“The rule of law will save us”

May 21, 2009

It saves us from chaos within our own country. It will save us from jihadists who seek to kill Americans and destroy us. So say the Democrats. Lanny Davis said today that “The rule of law is the basis of our security.” Former President Bill Clinton couldn’t have said it better himself. Anyone who has had to deal with the police when seeing a crime committed will see how laughable that statement is. Police usually show up after the crime has already long since occurred. Nothing against them. Just clearing up a misconception.

The law in its best form provides social stability. Nothing more. It’s a compact among us all about restraints we agree to place on ourselves so that we do not unduly distress or hurt each other, and provides compensation, criminal or civil, for harm that one party has done to another. This is designed to promote social harmony. I can agree that this promotes general security, because we won’t be threatening and killing each other to save our own skins, but in terms of addressing threats who have no regard for social harmony to begin with, it has nothing to do with security. The law in most cases can only address them after they have hurt someone. It’s only in the lucky cases where law enforcement manages to catch a criminal before they cause harm.

But the Democrats will say we will be ever vigilante against terrorist threats, but our vigilance will be restrained by our sense of civility. “We will not compromise our sacred values.” They believe in a social scientific sort of way that by showing the world that we live by our “values” (as they define them) at home and abroad the jihadists will not be able to recruit as well as they did under Bush, because we will be less hated, and we will gain the support of countries around the world in gathering intelligence on Al Qaeda’s plans. That may work in Europe (though I’m not counting on it), but I doubt it will work in the Middle East. What, you think the jihadists don’t have a better hold on the imaginations of like-minded Muslims than we do? The truth doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what we do to make ourselves look good. It’s a political campaign. You think Democrats care how much Republicans try to make themselves look good? They’re going to try to find a way to make Republicans look bad no matter how much they try to look agreeable to Democrats, and vice versa. Get a clue! It’s all about PR, though in the Middle East we’re dealing with a very different cultural context.

What galls me is that if one were to really look at what Obama is responding to, both complaints about Guantanamo and “torture” were, like the myth of CO2 causing global warming and the “hundreds of thousands of civilians killed in Iraq”, an anti-American PR campaign mounted by certain NGOs and European governments. They never had a basis in reality, but it doesn’t matter. The point was to make us a whipping boy for their own domestic politics, and in some ways to try to influence us to conform to their values. They have succeeded, perhaps beyond their wildest dreams.

The so-called “torture” techniques are the same ones we use to train our own soldiers to resist harsh interrogation! If you believe we have tortured our detainees then you must believe we torture our own soldiers. I have heard from a few soldiers who have subjected themselves to this training–one of them was former Col. Oliver North–and they say flat out it’s not torture. What a joke! I’ve seen one of Fox News’s own correspondents be waterboarded by our military to demonstrate what it really is. He clearly looked uncomfortable, but not in danger of being killed, or in fear of his own life. Now ask yourself, would a sane person volunteer to subject themselves to torture? What if he had been offered, “How about we demonstrate on you how you pull out someone’s fingernails?” You think the reporter would’ve volunteered? Not on your life! Think about this. It’s infuriating that people are getting away with calling our enhanced interrogations “torture” like they’ve succeeded in making people think that our cars, trucks, factories, and the very things we use for energy (not to mention our own breath) cause global warming! These are our new urban legends, and what’s shameful is that our own government is promoting them. Be under no illusions. We live in an age of irrationality.

Today I heard Craig Silverman on the Caplis & Silverman show on 630 AM talk about the “torture” issue. He asked callers “Should the Denver Police Department waterboard criminal suspects?” trying to equate our wartime detainees to “criminals”. I also heard Sen. John McCain say that Abu Ghraib was a situation where we tortured people. Abu Ghraib was not torture, at least as far as I could tell from the pictures. True, the “techniques” used were inappropriate, intimidating, and humiliating, but that’s not what torture is. It was criminal behavior, because the “interrogators” (some weren’t even trained as such) were violating U.S. policy. Torture is doing things to a detainee that cause excruciating pain and bodily injuries. That was never sanctioned by our enhanced interrogation policy and I hate seeing people with a straight face and conviction promulgate this lie. They either don’t know what they’re talking about, but are convinced they do, or they are carrying out a diplomatic feint to appease certain allies. In either case I consider it short-sighted and it risks our national security.

Both Silverman (today) and McCain (in the past) have brought up the history of waterboarding. Silverman said it goes back to the Spanish Inquisition. Both Silverman and McCain have brought up how it was used by the Japanese in WW II, and that we accused the Japanese of torture because of this practice. There’s a problem with this argument. The Japanese form of waterboarding was not the same as ours. They’d pump water into the victim’s stomach until it was full, and then press down on it, causing the water to go up the esophagus (throat) and down the trachea (windpipe), and was potentially deadly.

From what I could see of the Fox News demonstration, water is poured into the victim’s mouth until he reacts, raising his torso and arms, and shaking his head. At this point the water flow into his mouth is stopped, and he is allowed to clear the water from his mouth and throat. It’s a repetitious process designed to induce stress, but not to cause bodily harm. As was stated in the official documents which revealed our full catalog of formerly sanctioned techniques a medical doctor was always just a few yards away in case something did go wrong and the detainee’s life was in danger.

Liberals always pipe up that we violated the Geneva Convention. No we didn’t. The Convention is a pact between governments about rules of war. The reason we made the agreement was to make war a little more civilized. The people we captured did not fit the qualifications for Geneva Convention protection. This whole…(sigh) Overseas Contingency Operation (barf!) is uncharted territory. Even so, we have shown restraint.

People, we need to get real. War is a rough business. It disgusts me that there are still a lot of people who haven’t figured this out yet. We have shown restraint in this war. Our enemies have not. The idea that we’ve violated international law is a lie as far as I can see. I’m open to reasonable argument, but I have little patience for political games being played with our national security.

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To the UK, I apologize

March 8, 2009

I feel I must apologize for our president. I’ve been hearing press coverage of PM Brown’s visit to the U.S. and it’s discouraging. I finally heard about the visit through the UK Telegraph, and now I’m embarrassed. Granted, from all accounts the “meat” of the reason for Brown’s visit was accomplished, but diplomacy is communication by various means including the use of words, decorum, and going through rituals of tradition, which indicate the state of our relationship with another nation. One of Barack Obama’s promises was to rebuild foreign relationships which had been “so badly damaged” by the Bush Administration. He’s getting off to a bad start (h/t to ArmyWife).

British officials, meanwhile, admit that the White House and US State Department staff were utterly bemused by complaints that the Prime Minister should have been granted full-blown press conference and a formal dinner, as has been customary. They concede that Obama aides seemed unfamiliar with the expectations that surround a major visit by a British prime minister.

A well-connected Washington figure, who is close to members of Mr Obama’s inner circle, expressed concern that Mr Obama had failed so far to “even fake an interest in foreign policy”.

A British official conceded that the furore surrounding the apparent snub to Mr Brown had come as a shock to the White House. “I think it’s right to say that their focus is elsewhere, on domestic affairs. A number of our US interlocutors said they couldn’t quite understand the British concerns and didn’t get what that was all about.”

Mr Brown handed over carefully selected gifts, including a pen holder made from the wood of a warship that helped stamp out the slave trade – a sister ship of the vessel from which timbers were taken to build Mr Obama’s Oval Office desk. Mr Obama’s gift in return, a collection of Hollywood film DVDs that could have been bought from any high street store, looked like the kind of thing the White House might hand out to the visiting head of a minor African state.

How is this a way to treat our closest ally? Obama was much more deferential to the nations of the Middle East than this. I don’t recall the U.S. being this ham-handed with any foreign dignitary during the Clinton presidency, or that of George W. Bush.

Mr Obama rang Mr Brown as he flew home, in what many suspected was an attempt to make amends.

I was aghast at the following:

The real views of many in Obama administration (sic) were laid bare by a State Department official involved in planning the Brown visit, who reacted with fury when questioned by The Sunday Telegraph about why the event was so low-key.

The official dismissed any notion of the special relationship, saying: “There’s nothing special about Britain. You’re just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn’t expect special treatment.

After all we’ve been through!!…Again, I must apologize. The UK has stuck with us arm in arm, more than many other nations have, in the War on Terror (as we call it here), and this is the kind of regard we have for them. Shameful. Well at least Obama had kind words to say about Canada, which has helped us out in Afghanistan. Of all the nations I can think of who have been our friends, I feel as though the UK has done the most heavy lifting for us. We should express our gratitude at every opportunity.

Why the slights? It’s being explained here that PM Brown is not popular in the UK. His power is declining, and Obama is not interested in weak leaders. I even heard it’s likely the conservatives will take over Parliament soon. This may be true, but I’ve never heard that excuse before with regard to state visits. When PM Blair was at his lowest popularity the White House still held joint press conferences with him, and the president still talked about our “special relationship” with the UK. When PM John Major’s popularity was only so-so, the White House showed him no less deference, as I recall. I think this reveals a certain arrogance on Obama’s part. What’s striking to me is how liberals are apparently blowing off these slights like it’s no big deal.

Actually, this is not the first time Democrats have put domestic concerns over diplomacy. I can remember not too long ago when they wanted to pass a formal resolution in congress condemning Turkey for the Armenian genocide. What they apparently weren’t aware of was that Turkey was helping us out in critical ways with the operation of the war in Iraq. Maybe they didn’t care. Once the Iraq war turned into a “fiasco” Democrats wanted nothing to do with it. As a result the Democrats were tone deaf on this issue. This is a sore point with Turkey, and at the time it was unwise to anger them.

Over the past few years Democrats have trumpeted how incompetent the Bush Administration was at diplomacy and foreign policy, as if they knew better. Incompetent compared to this?? You must be joking! Obama chided Americans during his campaign for our lack of knowledge about the world, and that the only foreign words we knew were the French “merci beaucoup”. PM Brown offered Obama a gift that had cultural and historical significance, showing that he and his crew had thought a lot about it. Obama offered Brown a set of DVDs. How quaint. I would be embarrassed and profusely apologetic if I were him.

I can’t help but think this latest incident has to do with our nation’s current view of the Iraq war, that it was a colossal foreign policy blunder. For those who have been paying attention it’s known that the UK didn’t just follow our lead into Iraq. PM Blair believed as we did that Saddam Hussein needed to be toppled. Now that we “know better” perhaps there are many in the powers that be who believe our relationship with the UK had something to do with this “colossal blunder”. After all, Bush uttered his famous words about Iraq seeking uranium from Niger, based on British intelligence. The threat of Iraq building nuclear weapons was the primary reason that most Americans think we invaded. I get a sense that there’s a desire to wash our hands of the whole affair, and everyone who was involved in it. It’s similar to the way in which people don’t want to relive the horror of 9/11. I can remember when the movie United 93 came out a few years ago people said they thought it was “too soon” to tell the story. The truth was a lot of us wanted to put 9/11 behind us, in a dark corner where we could ignore it. This sort of denial is never healthy.

Well at least for this American the UK holds special stature. I hope that in the future we will be able to make it up to you.

Edit 3/8/2009: Well this explains a lot. Morris Reid, former Clinton advisor, says “The special relationship (with the UK) is over and dead. It’s a different day.” Gee, I hadn’t gotten the memo.

I’ve been reading some more articles about Brown’s visit and it seems everyone thinks the DVDs were an odd “quickie” or “cheap” gift. A few sharp people made the point, “Better hope the DVDs were Region 2 encoded (European), not Region 1 (American) or else they won’t play.” D’oh!