Monday, April 30, 2012

Mark Sullivan

A great leader. He must not be fired for the sake of politics.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Arizona Immigration Law

Arizona's new immigration law.. which is being reviewed by the Supreme Court at the moment, is an interesting piece of legislation. Regardless of the issue of Federal v State supremacy (the Supreme Court can answer this), the main contention surrounding the law is in its intent towards identifying and removing illegal immigrants from the US. Essentially, the law requires that if law enforcement officers have a 'reasonable suspicion' that a lawfully stopped person is in the US illegally, they must ascertain that individual's immigration status. At first glance this requirement seems troubling.. while most of us would agree that illegal immigration is not acceptable, the nature of this law raises the spectre that Hispanic Americans will be challenged on the sole basis of their ethnicity. However, ultimately this is an unfounded fear. There is clear constitutional precedence to show that an 'ethnicity' based stop would not be defensible or lawful. Under Federal law, 'reasonable suspicion' must be vested in an officer's articulation of specific facts that lead him/her to a suspicion of criminal activity.  For example.. on a hot day, a man wearing sunglasses and a sweater walks into a bank with his hands in his pockets. Conversely, the color of a man or woman's skin would not constitute any satisfaction of this requirement. If there was any suggestion that the color was the primary factor, the officer would face civil rights violation questions.
 So...... to avoid being targeted unlawfully under the law, any Arizonan could simply answer the questions of an officer in relation to that officer's investigation of the incident that lead to the original stop (for example running a stop sign etc)... and if the officer then decided without any 'reasonable suspicion' to try and find out the stopped citizen's immigration status, that citizen should just repeatedly ask for permission to leave. Unless the officer had articulable facts to justify his new 'immigration status' investigation, the citizen would almost certainly be allowed to leave. Unlike under English law, in the framework of US constitutional law, a hunch or a gut feeling does not constitute 'reasonable suspicion'. Arizona's new law cannot alter those rights. 

No American should ever be burdened under law because of their ethnicity.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Obama Campaign Ad - Bin Laden and Romney

The new Obama campaign ad claiming that Romney wouldn't have taken out Bin Laden is a complete joke. It would be pretty funny if it weren't so disappointing. It represents a damning indictment of a President willing to put politics before the national unity that could have been found (and held) from such a great moment for America.

Three other observations stand out to me.

1) Clinton's involvement in the ad is pretty stupid/stunning. This is the President who allowed Bin Laden to escape justice on a number of different occasions

2) After Operation Neptune Spear, Obama claimed that the Bin Laden death was an opportunity to unify America. Like so many of his statements I took him at face value. Now we see Obama placing politics first. It is truly, truly sad. And truly hypocritical from the man who said he would change Washington for the better.

3) McCain or Romney would have taken out Bin Laden. Obviously.

4) Clinton's snide remark that 'one thing George Bush said that was right' is another example of the Obama Administration's disgusting attitude towards the former President. GW Bush has been an exemplary gentleman in all his interactions/conduct towards Obama. Shame the 'hope and change' candidate doesn't reciprocate.

Obama disappoints me a lot these days.

My attempted comment below the campaign video (Obama Campaign may screen it out) - This is so disappointing Mr. President. After the killing of the Al Qa'ida leader, you claimed hope that Bin Laden's death was an opportunity for unity in America.. and now you throw that sentiment 180' on its head. So much for the candidate who would change Washington for the better.


The US re-deployment of around 9,000 Marines from Okinawa is the result of long negotiations with the Japanese Govt. Amazing how at this moment 67 years ago, the US Military was fighting to capture the island during the Pacific war. My grandfather who served with the 6th Marine Division, was involved in that action.

Okinawa From 'The Pacific'

Christopher Tappin bailed

On the Christopher Tappin bail news, I welcome it. There was little point in holding him in a prison while he awaits trial. He has surrendered his passport so the flight risk is low. However, as I have argued before, I still believe that his extradition was appropriate. It is important that at this point, everyone understands he has not done anything wrong.. innocence until proven guilty.

Photo - BBC News

Thursday, April 26, 2012

IF he's at his best, Romney will beat Obama

General dissatisfaction with Obama's policies on health care, the economy and spending/debt levels mean that a considerable constituency of the voting public hold either negative or poor-neutral attitudes towards the President's policy agenda. While many Americans (myself included) hold positive personal opinions towards the President - believing him to be a well intentioned, honorable man, Romney shares these traits.

In this regard, it is my view that Romney's policies - adopting the Ryan plan for debt reduction, a more simple non-deductible tax code with lowered rates etc will attract popular support when compared to Obama's policies/plans. Romney will however have to articulate a more honest approach to issues like health care, closing tax loopholes, where he actually stands on Iran etc, if he is to appear as genuine. If Romney does not act in a genuine fashion, Obama will be able to successfully portray him as a man divorced from the concerns of middle and low income Americans. Such a characterization will lose Romney the election.

A final point is in terms of the issue of popular charisma. While Romney does not possess the natural 'celebrity' style charisma of Obama, he will appeal to the many voters looking for a candidate who exudes the confidence and intellect of a CEO style leader. This is an especially important dynamic in the current environment of ongoing economic difficulties.

IN the end, American society is a center right society. If Romney appeals to his best traits (moderate, intellectual conservatism), he will be able to present a compelling case as to why he should be elected. I believe that this is a case that he will win. However, if Romney appeals to the hard right elements of the Republican party, especially Palinesque anti-intellectuals, Obama will win re-election.

Romney at his best

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Romney looks to November

Romney's primary victories last night were not surprising - Mitt Romney has been the Republican nominee for President since Santorum dropped out. However, Romney's victory speech did illustrate a new narrative on the part of his campaign. Instead of a focus on securing the Republican nomination as previous speeches have entailed, Romney used his speech to focus on the President's abysmal economic record. The point.... Romney knows he is the nominee.. from now until November he will argue to Americans why he believes would do a better job as President. Contrary to the opinion of some, I believe that Romney will come across well to independent/moderate voters (the key constituency for the election). While Romney might not have the natural charisma of Obama's celebrity style, he comes across as an intelligent, calm and driven man who is passionate about his country. For this reason and for Obama's terrible record, I believe Romney will defeat the President in November.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Urban Outfitters t-shirt

I don't believe that the staff of Urban Outfitters had any anti-Semitic intent, but they really need to read some history books. It is astonishing that a public company worth over $1 billion could be so incompetent. Does no one in the URBN supply chain- from design to production to management read any books or ever watch the history channel?? This shirt is truly stunning in its level of stupidity. Maybe we need to look at our history curriculum for not having taught the holocaust effectively? Regardless, URBN stocks are probably not a great bet now... The company should pull this shirt asap.

(Left Photo - Urban Outfitters t-shirt) (Right Photo - Nazi enforced Star of David patch)

Afghanistan-US Draft Agreement

The draft agreement towards building a long term partnership between the two countries is very welcome news. 

There are 3 core reasons that this news is good.

1) It assures the Taliban/Haqqani network/affiliated anti-government forces that the US commitment to Afghanistan is a long term one. The pursuit of a peaceful settlement with insurgents forces requires that those forces not believe that the US/ISAF are running for the exits (as they have believed up to this point- with some help from President Obama). Now that these groups understand that the US is taking a smaller but crucially ongoing role with regards to supporting the Afghan Government, insurgent groups will be more amenable to negotiation and less motivated to pursue a violent struggle that they will increasingly understand they cannot win.

2) The agreement strengthens rather than weakens Afghan sovereignty. By establishing supreme Afghan authority for controversial issues like night raids and detainee detention, while at the same time assuring the continued provision of US military/intelligence assistance, this deal will maintain critical American support while mitigating Taliban accusations of US imperialism. The long-term nature of this agreement will also assist in US efforts to support better governance at the local and central levels of Afghanistan's political process.

3) The deal will allow ISAF forces to adopt a smooth transition towards transferring combat operations to Afghan govt. security forces. As Afghanistan's security improves (especially in the once violence-plagued South) and Afghan forces begin to take the lead, this partnership will allow both Afghan and US forces to coalesce their resources and strategic visions on a long term approach towards Afghanistan's stability. As part of this evolution, desperate short term solutions with little chance of success will be marginalised in favour of a strategy that can patiently build success over time.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Iran copying US drone

The Iranians are exaggerating. While they may be able to glean some useful information from the downed drone, the chances are very low that they will be able to replicate the technology in any practical way. The functional ability of these drones reside on highly complex navigation guidance and network capabilities. The Iranian military lacks the technology, resources and understanding to be able to replicate this technology.
 What Iran does have the ability to do is to attract the attention of the world. Iran's announcement was designed to embarrass the US in the eyes of the world. In this limited regard the Iranians may have some success.

 DARPA (US Military Research Agency) Robot

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Chavez, Castro and the stupidity of the European left

I never cease to find it amazing how clueless some European liberals are when it comes to the socialist governments of Central/South America. Cuba's problems are well known.. yet morons like Galloway continue to worship Castro. In 2009, Venezuela's civilian death rate from violence was 3x larger than that in Iraq. Further, Venezuela's economy is now a sad joke. Conversely, the largely moderate-liberal governance of Brazil has meant that that country's economy is surging. The comparisons are clear. 

Luckily for the European left, they will shortly be able to see whether they have it right.. It will be interesting to see what happens when the French socialist, Hollande, is elected President of that country.. Perhaps then European liberals will reach the promised majesty of socialist utopia. Or.. perhaps when the French bond market collapses (French GDP to Debt ratio is 85% and Hollande's policies will destroy economic growth/investment and increase inflation), liberals will realise that they were just being stupid.

Friday, April 20, 2012

100 Years at Fenway

Off politics for a second.. this was a joke. How did we not win this game?? This season is a complete disgrace so far. The Fenway faithful deserve better. Valentine needs to regain the respect of the team and the team need to respect Valentine's authority.

Sarah Palin being Sarah Palin

I am not a fan of Sarah Palin. John McCain is my political hero and it angered me that Palin so discredited his campaign with her absurd inadequacies as a candidate. I also feel that she is someone who is willing to say or do just about anything to maintain her position in the public eye. In order to play to her 'outsider maverick' persona, Palin claims that an unjustified persecution complex exists against her.

This dynamic was again on show yesterday. The context - a Secret Service agent who was assigned to Palin during the 2008 election (and has just resigned over the Cartagena scandal) had posted a Facebook photo of himself behind Palin during a 2008 campaign event.  Below the photo he had made an inappropriate comment, joking about 'checking out' the former Governor. Clearly this kind of behavior is unacceptable and Palin has a right to be angry. However, during an interview with Fox News host, Greta Van Susteren, Palin turned the issue into a political tool to lash out with a broad arrogance against the Secret Service and President Obama.

Referring first to the photo-post agent, Palin stated,

'Well check this out, bodyguard. You're fired! And I hope his wife... kicks him into the dog house.'

My issue with this quote is in its unnecessary insult to everyone in the Secret Service, especially to all those agents and officers that previously put themselves on the line to protect Palin. These individuals are far more than simple 'bodyguards'. They are highly trained patriots who make great sacrifices and take great risks for the benefit of the most central sustaining element of American society -democracy. The photo-post agent clearly made an error in his Facebook comments, but that does not change the fact that in previously serving on Palin's protective detail, he was willing to put Palin's well being before his own. For Palin to so aggressively denigrate the man, his agency and his family was disgusting.

However, Palin wasn't satisfied with ending there. She also stated that Obama was partly to blame for the Colombia scandal, commenting, 

'Look who's running the show, people will say its boys being boys. I've had enough of these men being dogs and not being responsible for the taxpayer's dollars.'

This idiotic comment illustrates two of Palin's worst qualities. Her anti-Obama orthodoxy - blaming Obama for an incident he had absolutely no control over and no knowledge of. Secondly - her willingness to push any issue into the framework of her political agenda. While there is no evidence that any Secret Service personnel used agency funds for the prostitution scandal, Palin is trying to tie the incident into the ongoing GSA scandal. She knows that the incidents are not aligned, but for Palin, truth is truly subjective.

She is an embarrassment to the Republican Party and by the political effect of her conduct, she is also an unofficial member of Obama's campaign team.

UPDATE - In the same interview Palin also said.. 'The President, for one, he better be wary, there, of when the Secret Service is accompanying his family on vacation. They may be checking out the first lady instead of guarding her.'

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Stockwell shooters convicted

One girl paralysed, one man shot in the head, many more people recklessly endangered.. all in the pursuit of gang warfare. No regret shown at any stage of trial. These guys should have received much longer sentences. The ringleader should have been given life with minimum 35-years incarceration.  People in Europe love to criticize the US criminal justice system but they never like to look in the mirror.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ted Nugent's Obama Remarks

Ted Nugent's remarks towards the President were unjustified. 

These kind of remarks are not befitting of the Republican Party nor of the kind of civil discourse that America needs to re-discover. Our opposition to the President should be vested in policy disagreements and not in language that equates the President as a mortal enemy of the American people. This form of sensationalist rhetoric serves only to ferment the partisanship that currently infects American society and drives us apart. Former President GW Bush's attitude towards Obama (not criticizing him with personal insults) provides a much more impressive path for how we should conduct ourselves as Republicans. The best traditions of the Republican Party are vested in notions of personal respect for our fellow citizens and for the office of the President. When we turn away from these values we only serve to weaken ourselves. Electing Mitt Romney in November is our objective, but we don't need to throw away our values in order to get there. Quite the opposite in fact.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Assange and Nasrallah

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizballah being 'interviewed' by Assange. Within the first two minutes of the interview Nasrallah states that Israel does not have a right to exist. This remark is followed by..

Nasrallah lying about corruption in his organisation. 

Nasrallah arguing that Assad is fighting for freedom against Syrian 'terrorists'. Apparently 'Assad was very willing' to accept major reforms until 'Al Qa'ida' came and tried to wage war against him.

Nasrallah and Assange joking with each other. As Assange is supposedly a liberal anti-authoritarian, his fawning attitude towards Nasrallah shows how full of **** he actually is.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Afghanistan Attacks

The insurgent attack on Kabul was a failure. Very few civilians were killed and Afghan security forces responded quickly and robustly. The intention was obviously to replicate a strategic perception factor like that which followed the North Vietnamese attack on Saigon in 1968, IE- That the Afghan Govt. is vulnerable everywhere and that the Taliban/Haqqani Network hold all the cards.

This would be the wrong lesson to draw from the attack. Over the past couple of years the Taliban have suffered major setbacks across Afghanistan. They have lost many mid-high level commanders (via a ISAF strategy following in the footsteps McChrystal's AQI battle plan in Iraq), the group has lost substantial power bases in the South of the country (especially in Helmand and Kandahar province), they continue to alienate the majority of the Afghan population and Afghan security forces are growing in number, strength and credibility. Karzai's corruption continues to be an issue that requires diplomatic attention, but patient resolve is paying dividends in Afghanistan. 

We must not abandon the Afghan people.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lord Ahmed

When you threaten the US President and his predecessor and.. you do so in defense of a terrorist king pin... you are being pretty stupid.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Secret Service - Colombia Incident

Twelve US Secret Service agents who were in Colombia for President Obama's visit to that country have been sent back to the US on possible misconduct charges. The agents involved were reportedly members of the  advance team - which would mean that they are assigned to the elite Presidential Protective Division (PPD), the agency arm responsible for the protection of the first family. 

A few points..

1) This incident is embarrassing for the Secret Service and for the country. To have twelve members of an elite law enforcement agency linked to prostitution does not look good (even if it is legal in some parts Colombia). That the incident happened abroad at a major international summit and understandably infuriated the Colombian authorities is also less than ideal. The Secret Service needs the trust and respect of foreign governments in order to operate effectively. Clearly, incidents like this one do not assist that dynamic.

2) This is not unprecedented. In 2002, a similar but more serious incident occurred. However, agents assigned to protection details work in high stress environments that require long hours away from home, a lot of travelling and extremely high professional standards. Though not excusable, this is the context in which agents 'letting off steam' sometimes go too far.

3) The Secret Service is still without question the finest protection force in the world. Agents are trained extensively and are expected to do whatever it takes to succeed in their mission. It is a testament to the Service that so many protectees from Bush and Clinton to the Obamas enjoy speaking of the trust that they have for their agents. Crucially also, the Secret Service is fundamentally non-political; focused absolutely on protecting America's democratic ideals rather than allowing itself to be injected the partisanship of American politics. 

So.. while it is right that Americans should react to today's news with disappointment, we also owe the Secret Service our gratitude and respect. Without them, American democracy would be left vulnerable to the mercy of the violent.

AP - Herald Sun

Friday, April 13, 2012

North Korea missile screw up

From my perspective, the North Korean missile failure tells us 4 things.

1) North Korean missile technology is still poor. The missile broke up very shortly after launch.

2) Iran's ballistic missile technology is also probably weaker than the Iranians present (the North Koreans have been assisting Iran in this area so it would follow that the Iranians may have similar issues). Israel will have been attentive to this North Korean test.

3) Kim Jong Un will want to stage some kind of attention seeking event in the near future. This failure will do damage to the prestige of his new authority. The North Korean leadership are like children, they want attention. In this regard they use international fear of their rationality/aggression to extract concessions like food aid and fuel. The international community should call their bluff and instead show unity in demanding that North Korea engage in meaningful, long term dialogue.

4) Kim Jong Un is not (at this stage) a reformer. In pursuing this test he sacrificed a chance at rapprochement with the US (even in the context of knowing that the chances of success were not great).

Death Penalty

Connecticut has just banned the death penalty. I support states rights on this issue so respect their decision. However, in my opinion the death penalty has a place in the conduct of law. I understand the moral complexities, but for criminals like this guy, I believe that no prison term can serve as true justice.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Zimmerman Charged - (Continued)

The Zimmerman case prosecutor made some seriously dumb remarks at her press conference today.

These quotes reported in the NYTimes are astonishing to have come from a senior prosecutor.

1) Ms. Corey opened the news conference by saying that she had spoken to Trayvon Martin’s parents shortly after she took on the case, and that the investigation was driven by “the search for justice for Trayvon.”
--- This quote gives the impression that the prosecution's investigation was driven by a desire to achieve a desired outcome IE- Zimmerman being charged, rather than being driven by objective analysis of the facts then applied to law. This stupid statement will be used by the defense as purported evidence of a failure on the part of the prosecution to objectively (and fairly) analyze the facts of the case in the conduct of their investigation.
2) “We did not come to this decision lightly,” Ms. Corey said. She added, “Let me emphasize that we do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition.”
 --- The perceivable veracity of this statement is already seriously weakened by quote 1... And then appears even more disingenuous in the context of quote 3.
3) “We will continue to seek the truth about this case,”
?? This quote is truly ridiculous. As with any criminal charge, the decision to charge Zimmerman should have been made on the basis of the prosecution's established belief that Zimmerman is guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. Further, that all the relevant facts of the case had been established to the degree that the prosecution (on charging Zimmerman) believed it knew exactly what occurred.  Suggesting that the truth is still not known will play straight into the hands of the Zimmerman defense team.
The problem with all three of these statements is that they provide the Zimmerman defense team with new material to suggest that the prosecution's decision to charge  was not vested in objective analysis of the facts applied to law, but instead, in the prosecution's desire to placate public opinion without having established exactly what occurred and why . Because Zimmerman will likely use a SYG defense, to succeed at trial, the prosecution will have to show a certainty of objectivity and certainty of established facts. They did not purvey that image today.
In short, the prosecution got off to a bad start today. 

Zimmerman Charged

The arrest and murder charge of George Zimmerman. He is innocent until proven guilty and he deserves a fair trial. Far too many people have sought to take advantage of this situation for their own agenda.

Legal Note-
Zimmerman's Second Degree murder charge means that he is being charged with murder through the conduct of a serious, intentional, unlawful assault that directly led to the death of the victim. It means that the state of Florida does not believe that he sought to kill Martin in the pursuit of a premeditated agenda (First Degree Murder). 

Photo - Google Images

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Santorum Quits (finally)

Rick Santorum has suspended his campaign and in doing so has sparked the beginning of the general election campaign. Obama vs Romney. This will be an important election. It will define whether America moves towards a European style social welfare state structure or retains its defining capitalist spirit (contrary to Democratic claims, I believe that the least fortunate in America have the most to lose from Obama's re-election). Ultimately, I believe that Mitt Romney's business record, character and intelligence will allow him to successfully contest the President on the major issues.

I believe these will be the core concerns for the campaign.

1) Economy - Recovering stable economic growth and employment levels and reducing health care cost inflation.

2) National Debt - How America can honestly resolve the debt catastrophe before it becomes too late.

3) Foreign Policy - How America is acting (and should act). Specifically this debate will focus on Afghanistan and Iran.

Photo Credit  - Daily Telegraph

Abu Hamza Extradition Approved

The European Court of Human Rights did the right thing in approving Abu Hamza's extradition. The key considerations for the Court were whether life imprisonment/solitary confinement at ADX Florence constituted the EU equivalent of cruel and unusual punishment. If the Court had decided that such conditions did constitute a breach of fundamental human rights, EU states would have been prohibited from extraditing individuals to the US if they might face that punishment. This would have been a major hindrance to the successful interactions of law enforcement in confronting terrorist organisations around the world. I suspect that part of the Court's decision was diplomatic; IE - The Court was keen to avoid the serious diplomatic damage that an alternate ruling would have provoked. Whatever the Court's motivation for approving the extradition, Abu Hamza is accused of doing some seriously bad things. These include accusations that he provided material support to the Taliban/Al Qa'ida and amongst other charges, attempted to set up a Al Qa'ida training camp in Oregon. He needed to be extradited and now finally he will be.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Rendition, MI6 and CIA

The attention that this story is getting in the UK is absurd. The British equivalent of the CIA, SIS (commonly known as MI6), are being investigated for potential criminal charges for their purported treatment of Belhadj. The problem with this is that the precedent it is setting will be fundamentally prohibitive to aggressive intelligence operations. Intelligence officers need the latitude and capability to pursue and defeat terrorist networks. In my opinion, rendition is not only lawful but also beneficial. It allows terrorists to be removed from action and placed into custody for productive interrogation. Torture is and ought to be illegal. However, when intelligence officers are faced with a situation in which an important target is operating in a state that lacks a credible judiciary, those officers must be able to take steps to address the threat. If rendition is illegal, the only prospective option would be to allow the target to stay in operation. If a couple of years down the line this target is involved in a terrorist attack.. then what do/would people say? Governments have a responsibility to protect their citizens and they must do so.

I hope that no charges are brought against the SIS officers in this case. From an American perspective, I am grateful that US intelligence agencies are able to aggressively confront our adversaries. The reason there is so much uproar about rendition in the UK is that the UK largely sees its counter-terrorism operations as an extension of criminal investigations. Conversely, the US is at war with Al Qa'ida and its ideological affiliates and so we are able to take more decisive action. Counter-Terrorism operations (as with any intelligence operations) are born of choices. The choice to investigate a target, the analysis of the threat and the decision to take or to not take action. The US learned on 9/11 that focused, aggressive action is necessary to protect our country. It might not be pleasant, but our adversaries are capable of extraordinary evil.

I have previously written on the risks that the UK investigation of SIS poses for future US-UK intelligence co-operation -

Photo - World Trade Center (Emporis)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Racial Tensions in America

The arrest of two men (shortly to be charged) in connection with the Friday shootings in Oklahoma is welcome news. If it turns out that these individuals were indeed motivated by a racist agenda, in the context of the recent Trayvon Martin incident, some will suggest that racial tensions in America are increasing. I would disagree. While it is true that there have been heavily reported stories of both white and black racial extremists increasing their public activity, these groups represent marginal elements of American society. Most Americans (Republican and Democrat) care little for whether someone is black or white. The President is black and for a while during the current Republican presidential primary, the front runner was a black man (who gained most of his support from the supposedly racist tea party). Regardless, while it is likely that racists will attempt to manipulate the Oklahoma/Trayvon incidents for their own agendas, these individuals will be unable to translate their energy into any substantial political effect. Why? Because for most Americans, the racist agenda is fundamentally un-American. Put simply, images like this one will result in far more laughs than they will recruits to an extremist banner. Ultimately, people like Lloyd Austin and Muhammed Khan are the kind of individuals that attract national respect.

Racists will not be able to take America back in time. A powerfully illustrative photo below.. A white Secret Service agent reaches protectively towards the President as he greets a largely African-American crowd. America has changed for the better.

(White House Photo- Pete Souza)

Friday, April 6, 2012

USMC and Civilian Control of the Military

This US Marine Corps hearing was right to recommend separation for Sgt. Gary Stein. While Stein has honored himself by his service (which included deployment to Iraq), civilian control over the military must always take precedence when the relationship of the two are brought into question. When Stein took his oath, he agreed to be bound by the lawful authority of his commander in chief (the President). In making this commitment, he and all those who wear the uniform accepted that their personal freedom (of speech, of choice and if necessary, of life) would be submitted to the service and (through the President) the authority of the American people. This level of willing sacrifice is one of the things that makes American military service so noble. Whatever Stein's feelings towards the President, it was not his place to make those feelings known. When he did so, he directly challenged his chain of command and indirectly challenged the institution of the US Military as fundamentally servient to democratic authority. Military efficacy requires that the chain of command and the authority attached in that chain are unquestioned. David Petraeus has made clear his own understanding of the critical importance of this dynamic.

Without a civilian led military, the American people would live at the whim of the most powerful military force in history. Clearly, this would present a toxic recipe in which the very essence of the Constitution would be placed in jeopardy. From the Civil War to Korea to Afghanistan, necessary precedence has shown that the President is the final master of American military force. Albeit at a low level, Sgt. Stein's actions publicly questioned this principle and as such could not be tolerated by the USMC.

Hezbollah and Syria

The NYTimes carries an article that outlines the legitimacy challenge that Hezbollah is facing as a result of its continued support of Assad.

I previously predicted (and predict) that this increasing challenge to Hezbollah's cross sectarian legitimacy would ultimately mean that the group moves away from Assad.

Photo Credit- World Security Network

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

KSM faces trial

The formal approval for KSM and his 9/11 compatriots to be tried under military commission is welcome and long overdue news. These men are believed responsible for the largest act of terrorism in US history. In addition, their reported connections to other plots include the attack on the USS Cole. Contrary to the claims of some, these military commissions are the appropriate domain for the trial. The commissions will protect the defendants from the prospect of being tried on tainted evidence (evidence that may have come from torture) and will ensure that they receive vigorous legal defense teams. Further, being accused of acts of war against the United States, it is necessary that the US Military judicial system and not the domestic civilian court system be fixed as the authority governing trial. 

The pursuit of justice requires that these men stand trial. All Americans should be relieved at this news.

Romney Wins Big

Romney got it done last night. He won DC, MD and WI and he did so in a way that firmly consolidated his position among the more conservative elements of the Republican Party. This was an important trend that illustrates his confident position as the presumptive nominee. Republicans now understand that Romney is the only candidate who can successfully challenge the President on the economy and the debt in a general election campaign. Romney now needs to do three things.

1) Focus on running against Obama and not Santorum. 

2) Have a dedicated plan for responding to and challenging the scare stories that the Democrats will shortly begin to air against him.

3) Focus on the dual track issue of the national debt and the economy relentlessly.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Audacity of Obama

Sadly, this President never ceases to amaze me. He came to power saying that he would be the post-partisan President. The President who would 'change' Washington DC. In fact, he has turned out to be one of the most partisan Presidents since the end of World War 2. After absolutely failing to create a budget that has any attachment to reality and after failing to engage in a constructive bi-partisan process to resolve America's debt crisis, Obama has reverted to waging class warfare against Republicans. Paul Ryan's budget was an honest starting point for negotiations and contrary to Democratic scare tactics, the only budget that actually saves medicare/social security for future generations. Crucially also, unlike the President's budget, Ryan's sums add up. Yet, Obama accuses him of wanting to wage 'social darwinism'.

The difference between this Obama and this Obama could not be more pronounced. 

It is now evident that the President only cares about re-election. For Obama, bi-partisan engagement is not an ambition, but instead is a tedious side show that stands obstructively in his path.

Colombia and FARC

The Colombian Govt's effective counter-insurgency effort against FARC is again reaping dividends. The US should be proud of the role that we have played pushing FARC onto the back foot. FARC used to control significant portions of Colombian territory. From these safe havens, the group waged terrorist aggression against the Colombian people and constructed a lucrative narco-terrorism empire which used extortion, kidnapping and murder to maintain and extend its grip of power (hilariously FARC regard themselves as Marxists). Since 2002 however, along with extensive US govt. support (albeit often covert and of an intelligence nature), the Colombian govt. has aggressively pursued FARC and captured or killed many of the group's senior/middle leadership. Now, due to a sound strategy and strong political leadership, Colombia has brought a once incredibly powerful terrorist group to its knees. Colombia is now a stable, confident democracy with a increasingly powerful economy.

Primary Races - DC, MD, WI

Politico has a good piece on today's Republican primaries in DC, Maryland and Wisconsin. The key point for tonight... if Santorum does not win Wisconsin (which he is unlikely to do), there will be increasingly significant pressure placed on him by other Republicans to end his campaign. Santorum claims that he is the candidate for mid-west blue collar workers.. If he fails to win Wisconsin, then his narrative will be blown apart. 

 At this point, the continuing primary only helps President Obama. Santorum should get out of the race and Republicans should consolidate behind Mitt Romney.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Coast Guard Rescue/Romney

Military capability takes money and training. Because other nations go cheap on military spending, ONLY the US could pull this off.

+ Tuesday's Wisconsin Republican Primary will show that Santorum is finished. Romney is the Republican candidate for the Presidency.