Now That We Nabbed the Boston Bombers…

On Friday night, the FBI called a press conference–with the Boston PD and told us:

(a) The Boston Marathon bombers are both accounted for;

(2) they are brothers, raised in Idaho;

(3) they were Tea Party activists, the older brother being a teacher at First Baptist Church;

(4) they were planning additional attacks on abortion clinics, and a large finale at a federal building, in order to make a statement on Tax Day.

Oh, wait, that narrative didn’t pan out, much to the chagrin of the left.

In actuality, it was more like this:

(a) they were brothers, born in Chechens born in Dagestan;

(b) the older brother–a Gold Gloves boxing champ in Massachusetts–was a recent convert to a radicalized Islam;

(c) the FBI–told by Russia that the older brother had been in bed with radical Islamists–investigated the lead and found nothing (or so they claim);

(d) the younger brother became a Naturalized Citizen last year, on September 11 of all dates.

When I saw the pictures last Thursday, I immediately had them pegged as Middle Eastern or Southern European. I had the latter part correct, and this angle makes it tougher for us: a lot of those Dagestanis, Khazaks, and Chechens can be just as radical as the Jihadist from Mecca, only they don’t “look the part”. Being Europeans, they can blend in with other Eastern and Southern Europeans: Greeks, Turks, Russians; Hungarians; Bulgarians.

At this point, I’m not of the opinion that these guys were part of some larger anti-American conspiracy. The more I read of it, the more I’m convinced that (a) the older brother–Tamerlan–went ballistic over having his Olympic aspirations dashed, and (b) Tamerlan influenced his younger brother to join him in his envy-fueled rage.

Their attack was not particularly well thought-out;. While the bombs were placed strategically, they apparently gave little thought to their exit strategy. Had they the brains, they would have been on a plane for Russia within two hours after the blasts. They would have been in the remote portions of Dagestan or Chechnya by the time the FBI released the photos. They’d be long gone, and–by the time the feds figured out who they were–they’d be way behind the curve.

Now what about the conspiracy theories?

(1) While the FBI may have dropped the ball, I would not be too hard on them here. It is likely that the Russian government provided enough information to let us know that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a problem, but not enough information to amount to actionable intelligence.

(2) A reputable source–University of Mobile coach Ali Stevenson–indicated that he was told it was just a drill. This, of course, has added fuel to the conspiracy fire. My take: the folks who told him it was a drill didn’t know what they were talking about; they could have been stunned by the surreal nature of what was transpiring. Coach Stevenson received bad information.

(3) Some photographs indicate that Navy SEALs–current or former–were working security. This means nothing. It is likely that some current or former SEALs were working for xE (formerly Blackwater) or a similar private outfit to provide security for what was a high-profile event. I doubt these guys would intentionally allow a terrorist attack to happen. Special Operators tend to be a very patriotic bunch, and would have a marginal interest in taking out bad guys. It is what they do.

(4) as for the Saudi guy, he could easily have been at the wrong place at the wrong time. While deporting him was probably not the wisest move, that does not make a compelling case that this was an inside job.

Hopefully, we’ll get to the bottom of things. What did the FBI know, and when did they know it? What did they do with what they knew?

And while law enforcement is getting good marks for tracking these guys down, some of us also have taken note of their warrantless searches of homes, their confiscation of property, and their imposing of martial law on an entire locality. Hard questions need to be asked, and appropriate folks need to be held to account. Apologies need to be made, and appropriate properties–including firearms and munitions–returned.

But the group with the most egg on their faces is the American Left: they were convinced that the bombers were white, Christian Tea Party activists, when in fact the bad guys were Islamist thugs from a region of the world known for Islamic thuggery.

That leads me to another question: why the hell are we taking in people from these parts of the world?

The GOP Field and Iran

Questions for the candidates:

(1) The United States has–since the Cold War era–maintained that any effort to shut down the Strait of Hormuz will be considered an act of war against the United States. Where do you stand on that, and what would your response be to such an effort by the Iranians or any other nation-state?

(2) Each of the last two Presidents–as well as most of the Republican candidates for President–have made it our policy that Iran must not be permitted to have nuclear weapons. The questions on this are severalfold:

(a) do you believe that such an outcome is feasible?
(b) to what extent should we engage the Iranians to ensure that this outcome is achieved?
(c) is war an acceptable step toward this outcome?
(d) given that we are not able to keep criminals from obtaining firearms in the United States, how would a conventional war prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons?
(e) would the cost of war justify any proposed benefit?

Questions for Ron Paul:

(1) Given that you are the most anti-war of any candidate in the field–to include the President–under what circumstances would you consider war as necessary?

(2) Even in peacetime, intelligence is a very necessary function of national security. Toward that end, what are your visions for intelligence policy? What does that look like domestically and in the foreign arena?

(3) Your opposition to the Patriot Act is well-documented. At the same time, what do you propose that would (a) allow us to gather the intel that we need, while (b) preserving fundamental liberties?

It’s Time to Go

The time to leave Trashcanistan has arrived. Even Uncle Jimbo–of BlackFive–admits the obvious.

We spent far too long marking time in Afghanistan hoping that a fantasy national government would emerge to take control. Then we threw away our last chance to do what was necessary when our Campaigner in Chief announced his political faux surge complete w/ withdrawal date. Shockingly the Taliban just waited us out and now the insurgents are resurgent and we are packing our bags. We did not make the effort and commitments necessary to have any real chance of achieving stability, let alone peace. Afghanistan is exceptional only because it is the hell hole where a small collection of medieval obscurantists plotted their greatest victory against the civilized world. So be it. There are a few left there, mostly hiding out and hanging out with our allies in Pah-kee-stahn. But all in all, there just isn’t enough reason for us to keep half-stepping our way around the Hindu Kush and assorted other rocky wastelands.

It is time to go.


A Few Thoughts about Irene and Libya

(1) As far as hurricanes go, Irene was largely a dud. It was a Cat 1, much weaker than Katrina, Rita, Andrew, Hugo, Ike, Ivan, Camille, Erin, and other nasty hurricanes that have smacked the Gulf region and the East Coast.

(2) At the same time, it was a large storm that carried a lot of rainfall and stronger than average sustained winds. Anyone with a meager amount of common sense should have known this.

(3) Meteorologists called it pretty well. While Irene was weaker than other storms, it carried its own set of dangers: lots of rain and wind in areas that are at or below sea level, and not accustomed to such sustained storms.

(4) While conservative pundits will attack Obama for his management of FEMA, they oughtta cut this tit-for-tat crap. It really is getting juvenile.

(5) Speaking of tit-for-tat, many conservatives are hitting Obama over Libya, but not in the manner that non-interventionist Presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) is. In effect, they are being petty. If you’re for us intervening in Libya–I’m not–then let him do as he wants and lay off the nitpicking.

Punditry–that great art of second-guessing–is a tricky game, especially when your positions are rife with inconsistencies. Showing why we were right to invade Iraq and knock off a leader we supported for decades–while opposing our support of rebels in Libya, who are waging war against a leader who has more American blood on his hands than Saddam Hussein had, is an inconsistency that requires more than soundbites to explicate.

Personally, I am a general non-interventionist whose sympathies are slightly at variance with Ron Paul. My reasons are:

(a) our biggest problems right now are domestic: borders and economy;

(b) we don’t have the money to fight all these wars;

(c) it is not our place to fight everyone else’s wars;

(d) using our troops to defend our borders carries more marginal benefit than using them in nation-building exercises in the Middle East;

(e) if we are going to send our troops to fight and die, we need to have a formal national security reason for doing this, expressed with the support of Congress in the form of a Declaration of War;

(f) the premise of a hostile nation having nuclear weapons is not a valid reason to go to war. North Korea has them–and has tested them–and we have not lifted a finger. Nor have the South Koreans, for that matter, in spite of the fact that the Norks have sunk their ships and even bombed one of their islands. If the Israelis (South Koreans) don’t even think it is worth fighting the Iranians (North Koreans), then it is not our job to fight those wars either, not even by Proxy.

And if they do, it’s their war and not ours. I’m cool with selling weapons to our allies, but we need not be providing troops unless these nations have committed acts of war against us.

No, Vox…

…9/11 is certainly not a joke (I reference his WND column). It may be that for the policy wonks and related asshats who use it to justify our current imperial endeavors, but it is no joke to those of us who view that as an act of war against our people, one that is the product of a government that fostered a culture that made that act of war possible and which continues to foster that very culture.

But to answer the questions:

1. Are the national interests at stake in Afghanistan and Iraq more vital than eliminating all of the state and local government debt in the United States?

No. In fact, an integral part of our response to 9/11 should have been to make our military response limited–restricted to Spec-Ops missions designed to take out specific terrorist networks–while drastically reducing the size and scope of government in order to unleash our economy, and embarking on a monetary course that would ensure a strong dollar.

Instead, we spent like crazy domestically, committed ourselves to multi-theater wars with very limited resources and no plans for an endgame, and pursued a monetary policy that handed us the real estate bubble, multiple commodities bubbles, severe financial crashes, multiple bailouts and stimulus packages, and an economy that has–for all intents and purposes–about 20% unemployment when you include discouraged workers.

2. How many wars are too many wars?

Of our current endeavors, a credible case can be made that we embarked on five too many, and even the one that was legitimate involved way too much commitment to “nation building” and other pet projects that were hatched by government planners.

3. Is a permanent state of war acceptable?

No. If we don’t end them on our terms–while the opportunity is favorable–they will end on less favorable and voluntary terms. The Soviets learned that lesson the hard way: they were involved in perpetual global war, and that was not sustainable. Our current course is also unsustainable.

4. Is an aggressive foreign policy even remotely compatible with small-government principles?

No. In fact, such a course of action is more amenable to a mother lode of unintended consequences.

5. Why are aliens from enemy nations permitted to migrate to the United States?

Probably because the policy wonks who decreed that it was good didn’t ask those of us who have to deal with the consequences.

6. Why is popular Islamic democracy not only to be preferred to any other form of Arab government, but justification for military intervention?

This is what happens when you let academics–who don’t deal with real consequences–join forces with our military-industrial complex. Both groups have a vested interest in securing government largesse.

7. How long is it appropriate to fight a war that cannot be won when the nation is bankrupt?

It’s not. That said, I would contend that our necessary tasks in this war are largely accomplished. Osama is dead, and the AQ terrorist network has been all but crushed.

One could argue–and I would–that our military ventures in Afghanistan have involved a colossal waste of money, as well as strategic and tactical assets, and that we could have accomplished our work in a far-more-efficient manner. That said, if we define our mission in terms of what needed to be accomplished, the fight is not only winnable; the endgame is pretty near.

I would also heartily agree that it is long past time to call an end to our ventures in Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, and Pakistan.

And here is one last question to consider as you celebrate the tattered vestiges of what was once American freedom. After every war of the 20th century, from World War I to Vietnam, Americans eventually learned that they had been manipulated into going to war by their political leaders. From the sinking of the Maine to the Gulf of Tonkin, from Woodrow Wilson’s secret machinations to those of Winston Churchill and F.D.R., history has always revealed that the bloody flag was at least partially stained with red paint. In light of what has happened in the last 10 years, what are the odds that this is not also true of the current collection of wars?

While our government has engaged in all manner of deceptive practices–including false flag operations–to lure us into wars that would not have otherwise had popular support, I would reject the arguments of the 9/11 “truthers”. This was no inside job.

In order for that to have been an inside job, there are too many federal, state, and local agencies that would have had to actively collaborate in secrecy–in concert with all branches of our Armed Forces. No way in hell that happens.

As for the case for war in Iraq, the roots for that go back to 1990. That we went there in Gulf War I only guaranteed that we would eventually return to finish the job. One could make the case that we should not have gone there in 1990–and I have–but we did and Operation Iraqi Freedom is a consequence of that.