That Caliphate Bin Laden Promised

As the Washington Post describes Iraq as “on the brink of disintegration,” the Prez says “all options are on the table.”  Based on our refusal to help Iraq the last few months, despite their ever-more-urgent pleas for airstrikes,  it seems we’re going with the “let the whole thing go to Hell” option.

The Islamic extremists carving their “caliphate” out of Syria and Iraq, ISIS, are so radical and so violent that they were kicked out of Al Qaeda!  Think about that…

Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki refused to reach out to his Sunni population, running a purely Shiite show, so now his Sunnis won’t fight for him, and the American weapons and armored vehicles they abandon as they flee are going to the jihadists.  Your tax dollars at work…   You can train and equip soldiers, as we very expensively did in Iraq, but if they have no loyalty to their government and won’t fight for it, what are you gonna do?

We have been unable to bring Afghanistan out of the seventh century.  Now Iraq seems about to join them.

Bin Laden is dead — his vision, not so much.

You Got Nothin’, GOP

According to focus groups, the GOP’s best argument against President Obama has been that he is weak and ineffective and simply not up to the job.  I don’t see how you have that argument against the guy who killed bin Laden and many other Al Qaeda leaders abroad and got health reform passed at home.

As I’ve written, I don’t like Obamacare and would have reformed health care differently, but I also recognize that the GOP has had many opportunities since the end of World War II to get rid of the absurd employer-based model, which we got not because it was a brilliant way to deliver health care, but simply as a way to get around wartime wage and price controls.

Also, if you’re going to argue the incumbent president is weak, you must offer a sharp contrast — a bold, decisive leader who takes strong stands.  Mitt is not that guy.  His lips may be moving, but he’s not saying anything.  If he were a statute, he’d be “void for vagueness.”  Aside from his inability to connect with average people, he’s a mealy-mouthed milquetoast.

How Can We Call Pakistan an Ally?

Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA locate bin Laden before the raid that killed him, has been convicted of high treason and sentenced to a 33-year prison term!

If Pakistan were our ally and wanted to help us find bin Laden wouldn’t this guy have gotten a medal and a parade?  Of course, if Pakistan were our ally, bin Laden wouldn’t have been able to live for years in one of their military bastions.

This is the “ally” who has kept our supply routes into Afghanistan closed for the last six months and has been demanding a formal apology (as opposed to the expression of regret they’ve received) for the accidental death of some Pakistani border troops, plus a fee of $5,000 per truck (up from $250 a truck) for using their roads.

Since 9/11, we have given Pakistan $20 billion in aid.  We need to cut our budget?  Start there.

Mitt, A Noun, A Verb, and 9/11

From “Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani Still Not Ready for Prime Time,” Dan Collins, HuPo:

Mitt Romney rolled out Rudy Giuliani on Tuesday in a bid to inoculate himself from Democratic suggestions that he is too weak to have whacked Osama bin Laden. The presumptive GOP presidential nominee and Old 9/11 visited a firehouse in lower Manhattan to mark the first anniversary of the terror chief’s death.

It was not the stuff of legends. Looking at the two men standing together, it became clear how completely the Giuliani magic had vanished. The former mayor wore a suit and looked as if he had been stuffed by a taxidermist for the occasion. Romney, in his white shirt and tie, looked positively casual and loose by comparison.

When you hit a point where you make Mitt Romney look cool, you know your day is over.

Everything seemed to be knee-deep in irony. At a time when the Romney camp was attacking President Obama for politicizing bin Laden’s demise, Mitt himself was hanging out with Rudy, who was always front and center when the Republicans needed someone — someone other than Dick Cheney — to suggest that whenever the Democrats win, so do the terrorists.

But the magic is gone — Rudy accompanied Mitt to a Greenwich Village firehouse that had taken a heavy hit in 9/11 fatalities. The terror-fighting duo brought pizza for the firefighters — a photo-0p that flopped when one of the well-cordoned-off photographers hung around long enough to get some pictures of Romney and Giuliani dumping their pizza boxes on an aide, who presumably actually took the food into the waiting blaze battlers.

Looking at the two men standing there together, you had to remember that four years ago, Rudy was for a while the front-runner for the presidential nomination, while Mitt ran back with the pack. But today Romney is the all-but-official Republican nominee. Rudy is a second-tier talking head on cable news shows who is no longer taken seriously by the media, the other Republicans, or most of the public.

Romney didn’t even give Giuliani the starring role in his day. He also visited with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who appeared to be the subject of far more intense romancing. Bloomberg has dropped hints that he might consider endorsing in the presidential race, and the Romney camp was clearly much more interested in that possibility than in trotting out Rudy Giuliani.

If things get any worse for Giuliani, the next Republican presidential nominee will stick him with carrying the pizza.

Obama, Mitt, and bin Laden

About President Obama’s ad questioning whether Mitt would have approved the operation that took out bin Laden:

“The ad itself raises intriguing, substantive, legitimate questions — and the ferocious, sputtering Republican reaction is proof positive that they know it, or at least suspect it.”

“Why Obama Owns bin Laden,” Jon Meacham, Time

Mitt and bin Laden

In response to the Obama campaign’s questioning whether Mitt would have authorized the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, Mitt is now saying that “of course” he would have, nothing to see here folks, move on.

But when you go back to the positions each candidate took in the primaries before the 2008 general, you find ample evidence to doubt Mitt.

In August 2007, Obama said, “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.”

A couple of days later, Mitt attacked that position as wrong and specifically said he would not do a unilateral raid into Pakistan:  “I do not concur in the words of Barack Obama in a plan to enter an ally of ours.”

Would Mitt have gotten bin Laden?  Based on the record, I would say, “Of course not.”

What Pakistan Wants

Pakistan’s Parliament is debating what it wants from the U. S. to resume full diplomatic relations, including re-opening of NATO’s supply route to Afghanistan.  What’s Urdu for chutzpah?

They want us to pay to transport our supplies to Afghanistan.  Because, you know, that $20 billion we’ve given them since 9/11 just isn’t enough.

They want us to apologize for  a mistaken attack that killed 24 of their soldiers near the Afghan border last November, a mistake that was partly their fault.  Where’s their apology for hiding bin Laden all those years?

And the big one, the ain’t-gonna-happen one, is that they want us to end our drone strikes against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.  Nothing about their ending sanctuary for terrorists.  The drone strikes are one of the few smart, successful things we are doing in that part of the world.

Our response to this crap?  I think we should go with Richard Armitage’s approach, when he called then-President Musharraf after 9/11 and threatened to bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age. (We can’t make that threat against Afghanistan, since they are already in the Stone Age).  We can’t be allied with Pakistan when they are providing safe haven and support to our enemies.  The friend of our enemy is our enemy too.

Obama’s Lonely Bin Laden Decision

I have expressed my concern that Mitt lacks the guts and temperament to make tough decisions, such as the one to do the bin Laden raid.

Joe Biden now says that he advised the President “don’t go” on bin Laden and that when the President asked everyone on his national security staff (Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, National Security Adviser, etc.) what he should do, only Leon Panetta (then head of the CIA) said he should go.

With so many top advisers expressing doubts, it would have been easy for the President to take their advice and not do the raid.  It took guts for him to overlook all the reservations his trusted, experienced senior people were expressing.

I think if Mitt had been in that room, he would have hidden behind the qualms of the others and made a “business” decision to forego the raid.  I see him as operating more by consensus than by boldness, as basically risk averse and more interested in avoiding downsides than aggressively pursuing upsides.

We the people don’t get to make these decisions, we delegate them to our Commander in Chief.  President Obama has my proxy.