Filed under: Afghanistan, Domestic Policy, Freedom, Heartwarming, Politics | Tags: Strange Family Traditions, Strange Lefty Traditions, Thanksgiving Dinner
Light blogging. Yesterday was a cooking day. Well-brined turkey, sage stuffing, mashed sweet potatoes with a dollop of brandy and cream (NO marshmallows), a pureé of broccoli and green beans, Idaho potatoes, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. The president had 11 different kinds of pie, and a side of traditional macaroni and cheese. Do other people do this? I had never heard of macaroni and cheese as a Thanksgiving day specialty. It’s always interesting to hear about other people’s Thanksgiving traditions.
We are of Yankee heritage and do not do cornbread stuffing. My father handed down his Southern grandmother’s cornbread recipe which I cherish — but not in the bird. I used to do oyster stuffing in one end and sage in the other, but got too many complaints from non-oyster people. The vegetable of choice here seems to be brussles sprouts, as my grocery always starts off with a big display which is quickly decimated. I have never been able to make friends with the sprout, though I love cabbage. (Fresh cabbage in ½” dice, sauteed quickly in butter, dollop of sour cream and lots of black pepper).
The loony left was out with their usual ignorant “Genocide Day” huffings that America had committed genocide on the American Indians, and concurrently that in that picture of George W. Bush’s surprise Thanksgiving Day visit with the troops in Afghanistan — that was a plastic turkey.
Filed under: Afghanistan, Democrat Corruption, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Israel, Politics | Tags: Diplomatic Ties, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign Policy
And on the Foreign Policy front, all is not well either. So how is that vow to “repair America’s frayed alliances” supposedly frayed and battered by the Bush administration working out?
The Kingdom is not keeping secret any longer its disgust with the administration’s policy drift in the Middle East. Prince Turki al Faisal, the former Saudi ambassador in Washington explained his view of the deal Washington struck with Moscow over Syria’s chemical weapons.
“The current charade of international control over Bashar’s chemical arsenal,” the Prince told a London audience, “would be funny if it were not so blatantly perfidious, and designed not only to give Mr. Obama an opportunity to back down, but also to help Assad butcher his people.” It’s a rare occasion when a Saudi royal has the moral standing to lecture an American President, but this was one of them.
The Saudis asked the U.S. to beef up our naval presence in the Persian Gulf against a potential Iranian counter-strike, only to be told that we didn’t have the ships. Mr. Obama was nonchalant about our shrinking Navy. But there are consequences for our actions on the international scene.
If you look at foreign newspapers, it is surprising how much of their “news” is devoted to America and what we’re doing, whether it’s fads or politics or policy. Americans, on the other hand, probably because we live in a big country with major cities across the U.S., don’t really pay much attention to what is going on elsewhere. Part of that is simply language. Most other countries learn English as their second language, Most Americans take a language course in high school, but never learn to speak one.
Mr. Obama has been quite clear that he wants the U.S. to be just another nation among other nations, not a superpower. He opposed the Iraq War as a “dumb war” with no understanding of why we were there, and assumed that the only reason for being in Afghanistan was to “get” bin Laden, which he couldn’t quite bring himself to order when it came to it, until forced into it. We had won the Iraq war, but V.P. Biden could not arrange a status-of-forces agreement, and when al Qaeda in Iraq returned and started killing Iraqis, their foreign minister begged for us to return, but too late. The War in Afghanistan was to be conducted “nicely,” with our troops training Afghan recruits with unloaded weapons to show our niceness, which got a lot of our troops killed. I would be willing to bet that Mr. Obama has never seen a military movie, nor read either any military history, nor any of the great military novels. I may be wrong.
The troubles with Saudi Arabia have been developing for some time. David Ignatius wrote that “Saudi officials in Riyadh that they told him that they increasingly regarded the U.S. as unreliable and would look elsewhere for their security. in 2011.” They were dismayed when we deposed Mubarak and even more so when we backed the Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi. They are afraid of the Iran/Syria nuclear adventurism, as are many other countries in the Middle East, with reason. The Syrian rebels have learned that there really aren’t any red lines, and any adversary can call our bluff. Obama is more eager to court enemies than reassure friends, as the Poles and Czechs have learned, when we withdrew ballistic-missile defense as a way to appease the Russians.
Fouad Ajami explains the problems of the Obama foreign policy cogently in a piece at the Wall Street Journal today, which may be behind a subscription barrier, but read it if you can.
We must not underestimate the tenacity of this regime and its will to rule. We should see through the rosy Twitter messages of President Hasan Rouhani, and the PowerPoint presentations of his foreign minister, Mohammed Jawad Zarif. These men carry out the writ of the supreme leader and can only go as far as the limit drawn by the Revolutionary Guard. …
The gullibility of Mr. Obama’s pursuit of an opening with Iran has unsettled America’s allies in the region. In Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates there is a powerful feeling of abandonment. In Israel, there is the bitter realization that America’s strongest ally in region is now made to look like the final holdout against a blissful era of compromise that will calm a turbulent region. A sound U.S. diplomatic course with Iran would never have run so far ahead of Israel’s interests and of the region’s moderate anti-Iranian Arab coalition.
Filed under: Afghanistan, Foreign Policy, Iran, Islam, Liberalism, Middle East, National Security, Politics, Russia, The United States | Tags: "The Burdens of Global Citizenship", "The International Community", Barack Obama's Worldview
Commentary Magazine has published a preview article from its September issue at their “Contentions” blog: “The Citizen of the World Presidency” by Elliott Abrams. He is a deeply thoughtful Foreign Policy scholar, and the lengthy essay is quite wonderful. If you are not alarmed about American foreign policy, you haven’t been paying attention.
It is perhaps more a growing sense of unease, trying to figure out what our foreign policy, if any, is? Mr. Abrams spells out where we are, and shares the unease. The essay is, in a way, comforting, for it clarifies that our worries are not unique and we are not alone. Do read the whole thing, it is deeply informative, and if unsettling, will give you not only food for thought, but new direction. Probably the most important essay you will read this year.
Filed under: Afghanistan, Capitalism, Economy, Health Care, Immigration | Tags: A Question of Leadership, Barely Functioning, Government Foul-Ups
Did we slip into some parallel universe when I wasn’t looking? In today’s news: Homeland Security loses track of one million foreigners. Homeland Security knows that they arrived in the United States, but they cannot prove that they left the country.An internal audit found that the department won’t meet its own goals for deploying an entry-exit system — a 2004 statutory requirement. So Janet Napolitano, basking in such successes has moved on to run the California University system, at an enormous jump in remuneration.
The union that represents the people who would have to decide who gets legalized under any new immigration law said that the Obama administration is not ready to handle such an influx of applications. Even limited legalization such as just granting citizenship rights to so-called Dream Act immigrants could lead to problems. “I cannot stress enough how ill-equipped USCIS is to engage in the sort of far-reaching plans before Congress right now— including both the enormous legalization programs proposed as well as the historic increases in both immigrant and non-immigrant visas: said Kenneth Palinkas, president of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Council.
Without much publicity or official announcements the United States has released five top Taliban detainees from Guantanamo as a goodwill gesture to the Taliban. There are no reports of the Taliban releasing captured U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl. A U.S. official said that the prisoners were released under the condition that they will not engage in any violent activity.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in pursuing Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which prohibits discrimination “on the basis of race, color, religion, sex , or national origin has alleged that retailers Dollar General and a US subsidiary of auto maker BMW have broken federal law by using criminal background checks in employment decisions. State Attorneys Generals are pushing back: “An employer may have any number of business-driven reasons for not wanting to hire individuals who have been convicted of rape, assault, child abuse, weapons violations or murder — all crimes specifically mentioned in the complaints. No matter how unfair a bright-line criminal background check might seem to some, it i s not your agency’s role to expand the protections of Title VII under the pretext of preventing racial discrimination.”
Contra Costa County, CA, won the right to run a health care call center where workers will answer questions to help implement ObamaCare, and the over 200 jobs it will provide. Half the jobs will be part-time, so the call center does not have to provide health care benefits. The County had about 7,000 applicants for jobs with good working wages and benefits — Supervisors had no idea the jobs would be part-time.
Could be a parallel universe, just a bad dream, or — your government at work.
* A line from William Voegeli’s Never Enough
Filed under: Afghanistan, Democrat Corruption, Foreign Policy, Islam, Military, National Security, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Formally Delayed, Sabotaging America, Talks With the Taliban
The United States is commencing negotiations with the Taliban — the people who are trying to kill American soldiers every day. What is it that we are negotiating? The Taliban has no reason to negotiate seriously with us. Obama has already scheduled when our troops are leaving, so the prospects for a Taliban military victory in Afghanistan would seem to be good. Why would the Taliban make concessions of any kind?
Investors said today that Obama “is practically engineering a silent coup against flawed Afghan President Hamid Karzai, with whom we replaced the Taliban in 2001. He’s copying America’s worst mistake of the Vietnam War, when the Kennedy administration betrayed South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem 50 years ago.
Karzai backed out of impending talks with the Taliban after the U.S. announced its diplomats will negotiate directly with the country’s bloodthirsty former rulers. The American announcement was met by a Taliban rocket attack on Bagram Air Base that killed four of our troops and wounded six others.
More to Karzai’s distaste, however, the political office the Taliban opened in Qatar on the same day the U.S. formally announced our nationwide transfer of security to Afghan government forces bears the name the Taliban used as rulers, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. It sounds awfully like a provisional government.
Karzai, whose father was gunned down by the Taliban outside a mosque in 1999, can read the writing on the wall. His days are numbered.
Back in 2007, when Obama was first campaigning for president, he argued that the Iraq war was a diversion from U.S. national interests, and that the legitimate war — the one Americans needed to win— was in Afghanistan. Since then he’s been trying to talk back the idea of victory. By setting a deadline for when we’d be out, Obama lost the confidence of America’s allies among the Afghans and convinced the Taliban and the Pakistanis that their strategy was working.
If they follow their usual course, the Taliban will turn on and purge any pro-Western Afghans as soon as the last Americans depart. Our allies who have sent troops to help with the fight in Afghanistan will lose even more confidence in the trustworthiness of America. And as Michael Rubin wrote: “the idea that Taliban terrorism defeated a superpower is what every Islamist from Minneapolis to Mogadishu and from Tehran to Timbuktu will conclude, as they plot their future strategy and tactics in their ideological confrontation with Western Liberalism.” That does not bode well.
Obama came into office with profound ignorance of foreign policy, and was sure that his visit to Pakistan when he was in college, and living in a Muslim country as a child gave him a special ability to make peace with the Islamist world. That went well.
He carelessly threw away a hard-fought victory in Iraq, his embarrassing misunderstanding of the Arab Spring has ignited a sectarian war across the Middle East, and convinced our allies that the United States of America is weak and not to be trusted. In his canned speech at the Brandenburg Gate, he announced new efforts to shut down Guantanamo Bay, which suggest he may meet the Taliban demand that he release Taliban detainees.
Having successfully weakened America’s position in the world, and with apparent indifference to the increasing danger of nuclear proliferation — is he still counting on talks with Iran, North Korea and China?—he announced that he wants to cut our nuclear arsenal by one-third, because he thinks nuclear disarmament is a really swell idea. Has he learned yet that Vladimir Putin is really not a nice guy?
Opening talks with the Taliban have been “delayed,” just announced on the radio. The Taliban went overboard with the new offices in Qatar, importantly named “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” and with a Taliban flag flying over the office. Bad move. With Karzai backing out of talks, apparently someone in the administration has finally noticed that this is not cool at all. More backroom shuffling around. More statements for the public to paper over the pretensions of noble intent. Can’t be done. Dreadful stupid mistaken mess. .
Filed under: Afghanistan, Military, News, Politics | Tags: "Meals Ready to Eat", Camp Leatherneck, United States Marines
While the workday here is usually considered to be eight hours, for the Marines at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province the workday is twelve hours long. The midnight ration service — known as “midrats” —supplies breakfast to Marines on the midnight-to-noon shift, and dinner to the Marines who are ending the noon-to-midnight work period. It’s described as one of the few times the Marines can be together in one place.
Starting Saturday, they don’t get a hot cooked meal, but a pre-packaged MRE (meal ready to eat). They are also removing the 24-hour sandwich bar. There aren’t a lot of luxuries at Camp Leatherneck. A hot meal doesn’t seem too much to ask. The federal government has lost interest in Afghanistan and the dismantling of U.S. military facilities. More than 30,000 U.S. service members will leave Afghanistan in coming months as the U.S. prepares to hand the country over to the Taliban in 2014. ["responsibility for security to Afghan forces in 2014"].
This may seem to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as a good way to save money, since they are winding down. But it is a huge blow to morale. Since Mr. Hagel’s only qualification for his current position was that he had been an enlisted man in Vietnam, one would think he would be more sensitive to the needs of the troops on the ground. It’s embarrassing. MREs are meant to be an alternative when real food is not possible. The Marines are furious. Lt. Col Cliff Gilmore who has been deployed to Afghanistan since February has the unenviable task of enforcing rules handed down.
“The fact is our force in Afghanistan is shrinking fast and all the creature comforts and services deployed military-members have grown accustomed to over the past decade are going to be reduced,” Gilmore wrote in an email to NBC News. “When serving we are challenged to endure different things — to face different challenges — over time. But we’re an odd bunch, we Marines — probably no surprise that we’ll complain more about losing the sandwich bar on the way out than we did about getting shot at on the way in.”
The tactical reason for the cooking scale-down is that the people who are assigned to “support services” — such as food workers — “need to go home before the people who provide the security which enables those services,” Gilmore wrote. “This is a natural outcome of the drawdown process unrelated to sequestration or the ongoing budget issues back in the States.”
Here at home military families are gearing up to spur food donations for all the troops in Afghanistan, and have launched a Facebook page called “Breakfast for Bagram,” to try to relieve the monotony of MREs.