Category Archives: International news

War is no option

President Obama makes it clear: There will be no U.S. military intervention in Ukraine.

That’s a relief.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir “Tough Guy” Putin makes it equally clear: Don’t mess with Russia.

Now, are the Russians tougher than we are? Which military establishment is stronger than the other one? This loyal American knows the answer to both questions.

None of that is the issue. World peace and the consequences of trying to force the Russians out of Ukraine militarily are too horrible to ponder.

The only option now must be the economic one.

The European Union is pondering even more stringent sanctions on Russia. So is the United States of America, working in concert with the EU.

Meanwhile, the critics back here at home — far away from the struggle — keep yammering about the “military option.” None exists.

Russian troops reportedly have “invaded” Ukraine, violating that country’s territorial sovereignty. Obama has condemned the Russians, including Putin. He’s vowing that Russia will pay a price for its violating its neighbor’s territory. The sanctions already imposed are taking a big bite out of a Russian economy that’s on the ropes as it is.

Are we going to bomb the Russians? No. We should put the economic squeeze on them.

Keep tightening the vise, Mr. President.


GOP Rep. Cole tamps down Obama criticism

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole must be running a fever. Perhaps he’s been in the hot Oklahoma sun too long.

The Republican lawmaker actually said President Obama is being “commendably cautious” about developing a strategy to deal with ISIL.

Commendably cautious? What’s going on here?

Cole is one of the few GOP lawmakers to suggest that Obama shouldn’t be rushed into developing such a strategy. Indeed, Cole noted that the White House has crafted “the elements of a strategy” already.

I’m one of those who said the other day that the president needs to get cracking on a strategy to deal with ISIL, the notorious terrorist group that many experts say makes al-Qaeda look like a Boy Scout troop. I still believe the president shouldn’t waste time.

Then again, it’s refreshing to hear at least one leading congressional Republican suggest that critics are hyperventilating needlessly.

Cole takes appropriate note of the complexities facing the White House in the Syria conflict. Bashar al-Assad is fighting ISIL. The United States hardly is Assad’s friend. Indeed, President Obama has called for Assad’s ouster. Who should replace him? Certainly no one who’s friends with ISIL.

Therein lies the president’s “commendable caution.”




Benghazi hearings could end quickly

The chairman of a congressional committee looking into the Benghazi tragedy of Sept. 11. 2012 says the probe will conclude sometime in 2015.

Good deal.

For my money, though, the deal could be done by the end of 2014. Heck, it could be finished in the next two weeks..

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., is chairing a select committee’s examination — yep, we’re getting another one — into the Benghazi fire fight and terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in the Libyan city. The attack killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

The target of this probe clearly is then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who’s been accused of trying to cover up what happened that terrible day. Of course, there’s been no independent corroboration of any deliberate cover-up of the event. That hasn’t dissuaded House Republicans from continuing to look high and low for answers to questions arising from the fire fight.

This ground has been plowed and re-plowed time and again. However, by golly, the House select panel is going to keep looking for something to hang on Clinton, a probable candidate for president in 2016.

Americans need to hold Chairman Gowdy to his prediction that his panel will finish its work sometime in the coming year.

I’ll say this for Trey Gowdy: He’s laid down a serious marker that won’t get lost amid all the political chaos that’s about to swarm all across Capitol Hill.


Time for a strategy, Mr. President

President Obama made a startling acknowledgment today while talking about a range of issues.

He said the United States does not yet have a strategy to deal with ISIL.

Well, there you have it. It’s time to craft a strategy, Mr. President, to combat an organization that does present a serious threat that extends far beyond the region it is seeking to control.

ISIL stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. It is a seriously evil organization capable of doing anything — and I mean anything — to make whatever point it seeks to make.

They’ve beheaded an American journalist, threatened to strike the United States, and vowed to wage all-out war on non-Sunni Muslims, Jews and Christians.

I’m of the view that the president needs to develop a comprehensive strategy immediately and to implement whatever it takes to take ISIL out.

Are we going back into Iraq with ground troops? Obama says no. I hope he means what he says. Count me as one American who’s become war-weary in the extreme. Are we going to send troops into Syria? By all means no. What we have in Syria is a battle between forces that are anathema to our national and international interests. Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is hardly better than the ISIL forces seeking to topple him.

ISIL needs to be the target, Mr. President.

I appreciated today hearing you acknowledge the lack of a strategy. Now, though, is time to assemble that national security team to develop one. Now.


An emphatic 'no!' on paying ransom

Why in the world are we even debating this issue of paying ransom for hostages held by terror groups?

Yet we are at some level.

The policy long has been that the U.S. government doesn’t pay ransom. It instead by seeking to egotiate with the terrorists to persuade them it is in their best interest to let their captives go. If that tactic fails, then the government responds with military force or it seeks to rescue the captives.

The issue has come to light with the tragic murder by ISIS terrorists of journalist James Foley and the release by another terror group of Peter Theo Curtis. We learned shortly after Foley’s gruesome death that U.S. forces failed in a rescue attempt.

I don’t have a particular problem with allowing the families and friends of these captives seeking to pony up money to secure their release, even though such action usually does interfere with official negotiations under way to accomplish the same thing.

The very idea, though, of the government paying ransom is repugnant on its face. It sets a monetary value on someone’s life that in effect cheapens it.

Terror organizations must not be legitimized by, in effect, rewarding them for the terrible acts they commit. They need to be hunted down and arrested — or killed.


Ready, set, bombs away!

Back and forth we go.

Congressional Republicans are so angry at President Obama that they want to sue him for taking on too much executive authority to get things done. Now comes a report that the White House is considering air strikes against targets in Syria.

The response from Congress, from Democrats and Republicans? Ask us for authorization, Mr. President, before you unleash our air power.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., says the president should seek congressional approval. So has Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. Others on both sides of the aisle say the same thing.

They’re likely correct to request congressional approval. Recall that Obama earlier decided to seek congressional authorization after he threatened to hit the Syrian government over its use of chemical weapons on its people. Then the Russians intervened and brokered a deal to get the Syrians to surrender the WMD; they did and the weapons have been destroyed.

Congressional approval is likely the prudent course, given that the president has so few allies on Capitol Hill upon whom he can depend.

It’s fair to ask, though, whether senators like Corker and Kaine are going to stand with the commander in chief when the vote comes. If they’re going to demand congressional approval, then I hope they don’t double-cross Barack Obama with a “no” vote.

Obama reportedly wants to hit ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq. He’s already authorized the use of surveillance aircraft to look for targets. I continue to hold out concern about where all this might lead.

I’ll say this next part slowly: I do not want my country to go to war … again. I’ve had enough. I do not want ground troops sent back to Iraq, where we’ve bled too heavily already.

But if we can lend our considerable and deadly air power to the struggle to rid the world of ISIS, then let’s get the job done.


U.S.-born ISIS fighter is dead

All the hand-wringing over the use of drones to target terrorists who might be American citizens makes me angry.

U.S. airpower struck at a U.S. citizen who had been working with al-Qaeda in Yemen. Our ordnance killed him and civil libertarians and others lamented the lack of “due process” given to the young man before the missile blew him away.

Too bad for that.

Now comes word that another young American, someone named Douglas McCain, was killed in a battle among terror groups in Syria. McCain had been recruited by ISIS, which is fighting governments in Syria and Iraq.

Will there more hand-wringing over this one? Probably not, given that he died at the hands of another extremist group. Suppose, though, he’d been killed by U.S. forces. Suppose further that those forces knew that an American was shooting back at him and that he intended to kill whoever he could hit.

Would we have legal and moral standing to kill someone who had renounced his country and taken up arms with the enemy?


I’m as progressive as anyone on many issues. When it comes, however, to “protecting the rights” of Americans who turn on their country, all bets are off.

My curiosity goes only so far as to wonder what drives Americans to join forces with enemy combatants.

I don’t know the first thing about Douglas McCain and what lured him into the embrace of a hideous terrorist organization. To be honest, I don’t particularly care to know.

What’s left to ponder only is that someone who had declared himself to be an enemy of the country of his birth is now dead.

Whether he died at the hands of other bad guys or at the hands of our soldiers wouldn’t matter to me one little bit.


Cease-fire? Is peace treaty next?

At the risk of jinxing the whole deal, I feel compelled to say something positive about the open-ended cease-fire that’s been declared in the weeks-long battle between Israel and the Hamas terrorists who run the Gaza Strip.

The cease-fire is in place. Someone got tired of the killing. Maybe both sides grew weary of it.

Whatever the case may be, the end of the shelling, the bombing, the rocket fire, the death and mayhem is a positive sign.

What happens next? As I understand it, the two sides will begin talks. Israel has agreed to allow some imports into Gaza. The Palestinians will be allowed to fish offshore.

Now comes the hard part. Negotiations will start in Egypt in a few weeks that will tackle the tougher issues … such as Israel’s demand that Hamas disarm itself.

I’m not yet holding my breath for that to happen. It’s a start, though.

Hamas started this misery by lobbing rockets into Israel. The Israelis responded the only way they should have done, to defend themselves against the attacks. The resulting bloodshed killed more than 2,000 people, the vast majority of whom are Palestinian.

No one should cheer that outcome.

However, now that the shooting has stopped — except for some celebratory gunfire in Gaza — maybe, just maybe, we can start finding a way toward the most elusive goal on the planet: peace between Israel and the Palestinians.


Flash to POTUS: Show us your interest

First, I need to stipulate that I do not believe President Barack Obama is disengaged or disinterested in the issues of his time.

With that, it is fascinating to hear the White House rush to his defense … as if one would expect anything else from the staff that reports to the president.

I do believe, however, that Barack Obama needs to be a bit more dialed in to the value of photo ops, which he says he dislikes.

I get that, too.

A word to the president is in order: Mr. President, they matter — a lot — in a world that relies heavily on visual images.

Obama has returned from his vacation and is back at his post in the White House. He didn’t exactly disappear while he was “away” at Martha’s Vineyard. A lot of things were happening while he was relaxing with his family and friends at the posh resort.

The golf outings didn’t bother me. The juxtaposition of one particular outing, right after he delivered some moving remarks about the beheading of an American journalist in Syria, was bothersome only because of the events’ proximity to each other.

This is the kind of event the president needs to be careful to avoid. It doesn’t prove he’s disinterested, it only leaves odd feelings in people’s hearts and minds about the commander in chief, the head of state and government. It leaves them with the perception of disinterest — and isn’t perception real in the minds of those who perceive such things?



Rand Paul has become a peacenik

Wow! What in the world has Sen. Rand Paul been putting in his Wheaties?

The Kentucky Republican is now accusing former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton of being a “war hawk” and is staking out some interesting turf as he prepares to launch a possible 2016 presidential campaign.

The young man is sounding downright dovish in his approach to foreign policy.

Go figure.

Paul long has been considered a darling of the tea party movement within the Republican Party. As I have watched the tea party wing of the GOP, I’ve been struck by how hawkish many of its members have sounded regarding the conduct of U.S. foreign policy. What’s more, the tea party folks have pulled many of the so-called “establishment wing” GOP members over to their side.

Have you heard the griping from veteran U.S. Senate and House Republicans calling for more “robust” responses in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan to the terrorists who are creating so much havoc?

Meanwhile, Rand Paul is saying quite the opposite, He said on Meet the Press this past weekend: “Were I to run, there’s going to be a lot of independents, and even some Democrats, who say you know what? We are tired of war. We’re worried that Hillary Clinton will get us involved in another Middle Eastern war, because she’s so gung-ho.”

Yes, then-Sen. Clinton voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq ordered by President Bush. She’s since walked back from that vote, declaring she believes now that was a mistake.

Is she “gung-ho” these days? I don’t sense what Sen. Paul is sensing in a possible — if not probable — Hillary Clinton presidential candidacy.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised. Paul, after all, did declare his desire to see “all aid” to Israel suspended. He’s tried to take that statement back. However, as my late friend and colleague Claude Duncan once told me about politicians who try to retract regrettable statements: You can’t unhonk the horn.