Using Water As A Weapon Of War

Herschel Smith · 03 Aug 2014 · 9 Comments

Next City: In a war, anything can be a weapon. In a particularly ruthless war, such as the conflict that has been raging in Syria for more than three years, those weapons are often turned against civilians, making any semblance of normal life impossible. Such is the case, experts say, with the way the nation’s water supply is being manipulated to inflict suffering on the population. According to an article posted by Chatham House, a London-based independent policy institute, water…… [read more]

Concerning Declarations Of War And Tech Ninjas

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 8 months ago

For more than a decade now we have been engaged in what we have called a global war on terror, which is an awful name for it since we cannot war against a tactic.  We have actually been engaged in a war with militant Islam, but since we don’t want to speak truth, we make up slogans that hide the truth.

Congress voted in both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom to give the President the authority to use force to effect our desired ends in those campaigns.  Call it what you will, these were declarations of war, albeit against a country in one case, and against a transnational religious insurgency in another case.  Actually, since Salafists of various stripes and other Islamic religious fanatics crossed the Jordanian and Syrian border to fight the U.S. in Iraq, at some 80 – 100 per month at the height of it, we have fought a transnational religious insurgency in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  In both cases the use of force was authorized by Congress.

But in any case, I have repeatedly called on the reader to study the first chapter of Robert Kaplan’s book Imperial Grunts, the chapter being entitled “Injun Country.”  It might disavow the reader of the notion that America was conceived or raised in military isolationism.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I have also pointed out that from the very inception of the U.S. Marine Corps, before the effective date of the declaration of independence, the continental congress knew exactly what they were doing.  The model they followed was the British Marines, and the British Marines functioned as an imperial force.  This design was intentional from the beginning, whether the colonists (or readers today) knew it or not.

Daniel Trombly writing at Slouching Towards Columbia, does an outstanding job of filling in the details for us.  His post will be repeated at length.

The Constitution is not explicit that any kind of warfare must be validated by a Congressional declaration of war. Madison was quite clear that in a case where the United States was defending itself from attack, no declaration of war was necessary. This has been a decision constantly reaffirmed throughout American history, and the debates surrounding the drafting of that portion of the Constitution clearly reveal that the founders saw a distinction between declaring and making war, and explicitly did not require a Congressional declaration for America to make war, only to begin one where no hostile act had initiated it. In other words, beyond continued Congressional approval for whatever financing of the war effort is necessary, there is no requirement for a formal declaration of war for the United States to prosecute one should the war occur in reaction to the commencement of war by a hostile force.

The notion that drones are responsible for the “short-circuiting” of America’s process for going to war is illusory – particularly when the idealized version of warfare Singer describes was never the historical norm for the United States. Very few American wars have been fought with a formal declaration of war, including two of America’s earliest overseas conflicts.

Indeed, America’s flirtation with undeclared wars with broad Congressional mandates is obvious from the very historical existence of the phrase “Quasi-War,” describing US hostilities with France under the Adams administration. There, the US found it sufficient to pass a Congressional measure authorizing naval action against French ships. Lest anyone chalk this up to a mere outlying tendency in US politics, Adams’s political foe, Jefferson, continued and indeed expanded the trend significantly under his own administration.

Thomas Jefferson was eager to prosecute a war against the Barbary pirates, which had amorphous links to recognized political authorities. Yet Jefferson did not seek and Congress did not require a formal declaration of war against an enemy considered to be both hostis humani generis (hostile to all mankind, as most seafaring nations considered pirates) and engaged already in persistent hostilities against American civilian vessels. Congress passed a relatively broad mandate for military force, and Thomas Jefferson’s military proceeded to wage an undeclared war with amorphous boundaries against Islamic unconventional actors, along with the help of private mercenary armies. One can make arguments about why America should not prosecute undeclared wars, fight non-state actors alone, or use privately contracted military forces, but any appeal to the founding fathers is unconvincing at best and a cynical ploy at worst.

To blame drones for the trend of undeclared wars that has existed since America’s earliest years is grossly historically inaccurate. Not only does it completely fail to explain America’s participation in the Quasi-War, Barbary Wars, Indian Wars, and the several formally undeclared wars of the 20th century after World War II, it also fails to explain the conflicts which the United States has begun since drones existed. It is quite difficult to say there are any ongoing military campaigns which began or persist solely because of “risk free” drones. The broad authorization for use of military force which began the War on Terror and its “undeclared” nature has very little to do with drone technology, and more to do with the fact that the United States has never formally declared war on a non-state actor in its history. Even in areas frequently identified with drone warfare, such as the Horn of Africa, Yemen, and Pakistan, non-drone US interference has occurred at varying levels of frequency during the War on Terror.

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As uncomfortable as it might make foreign policy commentators (sometimes myself included), the founders always recognized a difference between military operations involving sustained use of land forces and those involving a primarily maritime or over-the-horizon force. This distinction is quite evident in the American Constitution, which as any sea power booster will tell you, stipulates that while an army should only be raised temporarily, Congress must provide and maintain a navy. This distinction has carried throughout American history (Even in the case of the Posse Comitatus Act, only the US Army and Air Force are specifically excluded from intervening in domestic affairs. The United States Navy and Marine Corps are actually only excluded under an internal Department of Defense directive). The American imperative to keep sea lanes flowing freely and protect the sovereign rights of American vessels and citizens overseas has been a much stronger push for American military involvement than drones have been or ever will be.

Daniel focuses on the use of UAVs in his article, and I am completely uninterested in UAVs.  But his prose is on point concerning the use of military power throughout the nation’s history.  More specifically concerning drones, the policy makers and strategists seem to be under the magical spell of the tech ninja warriors who believe that we can engage in push-button war and win.

Drones were useful when engaging non-state actors who had little financing or technology.  As we have seen recently with Iran, nominal technology can shoot drones out of the air.  Pilots will always be needed to fly fighters, warriors will always need to put boots on the ground, and ships will always need to support troops closer than the 20 mile “beyond the horizon” that they want to avoid.  There is no answer to the costliness of war, and gutting defense spending to pay for entitlements won’t supply either with enough funding.  The cost for war-making won’t go away, and the appetite for entitlements only grows with more spending like an obscene addiction.

I have pointed out before that progressives have always wanted to make war differently, that they claim to support equality of the genders (in the face of biological evidence to the contrary), and that they claim to be neo-isolationist concerning the use of American military power.  But progressives don’t tell you everything.  They’re lying in most, if not all cases.

They also want to increase the size of special operations, and it is well known that the SEALs, Rangers, Delta and Force Recon don’t accept females – and for good reason.  But that doesn’t stop the progressives.  They want more of the same, they just want war to be clinical, rapid and clean.  It’s good enough to ensure that females are in the general purpose forces so that they progressives can claim to be morally superior.  The reality of females carrying a 120 pound kit like Marine infantry or Rangers isn’t discussed.  Since special operations is always under a cloak of secrecy, word of their work doesn’t usually get out.  The progressives like it that way.  They want to engage in war, they just don’t want the public to know about it, or Congress to get involved other than funding the war-making.  OPSEC and all of that, you know.  Shhhh …

This has always been true.  It is true now, and we see that the size of special operations is going to increase while the size of the so-called general purpose forces will decrease by some 15%.  In fact, they want virtual permanent deployment for some special operations.

The Pentagon is rushing to send a large floating base for commando teams to the Middle East as tensions rise with Iran, al-Qaeda in Yemen and Somali pirates, among other threats.

In response to requests from U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, the Navy is converting an aging warship it had planned to decommission into a makeshift staging base for the commandos. Unofficially dubbed a “mothership,” the floating base could accommodate smaller high-speed boats and helicopters commonly used by Navy SEALs, procurement documents show.

Special Operations forces are a key part of the Obama administration’s strategy to make the military leaner and more agile as the Pentagon confronts at least $487 billion in spending cuts over the next decade.

Lt. Cmdr. Mike Kafka, a spokesman for the Navy’s Fleet Forces Command, declined to elaborate on the floating base’s purpose or to say where, exactly, it will be deployed in the Middle East. Other Navy officials acknowledged that they were moving with unusual haste to complete the conversion and send the mothership to the region by early summer.

They have even taken one of the assets of the U.S. Marine Corps, an amphibious assault dock.  All the while, as the Marines continue to imagine that they will ever do a large scale, sea-based forcible entry again, they sink deeper into complete irrelevance in the twenty first century.  Visions of Iwo Jima dance in the heads of Marine Corps planners, while the real fight – the one the Marines should be leading – goes to what has effectively become another (secretive) branch of the service, SOCOM.

American history is replete with examples of warfighting without a formal declaration of war.  But the main focus has usually been the U.S. Marine Corps.  The strategic planners of the Marine Corps have lost their way, and continue to send Force Recon Marines into SOCOM rather than develop and enhance their own capabilities to conduct such operations.  They have even retired the only remaining asset in their air fleet that is capable of inserting Marines by fast-roping.  The V-22 cannot do that.  But when the final story is told, we will not be safer for creating another branch of the service, or for gutting military spending in favor of the tech ninja paradigm.  We will regret it.

Prior:

Expeditionary Warfare Category

Abolish SOCOM

Win Or Lose In Afghanistan?

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 8 months ago

A note from an active duty Soldier and very loyal reader of TCJ.  I am withholding his name.

Herschel,

Pretty compelling stuff on your site of late. The Army is working the hell out of me lately and I don’t have the emotional energy to comment coherently on your site. But to you I’d like to suggest two things; Its not as easy as withdrawing and the regional  threats will all strengthen when we exit. We can “win” this Afghan thing if we, as a country chose to. We appear to have chosen not to win. Lots of the comment on your site is such un/ill informed crap; it drives me up a tree. After all this time can people still be so clueless?

Afghanistan has been 10 (going on 11) one year wars. Each year is tied to the other only in the vast funds expended and the incoherence of the strategy and execution of our warfighting and state department actions. Each year is a ridiculous, blind stab at something, anything to “win” the war without of course, actually war fighting at a scale that will in fact, win the war. Talk and more talk, money and more money, blood and more blood and nothing to show for it. The reality of this circumstance weakens me more than any tour of combat I’ve yet experienced.

I’ve no issue with your admonition that it is time to leave. I’ve believed that since 2006. But what I believe more is that our military, political and civil authorities must proclaim not simply that we cannot win, but that we refuse to win. And that knowing the outcome of walking away; are willing to ransome a future generation to warfighting at a bloddy scale that will make our 10 year efforts appear like so much playground proctoring. Anyway, Herschel, keep it up. I don’t know how you do it, but I’m mighty glad that you do!

Sometimes I wonder why I bother to write, but occasionally I receive letters like this one, and then I understand.  But the authorities admitting what we all know to be true won’t happen.  Furthermore, the highlighted sentence tells us – yet again – what I have tried to point out ever since I have been writing.

What the population-centric COIN advocates have not gotten, and will never get, with their claptrap about killing one insurgent and creating ten more, or killing one family member, even by accident, and create 100 insurgents (you take your pick of the cliche du jour), is that nothing can compare in its debilitating affects on the troops  – and thus the campaign – like what we’ve done, e.g., hand them immoral rules of engagement, talk about talking to the Taliban, talk to the Taliban, send billions of dollars into black holes, wander aimlessly in a strategic malaise with our head up our ass, set dates for withdrawal, declare that it will all be okay anyway, and so on and so forth the sad parade goes.

What does it take to lose a war?  Destroy morale with awful leadership.

The Texas Border Coalition On Border Security

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 8 months ago

The Texas Border Coalition recently issued its report entitled Without Strategy: America’s Border Security Blunders Facilitate and Empower Mexico’s Drug Cartels.  The report makes some interesting observations, albeit sprinkled with odd and out-of-place assertions that have nothing whatsoever to do with border security.  But the basic conclusions fall short of crafting the grand strategy they seek.  Portions of the report are reproduced below (with running commentary).

The United States government spent about $90 billion over the past decade to secure the U.S.-Mexico border. The results are mixed, with apprehension rates up to 90 percent for undocumented persons seeking to cross the frontier between designated U.S.-Mexico border crossings, yet the Mexican drug cartels continue to enjoy commercial success smuggling more drugs than ever into the country through the legal border crossings.

A significant part of the $90 billion government expense has been the deployment of U.S. military forces, including the National Guard, to supplement Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection forces on the Mexican border. A recent Government Accountability Office briefing on the costs and benefits of the Department of Defense role in securing the Southwest land border reported that DOD officials “are concerned that there is no comprehensive southwest border security strategy” and the National Guard’s role has been “ad hoc.”

The  military forces deployed to the border don’t “include” National Guard, it is comprised entirely by National Guard.  And as we have discussed before, the National Guard isn’t doing what the public thinks they are doing.

Unfortunately, I must report that “Armed does not always mean “armed” as most Americans would understand. There are various states of being “armed.” These are called “Arming Orders (AO)” which define where the weapon “is,” where the magazine “is,” where the bullets “are” and where the bayonet “is.” They start at Arming Order One which could best be described as a “show of force” or “window dressing” in the worse case.

After considerable searching, I was able to find a complete copy of the Memorundum of Understanding/Rules of Engagement pertaining to the National Guard Deployment (“Operation Jump Start”), which I could then review.

After reviewing the MOU/ROE, I contacted several senior “in the loop” National Guard Officers that I have previously served with, to determine how many soldiers would be “armed” and their Arming Order number. After confirming The El Paso Times article that “very few soldiers there would carry weapons,” I was advised that during the next 90 days, amongst the few soldiers that have weapons, no soldier will have an Arming Order greater than AO-1, which means that an M-16 will be on the shoulder, there will be no magazine in the weapon (thats where the bullets come from), and the magazines stored inside the “ammunition pouch” will in most cases have no ammunition, they will be empty.

It was also conveyed to myself that in the unlikely event that a soldier is ever harmed on the border, the Arming Order will not be raised. Every individual I spoke to envisions no circumstance where there will ever be soldiers at AO-3/4, where a magazine with ammunition would be immediately available. Instead the soldiers will simply be kept farther away from the border if needed. They will be deliberately kept out of harms way.

The National Guard has been “deployed” to the border to perform clerical functions and do overwatch and reporting.  The report does well to point out the high cost of deployment of these troops considering the very little that they have accomplished.  Returning to the report.

As the U.S. spent $90 billion seeking to secure the Southwest border, the Mexican cartels have continued to smuggle cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine through the legal border crossings in California and South Texas, and marijuana between border crossings in remote areas of Arizona. They generally smuggle smaller loads of cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine in non-commercial vehicles (cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks) to blend in with cross-border traffic. As the Mexican drug cartels flourish in the face of $90 billion spent to secure the border through which they conduct their trade, the U.S. continues to focus on border security tactics grounded in operation that began in the 1990s when an anti-immigration backlash fueled crackdowns code-named “Operation Gatekeeper” and “Operation Hold-the-Line.” Debates in Congress focus on building more fences and walls and whether to snuff environmental protections for public lands on the Southwest and Northern borders.

As reported by the Department of Defense and the Government Accountability Office, America’s border security effort lacks strategic direction and operates on an ad hoc basis. Without a strategy, America will continue to lose the border security war to the better financed, equipped, more mobile and agile drug cartels. Our national success depends on defining and executing a strategy to defeat the cartels attacking our nation.

The legal border crossings on the U.S. southwestern border have become America’s weakest border security link. Since the cartels choose to smuggle most of their products through the border crossings, a sensible strategy would be to attack their trade where it occurs and anticipate where their smuggling operations might move in response. Yet, the Department of Homeland Security has chosen to ignore these developments and refused to develop a strategy to confront them.

Budget forecasts by Department of Homeland Security officials suggest no new funding for border security infrastructure at the official border crossings for many years and personnel accounts will essentially remain static during that time. While new equipment may become available, some cannot be utilized because the electrical facilities at the border crossings are outdated and inadequate to support the expensive new tools. Congress and the Administration confront a choice when considering strategic directions for securing the U.S-Mexican border. At a minimum, the Texas Border Coalition recommends that Congress and the President have a strategy rather than addressing this challenge ad hoc.

The strategic paths forward offer a choice between closing the gaps between the border
crossings, where criminals face a 90 percent likelihood of apprehension, or addressing the inadequate infrastructure, technology and law enforcement personnel at the southwest border crossings where criminals are less challenged by an apprehension rate of merely 28 percent.

The Texas Border Coalition suggests that the only reasonable path forward is to refocus our border security priorities where our nation is most vulnerable: at the legal border crossings. Spending additional billions of dollars on more Border Patrol agents, fencing-walls or exempting the Border Patrol from the rule of law should be lower priorities compared to making the official border crossings functional in securing our borders.

To choose the other path and continue to fight the border security war where it has been won (between the border crossings) and to continue to surrender the war where we are losing (at the border crossings) is to threaten our national and border security and resign our nation to defeat.

This document is focused on the security aspects of border strategy, especially as they related to Mexican drug cartels. There are additional benefits to improving the security at America’s border crossings, including facilitation of legitimate trade and travel with Mexico, providing a major benefit to the American economy and jobs.

U.S. manufacturers and consumers depend on ready access to Mexican markets and goods. U.S. exporters serve the Mexican market and profit from foreign sales. Border region businesses in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas tie their livelihoods to trade and create jobs for American workers. Mexico is America’s third largest trading partner behind only Canada and China.

U.S.-Mexico trade totals $400 billion, a nearly fivefold increase since the enactment of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), with most goods crossing via commercial truck. More than 13,000 trucks bring over $630 million worth of goods into the U.S. from Mexico every day. U.S. exports to Mexico total $163 billion.

As a matter of general strategy, America cannot solve our budgetary problems solely by cutting expenses. We must increase our revenues. Making our border crossings more efficient in conducting legal trade with both Canada and Mexico will increase our national revenues and give us the resources to fight the other problems we face in our borders.

Take careful note of the trade imbalance.  The report has turned the horrible loss to our economy into a supposed boon if we control the legal border crossings better than we currently do.  But a trade imbalance as large as this isn’t good for the economy.  Further facilitating this trade imbalance may be the raison d’être for the grand strategy they recommend, but it falls far short of being a compelling reason to implement any of their recommendations.

Also, the report seems to downplay the very real problem of border insecurity at locations other than official border crossings.  But the Arizona ranchers might not be so impressed by the coalition’s claim that the border war has been won except for the crossings.  There is still a very real problem, and any diminution of that problem of late has only to do with an ailing American economy rather than any success by U.S. law enforcement.  Finally, to state flatly that “America cannot solve our budgetary problems solely by cutting expenses. We must increase our revenues,” is out of place and irrelevant.  It is a value judgment rather than a statement of fact.  It detracts from the supposed seriousness of the report.

However, the coalition’s focus on the official border crossings does have merit, and the crossings played a role in our own previous recommendations.

  1. Searching every vehicle that crosses the border checkpoints.
  2. Increased sting and undercover operations by law enforcement to root out corruption.
  3. Sending the U.S. Marines to the border to (a) construct and occupy combat outposts and observations posts, (b) conduct regular foot patrols of the border, and (c) be allowed (by the U.S.) to cross the border if necessary to chase Mexican insurgents.
  4. Taking Congressional action to remove legal requirements such as the SCOTUS decision in Tennessee v. Garner, thus allowing the Marines to conduct combat operations at the border rather than law enforcement operations.
  5. U.S. Special Operations Forces raids against Mexican cartel high value targets inside of Mexico (with or without the permission of the Mexican government, unilaterally, and without Mexican involvement).

The coalition’s report has made the mistake of making this an “either-or” choice rather than what it needs to be, “both-and.”  While we’re engaging in debates about grand strategy, it’s important to note the state of affairs at the border again.

A federal grand jury in Laredo, TX, convicted a Zetas-linked “hitman” on a raft of conspiracy, racketeering and weapons charges on Jan. 25, after hearing testimony that outlined activities of the gang’s vicious assassination cells on both sides of the southern border.

Gerardo Castillo-Chavez, also called “Cachetes,” a native of Tamaulipas, Mexico, was convicted on all the counts against him, including conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, interstate travel in aid of racketeering (ITAR), and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime or a crime of violence.

Castillo-Chavez’ trial began on Jan. 17 with jury selection and the verdicts were reached after four-and-a-half days of trial testimony and six hours of deliberation, said the FBI in a Jan. 25 statement.

Castillo-Chavez and 33 others  were charged in Feb. 2010 with 47 counts of conspiracy to kidnap and murder U.S. citizens in a foreign country, drug conspiracy, kidnapping conspiracy, firearms conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, use of juveniles to commit a violent crime, accessory after the fact, solicitation, as well as substantive money laundering, drug trafficking, and ITAR charges.

As to tactics, “Witnesses, including a federal informant and former Zetas operatives, offered a dramatic and sometimes gruesome peek into the inner workings of the cartel’s drug-smuggling operations in Mexico and the U.S.

Among the most grisly testimony: new cartel recruits were trained to kill at a camp near the small Mexican town of San Fernando, where the remains of 200 bodies were unearthed last year.

The informant testified that would-be hit men were ordered to kill people — sometimes with machetes and sledgehammers — as a way to test their mettle.”

In all, 34 killers (in this one instance) were released to the U.S. to conduct operations on the U.S. side of the border.  This is a stark reminder that there is little time left.

Prior:

Losing the Border War

Threat Assessment: Transnational Jihadists and Mexican Cartels

Legalization Of Drugs Won’t End The Border War

Border War

Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment

Republican Media Resorts to Newtron Bombing in Support of Romney

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 8 months ago

I hesitate to post something that might drag TCJ directly into the GOP nominating process as I do not believe that TCJ is primarily about politics, but given the importance of the 2012 elections, I cannot resist making a cautionary post about what is happening in the Republican primaries.

Allow me to also state, up front, that I am officially undecided on my support.  Yes, I am a registered Republican (although I have flirted with the idea of going Independent given the state of the GOP), no surprise there.   Like most Republicans I was hoping that several, other candidates would enter the fray, but the top, three candidates at this point could credibly do the job and certainly better than Obama.

This post by Dafyyd Ab Hugh at Big Lizards is, I think, a good summary of the situation as it stood after Gingrich’s big win in the South Carolina primary:

The best news out of South Carolina — for all Republicans, independents, and even Democrats who dread a second term for Barack H. “Bubble Boy” Obama — is that the rift between those GOP-primary voters who support Mitt Romney and those who support the current flavor of NotRomney both make the same argument: Each side claims its own candidate is the most electable against Obama.

So far, I have not heard the meme from either camp that if the Other is nominated, We shall sit out the election or vote to reelect President B.O. This is important; one of three men will be the Republican nominee: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, or Rick Santorum. It would be utterly devastating if, say, Romney supporters said they would not support Gingrich in the general, or if Santorum supporters insisted that if Romney is the nominee, they will sit out the election.

Ridding the nation of Barack Hussein Obama is the single, most important goal that any, non-Leftist could have for the 2012 elections.  At least that is what I thougtht was the most important consideration.

But in the last few days, as poll numbers indicated that Gingrich was leading Romney in the critical state of Florida, a seeming conspiracy of otherwise reliably conservative media figures have rained down a hurricane of scorn and venom on Gingrich.

Big Lizards continues:

In 2008, I know a lot of conservatives and libertarians who were so enraged that none of their own was nominated that they did in fact refuse to vote for McCain; most just stayed home, but a few actually voted for Obama in a fit of pique. While I don’t believe that was determinative — Obamunism would have won the day anyway — it might not have been such a butt-whupping, and the Democrats might not have ended up with such a stranglehold on the Senate. In fact, I believe angry, anti-liberal “protest-voting” handed us ObamaCare and the Trillion Dollar Spree.

This is the very thing that I fear is now in the process of occurring.

For instance, I am a regular reader of the conservative blog, Powerline.   In the last week or so, however, I have been shocked and baffled at the contempt emanating from John Hinderaker over the rise of Gingrich in the polls.   Hinderaker created a minor firestorm on the blog by calling Gingrich supporters “delusional.” The National Review Online has taken it upon itself to be a veritable Kwik-E-Mart for Gingrich opposition research, recounting his days as Speaker of the House and criticisms of Ronald Reagan.   Ann Coulter, normally the most conservative pundit this side of Planet Earth, has taken to Mitt Romney and launched her own attacks on Gingrich, seemingly on cue.   This morning, The Drudge Report carried banner headlines about Gingrich’s past criticisms of Reagan and inconsistencies.

Since I started paying attention to presidential politics in 1980, I cannot recall the knives coming out like this against any GOP candidate by conservatives.   Perhaps our more senior readers can compare this with the rain of fire upon Barry Goldwater in 1964.

In any event, I think the attacks on Gingrich are so voluminous and so over the top that they risk the very kind of splintered vote that Big Lizards and others fear.   I would be the first to point out Gingrich’s many failings and shortcomings.   I am not comfortable with his character as evidenced by his serial infidelities.   His ego could go toe-to-toe with Obama’s narcissism any day.   He has taken anti-conservative and Big Government positions in the past which he now denounces.   The list goes on.   But a similarly long, though different, list could be made about Romney’s shortcomings.   Can conservatives trust either one to govern in a conservative manner?   Probably not.    That’s why we need a reliably conservative Congress (House and Senate) in 2013 to keep whomever gets elected in check and on track.

But what conservatives like Hinderaker and Coulter and others are doing is approaching scorched earth.   I suppose they are driven by a near-fanatical desire to see Obama go down in defeat in November and, so, they are convinced that Gingrich as nominee is unelectable.   Maybe so.  But unless these commentators have powers of prophecy or a crystal ball, no one can say for sure who is electable in America, circa 2012.    The critics are risking a severe backlash, and by that I mean a deep resentment that conservatives were railroaded into a Romney candidacy.    If that happens, we may very well see another 2008 where a sizable chunk of conservative voters refuse to go along with the Mitt Machine and these critics, who acted so desperately out of fear of Obama getting re-elected will have accomplished the very thing they dreaded by their own desperation.

And I will close here with a prediction:  if Romney wins the nomination under the kind of duress being applied right now by some commentators and he loses to Obama, there will be a third party in America in 2013.   It will mark the beginning of the end for the Republican Party as the conservative rank and file will finally bolt the GOP in droves.

Lessons Learned in the War With Militant Islam, Part Two: Disproportionate Response

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 8 months ago

This is the second installment of a little series I have started on TCJ which attempts to summarize some of the important lessons that America should have learned in its ongoing war with Militant Islam.

Part One of the series, “Naming the Enemy,” is here for those getting in late.

Lesson Two

Respond to asymmetrical attacks with overwhelming firepower and force, Proportional Response Doctrine Notwithstanding.

Hopefully we have learned that the American military is at its best when it is unleashed to do its worst.   When U.S. forces are allowed to employ the full range of firepower against the enemy, the results are not only devastating but a true blow on behalf of peace and freedom.

Recall the infamous Highway of Death leading out of Kuwait in 1991.  U.S. air assets created a literal hell on earth for the fleeing Iraqi military, blasting apart everything that tried to move along the highway out of Kuwait.  Because of the demonstration of air power and lethal force, the Iraqi resistance completely collapsed.   You can be sure that the memory of that torment was alive and real in the minds of Iraqi soldiers when the U.S. military came rolling into Iraq in 2003.   And many, many lives were spared as a result.   The Iraqis knew what the American military was capable of doing to them and wisely chose to disband rather than to undergo a similar baptism of fire.

This was the exact lesson drawn by General William T. Sherman in the American Civil War and by George S. Patton in World War II.  War is the worst experience of the fallen, human condition.   The horror of war, therefore, must be brought home to the enemy in sufficient measure so that any illusions about continuing the fight are forever banished.   General Sherman to this very day is hated by many in the South simply by virtue of his ruinous campaign of 1864-1865, the infamous, March to the Sea.   But Sherman’s devastation of large parts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina brought the war home to the Confederacy in a way nothing else could have and helped prevent a Confederate guerrilla war after Lee surrendered at Appomattox.

Patton, too, believed that the surest way of saving lives and ending war most quickly involved brutal, relentless, wholesale envelopment and destruction of the enemy armies en masse.   Patton was a fierce critic of Eisenhower’s plodding tactic of attrition which Patton considered cruel and contrary to the very nature of the American fighting man.   The strategy of head-on attack in the face of a fortified enemy caused thousands of needless deaths of American soldiers.   It has been suggested by historian Victor Davis Hanson that Patton could have saved the lives of millions of Holocaust victims if he had been supplied and allowed to push his attack across the Rhine in 1944.  Similarly, the U.S. bombing campaigns against Germany and Japan in World War II were brutal but considered necessary to disrupt industry and break German morale.

Somehow the U.S. attitude has evolved into a nonsensical “kinder and gentler” way of war.  Perhaps this is the result of the doctrine of “Proportional Response” that is embedded in the additional protocols to the Geneva Conventions in 1977 (protocols to which the U.S. is not a signatory).   This doctrine aims to limit both the resort to armed force and the type of actions undertaken once armed force has been initiated.   Proportional Response, however, took its modern form in the aftermath of total war in World War II.   The limitations attempt to spare civilian populations from the horrors of war, particularly where no, legitimate military advantage can be gained.

Unfortunately, warfare in the 21st Century has side-stepped the best intentions of the Geneva protocols.   And, I would argue, this is actually a deliberate development by asymmetric enemies such as Militant Islam that shrewdly recognize the weakness of States which feel bound to the protocols even where the Islamists do not.  So, for example, it has become routine practice for Al Qaeda to insinuate itself in the midst of civilian populations for the deliberate purpose of using the population as a shield against attacks by U.S. forces.   The Taliban practice this as well to devastating effect, forcing U.S. commanders to let enemy combatants go free or risk being brought up on charges like the Haditha Marines.

In Afghanistan we see the insidious effect of these ever more rigid and paralyzing rules of engagement, including restrictions on the use of artillery and close air support that result in higher U.S. casualties and more enemies who live to fight another day.   In Iraq, we failed to crush Al Sadr and his Iranian-sponsored militia on several occasions, leaving them intact to terrorize and intimidate legitimate political opposition groups.  Iraq to this very day is paying a heavy price for the survival of Sadr.

Such self-restraint, in the final tally, gains the U.S. nothing.   Such restraint has not garnered us any respect or appreciation from our Militant Islamic enemies nor even from the Middle Eastern population at large.  They view restraint as weakness.    The enemy has taken every advantage of this restraint with perhaps the best example being the Taliban who fire at U.S. forces and then promptly drop their weapons because they know the ROE’s prevent return fire on “unarmed civilians.”   The U.S. is thus held in contempt.   The result of such contempt can only be an incitement to the enemy to multiply plans for attacks against the U.S.

Surely a clear lesson in all of this is that the U.S. must employ overwhelming force in the face of asymmetric attacks.  The alternative of investing tens of thousands of ground forces to conduct anti-insurgent operations with one hand tied behind the back must never be repeated.

Losing The Border War

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 8 months ago

From The Fix:

An anonymous Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent, speaking exclusively with The Fix, paints a stark picture of the drug war along the US-Mexico Border. The cartels’ traffickers are punching through our borders without fear, he confirms, supplying US streets with cocaine, marijuana, and heroin. But the administration seems more concerned with immigration than with drugs: “Border patrol is very adamant about stopping the illegal aliens,” he tells us. “But border patrol is not adamant about stopping the drugs and the cartels’ vehicles from coming across the border.”

Why does he believe this? He says the Department of Homeland Security doesn’t provide the border patrol with enough manpower to fight the drug war effectively. With around 2,000 miles of vast desert to protect and very little backup, agents find it nearly impossible to apprehend the traffickers. “Cartels transport their drugs across the desert in groups of two or three trucks,” he explains. “And they’re armed with automatic weapons.”

Cartel members know that even if one of the in-ground motion sensors picks up their movements, they still have the advantage. Each border patrol agent on the ground is responsible for a considerable area. And he is only one man with a gun. “Border patrol agents in the desert are often surrounded by the drug cartels or by Mexican military, who have been bribed to help the cartels,” he says, explaining that agents are frequently faced with a stark choice: they can fight the traffickers and die, or they can get out of the way and live. “At the end of the day, we all want to go home to our families alive.”

“We have cameras, and we have motion sensors in the ground,” summarizes our source. “We catch the cartels’ movements on camera. But do we have an agent out there close enough to respond? Do we have backup for that agent that can get out there quickly enough? If we don’t, guess what? We’re going to watch the drugs go through.”

So let’s divorce ourselves from the hotly contested issue of the so-called war on drugs for a moment.  A number of things jump out about this report.  First of all, the administration certainly isn’t serious about combating illegal immigration, any more than was the previous administration.

Second, while The Fix might be concerned about issues associated with illicit drugs, I’m not.  I am more concerned about the criminal insurgency and warlord-ism of the cartels (which only temporally uses drugs, and would and does use anything else to increase their power, such as human trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, gang violence and brutality, and so on).

But even more to the point, we are losing the war at the border.  We will lose the war at the border until we cease and desist treating it as a law enforcement endeavor, change the rules for the use of force (away from the SCOTUS decision in Tennessee versus Garner), and deploy the U.S. Marines to the border.

The National Guard isn’t the answer.  I have dealt with this many times before, considering whether training has been done, arming orders have been issued, and weapons and ammunition have been checked out of the armory.  But the National Guard isn’t doing anything at all to effect border security.

While I loath every word that comes out of the mouth of this president and cannot stand to listen to him, and would in fact blame the fire ants in my back yard on his administration if I could get away with it, removal of the National Guard from the border (as he has ordered) has nothing to do with anything.  We have a larger, societal problem.  We aren’t ready to fight the war at the border any more than we were or are ready to fight the campaign in Afghanistan.

Prior:

Threat Assessment: Transnational Jihadists and Mexican Cartels

Legalization of Drugs Won’t End The Border War

Border War

Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment

Withdraw From Afghanistan

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 8 months ago

Michael Yon has written a short note entitled Time To Leave Afghanistan.  I concur, but for somewhat different reasons, or at least, I will state my reasons somewhat differently.  I had been pondering going public with my counsel to withdraw from Afghanistan, and then I read possibly the most depressing entry on Afghanistan I have ever seen, from Tim Lynch.  Some of it is repeated below.

Ten years ago, Afghans were thrilled to see us and thought that finally they could live in peace and develop their country …

Five years ago they watched us flounder – we stayed on FOBs and shoveled cash by the billions into the hands of a corrupt central government that we insisted, despite clear evidence to the contrary, was a legitimate government – one that had to be supported at all costs. We raided their homes at night and shot up civilians who got too close to our convoys, we paid for roads that did not exist and, because of the “force protection” mentality, most Afghans thought our soldiers were cowards because they never came to the bazaar off duty and unarmored to buy stuff like the Russians did. In fact, every bite of food our soldiers consumed was flown into country at great expense, so in a land famous for its melons and grapes our troops ate crappy melon and tasteless grapes flown in by contractors from God knows where.

Now, they want to shoot us in the face. Except for the klepocratic elite who want us to give them billions more and then shoot us in the face.

There it is; Afghanistan is toast, and what the last 10 years has taught us is we cannot afford to deploy American ground forces.  Two billion dollars a week (that’s billion with a B) has bought what?  Every year we stay to “bring security to the people,” the security situation for the people gets worse and worse, deteriorating by orders of magnitude.  Now the boy genius has announced a “new strategy”.  A strategy that is identical to the “strategy” that resulted in a hollow ground force getting its ass kicked by North Korea in 1950; a mere five years after we had ascended to the most dominant military the world had ever known.

Tim goes on to say things about Iraq and national defense policy with which I don’t entirely agree.  My views on Iraq are complicated, as my readers know, and I will recapitulate (and summarize) them soon.  But if anyone would know that Afghanistan is toast, Tim Lynch would.

Listen well.  This is no anti-war cry.  I have argued virtually non-stop for increasing troop levels, staying the course, and increased (and different) lines of logistics for support of our troops.  But I have watched with dismay and even panic over the course of the last six years as we haven’t taken the campaign seriously, and good men have suffered and perished because of it.

I have watched as different members of NATO carried different strategies into the campaign without being united at the top level.  I have argued for recognizing the resurgence of the Taliban, while General Rodriguez argued against even the possibility of a spring offensive in 2008.  I watched as that same general micromanaged the Marines as they surged into the Helmand Province, issuing an order requiring that his operations center clear any airstrike that was on a housing compound in the area but not sought in self-defense.

We have seen General McChrystal issue awful and debilitating rules of engagement, along with personal stipulations that modified them to be even more restrictive.  “If you are in a situation where you are under fire from the enemy… if there is any chance of creating civilian casualties or if you don’t know whether you will create civilian casualties, if you can withdraw from that situation without firing, then you must do so,” said McChrystal.

Those disastrous rules and McChrystal’s disastrous management played a critical role in the shameful and immoral deaths of three Marines, a Navy Corpsman and a Soldier at Ganjgal, the firefight where Dakota Meyer earned his MoH.  Read the comments of the families of those warriors who perished at Ganjgal, and let the sentiments wash over you.

Study again my writing on Now Zad.  I was the only writer or blogger anywhere who was following the Marines at Now Zad – how they brought more trauma doctors with them than usual due to the massive loss of limbs and life that Marine command knew they would sustain, how they lived in so-called Hobbit holes in Now Zad, two or three Marines to a hole in distributed operations, hunting for Taliban fighters who had taken R&R in Now Zad because we didn’t have enough troops to prevent them from doing so.

While I was arguing for more Marines in Now Zad, I watched as a Battalion of infantrymen at Camp Lejeune (the class entering after my own son returned from his combat deployment in Iraq) entered the Marines expecting to go to Afghanistan or Iraq.  At that time we were heading for the exits in the Anbar Province of Iraq, and instead of focusing on Marines losing their legs and screaming for help in Now Zad, Afghanistan, that Battalion went on a wasteful MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit).  No MEU has ever been used by a President for anything in the history of doing MEUs except for humanitarian missions.

So that Battalion didn’t deploy to Iraq, went on a MEU, and then weren’t on rotation for Afghanistan.  Instead of helping their brothers in Now Zad, the Marine Corps Commandant had them playing Iwo Jima, as if we’re ever going to launch a major, sea-based forcible entry again.  A full Battalion of infantry Marines with two wars going on – and no deployment to Iraq, and no deployment to Afghanistan in a four year enlistment.

I argued against night raids by the so-called “snake eaters,” with them flying back to the FOBs that night, totally absent from the locals to explain what happened and why.  In addition to pointing out the wrong way to do it, I pointed out the right way to do it in lieu of night time raids by snake eaters.  I have argued for following and killing every single Taliban fighter into the hinterlands of Afghanistan, while the strategists under General McChrystal withdrew to the population centers just like the Russians did.

I pointed out that withdrawal from the Pech River Valley would invite the return of of al qaeda, Haqqani and allied fighters, and that’s exactly what happened.  I have been in the thick of this with my advocacy for the campaign, but again and again, it has become clear that we aren’t going to take this campaign seriously.  I have advocated against nation building, and by now I think it has become clear that population-centric counterinsurgency and nation building won’t ever work in Afghanistan.  Staying long enough with enough troops to find and kill the enemy has its problems, of course, including the fact that we may have to go back in eight or ten years later and do it all over again.

But that’s the Marine way.  Do now what has to be done, do it quickly and violently, achieve the mission, and leave.  At least I have been consistent, while always acknowledging that we cannot possibly achieve anything permanent, and will probably have to return at some point.  As it is, it isn’t clear that we’ve achieved anything at all.

The Wise family from Arkansas has lost their second son in Afghanistan.  For all those warriors who have given their all, and those families still suffering today because of that, America isn’t worthy of their sacrifices.  To be sure, if we continue the campaign there will still be magnificent warriors who answer the call.  But it’s our duty to take seriously the war to which we’re calling them if we let them go.  We’re heading for the exits, releasing insurgents from prisons in Afghanistan, and instead of trying to develop better lines of logistics, we’re trying to figure out how to get all of our equipment out of Afghanistan.

Regardless of who calls for what, the President will ask the Joint Chiefs of Staff what can be done to withdraw.  They will ask the flag and staff officers, and the staff officers will ask the logistics officers.  Logistics will decide how and when we can withdraw from Afghanistan.  No one else.

But within that framework, I am calling for the full, immediate and comprehensive withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan, and that we focus exclusively on force protection until that can be accomplished.  It’s time to come home.

UPDATE: Many thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the attention.

UPDATE #2: Thanks to Michael Yon for the attention.

Free The Final Haditha Marine

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 8 months ago

There is disposition of the cases against all of the Haditha Marines, except for one.

The former Marine officer who gave Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich the order to “clear” an Iraqi house near the site of an explosion that had just killed a Marine testified Friday that he expected Wuterich and his squad to “kill or capture the enemy I thought was in that building.”

William Kallop, who was a lieutenant in 2005 and is now a stockbroker in New York, said he believed insurgents inside the house were firing on Marines and thus the house could be deemed “hostile.”

According to the rules of engagement, Wuterich and his Marines were justified in using any amount of firepower in assaulting a “hostile” structure without identifying whether the people inside were combatants, Kallop said.

Kallop’s testimony came at the court-martial of Wuterich on charges of manslaughter, assault and dereliction of duty in the killing of 24 Iraqis by Marines on Nov. 19, 2005, in the Euphrates River community of Haditha. Among the Iraqis killed were three women and seven children.

While Kallop, who was a platoon commander, was called as a prosecution witness, his testimony appears to support the defense contention that Wuterich followed both his orders and training in assaulting two houses after the explosion that killed Marine Cpl. Miguel Terrazas and injured two other Marines.

The jury comprises four officers and four senior enlisted personnel, all with combat experience in Iraq or Afghanistan or both, as well as experience in “clearing” houses.

A Marine lawyer, testifying after Kallop, gave a different interpretation of the rules of engagement. Maj. Kathryn Navin, who had lectured Marines before they deployed, said a house cannot be declared hostile unless the people inside are known to have “hostile intent” or have committed “hostile acts.”

But Kallop said that in training at Camp Pendleton and March Reserve Air Base, and at briefings delivered in Iraq, Marines were not told they needed to identify individual targets as threatening when assaulting a “hostile” structure.

He said that he ordered “Clear south” and Wuterich responded, “Roger that, Sir.” He did not tell Wuterich that the house was “hostile,” Kallop said.

But Wuterich, in gathering his squad for the assault, told one of the Marines that the house was hostile and that the Marines should shoot first and ask questions later, according to testimony from former Marine Stephen Tatum.

No insurgents or weapons were found in two houses “cleared” by Marines. Dozens of Jordanian passports and stacks of American hundred-dollar bills were found in another house, however, indicating the neighborhood may have been used by insurgents as a staging point for attacks, Marine intelligence officers testified at preliminary hearings.

Kallop testified that after the explosion that ripped apart a Humvee, Marines were under attack by “a few bursts of small-arms fire.” He said he ordered a Marine to fire a grenade at the house after seeing a “turkey-peeker,” military jargon for a military-age male sneaking a look at Marines in a suspicious manner.

Kallop said he expected Wuterich to lead the Marines in his squad “to conduct movement to contact and kill or capture the enemy I thought was in that building.”

Responding to a question from defense attorney Haytham Faraj, Kallop said Marines are not required to risk their lives by stopping to identify individual targets while assaulting a hostile structure.

This whole legal conversation is dancing on the head of a pin, with wrangling over wording, the specificity of orders in the middle of heated battle, and second thinking that could work to make their future more hazardous if they allowed it to become self-doubt.

We have covered this before, but it pays to revisit this now that Wuterich is finally at trial.  When my son entered the Marine Corps in January of 2006, he completed boot camp at Parris Island and School of Infantry at Camp Geiger, having been trained in both by recent veterans of Operation al Fajr.

When he entered the infantry as a fleet Marine, he was trained by men who were veterans of al Fajr or other similar combat.  It is impossible to overstate the influence and affect that al Fajr had on the Marine Corps infantry at that time, from culture to core beliefs about battle tactics, to necessary equipment, and finally to training.

Clearing tactics were taught to boot Marines by veterans of al Fajr, and the tactics taught were those employed in Fallujah in 2004.  So when my son deployed to Fallujah in April of 2007, he employed the same tactics and culture taught to him by veterans of combat from 2004 in Iraq.

When he and other Lance Corporals attempted to teach those same tactics and apply that same culture to their own boot Marines in 2008, they usually got into significant trouble with senior NCOs and officers.  The Marine Corps infantry culture and tactics had changed to the point that the veterans of Iraq found no home for what they knew, and most or all of them left the Marines.

If this was true of my son, who joined late in 2005, this was true in the superlative of Marines who were deployed in 2005.  Again, it is impossible to overestimate the affect of al Fajr on the Marines at that time.

The Haditha Marines were charged on the watch of General Mattis.  While Mattis has a storied history of his own in Iraq and elsewhere, I do now and have always held against him that he knew all of this and still allowed the prosecution to go ahead.  The careers of many fine Marines were ruined over this.

It is now time to put this whole ugly affair behind us.  No, not any ugliness associated with what the Marines did on that day.  The Marines didn’t wait to identify inhabitants.  In room clearing operations after Operation al Fajr, room inhabitants perished.  That’s what the Marines were taught to do.

I am talking about the ugliness of the self-hatred on display in these despicable, perverse and obscene show trials.  It’s time to free the last Haditha Marine.

Obama’s Recess Appointments: Living in a Post-Constitutional Era

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 8 months ago

Hat tip to Powerline and its post concerning the illegal and un-Constitutional recess appointments made by Presidente (as in Banana Republic) Obama, quoting an article by former Judge Michael McConnell:

On January 10, I published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal stating that I could see no plausible legal argument to support President Obama’s recent recess appointments to the Consumer Financial Protection Board and the National Labor Relations Board. I noted that the Administration had not relied on any opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel, and inferred that it must not have obtained such an opinion. http://www.advancingafreesociety.org/2012/01/10/democrats-and-executive-outreach/

Today, January 12, 2012, the Administration released an Office of Legal Counsel opinion, dated January 6, opining that the recess appointments were constitutional. The Opinion concludes that the pro forma sessions of the Senate conducted every three days during the December and January holiday are not sufficiently substantive to interrupt a Senate recess, meaning that the Senate was in recess from December 17 well into January.

I compliment the Administration for releasing the opinion, while still wondering what was their reason was for delay. It is reassuring that in this instance the Administration followed proper legal channels before taking a controversial constitutional position at odds with recent precedent (precedent established in 2007 by Senate Democrats, including then-Senator Obama).

I have not had time to give careful study to the 23-page OLC Opinion, but my preliminary reaction is not to be convinced. The Opinion makes arguments that are not frivolous, but it seems to me the counterarguments are more powerful.

Please read the full article concerning the merits of the OLC Opinion and McConnell’s counter-arguments.   My take on this, however, is that McConnell gives El Presidente too much credit when he concludes that the Administration “followed proper legal channels before taking a controversial constitutional position at odds with recent precedent…”   It is quite clear that this Administration has no compunction whatsoever about hiding documents from Congressional inquiry, lying to Congress, ignoring the Constitution and violating existing law.   Why should they bother to follow “proper legal channels” now?   It is far more likely that the public outrage about the appointments caught El Presidente by surprise and then some DOJ attorney was given a post haste assignment to cobble together a 23 page justification, back dating it for good measure.

More disturbing, however, is the fact that some commenters are pointing to these recess appointments as an indication that Obama is trying to subvert the foundation of America as a nation of laws, not men.

I must point out to the contrary that, sadly, we ceased being a nation of laws quite some time ago, the precise moment being up for an interesting but largely academic debate.   Presidente Obama does not get credit for transforming America into a nation run by fiat, he has merely taken advantage of the many opportunities presented to him by the long erosion of Constitutional limitations.

It does not take, for example, a Ron Paul to point out that when the Commerce Clause can be re-written to mean whatever Congress and the President want it to mean, the Constitution ceases to be an effective brake on power.  When whole privacy rights are invented out of thin air and “penumbras” the Supreme Court ceases to function in its Constitutional role.

We have been living in an era for quite a few generations now that does not take the Constitution seriously.  To those with power and ambition, it is a quaint relic that can be safely ignored or re-engineered.   To those standing in the way of such abuse, the Constitution is an aging, impotent parent that lacks any means of restraining the nefarious acts of its children.   The Tea Party Movement has been a sort of cry of frustration from the younger siblings, an appeal to somehow revitalize the Constitution, but just as a parent, once pushed aside and mocked, cannot return to authority, so, too, the Constitution is beyond recall absent some miraculous Reawakening.

It is tempting to take comfort by imagining a day when a Republican is in the White House and Senate Democrats will be victims of the same, illegal “recess” appointments.  This is illusory.   For one, Republican presidents, by and large, lack the kind of insolence and audacity to make such, obviously illegal appointments.   Call it a weakness or a virtue, either way it won’t happen.   Second, even if a Republican president might take such a step, there is no, real comfort in seeing the country plunge further into the swamp of lawlessness.

In times such as these, the only course is to try to limit the pace of lawlessness while preparing for the consequences sure to come.

Ron Paul on the Taliban

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 8 months ago

I just heard Ron Paul in the S.C. GOP debate say that we mustn’t mix the Taliban and al Qaeda – the Taliban were our allies in the war to evict the Soviet Union from Afghanistan, and are only concerned with ensuring that there are no foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Just to cover again what we’ve previously discussed concerning the Pakistani Taliban:

… they have evolved into a much more radical organization than the original Taliban bent on global engagement, what Nicholas Schmidle calls the Next-Gen Taliban. The TTP shout to passersby in Khyber “We are Taliban! We are mujahedin! “We are al-Qaida!”  There is no distinction.  A Pakistan interior ministry official has even said that the TTP and al Qaeda are one and the same.

Nick Schmidle – who is also a genuinely good guy and a scholar – gave us a learned warning shot over the bow.  It was reiterated by David Rohde who was in captivity by the Taliban.

“Living side by side with the Haqqanis’ followers, I learned that the goal of the hard-line Taliban was far more ambitious. Contact with foreign militants in the tribal areas appeared to have deeply affected many young Taliban fighters. They wanted to create a fundamentalist Islamic emirate with Al Qaeda that spanned the Muslim world.”

As for the Quetta Shura, Mohammed Omar’s group, to whom the Pakistani Taliban have pledged fealty, we’ll let Omar speak for himself from a BBC interview – never officially released – done just after 9/11.

Ron Paul is wrong.


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