Never Forget
By Dan | June 6, 2008 - 9:26 am - Posted in Best Of, Foreign Affairs, Stars & Stripes, Today in History

Sixty-four years ago today, nearly one and a half million British, American and Canadian free men risked their lives to rid a continent and the world from Nazi oppression. These were the boys of Point du Hac, Omaha, Juno, Sword, Gold and Utah. These were the boys who jumped, for the first time, from perfectly good airplanes into combat with the most feared military force in history.

These young men had lived through the Great Depression, emerging just in time to see the world being swallowed by two brutally evil forces, spreading across Europe and Asia. They strapped on their boots and marched bravely into the face of an overwhelming, undefeated enemy. Their journey would take them through Normandy, Holland, Bastogne and, eventually, the horrors of Buchenwald and Dachau.

Having defeated Nazism in Europe, they turned, without flinching, to aid their comrades in the Pacific, ridding the world of Japanese imperial aggression. Only when a group of scientists harnessed the power of the atom, were they relieved of duty and able to return home.

On the backs of these heroes, America, and eventually the world, prospered. They took a society that was only one generation from horse-drawn carriages and the Wright Brothers, and they landed a man on the moon. Their contributions to our freedom, our economy and our history will never be forgotten.

Thank You
By Dan | May 26, 2008 - 6:30 am - Posted in Foreign Affairs, Stars & Stripes, Today in History

These, in the day when heaven was falling,
The hour when earth’s foundations fled,
Followed their mercenary calling,
And took their wages, and are dead.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and earth’s foundations stay;
What God abandoned, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.

-A.E. Housman

Iran: WWRD?
By Dan | May 21, 2008 - 8:54 pm - Posted in Politics & Policy, Op Ed, Foreign Affairs, Stars & Stripes, Reagan

Obama supporters continue to cling (perhaps out of bitterness) to the notion of direct diplomacy with Iran. Their retort to the tidal wave of criticism is, “well, what would you do? Invade Iran.” This is part of the Democratic strategy of criticizing U.S. foreign policy. It takes an incredibly narrow view of the history of Iraq. Perhaps many Obama supporters cannot remember that far back, but the United States imposed sanctions on Iraq for 12 years. For many Obama supporters, this dates back to their kindergarten days. The notion that the United States reflexively invaded Iraq after 9/11 is as absurd as the most deranged Obama fantasy.

Iraq is a separate animal from Iran. Iraq was a brutal, but secular, dictatorship run by an aging psychopath. Iran, though run by equally brutal psychopaths, has a growing populist democracy movement. There are reformers, in some cases openly calling for democratic reforms in Iran, such a pro-American base did not exist in Iraq, certainly not with nearly the same strength.

Invading Iran is not a plausible scenario for many reasons. So what would I do about Iran? More importantly, what would Ronald Reagan do? Toppling an evil empire, as the old Cowboy from Tampico showed us, requires determination, restrained aggression, compassion and cooperation (and a little bit of luck).

Reagan showed us that determination (some would say “Cowboy diplomacy” or “stubborn refusal to be reasonable”) is not a weakness in the face of evil. A president needs to convince the enemy, the people under its oppression, U.S. allies and the global spectators (the United Nations, for example), that the full power of the United States will be brought to bear so that freedom, not tyranny, will win the day. Certainly, a president must be willing (and plausibly so) to commit the full might of the U.S. military to destroying Iran. This commitment must be broader than that. It must include economic policies and diplomatic efforts with other countries. Most importantly, this determination cannot waiver, it cannot be subject to the whims of pollsters or pundits. In 1987, after six years of “preparations”, Ronald Reagan demanded that Mikhail Gorbachev tear down the Berlin Wall. His speech writers objected. His Secretary of State objected. The media mocked him as a dottering old fool. Two years later, the wall came down.

Reagan knew that naked determination, however, was not enough. Just as in high-stakes poker, restrained aggression is key to brinkmanship. Reagan knew that placing Pershing II missiles in Europe would provoke the Soviets. He also knew they deserved it and would see it as a sign of strength. Reagan was roundly mocked for the Strategic Defense Initiative, a futuristic system that now protects the United States and its allies. But the old man knew that the floundering Soviet economy and years of brain drain meant the Soviets could not possibly keep up.

Reagan also knew that there was a fundamental difference between a Soviet and a Russian. He often spoke warmly of the Russian people, with compassion and empathy for their plight. He knew, and he was able to convey, that every man and woman were born with the same rights and that communism is an affront to basic human dignity. He said so, sincerely, publicly and often.

Finally, Reagan was a great communicator. He knew that, as powerful as the United States is, it cannot take on the entire world. Nor can the United States prosper in a world where our allies become embittered or isolated by our unilateral foreign policy. He knew that, even though the United States would bear most of the burden of promoting freedom, our allies and those who remained neutral should always feel welcome in the fight.

So, what would Reagan have us do?

  • He would never, ever, meet with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As former Reagan adviser K.T. McFarland points out, “negotiating without leverage is not negotiating, it’s begging.” You will know it’s time to meet with the Iranian leader when the Iranian leader is a moderate, not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Patience is a passive form of determination. Reagan would spend his first term in office publicly criticizing and ostracizing Iran until regime change became its only hope for survival. He would promote an aggressive domestic policy for energy independence and a strong U.S. dollar, along with sanctions crippling the Iranian economy (just as cheap oil crippled the Soviet economy).
  • Reagan would use our military gains in Iraq to occupy and frustrate Iran along its common border with Iraq. No Iranian would be able to cross the border without seeing an impressive display of American hardware and clear-eyed GI’s just waiting for Mahmoud to try something stupid. Just as the Soviet Union was unsettled by the Pershing II Missiles in West German, so Iran will be unsettled by 10 battalions of the U.S. Army amassed on its border and two carrier groups loitering off shore. Moreover, any Iranian agent found in Iraq will be treated as an invading force. Overly aggressive Iranian speedboats will experience the devastating accuracy of the American Navy, just as Gaddafi’s air force learned in the 1980s.
  • Reagan would also find compassion for those suffering in Iran. Radio Free Iran (and Video Free Iran) would give Iranians hope, and kind words appealing to the Iranian people’s basic humanity would embolden reformers and give the Iranian Lech Wałęsa the courage to challenge the mullahs. Americans would open their doors to Iranian families and word of American compassion and the benefits of freedom would be trumpeted throughout the broader Middle East.
  • Finally, direct diplomacy would be used, but not with Iran. Reagan would meet with our allies and those who trade with Iran. We would apply pressure against those who would deal with Iran and reward those who turn away.

Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama is fond of calling John McCain’s candidacy the “third term of George Bush.” John McCain lacks the flair necessary, but he would be far more justified in calling Barack Obama’s candidacy the second term of the Jimmy Carter failure. I would love to see a side-by-side comparison of Jimmy Carter’s and Barack Obama’s idiotic policies, but I just don’t have the time or emotional capacity to re-live the horrors of the 1970’s. Without doubt, however, the most obvious similarity between the two is their naked willingness to meet with dictators, fascists and terrorists.

Although the Obama campaign is now retreating from the dangerously naive policy set forth by Obama himself, the fact remains that Obama is open to meeting with Iran, without precondition. Preconditions, of course, are those “barriers to diplomacy,” such as “Before we meet with you, you have to stop killing U.S. soldiers and innocent civilians in Iraq,” or “Stop building your nuclear plants, or we won’t meet with you.” Obama now says that how would, of course, have “preparations” before meeting with a man who has called our ally a “rotting corpse” and promised its annihilation.

The term “preparation” is a wonderfully naive term. It makes it sound as if Obama has such a childish view of the world that he thinks McCain is criticizing him for not planning an itinerary. “Of course we’re going to have preparations. We’ve booked the flight, we have a suite of hotel rooms, and I even brought a pen and a notepad, so I can take dictation copious notes from my dear friend Mahmoud.”

In a speech on Sunday, however, Obama betrayed the depth of his naiveté.

(You should watch the video, as Obama’s “come on” demeanor speaks volumes of his attitude). Three things jumped out of his speech:

  1. Negotiations brought down the Berlin wall. This is a fundamental misstatement of history. President Reagan’s unflinching anti-Communism, aggressive expansion of our military capabilities and his refusal to talk with Soviet hardliners like Chernenko lead to the internal and external reforms. And, not to be too dramatic, but Reagan’s demand to Gorbachev that he “tear down this wall”, was not made over an ornate conference table in a quiet Swiss hotel. It was made in front of the damn wall to a cheering crowd of Germans.
  2. “Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don’t pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union did.” This is absurd. During the Cold War, the USSR could annihilate the United States and its allies, and vice versa. This stalemate, known as mutually assured destruction, only works with rational people. The Soviets were horribly brutal, but they were not about to cause the extinction of mankind to prove a point. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on the other hand, has never been successfully accused of being a rational person. While it is true that the Iranian military poses no serious threat to the United States military, the Enola Gay, similarly posed little or no threat to the Hiroshima police force. It was the nuclear device it carried that did all that damage. Obama’s idiotic assertion that these “tiny” countries “don’t pose a serious threat to us” begs the question, how many Israeli, European or U.S. cities would have to be sacrificed in nuclear holocausts before Obama realized that one man with a bomb is a serious threat to us?
  3. “Iran spends 1/100th of what we spend on their military. If they ever tried to pose a serious threat to us, they would’nt stand a chance.”I have to admit, this took me all of three minutes to debunk, most of which was spent looking for my calculator. According to publicly available data on the CIA website, Iran’s military expenditure in 2008 will be (2.5% of GDP) $21.3 billion (not sure if this includes their “peaceful nuclear program”). The U.S. military expenditure in 2008 (including fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and deployments on every continent) will be (4.05% of GDP) $561.3 billion. No matter how you cut it, Iran spends way more than 1/100th of what America spends on their military. In real dollars, Iran spends 1/25th of what the U.S. does on it’s military (four times what Obama implies). In terms of percentage of GDP, Iran spends more than half of what the U.S. spends. Per capita, Iran spends 1/6th what the United States spends. Anyway you look at the numbers 1/100th isn’t even close.

Obama has proven himself, again and again, to be naive on foreign policy (even suggesting we invade an ally and nuclear power, Pakistan). Although he seems to be backing off of his ridiculous policy now, who will be the voice of reason when, God forbid, President Obama’s ridiculous and dangerous ideas are not reigned in by an opposing nominee?

The Wright Frame of Mind
By Dan | April 28, 2008 - 11:25 am - Posted in Politics & Policy, Liberals, Op Ed, Foreign Affairs, 9/11

Answering questions today at a press club breakfast, Jeremiah Wright was asked about his “chicken’s coming home to roost” comment. The fact that his response was not met with derisive laughter is telling of the media’s abdication of its charge: “Have you heard the whole sermon? No? The whole sermon?” he responded. When the reporter shook her head, he said, “That nullifies that question.”

I beg your pardon? No, it’s still a valid question. You don’t need to read Origin of Species to have questions on evolution. (Or, to reinforce Goodwin’s law, you don’t need to read Mein Kampf to raise an objection to the Final Solution.) Reverend Wright made a comment (he claims he got the idea from former U.S. Ambassador Edward Peck) that some find objectionable. The fact that they have not taken the time to listen to all thirty-five minutes of the sermon does not mean we cannot ask questions.

The argument goes that we haven’t heard the whole sermon, only the 2 minute sound bite, therefore, we should not judge Reverend Wright based on that alone. Fair enough, so I have heard the entire “chickens coming home to roost” sermon. I have to tell you, that didn’t change my view of how offensive it was. The fact that Reverend Wright spoke at length about how America brought 9/11 on itself does not excuse the more provocative sound bite. It is that idea that is offensive. Is Bill Moyers and the rest of the media that blind? Can they not see that the idea that America deserved to be attacked is, in itself offensive? Do they think we are offended on behalf of poultry farmers?

Of course, Reverend Wright has grown accustomed to not having to answer difficult questions. I spent an hour this weekend watching Bill Moyer’s perform a nasal colonoscopy on Reverend Jeremiah Wright. I don’t watch Bill Moyers regularly, but I find it hard to imagine how someone can call themselves a journalist without ever asking a serious question. You have one of the most controversial people in America on your program and you don’t ask a single question clarifying his viewpoint?

For those unwilling to stomach the entire sermon, Reverend Wright equates the fall of Jerusalem at the hands of the Edomites to the fall of the Twin Towers and the pentagon (money and military). The sermon revolves around Psalm 137 and how the first 6 verses show reverence for Jerusalem, but then the Psalm goes on to ask revenge on the Edomites. Reverend Wright is arguing against American retribution for the attacks of 9/11. He clearly feels that America will go too far in seeking revenge against those who perpetrated the attacks. Violence begets violence.

Midway through the sermon, Reverend Wright switches tracks and calls out a “faith footnote.” It is in this footnote that Wright draws the moral equivalence between America’s past transgressions and 9/11. (He later goes on, at the 30:00 mark, to argue that money appropriated for rebuilding New York should be used for free healthcare, education, the poor and AIDS research.) This is exactly what we thought you said. This is not different and no less despicable than Jerry Falwell’s comments that 9/11 was brought on by moral decay. In the minds of many Americans, this is what is controversial. It is not that we assume you are unAmerican, it is that we know, from your words, that you blame America for 9/11. That, alone, is enough.

Iraqi Revolution
By Dan | April 11, 2008 - 1:21 pm - Posted in Politics & Policy, Liberals, Media & Marketing, Foreign Affairs, 9/11, Stars & Stripes

Liberals in the media and in Congress have made many ill-rationed arguments against the war in Iraq. Among them is the contention that our presence in Iraq foments anti-Americanism and breeds more terrorists than it destroys. Not true says, of all sources, the New York Times: “After almost five years of war, many young people in Iraq, exhausted by constant firsthand exposure to the violence of religious extremism, say they have grown disillusioned with religious leaders and skeptical of the faith that they preach.”

Let that sink in for a minute. Not only do young Iraqi’s not want to join al Qaeda in Iraq (that’s the group’s own name, mind you) or any other militant Islamic terrorist group, they blame the clerics for the violence in Iraq.

The article goes on to frame the debate in terms of religious participation rather than what is, in my view, a rejection not of Islam, but of Wahabiism. The article does not report the kind of pro-American flag-waving gratitude you might expect to see from a liberated people, but we are talking about the New York Times reportage. They have rules about displaying American flags when they are not on fire.

The article does, however, expose as untrue one of the primary arguments liberals have for “getting us out of Iraq now.” If young Iraqis are turning away from violent Islam, we are decreasing the popularity of al Qaeda and Islamofascism, not increasing it. Yes, it is true that there is violence in Iraq, and it is true that our military personnel are still at risk, but as this blog has often noted that it took us almost four years of combat in Iraq to lose as many Americans as we did in one day of terror in America. Where is the acknowledgment that our efforts in Iraq are reaping rewards?

We are creating a democracy in a part of the world that has never seen one. We are attracting and killing foreign terrorists by the thousands. We are preventing attacks on American civilians by focusing the battle in Iraq. And, to top it all off, we are exposing Muslims to the realities of Wahabism and they are clearly rejecting it.

Where, exactly is the downside?

John McCain, The Opportunist
By Dan | March 31, 2008 - 11:44 am - Posted in Politics & Policy, Liberals, Foreign Affairs, Stars & Stripes

Democratic National Committee Chairman, Howard Dean, recently called John McCain a “blatant opportunist,” in response to McCain’s new ad. The ad shows a young McCain in Vietnamese captivity, calmly giving his name, rank and serial number to a (presumably North Vietnamese) questioner. (The voiceover, by the way is Powers Booth).

I realize that there is a personal history between these two men. Dean’s brother was kidnapped in Laos during the 1970’s. John McCain was by his side when then candidate Howard Dean received the recovered remains of his late brother four years ago. This makes the “opportunist” charge all the more disgusting. How can anyone call John McCain an opportunist for bringing up his war record? This page has taken issue with McCain policies, in particular on free speech and global warming, but we have never even hinted at McCain’s character being less than heroic in the truest sense of the word.

In contrast, John Kerry, who repudiated the military and slandered the troops with whom he served, can fairly be called an opportunist. When the prevailing sentiment was anti-military, John Kerry was the leader of the Winter Soldier movement. When the winds changed, Kerry was suddenly “reporting for duty,” and trumpeting his military credentials.

John McCain, on the other hand, had multiple opportunities to either end his personal suffering or avoid Vietnam altogether. His father and grandfather both reached the rank of Admiral in the Navy, surely strings could have been pulled. When John McCain was involved in the horrific accident aboard the USS Forrestal, he was seriously injured while trying to rescue another pilot. Surely he could have been quietly reassigned stateside, or stayed with the Forestall and her crew in drydock. Instead, he volunteered for a transfer to the USS Oriskany so that he could remain in theatre, fighting the Vietnamese. It was three months later, from this carrier, that John McCain flew the mission that resulted in his six years of captivity. During that time, McCain was subjected to torture and repeated beatings (including knocking out of his teeth, which liberal bloggers are all too happy to mock). Because of his father’s rank, McCain could have ended his ordeal at any time by simply saying what the Vietnamese wanted him to say. By simply ‘confessing’ the sins of his comrades and yielding anti-American propaganda, he would have been released.

By saying, under duress, what John F. Kerry said to serve his personal ambition, John McCain could have been home asleep in his own bed. John McCain never did that. He never caved, he never sought the easy way out. He never allowed his principles to take second place to his ambitions. John Kerry did. He’s an opportunist, John McCain is a hero. And Howard Dean? Well, he’s not just and opportunist, he’s a douche bag.

Obama To Defend Another Religious Speaker
By Dan | March 20, 2008 - 9:43 am - Posted in Politics & Policy, Liberals, Media & Marketing, Foreign Affairs, 9/11

Barack Obama, fresh on the heels of his well-received speech on race, has spoken out again today in Pennsylvania. Mr. Obama, in prepared remarks, addressed another religious leader, whose Anti-Catholic and Anti-American rhetoric has shocked many. “I vigorously disagree with the Muslim Cleric, Osama bin Laden, and his remarks involving Western democracy and theology,” said the madrasah-educated Senator from Illinois. “But I can no more disown him than I can my white Uncle Jedediah who still lives in Hawaii. Uncle Jeb, not unlike Mr. bin Laden, is a raving lunatic and racist, who once said the Japanese should be damned to the fires of Hell.” Barack Obama’s aging uncle, Jeb Dunham, a Pearl Harbor survivor who lives in Honolulu, could not be reached for comment.

Senator Obama continued, “I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Mr. bin Laden that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.”

“Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals,” continued the freshman Senator, “there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough….Like other predominantly Muslim churches across the world, Wahabism embodies the Muslim community in its entirety – the arms dealer and the suicide bomber mother, the model student and the former capitalist. Like other Muslim churches, Wahabism services may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the Muslim experience in the world.”

Several news outlets were quick to call this second address “worthy of [President] Lincoln.” George Stephanopoulos said Obama’s refusal to renounce this highly controversial man was, “in many ways an act of honor.” And on CNN, Campbell Brown called the speech “striking” and “daring,” asserting that Obama had, quote, “walked the listener through a remarkable exploration of religion from both sides of the beheading divide, from both sides of himself.”

The Fear Card
By Dan | March 7, 2008 - 7:10 pm - Posted in Politics & Policy, Liberals, Op Ed, Foreign Affairs, 9/11, Clinton, Business Section

There’s an interesting argument developing on the Left.  Having Hillary’s Attack Machine up against the Audacity of Hope Machine has been very enlightening for some Democrats. First, Hillary supporters are now seeing first hand what it’s like to be called racist, simply because you don’t vote for a candidate who is Black.  Of course, there may still be some people who won’t vote for a Black person only because they’re Black, but the syllogism falls apart when you say if you don’t vote for Obama, you must be racist. It’s also telling that Obama’s supporters cannot image why anyone would want to vote for anyone other Obama, even Hillary. There’s nothing scarier than the devout who accept a leader without questioning or comparing alternatives.

Obama’s supporters are also finding out what it’s like to suffer violent personal attacks in response to policy arguments. Welcome to our world, folks. The funny thing is that, somewhere, Ken Starr is wondering “What the hell? All I did was ask about their finances, too.

The real interesting development, however, is the growing “fear mongering” complaints. Obama’s supporters are complaining about Hillary’s 3 a.m. ad, which questioned Obama’s ability to deal with a crisis. Of course, the unspoken threat is terrorism.  Obama’s supporters are also, ironically, complaining about Hillary scaring people with losing their jobs.  (Look for Hillary’s camp to make similar complaints about Obama’s NAFTA rhetoric.)

The interesting thing is that Democrats are finally realizing that the “Republican tactic” of reminding people that it’s a dangerous world out there is just as “unfair” when you play to people’s fears about their jobs as when you remind them of the ever present threat of terrorism. Personally, I have never thought that this argument is unfair at all. If you’re running for President of the United States, you should be able to allay people’s fear of the unknown. You should be able to defend your policies and convince the people who elect you that you are capable of keeping them safe.

The argument is slightly less valid, however, when you play to people’s fears of losing their job. The president has direct control over the military and the national security assets that keep us safe. No one is infallible, and attacks will happen. The question is, what will you do to keep us safe? The president has no direct effect on jobs, however. (Of course, some Democrats are still hoping for a worker’s paradise where the government is the only game in town.) The president can advocate tax cuts, can suggest legal reforms and some regulations, but the president doesn’t close the factory. Claiming that electing the old so-and-so will cost you your job is more inflammatory than claiming he or she won’t keep you safe.

Of course, accepting responsibility for your actions is not one of the Left’s strong suits.

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President Obama Regrets “Boneheaded” Move of Invading Pakistan, Causing Global Nuclear War
By Dan | March 4, 2008 - 3:09 pm - Posted in Politics & Policy, Best Of, Media & Marketing, Foreign Affairs, Stars & Stripes

June 8, 2009

President Barack Obama, speaking at a press conference in the Presidential underground bunker, recently expressed regret over invading Pakistan and generally causing the nuclear exchange last week that eradicated 95% of human civilization.   “Let me, let me, let me, let me just be absolutely clear what happened,” Obama answered, “it was a boneheaded move.”  The President was responding to questions from the three remaining journalists, several military personnel and a handful of the civilians that were spared the nuclear holocaust.

President Obama was clearly irritated by the prolonged questioning regarding the escalation of military exchanges that lead to the devastation.  “These requests, I think, could just go on forever,” the president said, before rushing off the broken crate serving as a podium.  “Come on! I just answered, like, eight questions.”