its wisdom?