The War in Afghanistan

President Obama announced a time table for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.  The Washington Post, no less, which usually supports the president and all things liberal and Democratic raised some questions in an editorial: The president may be sabotaging his own Afghanistan strategy – The Washington Post

So is the president declaring victory and going home?  Are we leaving just as we are making progress?  Is announcing when we’ll be leaving just an incentive for the Taliban to hunker downuntil after we’re gone?  Is this “Mission Accomplished” or helicopters on the roof of the American embassy?

Where does this leave us?

Counterfeit SEALS

Two interesting phenomena:  Men who falsely claim to be ex-SEALS and men who go to great lengths to prove them to be fakes.

In Louisiana, a man duped the governor into believing he was the lone survivor of a Navy SEAL team ambushed in Afghanistan. In California, a jousting promoter said he was a SEAL veteran, not just a veteran of battles at Renaissance fairs. And in Georgia, a televangelist listed a stint with the SEALs in his online bio for years, along with bit parts in the films “Green Lantern” and “Who’s Your Caddy?”

None of these men ever served in the elite Navy units that undergo some of the toughest training in the military and undertake some of its most dangerous Special Forces missions. And while there have always been SEAL impostors, their ranks have been reinforced since a SEAL unit based in Little Creek, Va., killed Osama bin Laden six weeks ago.

The elite counter-terrorism unit that took out Osama bin Laden deploys from a tiny military facility in Dam Neck, Va., just outside of Virginia Beach. There are six other groups within special warfare and a total of 2,300 active duty SEAL officers.

“I’ve told four women alone this week to run the other direction,” said Mary Schantag, who, along with her husband, Chuck, a disabled veteran, checks out potential impostors and posts their names on their Web site, the P.O.W. Network.

The claims surface as stray comments in bars, a line in a Facebook profile, or an insignia worn on a cap. The consequences are often nil. Pentagon officials have said they don’t have the resources to fact-check every potential liar.

So the only thing standing between SEAL impostors and the truth is a small band of veterans and civilian volunteers, scattered across the country, who have made it their life’s work to expose phonies in all aspects of military service, including bogus war medal recipients.

“Only 500 [SEALs] served in Vietnam. And we’ve met all 20,000 of them,” said Steve Robinson, a former SEAL in Forsyth, Mo., and author of “No Guts, No Glory: Unmasking Navy SEAL Imposters.”

When news of bin Laden’s death broke, these investigators say, they were soon overwhelmed by reports of suspected SEAL phonies. Robinson, who had hunted fake SEALs for 10 years, was called out of self-imposed retirement to help fellow volunteers track down claims. . . .

Robinson estimates there are only 7,000 living former SEALs and 2,200 on active duty. By his calculations, the odds of running into someone who has played in the NFL are better than the odds of meeting a current or former SEAL.

via Boast-busters: Those who hunt and expose fake Navy SEALS are busier than ever – The Washington Post.

What psychology do we see here?

Congressmen sue President over Libya War

As we’ve blogged about earlier, President Obama, in his participation in the war in Libya, has ignored the 60 day deadline for the engagement of American troops without Congressional approval as stipulated in the War Powers law.  Now ten Congressmen, a coalition of both liberals and conservatives, has filed suit against the President. So the President has finally sent a message to Congress saying why he doesn’t need their approval:

Facing growing opposition on Capitol Hill, the White House insisted Wednesday that it’s within its legal rights to wage war in Libya without explicit authorization from Congress, essentially because no American lives are at risk.

The administration argued that its limited role in the allied air campaign against Libya means it’s not really the kind of escalating war that would require approval from Congress or an end to fighting after 60 days under the War Powers Resolution, passed in 1973 in response to the Vietnam War.

Even before the White House could send its arguments to Capitol Hill, 10 members of the House of Representatives – conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats – filed suit in U.S. District Court Wednesday challenging President Barack Obama’s right to wage the war, even if in a supporting role.

“We believe the law was violated,” said Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, one of the effort’s leaders. “We have asked the courts to protect the American people from the results of these illegal policies.”

In a 32-page report to Congress, the White House laid out its argument.

“U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve the presence of U.S. ground troops, U.S. casualties or a serious threat thereof, or any significant chance of escalation into a conflict characterized by those factors,” the White House said.

“We’re now in a position where we’re operating in a support role,” said a senior Obama administration official who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity under White House policy.

“We’re not engaged in sustained fighting. There’s been no exchange of fire with hostile forces. We don’t have troops on the ground. We don’t risk casualties to those troops. None of the factors, frankly, speaking more broadly, has risked the sort of escalation that Congress was concerned would impinge on its war-making power,” the official said.

The White House also warned Congress against questioning the U.S. commitment at a time when Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi may be on his way out. “Now is not the time to send mixed messages,” said spokesman Jay Carney.

The White House report also said the U.S. has spent $716 million through June 3 on bombs and other supplies since helping launch the allied air campaign on March 19, a cost expected to rise to $1.1 billion by Sept. 30.

via White House defends U.S. role in Libya after lawmakers sue – Politics Wires – MiamiHerald.com.

So we’ve blown up $716 million worth of bombs, but we’re not fighting?  They aren’t hostilities when the other side can’t hurt our guys though we can just hurt them?  Or when our forces are under NATO and UN command?

Since the Constitution places war-making power in the legislative body and not simply at the sole discretion of the commander-in-chief, I think a Supreme Court ruling would be helpful in clearly defining the parameters.

And now war in Yemen?

Has President Obama, the former peace candidate, now started a 4th war?

The Obama administration has intensified the American covert war in Yemen, exploiting a growing power vacuum in the country to strike at militant suspects with armed drones and fighter jets, according to American officials.

The acceleration of the American campaign in recent weeks comes amid a violent conflict in Yemen that has left the government in Sana, a United States ally, struggling to cling to power. Yemeni troops that had been battling militants linked to Al Qaeda in the south have been pulled back to the capital, and American officials see the strikes as one of the few options to keep the militants from consolidating power.

On Friday, American jets killed Abu Ali al-Harithi, a midlevel Qaeda operative, and several other militant suspects in a strike in southern Yemen. According to witnesses, four civilians were also killed in the airstrike. Weeks earlier, drone aircraft fired missiles aimed at Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical American-born cleric who the United States government has tried to kill for more than a year. Mr. Awlaki survived.

via U.S. Is Intensifying a Secret Campaign of Yemen Airstrikes – NYTimes.com.

A new Chinese militarism?

An Australian newspaper reports on the views of a Chinese general who is encouraging the rise of a new militaristic spirit in China and the recovery of the fighting spirit in revolutionary Communism:

A rising star of the People’s Liberation Army has called for China to rediscover its ”military culture”, while challenging unnamed Communist Party leaders for betraying their revolutionary heritage.

General Liu Yuan displays sympathy for Osama bin Laden, says war is a natural extension of economics and politics and claims that ”man cannot survive without killing”.

His essay, written as a preface to a friend’s book, says ”history is written by blood and slaughter” and describes the nation-state as ”a power machine made of violence”.

General Liu’s public glorification of what he sees as an innate but previously suppressed Chinese military culture reveals an undercurrent that is driving the Communist Party’s increasing assertiveness at home and abroad.

His essay emerges at an awkward time internationally, after Army Chief of Staff Chen Bingde last week travelled to Washington with reassurances about China’s peaceful intentions.

Chinese President Hu Jintao promoted General Liu this year to be Political Commissar of the PLA’s General Logistics Department, after making him a full general in 2009, and some expect he will receive a two-stage promotion into the Central Military Commission, the military’s top leadership body.

General Liu is also an important leader among the dozens of ”princelings” whose parents founded the People’s Republic and are now claiming dominant positions in politics, business and rising through the military.

His father was Liu Shaoqi, who was Mao Zedong’s anointed successor until Mao’s Red Guards threw him in jail and left him to die.

General Liu was purged with his family during the Cultural Revolution and then left Beijing to begin his career as a grassroots official in the countryside in the early 1980s, in parallel with the current boss of Chongqing city, Bo Xilai, and China’s likely next president, Xi Jinping.

”Military culture is the oldest and most important wisdom of

humanity,” writes General Liu, inverting a traditional Chinese formulation that military affairs are subordinate to civilian culture. ”Without war, where would grand unity come from? Without force, how could fusion of the nation, the race, the culture, the south and the north be achieved?”

While overtones of 1930s Japanese and German militarism will be internationally disconcerting, the essay also opens a window into the institutional, ideological and personal struggles that are intensifying before next year’s leadership transition.

It is effectively a clarion call for the true heirs of the communist revolution to rediscover their fighting spirit and reinvent a rationale for their existence.

via Chinese general rattles sabre.

Maybe we had better not dismantle our military.

HT:  Adam

Congress calls Obama on Libya war

We had been blogging about how President Obama has been ignoring the War Powers Act in waging war in Libya without Congressional consent.  Now Congress has overwhelmingly struck back, with a bipartisan 3/4 of the House calling him on it:

Crossing party lines to deliver a stunning rebuke to the commander in chief, the vast majority of the House voted Friday for resolutions telling President Obama he has broken the constitutional chain of authority by committing U.S. troops to the international military mission in Libya.

In two votes — on competing resolutions that amounted to legislative lectures of Mr. Obama — Congress escalated the brewing constitutional clash over whether he ignored the founding document’s grant of war powers by sending U.S. troops to aid in enforcing a no-fly zone and naval blockade of Libya.

The resolutions were non-binding, and only one of them passed, but taken together, roughly three-quarters of the House voted to put Mr. Obama on notice that he must explain himself or else face future consequences, possibly including having funds for the war cut off.

“He has a chance to get this right. If he doesn’t, Congress will exercise its constitutional authority and make it right,” said House Speaker John A. Boehner, the Ohio Republican who wrote the resolution that passed, 268-145, and sets a two-week deadline for the president to deliver the information the House is seeking.

Minutes after approving Mr. Boehner’s measure, the House defeated an even more strongly-worded resolution offered by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Ohio Democrat, that would have insisted the president begin a withdrawal of troops.

Most lawmakers said that was too rash at this point, and said they wanted to give Mr. Obama time to comply. Some also said immediate withdrawal would leave U.S. allies in the lurch.

The Kucinich resolution failed 148-265. In a telling signal, 87 Republicans voted for Mr. Kucinich’s resolution — more than the 61 Democrats that did.

Still, taken together, 324 members of Congress voted for one resolution or both resolutions, including 91 Democrats, or nearly half the caucus. The size of the votes signals overwhelming discontent with Mr. Obama’s handling of the constitutional issues surrounding the Libya fight.

via Bipartisan Congress rebuffs Obama on Libya mission – Washington Times.


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