Archive for October 10th, 2009

Illusions of Insignificance –Weinstein

Posted on October 10, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Rachel Maddow: Every member of every country that was in the finals sent a head of government or a head of state…

Mike Murphy: But there’s a difference, Rachel. The president of the United States is a special category of one, and you don’t put a president in that position…

Rachel Maddow: Sure. And tell a Spaniard that King Carlos is second rate…

Mike Murphy: King Carlos knows deep down he’s second rate to the president of the United States…

– Discussion (edited for clarity and brevity) on President Barack Obama’s trip to Copenhagen, Meet the Press, October 4, 2009

It is unlikely that one would have to convince Spanish King Juan Carlos that he is not as significant an international figure as any American president. Unlike MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow, the Spanish King surely is fully aware of this reality. Indeed, with the possible exception of megalomaniac dictators and French presidents, most world leaders understand this implicitly.

To be sure, there are some who see things changing in the international arena; others who would like things to change; and a few who are acting to make such a change a reality. Still, as of now, the United States is the world’s only superpower. Why would Maddow, an American, be more deluded then the rest of world’s leaders as to the significance of the American president?

Perhaps it’s because she is consumed by a mania that infects left-wing “intellectuals.” Many leftists refuse to see America as an exceptional nation. To them, the notion is egotistical, inconsistent with the multiculturist worldview with which they were indoctrinated in college. To these global citizens, America is just another country in the world. If it is exceptional in anything, it is exceptionally imperialistic or exceptionally racist or exceptionally (insert a pejorative).

On ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Maddow’s point was indirectly echoed by The Nation magazine editor Katrina vanden Heuvel. Vanden Heuvel declared that “America is no longer a superpower.” She didn’t put it out there for debate. She just stated it as if it was an inarguable, uncontroversial fact.

Of course, the statement is false, even if vanden Heuvel, like Maddow, relishes the idea that America is just one country of many. But it is not hard to find commentators these days gleefully predicting the demise of Pax Americana. While the United States unquestionably remains the world’s strongest country both militarily and economically, long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have led some to suggest America is overstretched. With the financial collapse, some countries have argued that America’s economic leadership has come to an end. At the same time, some see China’s rapid rise as a forthcoming threat to America’s dominance in the world. Combine all this, some say, and the American epoch is over, or if not over yet, rapidly coming to a conclusion.

Whatever the merit of these arguments, the fact is that America remains the top dog in the world. And we shouldn’t be resigned to losing that position. After all, such songs of America’s demise have been sung before only to be proven premature. There are certainly great obstacles and challenges that confront the United States, but these can be overcome. There is no reason the 21st century cannot be another “American Century.”

Read the rest at FrontPage Magazine

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The Nobel Peace Prize Jumps the Shark

Posted on October 10, 2009. Filed under: Obama Peace Prize | Tags: , , , , , |

By Daniel Greenfield

Brilliant misstep that was meant to honor Obama, but in reality humiliates him

Part of the fun of living under the Obama Administration is having your news headlines keep turning into April Fool’s Day. This belated April Fool’s Day, a bunch of aging left wing Norwegians decided to give away the Nobel Peace Prize to one Barack Obama… for just being himself.

This is actually a brilliant misstep that was meant to honor Obama, but in reality humiliates him, because not even his defenders at home can point to anything he’s actually done to deserve the award.

Had the Committee of Eccentric Left Wing Norwegians waited a bit and handed the award to Obama for pushing for Israeli concessions or some of his diplomatic roundtrips, it would have significantly burnished his image. Instead what they’ve done is turned both Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize into laughingstocks.

When even the same unfailingly worshipful media is seriously questioning the award, it’s not a good sign. The Committee of Incontinent Peaceloving Norwegians has said that they wanted to “encourage” Obama, which is patronizing and condescending. And it gives the entirely accurate impression of the slow kid who’s given a trophy just for showing up.

Domestically this award is a disaster for Obama. It’s something not even his closest media backers can claim he deserves. It’s not something even he can claim he deserves. It turns him into a joke. And even ABC is now running a list of Obama Nobel jokes.

About the smartest thing Obama could do now would be to decline the award, but he isn’t likely to do it. The award gives him a forum, but not a whole lot less. Mostly it shows him up as being an empty chair and the Nobel Committee as being a bunch of dishonest agitators who have no interest in rewarding achievement, only in promoting agendas.

The prize citation reads, “The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” But what “extraordinary efforts” are those, no one has any idea. And what form has this cooperation taken? No one has any idea either.

The official Nobel mandate states that the prize should be awarded, “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”. Does anyone seriously think that’s Obama?

Read the rest at The Canada Free Press

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Krauthammer:Young Hamlet’s Agony

Posted on October 10, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , , , , , , |

 
by Charles Krauthammer

WASHINGTON — The genius of democracy is the rotation of power, which forces the opposition to be serious — particularly about things like war, about which until Jan. 20 of this year Democrats were decidedly unserious.

When the Iraq War (which a majority of Senate Democrats voted for) ran into trouble and casualties began to mount, Democrats followed the shifting winds of public opinion and turned decidedly anti-war. But needing political cover because of their post-Vietnam reputation for weakness on national defense, they adopted Afghanistan as their pet war.

I was part of the 2004 Kerry campaign, which elevated the idea of Afghanistan as ‘the right war’ to conventional Democratic wisdom,” wrote Democratic consultant Bob Shrum shortly after President Obama was elected. “This was accurate as criticism of the Bush administration, but it was also reflexive and perhaps by now even misleading as policy.”

Which is a clever way to say that championing victory in Afghanistan was a contrived and disingenuous policy in which Democrats never seriously believed, a convenient two-by-four with which to bash George Bush over Iraq — while still appearing warlike enough to fend off the soft-on-defense stereotype.

Brilliantly crafted and perfectly cynical, the “Iraq War bad, Afghan War good” posture worked. Democrats first won Congress, then the White House. But now, unfortunately, they must govern. No more games. No more pretense.

So what does their commander in chief do now with the war he once declared had to be won but had been almost criminally under-resourced by Bush?

Perhaps provide the resources to win it?

You would think so. And that’s exactly what Obama’s handpicked commander requested on Aug. 30 — a surge of 30,000 to 40,000 troops to stabilize a downward spiral and save Afghanistan the way a similar surge saved Iraq.

That was more than five weeks ago. Still no response. Obama agonizes publicly as the world watches. Why? Because, explains national security adviser James Jones, you don’t commit troops before you decide on a strategy.

No strategy? On March 27, flanked by his secretaries of defense and state, the president said this: “Today I’m announcing a comprehensive new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.” He then outlined a civilian-military counterinsurgency campaign to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan.

And to emphasize his seriousness, the president made clear that he had not arrived casually at this decision. The new strategy, he declared, “marks the conclusion of a careful policy review.”
Read the rest on Page 2- Townhall.com

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Rangel Innocent Until Proven Guilty, Pelosi Says

Posted on October 10, 2009. Filed under: Charlie Rangel | Tags: , , , , , , |

A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that there is a “bipartisan process” in place that should be allowed to finish before the fate of Charles Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is decided.

By Cristina Corbin

Innocent until proven guilty — that’s why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refuses to remove New York Rep. Charles Rangel from his powerful chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee.

As the House Ethics Committee investigates a string of allegations against Rangel, who represents New York’s Harlem district, a spokesman for Pelosi said Friday that the “bipartisan process” should be allowed to finish before the congressman’s fate is decided. 

The committee voted unanimously Thursday to expand its probe of Rangel, who faces numerous allegations spanning several years, including alleged failure to pay taxes and disclose as much as $1.3 million in income that he earned from multiple properties.

Pelosi thinks removing Rangel from the chairmanship of the powerful tax-writing committee before the ethics probe is completed would undermine the American principle of innocent until proven guilty, said Drew Hammill, the speaker’s spokesman. He said Pelosi does not believe her decision weakens the public perception of congressional ethics. 

“We have a bipartisan process in place. It should be allowed to finish,” Hammill told FOXNews.com. “We are confident the committee will conduct a thorough review and then report to the full House.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer echoed Pelosi’s position, telling FOXNews.com that “yesterday’s statement shows that the bipartisan ethics committee is doing its work.”

A handful of House and Senate members have been the subjects of government ethics probes, and there appears to be no record of anyone ever being stripped from a committee role pending the outcome of an active investigation.

Sen. Robert Packwood, R-Ore., resigned from office in 1995, a day after the Senate Ethics Committee recommended he be expelled from office for abuse of power, including “repeatedly committing sexual misconduct” and “engaging in a deliberate… plan to enhance his personal financial position.”

In 1982, Sen. Harrison Williams, D-N.J., resigned after an ethics committee found that his conduct in the Abscam scandal, a public corruption investigation, was “ethically repugnant.” Williams — along with five members of the House and one member of the New Jersey State Senate — was convicted on numerous charges, including conspiracy, bribery, and conflict of interest.

Read more at FoxNews.com

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Democrats’ Offer Economic Relief Proposals, but Don’t Call It a Second Stimulus

Posted on October 10, 2009. Filed under: Congress | Tags: , , , , |

WASHINGTON — Confronted with big job losses and no sign the U.S. economy is ready to stand on its own, Democrats are working on a growing list of relief efforts, leaving for later how to pay for them, or whether even to bother.

Proposals include extending and perhaps expanding a popular tax credit for first-time home buyers, and creating a new credit for companies that add jobs. Taken together, the proposals look a lot like another economic stimulus package, though congressional leaders don’t want to call it that.

Democratic leaders in Congress and the White House say they have no appetite for another big spending package that adds to the federal budget deficit, which hit a record $1.4 trillion for the budget year that ended last week.

But with unemployment reaching nearly 10 percent, 

many lawmakers are feeling pressure to act. Some of the proposals come from the Republicans’ playbook and focus on tax cuts, even though they, too, would swell the deficit.

“We have to do something for the unemployed, politically and economically,” said Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

The House already has voted to extend unemployment benefits an additional 13 weeks for laid off workers in the 27 states where the jobless rate is 8.5 percent or above. Senate Democrats reached a deal Thursday to extend the benefits an additional 14 weeks in every state. Both proposals are paid for by extending a federal unemployment tax.

Also on the table: extending subsidies for laid-off workers to help them keep the health insurance their former employers provided, known as COBRA. The current program, which covers workers laid off through the end of the year, costs nearly $25 billion.

Congressional leaders haven’t settled on the length of an extension, or how to pay for it.

Several bills would issue extra payments to the more than 50 million Social Security recipients, to make up for the lack of a cost-of-living increase next year. One bill would set the one-time payments at $250, matching the amount paid to Social Security recipients and railroad retirees as part of the stimulus package enacted in February.

Read the rest at FoxNews.com

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CZAR WARS Sunstein: Americans too racist for socialism

Posted on October 10, 2009. Filed under: Czars | Tags: , , , , , |

By Aaron Klein

JERUSALEM – The U.S. should move in the direction of socialism but the country’s “white majority” opposes welfare since such programs largely would benefit minorities, especially blacks and Hispanics, argued President Obama’s newly confirmed regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein.

“The absence of a European-style social welfare state is certainly connected with the widespread perception among the white majority that the relevant programs would disproportionately benefit African Americans (and more recently Hispanics),” wrote Sunstein.

The Obama czar’s controversial comments were made in his 2004 book “The Second Bill of Rights,” which was obtained and reviewed by WND.

In the book, Sunstein openly argues for bringing socialism to the U.S. and even lends support to communism.

“During the Cold War, the debate about [social welfare] guarantees took the form of pervasive disagreement between the United States and its communist adversaries. Americans emphasized the importance of civil and political liberties, above all free speech and freedom of religion, while communist nations stressed the right to a job, health care, and a social minimum.

“Sunstein: “I think this debate was unhelpful; it is most plausible to see the two sets of rights as mutually reinforcing, not antagonistic.”

Continue reading at WorldNet Daily

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It Looks Like GIs Are on Their Own

Posted on October 10, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , , , , , |

It Looks Like GIs Are on Their Own

By JENNIFER LOVEN

WASHINGTON — President Obama appears unlikely to accept his top Afghanistan commander’s recommendation for a surge of 40,000 troops, and is inclined to send only as many more forces as needed to keep al Qaeda at bay, a senior administration official said yesterday.The sharpened focus by Obama’s team on fighting al Qaeda above all other goals, while downgrading the emphasis on the Taliban, comes in the midst of an intensely debated administration review of the increasingly unpopular eight-year war.Though aides stress that the president’s final decision on any changes is still at least two weeks away, the emerging thinking suggests that he would be very unlikely to favor a large military increase of the kind being advocated by the top US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

McChrystal’s troop request is said to include a range of options, from adding as few as 10,000 combat troops to — the general’s strong preference — as many as 40,000.

Obama’s developing strategy on the Taliban will “not tolerate their return to power,” the senior official said in an interview with The Associated Press.

But the United States would fight only to keep the Taliban from retaking control of Afghanistan’s central government — something it is now far from being capable of — and from giving renewed sanctuary in Afghanistan to al Qaeda, the official said.

Obama has conferred nearly every day this week on the war, and was continuing that yesterday with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

On Wednesday, the eighth anniversary of the war launched by President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Obama and more than a dozen officials in his war council met for three hours to focus on Afghanistan’s neighbor, Pakistan.

Read the rest of the story at New York Post

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Analysis: Al Qaeda is the tip of the jihadist spear

Posted on October 10, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

By Thomas Joscelyn & Bill Roggio

 Today, in Washington, there is a debate over how to proceed with the war in Afghanistan. One school of thought that has reportedly gained prominence is based on the belief that America should focus its resources on counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan, and especially Pakistan, instead of a counterinsurgency (COIN) campaign in Afghanistan. According to this line of thinking, the US should expand its campaign of airstrikes in northern and western Pakistan, while downgrading the contest for Afghanistan’s future.

This approach is driven in part by an assumption that al Qaeda is a narrow problem that can be neatly disentangled from all of the other geopolitical issues, including especially the rise of Islamic extremism, that plague Central and South Asia. If we focus our efforts on Osama bin Laden and his not-so-merry band of men, proponents of this approach argue, then we can adequately protect America’s interests while avoiding getting further enmeshed in a potentially disastrous Afghan conflict. The Taliban and their fellow insurgents, then, the argument goes, are not our principal concern and we should not be overly concerned if they regain power in their one-time Islamic Emirate.

General Stanley McChrystal and other top military officials do not believe the strategy outlined above is adequate. The McChrystal plan for Afghanistan calls for America to wage a counterinsurgency campaign similar to that which evolved in Iraq. Underlying the McChrystal plan is the belief that if the US and its coalition partners prevent the Taliban and its allies from returning to power in Afghanistan, then this will necessarily weaken al Qaeda’s allies and, in turn, al Qaeda itself. In the military’s view, al Qaeda is not a standalone problem but instead one head of several on a jihadist hydra.

In the piece below, we take a look at the insurgency in Afghanistan more closely – from al Qaeda’s perspective. We do not think that a shift to a predominately counterterrorism campaign utilizing airstrikes and the like is sufficient to beat back the threat to America’s interests. In fact, we argue that such thinking is rooted in a dangerous ignorance of al Qaeda and our terrorist enemies. Al Qaeda was never a self-contained problem that could be defeated by neutralizing select individuals – even though capturing or killing senior al Qaeda members surely does substantially weaken the network.

Instead, Osama bin Laden and his cohorts deliberately fashioned their organization to be the tip of a much longer jihadist spear.

This was true during the years of the Soviet Jihad, when al Qaeda established a vast rolodex of like-minded jihadist leaders who, despite what were sometimes deep differences of opinion over tactical issues, could nonetheless be called upon as allies. It was true in the pre-9/11 world, from the early 1990s through September 10, when al Qaeda forged relationships with allied terrorist organizations first in the Sudan, al Qaeda’s base from roughly 1991 until 1996, and then in Afghanistan.

And it is true in the post-9/11 world, where al Qaeda continues to leverage its decades-long relationships with jihadist allies around the globe and especially in the heart of Central and South Asia. Thus, we find that each of the three primary Afghan insurgent groups discussed in General McChrystal’s analysis – the Quetta Shura Taliban (QST), the Haqqani Network (HQN), and the Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) – is a core ally of al Qaeda with long-established personal ties between these groups’ senior leaders and al Qaeda’s senior leaders. Moreover, al Qaeda cooperates with each of these organizations in substantive ways in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. If anything, General McChrystal’s analysis actually downplayed the interconnectivity between these organizations and al Qaeda.

Taking a broader view, General McChrystal’s team identified two foreign states that are especially problematic in Afghanistan: Pakistan and Iran. Al Qaeda’s relationships with these states, or core parts of them, give it strategic depth in the region.
In Pakistan, the current civilian government has no interest in seeing al Qaeda live on. And General Musharraf’s regime provided vital assistance in tracking down senior al Qaeda members. But there is a hardened core within Pakistan’s military-intelligence establishment – in particular, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Agency – that is dedicated to jihad and sponsors al Qaeda’s allies, including each of the primary three insurgent groups in Afghanistan today. We should never forget that Mullah Omar,Jalaluddin Haqqani, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar – the commanders of the Afghan insurgency – were all originally ISI proxies and, to some degree, remain so today. Parts of the ISI have also worked with al Qaeda proper for years as well.

Then, there is Iran, which has its own longstanding ties to al Qaeda’s senior leadership. In the pre-9/11 world, the Iranian regime cooperated with al Qaeda in a variety of ways. In the post-9/11 world, Iran has harbored senior al Qaeda terrorists and even armed and trained the Taliban – Iran’s one-time enemy.

What is the significance of all this? Simply put, a strategic defeat of the West in Afghanistan today is a victory for all of these forces. Even though they are not all equal partners in the Afghan insurgency, they all hold deeply anti-American, anti-Western views and are heavily invested in a Coalition defeat. Should the insurgency permanently capture large swaths of Afghanistan, then these views will be vindicated. America will be seen as the “weak horse,” in Osama bin Laden’s words, once again. That al Qaeda is not the prime mover in the Afghan insurgency does not mean that its interests in the outcome are small. A victory for any of the three chief insurgency groups, or all of them together, including their sponsors, is a victory for al Qaeda and will surely strengthen its hand. And, contrary to widespread reporting, al Qaeda does play a noteworthy role in the Afghan insurgency.

The Quetta Shura Taliban (QST) and al Qaeda

The Taliban’s leadership, including Mullah Omar, consistently refused to turn over Osama bin Laden prior to the September 11 attacks. And after al Qaeda’s most devastating attacks, Mullah Omar again refused to answer calls for bin Laden to be turned over – even under the threat of war. The 9/11 Commission detailed the repeated efforts of both the Clinton and Bush administrations to get the Taliban’s leader to give up his most notorious friend. Those efforts failed – every time.

In all likelihood, this will never change. Mullah Omar simply will not abandon his longtime ally. Mullah Omar is the “Leader of the Faithful” and al Qaeda has sworn allegiance to his Emirate. Osama bin Laden himself has sworn his personal fealty to Mullah Omar. For Omar to betray bin Laden and al Qaeda now would be a colossal blemish on the Taliban’s legitimacy in the broader jihadist community’s eyes. Indeed, al Qaeda leaders have long recognized that Mullah Omar is firmly behind them.
Abdullah Sa’id, an al Qaeda commander who leads its “Shadow Army,” has openly mocked the idea that Mullah Omar would betray al Qaeda now. “US and Western sources talk about their readiness to accept the Taliban in the Afghan future political structure should it leave the Al Qaeda,” he has said. But that is not reality, Sa’id explained:

Read the rest of this article at LongWarJournal.org

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