I have argued for some months now that the erstwhile Governor of Alaska and candidate for Vice President was beyond relevance, rendering moot any need to comment on her nonsense. I must admit I was wrong; when more than 3.25 million people “like” a short note rehashing conservative talking points on Facebook, Palin’s relevance is evident. In a nation where perhaps two million people have formally asked to be ex-citizens, popular rants by the wife of an Alaska secessionist have real meaning.
It is, after all, the simple notion that many in America have regressed to Sarah Palin’s level that makes her relevant, rather than any improvement in her own feeble and misdirected talents. Formally patriotic citizens who fought the dishonor of flag burning are now all too willing to abuse its code by flying it upside down, before removing some of the stars from its field of blue. The notion is as disgusting, cowardly, and primitive as Sarah Palin proved herself to be during her own national campaign; apparently, it spreads like a virus.
George W. Bush was applauded by conservatives and mocked by liberals for his pronouncement of an Axis of Evil. Consisting of Iran, Iraq, and North Korea, the Axis of Evil was a construct designed to sell the war in Iraq to a skeptical America. Speechwriter David Frum knew that Americans needed to see a larger than life threat, similar to the one framed by FDR prior to WWII, in order to commit to a new war in the sands of ancient Babylon. He knew, in other words, that we Americans are still imprisoned by the same mindset that came of age through successes in WWII and Korea, and came to maturity in the decades long struggle of the Cold War.
As our nation has matured, we have settled very near the mindset that lost the British their American colonies. As Americans, we are the children of insurgents. We are nothing less than the first successful guerrilla warriors to throw off their colonial masters. We were terrorists in 1776, cutting down Redcoats from cover with our Kentucky Rifles, fighting traditional formations with non-traditional tactics. The erstwhile revolutionaries that are our ancestors earned their freedom (with the help of the French) by outlasting, frustrating, and annoying the British until they finally returned home. But we have reached a point in our national life-cycle where we are the traditionalists. We understand set-piece warfare that results in unconditional surrender. We ignore the realities of unconventional warfare. We forget that other nations, and their citizens, are disinclined to accept the “freedom” of outsiders.
Israel is a remarkable place. Just smaller than the state of Massachusetts, with just less than the population of New York City, Israel has been nothing less than the focal point of international relations for 60 years. I would argue that the effect of Israel on U.S. foreign policy is and has been greater than that of any other entity, including the Soviet Union. The contradictions and complications that swirl around the Jewish state are no more likely to find resolution now than at any time in history. Republicans and Democrats have come and gone, in the White House and the Congress, without meaningful resolution.
Foreign policy is supposed to be a bipartisan deal; when George W. Bush was in office, we the people were reminded often that politics “stopped at the water’s edge”. This ethic has, apparently, passed its expiration date, but the realities of Israel and the issues that surround her cry out for American political unity. This is sadly not forthcoming. There are elements in this nation that believe that the nation of Israel was founded illegally and immorally, and that the only real solution is its disolution. They are balanced by AIPAC and a rising evangelical rush to co-opt the struggle of Jews in the service of Christian ambition. As per usual, extreme positions are the root of the problem, not the solution.
The great American author, Tom Clancy, noted in the epilogue to The Sum Of All Fears that it was not probable that any free democracy could prevent a terrorist event using weapons of mass destruction. Since 9/11, most of the nation’s best analysts, through interviews on television or in print, have repeatedly stated that another major attack is a near inevitability. This friends, leads us to the nature of terrorism; the ability of a small force able to bend a larger force to its will through intimidation. But the United States hasn’t changed in response to the events of 9/11, have we?
Clancy made it a point to reference the free democracy in his note. Liberty, after all, does not blend well with a police state. For decades the Red Chinese, and the Soviets, Nazis, and Czarists before them, controlled the ethnic and religious divisions that existed in their nations. It is not coincidental that bloodshed began anew in the Balkans when Yugoslavia was dissolved; the tensions of Serb and Croat had been sublimated to the will of world socialism. Iraq as well, showed the results of tyranny on the profession of terror; Hussein allowed no jihad in his country, and was utterly without limits in his ability to enforce his will. It took a foreign power to uncork the terrorist potential in that nation.
For the next several weeks, political “journalism” will be filled with reports on President Obama’s first year performance. Principal in many of these treatments will be the poll numbers on his administration’s handling of various topics. Polls are especially poor methods to track job performance (imagine the “general public” evaluating your performance at work in a poll), and in this climate, they are worse than ever at capturing the facts. For this reason, I will ignore polling for both this post and that one that will come next (containing my grade for the Republican opposition).
The criteria for evaluation include five categories:
- Constitutional alignment
- Alignment with campaign promises
- Structural improvements versus cosmetic change
- Ethical foundation
- Execution of plan
Ronald Reagan’s administration had its struggles with international terrorism. Early miscalculations in Lebanon combined with the despicable work of the governments in Syria and Lybia captured nearly as many headlines as the Cold War. In the end though, Mr. Reagan and his team had a coherent strategy for dealing with the issue; for the countries that sponsored activity, proportional response and international castigation; for the terrorists themselves, death by special operations or treatment as a common criminal.
Reagan’s FBI director put it best when he stated that treating terrorism exclusively as an act of war elevates the terrorists to the level of nations. The administration wanted to debase the individuals by treating them as the worthless criminals that they truly were. They accomplished this by not allowing them to claim a cause. The old saying that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” crumbles in the face of justice fairly (and ruthlessly) dispensed. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his ilk are murderers, nothing more. This fact does not diminish the sacrifice and heroism of the citizens of this nation on September 11, 2001. A finding, in our court of law, that these pieces of garbage are nothing more than murderers worthy of execution reinforces the strength of our nation.