Commenter Bill Bannon and I have been going back and forth about US military engagement in the Muslim world. It's his position that we're overextended and overinvolved in places like Afghanistan, where the Taliban are resurgent. He thinks that the Taliban have no international ambitions, whereas I believe one of their members who says, in an interview with Lara Logan, that they are cooperating with al-Qaeda and learning a lot . . . not least how to build IEDs. It's indisputable that they harbored al-Qaeda prior to the US-led invasion. That, according to many liberals, was the just war, whereas Iraq was merely about George W. Bush getting even with the people who tried to blow up his dad.
By now, everyone should know the history of Saddam's multiple violations of the ceasefire, of his use of poison gas against the Kurds, of his flouting of the many not-very-resolute resolutions issued by the toothless UN. Evidence released in 2003 showed definitively that Saddam's involvement with al-Qaeda went much deeper than anyone, especially the US's legacy media, was aware of or interested in admitting. Because of their intransigence and unwillingness to revise the narrative, most Americans still are unlikely to understand the degree to which the Clintons covered up that information.
The unearthing of documents directly linking Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda organization to Saddam Hussein this weekend may have hermetically sealed the Bush administration’s case that dismantling Iraq’s Baathist enterprise was in part necessary to undo terrorism’s dynamic duo. But closing that case may reopen a Pandora’s box for ex-Clinton administration officials who still believe their policy prescriptions protected U.S. national interests against the growing threat of terrorism during the past decade.
The London Telegraph’s weekend revelations raise deeply disturbing questions about the extent and magnitude to which President Clinton, his national-security adviser Samuel R. “Sandy” Berger, and senior terrorism and State Department officials — including Assistant Secretary of State for East Africa, Susan Rice — politicized intelligence data, relied on and even circulated fabricated evidence in making critical national-security decisions, and presided over a string of intelligence failures during the months leading up to the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
Analysis of documents found in the rubble of Iraq’s intelligence headquarters show that contrary to conventional wisdom, Iraqi military and intelligence officials sought out al Qaeda leaders, not the other way around, and ultimately met with bin Laden on at least two occasions. They also show that channels of communication between al Qaeda and Iraq were created much earlier and were wider ranging in scope than previously thought.
In case you've forgotten the details, you might wish to revisit them.
As I've noted on several occasions, one of the reasons State Department and other US agents were in Benghazi was to try to track down shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles that had gone missing from Gaddafi's armories when his regime was collapsing. Glen Doherty was spearheading what was in effect a buy-back program to wrest those weapons out of the hands of anyone who might not have minded selling them to terrorist affiliates. Lots of people were happy that Obama preferred to provide aid to anti-Gaddafi forces of whatever stripe rather than put American boots on the ground, but the spread of those weapons to operations with anti-American agendas was guaranteed by the maneuver. In his debate with Paul Ryan, Joe Biden blathered about how the administration was exercising caution in Syria (five times the size of Libya!), making sure that aid getting to anti-Assad forces via Middle Eastern partners in Saudi, Jordan and elsewhere, was going only to those trustworthy groups that had been fully vetted by the administration's brain trust.
What kinds of munitions the Assad regime may have acquired from Saddam, it's hard to know, and what they've since received from Russia and other trading partners someone situated as I am has a difficult time guessing. We do know, though, that Syria allies itself with Iran, which has become the biggest state sponsor of terrorism against the United States. Joe Biden can talk all he wants about how boxed in economically Iran is, but economic hard times don't really translate very well into reasonableness, as Paul Ryan pointed out numerous times when stating that we need to change their minds about how best to advance what they regard as their interests. Biden also poor-mouthed Iran's ability to weaponize their enriched uranium. We do know that the mullahs have sponsored the creation of a fairly impressive rocket program, which they represent as a matter of civilian scientific advancement, and we know that A.Q. Khan's helpful instructions for assembling atomic weaponry is certainly in their hands.
Biden's comments regarding Libya created new troubles for an administration desperately trying to find justifications for the President, the Secretary of State and US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice repeatedly trotting out the line for several weeks that the embassy disaster was "sparked" (to use the word they kept on employing) by a spontaneous demonstration over the YouTube trailer to Innocence of Muslims. He angrily pushed back against suggestions that the administration's tall story was a deliberate fabrication, claiming that their versions were all based on the very best evidence supplied to them by US intelligence agencies, including that coming out of the Foreign Service. How they could have been so certain that the murders of the four US personnel, including the ambassador, had been precipitated by demonstrations caused by a movie, when no demonstration preceded the attack, they can't seem to answer. It's at that weak point in the story about the story that meanie Republicans are focused.
Benghazi, as we all know by now, was a particularly nasty little Islamist hotspot, priding itself on the numbers of its citizens who went off to fight western forces in Afghanistan and to join Muslim militia in Darfur and other hotspots. The State Department's threat assessment seems to have been quite different from that of the people on the ground, including Lt. Col. Wood, who was in charge of Marine security forces in Libya, and who testified before a congressional oversight committee, along with Eric Nordstrom. Nordstrom testified that his requests for more protection at the embassy had either been rejected or ignored at various times, but also that more security personnel (McClatchy's big takeaway) would not have stopped the invaders. Although administration supporters, including Elijah Cummings, tried to pin the blame on Republicans whose desired budget cuts included those for State Department security, Charlene Lamb acknowledged that budgetary issues had never entered her calculations on security. Wood and his Marines had been dispatched to provide security in the transition period, while a new Libyan government was forming, and those costs were a line item for the Pentagon, rather than State. Wood had asked that their numbers be maintained for the time being. Lamb stated that it was State Department policy to try to transition from military-provided security as quickly as practicable, in part because locals are apt to find American military presence insulting. She was vague on exactly what kinds of considerations go into making such decisions, but whatever matrix there may be seems to display the rigor that might be generated by a fine arts steering committee. Liberals had demagogued the Blackwater in Baghdad matter quite successfully, but in doing so, they ensured that the supine administration would have to effect regulations for security guards that were every bit as insane as the rules of engagement that have tied the hands of American soldiers in war zones, including proscribing shooting at the enemy at night because it might discomfit the neighbors.
The decisions made or not made that led to the murders of the four Americans in Benghazi were politically motivated. That's why it was particularly outrageous for White House mouthpiece Stef Cutter to complain that the murders would not have been such a big deal had Romney and Ryan not been making such a big deal of them. Had they transpired under George W. Bush's watch, even without the transparent disinformation campaign, they would have crowded everything else out of the news cycle, general election or no general election. If such a cover-up had been added to the equation, it would have created a firestorm of coverage that would have consumed the White House. And yet here was Cutter complaining that there was too much coverage, and pointing the finger at Romney and Ryan, who had been quite restrained about adverting to the matter on the campaign trail. At the New York Times, coverage of the congressional oversight hearings was relegated to page 3 and beyond, because the editor-in-chief somehow felt that the hearing did little to advance anyone's understanding of what happened, and why. In fact, there were numerous bombshells dropped in those hearings. The big takeaway, for me—and this is not a conclusion that it takes any particular genius to understand—is that security was compromised in order not to offend the sensibilities of Muslims. That's why the administration reached immediately for the movie BS.
Bill Bannon can state that the Taliban don't have international ambitions, but it doesn't make any sense to claim that's the case. Across the Muslim world, outrage was directed against a movie created in a foreign country, in furtherance of the project of preventing people who live in other countries from speaking in any way that Muslims anywhere might find offensive. The UN has been instrumentalized in furtherance of that project, despite the abuse of Jews, Christians, Buddhists and other Muslims that is rampant not only throughout the Muslim world, but in Muslim communities throughout the world. What they are saying is that their sensibilities trump everyone else's. There was an almost universal outcry about the Bamiyan Buddhas, but those were prized antiquities. Living people treated as third-class non-citizens, as dhimmis, as sub-humans, aren't nearly as important.
And there are academicians, among others, who are willing to sell out freedom of expression throughout the world in order to placate the bigots, too, as Pamela Geller points out in this piece. As Jeff Goldstein has argued for many years now, the self-elect are pitching to perform the function of interpreting what in these cases would be the fine line between legitimate criticism and hate speech, and to prosecute on the basis of their own perjured sensibilities. These are the same functionaries who pride themselves on being "provocative," the same ones who elevate "dialogue" as the panacea to all cultural conflicts, and they want us all to shut up. The numerous actual religio-ideologically motivated attacks that preceded the embassy's storming are to be brushed off as the actions of a small minority of bad actors, to the great detriment of security, because those in authority don't want to 'provoke' the co-religionists of those who committed them. Meanwhile, each and every act of random gun violence committed in the United States is instantaneously presumed by the very same political cadre to have issued from TEA Party sympathizers. The manifest disparity in treatment, the obvious contradictions, are so lurid that one can only conclude that hate speech is whatever offends the sensibilities of the intelligentsia.
And we live and die with these ideologically skewed threat assessments. The TEA Party is a threat, but not Occupy. Global warming is a threat, but not radical Islam. American citizens are a threat, but not illegal immigrants, who should not even be called that, you raaaaacist. George W. Bush's debt is a threat, but not Obama's greatly accelerated debt accumulation. Corporate SuperPACs are a threat, but not public union campaign expenditures or illegal foreign campaign contributions. American sovereignty is a threat, but not unelected global bureaucrats. Voter ID is a threat, but not voter fraud. Signing statements are a threat, but not extraordinary abuse of executive privilege. Romney not supplying a lifetime's worth of long-form tax returns is a threat, but not self-serving White House leaks regarding secret operations. The Second and Tenth Amendments are threats, but not presidential circumvention of Congress. Outsourcing is a threat, but not the imposition of ever-new taxes that drives jobs overseas. Civil opposition to gay marriage and taxpayer funding of abortion is a threat, but not the ideology that results in the murder of gays and women accused of adultery. The only real threats to America is anything that threatens the Progressive Agenda, which, stupefyingly, is in bed with radical Islamism.
Ezra Pound wrote some wonderful poems (as well as a lot of dreck), but he was also a fascist sympathizer academician, and in this, as in many other things, he was ahead of the curve. The sherry and the cheese and the conferences and the bon mots must never end, no matter what the cost. That's what's called interpretation. For decades, the intellectual class have been preaching a doctrine whose logical outcome is the bankrupting of America, but consequences are for the unintelligent. A Progressive fascism undoubtedly considers itself superior to any other variety of fascism, because it is so 'well informed' and altruistically motivated, but it is a fascism nonetheless. Each and every entitlement community regards its own demands as morally superior to every other entitlement community's, and now that we've run out of money to feed all of their demands, they will fall to scrabbling. Let the Progressive punjabs interpret whose claims are in fact superior, they will never be those of taxpayers groaning under enormous notional liabilities.
The problem is, those people still vote and speak. If only their betters could find a way to silence them.
It is raaaaacist to vote against Obama, especially if you're black. That means that it's a form of hate speech. QED. If you're being lied to, it's for your own good. What you believe . . . that's a threat.