All this climate fraud and avoidance of the issue by our biased media and liberal press advocates makes me hot under the collar. (See 1 below.)
Every once in a while I want to find out for myself so I have begun reading Palin's book. I am just on page 85 but I understand why Urban Liberals are scared by her prospects. First, they are too sophisticated and smug to understand her. Second, they have no tangent point to connect with anyone that has been raised outdoors and done and accomplished what she has. Her family background was stable, ordinary, and middle class. Finally, she is a plain Jane in her views and values and again, urban Liberals are just too 'above' and removed to relate to someone who is sooo corny American. Palin offends their warped misplaced sensibilities.
That said, I believe Palin is not yet equipped to be president but she stands head and shoulders above Obama. (See 2 and 2a below.)
Israelis are in conflict over the Interior's Ministry's action of stripping an increasing number of Jerusalem Arabs of their living status. If you read the article you will find the headline is more dramatic than what has actually taken place. (See 3 below.)
Iran is happy so why aren't we. Ahmadinejad to Obama - suck it up kid! (See 4 below.)
Obama is conflicted according to Rich Lowry. (See 5 below.)
Cheney takes another swipe at Obama for projecting weakness. (See 6 below.)
Obama as seen through Russian eyes. (See 7 below.)
Review of tonight's speech.
From my perspective Obama's was not a very encouraging and uplifting speech and it left me fearful he is not as interested in winning as he is in retreating and setting withdrawal time lines. I understand time lines in football, baseball, etc. but why do you inform your enemy about your exasperation level?
Understandably, Obama had to appeal to a varied audience of pro and con supporters and 'aginners' so, of necessity, he sought to cover the breadth of the problem facing him and our nation. But then,I never anticipated much more than I got, so I really am not disappointed.
The real tragedy is that this war, like all others since WW 2, is so politicized there is really no way to win cleanly if that is even a reasonable option. At least I knew where GW stood when he decided to go with "the surge." I cannot say the same regarding Obama.
Time will tell. You decide.(See 8 and 8a below.)
1)‘Settled’ Science and Unsettled Children
By Arnold Ahlert
There are many lessons to be learned from the unfolding scandal currently dubbed "Climategate." That many of you haven't heard about it at all is one of the lessons. That so many have is another. But the 800-pound gorilla behind all of it will likely be the least discussed component of the entire episode. Let's begin…
Climategate refers to a series of emails "hacked"—as in stolen— from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University in the United Kingdom. What they reveal is indisputable: the "science" of global warming has, at the very least, been compromised by the political ideology that drives it. Data has been manipulated or hidden from public view. Skeptical scientists have been marginalized along with academic journals that have printed their doubts, and the peer review process has been tainted by those who should know better.
The reaction to these revelations? Perhaps as revealing, if not more so, than the revelations themselves. Much like the ACORN scandal, the mainstream media—once again with the exception of Fox News—has either avoided the story completely, or sought to focus on the manner in which the emails were procured. This last bit is pivotal, because it is the basis by which the intrepid folks at the New York Times and other media sources have determined that they will withhold the damning evidence from the public: stolen material is unfit for print or broadcast.
Apparently this is a spanking new standard for the Times, whose appetite for disseminating purloined or secret stuff goes back at least as far as the top secret, "not intended for publication" Pentagon Papers in 1971, all the way through to revealing top-secret info about how the Bush administration conducted various aspects of the war on terror.
While "errors" of omission and large dollops of hypocrisy are nothing new in the annals of MSM behavior, what is new is that they can no longer get away with them. This story has legs for two reasons: 1. it is a genuine scandal and 2. the blogosphere, unlike far too much of the MSM, will not let it go unreported simply because it doesn't jibe with the liberal agenda.
Thus on the plus side, those of you who have heard of this story realize that the old media can no longer be trusted. As a result, your understanding of what is actually happening in the world goes far deeper than the average American. That is the minus side: too many of our fellow citizens still believe watching TV news makes them informed Americans. Too be kind, they don't know what they don't know. Too be less than kind, it's long past time they learned.
Which brings us to the 800-pound gorilla: you can't learn what you haven't been taught. Or worse, you can't make informed decisions when those decisions have already be made for you by an educational establishment which has been in the liberal tank for decades. With respect to this particular subject, how many school age children have been forced to watch Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" and given the impression that a blowhard politician with no scientific credentials whatsoever, a man whose own lifestyle contradicts everything he ostensibly believes in, is the last word on the subject? How many kids have been told global warming is "settled science" without offering them a scintilla of contrasting information? How many have been brainwashed into believing that "living green" is tantamount to the religious mandate to "go and sin no more?"
Every effort mankind has ever undertaken to obliterate individual freedom and increase the power of the state has always included the inculcation of children too young to think independently. This one is no different. If America is going to right itself, the war for our children's hearts and minds must be won.
But in order to win it, more people have to realize it exists. More importantly, they have to do something about it. This is a difficult undertaking for parents who are the front-liners in this fight. At the end of a busy day, very few people want to know—exactly—what their children are learning in school. Unfortunately, such apathy is the mother's milk of progressives for whom raising a generation of school children who disdain American exceptionalism is a prime directive. People with no particular pride in their country are a much more malleable bunch than those with a real understanding of self-reliance, Constitutionalism, and historical perspective.
A "burning planet"—only thirty-three years removed from a "freezing" one—reveals the true nature of progressivism. It is about the accumulation of power by any means necessary. And, as evidenced by the purloined emails, even the ostensible epitome of rational thinking, aka the scientific method, is as exploitable as anything else. But such people could never get as far as they've gotten without getting the children on board.
Ironically, they have told us so. How many times has a liberal touted this or that government agenda with the idea that they're doing it "for the children." When more Americans begin to understand that the more accurate phrase it "to the children," it will be the beginning of the end for these power-hungry thugs.
Here's hoping it happens sooner rather than later.
2)Palin and the Future
By Christopher Chantrill
A generation ago, liberals taught me to believe that Ronald Reagan was an extremist and a lightweight. Then I went to a Republican caucus in 1980 as a Bush supporter and met the Reagan supporters. I realized that they were the little people: mechanics, technicians, churchgoers...folks that used to be Democrats.
Now liberals are teaching us all to believe that Sarah Palin is a flake and a lightweight.
As the old saying goes: fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
The critics are right about Sarah Palin's memoir, Going Rogue. There's a lot of score-settling, although usually the culprits are nameless.
The critics will never like Palin. It is not just her hometown gushiness that galls them like nails on a blackboard. It is more like the cultural chasm between the Greek immigrants and the desiccated liberals in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Remember how embarrassed the heroine, Toula Portokalos, was about her chaotic Greek immigrant family? But the joke was really on the nice upscale parents of her WASPy romantic interest, Ian Miller. "Dry as toast" was the verdict of Toula's father, Gus, on Miller's parents.
That's my verdict on the snooty liberals that sneer at Sarah Palin: Dry as toast!
Modern Liberals are fortunate children. They emerged in the late 19th century as children of the wealthy. They were ashamed of their crude fathers, who came up from nothing. They wanted to be refined, unlike Father. They wanted to help the poor, but with other people's money. They wanted to give the poor an education, but with other people's money. They wanted to do creative work, and they wanted tenure.
Refined is something Sarah Palin has never been. Tenure is something she has never had. She worked through high school waitressing, cleaning offices, inventorying groceries. Then she got scholarships and worked to pay for college. Then she joined boyfriend Todd in Bristol Bay, Alaska, salmon-fishing and working slimy fish-processing jobs at the canneries. Off-season, Todd would work as a baggage-handler, and she would work at customer service and part-time reporting.
Picked by Wasilla mayor John Stein, Palin ran for city council and won in 1992. After two terms, she ran against Stein for mayor in 1996 and won. Then she ran for Lieutenant Governor in 2002 and lost. She upset incumbent Governor Murkowski in the primary and beat the Democrat in the general election to become Alaska's governor in 2006.
No wonder the liberals hate her. The whole point of public education, of business regulation, or rampant credentialism is to smother people like her before they have a chance to get anywhere.
No wonder the McCain campaign couldn't handle her. She's a force of nature. But what comes next?
We know from Palin's book tour that she has a base. You know who they are because you've seen them in line at the book stores. They are the aspiring white working/middle class, the same people that turned out for Reagan a generation ago: "Ray the Principal," "Jose the Hairdresser," "Peggy the Nurse," "Bob the Cop," "Joe the Plumber." Today's Democratic Party, once the party of the little people, has nothing to say to them.
The next question is, can Palin connect with moderates?
Fortunately, there is a simple answer to that question: We don't know. We might have an idea if she were a loyal Republican workhorse. But she isn't. She's a force of nature.
If Sarah Palin wants to lead the Republican Party in 2012, she'll have to make her own weather. The Republican establishment isn't going to help her, but that's OK. She once ran against the Republican establishment of Alaska and won.
If Sarah Palin runs for president in 2012, she'll be running against an incumbent: President Obama. But that's OK. She ran against an incumbent mayor and won. She ran against an incumbent governor and won.
But what about the issues? What does Sarah Palin know about economic policy or foreign policy? Good question. But let us put the question in context. What does President Obama know about economic and foreign policy after a year on the job that he doesn't need to unlearn (and fast)?
If you read Sarah Palin's book and listen to her interviews, you'll know that she is hammering away at one simple idea: commonsense conservatism. What does it mean? That will depend. But Palin's record tells us that when it's time to run for election, she knows how to win. When it comes time to master the details, she's done that, like with Alaskan energy policy. When it comes to selling the public on her program with speeches and town meetings, she's been there. When it comes to getting her agenda through the legislature, she's done it.
If only our incumbent president could say as much.
Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his roadtothemiddleclass.com and usgovernmentspending.com. His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.
2a) By Dewie Whetsell, Alaskan Fisherman.
The last 45 of my 66 years I've spent in a commercial fishing town in Alaska . I understand Alaska politics but never understood national politics well until this last year. Here's the breaking point: Neither side of the Palin controversy gets it. It's not about persona, style, rhetoric, it's about doing things. Even Palin supporters never mention the things that I'm about to mention here.
1. Democrats forget when Palin was the Darling of the Democrats, because as soon as Palin took the Governor's office away from a fellow Republican and tough SOB, Frank Murkowski, she tore into the Republican's "Corrupt Bastards Club" (CBC) and sent them packing. Many of them are now residing in State housing and wearing orange jump suits The Democrats reacted by skipping around the yard, throwing confetti and singing, "la la la la" (well, you know how they are). Name another governor in this country that has ever done anything similar.
2. Now with the CBC gone, there were fewer Alaskan politicians to protect the huge, giant oil companies here. So she constructed and enacted a new system of splitting the oil profits called "ACES." Exxon (the biggest corporation in the world) protested and Sarah told them, "don't let the door hit you in the stern on your way out." They stayed, and Alaska residents went from being merely wealthy to being filthy rich. Of course, the other huge international oil companies meekly fell in line. Again, give me the name of any other governor in the country that has done anything similar.
3. The other thing she did when she walked into the governor's office is she got the list of State requests for federal funding for projects, known as "pork." She went through the list, took 85% of them and placed them in the "when-hell-freezes-over" stack. She let locals know that if we need something built, we'll pay for it ourselves. Maybe she figured she could use the money she got from selling the previous governor's jet because it was extravagant. Maybe she could use the money she saved by dismissing the governor's cook (remarking that she could cook for her own family), giving back the State vehicle issued to her, maintaining that she already had a car, and dismissing her State provided security force (never mentioning - I imagine - that she's packing heat herself). I'm still waiting to hear the names of those other governors.
4. Now, even with her much-ridiculed "gosh and golly" mannerism, she also managed to put together a totally new approach to getting a natural gas pipeline built which will be the biggest private construction project in the history of North America. No one else could do it although they tried. If that doesn't impress you, then you're trying too hard to be unimpressed while watching her do things like this while baking up a batch of brownies with her other hand.
5. For 30 years, Exxon held a lease to do exploratory drilling at a place called Point Thompson. They made excuses the entire time why they couldn't start drilling. In truth they were holding it like an investment. No governor for 30 years could make them get started. Then, she told them she was revoking their lease and kicking them out. They protested and threatened court action. She shrugged and reminded them that she knew the way to the court house. Alaska won again.
6. President Obama wants the nation to be on 25% renewable resources for electricity by 2025. Sarah went to the legislature and submitted her plan for Alaska to be at 50% renewables by 2025. We are already at 25%. I can give you more specifics about things done, as opposed to style and persona Everybody wants to be cool, sound cool, look cool. But that's just a cover-up. I'm still waiting to hear from liberals the names of other governors who can match what mine has done in two and a half years. I won't be holding my breath.
By the way, she was content to return to AK after the national election and go to work, but the haters wouldn't let her. Now these adolescent screechers are obviously not scuba divers. And no one ever told them what happens when you continually jab and pester a barracuda. Without warning, it will spin around and tear your face off. Shoulda known better.
You have just read the truth about Sarah Palin that sends the media, along with the democrat party, into a wild uncontrolled frenzy to discredit her. I guess they are only interested in skirt chasers, dishonesty, immoral people, liars, womanizers, murderers, and bitter ex-presidents' wives.
So "You go, Girl." I only wish the men in Washington had your guts, determination, honesty, and morals.
3) Israel stripped thousands of Jerusalem Arabs of residency in 2008
By Nir Hasson
Last year set an all-time record for the number of Arab residents of East Jerusalem who were stripped of residency rights by the Interior Ministry. Altogether, the ministry revoked the residency of 4,577 East Jerusalemites in 2008 - 21 times the average of the previous 40 years.
In the first 40 years of Israeli rule over East Jerusalem combined, from 1967 to 2007, the ministry deprived only 8,558 Arabs of their residency rights - less than double the number who lost their permits last year alone. Thus of all the East Jerusalem Arabs who have lost their residency rights since 1967, about 35 percent did so in 2008.
According to the ministry, last year's sharp increase stemmed from its decision to investigate the legal status of thousands of East Jerusalem residents in March and April, 2008. The probe was the brainchild of former interior minister Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) and Yaakov Ganot, who headed the ministry's Population Administration.
The ministry said the probe uncovered thousands of people listed as East Jerusalem residents but were no longer living in Israel, and were therefore stripped of their residency. Most of those who lost their residency for this reason did not just move from Jerusalem to the West Bank, but were actually living in other countries, the ministry's data shows.
Those deprived of their residency included 99 minors under the age of 18.
Attorney Yotam Ben-Hillel of Hamoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual said the 250,000 Arab residents of East Jerusalem have the same legal status as people who immigrated to Israel legally but are not entitled to citizenship under the Law of Return.
"They are treated as if they were immigrants to Israel, despite the fact that it is Israel that came to them in 1967," he said.
A resident, unlike a citizen, can be stripped of his status relatively easily. All he has to do is leave the country for seven years or obtain citizenship, permanent residency or some other form of legal status in another country, and he loses his Israeli residency automatically.
Once a Palestinian has lost his residency, even returning to Jerusalem for a family visit can be impossible, Ben-Hillel said. Moreover, he said, some of those whose residency Israel revoked may not have legal status in any other country, meaning they have been made stateless.
"The list may include students who went for a few years to study in another country, and can now no longer return to their homes," he said.
Officials at Hamoked, which obtained the ministry data via the Freedom of Information Act, said they were concerned that some of those who lost their residency rights may not even know it.
"The phenomenon of revoking people's residency has reached frightening dimensions," said Dalia Kerstein, Hamoked's executive director. "The Interior Ministry operation in 2008 is just part of a general policy whose goal is to restrict the size of the Palestinian population and maintain a Jewish majority in Jerusalem. The Palestinians are natives of this city, not Johnny-come-latelys."
Sheetrit, however, insisted that the operation was necessary. "What we discovered is just the tip of the iceberg," he said. "The State of Israel pays billions of shekels a year in stipends to people who don't even live here. We sent notices to every one of them about the intention to revoke their residency; we gave them time to appeal. Those who appealed weren't touched."
The ministry data shows that 89 Palestinians got their residency back after appealing. Sheetrit said the probe revealed very serious offenses - such as 32 people listed as living at a single address that did not even exist.
4)Ahmadinejad: Nuclear issue resolved, no need for talks
Iran continued snubbing the world Tuesday, two days after defiantly announcing a decision to build ten uranium enrichment facilities in the face of international condemnation of its lack of transparency in dealing with the IAEA.
"Iran's nuclear issue has been resolved ... We will hold no talks (with major powers) over this issue. There is no need for talks," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday, in a televised interview communicated by the Reuters news agency.
"Talking about isolating Iran (over its nuclear work) is a psychological war launched by the West ... Iran is a unique country ... and no country can isolate it," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying.
Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) passed a resolution censuring Iran for constructing a second uranium enrichment plant near Qom without notifying the agency.
During the interview, Ahmadinejad said Teheran is reviewing the option of decreasing cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog and criticized Russia's support for the IAEA's resolution, calling it a mistake.
"Friendly relations with the agency are over. We will cooperate as much as they offer us compromises. We are reviewing this," he said.
The sharply worded IAEA resolution on Friday demanded Iran halt all uranium enrichment and stop construction of a newly discovered nuclear facility near the Iranian city of Qom. Iran responded by saying it would build even more such facilities.
Russia, which has cooperated with Iran in the past to develop its nuclear program, supported the resolution, earning it Ahmadinejad's censure.
"Russia made a mistake. It has no correct analysis about current situation of the world," Ahmadinejad said, maintaining that Britain and Israel had swayed the opinion of the UN body because of their animosity toward Iran.
Russia, Iran's longtime trading partner, built the country's first nuclear facility in Bushehr.
The Iranian president later referred to US President Barack Obama's involvement in UN-brokered efforts to convince the Islamic republic to ship a large portion of its low-enriched uranium out of the country. "Obama's behavior is worrying. We expected him to make changes," he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Iran's Fars news agency reported that Teheran would upgrade the quality of centrifuges installed at its UN-monitored nuclear enrichment facility in Natanz.
The report quoted top Iranian national security official Ali Baqeri as saying that the Islamic republic sought "to promote the quality of centrifuges, as the type of these centrifuges is more important than their number."
Iran says it has already installed 7,000 centrifuges at the Natanz site - which can hold over 50,000 such machines - while 25,000 centrifuges are in preliminary phases of installation.
Baqeri stated, however, that his country would continue to cooperate with the IAEA despite the agency's reproachful resolution, according to a report by Iran's national news agency.
Iran would use the IAEA in order to "guarantee its interests," he said, going on to praise the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a platform for cooperation and discourse with the UN nuclear watchdog and the West.
Also commenting on the issue was Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast, who said that Iran had only turned to independent production of nuclear fuel after the IAEA failed to supply the fuel it required for a Teheran research reactor.
"When a country presents its legal demands and is faced with an obstacle, it is obliged to supply its fuel through other means and if they pose restrictions on us, we should make plans and supply the fuel," Fars quoted Mehman-Parast as saying.
As Iranian leaders continued to react angrily to last week's IAEA resolution, a senior Russian diplomat said Tuesday that Moscow would back any decision to impose more sanctions against Iran, according to a Reuters report.
"If there is a consensus on Iran sanctions, we will not stand aside," the diplomat was quoted as saying. He added, however, that sanctions were not an immediate concern.
"We would rather have Iran cooperating more openly … to lift concerns, which are gaining more ground," he said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang, meanwhile, said Tuesday that more dialogue, not sanctions, was needed to resolve the issue of Iran's nuclear program. His words came after Teheran announced Sunday that it plans to build 10 more uranium enrichment facilities
Speaking at a press conference, the Chinese spokesperson said that sanctions "are not the goal" of renewed UN pressure on Iran. "We should properly resolve this issue through dialogue," he said. "All parties should step up diplomatic efforts."
The UN's nuclear agency on Friday passed a resolution demanding that Iran halt all enrichment activities.
US and European officials have warned that Iran risks sinking ever deeper into isolation, but Iran has said it felt forced to move forward with the enrichment plans following the IAEA's resolution.
Enrichment can be used to produce material needed for atomic weapons as well as fuel for nuclear power plants. Iran insists it only wants the latter.
The UN inspectors and monitoring are the world's only eyes on Teheran's program.
Predicting China's actions on the issue has not been easy, and the US has been pressuring Beijing to take a stronger stand on the issue. China has strong and growing commercial and investment ties to Iran.
5)Barack Obama, Conflicted Commander-in-Chief:His head says “win,” his heart says “don’t commit.”
By Rich Lowry
Prepare for the advent of Barack Obama, neocon. On the Afghan War, he is throwing in with the lying, warmongering running dogs of neoconservatism by ordering a surge of some 30,000 troops.
Obama has to become a president of victory even though he hails from a party of defeat. The responsibilities of office separate him from a political base that only sounded stalwart on the Afghan War so long as it was a handy political tool with which to beat George W. Bush about the head and shoulders.
As soon as Obama assumed office, liberals bailed from the war with an almost comical desperation. They professed to have just discovered that Hamid Karzai is corrupt. That al-Qaeda is mostly across the border in Pakistan. That waging a war of counterinsurgency in one of the poorest, most illiterate countries in the world is a trying and complex endeavor.
They suffered the torment of visions of Obama as another LBJ, a dogged aggrandizer of the state undone by an unpopular foreign war. To borrow FDR’s terms, they didn’t want Obama to go from Dr. New Deal to Dr. Win-the-War, not with the multitrillion-dollar prizes of health-care reform and cap-and-trade within reach.
Obama knows how they feel. He announced his Afghan War strategy in March somewhat dutifully, a box checked on the more important road to a massive expansion of government. When Gen. Stanley McChrystal said he needed another 40,000 troops to implement that strategy, Obama blanched and retreated into a months-long exercise in high-profile, leak-prone agonizing.
Upon taking office amid World War I, French prime minister Georges Clemenceau declaimed: “My home policy: I wage war. My foreign policy: I wage war.” Obama took office not wanting to wage war or, if he could help it, manage a foreign policy. He rose to prominence as the peace candidate in a Democratic party that thrills to transforming America, not faraway countries of which we know nothing.
But it’s one thing to be a New York Times columnist and turn on the war after declaring it the central front in the War on Terror for years. It’s another to be president and eventually have to order the choppers to take off from the roof of the embassy in Kabul in the ensuing debacle.
In Obama’s long review, the fanciful suppositions of the war’s skeptics were systematically knocked down: No, the war couldn’t be waged from afar with drones and Special Forces; no, the Taliban couldn’t be considered a relatively harmless force; no, Afghanistan couldn’t slide into chaos without further destabilizing Pakistan.
The professionals, Hillary Clinton, Bob Gates, and Admiral Mullen, all lined up in favor of some form of the surge. Obama was left without any plausible reason to heed his deepest instincts.
Consequently, he finds himself in rough alignment with all the same hated people who conceived, executed, and supported the Iraq surge, and against the people who opposed it — and elected him. He’s about to embark on the rarest of things for him: a major, genuinely bipartisan initiative. Until now, the “post-partisan” Obama has avoided anything like NAFTA in Bill Clinton’s first year or No Child Left Behind in Bush’s.
The same Democrats who tried to end the Iraq War by defunding it hope to crimp the Afghan War by funding it. Willing to increase the debt on anything but fighting our enemies, House liberals agitate for a war surtax. Surely they can spare some of the proceeds from their promised half-a-trillion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid for funding our troops?
If Obama weren’t burdened by his office, he might stand with his party’s newly minted Afghan doves and familiar purveyors of defeat. But he can’t. That makes him a conflicted commander-in-chief, ordering the surge, but loading it with conditions and “off ramps,” talking of resolve, but leaving room to maneuver. His head says “win,” his heart says “don’t commit.”
— Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. © 2009 by King Features Syndicate
6)Cheney slams Obama for projecting 'weakness'
By: Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei
On the eve of the unveiling of the nation’s new Afghanistan policy, former Vice President Dick Cheney slammed President Barack Obama for projecting “weakness” to adversaries and warned that more workaday Afghans will side with the Taliban if they think the United States is heading for the exits.
In a 90-minute interview at his suburban Washington house, Cheney said the president’s “agonizing” about Afghanistan strategy “has consequences for your forces in the field.”
“I begin to get nervous when I see the commander in chief making decisions apparently for what I would describe as small ‘p’ political reasons, where he’s trying to balance off different competing groups in society,” Cheney said.
“Every time he delays, defers, debates, changes his position, it begins to raise questions: Is the commander in chief really behind what they’ve been asked to do?”
Obama administration officials have complained ever since taking office that they face a series of unpalatable — if not impossible — national security decisions in Afghanistan and Pakistan because of the Bush administration’s unwavering insistence on focusing on Iraq.
But Cheney rejected any suggestion that Obama had to decide on a new strategy for Afghanistan because the one employed by the previous administration failed.
Cheney was asked if he thinks the Bush administration bears any responsibility for the disintegration of Afghanistan because of the attention and resources that were diverted to Iraq. “I basically don’t,” he replied without elaborating.
Obama will announce a troop buildup in Afghanistan in a speech Tuesday at West Point, and he’s expected to send at least 30,000 more U.S. troops to the country. The White House also has said that Obama will outline a general time frame for the United States to begin withdrawing from Afghanistan.
But Cheney said the average Afghan citizen “sees talk about exit strategies and how soon we can get out, instead of talk about how we win.
“Those folks ... begin to look for ways to accommodate their enemies,” Cheney said. “They’re worried the United States isn’t going to be there much longer and the bad guys are.”
During the interview, Cheney laced his concerns with a broader critique of Obama’s foreign and national security policy, saying Obama’s nuanced and at times cerebral approach projects “weakness” and that the president is looking “far more radical than I expected.”
“Here’s a guy without much experience, who campaigned against much of what we put in place ... and who now travels around the world apologizing,” Cheney said. “I think our adversaries — especially when that’s preceded by a deep bow ... — see that as a sign of weakness.”
Specifically, Cheney said the Justice Department decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the accused mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, in New York City is “great” for Al Qaeda.
“One of their top people will be given the opportunity — courtesy of the United States government and the Obama administration — to have a platform from which they can espouse this hateful ideology that they adhere to,” he said. “I think it’s likely to give encouragement — aid and comfort — to the enemy.”
The former vice president is splitting his time among his houses in Virginia, in Wyoming and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, with a place at each for working on his memoir, to be published in the spring of 2011. His eldest daughter, former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Liz Cheney, is collaborating on the writing and overseeing research.
During the campaign, Cheney recalled, he saw Obama as “sort of a mainline, traditional Democrat — liberal, from the liberal wing of the party.” But Cheney said he is increasingly persuaded by the notion that Obama “doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism — the idea that the United States is a special nation, that we are the greatest, freest nation mankind has ever known.”
“When I see the way he operates, I am increasingly convinced that he’s not as committed to or as wedded to that concept as most of the presidents I’ve known, Republican or Democrat,” he said. “I am worried. And I find as I get out around the country, a lot of other people are worried, too.”
Cheney said his worries extend to Obama’s domestic agenda: “He obviously has a very robust agenda of change — health care system, cap and trade, redistribution of wealth. I rarely hear him talk about the private sector.”
Cheney charged that Obama’s plans for Afghanistan are based on political calculations by “a guy who campaigned from one end of the country to the other, saying Afghanistan was the good war ... so that he could come across as somebody who’s not against all wars.”
“Now, things have changed. Iraq’s going significantly better because of the decisions we made in the Bush administration — the surge and so forth,” the former vice president added. “And he’s having to deal, sort of up close and personal, with the Afghanistan situation. And it’s tough — it’s hard. ... Sometimes I have the feeling that they’re just figuring that out.”
Looking ahead to 2012, Cheney said the likely midterm congressional losses for Democrats next year “point in the direction of a very competitive situation in 2012 — a very respectable shot for the Republicans of taking back the presidency.”
“There’s a lot of churning and a lot of ferment out there in the party today, and that’s basically a healthy thing,” he said. “Our adversaries — our Democratic adversaries — like to be able to portray the Republican Party as a bunch of wingnuts — narrow based, always have some agenda that’s not attractive to the public. ... That’s easier for them, and more fun, than dealing with their own problems. And I think their problems are significant.”
Cheney said “it’s far too soon to be handicapping” his party’s presidential nominee. “We’ve got a lot of folks, I’m sure, who will want to pursue it. I haven’t committed and don’t expect to anytime soon,” he said. “I think we’ve got a lot of interesting people in the Republican Party.”
Cheney at first declined to make any comment about Sarah Palin, but finally said: “I like her, personally. ... She’s charming, engaging. She’s got as much right to be out there as anybody else. Will she be a candidate at some point? How would she do as a candidate? Those are all questions that only time will tell.”
And what does he think about the movement to draft him to seek the top job himself?
Cheney says he sees no such scenario. “Why would I want to do that?” he replied. “It’s been a hell of a tour. I’ve loved it. I have no aspirations for further office.”
7)Strong enough for a 'reset' with Russia?
By Ivan Krastev
It was Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes who observed that relations between two actors really involve six "persons": each actor's self-image, each actor's image of the other and, finally, what each actor actually is. Under this rubric, the success of President Obama's "reset" policy with Russia will depend not only on getting U.S. actions toward Moscow right but also on getting insight into the way the Kremlin views the United States and its new president.
Unlike many of its critics, the new Obama administration is not inclined to view Vladimir Putin's Russia as a paperback edition of the Soviet Union. Russia today is not a democratic state, but it is not an ideology-driven tyranny, either. Russians are wealthier and enjoy more freedoms than they have at any other period in their history. Russian elites are no longer in the business of destroying capitalism -- they are in the business of enjoying it. The majority of Russians favor democracy, but most are also deeply suspicious of America's desire to bring democracy to their country. So any hopes that American pressure can bring democratic change in Russia are illusory.
Obama is also right to believe that Russia is more of a declining power than an insurgent power and that its recent revisionism -- manifested last August during its war with Georgia -- is better understood as evidence of the Kremlin's insecurity rather than its imperial designs. In the aftermath of the global economic crisis, the Kremlin is terrified by Russia's weakness and its irrelevance in the post-Cold War era. Russian officials are desperate to preserve the country's "great power" status at a time of major geopolitical shifts. As Putin said in 2008, "Russia will either be a great power, or it will not be at all."
So, Obama has good reasons to believe that a policy based on pragmatism and respect can win over Moscow. For the Kremlin, it is more feasible to preserve its great-power status in cooperation with the United States than in confrontation. The United States and Russia probably do not have common aims and dreams, but they have common worries: Both Washington and Moscow are concerned about the rise of China and are threatened by the rise of radical Islam. (Russia is the European country with the largest Muslim minority and is therefore most vulnerable to Islamic radicalism.) Despite its numerous weaknesses, Russia also possesses strategic potential that could be critical to Washington's effort to rebalance the world order.
Where this White House may be wrong is in its understanding of Russia's view of American power and its future role in the world. There are reasons to believe that President Dmitry Medvedev has decided to bet on Obama's success, but Russia is not only, or even primarily, Medvedev. Russian foreign policy is profoundly shaped by the Soviet Union's collapse and its aftermath. Russian elites tend to think about the United States today through direct analogies with the Soviet experience of the late 1980s. Many in Russia are ready to read America's difficulties in Afghanistan as a repetition of the failure of Soviet occupation of that country and to judge the political consequences of the decline of Wall Street as similar to the effect the fall of the Berlin Wall had on Soviet global influence.
For example, Igor Panarin, a professor at Moscow's Diplomatic Academy, has gone so far as to predict the disintegration of the United States in the next decade. His view is extreme but symptomatic of such mind-sets. In an article in "Russia in Global Affairs," Alexander Kramarenko, the head of the policy planning department of Russia's Foreign Ministry, wrote that "the current crisis in the U.S. falls in the same category as the breakup of the Soviet Union." Russians clearly perceive America's global influence as being in irreversible decline and American society shattered by major political, economic and ideological crises.
Obama himself is largely viewed in Russia as the American Mikhail Gorbachev, but Russians are less impressed than other Europeans have been with Obama's brilliance and rock-star popularity. They remember the Gorbi-mania that conquered the globe at the moment the Soviet Union was about to crumble. Russians are tempted to view Obama's global reformism and his progressive agenda as an expression of American weakness and not as an expression of America's regained strength and legitimacy.
What does all this mean for the "reset" policy? First, it means that Russians will not be in a hurry to respond to the positive signals coming from Washington, and any perception of Washington weakness will diminish Moscow's willingness to cooperate even in areas of common interest and common concern. It is not Obama's deference but his strength that can persuade the Kremlin to cooperate with Washington. Simply put, to persuade Russians to join him, Obama must first demonstrate that he does not need them. He needs a clear victory, whether against the Taliban in Afghanistan, Iran's nuclear ambition or Beijing's habit of devaluing its currency. Obama must show strength for the "reset" policy to succeed.
Ivan Krastev is chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, Bulgaria, and a founding member of the European Council on Foreign Relations.
8)Obama announces 30,000 additional troops for Afghanistan
"As commander in chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan," Obama said in a speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.
By William Branigin
President Obama outlined a plan Tuesday night to speed the deployment of an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan early next year, nearly tripling the force he inherited at the start of his presidency, and then to start withdrawing American personnel in July 2011 as a way to prod the Afghan government to accept greater responsibility for fighting the radical Islamist Taliban movement and securing the country.
"As commander in chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan," Obama said in a speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. "After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. These are the resources that we need to seize the initiative, while building the Afghan capacity that can allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan."
Laying out what he called the "huge challenges" facing U.S. and allied forces, Obama said: "Afghanistan is not lost, but for several years it has moved backwards. There is no imminent threat of the government being overthrown, but the Taliban has gained momentum." Al-Qaeda "has not reemerged in Afghanistan in the same numbers" as before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, "but they retain their safe havens along the border," he said. "And our forces lack the full support they need to effectively train and partner with Afghan security forces and better secure the population."
Obama linked the effort in Afghanistan to U.S. support for a battle against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in neighboring Pakistan, and he offered assurances to the people of both countries.
"We will act with the full recognition that our success in Afghanistan is inextricably linked to our partnership with Pakistan," he said. "We are in Afghanistan to prevent a cancer from once again spreading through that country. But this same cancer has also taken root in the border region of Pakistan. That is why we need a strategy that works on both sides of the border."
He rejected criticism that he has dawdled in setting out a new war plan for Afghanistan. "There has never been an option before me that called for troop deployments before 2010, so there has been no delay or denial of resources necessary for the conduct of the war," he said.
"I do not make this decision lightly," Obama told the cadets and a national prime-time television audience. "I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan." The danger from Islamist extremists operating there "will only grow if the region slides backwards and al-Qaeda can operate with impunity," he said. "We must keep the pressure on al-Qaeda, and to do that, we must increase the stability and capacity of our partners in the region."
Obama said the fact that Pakistan possesses nuclear weapons raises the stakes, "because we know that al-Qaeda and other extremists seek nuclear weapons, and we have every reason to believe that they would use them."
But he said he would not hand a "blank check" to the corruption-riddled Afghan government, and he rejected the notion of long-term U.S. involvement in nation-building in Afghanistan in any case.
"That is why our troop commitment in Afghanistan cannot be open-ended, because the nation that I am most interested in building is our own," the president said.
Obama said his new approach in Afghanistan is likely to cost an additional $30 billion this year. But he pledged to work closely with Congress to address these costs.
"The 30,000 additional troops that I am announcing tonight will deploy in the first part of 2010 -- the fastest pace possible -- so that they can target the insurgency and secure key population centers," Obama said.
He said the reinforcements would "increase our ability to train competent Afghan security forces," allowing more Afghans to "get into the fight" and creating conditions for U.S. withdrawal.
In his long-awaited announcement of a new war plan for Afghanistan -- where 68,000 U.S. troops are currently deployed, about 33,000 of them sent there this year -- Obama said he has asked for additional contributions from U.S. allies. Those troops are intended to help make up the difference between the U.S. reinforcements and the 40,000 troops that the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan has requested to deal with the threat of a resurgent Taliban.
"Some have already provided additional troops, and we are confident that there will be further contributions in the days and weeks ahead," Obama said. "Our friends have fought and bled and died alongside us in Afghanistan. Now, we must come together to end this war successfully. For what's at stake is not simply a test of NATO's credibility. What's at stake is the security of our allies, and the common security of the world."
According to Obama, the extra U.S. and allied troops would "allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces and . . . begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011." He said this withdrawal will be executed "responsibly" by "taking into account conditions on the ground," as he said has been the case in drawing down U.S. troops in Iraq.
The United States would continue to help Afghan security forces "to ensure that they can succeed over the long haul," he said. "But it will be clear to the Afghan government -- and, more importantly, to the Afghan people -- that they will ultimately be responsible for their own country."
Speaking before an audience of West Point's cadets, Obama addressed the nation a little more than eight years after U.S.-backed Afghan forces drove the Taliban from power in Kabul, ending five years of brutal rule marked by warfare against ethnic minorities and strict imposition of an extremist version of Islamic law. During that period, the Taliban harbored Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization, allowing it to set up bases and safe houses to train militants and plot attacks against the West.
In a briefing before Obama's speech, a senior administration official told reporters that the U.S. goal in Afghanistan is "to prevent the return of . . . al-Qaeda and to prevent the Taliban from overthrowing the Afghan government." He said the "surge" of U.S. forces ordered by Obama was aimed at reversing Taliban momentum that has been building steadily for three or four years, securing population centers in the south and east and training Afghan forces as quickly as possible so they can assume responsibility and allow U.S. forces to withdraw.
"This surge . . . will be for a defined period of time," the official said. "We do not intend . . . to commit American combat forces indefinitely to Afghanistan."
Obama's announcement that he is simultaneously escalating the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan and setting a starting date for withdrawal reflected the divisions that arose within his administration during a three-month strategy review and the difficult politics he faces in selling his plan on Capitol Hill.
Many Democrats oppose sending more U.S. troops to wage a war that most Americans now believe is not worth fighting, according to recent polls.
Tackling arguments against his decision, Obama rejected the idea that "Afghanistan is another Vietnam," an argument he said "depends on a false reading of history," and that the United States should cut its losses and pull out now.
"To abandon this area now -- and to rely only on efforts against al-Qaeda from a distance -- would significantly hamper our ability to keep the pressure on al-Qaeda and create an unacceptable risk of additional attacks on our homeland and our allies," he said.
He said going ahead with the troops already in Afghanistan "would simply maintain a status quo in which we muddle through and permit a slow deterioration of conditions there," ultimately proving more costly.
To those who oppose identifying a timeline for withdrawal, he said, an "open-ended escalation of our war effort" would commit the United States to "goals that are beyond what we can achieve at a reasonable cost" and would remove "any sense of urgency in working with the Afghan government."
Obama declared: "It must be clear that Afghans will have to take responsibility for their security, and that America has no interest in fighting an endless war in Afghanistan."
A White House fact sheet issued after the speech said a surge of "civilian experts" would accompany "a sizable infusion of additional civilian assistance."
The document identified the top U.S. reconstruction priority as "implementing a civilian-military agriculture redevelopment strategy to restore Afghanistan's once vibrant agriculture sector." This, it said, would "help sap the insurgency of fighters and of income from [opium] poppy cultivation."
As part of a new U.S. political strategy, the White House said, the United States will support "Afghan-led efforts to reintegrate Taliban who renounce al-Qaeda, lay down their arms, and engage in the political process."
Explaining Obama's plan to start drawing down U.S. troops in July 2011, an administration official said before the speech that the date marks "the beginning of a process which is not yet defined in terms of the length of the process or the end point." The pace of the withdrawals and the final pullout will be determined by "conditions on the ground," he said.
By setting a date to start the withdrawals, Obama hopes to prod Afghan President Hamid Karzai to crack down on official corruption, build his government as an alternative to the Taliban and establish a well-trained Afghan army.
Asked if publicly announcing the date would simply encourage insurgents to lie low, the official said, "if the Taliban thinks they can wait us out, I think that they're misjudging the president's approach." The timeline "may be misinterpreted, but the Taliban will do that at its own risk," he said.
He insisted that "there's a value in setting a date like this as a sort of strategic inflection point, because it does put everyone . . . under pressure to do more sooner."
Among those supporting Obama's decision was Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), who made headlines three months ago when he shouted "You lie!" at Obama during a presidential speech to Congress on health care. In a statement Tuesday, Wilson said he was "pleased that the president has listened to our commanders on the ground as they aggressively pursue a multidimensional counterinsurgency strategy to secure Afghanistan."
NATO ministers are scheduled to meet later this week in Brussels to secure new commitments of additional forces for Afghanistan.
According to the French newspaper Le Monde, Obama is asking four major European NATO allies to contribute about 6,000 troops to the Afghan war effort. In one of a series of phone calls Monday to explain the U.S. strategy to leading allies and major powers, the newspaper reported, Obama asked French President Nicolas Sarkozy to send 1,500 additional troops.
Le Monde said Washington also is requesting 2,000 additional troops from Germany, 1,500 from Italy and 1,000 from Britain. NATO's military mission in Afghanistan, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), currently includes about 4,500 troops from Germany, 9,000 from Britain, 3,750 from France and nearly 2,800 from Italy.
Besides the United States, 42 other nations -- including all 26 NATO members -- have contributed troops to ISAF. By far the leading contributor to the NATO force has been the United States, with 34,800 troops. A similar number of American troops are under separate U.S. command. U.S. Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal heads both ISAF and the separate U.S. military contingent in Afghanistan.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told lawmakers Tuesday that 500 more British troops would be sent to Afghanistan early this month, raising the country's total to 9,500. He said he has received assurances "that several other countries in the coalition will also provide additional troops" and that thousands of Afghan soldiers would be deployed to embattled Helmand province to work alongside NATO forces, the British Defense Ministry reported.
Sarkozy, who declared in October that no additional French soldiers would be sent to Afghanistan, is now prepared to help meet Obama's request for more allied troops, depending on the Afghan government's commitment to improve governance and fight corruption, French news media reported.
Germany, for its part, faces strong internal opposition to providing more troops, especially after a German-ordered airstrike near Kunduz in early September reportedly killed dozens of civilians. A controversy over the U.S. airstrike on two hijacked fuel tanker trucks already has led to the resignation of a German cabinet member who was defense minister at the time.
In an hour-long conversation via secure video teleconference Monday night, Obama and Karzai "reaffirmed their commitment to work closely together to ensure stability in Afghanistan and to prevent the country from becoming a safe haven for terrorists," the White House said Tuesday. It said the two discussed a range of issues, including the rampant corruption that has helped the Taliban make inroads in recent years.
Obama urged more rapid development of Afghan security forces and stressed that "U.S. and international efforts in Afghanistan are not open-ended," but must be reevaluated within the next 18 to 24 months, the White House said.
In a separate call to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Obama pledged to continue assisting Pakistan in his fight against Islamist extremists and praised the country's "profound sacrifices" in its current offensive against the Taliban in northwestern Pakistan, the White House said.
Staff writer Scott Wilson in West Point contributed to this report.
8a)Analysis: Endgame or escalation? Or both?
By Ron Fournier
With echoes of George W. Bush's post-9/11 call to arms, President Barack Obama worked diligently Tuesday night to make his wartime address sound like an endgame rather than what it was — a striking escalation of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan.
Even as voters grow impatient with the eight years of war and Democrats fret about their prospects in next year's elections, Obama made the hard decision to increase the U.S. force in Afghanistan to 100,000 — nearly three times as many as when he took office.
Harder still, explaining it.
"I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan," Obama said during his prime-time speech at the U.S. Military Academy. "After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home."
He did not say how many troops would pull out in July 2011 or how many would be left and for how long. What is the strategy behind his exit strategy? Obama gave scant clues.
He pledged to improve Afghan security forces, help improve Pakistan's ability to fight terrorists and press Afghan President Hamid Karzai to eliminate corruption.
But nothing — not even an intriguing, if vague, promise of an exit date — changes Obama's hard bottom line: A lot more Americans are going to fight and die in a war supported by merely 35 percent of the public.
Fellow Democrats in Congress are threatening to withhold war funding.
Liberal supporters are sounding cries of betrayal.
Republicans are praising the surge but accusing Obama of endangering troops with an exit date.
He took on his critics as deliberately as he reached his decision, literally counting off the concerns over his approach.
"First, there are those who suggest that Afghanistan is another Vietnam," Obama said, raising the sad specter of Democrat Lyndon Johnson, whose presidency was consumed by the unpopular Asian war. Obama said Afghanistan, unlike Vietnam, was home to terrorists who spilled blood on U.S. soil.
"Unlike Vietnam," he added, "we are joined by a broad coalition of 43 nations that recognizes the legitimacy of our actions."
Both arguments echoed President Bush, who invoked 9/11 to buttress his foreign policies and made more of the "coalition of the willing" than was warranted.
Obama's strongest argument for war in Afghanistan also channeled Bush: "So, no — I do not make this decision lightly," he said. "I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of the violent extremism practiced by al-Qaida. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak."
It makes sense that Obama borrowed some rhetoric from Bush; they're following the same path. Obama inherited Bush's wars in two nations that have confounded world powers for generations.
Like Bush, Obama spoke forcefully about defeating al-Qaida. But, in stark contrast, Obama never flatly promised victory at war.
Afghanistan would be brought to a "successful conclusion," Obama said, and Iraq to a "responsible end."
Perhaps those wiggle words, more than any others Obama uttered Tuesday night, underscore the complexity of the commander in chief's decisions as he ends his first year.
EDITOR'S NOTE — Ron Fournier is the Washington bureau chief for The Associated Press.