The Ten Year Anniversary of 9/11

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 10th, 2011

Why the Attack on America on 9/11? 

Sunday is the 10 year anniversary of 9/11.  Ten years is a long time.  And during those years it’s been safe in the U.S.  Which makes people complacent.  That’s what time does.  People tend to forget.

So what was it?  And why was it?  The attack on America on 9/11? 

The ‘what’ is simple to answer.  A group of Muslim men hijacked four jetliners.  They crashed two into the World Trade Center.  Crashed one into the Pentagon.  And the fourth?  The passengers fought back.  Having learned of the other hijackings.  They attacked the attackers.  Fought.  And died.  Bringing the fourth plane down in a field in the country.  Far from its intended target.  These were the first to fight back in the war on terror.  A war where Americans were dying before 2001.

The ‘why’ is a little more involved.  It’s because of the Jews.  In the Middle East.  Who now live on ancient Jewish land.  Israel.  Land that has changed hands a few times since the time of King David (born 11th Century B.C.).  And King Solomon (born 10th Century BC).  And the people that lived on this land before the Jews returned to their homeland?  Muslims.  Who wrested this land from Christians.  Who got the land when the Roman Empire became Christian.  Who took the land from the Jews.  When the Romans were still pagans.  And on and on it went.  Back in time.  Until you get to King David.  And his conquests to consolidate his kingdom.

Long Story Short, Jews and Muslims hate each other in the Middle East

The Muslims want it back.  Because they conquered that land.  And they believe this makes it their land.  But if they believe that he who conquers the land has claim to the land, they have a problem.  Because the British won that land in World War I.  When they defeated the Ottoman Empire.  A member of the Central Powers.  Who lost the war. 

World War II soon came along.  And the HolocaustAdolf Hitler hated Jews.  Tried to kill them all.  So when Nazi Germany lost the war, displaced Jews who survived the Holocaust went to British Palestine.  To their ancient homeland.  Shortly thereafter they declared themselves the State of Israel.  And asked the Palestinians to kindly leave.  And they did.  Into refugee camps surrounding the new State of Israel.  They lived in refugee camps because the surrounding countries didn’t want to take them in.  So in these camps they stayed.  Where they’ve lived with a simmering hatred since.

Anyway, long story short, Jews and Muslims hate each other in the Middle East.  Israel is a tiny Jewish island in an Arab sea.  The Arabs tried to take this land a few times but were beaten back.  Thanks to an assist from the U.S.  And they lost land to boot.  The Sinai Peninsula.  The West Bank.  The Golan Heights.  And the Muslim Arabs want those lands back, too.

Militant Muslims hate America with every Fiber in their Body

Eventually the Egyptians made peace with Israel.  Anwar Sadat formally recognized the State of Israel.  And fundamentalist Egyptian officers assassinated him because of it.  His successor honored the peace Sadat made.  Hosni Mubarak.  For some 30 years.  Got a lot of U.S. aide for helping America’s most important Middle East ally.  Until he was toppled from power during the Arab Spring.

So there’s some history in the Middle East.  The Muslim Arabs hate the Jews.  And want that land back.  And they hate the Egyptian government who made peace with Israel for all those years.  They hate the British for taking that land from the Ottoman Empire.  And perhaps most of all they hate America.  Who they blame for everything.  Had they not entered World War I, that war may have ended in a draw with no lost of Muslim land.  Had they not entered World War II, Hitler may have won that war.  Or at least killed more Jews.  If the Americans had not ‘bribed’ Sadat with aid he may never have recognize the State of Israel.  And had America not helped Israel during the Arab-Israeli wars, the Arabs may have won those wars.

So do militant Muslims hate America?  With every fiber in their body.  Can we get them to like us?  Not a chance in hell.  You see, defeating us is just step one in their grand plan.  Once upon a time Muslim power controlled the Middle East, North Africa and southern Europe.  And they want to again.  They want to restore the caliphate.  And spread Sharia Law.

Osama bin Laden led the War against America

So the radical Muslims, fundamentalists, Islamists, whatever you want to call them, waged war against the U.S.  Attacking U.S. nationals out of the country.  And planning and conducting attacks inside the country.  Osama bin Laden led the war against America.  With his al Qaeda getting bolder over time.  Leading up to September 11, 2001.

So far every subsequent plan has been foiled.  Or failed.  Like the underwear bomber on that Detroit bound plane.  And the Times Square bomber.  So it’s been relatively safe in America.  But there is unrest in the Middle East.  Which is very ominous.

Representative Democracies rarely break out Amidst Chaos

What happens in Egypt may very well tell us the future of the world.  Will they maintain their peace with Israel?  Or will they drift further into the Iranian orbit?  Further pressuring Israel.  Bordered in the north by Iranian client Hezbollah.  And in the south by Iranian client Hamas.  With an open border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.  It’s getting tense over there (see Israel, Egypt try to stem damage from embassy riot by Diaa Hadid, Associated Press, posted 9/10/2011 on the Toronto Star).

Israel and Egypt’s leadership tried Saturday to limit the damage in ties after protesters stormed Israel’s embassy in Cairo, trashing offices and prompting the evacuation of nearly the entire staff from Egypt in the worst crisis between the countries since their 1979 peace treaty.

The 13-hour rampage deepened Israel’s fears that it is growing increasingly isolated amid the Arab world’s uprisings and, in particular, that Egypt is turning steadily against it after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, the authoritarian leader who was a close ally…

Egypt’s new military rulers, in turn, appear caught between preserving key ties with Israel — which bring guarantee them billions in U.S. military aid — and pressure from the Egyptian public. Many Egyptians are demanding an end to what they see as too cosy a relationship under Mubarak, who they feel knuckled under to Israel and the U.S., doing nothing to pressure for concessions to the Palestinians.

The big question is who will succeed Mubarak.  The Muslim Brotherhood?  They have close Iranian ties, too.  So that wouldn’t be good.  But at this time they are probable the largest organized political force in Egypt.  Which carries a lot of weight following a civil war.  I mean, representative democracies rarely break out amidst chaos.  And if it did, it could even be worse.  For a lot of Egyptians don’t like Israel.  Or that peace treaty.  Which means if the people get their way, it could be bad for Jews.  And Christians.

On this Day of Remembrance, we should make sure that those who died did not die in Vain 

We need to be concerned with what’s happening in Egypt.  For if the wrong people get into power there will be no peace for Jews.  Christians.  Or for much of the Western World.

If Iran gains power and influence in the area there will be no peace for Jews.  Christians.  Or for much of the Western World.  This is even a greater concern.  Because they may soon have a nuclear weapon.  If they don’t already.

Ten years is a lot of time.  But we must not become complacent.  And not forget what happened on that day.  Because the threat to America is real.  And it won’t go away with diplomacy.  For you can’t talk sense to people who hijack jetliners full of innocent men, women and children.  To kill innocent men, women and children.

On this day of remembrance, we should make sure that those who died did not die in vain.  As in any war, some may die so that others may live.  So we must honor those who died.  By living.  And being strong.  Strong enough to deter any attack on our soil again.  To protect those they left behind.

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Egypt Opens Gaza Border, Palestinians to try Statehood at UN

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 28th, 2011

It is now an Islamic Arab Border

It’s done.  The border is open.  The siege is lifted.  Let the love begin (see Egypt opens Gaza border crossing, easing 4-year blockade by Ernesto Londono and Joel Greenberg posted 5/28/2011 on The Washington Post).

Egypt’s military rulers announced earlier this week that they would permanently open the crossing, the main gateway to the outside world for the 1.6 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip…

The Egyptian government had kept the border closed or tightly controlled since Hamas took over Gaza, bowing to Israeli concerns that militants could smuggle weapons into the coastal enclave and fears of a spillover of militant activity into Egypt.

Yes, militants could smuggle weapons.  They did.  And they fired them into Israeli cities.  Because the Hamas charter calls for the destruction of Israel.  You see, Hamas has no love for Israel.  They hate Jews.  And they keep trying to kill them.  Hence the attacks on Israeli cities.  Now Hosni Mubarak is gone.  The once banned Muslim Brotherhood is now part of Egypt’s future.  The Egyptians sponsored talks in Cairo to help the militant Hamas join the moderate Fatah in a unity government.  And now the Egypt-Gaza border is now open for business.  But there’s nothing to worry about, is there?

“We are very happy Egypt is now in control of the border,” said Halawen, who was traveling to have spinal surgery after a botched procedure in Gaza. “It is now an Islamic Arab border. Egypt and the revolution of January 25 brought us this.”

Oh, it is now an “Islamic Arab border.”  As in the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.  Who has close ties with the Islamist Hamas.  Who has close ties with the Islamist Iran.  But there is nothing to worry about, is there?  As long as you’re not a tiny Jewish state being swallowed in a sea of militant Islamism, that is.

And now Bombs and Explosives can Cross more Easily

The Israelis aren’t all that happy with this development.  Fatah and Hamas are, though (see Fatah official hails ‘brave’ Egyptian decision to open Rafah crossing by Reuters and The Associated Press posted 5/28/2011 on Haaretz.com).

“We are very happy, it was a brave decision by Egypt to open the crossing and to dismantle the prison imposed by Israel on the people (of Gaza),” [senior Fatah official] Shaath said.

“Opening this door does not mean Egypt wants to allow bombs and explosives … Egypt wants to allow safe passage of individuals who want to conduct their lives,” he continued…

The deputy foreign minister of Hamas, Ghazi Hamad, called the opening of the Rafah crossing “a unique move and a positive development.”

Despite all of these developments, Hamas hasn’t revised their charter.  They refuse to renounce violence against Israel.  Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has yet to say he will accept a Jewish state (as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will accept a Palestinian state).  Interestingly, Shaath was quick to say that just because the border is now open it won’t mean bombs and explosives will cross.  But that’s what is on everyone’s mind.  Why?  Because everyone knows that bombs and explosives will be crossing that border.  Into Gaza.  Where they’ll be used to fulfill the Hamas charter.

The Palestinians plan an UN End-Around to Pressure Israel

So it is no wonder that the Israelis are a little skeptical about the Palestinian quest for peace.  And then there were President Obama’s remarks about restarting the peace process from the pre-1967 borders.  When the Israelis escaped annihilation from a coordinated Arab attack (the Six-Day War).  The Israelis won that conflict.  And gained strategic ground.  Making it more difficult for another coordinated Arab attack.  And they refuse to just give up this security for hopes of peace when one of the negotiating parties still has the destruction of Israel in their charter.

And the other nonstarter in any negotiations is the right for displaced 1948 Palestinians (or their descendents) to return to the Jewish state in the two-state solution.  For if they do, there won’t be two states.  They’ll be one large Palestinian state.  Asking for the pre-1967 borders and the right of return is asking for something they know the Israelis cannot give.  So why ask for them?  It’s obvious.  They don’t want to negotiate a two-state settlement.  They want to stay at war.  And fulfill the Hamas charter.  Of course, it’s the Israelis that are being stubborn and don’t want peace (see Abbas sees no hope for talks with Israel, firm on UN path by Reuters posted 5/28/2011 on The Jerusalem Post).

The Palestinian president said on Saturday there were “no shared foundations” for peace talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and seeking UN recognition of Palestinian statehood was his only option.

So they’re going to try an ‘end-around’ instead.  Get UN recognition of Palestinian statehood.  Which the U.S. opposes.  So that’s more political posturing.  To make it look like Israel and the U.S. are just mean, a couple of schoolyard bullies pushing around the innocent Palestinian people.  The same people who fire missiles into Israel.  And include Hamas.  Who has the destruction of Israel in their charter.

Apparently, only Diplomacy that Weakens Israel is Good Diplomacy

So what does the Jew in the street think?  Well, here’s an opinion from a Jew that left Israel as a child and went to the United States (see Gene Simmons tells Obama to kiss off on 1967 by JPOST.COM Staff posted 5/28/2011 on The Jerusalem Post).

Calling President Obama naive and skewering him on foreign policy during his interview, Simmons didn’t hold back on the expletives. “If you’ve never been to the moon, you can’t issue policy about the moon. You have no f***king idea what it’s like on the moon,” he said.

“When you grow up you find out that life isn’t the way you imagined it, and President Obama means well,” said Simmons, who had admitted to feeling regret for having voted for Obama. “I think he’s actually a good guy. He has no f***king idea what the world is like because he doesn’t have to live there.”

Yes, the fire-breathing, blood-spitting demon with the super long tongue is a Jew.  Okay, so Gene Simmons of Kiss probably doesn’t represent the average Jew in the street, but his opinions are no doubt the same.  He sees what they all see.  For some reason, only diplomacy that weakens or destroys Israel is good diplomacy.  Well he’s not one to sit idly by and bite his tongue.  (If you don’t know who Gene Simmons is, ask your parents).

But Simmons says what many think.  President Obama’s foreign policy is naive.  And it’s making the world a more dangerous place.  Especially in the Middle East.  Where an aggressive and Islamist Iran is sitting back watching it all unfold in Act I.  And getting ready to take center stage in Act II.

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Obama Shocks Israel in Middle East Speech on Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 20th, 2011

The Six-Day War

In 1967, Israel was surrounded by armed forces from Egypt, Syria and Jordan (with some Iraqi assistance).  Egypt troops massed in the Sinai and closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping.  An act of war in Israel’s book.  Again.  Instead of waiting for the attack, the Israeli Air Force executed a surprise attack on the Egyptian Air Force.  Wiped it out.  Gave Israel air superiority throughout the conflict we call the Six-Day War.  Which allowed it to repel the Arab assault.  Israel then went on the offensive.  And gained ground.  Moved the borders to more defendable positions.  Took the Golan Heights from Syria, making it harder for the Syrians to attack again.  Took the West Bank of the River Jordan (and East Jerusalem), making it harder for the Jordanians to attack again.  And took the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, making it harder for the Egyptians to attack again.

Of course, moving borders like this creates problems.  Though Israel was now more secure, there were some one million Arabs now living under Israeli occupation.  And a lot of refugees who were looking for a place to call home.  Many since the 1948 Israeli creation.  But no one wanted them.  So they lived in refugee camps just outside of Israel.  In sort of a ‘no-nation’ land.  Wanting to go home.  Where there was no longer a home for them.

Obama says Israel needs to Return to pre-1967 Borders

President Obama gave a speech on Thursday (5/19/2011).  The subject was the Middle East.  The democracy movements.  And the Israeli–Palestinian peace process.  It was the peace process comments that people are talking about today.  For he dropped a bomb on Israel.  Figuratively, of course.  He said the Israeli borders should return to what they were prior to the Six-Day War.  Which is very problematic for the Israelis.  First of all, it would make them very vulnerable to another pan-Arab attack.  And this inconvenient fact.  There are a lot of Israelis now living on that land that will be on the wrong side of the redrawn border.  That’s a bit of a problem, especially with all those refugees wanting to return home.  Israel is not happy.  And neither is much of the Arab world.  Because they wanted even more.  Such as Egypt’s UN ambassador (see Egypt says Obama speech will help Palestinians by Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press, posted 5/20/2011 on The Daily News Egypt).

Abdelaziz welcomed Obama’s support for the pre-1967 borders with “mutually agreed swaps” of land because it “runs in conjunction with the efforts by the Palestinian leadership to garner the most possible number of recognitions of the state of Palestine on the borders of 1967, with those swaps.”

But the Egyptian ambassador said Obama missed an opportunity to address other key issues including Israel’s continued settlement activities, water, ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the return of refugees “which is a critical issue,” and the Palestinian demand for East Jerusalem as its capital.

Yes, the return of refugees.  The “critical issue.”  In other words, they want the right of the refugees to return home.  Not to the new Palestinian state.  But to the Israeli state.  Making it pretty much a Palestinian state, too.  Thus the two-state solution becomes a single-state solution.  And the Arab world gets what it always wanted.  The removal of Israel from the map.

By the time those negotiations end, he said, the next US presidential elections would be over, which presumably would mean the White House would not face the political pressures that exist today and might look favorably on UN membership for Palestine.

Of course, being in office during the destruction of Israel could have a negative impact on anyone’s reelection chances.  What with Israel being such an important U.S. ally.  So if you’re going to throw them under the bus, best to do that after the next election.

New U.S. Policy Position is a Nonstarter for Israel

Israel is not at all pleased with the new U.S. policy position (see Netanyahu Heads to White House After Obama Shift on Palestinian Statehood posted 5/20/2011 on FOX NEWS).

In a statement released late Thursday, Netanyahu said such a withdrawal would put at risk Israel’s security. He effectively called on Obama to recant his latest demand.

“Israel appreciates President Obama’s commitment to peace,” the statement said. “Israel believes that for peace to endure between Israelis and Palestinians, the viability of a Palestinian state cannot come at the expense of the viability of the one and only Jewish state. That is why Prime Minister Netanyahu expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004. … Among other things, those commitments relate to Israel not having to withdraw to the 1967 lines.”

It would appear that the new U.S. policy position is a nonstarter for Israel.

Israel Refuses to Negotiate their Destruction

Part of the problem in trying to get an Israeli-Palestinian peace is that some of the Palestinians’ opening bargaining position is the destruction of Israel.  That would be Hamas.  Who still lobs missiles into Israel.  And who just recently moved towards a unity government with Fatah (see Obama, Netanyahu to Meet Amid Tense Backdrop posted 5/20/2011 on The Wall Street Journal).

Many U.S. officials had hoped Mr. Netanyahu would use his trip to Washington to lay out new concessions he would be prepared to make as part of a peace agreement.

But hopes have faded significantly in recent weeks, primarily because of the formation of a unity government between the main Palestinian political factions, including the militant organization Hamas, which the U.S. designates as a terrorist organization. Mr. Netanyahu has stated that he won’t return to negotiations while Hamas is part of the Palestinian side or before it renounces its use of violence against Israel.

So moving the borders back and discussing rights of refugees to return while someone on the other side of the border wants to destroy you is a problem.

An Israeli official said Mr. Netanyahu was disappointed the speech didn’t address the Palestinian demand to repatriate to Israel millions of Palestinians, most descendants of people who were driven from or fled homes in the war over the Jewish state’s 1948 creation.

“There is a feeling that Washington does not understand the reality, Washington does not understand what we face,” the official said.

Either they don’t understand or they have great faith in the Palestinians.  And Hamas.  That they won’t use greatly enhanced positions to do what they’ve been trying to do since 1948.  Or, perhaps, this is some grand plan to win the war on terror.  By abandoning Israel.  And giving Iran the Middle East.  And the Middle East oil.  In a desperate attempt to get America’s enemies to like her.  One thing for sure, though, it’s been proving to be a bad time to be a U.S. ally in the Middle East.

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Competency and Constitutionality in Question in Obama’s Libyan War

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 21st, 2011

The Libyan War as Popular as the Iraq War

The attacks on Libya have been authorized by the UN.  There is multilateral support.  And a coalition of the willing.  So we’re standing on the side of moral authority.  And legality.  Unlike the Iraq War.  At least this is what the supporters of this Libyan operation are saying.  And they speak with a united voice.  Or do they (see EDITORIAL: Obama’s illegal war by The Washington Times posted 3/18/2011 on The Washington Times)?

Five Security Council member states sat out the vote, including permanent members Russia and China, in addition to Germany, India and Brazil. China in particular objected to any action that would compromise Libya’s sovereignty, but did not veto the resolution. This may have been a political move, since the abstaining countries are now in a position to raise principled objections to whatever happens once force is utilized. To claim the United States forged an international consensus seems premature when Resolution 1973 did not have the support of countries representing 42 percent of the world’s population.

Russia, China, Germany, India and Brazil oppose this multilateral action?  And that 42%?  It appears that Libya at best may match the Iraq War in popularity.

Very Little Arab Participation in this Arab Matter

All right, we can expect some of this dissent.  But what about one of our allies.  One of the coalition of the willing (see The House of Commons reacts to Libya assault by Peter McHugh posted 3/21/2011 on the UK’s Channel 4 News)?

[The Prime Minister] was just seven minutes into his defence before the first doubt appeared. How would he avoid “mission creep” asked the SNP’s Angus Robertson. Politicians on all sides now use military phrases as short hand for much more serious questions and what he really wanted to know was how do we avoid the Iraq experience when George W Bush said the war was over in days but thousands were to die in the unplanned years that followed…

He said the campaign against Gaddafi was well supported but only Qatar,out of all the arab states were committing troops. Starting a war was easy, said Dennis Skinner, ending it much harder especially if we did not know what would mark the end.

The unease continued to expose itself in a series of interruptions. “What about the £230m of arms we had sold to Libya last year?” asked one MP and “What about Yemen and Bahrain?” said Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn. Would the Prime Minister resign if British “boots” were ever on the ground in Libya?

The UK and France are the two big European nations in charge of this thing.  And one of them is already having a lot of second thoughts.  They’re worried about mission creep.  It becoming another Iraq.  And for a “well supported” mission, there’s only one Arab state on board.  Strange, for it is Arab killing Arab in Libya.  And the Arab League supported the UN resolution to create the no-fly zone.  This lack of Arab participation can be unsettling for the coalition.  For without Arab participation, it can look like European Christians fighting Muslims on oil-rich land.  And that just won’t be good for the mission.

The Nobel Peace Prize Winner Initiates War

Across the pond, Republicans and Democrats alike are questioning the Libyan action.  Some of the stronger criticism may be coming from Republicans (see Rep. Roscoe Bartlett Says President Obama’s Unilateral Choice to Order U.S. Military Force Against Qadhafi is an Affront to Our Constitution by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett posted 3/21/2011 on bartlett.house.gov).

“The United States does not have a King’s army. President Obama’s unilateral choice to use U.S. military force in Libya is an affront to our Constitution. President Obama’s administration has repeated the mistakes of the Clinton administration concerning bombing in Kosovo and the George W. Bush administration concerning invading Iraq by failing to request and obtain from the U.S. Congress unambiguous prior authorization to use military force against a country that has not attacked U.S. territory, the U.S. military or U.S. citizens. This is particularly ironic considering then-Senator Obama campaigned for the Democratic nomination based upon his opposition to President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq.

Some serious charges there.  But is it only partisanship?  I mean, right now, President Obama isn’t all that popular these days with his war on Libya.  He’s letting down some of his most avid supporters.  Who are no doubt stunned.  Their Nobel Peace Prize winner initiating war?  How can this be?

The Russians Call the Coalition Christian Crusaders after Libya’s Oil

Remember when Hillary Clinton went to Russia with that button?  To reset Russian-American relations?  They got the Russian translation wrong on the button.  But the Russians still praised the Obama administration for the effort.  But they’re not praising him anymore (see Russian Duma Leader Wants Obama Stripped of Nobel Peace Prize by Kenneth Rapoza posted 3/21/2011 on Forbes).

The controversial leader of the Russian Liberal Party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky,  said in a statement on Monday that he will ask the Nobel Committee to strip President Barack Obama of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Zhirinovsky said in the letter that the prize, awarded in 2009 for Obama’s historic presidential victory and his work on nuclear non proliferation, was now hypocritical in light of recent missile strikes in Libya…

“These developments in Libya are another outrageous act of aggression by NATO forces and, in particular, the United States,” he wrote, calling it a “colonial policy” with the goal to control Libyan oil…

Zhirinovsky’s protest to the Nobel Committee is most likely a cry in the wilderness.

However, Russian officials have stated no interest in military adventures to punish Gadhafi for waging a civil war against anti-government forces. On Monday, The Economic Times of India reported Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin calling the airstrikes on Libya a “medieval call for crusades.”

Strip the Nobel Peace Prize?  You could say that the missile strikes are a far cry from what he did to win the Peace Prize.  Which was nothing.  He was elected in 2008.  Took office in 2009.  Not a whole lot of time to do anything.  But Zhirinovsky is a small player in Russia these days.  It doesn’t really matter what he says.  Putin is the power in that country.  And he called Obama’s airstrikes a “medieval call for crusades.”

I think we’re going to need another button.

Obama Attacked for Attacking his own Kind

And it gets worse.  Even some of his most ardent supporters are turning on the president (see Farrakhan To Obama: “Who The Hell Do You Think You Are?” by Alan Colmes posted 3/21/2011 on Liberal Land).

You’re a liar and a hypocrite, and I warn my brother don’t let these wicked demons move you in a direction that will let you absolutely ruin your future with your people in Africa and throughout the world…My advice would be, why don’t you organize a group of respected Americans and ask for a meeting with Qaddafi? You can’t order him to step down and get out. Who the hell do you think you are, that you can talk to a man that built a country over 42 years, and ask him step down and get out? Can anybody ask you?

Your people?  Why, that sounds a bit racist.  His people in Africa is code for black.  His people throughout the world is code for Muslim.  Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, is slamming Obama for attacking his black brothers.  And his Muslim brothers.  Even though Obama is a Christian.  Confusing, yes, but for whatever reason Muslims around the world (even Gaddafi looks at him as a son) have adopted this Christian as one of their own.

Mission and Command Structure Poorly Defined

So despite all the talk about a multilateral coalition of the willing, the actions against Libya are pretty unpopular.  Which means support will probably not last long.  So they better get in fast.  Complete the mission with all possible speed and efficiency.  Declare mission accomplished.  And get out.  Shouldn’t be too hard (see Confusion Over Who Leads Libya Strikes, and for How Long by Steven Erlanger posted 3/21/2011 on The New York Times).

As the military operation continued over Libya on Monday, there was some confusion about which country or organization is actually leading it, and for how long. France, Britain and the United States are in charge of their own operations, which each have different code names.

The participants are being “coordinated” by the United States, but not commanded by it, according to the French Defense Ministry. The Americans, with the most assets, seem to be the lead coordinator, but Washington has said it wants to step back after the initial phase and have NATO take charge of maintaining a no-fly zone and arms embargo.

Britain wants NATO to take over but France does not, and Italy is threatening to rethink its participation unless NATO takes command.

Okay, so there is some confusion about the command structure.  But if France is the only holdout in turning over command to NATO we should be able to make a persuasive case to them.  Then that problem will be solved.

Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said in Brussels on Monday that “the Arab League does not wish the operation to be entirely placed under NATO responsibility…

Turkey is also reluctant to have NATO take charge, since it is the only Muslim member of the alliance, has opposed the use of force in Libya and was excluded from a Saturday planning meeting in Paris. But Turkey, which has kept lines open to the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, is likely to allow NATO to run the operation as long as it does not invade Libya with any ground forces or occupy the country.

Okay, that’s a bigger problem.  The whole Arab world is against NATO assuming command of operations.  Perhaps the British and the French can run the coalition.

Washington may be willing to have France and Britain run the operation as a coalition, but that would be hard for the two countries to do without using NATO assets for command and control, most of which belong to the United States. But Washington has never been willing to put its troops under the command of any other nation, one reason that even in NATO, the Supreme Commander Europe, is always an American.

Good night nurse.  Did anyone think this through?  Before we committed to military operations?  The coalition will fall apart before the popular support for the war does.  Command and control issues.  Mission uncertainty (regime change or no regime change).  If we’re this unclear now that we’re in a shooting war, exactly what clarity was there when we committed to the use of force?

Obama says Libyan Civil War is a US Security Threat

Well, the President explains why in a letter to Congress (see Obama explains Libya mission to Congress by Greg Sargent posted 3/21/2011 on The Washington Post).

Qadhafi’s continued attacks and threats against civilians and civilian populated areas are of grave concern to neighboring Arab nations and, as expressly stated in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, constitute a threat to the region and to international peace and security. His illegitimate use of force not only is causing the deaths of substantial numbers of civilians among his own people, but also is forcing many others to flee to neighboring countries, thereby destabilizing the peace and security of the region. Left unaddressed, the growing instability in Libya could ignite wider instability in the Middle East, with dangerous consequences to the national security interests of the United States.

Threatening the United States?  Really?  Losing Egypt to the Muslim Brotherhood could threaten our security.  Losing Bahrain to Iran-friendly Shiite control could threaten our security.  But Libya?  While we have suffered at the hands of Gaddafi, it was more tit for tat.  When he retaliated after receiving a military ass-kicking from the US.  His weapon of choice?  Terrorism.  He blew up a Berlin disco frequented by American Servicemen.  And blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.  If the pattern follows, we are at greater danger by our action.  Inaction would have been the safer bet for American security.

Note the mention of the “consequences to the national security interests of the United States.” Some Dems are arguing that Obama needs Congressional authorization under the War Powers Resolution, which only allows the President to initiate military action without Congress if America is under attack or under serious threat.

Indeed, Dennis Kucinich is citing this quote from Obama himself back in 2007: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” Obama’s insistence that our national security is at stake if Gaddafi is not repelled by force tacitly asserts the President’s authority to invade without Congressional authorization.

Not only are we not safer, there are serious questions about the constitutionality of Obama’s actions.

George W. Bush more Constitutional than Barack Obama

The United Nations Participation Act (UNPA) of 1945 is U.S. law governing our actions with the United Nations (UN).  It defines what the president’s authority is when working with the UN.  And it’s not much (see The false defenders of Obama’s war in Libya by Michael Lind posted 3/21/2011 on Salon).

The only rational way to interpret these sections of the UNPA is to read them as authorizing the president, without congressional approval, to supply fewer than a thousand noncombatant troops to the U.N. for Article 41 actions short of war, and also to negotiate agreements to supply armed forces to the U.N. under Article 43 — but only with prior congressional approval. In Article 42 situations, like the situation in Libya, where the U.N. Security Council calls on members to go to war, the UNPA did not grant the president to act without congressional approval — presumably because the Congress that passed the UNPA understood that all Article 42 enforcement actions approved by the Security Council would have to be separately and independently approved by congressional declarations of war before the U.S. could take part.

Far from delegating the president vast discretion to wage war in pursuit of U.N. requests, the U.N. Participation Act jealously guards the constitutional prerogatives of Congress.

In other words, the Constitution grants war making powers to Congress.  Not the UN.  Or the President.

The Constitution cannot be amended by statute. It cannot be amended by treaty. It cannot be amended by precedent. It cannot be amended by public opinion poll. It cannot be amended by election result. It cannot be amended by humanitarian pity. The U.S. Constitution can only be amended by the procedures set forth in Article V of the Constitution itself.

People are free, if they wish, to propose a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would read as follows: “The President of the United States shall have power to initiate war on his own authority, without the prior approval of Congress; provided, however, that Congress may refuse to appropriate funding for the continuation of a war the president has begun.” Such an amendment would create the situation that many people falsely claim to be the case today. Until such an amendment is ratified and goes into effect, however, the law of the land remains what it has always been, and President Obama’s war in Libya, even if it is moral, prudent and legally authorized under international law by the Security Council, is plainly unconstitutional.

Obama is president of the United States.  He swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.  He did not swear an oath to the UN.  His authority is defined in the U.S. Constitution.  And it is clear he exceeded his constitutional authority.

Obama supporters are just exasperated to no end.  Because they know that George W. Bush went to war in Iraq with more Constitutional authority.  And this fact is just killing them.

The Libyan War already a Mess

The international community is not united in the attacks on Libya.  There is dissent within the coalition.  Uncertainty about mission.  Exit strategy.  Disagreement over command and control.  And legality.  It’s a mess.  It begs the question why Obama would do this to himself.  Especially with the 2012 elections around the corner.  He looks at the world through political eyes.  One can only assume that he has a plan to make this work to his advantage.  But it sure is hard to see how from here. 

Or is it just like JFK’s/LBJ’s whiz kids during the Vietnam War?  Completely out of their element.  Inept.  And making one bad decision after another.  Guess we’ll find out at the 2012 election.

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Barack Obama Attacks a Muslim Country with Oil. Just Like George W. Bush.

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 20th, 2011

Bombs for Humanity

So we’re bombing Libya.  Why?  What’s the mission?  And our exit strategy?  Vietnam protester, John Kerry, explains on Meet the Press (see Kerry, Levin Defend Timing and Scope of Libya Response by David M. Drucker posted 3/20/2011 on Roll Call).

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.), appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” from Cairo, described the activities of U.S. military forces in Libya as a “humanitarian initiative” that was wholly unconcerned with removing Gaddafi from power…

 “The goal of this mission is not to get rid of Gaddafi,” Kerry added. “That’s not what the United Nations licensed, and I would not call it going to war. This is a very limited operation that is geared to save lives. … It is not geared to try to get rid of Gaddafi, he has not been targeted.”

So the mission is NOT to get rid of the guy that’s doing all the killing.  Yet we want the killing to stop.  Interesting.  And we’re making this information public.  So Gaddafi knows this.  That we’re not targeting him.  Or trying to remove him from power.  So his choices are surrender and die.  Or keep fighting and live.  Seems to me like he has an incentive to keep on doing what he’s doing.  And not to stop killing his own people.  Like I said, interesting.

As far as plans go, this sounds like a pretty bad plan to me.  In fact, it sounds pretty FUBAR.  Because it ignores how dictators stay in power and do the horrible things they do.  Dictators are protected by an inner circle.  Each has a vested interest in the other.  The inner circle keeps the dictator in power.  And the dictator keeps the inner circle living well.  As long as the dictator lives, the inner circle lives.  So if they are fairly certain he will live, they know their best future is with him.  And there’s only one way to make that happen.  By crushing the rebellion.

 “We’re not policing Libya,” Kerry said. “We are engaged in a humanitarian initiative to prevent the slaughter of innocent people, to prevent a dictator from dragging people out of hospital beds and they disappear.”

“What you’re missing here,” [Karl] Levin added, “is this is the world that has made a decision. … It is not just we the United States. The president has taken the time to put the world community together.”

The president put the world community together?  Hillary Clinton was talking to the French president (Nicolas Sarkozy) and the British prime minister (David Cameron).  Obama was doing his NCAA brackets.  And planning his vacation to Brazil.  Even Clinton was growing frustrated with Obama’s inaction.  It’s almost as if he wants plausible denial when this war, his war, fails.

Obama was for Removing Qaddafi from Power before he was Against It

So what if the plans go as planned?  We blow up a lot of stuff.  Kill a lot of people.  But leave Gaddafi in power.  What then?  What is the endgame?  What will it be like after our military involvement is complete.  If our military involvement ends (see U.S. stresses limits to military role in Libya by David Morgan posted 3/20/2011 on Reuters)?

Gates spoke amid growing concern among U.S. politicians over the scope and nature of the Libya mission and after an acknowledgement from the top U.S. military officer that the assault on Gaddafi’s forces could lead to an impasse…

President Barack Obama has called in recent weeks for Gaddafi to step down but U.S. officials have emphasized that is not the goal of the United Nations authorized attacks on Libya. The United States is eager to avoid similarities to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and ouster of President Saddam Hussein.

An impasse?  Hell, we can have that without the mission.  So why bother?  And what about the mixed message?  Obama said Gaddafi had to go.  But U.S. officials say he doesn’t?  Is anyone driving this bus?  Does anyone know what we’re doing?  And why?  An astute military man would sense all this indecision.  And see opportunities.  Even a lowly colonel.  Who hasn’t been promoted in decades.

The Qaddafis call Obama Hitler, Brutus

And what about Colonel Gaddafi?  How’s he taking this?  Is he ready to surrender?  To hand over power to the opposition forces?  To go forward in peace because he saw the error of his ways?  Not quite (see A Call from the Colonel: Gaddafi and His Bunker by Howard Chua-Eoan posted 3/20/2011 on Time).

“We defeated Italy when it was a superpower like you,” he said comparing Washington to Rome, Libya’s former colonizer. “You will be defeated like Hitler and Mussolini… You are the new Hitler.” He brought up America’s defeats in Vietnam and its self-debilitating invasion of Iraq. He raised the image of Osama bin Laden “that weak man” who he said defeated the U.S. “We will be victorious. You will die…”

“We have been wronged,” he declared. “Those who have been wronged will always win. There is no justification for this attack. It’s a colonial crusade. Islam will win. Libyans will win.” “We will not let these Christian nations take our oil… We are now giving Libyans weapons, machine guns. Every citizen will be armed…You will not be able to land here… We will destroy those who support you in Benghazi…. We will defend our own country, inch by inch… We will be victorious. The coalition of the devil will be defeated.”

And there is the perfunctory Western criticism.  We’re Christian Crusaders trying to take and colonize Muslim land so we can have their oil.  You know, the usual shtick.  Of course, this carries a lot of weight in the Muslim Middle East.  It will resonate with the masses.  Well played, Colonel.  Perhaps his son will be more reasonable (see Qaddafi’s son: Airstrikes are “big mistake” by CBS/AP posted 3/20/2011 on CBS News).

“One day you’ll wake up and you will find out that you were supporting the wrong people,” Saif al-Islam Qaddafi told ABC’s “This Week…”

Saif said if the U.S. wanted to help the Libyan people, they should “liberate Benghazi from the militia and the terrorists.”

“It was a big surprise that, finally, President Obama – we thought he’s a good man and friend of the Arab world – is bombing Libya,” Saif told “This Week” host Christiane Amanpour.

When asked whether Libya would retaliate against the strikes by attacking civilian airliners, Saif said this was not their “target.”

“Our target is how to help our people in Libya, especially in Benghazi,” he said.

So we’re supporting the wrong people.  Gee, I hope not.  That would be embarrassing.  Of course, if the Muslim Brotherhood rises from the ashes to lead Qaddafi-free Libya into the Iranian camp, we’ll know that we did.  Time will tell. 

And how about that personal dig?  At Obama?  That good man and friend of the Arab world.  Et tu, Barack?  Et tu?  I guess that Apology Tour really resonated with the anti-American elements of the Middle East.  At least they’re not going to target civilian airlines in retaliation.  This time.  Unlike that other time.  When they blew up Pan Am Flight 103.  Over Lockerbie, Scotland.

The Arab Coalition Faltering because Obama is just another George W. Bush

Not having Gaddafi be more open to surrendering and dying may complicate things a bit.  He seems willing to sustain the bombing damage until we grow tired of the war and go home.  Or until the coalition falls apart (see Arab League condemns broad bombing campaign in Libya by Edward Cody posted 3/20/2011 on The Washington Post).

The Arab League secretary general, Amr Moussa, deplored the broad scope of the U.S.-European bombing campaign in Libya and said Sunday that he would call a league meeting to reconsider Arab approval of the Western military intervention…

Moussa’s declaration suggested that some of the 22 Arab League members were taken aback by what they have seen and wanted to modify their approval lest they be perceived as accepting outright Western military intervention in Libya. Although the eccentric Gaddafi is widely looked down on in the Arab world, the leaders and people of the Middle East traditionally have risen up in emotional protest at the first sign of Western intervention.

A shift away from the Arab League endorsement, even partial, would be an important setback to the U.S.-European campaign. Western leaders brandished the Arab League decision as a justification for their decision to move militarily and as a weapon in the debate to win approval for a U.N. Security Council resolution two days before the bombing began.

It’s a delicate line our friends in the Middle East must walk.  They may want to help the West.  But they cannot really look like they are.  Or, if they are, they can’ t look overly enthusiastic about it.  Because many of our friends have populations they have to appease to prevent civil war.  And if you think it’s hard for us in the Middle East, try to walk a mile in their shoes. 

So this could be a little posturing on their side to save face in the Arab world.  Or, perhaps, they just didn’t know establishing a no-fly zone requires gaining air supremacy.  Meaning we can fly wherever we want.  But they cannot.  And to do that we have to take out all of their air defenses.  So Qaddafi may pick off a member or two of the Arab coalition disturbed by the intensity of the bombing.  And he always has his friends.  Those darlings of the liberal left.

As U.S. and European military operations entered their second day, however, most Arab governments maintained public silence, and the strongest expressions of opposition came from the greatest distance. Presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and Evo Morales of Bolivia and former Cuban president Fidel Castro condemned the intervention and suggested that Western powers were seeking to get their hands on Libya’s oil reserves rather than limit the bloodshed in the country.

You gotta love this.  The liberal left’s guy, President Obama, gets us into another war.  And if that wasn’t bad enough, their idols in Latin America have to stick up for the bad guy in this war.  It’s like the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact all over again.  When the Left had to stop loving their idol, Joseph Stalin, because he made a deal with Adolf Hitler.  The Left just must be beside themselves.  Because even their idols are saying Obama is going into Libya for the oil.  Just like George W. Bush in Iraq.

Islam Lutfi, a lawyer and Muslim Brotherhood leader in Egypt, said he opposed the military intervention because the real intention of the United States and its European allies was to get into position to benefit from Libya’s oil supplies. “The countries aligned against Libya are there not for humanitarian reasons but to further their own interests,” he added.

Even the Muslim Brotherhood says Obama is after Libya’s oil.  Just like George W. Bush in Iraq.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry, which previously criticized Gaddafi’s crackdown, on Sunday expressed “doubts” about U.S. and European intentions. Like the Latin American critics, it suggested that the claims of wanting to protect civilians were just a cover for a desire to install a more malleable leadership in Tripoli and make it easier to exploit Libya’s oil.

Even Iran says Obama is after Libya’s oil.  Just like George W. Bush in Iraq.

Christians Attacking Muslims on Land with Oil

So much for the Apology Tour.  If they treat a guy that has bent over backwards to the Muslim community like this, it’s obvious that the Obama approach in the Middle East was wrong.  And naive.  Not only has he damaged relations with our friends and allies, but he got zero goodwill for the effort.

And here we are.  Another ‘Christian’ coalition attacking another Muslim country with oil.  Already the Muslim anger is building.  And the question that begs to be asked is this.  How did we not see this coming?

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Obama Going all George W. Bush in the Middle East?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 19th, 2011

Fighting Wars on the other Side of the World

In 1775, the shooting in the American Revolutionary War began.  The world’s superpower, the British Empire, had planned on taking some arms away from local rebels.  Some shots were exchanged at Lexington and Concord.  And the small British force retreated to Boston.  The rebels harassed the British column the entire way.  The war did not begin well for the British.  And it would end like it began.  Not well.  The British formally recognized the United States of America 8 years later with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

The British outclassed the Americans in every way but one.  Lines of communications.  The British lines were some 3,000 miles back to Great Britain.  About a 6 hour flight today.  Then, a couple of months by ship.  By contrast the Americans held the advantage of short, interior lines.  We could ‘hit and run’ and melt back into the surrounding country.  Like we did in 1775 during that British retreat.  As we did throughout the war.  Though General Washington wanted to defeat the British in a decisive battle, he would not get the chance to meet the British in such a battle until 6 long years later at Yorktown.  Unable to win a decisive battle, he did the only thing he could.  Not lose a decisive battle.  The American Revolutionary War was a war of attrition.  The British sued for peace when the cost of continuing the war was greater than the British people were willing to pay.  As wars are wont to be with such long lines of communications.

Military planners have learned this lesson.  You are probably familiar with a more recent war that was similar.  Where a world superpower was involved in a war of attrition half way across the world.  In South Vietnam.  The Americans came into the conflict to support South Vietnam from Communist North Vietnam.  There is no South Vietnam today.  Like the British some 200 years earlier, we won the military engagements but just couldn’t win the war.  When the cost in blood and treasure became too great, we met in Paris, too, to end the war.  We signed the Paris Peace Accords in 1973.  And we learned the British lesson of 1783.

Winning the War is Easier than Winning the Peace

When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, George H. W. Bush assembled an international coalition and threw the Iraqis out of Kuwait.  Operation Desert Storm was an overwhelming victory.  However, Bush was heavily criticized for ‘not finishing the job’ in the Gulf War.  His critics said we should have gone on to Baghdad to remove Hussein from power.  We didn’t.  For a couple of good reasons.  First of all, the coalition included Arab nations.  They only joined to repel Hussein from Kuwait.  Not to remove him from power.  The other reason was that if we toppled Hussein we would own Iraq.  And we would probably end up there for years trying to ‘win the peace’.

Following the Gulf War there were uprisings throughout Iraq.  The world watched hopeful that he would be overthrown by his own people and democracy would break out.  It didn’t.  He suppressed the rebellions brutally.  So brutally that no-fly zones were established in the north over the Kurds and in the south over the Shiite population.  But we didn’t invade.  And he remained a thorn in our side.  And his people suffered.

After 9/11, the US invaded Afghanistan.  Then Iraq.  The official reason was his weapons of mass destruction that he never documented destroyed.  He had used chemical weapons against the Iranians.  And the Kurds.  Being a ‘supporter’ of terrorism there was worry he might provide these weapons to a terrorist.  So there was that reason.  The other reason was a little more convoluted.  Osama bin Laden was a Wahhabi Sunni.  He had ties in Saudi Arabia.  And there was a large Wahhabi population in Saudi Arabia providing funding to al Qaeda.  The Saudis were reluctant to shut down this funding for fear of a rebellion by the Wahhabis against the House of Saud.  But there was one thing that worried them more than the Wahhabis.  Shiite Iran.  By invading Iraq we forced their hand.  They had a vested interest in seeing us succeed in Iraq.  And in our war against al Qaeda.  We made progress against al Qaeda and their Taliban hosts in Afghanistan.  And the Saudi started to shut down their funding.  The Iraq War was a success.  But the one drawback was that we now owned Iraq.  And winning the peace was nowhere as easy as winning the war.  As George W. Bush learned.

Obama Commits Military Force in Libya

The US has some very important friends in the Middle East and North Africa.  Among these are Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.  To name a few.  These are nations with Sunni populations and/or Sunni governments unfriendly to Iran.  Egypt made peace with Israel and kept the Suez Canal open for international trade for decades.  Saudi Arabia peacefully coexists with its neighbors and is the largest oil exporter in the world.  Except for the oil embargo of 1973, they have maintained the flow of that oil at market prices to Western economies.  The US Navy’s 5th Fleet is headquartered in Bahrain.

These nations aren’t perfect.  Saudi women can’t drive a car, for example.  But they’re stalwart US allies.  One of these nations was pretty progressive as well as being a staunch US friend.  Egypt.  Egyptian women were about the freest in the Middle East, second only to Tunisia.  Egypt and Tunisia, though, were suffering economically.  Had high unemployment.  And a Muslim opposition unhappy with their ‘Western’ ways.  The largest organized opposition group is the Muslim Brotherhood.  And they can be best described as being more simpatico with Iran.  When Egypt had their uprising, the Obama administration called it a democracy uprising and called for Hosni Mubarak to give up power.  Without considering who would step into that power void.  Which did not go over well with Mubarak.  Or the Saudis.

Now Libya is burning.  Qaddafi is attacking his own people.  The US dithered for weeks.  While the Libyans cried for help.  Even other Arab nations cried for our help.  But we did nothing.  Even though Qaddafi is not a US friend.  And was a sponsor of terrorism.  As the carnage mounted, though, someone took action.  The French of all people (see U.S. Missiles Strike Libyan Air-Defense Targets by David Kirkpatrick, Steven Erlanger and Elisabeth Bumiller posted 3/19/2011 The New York Times).

American and European forces began a broad campaign of strikes against the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi on Saturday, unleashing warplanes and missiles in a military intervention on a scale not seen in the Arab world since the Iraq war…

The campaign began with French warplane missions even before the end of an emergency summit meeting in Paris, where leaders, reacting to news that Colonel Qaddafi’s forces were attacking the rebel capital city of Benghazi on Saturday morning despite international demands for a cease-fire, said they had no choice but to act to defend Libyan civilians and opposition forces.

France has a Muslim problem.  They had some riots a few years back in some Paris Muslim suburbs.  Where young Muslims were unemployed.  Unhappy.  And not all that willing to assimilate into French culture.  Though they want to live in France.  So there’s been tensions between the French and their Muslim population.  So it says a lot that France was on point in this attack on a Muslim country.  Yes, at this time the international community, including some Arab states, approve of this action.  But you play with fire whenever you attack a Muslim country.  Especially if they have oil.  And Libya has oil.  In fact, it’s some of the finest oil in the Middle East.  A low-sulfur sweet crude.

When the international community was coming together against him, Qaddafi was defiant.  Warned us to stay out of their internal affairs.

“Libya is not yours. Libya is for all Libyans,” he wrote in one letter, read to the news media by a spokesman. “This is injustice, it is clear aggression, and it is uncalculated risk for its consequences on the Mediterranean and Europe.

“You will regret it if you take a step toward intervening in our internal affairs.”

Colonel Qaddafi addressed President Obama as “our son,” in a letter jarring for its familiarity. “I have said to you before that even if Libya and the United States enter into war, God forbid, you will always remain my son and I have all the love for you as a son, and I do not want your image to change with me,” he wrote. “We are confronting Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, nothing more. What would you do if you found them controlling American cities with the power of weapons? Tell me how would you behave so that I could follow your example?”

Could this be why the Obama administration was so reluctant to act?  Because of a father-son relationship between Obama and Qaddafi?  You gotta admit this is a strange thing for Qaddafi to say.  Makes you wonder just what was the extent of Obama’s apology tour in the Middle East.  One thing for sure, it will give fuel to those who think Obama is a Muslim.  I mean, it just doesn’t help when the bad guy calls you a son.

Regret?  We should take that threat seriously.  After some military encounters with Libyan losses in the Gulf of Sidra Qaddafi retaliated with the bombing of a German disco frequented by US troops.  When we discovered his connection to that bombing we bombed Tripoli.  In retaliation for that bombing he had a bomb smuggled aboard a 747.  Pan Am Flight 103.  Brought down on Lockerbie, Scotland.  So he has a history of getting even.  Which we need to be on guard for.

Obama now Owns Libya

So it’s war.  Missiles are flying.  People are dying (see Libya: British forces launch missile attacks on Gaddafi by Colin Freeman, in Benghazi and Sean Rayment posted 3/20/2011 on the UK’s Telegraph).

Explosions were reported at an airport east of Tripoli as a British Trafalgar Class submarine and US Navy ships and submarines stationed off Libya fired 110 Tomahawk missiles at 20 targets in what one source described as a “night of carnage”.

The missiles targeted Libyan command and control centres, radar installations and surface-to-air missile sites. Libyan officials said the attacks were “barbaric” and causing civilian casualties…

British sources and Pentagon officials said Nato would undertake a “battle damage assessment” of Libya’s military during daylight hours and would decide whether to continue with further attacks.

Sources at the Elysée Palace said Britain, France and the United States had assumed the “leadership” of the coalition in early talks between the Prime Minister, Mr Sarkozy and Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State. The “extremely purposeful conclusion” of the early talks was endorsed by the full meeting, where speakers included Ban Ki-Moon, the United Nations secretary general.

Well, President Obama has his third war.  Pretty impressive for a guy that said he would get us out of Iraq (he didn’t).  That he would fully prosecute the Afghanistan War to victory (he hasn’t).  And he wouldn’t nation-build like his predecessor.  George W. Bush.  He now may.  There’s no way Qaddafi can withstand the military force now aligned against him.  So he will lose.  But what then?  Who will fill that power vacuum?  In an already unstable and changing Middle East?  He can say what he wants about Iraq and Afghanistan, but it’s different with Libya.  This happened on his watch.  And he now owns it.  It will be up to him to win the peace.  Or lose it.

Those naval operations against Libya will be based out of Bahrain.  I sure hope he doesn’t encourage any more ‘democracy’ uprisings while we’re using that base for combat operations.  It would be a shame to lose that base during the middle of these operations.  And by a shame I mean a complete and utter disaster.  Because that would greatly extend our lines of communications.  And history has shown what that can do in war.

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Is the Arab World backward because of their Women?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 6th, 2011

Europe Pulls ahead of the Middle East in 1200 and never Looks Back

What’s the deal with the Islamic world?  While Western Civilization has reached staggering heights of prosperity and freedom, much of the Islamic world lives as they did during the Middle Ages (see Is Islam the Problem? by Nicholas Kristof posted 3/5/2011 on The New York Times).

A wise visitor from outer space who dropped in on Earth a millennium ago might have assumed that the Americas would eventually be colonized not by primitive Europeans but by the more advanced Arab civilization — and that as a result we Americans would all be speaking Arabic today.

Yet after about 1200, the Middle East took a long break: it stagnated economically, and today it is marked by high levels of illiteracy and autocracy. So as the region erupts in protests seeking democracy, a basic question arises: What took so long? And, a politically incorrect question: Could the reason for the Middle East’s backwardness be Islam?

That great city in Egypt founded by Alexander the Great, Alexandria, held a treasure trove of old Greek texts.  When the Christian Crusaders crusaded into the region, they took some of these books back home with them.  As well as some Arab science and math.  It’s what made Europe dominant coming out of the Middle Ages.  At the time of the Crusades, the Arab world was more dominant than Europe.  More learned.  More advanced.  So it’s a good question.  What happened?  Why did the Europeans pass them by?

Yet one challenge is psychological. Many Arabs blame outsiders for their backwardness, and cope by rejecting modernity and the outside world. It’s a disgrace that an area that once produced outstanding science and culture (giving us words like algebra) now is an educational underachiever, especially for girls.

Perhaps there is a clue here.  Perhaps it’s the human capital of Western women.  It’s just a thought.  When you exclude women from anything reserved for men it basically cuts your human capital in half.  The greater your human capital, the greater your advancement.  If the split between men and women is 50-50, then the Western Civilization has been working with a 100% advantage in human capital.  Perhaps that is a factor.  I don’t know.  It’s just a thought.

The Great Cultural Divide: Bikinis or Veils

Little has changed in the Muslim world.  Education and custom is little changed from what it was back when the Arab world was dominant.  And those who try to change things are not received well by their brethren (see London imam subjected to death threats for supporting evolution by Rowenna Davis posted 3/6/2011 on the UK’s Guardian).

An imam of an east London mosque has been subject to death threats and intimidation for expressing his views on evolution and women’s right to refuse the veil…

A statement from the secretary of the mosque, Mohammad Sethi, that was leaked to extremist websites, said Hasan had been suspended after his lecture resulted in “considerable antagonism” from the community and for his “belief that Muslim women are allowed to uncover their hair in public”.

It is not uncommon to see magazines at the checkout lane in American sores with bikini-clad women on the covers.  You see them so often you don’t give them a second thought.  Compare that to the ferocious outrage directed against someone who said Muslim women should be able to show their hair in public.  That is quite a cultural divide.  And perhaps a reason for the men in the Arab world to hate the West.  Because we let these uppity women to do whatever they please.  Why, we even let them believe in evolution.

Harun Yahya, a popular Islamic creationist scholar from Turkey, begins a UK tour in London on Monday, adding to the debate. Last December Salir al-Sadlan, a senior Saudi-based scholar Salir al-Sadlan, said Muslims shouldn’t pray behind someone who believed in evolution in a speech at Green Lanes mosque in Birmingham.

Inayat Bunglawala, chair of Muslims4UK, a group promoting Muslim engagement in British society, said there was “widespread ignorance” about evolution among the Muslim community. “Many traditional imams are grounded in ancient books in Arabic but have very little grounding in science. I find it staggering how they can be so strongly opposed to evolution without reading about it. That seems to be opposite of the very first commandment of the Qur’an, which is to read,” Bunglawala said.

It was interesting to hear the American left argue for that Muslim community center (that included a mosque inside of it) near Ground Zero.  They fought for and defended the Muslim religion.  Even though they attack Christianity tooth and nail over their ‘oppression’ of women and God-clinging rejection of evolution.  Incidentally, a lot of those bikini-clad women on the magazine covers in American stores?  A lot of them are Christians.  And why do Christian women do this in the West?  Pose half-naked?  Because they can.

The Left makes absolutely no logical sense to support a stringent religion (Islam) while attacking a less stringent one (Christianity).  Then again, a lot the Left does defies logical sense.  But I digress. 

Protestant Germany have an Islamic Past?

There’s a lot of Christian history in Germany.  Martin Luther was a German monk who started the Protestant Reformation.  That’s a pretty big movement in the Christian world.  And Germany was smack dab in the middle of the Christian world.  But others would beg to differ (see German Minister’s Comments on Islam Stir Debate by Judy Dempsey posted 3/6/2011 on The New York Times).

Germany’s new interior minister, appointed just last week, has already managed to upset politicians, church leaders and representatives of the Muslim community by saying that Islam is not a part of the German way of life.

“Islam in Germany is not something substantiated by history at any point,” the interior minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, said at his first news conference in his new job, adding that Islam did not play a major role in German culture…

Lamya Kaddor, chairwoman of the Liberal-Islamic Union in Germany, said that Mr. Friedrich’s remarks were a “slap in the face of Muslims.”

“Such statements are not only politically and historically wrong, I think they are dangerous,” Ms. Kaddor said. She added that Mr. Friedrich’s position would undermine progress between Muslims and Christians that previous interior ministers had encouraged.

I don’t know.  I think the German guy is kinda right here.  It was a Germanic people that conquered Rome and renamed it the Holy Roman Empire.  And the empire moved north.  It became German.  And it was Germanic kings that sent crusaders to the Holy Land.  To fight the Muslims.  To return the Holy Land to Christian rule.  That’s why Muslims hate Christians.  The European crusaders.  Western Civilization.  And Americans.  They say we’re all still crusading against Islam.  And that’s why Muslim immigrant communities don’t want to assimilate into their new countries.  Including Germany.

Germany has been grappling with how best to integrate its four million Muslims into the society at large. The government is pushing for the children of non-German-speaking parents to develop better German language skills.

But in a recent visit to Germany, the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, urged Turkish parents who are living in Germany to teach their children the Turkish language before German.

Mr. Erdogan told a crowd of more than 11,000 people in Düsseldorf that the Turks in Germany should not assimilate, but integrate.

“I say yes to integration,” Mr. Erdogan said. “You should definitely integrate with the German society, but we are against assimilation. No one should be able to rip us away from our culture and civilization. Our children must learn German, but first they must learn Turkish.”

I wonder how many Christian Germans are living in Muslim countries maintaining their culture and civilization.  Or is that a one way street?  I mean, if you want to retain your culture and civilization, why leave the country where your culture and civilization is?  And why expect another country to lose their culture and civilization by refusing to assimilate into your new adoptive country?  It doesn’t seem fair.  And appears that something else is at play here.  The expansion of Islamic fundamentalism?  Perhaps.

Americans Attacked in Germany

So, is there any radical Islamic fundamentalism happening in Germany?  Well, there’s this (see Jihad in Frankfurt posted on 3/7/2011 in The Wall Street Journal).

On Wednesday two American soldiers were shot dead on a military bus at Frankfurt Airport. Arid Uka, a 21-year-old Kosovo native, has confessed to the murders of Senior Airman Nicholas Alden, 25, and Airman First Class Zachary Cuddeback, 21.

German officials say Uka approached the airmen boarding the bus, asked for a cigarette, and struck up a conversation. After one of the soldiers confirmed they were headed for Afghanistan, Uka followed them onto the bus, cried “Allahu akbar,” and began shooting.

Hmmm.  A young man from a predominantly Muslim country shouting ‘God is Great’ before killing two Americans on their way to Afghanistan where Islamic Fundamentalism is fighting to throw the Westerners out.  Why, one could say this young Muslim is simpatico with his Muslim brethren in Afghanistan.  So, yes, one could call this an act of radical Islamic Fundamentalism against Americans on German soil.

No Room for Oprah in the Middle East

I once worked with a guy that proudly told me he didn’t leave the house in the morning unless his wife put on his socks for him.  He was the boss in his house and she did what he told her to.  I sometimes get the feeling that this is what’s going on with radical Islam.  It’s all about the women.  They don’t like the freedom of women in the West.  For Islam is a male-dominated society.  And to maintain this culture and civilization, it is best to keep your country like it was in the old days.  Backwards.  For Muslim women watching Oprah may get ideas.  The wrong kind of ideas.  So it’s best not to have the modern conveniences of life that could bring Oprah into the Muslim living room.  For the sake of that male-dominated society. 

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An Egyptian Dictator is bad while an Iranian one is Okay?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 11th, 2011

The Handling of the Egyptian Crisis not our Finest Moment

Mubarak is out.  And the military is in.  They will try to restore order now and keep the country from degenerating into anarchy.  But did we back the right horse?

Early on the Obama administration joined the ‘democratic’ protesters in calls for Mubarak’s resignation.  Even though it looked like we didn’t know what was going on in Egypt (see Crisis Flummoxes White House by Adam Entous and Jay Solomon posted 2/11/2011 on The Wall Street Journal).

All day, as rumors swirled Mr. Mubarak would step down, administration officials struggled to understand what was happening, and even U.S. intelligence officials appeared baffled at one point. At a Capitol Hill hearing, Leon Panetta, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, told lawmakers there was “a strong likelihood that Mubarak may step down this evening…”

A senior intelligence official defended Mr. Panetta, saying he was referring to press reports in his comments rather than to CIA intelligence reports.

Interesting.  Our intelligence chief uses the same press reports you and I read to brief Congress.  Probably was not a good idea.  Anything we can read will be in English.  And written for us.  The people who matter?  Those in the midst of the crisis?  They don’t read English.  Because English isn’t the official Egyptian language.  Funny, those Egyptians.  Using their native tongue.  Actually, that’s quite common throughout the world.  That’s why we usually collect intelligence from agents inside the country who immerse themselves in the language and customs of the local people.  That way we understand what the common Egyptian on the street is thinking.  Just hope that the rest of the intelligence we used came from hard sources.

Arab and Israeli diplomats said Mr. Obama’s decision to throw his full support behind the opposition after eight days of protests has likely broken ties with Mr. Mubarak beyond repair.

The move also had the effect of pushing Mr. Mubarak closer to regional allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have urged Mr. Mubarak to hold his ground.

As a result, said one Arab diplomat, Washington’s influence in dictating events in Cairo could be limited…

“I don’t think Mubarak trusts too many people from the U.S. anymore,” the Arab diplomat said. “It looks like Omar Suleiman is the right point of contact, but they’re all ticked off with the U.S. position, which they view as throwing Mubarak under the bus.”

We keep hearing about what a dictator Mubarak was.  If he was a dictator, he was a dictator that helped keep the region stable.  He honored the peace treaty with Israel.  He kept the Suez Canal open to navigation.  He supported us during Desert Storm.  He was on our side during Iraqi Freedom.  He has a secular government that has repressed radical Islam.  Yeah, we’re giving him a boatload of foreign aid, and there’s poverty and unemployment throughout Egypt, but to throw him under the bus?  We should be more careful in what we wish for.

In talks with American counterparts in Washington Thursday, top Israeli officials accompanying Defense Minister Ehud Barak made a similar case, warning that the upheaval could be the start of a broader “earthquake” that could sweep the region, said officials briefed on the exchange.

They questioned Washington’s wisdom in appearing to push for Mr. Mubarak’s ouster and whether the military can keep chaos and Islamist forces at bay, a participant said.

Israeli officials also told the U.S. Thursday that right-wing parties in Israel could gain strength in future Israeli elections as a result, complicating efforts to advance peace talks with Palestinians.

Mubarak was an ally.  Israel is an Ally.  The Palestinians?  Not quite an ally.  And yet we choose a course of action that hurts an ally.  And possibly benefits the nation who perhaps is not best aligned with American interests.  Funny.  Not in a ha ha way.  But in a puzzling, confusing way.

One of the biggest questions facing the administration is the future role of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Mr. Clapper, on Capitol Hill, muddied the picture when he called the group “largely secular,” despite long-standing U.S. concerns about its Islamist roots and ties to extremism.

Mr. Clapper’s spokeswoman, Jamie Smith, later issued a clarification, citing the Brotherhood’s efforts to work through Egypt’s political system. Mr. Clapper “is well aware that the Muslim Brotherhood is not a secular organization.”

Oh, this doesn’t help.  Calling a group with a religion in its name secular.  Not only have we thrown an ally under the buss, but we’ve made ourselves look clueless at the highest levels of government.  If the Muslim Brotherhood takes power in Egypt, Egypt will become more like Iran than Egypt.  And if you haven’t been keeping score, that’s the worst possible outcome of this Egyptian crisis.

Our Allies Worry, our Enemies Jubilant

And how are our other allies in the region taking this?  They’re not exactly whistling a happy tune (see Neighbors Rattled by Egypt Shift by Angus McDowall, Richard Boudreaux and Joel Millman posted 2/11/2011 on The Wall Street Journal).

The resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Friday rattled regional allies and foes alike, threatening a decades long balance of power in the Mideast and putting Saudi Arabia and Israel, in particular, on the defensive.

Our two strongest allies in the area are now on the defensive.  That doesn’t sound like they were all for the removal of the stabilizing Mubarak.  How about a terrorist group in the region?  How do they feel?

Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite Muslim political and militant group, issued a statement of congratulations to Egypt. Mr. Mubarak has long battled to curb the influence of Hezbollah’s key sponsor, Iran. Celebratory gunfire broke out in some neighborhoods of Lebanon’s capital, Beirut. Cars honked their horns and people waved victory signs.

That doesn’t sound good.  Our friends feel threatened.  And those who aren’t friendly with us are celebratory.  It looks like we just strengthened Iran’s client in the area.  And how about Iran itself?

Iranian officials have been gloating over the turmoil in Egypt for weeks, comparing it to the Islamic revolution that toppled the shah more than 30 years ago. On Friday, Iran’s national news agency IRNA ran headlines including “Egypt is Without a Pharaoh” and “The Great Victory of the Egyptian People.”

“We congratulate the great nation of Egypt on this victory and we share their happiness,” Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in a statement on Friday.

Oh, that is not good at all.  Iran and Egypt were not friends.  Now Iran likes what’s happening in Egypt.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why.  Their client, Hezbollah, was sandwiched between our two allies in the Gaza Strip.  Israel on the north and east.  And Egypt in the south.  No doubt Iran is looking at the possibilities in the Gaza Strip now that their old nemesis is gone.  Elsewhere?

In Amman, the capital of Jordan, and in the Palestinian West Bank, fireworks and honking horns also greeted the announcement. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip set off fireworks and shot firearms into the air to celebrate. Mr. Mubarak’s regime is widely blamed there for cooperating with Israel to isolate the enclave since it came under the rule of the Islamist movement Hamas nearly five years ago.

And this is even worse.  Should Jordan follow the way of Egypt, Israel will be surrounded by the most hostile of peoples.  This could lead to a huge disabling force in the Middle East.  Israel will never see peace.  And neither will Iraq.  All our blood and treasure spent in Iraq could be for naught.  And this will cause trouble with one of our most stalwart allies in the region.  Saudi Arabia. 

Mr. Mubarak’s departure represents a significant diplomatic setback for Riyadh. Egypt and Saudi Arabia has collaborated to counter what they see as growing Iranian influence in the region and also against al Qaeda.

“Saudi Arabia has lost a loyal ally today,” said Madawi al-Rasheed, professor of social anthropology of Kings College, London.

Saudi Arabia has been in a very difficult position.  Their large Wahhabi sect has been a major funding source for al Qaeda.  The Wahhabis, Sunnis, don’t like the House of Saud because they’re too Western.  But the Saudis had been reluctant to crack down on them for their al Qaeda funding lest it sparked civil unrest in the kingdom.  But they hate each other.  Make no bones about it.  But they tolerate each other.  Because of their mutual hatred of someone else.  Shiite Iran.   The enemy of my enemy is my friend.  To a certain extent.  Our invasion of Iraq forced the Saudis to crack down on that al Qaeda funding.  Because they would rather suffer a little civil unrest in their kingdom than see Shiite Iran filling the power void in a Saddam Hussein-less Iraq.

Now they, and a large percentage of the world’s oil reserves, are at risk.  Which brings us back to that earlier question.  Did we back the right horse in Egypt?

Mum’s the word on the Iranian Dictatorship

The name that keeps coming up in all of this is Iran.  They’re the great destabilizing force in the Middle East.  They hate us.  And have been our enemy since the Iranian Revolution in 1979 during the Carter administration.  They’re working on a nuclear weapons program.  They have vowed to incinerate Israel.  If we support the overthrow of any regime it should be the Iranian regime.  But when they take to the streets, we’re surprisingly mute (see Iranian opposition leader under house arrest after protests call by Saeed Kamali Dehghan posted 2/10/2011 on guardian.co.uk).

Iran has put opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi under house arrest after he called for renewed street protests against the government, his son told the Guardian.

The move came after thousands of Iranians sympathetic to the opposition green movement joined social networking websites to promote demonstrations on Monday in solidarity with protesters in Egypt and Tunisia.

For some reason, the Obama administration is all for democracy movements when they take place in nations friendly to the United States.  But not in our enemies.  Even when they have a worst record of human rights abuses.  And have committed the same acts of oppression the Egyptians have.

At the same time, opposition websites reported a series of arrests of political activists and journalists as the regime struggles to prevent the news of the planned protest from spreading.

Access to the blogging site WordPress was blocked and internet download speeds appeared to have been reduced.

Arresting political activists?  Shutting down social media?  Where’s the outcry like there was over Egypt?

The Revolutionary Guards, the regime’s most powerful military force, have warned against any protest. Commander Hossein Hamedani told Iran’s IRNA state news agency that the they consider the opposition leaders as “anti-revolutionary and spies and will strongly confront them”.

“The seditionists [opposition leaders] are nothing but a dead corpse and we will strongly confront any of their movements,” he said.

A threat by the most powerful military force?  Where’s the outrage?  Egypt didn’t do this and yet we demanded that the great dictator step down from power.  But Iran can oppress their people without a comment from the Obama administration.  Why?

Nice Guys Finish Last in the Middle East

It would appear that this is an extension of the apology tour.  Our foreign policy strategy appears to be this.  Be nice at all costs to our enemies.  So they will stop hating us.  Don’t flex our strength.  Roll over and show them our soft underbelly to show how willing we are to trust them. 

The problem is that they don’t respect weakness.  They just see weakness as room for them to maneuver.  To get more of what they want.  By making us give up more of our vital national security interests.  And we’re seeing that play out in the Middle East.  One ally is out of power.  And an enemy expands their reach.  All the while working on a nuclear bomb.

It’s times like this you miss a Ronald Reagan.  Or a George W. Bush.  Or one of the other grownups we had in office.  Someone who isn’t naive and easily fooled.  Someone our enemies hated.  But respected.

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LESSONS LEARNED #25: “War is costly. Peace, too.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 5th, 2010

AT THE HEIGHT of the Roman Empire, the empire reached from North Africa to Britannia (England), from Hispania (Spain) to Mesopotamia (approximately modern day Iraq).  When Roman power ruled the civilized world, there was peace.  The Pax Romana (Roman Peace).  The Romans built empire through conquest.  And Rome grew rich with the spoils of conquest.  For awhile, peace was only those quiet intervals between growth and conquest.  But with secure borders, a uniform government, a rule of law, a stable currency, bustling trade & markets and a military to be the world’s policeman, peace broke out.  For some 200 years.

Life was good for the Roman citizen.  As well as for those living in the empire.  The Romans modernized the provinces they conquered.  Made life better.  Even for the conquered people.  Although there were those who hated being subjugated by a foreign power.

Reg: They bled us white, the bastards. They’ve taken everything we had. And not just from us! From our fathers, and from our father’s fathers.

Loretta: And from our father’s father’s fathers.

Reg: Yeah.

Loretta: And from our father’s father’s father’s fathers.

Reg: Yeah, all right Stan, don’t belabor the point. And what have they ever given us in return?

Revolutionary I: The aqueduct?

Reg: What?

Revolutionary I: The aqueduct.

Reg: Oh. Yeah, yeah, they did give us that, ah, that’s true, yeah.

Revolutionary II: And the sanitation.

Loretta: Oh, yeah, the sanitation, Reg. Remember what the city used to be like.

Reg: Yeah, all right, I’ll grant you the aqueduct and sanitation, the two things the Romans have done.

Matthias: And the roads.

Reg: Oh, yeah, obviously the roads. I mean the roads go without saying, don’t they? But apart from the sanitation, the aqueduct, and the roads…

Revolutionary III: Irrigation.

Revolutionary I: Medicine.

Revolutionary IV: Education.

Reg: Yeah, yeah, all right, fair enough.

Revolutionary V: And the wine.

All revolutionaries except Reg: Oh, yeah! Right!

Rogers: Yeah! Yeah, that’s something we’d really miss Reg, if the Romans left. Huh.

Revolutionary VI: Public bathes.

Loretta: And it’s safe to walk in the streets at night now, Reg.

Rogers: Yeah, they certainly know how to keep order. Let’s face it; they’re the only ones who could in a place like this.

All revolutionaries except Reg: Hahaha…all right…

Reg: All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

Revolutionary I: Brought peace?

Reg: Oh, peace! Shut up!

(From Monty Python’s The Life of Brian, 1979.)

Maintaining a peaceful empire is costly.  As people got more accustomed to peace and plenty, they began to complain about taxes.  Citizens refused to volunteer to serve in the Roman Legions maintaining that peace.  Barbarians began to serve in the Legions.  Some rose to command them.  Some Roman commanders came from the very people they were fighting in the border regions.  Soon Rome would rely on mercenaries (hired soldiers) to defend their borders.  All of this cost the empire.  It had to pay more and more to maintain the loyalty of the military.  Ditto for the huge bureaucracy administrating the empire.  And they lost control.  Trouble on the borders and economic collapse ended the peace.  And, ultimately, the empire.  The civilized world broke down and collapsed.  And barbarian leaders on the borders, hungry for conquest, attacked.  Plunging the former Roman provinces into war and instability.

RISING FROM THE ashes of the Roman Empire were the seeds of new empires.  And the ground that proved most fertile was the northern limit of the old empire.  England.

England started to assert herself with the growth of her navy.  With her borders secured, a uniform government, a rule of law, a stable currency, bustling trade & markets and a military to be the world’s policeman, peace broke out.  Again.  For about a hundred years.  During the Industrial Revolution.  After the defeat of Napoleon. 

Imperial Britain stretched across the globe.  The sun never set on the British Empire.  And wherever she went, she brought the rule of law, modernity, a sound economy and political stability.  Her old colonial possessions went on to be some of the richest, most prosperous and peaceful nations in the world.  India.  Australia.  New Zealand.  South Africa.  Canada.  And, of course, the United States of America.  She achieved her century of peace (Pax Britannia) by a balance of power.  She maintained peace by intervening in disputes, often on the side of the weaker nation.  She prevented stronger, aggressive nations from threatening her weaker neighbors.   And she provided a safe environment for the weaker nation to live peacefully in the shadows of stronger, more aggressive neighbors.

For a hundred years Britannia kept the peace.  In large part due to her Royal Navy, the most powerful and potent navy at the time.  If you ate any imported food or used any imported goods, it was thanks to the Royal Navy that kept the world’s sea lanes safe.  But this peace came with a price.  The rise of nationalism, the quest of new empires to establish their own overseas colonies and a change in the balance of power in Europe with the rise of Germany added to that price.  And then a shot fired in Sarajevo by a Serbian terrorist ignited a tinderbox.  The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip started World War I.  The most bloody and expensive war at the time, it bankrupted Great Britain and ended her empire.  And left the world a less safe place. 

From the ashes of World War I rose new leaders with aspirations of world conquest.  Fascist Italy led by Benito Mussolini.  Nazi Germany led by Adolf Hitler.  Communist Russia led by Joseph Stalin.  Imperial Japan led by Hideki Tojo.  And the nation that led the victors in World War II would, by default, become the new world power.  The new world policeman.  The United States of America.

SO WHAT HAPPENED during the inter-war years that led to World War II?  War exhausted Britain and France.  Neither had the stomach for another war.  Britain continued to rely on the Royal Navy for protection (as an island nation, sea power is indispensable).  France built fixed fortifications (the Maginot Line).  Both were primarily defensive strategies. 

In America, General Billy Mitchell demonstrated the vulnerability of battleships to air power by sinking a battleship with an airplane (greatly flustering the naval high command).  Colonel George S. Patton developed an armored doctrine for an unenthused army and eventually transferred back to the horse cavalry.  Meanwhile, Imperial Japan was building aircraft carriers.  And Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Communist Russia developed air and armored doctrine while fighting in the Spanish Civil War.

Fascist Italy attacked Ethiopia in 1935 to rebuild the Roman Empire and make the Mediterranean Sea a Roman lake once again.  Nazi Germany launched World War II in 1939 by an armored assault on Poland with tactical air support.  Poland resisted with horse cavalry.  And lost.  Imperial Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941 to destroy American naval power in the Pacific.  They did a lot of damage.  But the American carriers, their prime objective, were at sea.  They would eventually meet those carriers later at the Battle of Midway.  Where they would lose four of their best carriers and many of their best aviators.  This tipped the balance of power in the Pacific to the Americans.

America was ill-prepared for war.  But American industry, the Arsenal of Democracy, ramped up and built the planes, tanks, guns, rifles and ships that would win the war.   It would come with a heavy price tag.  Global wars typically do.  Had there been a balance of power that would have checked the territorial ambitions of the aggressor nations, it would have been a different story.  Of course, having the power is one thing.  How you use it is another. 

France had more tanks than Germany before the outbreak of hostilities.  But the Nazis quickly overran France.  Why?  Doctrine.  France’s doctrine was to hide behind the security of the Maginot Line.  It was a defensive-only strategy.  She developed no armored doctrine.  The lesson they learned from World War I was that armies killed themselves attacking fixed defenses.  Germany, too, learned that lesson.  So their doctrine called for going around fixed defenses with fast-moving armor spearheads with tactical air support (i.e., blitzkrieg).  Formidable though the Maginot Line was, it could not attack.  And if the Nazis didn’t attack it, it did nothing but concentrate men and firepower away from the battle.

WHEN WE PULLED out of South Vietnam, we agreed to use American air power if North Vietnam violated the terms of the treaty ending that war.  Watergate changed all of that.  Even though JFK got us into Vietnam, it became Nixon’s war.  And a vindictive Congress wouldn’t have anything more to do with it.  The North tested the American will.  Saw that there was none.   Attacked.  And overran South Vietnam.  The message was clear to tyrants.  America will quit in the long run.  Especially after a large loss of life.

Other ‘retreats’ would reinforce this perception.  Especially in the Arab world.  The withdrawal from Lebanon after the bombing of the Marines’ barracks.  The withdrawal from Somalia after the Somalis dragged dead American troops through the streets of Mogadishu.  The Arab world even saw the victory in Desert Storm as a retreat.  The anti-American Arab world said that our invasion was about oil.  That what we really wanted was to topple Saddam Hussein and take his oil.  It was just another Christian Crusade into holy Islamic lands.  When we didn’t do that, the Arab world saw it as another American retreat.  That America didn’t have the will to endure a bloody battle to conquer Iraq. 

So some in the Arab world would test America.  Al Qaeda.  Headed by Osama bin Laden.  They started small and became more daring.  World Trade Center bombing.  Tanzanian Embassy bombing.  Kenyan Embassy bombing.  Khobar Towers bombing.  The USS Cole attack.  And they paid little for these attacks.  America didn’t fight back.  But their luck ran out on September 11, 2001.  Because America finally fought back.

PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER one, Osama bin Laden, belonged to the conservative Sunni sect of Islam called Wahhabi.  They have a large following in Saudi Arabia.  The Wahhabi have a delicate relationship with the Saudi Royal family.  They disapprove of the Western displays of wealth in the House of Saud. 

Al-Qaeda was a shadowy enemy.  We confronted them in the mountains of Afghanistan where the Taliban gave them a safe sanctuary.  We attacked.  Knocked the Taliban from power.  Drove al-Qaeda underground.  But we could not stop their funding.

Wahhabi money from Saudi Arabia financed 9/11.  And the money continued to flow.  The Saudis would not intervene on behalf of America.  They feared any crackdown on the Wahhabi could unleash a civil war.  So America needed leverage to get Saudi cooperation.  And they found it in an old nemesis, Saddam Hussein. 

A Sunni minority ruled Iraq.  The Saudis did not like Saddam Hussein.  However, they liked the balance of power he offered to Iran.  Iran was Shiite.  As much as the Saudis did not like Saddam, they disliked Shiite Iran more.  This was the American lever.

After some diplomatic gymnastics, the invasion of Iraq was set.  The Saudis thought we were bluffing.  They didn’t believe we would invade Iraq.  Never in a million years.  If we didn’t do it in Desert Storm when we had the force in place to do it and didn’t, there was no way the Americans would amass another coalition and redeploy forces to the region again.  Especially because America doesn’t like long, drawn out, bloody wars.  Which an invasion of Iraq would surely be.

They asked us to remove our forces from the Saudi bases.  We did.  Now they were getting nervous.  That was the political game.  Make some noise to show the Arab world you weren’t an American toady.  But, secretly, you want those American forces to remain.  That American presence did provide security.  And stability.  After the invasion of Kuwait, it sure looked like Saudi Arabia would be next.  It was only that large American force in the desert that changed that inevitability. 

The Americans invaded.  And conquered.  Now the Saudis had a vested interest in helping the Americans.  They needed them to be successful in Iraq.  To contain Iran.  The lever worked.  The Saudis stemmed the flow of Wahhabi money to al-Qaeda.  The invasion of Iraq proved to be one of the most effective battles in the war on terrorism.  

HISTORY HAS SHOWN that a balance of power can lead to peace.  It has also shown that a superpower can enforce a larger peace.  But it also has shown that there is good and bad when it comes to power.  The Romans could be cruel, but so were most in that time.  The road to empire, after all, started out simply as a quest to provide a buffer between Rome and the hostile barbarians on her borders.  Rome, then, expanded in pursuit of peace.  (Initially, at least.)  And then used her power to maintain peace.

Many view Great Britain as the successor to the Roman Empire.  And many view America as the successor to the British Empire.  These powers share many things (rule of law, an advanced civilization, political stability, etc.).  Perhaps the greatest, though, is a powerful military.  And how it was/is used.  As a powerful deterrent to an aggressor nation.  To protect trade routes.  To maintain peace.  Malign these empires/nations all you will, but the greatest periods of world peace were due to their military power.  And their will to use that military power.  Expensive as that was.  Is.

So, yes, wars are costly.  Peace, too.  Sometimes, though, we must fight wars.  But we can avoid a lot of them.  By a peace-time military force that acts as a deterrent.  Because there are bad guys out there.  Who only respect one thing.  And it isn’t diplomacy.  Often the only thing preventing them from waging a cruel war of conquest is a potent military and a willing leader to use it.  If a tyrant knows he will face a military consequence for acting, he may not act.  When he knows that consequence will be devastating, he will not act.  But if he knows a nation hasn’t the military power or the will to use military power, he will act.  Just as Hitler did.  As Mussolini did.  As Tojo did.  And as Osama bin Laden did.

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