Thursday, January 25, 2007

Presidential Failures

Let he who says a President is merely a figurehead, think again. Presidents are significant, even when we don't wish them to be.

We're back in Somalia. Again. Two weeks ago, the U.S. led an airstrike on a group of terrorists, and we did so again yesterday. This is the way we should conduct our war against the terrorists, IMHO. I don't believe in using ground troops unless it's absolutely necessary. If we do use ground troops, we need to flood the area with troops as far as the eye can see (as General Haig suggests). Because whenever America does anything half-hearted, we pay for it.

Examples abound: The current Iraqi and Afghanistan wars (under President Bush) and Somalia (under President Clinton) are the most recent ones. Lately we've been conducting wars as if they're an expensive hobby, instead of solving the problem and getting out again.

Of course there are reasons that wars are now being conducted this way. When it's less draining on the average American citizen, they don't complain. Most of us go on with our lives, shopping, socializing, partying, and gadding about. The WWII generation would be ashamed of us, and rightly so. But our own leaders don't demand any more; in fact, we are essentially leaderless. So, we drift about like a ship without a captain.

Politicians have learned that if you leave the average American alone, they will leave the politicians alone to pursue whatever is most profitable or enjoyable.

Despite the reports that Bush sheds an occasional tear over a fallen soldier (and I've seen the footage), he is pursuing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for reasons that trump the soldiers' lives. The pain isn't intense enough to cause him to stop. This reminds me of the addict that says "I would stop if I could! Do you think I like doing this?" The answer, of course, is yes! The addict enjoys the addiction! If an addict had projectile vomiting every time he sucked on a crack pipe, the market for crack would dry up. It's amazing what immediate disincentives can do for you. Like a crack addict, Bush feels that the benefits outweigh the negatives.

But just as I am honest in my analysis of President Bush, I am also honest in my analysis of President Clinton. The reason that we're in Somalia again is Clinton's fault. He never took the opportunity to clean out the nest of vipers to begin with. When some troops were killed, viciously skinned, and put on display, Clinton grew scared of a drop in ratings, and immediately called for a cease to the hostilities. There were additional problems, of course. But in the case of Clinton, he was always too worried about his ratings. Bush isn't worried enough!

But the most crippling blow of all was a decision that President Ford made in 1976. Then President Gerald R. Ford issued Executive Order 11905 to clarify U.S. foreign-intelligence activities. In a section of the order labeled "Restrictions on Intelligence Activities," Ford concisely but explicitly outlawed political assassination: 5(g) Prohibition on Assassination. No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.

Since 1976, every U.S. president has upheld Ford’s prohibition on assassinations, because no one wants to be perceived as a blood-thirsty warmonger. Assassinations are seen as "too extreme". Instead, we sacrifice thousands of troops to overtake a country and try to bend it to civilization.

We need a President who has the guts to cut the head off the snake without needlessly sacrificing the lives of our troops. The message we get from President Bush is a shrug and a sheepish grin: "This is all we can do - it's all that anyone can do," he seems to say. But, we know better. And he knows better: The airstrikes in Somalia prove that there are other means to the same end.


Matt said...

I believe there's some sort of escape clause or other law that allows presidents to ignore that law... Wait a minute, they can just sign a new order into effect and change the administrative law on it directly.

Bush can write lots of laws.

Badoozie said...

i wish he would write a law that says we can write laws too

Mr. Althouse said...

Hi Sweety!

Ya, now we have to wage a dubious war, install a new "democracy," have that new "government" try its former leader for crimes against humanity only to be found guilty and executed. But no assassinations, oh no - that would be bad.

Perhaps the old way was better.


The Lazy Iguana said...

Actually Saur, Somalia Part 1 was a Bush/Clinton joint project. It was Bush Senior who first sent troops there, with the limited objective of opening up ports and supply lines so that food aid from the international community could get to the people.

Before that, warlords were just stealing all the food, then using it as "pay" so hungry people would join them.

under Bush Senior, American troops would deliver sacks with big American Flag printed on them to people. They were there to stabilize things so that the UN could come in and keep the peace. Clinton inherited this, and at the time it was not exactly a mess. It was great PR for our guys. Hungry people never hate those who are giving them food.

But then the warlords started to cause problems. It was not as easy to stabilize the area as first thought. More troops were needed. So more were sent. But not enough, because the Congress and US (we the people) were not really into it. There was no support from anywhere for Somalia.

So the military DID start a program of assassinations. After all, the warlords were NOT members of any formal government. So why not have the military target them for arrest and/or instant death?

Then during one such operation, some Blackhawks were shot out of the sky. By this time the Republican Revolution had happened. The new majority in the house called for an IMMEDIATE pull out of Somalia (cut and run). Clinton resisted. But the American people, not knowing the dangers of what can happen in an unstable area, also wanted out. There was no support anywhere.

So Clinton ordered the troops out, but in waves. The withdrawal of troops was done in an orderly manner so as to give the international force there a chance to be effective.

Adid, the warlord that was targeted for arrest that day, was later shot. By a US sniper or by another warlord - who knows! Nobody is talking. But if it were a US sniper I would not be shocked. After all, the man was just a thug. We can shoot thugs.

But without the USA, the international effort fell apart - and for the next 10 years there is no government in Somalia. The USA continues to give secret aid to the informal government of Somalia, under both Clinton and Bush Junior. When the guys we were supporting are overthrown by a radical Islamic militia (think Taliban version 2) and our secret aid is exposed, the USA "notices" that area again. But what can we do over there, with our ground forces stuck in Iraq?

So is it Clinton's fault we are back, or is it OUR fault? That is a hard question to answer really. Who knows. All during the Clinton years, the Republican held Congress had a policy of cut and run. Remember the "Clinton dodged the draft himself, and now he sends our troops off to unimportant places or wants to send them off in support of the UN"? I do.

By the way, air power alone can not win a war. You have to have people on the ground. The USAF is great at hitting buildings, at attacking infrastructure, at taking out large numbers of tanks and trucks and stuff, at hitting ships at sea - but it is lousy at targeting individuals. Terrorist groups have no tanks. They have no ships at sea. They do not need infrastructure. The USAF is not the best tool in the box to use against them.

We are not fighting an army. We are fighting an idea. No major power has ever been able to fight ideas. The terrorists are willing to kill themselves for their idea. I do not think we are. We are willing to kill FOR our ideas, but that is not the same thing. When a US bomb kills civilians, even if we say those civilians were terrorists, all it does is "prove" the ideas to be correct and results in more terrorists.

The Romans crucified Saint Peter. Did that kill Christianity, or make it stronger?

Fred said...

Thanks for stopping by with your kind words, Saur.

Posts like this are the reason I'll miss the frequent blogging routine, especially your blog.

Hope you'e enjoying this cool weather. I can hardly wait until the 80s come back to Tampa.