This is not Iraq, and this is not Afghanistan,” Obama said.

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This is not Pakistan. This is not Somalia. This is not Yemen. This is not Libya; he should have continued.

We are waging war all through Western Asia and Africa. mainly against terrorists but we also took on Muammar Ghadaffi and now Bashar al Assad; the legitimate leaders of their respective countries.

We are still waiting on the case against Ghadaffi and for honest answers on the impending anniversary of the Benghazi massacre.

For a president who pledged to push the “reset” button, Mr. Obama has become the most warlike leader our country has ever known. In May he declared the “War on Terror”, which he had renamed “contingency operations”, over. Now he wants to go once again to war.

He drew a red line in the sand and then redrew it again and yet we still do not have a compelling case nor a desired end state for an operation in Syria.

The Syrians, Iranians, and Russians have promised a wider war should we act. Russian destroyers have been located to the Mediterranean near Syria to back this threat up, and the Iranians have promised missile strikes on Israel. We are in a high stakes poker game and Mr. Obama is the mark.

In the background the Saudi Arabians and Gulf Arabs are supporting some form of moderate resistance in Syria to counter Iran, but are unable to rein in the Islamist extremists. There is a tri-polar political conflict between the Sunni moderates; the Islamists and the neo-Iranian Empire. And then comes the ROW (Rest of World).

In reading the political history of the Ottoman Empire in the late 1700’s and 1800’s one can begin to understand the complexities and importance of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Ottomans balanced constantly changing relationships very similar to today.

The dream of empire by Napoleon in Egypt and the changing alliances of the Ottomans with the British Empire, the Tsar, and Napoleon, especially with the fates of subject peoples such as the Greeks, Moldovans, Armenians, Bulgarians, Syrians, etc in constant play required that the Sultanate despite is decrepitude and corruption be upheld.

Now,  200 years later the chronological snobbery of the new great powers is leading to an even more volatile end state. Under the Sultan, Shia and Christian and Sunni were allowed to practice their faiths but now we have a state of religious civil war at hand. Egypt narrowly missed being drawn into the maelstrom. Libya is in constant tribal conflict.

But Syria represents a new Karbala, a call to the front lines for Sunni vs. Shia.

But this time the dark shadows of modern warfare overhang everything. Chemical warfare, air strikes, and heavy artillery generate massive casualties very rapidly. Syria is tearing itself apart with the help of a wide range of outside enablers. A dictator willing to use all means at his disposal is fighting to hang on.

And in Washington and Moscow and the West there is no clearly iterated reason for our involvement. We cannot abide the use of chemical weapons except when we can, as we did with Saddam Hussein’s use of poison gas versus the Iranians and his own people.

Mr. Obama means well, but the sad fact remains that the down side in getting involved in Syria is much greater than the up side.

 

Walk on By

 A meditation on narcotics in Orange County

There is world here in Southern California that exists under the radar of most people. In a land of wealth and privilege and hope there is a dark underside that we choose to ignore.

It starts in grade schools that fail to meet the needs of their students. Sometimes it is the school’s failing, or the student’s or their families. It can be the latch-key kid or the rich kid with too much time on their hands or the one with troubles fitting in or even some darker, more evil demons. For these demons are very real.

A weak moment. A desire to make the hurt go away. A desire to just get high and not deal with it.

Back when I was running the streets of New York, it was, as Grandmaster Flash said, “fun, baby”. But we learned damned fast that that wasn’t true. If you climb onto the dragon’s back, the dragon always wins. That was thirty years ago and kids are still making the same mistakes and nothing has changed.

When you talk to some of these kids, the story slowly comes out. The reasons for using come out. And what they are using today is far more dangerous than even a generation ago. The drugs are purer and more addictive and more damaging than ever. It seems that every week a kid in Orange County ends up in the morgue from an overdose.

In a time when alcohol is readily available and pot is virtually legal and incredibly powerful, the slide down into madness and death is easy with just a little bit of grease. This is not figurative. It is real as a heart attack.

The price of heroin is at an all-time low and it is easy to find. Just ask any of these kids if you need a hookup. Afghanistan, which supplies 95%+ of the world’s heroin, sees production grow every year. The poppy fields stop at the edges of our firebases. There are rumors that some of the heroin arrives at Camp Pendleton or transits Pendleton because there is less scrutiny. Sort of like the bad old days of the Vietnam War. 100 miles south of here the cartels are bringing it over in truck and boatloads. A Coast Guardsman died last week in a drug bust off of Santa Cruz Island, 100 miles north of here. The War on Drugs has spent hundreds of millions of dollars and is an utter failure.

The shrapnel from the drug trade is all over Orange County and no one pays attention. From the grave of the millionaire kid who “had a car accident” and whose family could have the records altered to a family at Holy Sepulcher grieving a 20 year old kid who OD’d “popping” something way too powerful for them to the kid with the melted synapses at the sheriff’s Theo Lacey facility, it pervades our culture.

Orange County has the highest density of sober living homes in the country. These are the ones who are trying to kick it. With AA meetings and NA meetings and help from their friends they’re doing the best they can. But the temptation can be right there sometimes. A quick hit that no one may notice that may or may not be the hot shot that kills them.

And they fall down and try to get back up again.

And most of us walk on by.

Enabling does no one any favors. Legalizing pot simply indulges stoners for the most part. One of the few growth industries in California in the past several years has been pot clinics. The drug companies legally produce enough oxycontin pills annually to overdose every man, woman, and child in China or more. “Pill Mills” and doctors writing sometimes hundreds of prescriptions for drug dealers and abusers are page 3 or page 4 news.

The fact is that our leaders don’t care or are profiting from our collective addiction. The entire trend of our society has been away from “right conduct”. And yet the people who are trying the hardest to help these souls are faced with indifferent families and indifferent leaders and a moral compass that has been purposely ripped from its moorings.

Funding is nonexistent and rehabilitation has at times been a for-profit industry.

Evil exists, and nowhere more so than in the world of narcotics. In our nonjudgmental world today some might say it is a matter of personal choices. But once that monkey is on their backs, it is no longer a choice. It is a cold hand slowly strangling the life out of them.

And most of us will walk on by.

On Benghazi – Of Course Obama Knew

This morning, former CIA Director David Petraeus testified to something that has been an open secret for months. The CIA knew within minutes that the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was a terrorist act planned in advance. Mr. Petraeus also stated that the CIA report was later altered by another Federal agency.

The Democratic Party’s left-wing held a photo-op yesterday decrying the attacks on U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for her espousal of the Administration line that the Benghazi attacks were the result of an obscure video on YouTube in the immediate aftermath of the event.

There is just a small problem with this line of defense. It is completely false. The Administration has been doing its best to obfuscate and obscure a truthful response on the Benghazi attack. For two weeks afterwards the Secretary of State, the President, and Ms. Rice knowingly lied to the American people. After these lies were exposed, the White House has been playing keepaway with the facts and the witnesses.

How do we know this? First, the New York Times offered a remarkably accurate report of the attack on September 12. A report that surely came from inside sources.

In addition, we have the President and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton implying on September 12 that it was the video and not a terrorist attack. The State Department could not move fast enough to produce and air advertisements on Pakistani Television apologizing for the video.

On September 14, the Libyan government had four men in custody according to Al Jazeera. On the 19th, the president of Libya laid out the details to that same network.

On September 24, the President appeared on “The View” and said the investigation was continuing, and did the same on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart. The commemorative photo, run by the Washington Post, is especially offensive in light of the lies.

In his speech to the U.N. General Assembly on the 25th, the President stated “If we are serious about these ideals, we must speak honestly about the deeper causes of the crisis” while ignoring the crisis of trust at home as he ignored the real cause for the violence.

The Daily Beast had the administration dead to rights on September 26.

The election came and went and the Administration has continued to do its best to cover up the cover up. But on October 26th, Director Petraeus dropped a curiously worded statement saying that  “No one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate. ”  This called into question whether a rescue force was prevented from rushing to Benghazi and absolved the CIA of decision-making authority. This after the Administration did its best to pin blame on the CIA and intelligence community.

Director Petraeus statement this morning is at complete odds with the Administration’s narrative. The CIA did its job on September 11 and reported the facts as they saw them.

Someone else was responsible for editing the report. But Ambassador Rice has a very difficult position. When she was trooped out to mouth the party line to the talk shows a few days after the assault, there was only one person who was authorized to approve her talking points; the President himself.

State reports to the President. The U.N. Ambassador reports to the President. The Director of National Intelligence reports to the President. The Director of the CIA reports to the President. The buck stops there.

The President has been caught in a web of his own lies. It is now up to us to hold him accountable.

The elephant in the living room in Benghazi

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton fell on her sword according to the national media, but without actually taking responsibility for the lies regarding who and why and how the Benghazi assassinations occurred. She took blame for the security failure, but not for the mischaracterization of the attack as from a spontaneous reaction to an obscure movie rather than its true source, Al Qaeda.

From the outset, Ms. Clinton, the President, and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice hewed to the party line that it was the rioters and not the radicals; at the U.N.; on “The View”, and on the talk shows a lie was propagated.

In the meantime, after the president spiking the ball on Osama Bin Laden and after hundreds of Hellfire strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, Al Qaeda was supposed to have rolled over and died. Instead, not only were Ambassador Stevens and his team killed, but also a senior security officer at our embassy in Yemen a few days later. They know who we are and where we live. Al Qaeda is alive and well.

And this is the President’s problem.  The facts don’t fit the narrative.

The Administration has a problem with the truth. But they have an even bigger problem.

11 years after 9/11, Al Qaeda and our enemies still have the ability to penetrate our intelligence and security and carry out complex attacks based upon that information.

Just like they did on December 30, 2009 when a Jordanian double agent went through 5 layers of security and penetrated a top security CIA facility at Camp Chapman in Afghanistan and detonated himself, killing 7 top analysts trailing Al Qaeda.

Just as the Taliban did in penetrating Camp Bastion in a complex attack on September 14.

There is a message being sent with these attacks that the Administration is desperate to cover up. The enemy have penetrated our security and can strike when they feel the time is right.

Our government and those of our allies have erected an Orwellian security apparatus costing hundreds of billions of dollars. This apparatus violates our civil liberties as it taps pretty much anything it pleases; traces financial transactions all over the globe, and stares at us through the cameras on the street or drones 60,000′ in the air.

And now we find that there are basic security leaks. The watchers have been penetrated. The all-powerful Oz, in this case our President, is a man behind a curtain peddling lies. And we are less safe than we were 11 years ago.

 

Resurgent Jihad

Today’s Congressional hearings on the 9/11 Benghazi attack shed new light on the circumstances surrounding the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in a raid now attributed to Al Quaeda. For one month, the Administration portrayed this raid as a response to an offensive videotape by local residents when the truth was that a heavily armed band of Islamic radicals intent upon one specific mission; the assassination of Ambassador Stevens.

The military and State Department security officials testifying to the Congressional committee were unanimous in recognizing the highly fluid and dangerous state on the ground in Libya and repeatedly requested additional assistance and to extend the mission of a security team already on the ground. These requests were denied by Foggy Bottom.

There were specific and credible warnings of an impending attack. These were ignored. The president of Libya just a few days after the attack spoke the truth which the Administration is only now admitting regarding the source of the attack.

In Afghanistan, the suicide mission at Camp Bastion was the most successful act of jihad in the war to date. Green on Blue violence is now an integral part of Taliban tactical planning and has taken over 55 ISAF lives this year. This does not include an accelerated rate of civilian massacres.

The Taliban is sending a clear message that they are back and that they are ruthless.

In a controversial speech in Chicago last week, CBS senior foreign correspondent Lara Logan ripped the narrative that we are winning the war against terrorism apart.

Having covered the Afghanistan War since 2001, her perspective is unique as she has seen the war the war has changed over the past 11 years. Her most recent project was to investigate the resurgence of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

She interviewed many of the key players including several of the commanding generals, Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Taliban emissaries, and Afghan government officials. The Taliban and their Al Qaeda and Pakistani allies do not see themselves as insurgents. They were the legal government of Afghanistan and are completely committed to retaking power once the international forces leave next year. Both the Taliban and Al Quaeda have set up training camps in the remote provinces of Nuristan and Kunar. That has not made the morning news.

Our own leadership has been minimizing this threat in the interest of internal American politics. Ms. Logan pointed out that unlike the Vietcong and North Vietnamese in that war, the Salafists see the struggle as a clash of cultures and faith. The caliphate is a real and attainable goal. But like the Vietcong and North Vietnamese, they have remained unchanged in their ideology. There is no kinder, gentler Taliban. It is a fiction being sold to us.

Salafism has now spread to Yemen, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Mauritania, Somalia, Mali, and Nigeria and has become much more virulent.While many of the governments and even the people wish for peace, the Salafists are infiltrating much as they have done in Pakistan. It is never the mass of the populace but rather small cliques who have asymetrically been able to commit terror whether the Bolsheviks, the Nazis, or the Salafists.

Most of these countries without strong, pro-Western dictators would be considered failed states. The primary missions of AFRICOM now are to combat Islamic terrorism and help prevent the failure of existing national governments. We may not agree with the political systems in some of these countries, but we must help prevent chaos as best we can with limited resources and involvement.

The Obama administrations support for the Arab Spring would be sorely tested in the political arena regardless of the Salafists. Nascent governments are almost impossible to predict. But the the role of the Salafists and the resurgence of Al Quaeda should be a strobe light for the next administration.

The Afghan people were never completely with us. Night letters, assassinations, and attacks have always created a barrier to international aid and the modernization of the country.There is a fatalistic expectation that they will once again be deserted and must make their accommodations with the Taliban.

On the other side of the border, Pakistan has multiple personality disorder coupled with extreme paranoia. It has a toxic political environment pitting sect and ethnicity against each other while the ISI and Army use the  both Taliban and Haqqani Network to both fund the insurgency through the narcotics trade and and counter Western and Indian influence in Afghanistan. The Pakistani government has gone from a shaky ally to a frenemy to an undeclared enemy. That Pakistani agents have been behind some of the worst terrorists incidents in Afghanistan is another data point in both the destabilization of Afghanistan and the growing sophistication of asymmetrical warfare.

Despite the narrative, the world is a much more dangerous place than it was in 1998, or 2001, or 2006, or even last year. We are perceived as weak and weak-willed. The retreat from Afghanistan will be the cause for rejoicing throughout the Islamic world. Not by all, but by the powerful minority willing to proclaim jihad.

There will be many unintended consequences caused by our fickle policies. A nuclear Iran is only one of our worries. As Ms. Logan concluded in her remarks,

” When I look at what is happening in Libya, it’s a big song and dance about whether this was a terrorist attack or a protest. And you just want to scream “For God’s sake, are you kidding me?”. The last time we were attacked like this was the U.S.S. Cole, which was a prelude to the 1998 embassy bombings, which were the prelude to 9/11. And you are sending in FBI agents. I hope to God that you are sending in your best clandestine warriors who are going to exact revenge and let the world know that the United States will not be attacked on its own soil. That its ambassadors will not be murdered. And the United States will not stand by and do nothing about it.”

General John Allen was suddenly promoted out of his job as commander of ISAF last week because he spoke the truth. This is the third commander who has been relieved in theater in the Afghan War.

Instead of the truth that needs to be told and heard there is a narrative at large that must be countered, or we shall pay a much higher price sooner rather than later.

 

 

 

What is really going on in Egypt?

The demonstrations have died down for the moment, but Friday, demonstration day, is only a few days away. If you follow the Middle East, the demonstrations usually follow Friday’s prayers at the mosques, when the more outspoken mullahs perform like Elmer Gantry in stirring religious and political fervor at times.

Unlike in the West, religion and politics are deeply intertwined, whether it is the opposition in Syria or Hezbollah in Lebanon or the nascent Salafist movement in Egypt. The crowds stream from the mosque and into the streets and things start burning and people get hurt.

The anger began in earnest when Khaled Abdullah, known for his incendiary television sermons against Christians and secularists, demanded justice and retribution. Al Nas, the satellite television station from which Abdullah broadcasts, was originally founded  by businessman Mansour bin Kadesh broadcasting music and entertainment, but became first a Sunni outlet, and then later a Salafist station broadcasting across the Middle East. The pot began stirring on September 8 with Abdullah’s first rants. On September 11, he was joined by Mohammed al-Zawahiri, the brother of Ayman, leader of al Q’aeda. Ayman had issued a call for revenge for the death of Abu Yahya al-Libi, AQ’s operational commander,  at the wrong end of an American Hellfire missile.

Last weeks riots began on 9/11, if you didn’t notice and were in my opinion nothing to do with an obscure Youtube video. The timing is self-explanatory much as Jay Carney and Susan Rice would like you to believe otherwise.

Our Embassy in Cairo has been under daily assault by protesters. Now it turns out that many of them; the professional thugs and even the young and unemployed have been being paid £50/day ($8.50) in a country where that is a lot of money. Hundreds if not thousands of the protesters are being paid, and no one knows where the money is coming from. Saudi interests? The Gulf? Pro Mubarak factions?

The majority in Egypt are angry with the government and Muslim Brotherhood. Not for what you might think, but for not having done enough to stop the violence. But as elsewhere in the Middle East, it is dangerous to speak out, especially against the thugs.

The worst riots have occurred in Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen. The focal point for American interest in Benghazi seems to have been a planned mission using a small protest as cover according to the latest reports. The timing has become obvious, but the links are still unclear.

What has become clear, though, is that this was not an accident. The majority of people in Egypt are just as concerned as we are. Invisible hands are moving the chess pieces and building upon the violence.

As the Pope visits Lebanon to pray for peace, itself a bold move, denial is not just a river in Egypt; it is our government’s policy.