Friday, June 25, 2010

UPDATE: Obama relieves McChrystal, but smoke means fire

*This is an update to my recent post on the firing by President Obama of U.S. General Stanley McChrystal.

Terrorists are now using Obama’s actions this week as propaganda. Obama relieved General Stanley McChrystal who had been recalled to Washington this week for allegedly criticizing colleagues and administration officials in comments he made to Michael Hastings, the author of a recently published Rolling Stone article.

Now, websites of radical Islamist groups, such as the Taliban, are promoting the firing as evidence the United States has lost the war in Afghanistan and Gen. McChrystal is being used as a scapegoat by the Obama administration. Another website, owned by a group calling itself the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, claims Petraeus will fare no better because he is “mentally worn out” and points to his fainting spell last week during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Obama relieves McChrystal, but smoke means fire

According to this week’s headlines Obama relieved General Stanley McChrystal who had been recalled to Washington this week for allegedly criticizing colleagues and administration officials in comments he made to Michael Hastings, the author of a recently published Rolling Stone article.

Obama has been waiting for an excuse to fire McChrystal since shortly after appointing him to head the war in Afghanistan and then realizing McChrystal has forgotten more about warfare and insurgencies than Obama’s advisers Biden and Holbrooke could ever hope to know in a lifetime. There has always been a disconnect between McChrystal and Obama, which was made even wider when McChrystal submitted his request for additional troops in order to properly execute the counterinsurgency effort initiated by Petraeus when he was appointed commander of Central Command (CENTCOM). Both Biden and Holbrooke opposed the strategy outlined by McChrystal and Petraeus; Biden even composed his own counterinsurgency strategy, which was a clumsy and amateur effort at playing army by the vice president.

The reason given for his firing, according to a CNN article, is that “McChrystal’s remarks…undermined the civilian control of the military ‘at the core of our democratic system’.” However, none of the individuals at the butt of the mockery are legally part of the military’s chain of command; therefore, they have no constitutional authority or control over the military. The individuals named in the article, Gen. (Ret.) James Jones, Obama’s National Security Advisor; Vice President Joe Biden; U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry; and Richard Holbrooke, the senior State Department official assigned to Afghanistan and Pakistan, are all advisers to Obama, but do not control any part of the military. The chain of command goes from the commander on the ground, in this case Gen. McChrystal, through the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, to the President. Nowhere in that list does the name of Biden, Jones, Eikenberry, or Holbrooke fall. This may simply be a case of semantics, but if the president is going to relieve a commanding general during a time of war, he should at least do so based on facts and not simply on emotion.

The fact that Obama’s key advisers were derided by senior military leaders potentially reflects the low regard in which his decision-making abilities are held, and is the reason the General was relieved. Supposedly, Gen. McChrystal and his staff ridiculed Obama’s “national security team with locker-room bravado.” But there must be a reason the General and his staff made these comments. Usually, where there is smoke there is fire. In other words, the top military commanders who interact on a regular basis with the Commander-in-Chief must know something that the rest of us do not. Additionally, if these comments reflect the low regard in which these individuals are held by the senior military leadership in Afghanistan, as a former Soldier, I can guarantee that that regard is even lower the further one travels down the chain of command, which does not bode well for how the military writ large perceives Obama’s leadership abilities, the control he has over the military, his strategic decisions, or his ability to manage our current wars.

As I wrote the other day,

[aside from Gen. (Ret.) Jones, none of Obama’s National Security team has military, much less combat, experience. Obama has surrounded himself with theoreticians, academicians, and wishful thinkers as opposed to experienced doers, which explains his dithering on the decision of whether or not to send additional troops as requested last year by General Petraeus. It is no wonder Holbrooke has yet to “lay out clear goals for the region,” especially since he assigns critical positions to kids such as Ronan Farrow, who was only 21-years old when appointed as a Special Adviser for Afghanistan and Pakistan. I do not care how book smart a person is, or if that person was considered a child prodigy and entered college as soon as emerging from the womb, unless a person has the field experience, the real world familiarity with such a critical issue, book smarts do not cut it.]

Obama set the stage for how the wars would be managed, or not managed, and forecasted his relationship with the military leadership shortly after taking office. He procrastinated on the “strategic review” and the decision to meet the personnel requirements of his commanders on the ground, McChrystal and Petraeus, thus calling in to question their experience and motives. The General tapped to fill the void in the wake of McChrystal’s firing, David Petraeus, was the one who submitted the request for additional personnel to accomplish the counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan back in 2009—a strategy based on lessons learned from his successful effort in Iraq. Obviously Obama has more regard for the advice of his civilian advisers, Holbrooke, Eikenberry, and Biden and Gen. Petraeus should tread cautiously into McChrystal’s role. Petraeus would be wise to remember his strategy in Iraq was implemented under Bush. If he fails to toe the line and agree with the doctrine outlined by the inexperienced, civilian advisers content to play army with other peoples’ lives, he also may find himself on the front page of liberal newspapers with headlines proclaiming Obama’s superior decision-making ability. If immediately firing someone is the epitome of great decision-making, then every Burger King manager who has fired someone during the lunch rush should be similarly heralded in the media.
Though the military is not supposed to be political or have politically-biased views of the administration in charge does not mean they do not harbor these views and feelings behind the office doors or in the barracks rooms on a Friday night. The majority of the military is contemptuous of the control Obama has over the military and is wary of his leadership abilities. It is for this reason that Obama’s backers and most of the liberal media are painting his firing of McChrystal as “a prime example of strong and decisive leadership.” They need to divert attention away from the real problem, Obama’s lack of command presence and general strategic knowledge, which are both a result of not having enough military experience in his inner circle. The New York Times, writing “[Obama] appears deliberative and open to debate, but in the end, is coldly decisive,” made his decision seem equivalent to Kennedy’s decision to blockade Cuba or Reagan’s decision to replace the air traffic controllers. Yet it took Obama almost half a year, during a critical period in the war, to make the decision to send additional troops to Afghanistan. Firing a general does not an Alexander the Great, or Kennedy or Reagan, make.

Why are these media outlets not digging deeper for the reasons why McChrystal and his aides made these comments? Usually where there is smoke there is fire. There is obviously a problem between the Obama administration and the military. Many lessons have been written of the White House’s involvement in the Vietnam War—particularly the lessons about too much civilian involvement in war decisions. Even more recent, there are crucial lessons to be learned from the Bush administration and the meddling by Rumsfeld and his lackeys at the Department of Defense. Evidently those lessons have not been learned by those occupying similar positions today. Is it right that an inexperienced president and his “yes men” advisers are allowed to continue to force their will on our military, even if they are legally allowed to do so, without having their decisions or experience called into question by those who are ultimately responsible for carrying them out? Should the military sit idly by while civilian leadership allows the nine-years we have invested in Afghanistan with blood, sweat, and tears to amount to nothing? At the end of the day, like we saw in Iraq, even if civilian leadership or advisers in DC are the ones calling the shots, it will be the generals who pay with their career and the Grunts and Leathernecks on the ground who pay with their lives.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

McChrystal’s comments not far off the mark

According to today’s headlines U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal has been recalled to Washington this week for allegedly criticizing colleagues and administration leadership in comments he made to an author of a Rolling Stone article. Gen. McChrystal, the senior U.S. commander in Afghanistan, was originally scheduled to attend the monthly Afghanistan-Pakistan conference with senior administration officials via Secure Video Teleconference (SVTC) later this week.

According to CBS News, the “Rolling Stone profile…paints him [Gen. McChrystal] as deeply disconnected and displeased with the Obama administration.” Supposedly, Gen. McChrystal and his staff ridiculed Obama’s “national security team with locker-room bravado.” Some of the believed targets of the General’s and his staff’s derision included Gen. (Ret.) James Jones, Obama’s National Security Advisor; Vice President Joe Biden; and Richard Holbrooke, the senior State Department official assigned to Afghanistan and Pakistan. No one has claimed that Obama was part of the mockery.

For those familiar with the Obama administration’s history with regards to the war in Afghanistan and the situation in Pakistan the General’s alleged comments will not come as a shock. Aside from Gen. (Ret.) Jones, none of Obama’s National Security team has military, much less combat, experience. Obama has surrounded himself with theoreticians, academicians, and wishful thinkers as opposed to experienced doers, which explains his dithering on the decision of whether or not to send additional troops as requested last year by General Petraeus. It is no wonder Holbrooke has yet to “lay out clear goals for the region,” especially since he assigns critical positions to kids such as Ronan Farrow, who was only 21-years old when appointed as a Special Adviser for Afghanistan and Pakistan. I do not care how book smart a person is, or if that person was considered a child prodigy and entered college as soon as emerging from the womb, unless a person has the field experience, the real world familiarity with such a critical issue, book smarts do not cut it. But instead of Holbrooke being held accountable for not taking his job seriously and recruiting at the local elementary school, our Generals, faced daily with tests of courage and conviction, are called away from the battlefield for making a few jokes about people who are everyday just begging to be made fun of.

Mr. Obama, you need to take a long, hard look at your own war council, possibly even card them to ensure they are of age, and write Gen. McChrystal’s remarks off as a joke. Until you fix the personnel situation within your own circle, no one will ever take them seriously. This is not a time and Afghanistan is not the place to teach these kids about war or to allow amateurs to play at army or diplomacy.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Illegal Immigration: Obama Administration v. America

The issue

Can anyone name the last time the United States Government (USG) sued a state because that state was enforcing a federal law? Usually the USG is complaining because a state refuses to enforce federal law, such as with California and medical marijuana. Earlier last week Obama’s Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, during a television interview in Ecuador, informed the world that the Obama administration, without personally informing Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, made its decision to file a lawsuit against the State of Arizona in order to force Gov. Brewer to repeal the state’s new law against illegal immigration, Senate Bill 1070, set to take effect next month.

We foolishly vote our politicians into office with the idea that they are going to represent the will of the American people and to abide by our wishes to the best of their ability, not to represent only a small segment of society, namely the big campaign donors of Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and Political Action Committees (PACs), and definitely not to kow-tow to the wishes of foreign governments or non-citizens. According to a recent CBS poll, the majority of Americans (56%) feel illegal immigration is a “serious problem.” This is not new. CBS reports this number has remained “steady over the past four years.” The Obama administration has been quick to remind us naïve voters that America is a republic, not a democracy, subject to the whims of the elitist politicians, first with the passage of his healthcare bill and now with the challenge to Arizona’s law. Evidently, Obama and his supporters know best and everyone else is just racist. But if Obama continues forward with this challenge to Arizona's law, it will not just be him against Gov. Brewer, it will be him against the majority of the country.

The most interesting thing about Obama’s challenge to Arizona’s law is that back in May, shortly after Gov. Brewer signed the bill into law, it was revealed that neither Obama’s chief law enforcement officer and lawyer, Attorney General Eric Holder, nor his Secretary of Homeland Security, and the former governor of Arizona, Janet Napolitano, had read the law even though both were taking tough public stances against it. It is a good bet that if neither of the cabinet members with the ultimate responsibility for border security and immigration had read the law before publicly condemning it Obama also had probably not read it before coming out against it. How can someone openly criticize something before reading and understanding it? The simple answer is Special Interest Groups, in this case the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and Casa de Maryland. If they do not like a law, they make absolutely sure every politician on their campaign donation list (i.e. in their pocket) knows they do not like it. A good example of how this works can be seen in the movie Charlie Wilson’s War when Congressman Wilson (Tom Hanks) goes to vote and asks his assistant Bonnie Bach (Amy Adams) which way he is supposed to vote.*

The arguments

Illegal immigrants are needed to fill jobs most Americans will not take. This is a myth, based simply on the amount of money paid to the illegal aliens not the job itself. Illegal aliens are paid a much lower wage than if they were legal workers and were protected by our labor laws. If, on the other hand, illegal aliens did not provide American companies with this option those companies would be forced to increase the wages in order to attract legal workers. And in this economy, if the price is right, someone will do the job. Of course, this increase would trickle down to the consumer, thus raising costs in stores, but it would also increase the quality of life for our own citizens who would then contribute to the tax base resulting in an increase in the amount of money the various levels of government are able to collect and use to pay for public services.

Arizona’s law will force many illegal aliens to go deeper underground, negatively impacting their cooperation with law enforcement. Another myth. According to various sources, instead of going underground illegal aliens are leaving Arizona before the law is set to go into effect 29 July. In other words, the law is already having the expected effect. Unfortunately, the illegal aliens are not returning to their homelands, instead most are opting to find a place to live and work in states and cities more accommodating to them. Places such as San Francisco and Maryland immediately come to mind.

In the counterterrorism world there is an expression, “terrorists will not attack a hardened target when there are so many soft targets to be had.” Places such as Arizona and certain counties in Virginia are “hardening” their defenses and as a result the illegals are finding “soft” targets to exploit, which does not bode well for those of us living in those areas.

The answer

If you believe illegal immigration should be stemmed, especially if that means more, stricter laws on the books, you are obviously a racist. It does not matter that you may actually be concerned with securing our borders, ensuring Americans, of every color, have the opportunity to earn a decent wage and not be undercut by illegals, or making sure our limited public services, which are becoming even more scarce during this tough economy, are available to the legal citizens who pay the taxes that support them. No. If those are your concerns, you are still racist. Why? Because the various pro-illegal immigration SIGs and PACs and the elitist politicians that owe their office to them find it easier to label these Americans as racist than to actually debate the issue with facts.

There have been many reports of terrorists taking advantage of the same smugglers, documents forgers, and routes used by the illegal aliens. There have also been reports of Middle Easterners with ties to terrorism obtaining fake documents with Latin sounding names in order to disguise their true identities in order to cross our borders and infiltrate our security. According to media reporting earlier this year, Virginia resident Anthony Joseph Tracy was arrested for allegedly helping to smuggle 270 illegal Somalis into the United States. Both Tracy and some of the Somalis he helped to smuggle allegedly had ties to the al-Qa`ida-inspired Somali terrorist group Harakat al-Shabaab Mujahidin, aka al-Shabaab.

At the end of the day Arizona’s law is completely consistent with federal laws already in place. Everyone entering the United States is required to produce legal documents supporting their right to be in the country; Arizona is simply extending that requirement to the interior. In my line of work it is known as a “layered defense” or “defense-in-depth.” By challenging Arizona’s law, the Obama administration, along with the pro-illegal SIGs and PACs, are claiming they do not care about current federal laws, which is obvious since they support illegal immigration, banning illegal immigration and are willing to ensure no states officially support the laws by enacting their own laws, thus effectively taking the first step in dismantling any and all laws prohibiting illegal immigration so that more illegal aliens are able to become citizens. Of course, they will not forget the political party that paved their way.

A nation cannot claim sovereignty if it cannot, or will not, enforce the laws of the people and secure its borders. DHS freely admits hundreds of thousands of illegals enter our country every year and that they do not possess the resources necessary to stop all of them. Why should they complain if a state is willing to help them? Without the enforcement of laws or secure borders the United States is no longer “united.” It is simply a plot of land with some rules between Canada and Mexico. I am sure it is not lost on Obama and the Democratic Party that by most estimates Hispanics will comprise the largest ethnic group in the United States by 2042; that is only 32-years, or nine elections, away. Talk about looking to the future. It probably would not matter if everyone in America considered themselves “American.” Unfortunately, so much emphasis is put on ethnicity and culture that there are very few people remaining who consider themselves just American; most people in America prefer to be referred to as “hyphenated Americans.” Take for example the pro-illegal immigrant rallies over the past few years where protestors waved flags of their home countries, protested in their native language, and essentially slapped the face of our legal system. I have the option of listing myself as Native American, but I do not. Regardless of where my ancestors lived, I am an American and will remain so even when I am buried under the Stars & Stripes.

*I am not claiming Congressman Wilson was being paid by any group, only demonstrating that members of Congress do not always know for what they are voting or how they are voting and rely on aides and assistants to keep track of this information for them. This is only a problem if that Congress person opts to publicly support or condemn the issue without knowing the particulars behind it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Afghanistan’s next phase

With the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 came an awesome responsibility; that of ensuring the emergence of a vibrant, democratic, Afghan-directed economy and government with the ability to provide much needed security throughout the country in order to prevent a re-incursion of al-Qa`ida-sponsored terrorists supported by a violent Taliban-led regime. That was a tall order. And now, with the recent discovery of vast deposits of rare minerals in Afghanistan, the mission in Afghanistan will enter a new phase and the United States’ commitment becomes even more paramount.

Unfortunately, today’s instant gratification society does not have the patience or discipline to see something of this magnitude through like we did with Europe post-World War II. Most people feel that our mission in Afghanistan should end with the destruction of al-Qa`ida and the elimination of its leadership, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, which will never happen. But that requires another post altogether. The war in Afghanistan is more like the war in Germany in WWII than most people will admit. Like Germany under Nazism, Afghanistan under the Taliban committed atrocities against and in the name of its own people. In 1945 the Allies opted to remain in Germany for a couple of reasons, to ensure Germany did not return to a war-like posture like it did under Hitler after WWI and to defend Western Europe against the Communists. These should be the same reasons we keep troops in Afghanistan; ensure a violent Islamist regime does not regain control of the government in Kabul and to defend against the various violent Islamist factions living and training along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Fortunately, the mineral discovery absolves us of having to implement a long-term Marshal Plan like we did with Europe at the end of WWII. These deposits, while still years away from yielding significant income for Afghanistan, will more than ensure the country can develop and enter the 21st century international arena.

Nevertheless, as history has demonstrated in places such as Sierra Leone and Angola, the discovery of such a wealth of sought after resources in a country without an effective government or security force can lead to civil war and possibly even genocide. There are few if any examples of underdeveloped, heterogeneously ethnic countries with such vast resources that were able to peacefully develop and stabilize. Usually one ethnic group seizes control of the government and the resources and oppresses all other ethnic groups or one group controls the government while the other takes over the resources and they end up waging a bloody and brutal conflict over who has the authority to rule or control the country’s resources. It is imperative the United States and our allies ensure 1) these resources are kept in Afghan hands and used to benefit the whole of the country and not just one of the many ethnic groups and 2) these resources are not exploited by outsiders for the benefit and wealth of big corporations or other nations while leaving Afghanistan and its people in the Stone Age. We, the United States, must not abandon the Afghan people to the wolves that will almost certainly be at the door, if they are not already in the house, seeking to rape the Afghan people of their new found wealth.

This discovery presents Afghanistan with an incredible opportunity to build their future and become a respectable contributor to the rest of the world. Instead of being known as an exporter of terrorism they will be known as an exporter of rare minerals. Likewise, they will present the rest of the world, particularly their allies, with an opportunity to help them develop their mining technology, bringing the country into the 21st century and introducing other cultures to the Afghan people, some of whom, until at least 2001, were not too far removed from their ancestors in the 18th and 19th centuries as far as technology and quality of life were concerned.

The United States should take the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the past. While we are in no way similar to the European colonial masters of Africa in the 19th century, there are lessons that we can learn from the mistakes they made, chiefly that we should not allow interlopers to come into Afghanistan to take advantage of the people by taking over and controlling the mines or mining operations, which are sure to be needed as the country grows, or that we simply do not abandon the Afghan people to the warlords who are sure to begin struggling for control of this new industry if the United States and its allies leave Afghanistan without a unified central government able to project power and security throughout the country as needed.

A safe, secure, stable Afghanistan is the best thing for everyone concerned and in three to four decades we should not be preparing to insert a Marine Expeditionary Force into the country to separate warring factions being financed by foreign high-tech companies and fighting and committing genocide over the control of lithium mines.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It’s not what you know; it’s who you are related to…

For those that regularly follow my blog, you know I usually stick to my areas of expertise, terrorism, international relations, war, insurgencies, and the military, with an odd, off-the-wall post for things such as the Super Bowl and World Cup. Today I take up one of the biggest issues facing our country, immigration, specifically illegal immigration.

Barack Obama’s aunt, Zeituni Onyango, his father’s sister from Kenya, came to the U.S. in 2000 illegally. In 2002 she applied for asylum and in 2004 her claim was denied. She was subsequently ordered deported in 2004, an order she flatly refused to accept. This effectively means she broke the law twice; first entering the U.S. as an illegal alien and second for refusing to follow a federal court order. Instead, she somehow obtained public housing, of course funded by law abiding taxpayers, in Boston.

Until 2008 and the presidential election season no one paid any attention to Ms. Onyango or her illegal status. Once her status became public Obama had to answer many questions regarding what role, if any, he would play in her situation. Obama claimed then, and continues to claim, that neither he nor anyone in his family will seek to sway the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or the immigration court one way or the other. Obviously this is a ridiculous assertion. He is the President of the United States. He has the power to hire and fire political appointees and anyone seeking to curry favor with him, regardless if they are appointees or civil servants, will obviously not need to be told directly what outcome Obama desires for his aunt. It’s called plausible deniability; doing something the president wants done without having to be told so that the president can claim he knew nothing about the decision or the action taken.

In its infancy the United States, being so vast and full of natural, seemingly endless resources, was considered the “go to” location for the oppressed and downtrodden of other countries. In the early years, due to the availability of work in an agrarian economy and the unexplored land up for grabs, immigration was not the critical issue it is today. Our Founding Fathers did not see our great country as a massive welfare state, thus they were unconcerned with creating a national budget that included funds for unemployment benefits or universal medical coverage, nor were areas such as state-provided medicine or public education impacted by an overabundance of users.

For some reason, there are those that believe the passage,

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

is a part of our Founding Fathers’ vision. It is actually a sonnet by Emma Lazarus entitled “The New Colossus” and is inscribed on a plaque inside the Statue of Liberty; it was not written or uttered by any of our Founding Fathers or Mothers. Contrary to what some would like to believe, this passage is not a legal authority, like the Constitution, nor does it have any legal bearing on immigration law. These words are simply words of hope for those seeking to come to America and should in no way connote a legal authority to be allowed to come here.

Another argument is that we are all immigrants and we all came here illegally. This argument does not hold water; you cannot equate the environment of our forefathers four to five hundred years ago with our environment in the 21st century. Besides, something is only illegal when there are legal barriers to doing whatever it is one is doing. In other words, even as early as three centuries ago America was not a sovereign state and the occupants, Native Americans, here had no unified legal body or authority barring Europeans from coming to and settling in America. This has obviously changed over time.

The fact that Ms. Onyango is related to the current president and that that relationship played a role in her being allowed to remain in the U.S. since being located and coming to the public’s attention in October 2008 after being ordered deported four years earlier cannot be denied. No sooner was Obama elected than the immigration court judge, Leonard Shapiro, took “the unusual step of reopening the matter and issuing a stay on her deportation.”

Last month Ms. Onyango was granted asylum and is now allowed to remain in the U.S. Unfortunately, at Ms. Onyango’s request her immigration proceedings were closed to the public, so we will not know just what defense was used to overturn the deportation order. Exactly what, or who, did she have to hide from public scrutiny? According to immigration law experts the most obvious defense, that Ms. Onyango could face persecution in Kenya due to her relationship to Obama, would be very difficult to prove, especially since there are other Obama relatives living in Kenya, none of whom, at least so far, are claiming fear of persecution. Maybe this was the test case and we may yet see a rush by Obama’s Kenyan relatives seeking asylum in the U.S. Additionally, immigration statistics show that it is very rare for Kenyans to receive fear-based asylum. Another potential defense is that she has a medical condition and it would be best if she remained in the U.S. This, too, establishes a bad precedent for illegal aliens to take advantage of in their bid to remain in the U.S., not to mention this means our tax dollars, which Ms. Onyango has never contributed, will be used to take care of her medical coverage.

Yesterday Congressman Steve King (R-IA) requested that Ms. Onyango testify before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law on Thursday in an effort to ascertain what role, if any, favoritism played in the recent granting of asylum for Obama’s aunt. I, for one, hope she is required to testify. Of course, she has broken the American laws before, so there is no guarantee she will show if subpoenaed. I wonder if the Obama administration could claim executive privilege to keep her from having to testify, especially if they had something to do with the reversal.

As the people paying her bills the American public deserves to know how she was able to convince the immigration court to overturn her deportation order. While I absolutely do not agree with the presence of any illegal alien in the U.S., I honestly believe other illegal aliens in the U.S. deserve to know just what was so special about Ms. Onyango’s case that saw the previous decision reversed. If any group of people should be outraged at the ultimate decision by Judge Shapiro it should be other illegal aliens.

Monday, June 14, 2010

World Cup 2010

For those that missed yesterday's game between Germany and Australia, you missed one of the best German teams in decades. Whether they can continue along that path we will have to wait and see, but they started off magnificently with a 4 - 0 drumming of Australia.

Many news outlets, especially in Germany, have complained the team is too young (the second youngest in this World Cup). Hopefully they have been silenced. As we say in German, Schnauze! (basically, shut up).

I know this is not politically correct, but Deutschland uber alles!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

War is not for lawyers or cops

This week an independent investigator for the United Nations (UN), Philip Alston, called for a halt of the US’ targeting of terrorists with drones until a review has been conducted. According to Mr. Alston, a professor at New York University School of Law and the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, targeted killing of terrorists is equivalent to “a license to kill without accountability.” He feels the use of armed drones to eliminate terrorists can “be justified only when it was impossible to capture insurgents alive instead and only if they were carried out by regular U.S. armed forces operating with proper oversight and respect for the rules of war.”

As I stated in a previous blog, “Anwar Aulaqi: To kill or not to kill…”, the chief problem with this argument that the terrorists should be captured is “there is absolutely no way we could keep [Special Operations] on stand-by 24/7 and within a few minutes flight from every possible location where we might encounter terrorists.” It is just not feasible.

Clearly Mr. Alston is still stuck in the wars of the past, where there were clearly defined fields of battle and the enemy was engaged in active combat within the boundaries of those fields. This is different. We are no longer fighting a cohesive, homogeneous enemy; al-Qa`ida has evolved into a movement with satellite affiliates cropping up all over the globe where there is a lack of government or law enforcement; therefore, our operations and tactics must be adapted to the ever-changing environment.

One of his key concerns is that “[B]ecause [drone] operators are based thousands of miles away from the battlefield, and undertake operations through computer screens and remote audio-feed, there is a risk of developing a ‘Playstation’ mentality to killing.” The same argument can be made for every combat-style video game out there. Are our military members running around carjacking and wantonly killing people just because they play Grand Theft Auto? Does it really matter if it is an operator thousands of miles away pushing a button or a pilot thousands of feet in the air or an artillery unit miles away doing the same thing? While no longer engaged in a “war on terrorism,” we are still at war with al-Qa`ida, its affiliates, and sympathizers. At any point they have the ability to either stop what they are doing or turn themselves in to their nearest authorities; in either case they would no longer be targeted. If they choose, and let’s face it, it boils down to their choices, to continue aiding, supporting, or conducting attacks for al-Qa`ida they put themselves in harm’s way and there is no one to blame but them.

Some may compare targeted drone strikes with Israel’s assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, an alleged Hamas commander, in a hotel in Dubai back in January, and they would be wrong. There is no comparison. If we have the opportunity to take a terrorist alive, we will absolutely do so; the information they may have is more vital, in most cases, than simply eliminating them. Unfortunately, there are going to be times where the only option available is to eliminate the terrorist or allow him to continue operating and take the chance of more people being killed. I would hope that any sane person would select the former.

Finally, Mr. Alston argues that graduated force should be used. This is not a police operation. Graduated force is how law enforcement is trained. Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Air Force personnel are not trained in the use of “less-than-lethal force.” When we go through Basic Training and learn to shoot we are taught two key things, we are taught “one shot, one kill,” and to shoot at “center mass.” In other words, every bullet fired should kill an enemy and you do so by aiming at their chest. There are no leg shots or shooting at an enemy’s weapon to disarm them. The military does not do “graduated force,” unless it is being run by a Kennedy, Johnson, or Nixon. The objective of the military should always be absolutely overwhelming, violent force, thus allowing as quick an end to the operation as possible with the least number of friendly casualties.

Mr. Alston is scheduled to present his report to the UN’s Human Rights Council tomorrow. Hopefully his report includes the fact that if a person chooses to do something they know may get them killed, we must assume they have weighed the risks involved and ultimately decided the benefits outweighed the risks, but I somehow doubt it. Is it then the fault of the US that that individual ends up getting killed when they know we are after al-Qa`ida?

“Charging a man with murder here is like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500.” – Cpt. Willard (Martin Sheen), Apocalypse Now