The United States military has dropped almost 50,000 bombs on Syria and Iraq over the last two years. Most of that has been against ISIS targets in the desert regions between the two countries, but some, including President Trump’s airport bombings last week, were against the Assad regime itself.
War on Terror
Almost thirty years after he took office, George HW Bush is still remembered as a weak-willed moderate because of six words in his inaugural address: “Read my lips: no new taxes.”
Bush pledged not to raise taxes no matter how much his Democratic Congress demanded it. Just two years later he reluctantly agreed to a budget deal that raised gas taxes and the top income tax rate. His approval rating and overall image never recovered.
President Obama made a similarly strong and explicit pledge, but on a much more vital issue. Beginning in August 2013, as hawks were begging for the US to intervene in the Syrian civil war, Obama said that there would be no “boots on the ground” there.
The news out of the Perpetual War on Terror is pretty grim these days. The US military knowingly but “accidentally” bombed a hospital in Afghanistan, killing 22 doctors and patients. Just days later, the president decided not to draw down troops in the country as previously planned, but will instead keep nearly 6,000 of our sons and daughters in the country until at least 2017 when his term ends. At the same time, the inner workings of the president’s drone war, including questionable intel, lax target timeframes, and horrifying collateral damage ratios, have been brought to light by a whistleblower.
But you’d be forgiven for not noticing any of this. While it has been reported in the news media, there has been almost no secondary public reaction. I think that’s entirely because of one factor: Barack Obama won the last election, not Mitt Romney. If Romney had been elected in 2012 and in the year before his reelection campaign had bombed a hospital, decided to keep troops in Afghanistan, and had details of his robot assassin program leaked, things would probably look a little different today.
Not content to let Rand Paul have his minor, temporary Patriot Act sunset victory, conservative blogger and video auteur Ben Howe took to Red State just minutes before the expiration of the act’s surveillance powers to proclaim the Kentucky senator and presidential candidate worse than Obama on national security.
As far as I’m concerned, Rand Paul’s view of ISIS and our role in “creating” them is pretty much a deal breaker. It shows such an uninformed and naive view of radical Islam that it makes me expect President Paul to be as dangerous as a President Obama in this regard. In fact I’ve reached the point where I question whether Obama might actually keep us safer than Rand Paul would.
Howe joins a crescendoing chorus of Republicans who might have a hard decision to make come November 2016 if Rand Paul is indeed the party’s nominee. I predicted this intra-party schism almost two years ago, but I’m stunned by the accelerated timeline. I expected Republicans hawks to flip to Hillary if Rand was the nominee. I didn’t expect them to all but do so 8 months before any primary votes are cast.
Whether or not you think it’s outrageous for Rand to have said “hawks in our party” “created” ISIS, let’s review the evidence. (Because that’s what thinking people do. We don’t just hear something that sounds outrageous, gasp, and shun the speaker.)
Much hay has been made over the Obama administration’s stubbon refusal to label any act of terror an incident of Islamic extremism or its perpetrators radical Muslims. As the ISIS conquest of the Middle East escalates, this exercise in political correctness has reached farcical levels.
In a Wednesday speech about “radical extremism”, the president again refused to properly identify what kind of radical extremism he was discussing. But he was very clear (after you let him be) about who he was not discussing.
— ABC News (@ABC) February 19, 2015
Well yes. That’s exactly what “Islamic extremism” means. Literally. Otherwise we would just call it “acts of Islam”. Which would, of course, be silly.
The reaction to Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s Wall Street Journal column on Middle East interventionism isn’t surprising. Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post called Paul “ignorant” and suggests he could be lying about the arguments for and against. Adriana Cohen at the Boston Herald called him “clueless” and someone who should “wake up to reality.” Pema Levy at Newsweek says Paul is just trying to copy a page out of President Barack Obama’s 2008 playbook regarding opposition to the Iraq War. The Democrats called Paul’s foreign policy slogan “Blame America. Retreat from the World.”
This isn’t true at all. He told Breitbart.com on August 27 he was in favor of airstrikes against ISIS, but wanted to talk to Congress first. That’s the Constitutional stance because Congress has to approve war.
Much was made of the Obama “apology tour,” and it could be argued that we’re reaping what was sown now, at least in the Middle East. And as the current administration is scrambling to figure out what to do next when it comes to the unrest in Iraq, Hillary Clinton is hot on the book tour trying to tell the people what she really thought when she was serving as Secretary of State.
On Benghazi, the new narrative is that Hillary didn’t actually buy into blaming the attack on a video. She was apparently jumping from one theory to the next, presumably in her own mind. Exactly how useful that is to anyone remains to be shown, but at least she got out there and said she wasn’t necessarily on-board with the “blame the video” meme that dominated the airwaves immediately following the attack.
As for Iraq, Hillary is now claiming that she was fighting with Obama in the background about pulling out in 2011. Also, she wasn’t a big fan of Nouri al-Maliki, and apparently considered him a thug.
Tonight marks the return of the smash TV hit 24, its first new production since the series finale in 2010. A lot has changed in the last four years, and while Fox looks to have another ratings success on its hands with this more limited run series, Live Another Day, is the world still a safe place for Jack Bauer’s brand of no holds barred counter-terrorism?
Fatefully, the first season of 24 began production in March 2001. Fox premiered it in November 2001, less than two months after the 9/11 attacks, when other media companies were still censoring their output to not offend America’s new sensitivity to all things related to commercial air travel, skyscrapers, patriotism, and terrorism.
Over the next eight seasons, television audiences were fearlessly treated to assassination attempts, nuclear attacks, internal coups, electrocuted nipples, and an unending stream of yelled demands and immunity agreements. And we loved every minute of it.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is apparently getting a taste of what it’s like to be the subject of a C.I.A. investigation, and isn’t very pleased. It has partially come to light that the spies have been watching the committee, primarily over an investigation into the Bush administration’s interrogation and detention program in the wake of 9/11. Yes, it’s the long and expensive investigation into the C.I.A.’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” coming back to bite the committee.
It’s no secret that the C.I.A. was less than pleased with the findings the investigation, and when the Senate Committee managed to get their hands on a secret document that contradicted C.I.A. Director John Brennan’s contentions that their initial investigation was at least partially false, things started to get ugly. Like many other webs of intrigue in our government these days, one almost needs a scorecard to keep track.
1. The Senate Intelligence Committee engaged in an investigation of the interrogation and detention program. This cost taxpayers more than $40 million because the C.I.A. insisted that the investigation had to take place in a secure location, and all the material had to be reviewed by an outside contractor before it could be released to the committee staff.
2. The investigation found that the techniques like waterboarding used by the C.I.A. really didn’t yield a great deal of useful information. It certainly didn’t justify the use of those techniques, and placed the U.S. in a difficult situation when it came to foreign relations.
According to new survey data from Pew, a plurality of self-identified Republicans oppose bombing Syria to help we-don’t-really-know-who. Across partisan divides, respondents overwhelmingly believe that a U.S. military intervention would elicit significant blowback, and would likely lead to an actual war (as opposed to a strategic, surgical bombing campaign to even the score for the rebels fighting Assad’s regime):
Three-quarters (74%) believe that U.S. airstrikes in Syria are likely to create a backlash against the United States and its allies in the region and 61% think it would be likely to lead to a long-term U.S. military commitment there. Meanwhile, just 33% believe airstrikes are likely to be effective in discouraging the use of chemical weapons; roughly half (51%) think they are not likely to achieve this goal.
Read the full report here (PDF).