Hillary’s Jewels

April 21, 2015

You might think of political assets like the family jewels, things inherited but not necessarily merited. Hillary Rodham Clinton has a virtual hope chest, an endowment like no other politician in American history. Her first gift was the coat tails of a priapic husband who was twice elected President courtesy of Ross Perot. Her second windfall was a cabinet post, a kind of consolation prize after she lost the 2008 Democrat Primary to Barack Obama.

Four years at Foggy Bottom and a million frequent flyer miles later, Mrs. Clinton was able to twerk over Muammar Gadhafi’s grave and watch Libya descend into the sewer of failed Muslim states.

Celebrating the Gadhafi kill in Libya

Celebrating the Gadhafi kill in Libya

The Clinton/Kerry tag team at Foggy Bottom has an American foreign policy record unblemished by success. Having checked the gravitas box at State Department, Hillary wrote an anthem for Benghazi and a slogan for her presidential campaign: “What difference does it make?”

Beyond endowments from Bill and Barry, Hillary Rodham Clinton has a host of other of political assets that should make her formidable if not inevitable.

Apathy

2016 will be like any other American election, apathy will be the loudest voice in the room. Nearly half (93 million) of American voters sat out the last presidential election.  Apathy is usually an ally of the Left where special pleaders and dependents are easier to control. Just ask Mitt Romney. If the Republicans put up two fat white guys against Hillary, husband Bill gets another run at White House interns for eight years.

Novelty

First Black cannot hold a candle to first woman.  There are more women than African Americans in the US by a wide margin. Indeed, the ladies vote too, more so than men. Expect Hillary to don the burka of false modesty and insist that she isn’t running as a first or a woman. Nonetheless, her camp followers and media groupies will take up the flack slack and insure that no one forgets that it’s high time for Spanks, Spandex, and pastel pants suits on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Giblets

You would be correct today to think of ovaries as the Clinton crown jewels. Even when William was President, there was little doubt about who had the bigger giblets.  Beyond rhetoric at the UN, Hillary doesn’t really have any feminist credits to speak of. Never mind.  Her genitals, like Obama’s melanin, are assets that do not require accomplishment. Indeed, Mrs. Clinton will probably try to out-macho the girly men on the Right. Hillary is already running East of John McCain when the subject is Russia or Putin. If any political stud dare raise his voice to Hillary, he will be pilloried by a fawning Press as a bully or misogynist thug.

Government Employees

You might like to think of federal, state, or municipal employees as civil servants, not political assets.   Unfortunately, phrases like “civil servant” are usually only half true. Government employees trend to the Left and politically correct. Take Washington, DC which has never had a Republican city council or mayor.  Federal bedroom communities of Maryland and northern Virginia are solidly on the Left too. The apparatchik demographic, including the Pentagon, at all levels is Hillary country.

The Academy

Beyond government, the schoolhouse and associated education bureaucracies might be the largest single service employer in the nation. Schooling or warehousing is big business. Never mind that coercion and education are mutually exclusive. Hard as it is to think of public education as a “service,” schools do provide custodial, if not patronage, sinecures in every community large or small.

Alas, American education ranks 26th in the world, below Estonia and Lichtenstein. On average, American custodials are two years behind Shanghai peers. The American classroom is now dead last among developed nations. The schoolhouse is at once the crucible of low information voters, under achievers, and a solid Liberal voting bloc. Mediocracy is the new meritocracy.

Victims

The oppressed class is another growth business. The victim or dependent demographic is now open-ended. Any citizen, who is not a heterosexual, white, male, making less than 50K a year, has victim potential. Indeed, if you see government as a kind of wet nurse, a provider of relief on demand, you are probably a victim. Victims do not believe in Uncle Sam anymore, but they are fond of plump nannies. A hover mother in the Oval Office is a perfect fit for the infantile demographic. The “more is never enough” and “bigger is better” crowd is all in for Mrs. Clinton.

Dysphorics

If you seek to understand fringe America, just follow bimbo journalism. ABC’s Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer are examples. Walters twice featured a middle-aged teacher who slept with, then married, her 13 year-old student. Ms. Walters also uses her network pulpit to defend celebrities who molest or marry their children. Sawyer hosted a primetime piece also which celebrated Bruce Jenner’s gender (nee sexual) dysphoria. You can never have enough Kardashian. Such are the offerings of network news today. Only same sex marriage is likely to get more attention.

Alas, the LGBT community is a lot like PETA these days, selective yet militant activists. Mrs. Clinton abandoned a gay ambassador, Chris Stephens, to the tender mercies of jihad in Libya, the high point of her tenure at State.  Gay America, so sensitive to rights and real or imagined slights, was silent about an American diplomat executed as likely for being gay as for being American. Indeed, homosexuality is a capital offense midst 1.6 Muslims, yet the LGBT demographic is mute on the global Muslim variety of terminal homophobia.

Islamic ISIS throws gay men from tall buildings as we speak. Perhaps victim solidarity is more important than lethal Sharia.  LGBT and Muslim voters, albeit odd bedfellows, should go all the way for Hillary.

Mustabators

If you must put a selfie of your junk on the internet, you are a millennial or a musterbator.  The latter is a dystopic youngster, up to the age of fifty it appears, whose habits and social life, are more virtual than real. Adult gamers take a bow here. Internet addicts also feel compelled to join every social network and dating service that will have them. For the most part, the geek cohort is needy, seedy, reclusive, and greedy.

hillary2

The mustabator sees no distinction between exposure and exhibitionism. Former Congressman Anthony Weiner (D, NY), husband to Huma Abedin, Hillary’s gal Friday, is an iconic if not chronic mustabator. The Weiner/Abedin demographic is likely to be Clintonista down to the last nerd.

Media

Suggesting that radio, television, public broadcasting, Hollywood, and the Press might be in the tank again for the Clintons is redundant if not superfluous.  As with Obama, the so-called entertainment industry, nee mainstream media, is in it to win it for the Clintons. With 18 months of media makeover, Hillary might get elected -and canonized.

Girly Men

The big nuggets in Hillary’s political purse might be Republicans. Think about it. Leadership on the Right at the moment is spelled Boehner and McConnell. A Republican Congress did not, or will not, compel the former Secretary of State to come clean about Benghazi or her emails. Indeed, in her last appearance before the “boys club,” she bitch-slapped Jenkins Hill. Collectively, the male majority at the Capitol is afraid of Mrs. Clinton. How does any individual Republican girly man expect to whip Hillary in a 2016 cage match?

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Cooking the Intelligence Books

March 23, 2015

“Love is whatever you can still betray.” – John Le Carre

There was a time that intelligence estimates were cloaked in secrecy. Peer review, such that it was, was limited to a few analysts with security clearances, analysts that were not necessarily substantive experts. The iconic Intelligence report is the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), a document that is supposed to represent an Intelligence Community consensus. In practice, a recurring NIE might be dusted off once a year and circulated to up to 17 agencies for “coordination” where “happy” might be changed to “glad.” With the exception of statistics, estimates were seldom changed substantially before being filed away for another year.

Any agency within the IC that might have a factual or analytical disagreement is allowed to take a “footnote” to an NIE which will contain the specifics of any disagreement.

An NIE footnote is as likely to be read as the body of an NIE itself is read. Recurring intelligence reports are read with the same relish as congressional bills are read by congressmen. As long as estimates contain enough threat data to justify departmental budgets, as with domestic spending bills, few politicians care much about analytical effectiveness or any correspondence with the real world. Spending, not truth, reflection or restraint, is the sine qua non of American politics and governance.

The link between Intelligence and defense spending is fairly explicit. The circuit between Intelligence and Intelligence spending is even more direct. With the IC, the folks who define the threat get to write their own meal tickets. Take the Islamist threat since 9/11. Any agency that can work “terror” into their mission statement is likely to enjoy a funding windfall.

Alas, were funding tied to performance, the IC and the DOD might have to have to raise funds like Public Television or the Girl Scouts.

Nonetheless, the national security business has changed in significant ways since the advent of an Intelligence czar in 2004, the so-called Director of National Intelligence. Heretofore, Intelligence estimates were classified. Now big reports also have a redacted version available to the Press. All the while, the specifics of threat might be obfuscated.

Unlike German Nazis, Japanese Imperialists, and Russian Communists of yore, the Arab/Persian/Muslim threat does not have any official cognates where the shooters, bombers, or throat cutters might be named or tied to race, religion, country, or ideology. Words like Arab, Persian, terrorist, Islam, Islamism, Muhammadanism, Islamofascism or the like are prohibited by fiat.

Unlike previous global threats, contemporary Intelligence reports would have you believe that the last fifty years of terror and small wars are without a common thread, without an ideology. Ninety or more nations might be sending religiously motivated jihadists to Sunni Arab ISIS, yet that statistic is of little consequence. Terror victim statistics might have reached an apogee but that fact is of little moment either. You might speak of radicals, militants, extremists, and criminals, but none of these are to be paired with religion, ideology, or Islamic culture.

Thus a national security assessment today is at once officially transparent and functionally opaque at the same time – for the political hustler, the best of both worlds. Alas, transparency, or should we say propaganda, cuts two ways. The 2015 DNI Worldwide Threat Assessment for Congress compared to the 2014 edition is an example. The deus ex machina has now been added to the DNI’s bag of tricks.

Shia Hezb’allah, and Shia Iran disappeared from the threat index in 2015. This is the same Hezb’allah that is the Shia equivalent of Sunni ISIS. Clearly, the latest DNI unclassified threat assessment was written with Shia readers in mind.

The elevation of Cuba to BFF is negligible because Havana hasn’t been a threat to Miami Beach since Khrushchev went shoeless at the United Nations. Any diminution of the Hezb’allah (literally, the party of God) and the Nuclear Persian threats is another matter. A nuclear/terrorist Shia theocracy in the Middle East changes every strategic dynamic; with Israel, with Arabia, with the larger Sunni world, and with NATO.

The motives for cooking the Shia threat are a grab bag of possibilities. Foremost is the specter of concessions to Iran designed to prime the pump for team Obama legacy, in short, a nuclear deal with Tehran at any price. A weak and/or failing American President is an easy mark for Shia ayatollahs with unlimited tenure.

Like the Cuba rapprochement, a lame duck American administration would like to put a Persian “peace” paper in the plus column. Never mind that the Persian priests are unlikely to sacrifice their parity ace to the numerically superior Sunni. At the moment, the Islam bomb is a Sunni monopoly. Only a Shia bomb balances the Sunni/Shia sectarian equation. Nuclear parity for apocalyptic Muslim sectarians would be the strategic equivalent of certain Armageddon for Israel.

Then there is the Syria/Iraq conundrum, two pariah regimes, fast friends of Shia Tehran. Sunni ISIS has made a caliphate of Syria and Iran, a budding empire that aspires to devour what remains of two failing pro-Iranian basket cases. ISIS is also making more than a bit of a splash in Yemen, Tunisia, and Libya.

Washington and Brussels are unwilling to confront Iran or ISIS in the flesh. Such dilemmas make for strange bedfellows. Thus America and Europe now find themselves shagging Syrian Assad, the Iranian ayatollahs, Hezb’allah, and a veritable host of unsavory anti-Sunni mercenaries and miscreants. The Levant is starting to look like a necrotic Abbott and Costello routine. Who’s on first?

And last, but not least, there is the possibility that the dangerous liaison with Shia priests is designed to punish or poke Israel, especially Bibi Netanyahu. In every Arab or Persian political stew, anti-Semitism is sure to be one of the ingredients.

Given the number of times that America has changed sides in the Middle East, only one thing is certain. Neither Sunni nor Shia can trust Washington today, especially an erratic if not incoherent team Obama. Israel especially, with existential skin in the game, has every reason to be wary of motives in Brussels and Washington too, lest Israel become so much collateral damage like the women, children, and Christians of North Africa the Levant.

Withal, one other conclusion is now possible. The American Intelligence Community just might be another Beltway hooker, similar in many respects to the academic and think tank camp followers that surround Washington.  As long as the funding is unlimited, the Intelligence Community seems willing to provide any service or any answer that pays.

Alas, truth is a candid bitch, she can’t be bought. The American Intelligence Community, in contrast, has become just another Washington DC streetwalker.

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This essay appeared in the 3/23/2015 edition of American Thinker.

 


Broken Arrow

March 22, 2015

Policy is a worldview, a kind of wishful thinking. Intelligence is the real world, a wilderness of untidy facts that may or may not influence policy. The policymaker thinks he knows the answer. The intelligence officer and national security analyst have the much tougher tasks of confirming or changing minds.

When Intelligence fails to provide a true and defensible estimate, a clear picture of threat, policy becomes a rat’s nest of personal and political agendas where asserted conclusions and political correctness become the loudest voices in the room.  American national security analysis has been poisoned by such toxins. An Intelligence report these days might be any estimate that supports the politics of the moment. Truth today is an afterthought at best and an orphan at worst.

Alas, corrupt Intelligence is the midwife of strategic fiasco. Four contemporary failures provide illustrations: revolutionary theocracy, the Islam bomb, imperial Islamism, and the new Cold War.

Back to Theocracy

The Persian revolution of 1979 was arguably the most significant strategic surprise of the last half of the 20th Century. Yes, more significant than the fall of Soviet Communism. The precipitous fall of the Soviet Bloc, however, was another bell weather event unanticipated by Intelligence analysis. The successful religious coup in Iran, heretofore an American client regime, now provides a model for all Muslim states where the default setting among tribal autocracies is now theocracy not democracy. In the wake of the Communist collapse, Fukuyama argued that the democratic ideal was triumphant, an end of history as we knew it, the evolutionary consequence of progressive dialects. Fukuyama was wrong, tragically wrong. History is a two-way street that runs forward as well as backwards.

The fall of the Soviet monolith was not the end of anything. It was followed by profound regression, an era of religious irredentism. Worrisome as the Cold War was, the relationship with Moscow was fairly well managed. Who can argue today that East Europe or the Muslim world is more stable or peaceful than it was three decades ago?

The Persian revolution of 1979, not only reversed the vector of Muslim politics, but the triumph of Shia imperialism blew new life into the Shia/Sunni sectarian fire, a conflict that had been smoldering for a thousand years or more. The theocratic victory in Tehran also raised the ante for Israel too, now confronted by state sponsored Shia and Sunni antagonists, Hezb’allah, Fatah, and Hamas.

Shia Hezb’allah calls itself the party of God! Those in the Intelligence Community who continue to insist that religion is not part of the mix, have yet to explain why God is only part of the conversation on the Islamic side of the equation.

Global Islamic terror is now metastasizing at an alarming rate. More ominous is the assent of the Shia clergy, apocalyptic ayatollahs, a lowering of the nuclear threshold in the Middle East. Sunni ISIS by comparison is just another tactical terror symptom on the Sunni side – and yet another strategic warning failure too.

Tehran is in the cat bird’s seat, on the cusp of becoming a nuclear superpower. Nuclear Iran changes every strategic dynamic: with Israel, with Arabia, and also with NATO. A Shia bomb is the shortcut to checkmate the more numerous, albeit more primitive, Sunni. Iran will not be “talked out” of the most potent tool in imperial Shia kit – and the related quest for parity with Arabian apostates.

The Islam Bomb

The Islam bomb has been with us for years, in Sunni Pakistan, although you might never know that if you followed the small wars follies in South Asia. The enemy, as represented by American analysis is atomized, a cast of bit players on the subcontinent. First, America was fighting a proxy war with the Soviets. When the Russians departed, the enemy became the murderous Taliban followed by al Qaeda. Both now make common cause with almost every stripe of mujahedeen today. In the 25 years since the Soviet withdrawal, Afghanistan has been reduced now to a rubble of narco-terror and tribalism. If we can believe bulletins from the Pentagon or the Oval Office, America is headed for the Afghan exit in the next two years – maybe. Throughout, the real threat in South Asia remains unheralded – and unmolested.

Nuclear Pakistan is one car bomb, or one AK-47 clip, away from another Taliban theocracy. This is not the kind of alarm that has been raised by the Intelligence Community. Hindu India probably understands the threat, Shia Persia surely understands the Sunni threat, and just as surely, Israel understands that a Sunni bomb is the raison d’etre for a more proximate Shia bomb. Who would argue that the Sunni Saudis need nuclear “power”? Nonetheless, Riyadh is now in the game too.  The most unstable corner of the globe is now host to a nuclear power pull.

The American national security establishment seems to be clueless on all of this. Indeed, when a unique democracy like Israel tries to illuminate a portion of the nuclear threat before the American Congress, the Israeli prime minister is stiff-armed by the Oval Office. If Washington failed with Pakistan and North Korea, why would anyone, let alone the Israelis, believe that Wendy Sherman is a match for the nuclear pipedreams of apocalyptic Shia priests.

Alas, the motive force behind a Shia bomb is not Israeli capabilities or intentions. Israel is a stable democracy where any territorial ambitions are limited to the traditional Jewish homeland. Israel is no threat to Persia or Arabia.  Pakistan, in contrast, is like much of the Sunni world today, another internecine tribal or sectarian wildfire waiting for a match.

The advent of the Islam bomb in Asia was not just a strategic surprise, but the step-child of strategic apathy. The folly of taking sides with the Sunni has now come home to roost. Iran is about to go for the atomic brass ring too, with the Saudis in trail, and there’s not much that America can/will do except mutter about secret diplomacy and toothless sanctions. Of course, there’s always the option of blaming Jews when appeasement fails.

Imperial Islam

The Ummah problem, the Muslim world, has now replaced the Soviet empire, as Churchill would have put it, as the “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” There are four dimensions to the Islamic conundrum: the Shia/Sunni rift, intramural secular/religious conflicts, kinetic antipathy towards Israel and the West writ large, and the failure of analysis, especially strategic Intelligence, to unwrap the Muslim onion in any useful way. Imperial Islam, dare we say Islamofascism, now threatens secular autocracy and democracy on all points of the compass.

Islamic imperialism is a decentralized global movement. Nonetheless, the various theaters are united by tactics, strategy, ideology, and objectives. The tactics are jihad, small wars, and terror. The strategy is the imposition of Shariah Law. The ideology is the Koran and the Hadith. And the objective is a Shia or Sunni Islamic Caliphate – for infidels, a distinction without difference.

Muslim religious proselytizers and jihad generals in the field make no secret of any of this. The problem isn’t that some Muslims dissent from this agenda, the problem is that the West, especially national security analysts, cannot/will not believe or accept what Islamic imperialists say aloud, about themselves. The enemy is hiding in plain sight, yet the Intelligence Community doesn’t have the integrity or courage to make a clear call.

Noted British criminal psychiatrist Theodore Dahlrymple captures the bizarre logic of appeasement:

“Racial, religious and cultural identity are morally important in politics, precisely what so many people would like to deny because it can so easily unleash the vilest political passions. Something that is true, say our people of goodwill to themselves, could have nasty consequences; therefore it is not true.”

Propaganda provides many of the strategic “tells” in any conflict. The Nemstov murder in the shadow of the Kremlin provides an example. The knee-jerk reaction of politician and pundits in America was to implicate Russian culture, the Kremlin, or Vladimir Putin.

Contrast the Nemstov blame game with any or every recent Islamist atrocity and the nuclear race in the Ummah. With these, the knee-jerk reaction is to defend Islam, more concern for Islamism and the religious equivalence shibboleth than the nuclear threat or Jewish, Christian, and apostate heads that are now literally rolling on a global scale. In a recent US State Department brief, we are told by State Department spokesman Marie Harf that Islamic terrorism might be attributed to “unemployment” (sic).

Cold War Redux

The West can no longer take yes for an answer. The deliberate resuscitation of the Cold War midst a host of tactical defeats in the Ummah is probably one of the worst foreign policy choices on record.

The old Soviet Union: took down the Berlin Wall, relinquished former satellites, dismantled the Warsaw Pact military alliance, and purged East Europe of nuclear weapons. In response, America and the EU dismantled Yugoslavia, taking the Muslim side we might add, and aggressively expanded NATO up to the traditional Russian border. The “End of (totalitarian) History” as we knew it wasn’t enough. Any vestigial associations with Moscow were relentlessly undermined. The American sponsored coup, orchestrated by Victoria Nuland at the US State Department, with likely help from the CIA, in Ukraine is the best and most recent example.

The “regime change” strategy in Europe has degenerated into some petulant version of nuclear chicken with the Russians. The American embassies in Moscow and Kiev regularly host anti-Putin dissidents in Ukraine and Russia

Regime change folly has lowered the nuclear threshold in South Asia, the Mideast, and now East Europe. Sevastopol and Kiev are side shows. The real target for Brussels and Washington is Moscow – and the Putin regime. The idea that the Kremlin or Russians can be undone or manipulated by: black operations, cyber war, sanctions, propaganda, or provocations is naïve and reckless. Putin is not a Pahlavi, Gadhafi, Assad, or Yanukovych.

Russians were very helpful in ridding Syria of chemical weapons and clearing the Ukraine of nuclear weapons.  Moscow and Putin have the potential also to be very useful against terror, nuclear proliferation, and resolving the Levant lunacy too.

House of Representatives minority leader Pelosi recently lamented losing the “public relations” war with Russia. The American Secretary of State responded that Russian Television (RT) was responsible (sic). The more believable narrative spun by the Kremlin might be closer to the mark. Truth is a powerful ally, especially when it’s coupled with propaganda.

The origin of the new Cold War may have domestic origins. Neither major American political party has a clue as what to do with the metastasizing Muslim problem. Indeed, both sides gag on words like Islam, Muslim, or Mohammed. As 2016 approaches, both parties desperately need to change the subject and find a foreign policy to run on. Regime change in Russia seems to be the consensus choice for American demagogues, Right and Left.

The idea that domestic “politics stops at the border” was always honored more in the breach than anywhere else. The politics of personal destruction is a time honored tradition in America, especially on the Left. That standard has now been folded into the foreign relations bag of tricks. Henry Kissinger claims that “demonization” is not policy. That may be true in any real politic sense, but the Putin bogyman is an ideal straw man for the next American presidential election. Proxy war abroad seems to be the safe sex of domestic politics.

What Now?

The American Intelligence Community is now the largest (17 agencies and uncountable contractors) and most expensive data collection and processing complex in history. Unfortunately, this gold-plated leviathan is undone by inferior analysis; indeed, estimates and reports that are more political than prudent. Withal, existential functions like strategic warning may be in freefall.

The obvious solution would be to take the strategic warning and national estimative functions out from under the IC, and the Executive Branch, and give those tasks to some apolitical body, assuming of course that an impartial forum might be sustained beyond the control of any branch of government. Realistically, it’s hard to believe that any American political party would sponsor an independent and uncontrollable voice of candor or objectivity.

Nonetheless, there are small things that might be done to make a huge difference. During the Cold War, USAF Intelligence ran a service of common concern for the IC called “Soviet Awareness.” The purpose of that program at Bolling AFB was to educate novice intelligence officers and FBI agents about the Soviet threat. The program included Russian history, the rise and spread of Communism, Marxist ideology, and Soviet military capabilities.

Ironically, the inter-agency program that answered the question “why we fight” was discontinued by James Clapper when he became the USAF Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence. Clapper is now the Director of National Intelligence. The Soviet Awareness resources were reallocated to the information processing function. Today there is no awareness program of common concern on Russian, Islamist, or any other threats.

Clapper threw the threat baby out with the Soviet bathwater. Indeed, in most service schools, discussing Islamic ideology or religion is off limits. If any soldier or Intelligence officer were to ask: “Why do we fight?” the answer today would have to be, “trust me.”

The real tragedy of Intelligence failure today is the burden born by American veterans, servicemen and women: the dead, crippled, and maimed.  “Why we fight?” is a leadership deficit, the forgotten readiness issue. Troops don’t have a clear picture of the enemy or the ideology in play in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Arabia, the Philippines, and Africa. They will know even less about the rationale for serving in East Europe should another conflict be engineered with Russia.

Indeed, the Pentagon and the Oval Office throw lives at small wars that generals and politicians have no intention of declaring, justifying, or winning – by their own admission.  The Commander-in-Chief says the he seeks outcomes where there are no victors or vanquished. Indeed!

Traditionally, we like to think of collection and associated clandestine operations as the sharp end of the Intelligence spear. In fact, analysis is the cutting edge. Unfortunately, that edge is gone today. You could do worse than think of Intelligence analysis as the Broken Arrow in the national security quiver.

We may not know why we fight today, but there is little mystery anymore about why we fail.

                                                                                       Epilogue

The importance of information is seldom self-evident. Even if significance were obvious, information is still not knowledge. And clearly knowledge is not wisdom. Just as surely, only conscience allows an analyst to know the difference. All key judgments must be accompanied by courage and conviction too; courage to communicate to policy mandarins, or voters, with enough force to prompt action. Repetition is often the midwife of acceptance.

Good data and good analysis might be necessary, but never sufficient. Bridging the gap between analysis and acceptance is often a bridge too far for the timid. The national security continuum is a perilous enterprise. The messenger is always in danger of being shot. Alas, truth is an equal opportunity offender. It doesn’t care who gets hurt.

Nonetheless, changing minds is the object of any good Intelligence. Policy and action is only stimulated by an altered consciousness about the subject at hand. Prudent policy is a function of correct data, honest analysis, moral certainty, and rhetorical skill – written or spoken.

Alas, none of these self-evident, common sense observations, with the possible exception of abundant evidence, play much of a role in American threat analysis these days. A very expensive and growing Intelligence Community  is now the weak link in the national security chain. Any speculations about the catastrophic failures of American foreign policy in the past fifty years should begin with the “wilderness of mirrors,” James Angleton’s metaphor for Intelligence praxis.

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  1. Murphy Donovan was the last Director of Research and Russian (nee Soviet) Studies at USAF Intelligence, the directorate that staffed the associated Soviet Awareness Program. He served under General James Clapper.

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ISIS and Islam

October 30, 2014

Barack Hussein Obama is given to making extraordinary pronouncements. Many of the more dramatic assertions are seldom based on facts, reason, or reflection.  Put aside, if you can, the domestic hyperbole which often accompanies wishful thinking about social problems; poverty, public education, and public health. The President’s public rhetoric on foreign policy, questions of national security, is unique, bordering on the delusional. To paraphrase Jack Kennedy; getting it wrong at home might be tragic, but getting it wrong abroad could be fatal.

The other day, President Obama claimed that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was not Islamic, a little like claiming that Catholicism has nothing to do with the Vatican. Put aside for a moment the illogic of using the phrase “Islamic State” and then denying the adjective in the next breath.

If ISIS is not Islamic then the Crusades and the Reformation were not Christian. If ISIS is not Islamic then the French had nothing to do with the Great Terror. If ISIS is not Islamic then Russians had nothing to do with totalitarian Communism.  If ISIS is not Islamic then Germans had nothing to do with National Socialism or the Holocaust. If ISIS is not Islamic then behavior has nothing to do with beliefs!

Surely beliefs and actions are different things, but the cause-and-effect relationship between ideology and acts is well established by science and history. If Muslims cannot agree on the particulars of Islamic legitimacy, who is some American politician from Chicago to claim to know what is, or what is not, Islamic?

There is no Muslim Pope or baptism. If ISIS zealots say they are Muslims, they should be taken at their word – especially if they submit, grow a beard, don a burka, and subscribe to jihad (holy war). If terror and religious fascism is anything today, it is as Islamic as any mosque.

Blatant, now flagrant, attempts to separate Islam from the acts of its adherents, terror and jihad, is now an American national mantra. The ad vericundium spin began early with John Brennan. As White House advisor, now CIA Director  Brennan’s  propaganda defined jihad as ritual cleansing, twisting or minimalizing the more obvious and lethal meaning of holy war.

How is it that team Obama feels compelled to contradict the confessions of Islamic terrorists? Jihadists are very candid about their motives, quoting the authority of the Koran, the Hadith, and Mohamed with predictable regularity. Terrorists are open about their ideological/ religious inspirations. Why should we not believe what they say about themselves?

The Brennan/Obama spin seems to be a kind of prophylactic denial – denying the worst, and motive, before it happens. ISIS is clinical proof that denial does nothing to halt the spread of viral ideology, toxic hate, or barbarous terror.

There is some method to the madness and mendacity of Brennan’s self-serving appeasement. Severing the connective tissue between ideology and atrocity in advance allows terror to be treated as unrelated incidents; random criminal behavior not acts of war. Fidelity to the criminal charade, allows the Oval Office to avoid tough choices like a declaration of war against ISIS – or Islam.

Different notions of globalization separate the democratic West and the theocratic East today. For Social Democrats, the global village means civility, cooperation, and commerce. For Muslim thugs, globalization means Islamic imperialism: beards, burkas, and bigotry.

Administration spin would have you believe serial beheadings in Mosul are not much different than a mugging in Central Park; or have you believe that mass murder by an Islamist at Fort Hood, Texas is simply another case of workplace violence.

Separating ISIS, or any other Islamic terror group, from Islam sends the worst possible message to all Muslims.  Excusing or absolving the elusive “moderate” Muslim (49 nations, 1.5 billion adherents, the Arab League, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference) from responsibility or needed reforms is madness. How does the global Ummah qualify as a “great” culture when the radical minority acts like barbarians and a passive majority behaves like children? Islam is responsible for itself or it outside the community of civilized nations; indeed, beyond the pale by any metric.

ISIS is the linear, if not logical, descendant of two modern phenomena; imperial Sunni Islamic dogma (Wahabism / Salifism) and misguided allied support for the Arab Spring/awakening.  America and the EU still cling to the canard that democracy is the default setting for Muslim states if and when autocrats are toppled. In fact, in nearly every case, theocratic Islamic social pathology has filled the void created by the “regime change” follies. Listing the number of failed Arab states at this point would be tautological.

Islamist ideological exports from Arabia, like the Ebola virus to the south, are now global threats. Egypt has finally seen the light with the Muslim Brotherhood and the generals in Cairo are again in the process of attempting to eradicate al Ikhwan within its borders. Ins’Allah and Godspeed!

The sheiks and princes of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, however, are still working both sides of the street, dancing with the devil; providing refuge, ideology, financing, recruits, and weapons to a host of Sunni jihadists including ISIS.

ISIS is now the literal cutting edge of Sunni Islam, at once a defining movement and a cultural acid test. Of 49 states with Muslim majorities, only five pathetic Arab oligarchs, ten percent, have offered to enter the ISIS fight. And even these are doing little or nothing.

Such evidence suggests that the Muslim majority is either a co-conspirator, cowardly, or too bovine to make either team. The lack of a global Muslim response to ISIS puts the lie to the “great religion” and moral equivalence shibboleths that the Obama/Brennan/Kerry team has sought to pedal for six years.

We should note here that the American Secretary of State, John Kerry, now claims that Jewish or Israeli behavior is helping to recruit ISIS foot soldiers. Again, anti-Semitism is ever the canary in the geo-political sewer.

Blaming Jews is sport for the foreign policy establishment in the West. Vichy and Quisling ride again! Alas, Scandinavia is once more in the vanguard of the bigot brigade. Sweden has recognized the Fatah/Hamas caliphate in Palestine.

Traditional anti-Semitism on both sides of the Atlantic is now augmented with Muslim migrations to the campuses and capitals of the democratic world. Sadly, the social democratic Left is just as good at excusing bigotry at home as it is at rationalizing Islamism and terror abroad.

Self-interest might suggest that Islam would smite ‘apostates’ like bin Laden and al Baghdadi. Not likely! Bin Laden sought and received sanctuary in Afghanistan and Pakistan for a decade. He was killed by Americans not Muslims. Similar Islamic miscreants now luxuriate and fester in the Emirates and the Levant.

If the Arab League and the OIC is expecting the Kurds, Turks, or NATO pilots to crush ISIS, the greater Muslim world is truly delusional too.

ISIS is Islamic precisely because the silent, passive aggressive, Muslim majority makes ISIS possible. Just as Islam originated in Arabia, ISIS is the linear descendent of the militant, imperial, now fascist quarter of the Ummah.

Surely acts are more significant than ideology, but the ideological roots of irredentist Islam are clear. The poisoned tree is rooted in historical Mohamedism, more recent imperial Islamism (aka Salifism), and all those oil oligarchs wealthy enough to provide sanctuary – and buy policy, politicians, and academic apologists in Europe and America.

Despite Barack Hussein Obama’s pandering, a preponderance of evidence suggests that ISIS is as Muslim as Mecca. The immediate future and that passive aggressive Islamic mainstream will determine whether all of Islam becomes ISIS. Short of a declaration of war, it’s hard to know what side of history the fearful West and the theocratic East will favor.

Truth doesn’t care who she offends. History is written by winners. A declared war will eventually be necessary and even then only a total victory will be sufficient to end the pandering in the West– and end caliphate fantasies in the East.

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This essay appeared in the in the 29 October edition of American Thinker.

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Humanitarian Imperialism

March 30, 2014

 “The best minds are not in government.” –  Ronald Reagan

Hard to believe that it has been a quarter of a century since Ronald Reagan began to dismantle the ideological wall that divided Europe. Harder still to believe that American politicians, Right and Left, are trying to resuscitate the Cold War – or something hotter.  Recent events in the Ukraine seem to be giving the citizens of Europe and America hot flashes of deja-vu.

At the tactical level, US policy has devolved to “regime change.” At the strategic level, US policy is simply incoherent, if not nihilistic; swapping corrupt oligarchs for neo-fascists or religious zealots.  The logic for supporting recent coups have little to do with common sense – or democracy. And with Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, and now the Ukraine, language needs to be coined to avoid words like coup.

By any other name, a coup is still a coup. And using a post-facto ‘election’ to legitimize a coup is a little like putting a new hat on a dead cat. The Kerry/Obama team is giving subtlety and sovereignty bad names.

When Vladimir Putin, tongue in cheek, says there are no Russian troops in the Ukraine, he mocks John Kerry and Victoria Nuland who orchestrate dissidents in Maidan square, in some cases neo-fascists who did not get their way on the bail-out treaty with the EU.

The auction for the Ukraine is now closed. The price doubled overnight, from 16 to 35 billion dollars and counting. Politicians break it, now the taxpayer gets to pay for it. Kerry is now offering to buy the next Ukrainian election too.

Speaking of elections, Europe and America might need referendums at home on  future bailouts, foreign and domestic.  The EU and US look like the “two broke girls” of Capitalism.  Angela Merkel might be the only European politician with any jingle left in her jeans these days.

When Putin says he protects Crimean Russians, again with a sneer, he mocks Samantha Power’s, now Barak Obama’s,  humanitarian interventions. The fast track to imperialism is paved with words like “humanitarian.”

When Russia sponsors a referendum in the Crimea, the Kremlin pre-empts, indeed ridicules, the EU sponsored presidential election to be orchestrated by Kiev in May 2014.

When demagogues like Hillary Clinton compare Russian behavior to Nazi Germany, she mocks Allied history and the sacrifice of 5 million Russians in WWII. Russian blood chits, we might add, that made the Allied victory over Nazis possible in 1945.

The name of the game in the Crimea is not the Ukraine in any case. Maidan Square and the Crimea are merely board pieces, according to Vicky Nuland at the State Department; moveable parts in another Great Game – Europe versus Russia redux. Back to the future, indeed!

The pillars of Obama foreign policies are now explicit; Russophobia on one hand and Islamophilia on the other. Indeed, a renewed Cold War with Russia, sponsored by a lame duck, allows Media shills to change the subject. With the Ukraine in the headlines, the domestic health care debacle and those failed Muslim wars fade to background noise.

 Russophobia

Yes, Russophobia! The pragmatic gains of the Reagan era have been set aside for an irrational fear of all things Russian. Never mind that the difference between Putin’s Russia and Gorbachev’s Soviet Union is like the difference between caviar and carp.

America and the EU have nothing in common with Arabia and greater Islam save oil, debt, and indigestible immigrants. Yet, Americans have much in common with Russia: history, religion, art, literature, sports, dance, dogs, music, science, space travel, adult beverages, recreational sex, and almost all things cultural, including Nureyev in tights and Sharapova in shorts.

Russia, the EU, and America also share a common enemy, that insidious fifth column: domestic and global Islamism.

The Cold War, until a few weeks ago, was over. The Warsaw Pact has been dead now for some two decades. Projections about a new Russian empire are fantasies. It is NATO and the EU that aspire to expand to the Russian border. Putin is no eagle scout, but he’s no chump either.  Unlike European and American demagogues, Putin knows the difference between defense and offense.

Islamophilia

Russians are not killing Americans. Putin is not a BFF, but Russia is not the enemy either. The West cannot say the same for Arabs and Muslims. Islamism is the sanguinary enemy whose name we dare not speak.

Pandering Americans, Europeans, and now the Chinese, are complicit in the spread of Islamic political terror. Non-Muslims are killed with such regularity, world-wide, that the civilized world has come to accept each new atrocity as a fair price for assuaging the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Indeed, European social democrats and the American Left now seem to believe that even Israel itself might be a small price for submission.

Russia has no illusions about militant Muslims. Indeed, you could argue that Putin has literally rebuilt the Russian Orthodox Church as an ideological barrier against the spread of toxic Islam in Russia. Would that Europe or America support Judaism and the rest of Christianity with such unapologetic aplomb.

The objective threat to the West and Asia comes from religious fascism.  Cultural arrogance does not allow the West to admit that political Islam and freedom, irredentist Islam and democracy, are mutually exclusive ideas. And sadly, a misguided sense of humanitarian imperialism rationalizes interventions in the Ummah, expeditions that usually fail. The West cannot save Islam from itself. Nonetheless, westerners seem willing to sacrifice a host of Enlightenment values and young lives on the altar of good intentions.

Manufactured crises, like the Ukraine, are studies in weak or incompetent leadership. Alas, the Obama/Kerry cocker spaniel is no match for the Putin/ Lavrov Rottweiler. NATO leaders have not been the equal of ayatollahs and imams since 1979 either. Jimmy Carter’s ghost still haunts the American Left. Putin should send a case of vodka as a thank-you to Foggy Bottom for providing the Kremlin an excuse to return Sevastopol to Rodina.

John Kerry is the daffiest US administration duck, scion of the Jane Fonda wing of the American Left. Who sends an anti-war “activist” to a Mid-East fracas or East European brawl? Nobody wins a real street fight with their mouth – or frequent flyer miles.

And the American Right is not blameless; excusing terror, regime change folly, the recent litany of imperial failures. In the 2012 US election campaign, there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between candidates, Right and Left, on US foreign or military policy. Indeed, Mitt Romney and most Republicans couldn’t say “me too” fast enough. And neo-conservative sycophants are led by foreign policy loose cannons like John McCain who believes Moscow might be “sanctioned” into submission.  As if sanctions were working with true pariahs like North Korea or Iran!

McCain seems to be the captain of a latter day light-headed brigade; oblivious to what Russians already have; legitimate border concerns, a compliant Crimea, a comparatively robust economy, and a space bus for American astronauts – and a choke-hold on all of Ukrainian and a third of European energy supplies. Demonizing Putin here only strengthens his hand there. The Russian president enjoys genuine popular support like no politician in the West.

The Outlook

The Cold War is making a comeback; this time without deterrence. The nuclear threshold is lowered when conventional capabilities are reduced to a level of assured impotence. Secretary of Defense, Charles Hagel, has unveiled a plan to abandon tactical missions like A-10 close-air-support in favor of unproven and costly technology like the F-35 problem child. Wishful thinking is a poor substitute for facts, performance, or experience. Cyber warfare (see STUXNET) and global drone strikes blur the lines between limited and general war.

Such contractions are not lost on Islamist tacticians or strategists. For the Pentagon, all recent combat is tactical where Islamist motives are defined as local (see almost any RAND Corporation report on the subject).  Ironically, those tactical resources for future fights are on the chopping block. As with speculations about Russia, American myopia fails to accommodate the Islamist world view. For too many Muslims, the struggle, indeed the jidad bis saif, has been global since 632 AD.

With a future US Army under 500,000 troops, America should have just enough soldiers to get into a fight, but not enough to win. And with a small all-volunteer force, every trooper should have enough rotations in the Ummah to get maimed or be killed – in vain.  A small Army in isolated cantons, like air travel, is another target rich environment for terrorists.

Let’s end with a question. How long will it take for the Oval Office, the Intelligence Community, or a complicit Media to acknowledge that the latest airliner “mystery” over the Indian Ocean might be an act of terror, probably another atrocity in the name of jihad, the prophet, or Islam?

The future is Malthusian. The nuclear threshold has been lowered, small war humiliations are more likely, and Islamic terror will continue to be ignored or excused. Politicians care little about how many lives it takes to lose. Yet, the glyphs of the Barak Hussein Obama era are not just appeasement, retreat, and defeat.  The real handwriting on the wall is unilateral disarmament in the world of tactical and strategic ideas.

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http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-25910834

 

 


RACE TO THE BOTTOM

October 5, 2010

“Never let schooling intefere with your education.” – Mark Twain

Education, like the economy and terrorism, has been elevated to a national security problem. Unfortunately, the alarmist rhetoric is seldom matched by decisive action at the personal, municipal, or national level.

In the nation’s capital, the President sends his kids to private schools. Such hypocrisy is affordable for the wealthy; but the average taxpayer, who exercises choice, pays twice; once for public schools and again for a private school where standards are higher and achievement more likely.

The blight in the District of Columbia infects higher education too. The University of the District is ever in danger of losing accreditation and has one of the worst graduation rates in the country. DC public options are so bad that residents receive subsidies to pursue degrees in other states. Again the taxpayer pays twice; for a sub par college, and subsidies that take serious students elsewhere. If public school teachers and administrators could be sued for malpractice; the school house might improve over night.

The problems of DC are not unique; almost every big city in the country has an imploding public school system. The nexus of urban decay is single party rule – a political sinecure where the incentives for reform are few. The recent primary in the District of Columbia is a cautionary tale for reformers.  Nomination is the equivalent of coronation in the nation’s capital and elsewhere.

Unlike most urban Democrats, the incumbent, Adrian Fenty was a genuine reformer. He actually hired a no-nonsense Education Chancellor, Michelle Rhee; and gave her the power to fire teachers, relieve principals, and close failing schools. Ms. Rhee did all of these things at the risk of putting her boss out of work. Indeed, Mayor Fenty lost the recent Democrat primary. Ms. Rhee’s days are probably numbered too. Predictably, the local union has filled a suit to reinstate those 241 teachers fired for “poor performance.”

When Fenty and Rhee touched the third rail of reform, the academic left mobilized. Randi Weingarten, of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and Mary Cheh of the DC City Council, made common cause.

Weingarten is the anti-hero of Waiting for Superman, a documentary about public education in which Variety claims she is cast as “a foaming satanic beast.” Satanic may be a stretch, but Ms. Weingarten might be the worst thing to happen to public schools since head lice.

Ms. Cheh is an acerbic feminist and tenured lawyer at George Washington University. She is one of many double dipping academics inside the beltway; collecting six figures from both public and private troughs. Her most recent contributions to urban renewal were an earmark for an off-street parking lot in a posh neighborhood (Palisades), without an on-street parking problem, and a city-wide tax on soda pop.

The man they helped to elect was the incumbent DC City Council chair, Vincent Gray; a chap very likely to live up to his name. On Gray’s watch, the prominent issues of concern to the Council were: legalizing marijuana, gay marriage, and snarky license plates – and taxing DC citizens, yet again, for their intemperate use of plastic bags. While on the DC City Council, Gray and Cheh public school reform has been pretty much limited to removing chocolate milk from lunch menus.

Icons of the past often foretell the future. Other Gray supporters included Marion (“the bitch set me up”) Barry and Eleanor Holmes Norton. Barry is best known as a drug addled Council member and former mayor. Delegate Norton and her Democrat majority in Congress killed the popular DC Voucher program which allowed over 3,300 lower-income children to escape the ghetto schools. Congresswoman Norton is also an ardent advocate of statehood for the District, trying to make spare parts for herself and the Party. Why the Congress would superimpose a state bureaucracy upon a dysfunctional municipality is still a mystery to most citizens outside of the Beltway.

The dim prospects for genuine schoolhouse reform in cities like the District of Columbia is not just a local phenomenon. The national outlook is grim too in spite of all the disingenuous rhetoric in programs like the so-called “Race to the Top.” Surely the administration will throw more money at the “problem,” but that’s just piñata politics as usual.

When the academic Left brought the union big guns into the DC mayoral race, the President and the Secretary of Education went to ground. As Fenty and Rhee were getting mugged by teacher union money, the national democratic leadership refused to campaign for real education reformers in their own Party, in their own front yard.  Barrack Hussien Obama and Arne Duncan are in danger of confirming a Chicago stereotype; talking that reform talk, but seldom walking the walk.

Democracy is a bit of an odd duck; sometimes we get what we want and, just as often, we get what we deserve. Most urban school systems are similar to our inverted business models where employees, administrators, and stake holders are more important than customers. Such failed models are only possible where no one is accountable and no one has the courage or integrity to put customers or kids first. In self-segregating cities like the nation’s capitol, the likely victims of inversion models will be minorities, black kids in particular.

Indeed, the most notorious example of “black on black” crime might be the American public school system. Take the Dexter Manley case. Manley was an athlete who went through the Texas public school system and then played football for the Washington Redskins. After football, and drug rehab, Manley landed in the Washington Lab School. He finally had to admit that he was a functional illiterate.

Manley was victimized by a system that gave him a permanent hall pass for one of two reasons, maybe both: his race and his jockstrap. If Manley’s teachers had applied the same rigor for academics as his coaches did for athletic achievement, Dexter might be a different man today.

For two generations now, public school systems have been bottom fishing. Most grade and high school teachers come from the dregs of any class of baccalaureates. And many these underachievers are credentialed with “education” degrees, an admission that such teachers have little or no substantive knowledge.  And many of those weak teachers are now principals or administrators. In short, K through 12 has become an affirmative action program for unionized nitwits. Such swamps are not easily drained; and the muck is now generational.

Yet black parents continue to vote for the urban plantation. Marion Barry ran and won four terms as mayor in DC. If he ran today, he would probably win again. Fenty, sober and progressive in the best sense of the word, was tossed after a term. One of the great ciphers in the wake of Martin Luther King’s death is black urban voters who continue to vote against their own best interests.

On Sunday, 26 September, Education Secretary Arne Duncan appeared on Meet the Press and preached that “we must have the moral courage” to change. We have no evidence that Messrs. Gray, Duncan, or Obama have the moral courage or integrity to adopt any education policy any more enlightened than ‘business as usual.’

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This article appeared in the 5 Oct 10 edition of American Thinker.  The author is a graduate of Cardinal Hayes HS in the Bronx and several other less illustrious institutions of higher learning. He also writes at Agnotology in Journalism.


Who Betrays Us?

July 6, 2010

 

“If everybody is thinking alike, then someone isn’t thinking.” – George S. Patton 

Crystal is not glass. Strike crystal and it rings like a bell. When it breaks, crystal makes a special noise, a sound like the end of music. The other day, we heard the end of a special elergy, the 24 notes of taps, when General Stanley McChrystal furled his flag.

McChrystal was no ordinary infantryman; he chose the road not taken. Rangers are a unique fraternity where only extraordinary warriors thrive. Those who rise to the top in any calling often walk a fine line between genius and eccentricity, soldiers are no exception. General McChrystal crossed the line more than once, but he never stepped on a land mine until Rolling Stone magazine came to do a “profile” at HQ Afghanistan.

The agent of McChrystal’s demise was an effete free lancer who looks and sounds like a prep school refugee. Lest anyone pretend the author of “The Runaway General” didn’t have an agenda, Michael Hastings coined the following journalistic axioms in an earlier piece for GQ:

“You pretend to be friendly and non-threatening. And over time you build trust, which everyone knows is an illusion. If the time comes, if your editors calls for it, you’re supposed to f–k them (your subject) over.”

Hastings was on special assignment for a magazine whose usual fare is sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Yet, like Hugh Hefner’s Playboy, Jann Wenner’s Rolling Stone has cultural pretensions.  Those affectations were on full display in the McChrystal issue. Lady Gaga (sic) graces the cover; equipped with a bullet brassiere on full auto. Ms. Gaga is a performance artist whose cultural niche is defined by Madonna groupies.

Like Hefner, Wenner panders to a young and, by their own definition, hip demographic of readers under 30 years of age; although both publishers might charitably be described as priapic geriatrics, 84 and 64 years of age respectively. Like all purveyors of progressive culture, Wenner has trouble separating value and vulgar. And, to no one’s surprise, he consistently carries water for the left; as a Clintonista or, more recently, as an Obama contributor.

From any perspective, we have to assume that General McChrystal, and/or his staff, was aware of these things and the risks of having of an anti-war zealot in their midst. The key question to be answered is; who was using whom?

After Afghanistan, a maverick like McChrystal wasn’t going to be selected for a political job like Army Chief of Staff. Hard to picture McChrystal, like the incumbent George Casey, making the rounds of the Sunday gab shows reminding citizens that the feelings of Muslims were more important than the safety of soldiers massacred at Ft. Hood, Texas.  And surely McChrystal wasn’t a candidate to follow Mike Mullen into the political swamp at the JCS. On the Pentagon’s E Ring, Mullen is better known for social issues, like gay “rights” for sailors, than he is for war fighting. There were no stars in McChrystal’s future either; he already had his four.

McChrystal is a country music fan; no doubt he’s familiar with Kristofferson’s iconic line: “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” When McChrystal let the fox into the Afghan hen house, he knew which huevos were in play.

Before the Rolling Stone controversy, the friction between the “White House wimps” and the military brass was the worst kept secret in Washington. Yet the rift, from the beginning was cultivated by the president – and what can only be described as a cabal of divisive beltway toadies. From the start, Obama ignored the field commander, refused to define the enemy or describe the end game – or explain to the American public why Afghanistan “is a war of necessity.” The party line had three “soft” features; don’t use the word “war,” don’t mention Islam, and restrict descriptions of the bad guys to either Taliban or al Qaeda.

Shortly after the election, Obama put on his long pants and fired the previous ISAF commander in Afghanistan – and then dithered for months over troop deployments. Since then, the White House has been driving on a learner’s permit. In the past year and a half, the commander in chief has met the tactical commander on few occasions; McChrystal, in contrast, has met with Hamid Karzai, face to face, over 50 times during the same period. If McChrystal claims Obama is only “disengaged” on the subject of war: the general is being generous.

The hapless Senate majority leader, Harry Reid (D- Nevada), told America that the Iraq “war is lost,” just before the last American election. A newly elected Vice President followed up with very public carping at General McChrystal’s expense. If there were ever a toady who should be cashiered for loose lips; it’s Joe Biden (hereafter known as Joe “bite me” to troops in the field). Biden doesn’t just put his foot in his mouth; he doesn’t bother to remove his shoes after he steps in something. Biden’s advice on Iraq was to subdivide, i.e. three new states (sic), as if the UN didn’t have enough dysfunctional members.

“Team” Obama was augmented by Richard Holbrooke and Karl Eikenberry early on, both sent to Kabul, presumably, to make sure McChrystal walked the “soft power” walk. Unfortunately, neither Holbroke nor Eikenberry play well with other adults.

Holbrooke’s function in South Asia is a dark swan. He doesn’t seem to get along with anyone but himself. In the foggy world of diplomacy, androgyny, and cookie pushing; Holbrooke stands out. He is supposed to be a special envoy; but, his specialties might be limited to arrogance and petulance. Holbrooke, former Clintonista and incumbent Karzai basher, doesn’t play well with 3rd World leaders or allied military officers.

And Eikenberry’s performance isn’t too far removed from Holbrooke’s.  Soon after arriving in Kabul, Ambassador Eikenberry started to “back channel” McChrystal, (i.e. send critical, uncomplimentary reports back to Washington). Indeed, Eikenberry pique seems to have been tweaked because a Brit, and not Eikenberry, was appointed “viceroy”; a slight he seems to lay at the feet of a Karzai/McChrystal conspiracy. Eikenberry was miscast by Rolling Stone as a martinet “stuck in 1985;” the year may be closer to 1895 and the Eikenberry character could have come straight out of  Gilbert and Sullivan.

On the UN side of Kabul, the blue helmets were having a civil war of their own. Norway’s Kai Eide, and his American deputy, Peter Galbraith, had a transnational shoot out over the legitimacy of Hamid Karzai’s election in 2009. Galbraith got fired, Karzai got a second term, and Eide took the Quisling special back to Scandinavia. Eide was and remains an ardent fan of accommodation with the Taliban

These “team” players were supplemented by a gaggle of second guessers back in Washington with the president’s national security advisor, Jim Jones, on point. Jones’ most recent contribution to the clueless sweeps was a “greedy Jew” joke spliced into a speech that was supposed to underline American support of Israel. After 18 months in office, the commander in chief has traveled to several Arab, Turkish, and Muslim capitals, yet never to Israel. Mr. Obama’s Islamic globe trotting sends a message consistent with Jones’ taste in jokes. From the beginning, the former Marine commandant, like Joe Biden, also made loud noises that undermined or contradicted McChrystal’s strategy at the front.

So what’s a soldier to do when a president hand picks you to lead the charge in combat and then allows rear echelon cockroaches to eat your lunch? McChrystal did what any good guerrilla fighter would do; he let another insect carry a poison pill back to a dysfunctional nest. Indeed, General McChrystal performed one final service for his country; he used a press nitwit to expose a confederacy of national security dunces; using the prescribed “soft” tactics – things like toxic ridicule.

A cipher in all of this is Hilary; she comes off like the Cheshire cat; grinning from ear to ear while the Oval Office tries to put lipstick on another pig. Clinton has kept her distance; “give him (McChrystal) what he wants;” says she. If and when the Obama national security crowd self-destructs, Hilary can say “I told you so,” pick up the pieces, and do a pants suit rendition of what Bobby Kennedy did to Lyndon Johnson in 1968.

Any idea that McChrystal was insubordinate or threatened civilian authority is bravo sierra, as they say in the barracks. The general simply raised the blinds and let in some light. He even helped the young president to grow up a bit. On the day Obama let his field commander go, the president used the word “war” to describe the Afghan conflict. That’s progress! Obama then appointed a third field commander in 18 months; demoting the CENTCOM commander to replace McChrystal in Kabul.

And yes, the new guy is the old David Petraeus who, when serving in Iraq under George Bush, was vilified by the left, including then Senator Obama, as a liar and traitor. Indeed, the same news outlets that published those scurrilous George Soros ads, now celebrate the Petraeus choice as “inspired.” General “betray us” under a Republican has morphed into General “save us” under a Democrat. So much for politics stopping at the water’s edge.

So what’s the plan now? It appears the exit strategy for Iraq and Afghanistan is on schedule (according to Joe bite me) and Petraeus will be the happy face of at least one success even if it belongs to the previous administration. Yet, the president is still hostage to a campaign slogan, that “war of necessity.” Unfortunately, the Oval Office position is already flanked left and right. The incumbent does not want to carry any war, of choice or necessity, into the next presidential cycle. And the Cheshire cat just grins and waits.

All of which highlights the distinction between politics, Chicago style and principled soldiering, McChrystal style. Given a choice between sacrifice and survival, which road do men of character take? McChrystal has answered that question; he fell on his sword. Obama will get back to us in 13 months.

Stanley McChrystal may have furled his flag, but let’s hope he has not spiked his guns. In or out of Iraq and Afghanistan, the threat whose name we dare not speak will get worse before it gets better. When it does, real soldiers will need to strap on their irons again. Keep your powder dry, Stan.

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This essay originally appeared in the 29 June 10 issue of American Thinker. The author is a Vietnam veteran with 25 years of military service. He also writes at Agnotology in Journalism.