Friday, October 16, 2009

How to rob the military and appease dictators: 3 easy lessons

If I didn't already believe 2010 would be a good time to throw the bums out in Congress, a news item on how Senators have robbed our wartime guns and ammo budget for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan would really tick me off. I was already ticked and now I've moved up to pissed off.

Senators diverted $2.6 billion in funds in a defense spending bill to pet projects largely at the expense of accounts that pay for fuel, ammunition and training for U.S. troops, including those fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to an analysis.

Among the 778 such projects, known as earmarks, packed into the bill: $25 million for a new World War II museum at the University of New Orleans and $20 million to launch an educational institute named after the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat.

While earmarks are hardly new in Washington, "in 30 years on Capitol Hill, I never saw Congress mangle the defense budget as badly as this year," said Winslow Wheeler, a former Senate staffer who worked on defense funding and oversight for both Republicans and Democrats. He is now a senior fellow at the Center for Defense Information, an independent research organization.

Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, called the transfer of funds from Pentagon operations and maintenance "a disgrace."

"The Senate is putting favorable headlines back home above our men and women fighting on the front lines," he said in a statement.

It's only $2.6 billion, which is chump change for Senators, but it's the principle of the thing that really pisses me off, $20 million to honor the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, who never saw a war he liked and never saw a war protester he didn't like? What the hell has that got do with defense?

I'm mad as hell and I'm going to tell everybody I know it's time to clean out the D.C. pig sty.

And speaking of Teddy Kennedy and the peaceniks, Wesley Pruden reports today on the recent adventures of Peacenik No. 1 and Peacenik No. 2 now in power, Obama and Hillary, and how their adventures with the big, bad Russians are working out. Suffice it so say, not too well.

The Russians succeeded in putting Mr. Obama and the Americans in their place. Nikolai Patrushev, the chief of the Presidential Security Council, manufactured an occasion while Mrs. Clinton was in Moscow to warn that Moscow reserves the right to make "a pre-emptive nuclear strike" against both small and large enemies.

In an interview with Izvestia, the important Moscow daily, he said Russian officials are examining "a variety of possibilities for using nuclear force, depending on the situation and the intentions of the possible opponent." In situations critical to national security, he said, "options including a preventative nuclear strike on the aggressor are not excluded." Even regional or "local" wars will be included in the new strategy, expected to be official policy in December.

A willingness to use any or all weapons, if the time and place is right, is nothing new, of course. If the stakes are high enough everybody will use everything, and only fools object. The significance of these remarks, which were certainly calculated for effect while Mrs. Clinton was in town, is what they tell about how the Russians regard the toughness of Barack Obama, the noble peacenik with a prize to prove it, and whether there is any "there" there.

Mrs. Clinton and her acolytes at the State Department, ever eager to seek the softest way to say nothing, tried to put a nice face on her visit to Moscow. The United States, Russia and China are "closer than before" on their policies regarding Iran's nuclear-weapons program, Mrs. Clinton told a radio interviewer. She seemed to be taking care not to say that actual positions are closer, just that everyone understands those positions: Russians tough, Americans soft.

And to make a long post even longer, I can't leave this topic without quoting Sir Charles Krauthammer, who sums up the Obama-Clinton Doctrine of International Appeasement.

Well, at nine months, let's review.

What's come from Obama holding his tongue while Iranian demonstrators were being shot and from his recognizing the legitimacy of a thug regime illegitimately returned to power in a fraudulent election? Iran cracks down even more mercilessly on the opposition and races ahead with its nuclear program.

What's come from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton taking human rights off the table on a visit to China and from Obama's shameful refusal to see the Dalai Lama (a postponement, we are told). China hasn't moved an inch on North Korea, Iran or human rights. Indeed it's pushing with Russia to dethrone the dollar as the world's reserve currency.

What's come from the new-respect-for-Muslims Cairo speech and the unprecedented pressure on Israel for a total settlement freeze? "The settlement push backfired," reports The Washington Post, and Arab-Israeli peace prospects have "arguably regressed."

And what's come from Obama's single most dramatic foreign policy stroke -- the sudden abrogation of missile defense arrangements with Poland and the Czech Republic that Russia had virulently opposed? For the East Europeans it was a crushing blow, a gratuitous restoration of Russian influence over a region that thought it had regained independence under American protection.

But maybe not gratuitous. Surely we got something in return for selling out our friends. Some brilliant secret trade-off to get strong Russian support for stopping Iran from going nuclear before it's too late? Just wait and see, said administration officials, who then gleefully played up an oblique statement by President Dmitry Medvedev a week later as vindication of the missile defense betrayal.

The Russian statement was so equivocal that such a claim seemed a ridiculous stretch at the time. Well, Clinton went to Moscow this week to nail down the deal. What did she get?

"Russia Not Budging On Iran Sanctions: Clinton Unable to Sway Counterpart." Such was The Washington Post headline's succinct summary of the debacle.

Note how thoroughly Clinton was rebuffed. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared that "threats, sanctions and threats of pressure" are "counterproductive." Note: It's not just sanctions that are worse than useless, but even the threat of mere pressure.

It gets worse. Having failed to get any movement from the Russians, Clinton herself moved -- to accommodate the Russian position! Sanctions? What sanctions? "We are not at that point yet," she averred. "That is not a conclusion we have reached ... it is our preference that Iran work with the international community."

But wait a minute. Didn't Obama say in July that Iran had to show compliance by the G-20 summit in late September? And when that deadline passed, did he not then warn Iran that it would face "sanctions that have bite" and that it would have to take "a new course or face consequences"?

Gone with the wind. It's the U.S. that's now retreating from its already flimsy position of just three weeks ago. We're not doing sanctions now, you see. We're back to engagement. Just as the Russians suggest.

Maybe in 2010 and 2012, we the voters can put some adults back in charge of our nation. But God help us until then because the children in charge now are giving away our future daily.


cocked and loaded said...

I hope we can clean house in 2010.

netfotoj said...

I hope by then the voters will be so sick of Obama, Pelosi and Reid they will clean out the pig sty. That unholy trio is sure doing everything they can to shove their noses further into the trough while they can.