Ruminations, May 8, 2011
Obama deserves credit for his role in taking down Laden
Last week, a post circulated on Facebook. It read:
“Let’s be clear on this: OBAMA did NOT kill Bin Laden. An American soldier … did. Obama just happened to be the one in office when our soldiers finally found Osama Bin Laden and took him out. This is NOT an Obama victory, but an AMERICAN victory!! RE-POST IF YOU AGREE!”
The writer of the post is right, to a degree. It is an American victory but Obama is an American and is part of the team (actually, the head of the team) that carried out the mission and he deserves credit. Among other things, it was Obama who evaluated the intelligence, reviewed the readiness reports from the Navy Seals, made the decision to use the Seals rather than stealth bombers and ultimately made the decision to execute the attack without notifying Pakistan or any NATO allies – and it worked with textbook precision.
It is true, as the writer said, that Obama did not pull the trigger. But, to put into perspective, as Retired Navy Seal Commander Ryan Zinke said on the PBS Newshour last week, “for every one SEAL that was on the ground in the compound, there’s 200 or 300 supporting cast members that are also doing the job, from intelligence collection, to bringing the fuel, loading the ammunition. I mean, these guys have a lot of great people behind them that are supporting the effort.” We can safely assume that 95 percent of the “supporting cast members,” including Obama, were unarmed but essential to the task.
But it isn’t only Obama detractors who are overreacting. If one watched the broadcast of The View last Wednesday, one could have heard ABC’s Barbara Walters say of the bin Laden killing, “President Bush tried, President Clinton tried, but Barack Obama was the one who had the courage and the guts and the coolness. It was enormously, enormously courageous,” To start with, remember that it was a team effort that disposed of Laden – a team that was a culmination of the establishment of our first military force some 200+ years ago, the establishment of the intelligence operations that began with the Office of Strategic Services during World War II, and the evolution of modern technology. Certainly, as a key member of a successful team, one should be able to give Obama credit without gushing over him or castigating his predecessors.
As Bush Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said of the event, “Obama has made the toughest call of his presidency, arguably. It wasn’t a simple decision.”
Should al Qaeda be condemned for genocide?
Genocide is a term that has been discussed with increasing frequency. It refers to, according to the United Nations, “… acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group … calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”
When we consider al Qaeda in Iraq, they are responsible for killing millions of Muslims. The late leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, stated that his intent was to start a civil war and in doing so, focused on killing Shia Muslims.They were, “engaged primarily in an attempted genocide against the Shia [Muslims],” said Haider Ala Hamoudi, a University of Pittsburgh professor who is also part of a group drafting a constitution for Iraq.
Hamoudi’s interpretation is an interesting perspective on al Qaeda and should be explored further. If justified, a resolution supporting it should be brought to the UN. This resolution should be brought forth by a Muslim nation (preferably with a Sunni majority) to avoid any implication of religious bigotry.
While this resolution would not be significant by itself, it could contribute to molding the world opinion of al Qaeda.
Unions celebrate May Day?
Unions and their place at the bargaining table have generated much controversy this year, most notably in Wisconsin where Democratic members of the state legislature left the state so as to avoid a quorum vote that would have restricted union bargaining abilities with the state government.
No one questions the right of unions and union sympathizers to demonstrate and lobby for negotiating rights or other issues in their interests. The Connecticut Laborer’s District Council sponsored a demonstration for “more jobs,” “less greed” and to “stop the war on workers.” The demonstration was held on May 1: May Day.
May 1 is the day that was set aside by the Second International in 1889 as “International Workers Day.” Two of the luminaries represented in that conference were Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky, two who were key in establishing a communist state in Russia. After those two consolidated the power of the communist party in Russia, May Day became an annual event to promote communism.
One would think that The Connecticut Laborer’s District Council, in the interest of rallying support for their cause, would be more judicious in choosing a date for their rally.
More overused words
Here are some more overused words and phrases that should disappear from the scene.
- Mistakes were made– That phrase has been so overused that it has itself almost become a joke. When a politician says “mistakes were made” it’s generally nothing more than a weasely way of saying: I screwed up royally and I could – and maybe should — go to jail unless I can make it look like it was not really my fault.
- Exit strategy– This is an anti-war statement that was first used by some Republicans referencing Bill Clinton’s Balkan strategy. It was later used by some Democrats referring to George W. Bush’s strategies for Iraq and Afghanistan. Now that Obama has chosen to somewhat participate in Libya, some Republicans are asking for his exit strategy. The fact that this term is used with equal alacrity by both sides of the political aisle suggests that it is neither a philosophic nor a military strategy but entirely political in nature.
- Mean-spirited legislation– No one introduces any legislation motivated by meanness. If a piece of legislation or plan is called mean-spirited, it generally means that the speaker who calls the legislation “mean-spirited” doesn’t understand the legislation, is deliberately trying to obfuscate the public’s perception of the legislation, or both.
- Sustainable energy/planet – This is a buzz-word designed to obfuscate proposed issues. As far as energy is concerned, it is akin to the mythical perpetual motion machine. You know, once it starts, it keeps running automatically. It’s such a nice concept that a lot of people buy into it. So under the rubric of sustainable energy we have proposed restrictions on the use of fossil fuels, transfers of resources to less developed nations, and promoting a green (there’s “green” again) energy. Under sustainable planet, negative population growth, and, one of the latest issues, contraction and convergence (C&C) — every human is entitled to emit the same amount of carbon dioxide and, by inference, having the same income.
- What would Jesus do?Have you noticed that when a speaker asks “What would Jesus do?” the speaker knows the answer? The answer just happens to be the same thing that the speaker advocates. My, my.
Quote without comment
Marc Ambinder, White House correspondent for the National Journal, speaking on PBS, May 6: “This wasn’t the first time or fifth or 10th or 20th time that JSOC [Joint Special Operations Command] has conducted secret ops in Pakistan without the knowledge of the Pakistani government.”