Saturday, May 12, 2007

Let's get serious

My biggest gripe with the Democrats in power right now, (and consequently, their base), is their utter lack of seriousness when it comes to foreign policy, particularly on the subject of terrorism.

Yesterday, Vice President Dick Cheney delivered a firm, somber speech on an aircraft carrier in the Gulf, just 150 miles off the coast of Iran. The Vice President hardly minced words, making it clear that the United States was committed to stability in the region, and to avoiding a nuclear armed Iran.

David Ignatius of the Washington Post also noted Cheney's value with respect to foreign affairs. Specifically, Ignatius placed recent Iranian posturing in context, and cited the result: greater cooperation between the United States and the House of Saud.

Saudi Arabia once conducted its political machinations behind a veil, quietly doling out cash in an effort to buy peace. Perhaps the worst mistake made by Iran's firebrand president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is that he frightened the Saudis into abandoning their traditional reticence -- and into secret strategy councils with the hard-nosed Cheney.

Now for some additional context.

The Democrats' response to a serious Dick Cheney is the spectacle of Cindy Sheehan run for Congress. Furthermore, liberal Democratic bastions such as Daily Kos have rushed to come to the defense of the so-called 'Fort Dix Six':

Fort Dix Six and the Law

Quite a lot has already been written about the collective IQ of the six wannabes who planned to attack Fort Dix, now being held without bail in Philadelphia.

Of course, we've yet to see all the parameters of what that law-enforcement approach was about. Was, most importantly, the role of the infiltration to record and monitor, or was it, as in past FBI instances, something more? But that, we can expect, will come out in court. You know, in court, in the course of the rule of law, the very thing all-but-completely missing at places such as Gitmo and the secret prisons supposedly now emptied.

When would-be terrorists are busted on the homefront... the only logical conclusion can be that their civil liberties have been infringed!

But this is to cheapen the effort against international terrorism, and fool Americans into a false sense of security. The evidence is there. Online Islamic chat rooms are giving air to radical Muslim terrorists who represent al Qaeda's "Islamic State of Iraq."

Our most urgent need is for martyrs [suicide volunteers], we need martyrs more than anything else...

The jihad that began in Muslim Afghanistan and then spread to Iraq shall not stop there and will limited by any border... The Islamic State of Iraq will make sure the jihad will not stop until it reaches Jerusalem...

Should the United States sit idly by and accept these pronouncements as hollow rhetoric by a charlatan?

Similarly, the regional power in the Middle East - Iran - is busy executing minors. This regime is portrayed by many liberal sympathizers and excusers as an innocent victim on the world stage.

But perhaps the American public is not fooled by Democratic intransigence, and the downplaying of the terrorist threat. As Pat Dollard notes: New AP Poll: America Does Not Support Democrat Congress’ Iraq Withdrawal Plan :

That gives lawmakers the same bleak approval rating as Bush, who has been mired at about that level since last fall, including his dip to a record low for the AP-Ipsos poll of 32 percent last January.

The digital age of the 21st century is enabling. Americans - indeed, Europeans, Canadians, and other prosperous nations can easily fall back into a false sense of security behind the neon blue glow of their computer screens, iPods and Blackberries. Cold hard reality sometimes takes a back seat to instant gratification.

Finally, Strategy Page explains where we stand today militarily, something Americans should not forget:

Why World War II Never Ended

May 7, 2007: To the victor goes, the responsibility for endless occupation. Here we are, 62 years after the end of World War II, and there are still 69,000 American troops in Germany, 12,000 in Italy and 47,000 in Japan. Fifty-four years after the end of the Korean war, we still have 38,000 troops in South Korea. The United States went to war against Germany, Japan and Italy in 1941. Four years later the war was over, and the United States supplied occupation troops. By the 1950s, final peace deals had been made with the former enemies, but the occupation troops remained. OK, now they were there to help defend against possible communist aggression. The Soviet Union still talked about "liberating" Western Europe, and Communist China was not (and still is not) favorably disposed towards Japan.

But that's not all. In 1990, several hundred thousand American troops went to Saudi Arabia, to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. Not all the troops came home. Even before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, there were thousands of American troops stationed in the region. In 1995, 20,000 American troops were sent to the Balkans. At the time, everyone was assured that they would only be there for a year. Twelve years later, there are still 2,000 U.S. troops in the Balkans.


The big reason is that the locals like having the American troops around. As foreign soldiers go, they are pretty good with the locals, and keep ancient enemies at bay. The presence of U.S. troops is pretty tangible evidence of American determination to help defend the "occupied" nation. Plus, the U.S. troops are well paid and are good for local businesses. The foreigners are so eager to keep the American troops around that, each year, they contribute over six billion dollars towards the cost of stationing these troops overseas, instead of back in the United States. This is where the real cost of stationing troops overseas comes in. U.S. troops are paid, on average over $100,000 a year (including benefits). When the troops are stationed in the U.S., much of that money is spent in the United States. But when the troops are stationed overseas, well, you get the idea. So do the host nations.

The American troops don't mind. They get to see the world and learn about other cultures. In most places, they can bring their families along. Sort of an extended, albeit working, vacation. Some overseas assignments are particularly sought after.

Americans should be proud of its military presence around the world. We are keeping the peace, and guaranteeing the progress of the new economic order taking shape. There is no business as usual without American tanks and aircraft carriers protecting international security.

Let's get serious again.

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