Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Way to Do It

The recent brouhaha involving MSNBC's Ed Schultz and conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham has set off a series of interesting debates, but the point that's been lost in all of this is Ingraham's initial complaint about President Barack Obama and his seeming lack of regard for what is going on in the Midwest and South right now. I have to say it's a fair point and it fits with the pattern of behavior Obama has shown throughout his Presidency.

However, it was enough to make Schultz go after Ingraham with a vile, personal slam against her and her morality. Regardless of how you feel about Ingraham or Schultz, going that personal with a degrading term as the one Schultz used is beyond the pale. (I'm sure Leftists are saying, "But what about what [insert name of conservative] said about [insert name of Leftist]?" You can pull up all the factoids you want, but the truth remains calling a woman what Schultz did is only slightly less degrading than what Bill Maher, another popular Leftist mouthpiece, called Sarah Palin.

However, Ingraham didn't call for Schultz to be fired or lead a boycott of his sponsors. Ingraham took a different tack: she pretty much ignored it and Schultz. If you listen to Ingraham's acceptance of Schultz's apology, you see she's consistent in her belief there are more important things to worry about than what anyone says about her. And she's right. The people in Missouri don't give two craps about who calls who what name. They have their hands full trying to rebuild and start over.

There are times in our lives that act like a jeweler's cloth, exposing the flaws in our lives for those watching to see. Schultz's behavior in this case was that jeweler's cloth, but Ingraham shone like a diamond in the end.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

From Rock Star to Stone Deaf

In 2008, Barack Obama wowed European crowds with his speeches and youthful energy. Everyone, including the media, got caught up in Obamamania. Some in the press even compared the candidate to a rock star.

Boy, what a difference 2+ years can make.

Obama's recent European trip has people scratching their heads over the President's bizarre lack of protocol. While some conservative commentators such as Glenn Beck take a semi-serious approach to the issue and its impact on American foreign policy, I tend to think of it more in terms of a fall from grace for the President.

When Obama was elected, people believed he would restore America to prominence in the world by taking a different approach to foreign policy than his predecessor, George W. Bush. Gone were the days of "cowboy diplomacy" and in came the era of smart diplomacy.

Then, Obama became President and we got to see his foreign policy shaping out to be...well, less than impressive. In trying to forge a new direction, Obama has successfully alienated two of our staunchest allies, Great Britain and Israel. Additionally, he's all but forgotten Germany, tried to buddy up with France (at Britain's expense, I might add), and taken sides in Egypt and Libya that are fraught with dangerous ties to groups that don't exactly dig our way of life.

One of the biggest problems I've seen with American foreign policy over the past few decades has been we almost seem ashamed to admit we're American. We're expected to sit there and take anything a tinpot dictator from a Third World country flings as us, truthful or otherwise. Then, we're expected to pick up the check whenever that same Third World country needs help from the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund. And with Obama at the helm, that shame in America among our leaders has skyrocketed.

And that shame has translated into embarrassment for world leaders who have to deal with Obama's protocol breaches. Although some might disagree, I think this is also hurting Obama's image around the world because he doesn't seem to learn from his mistakes. All he does is make bigger, more public mistakes, leaving ally and enemy alike to mock Obama.

If Obama was a rock star in 2008, he's becoming a bad Vegas lounge act in 2011.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Then What?

In a major speech (or at least that's how it was portrayed in the media) yesterday, President Barack Obama advanced the notion Israel should return to its 1967 borders as a means to try to bring peace to the Middle East. Understandably, Israel and its allies are upset at such a notion, especially in light of the fact Obama said he would never allow Jerusalem to be split, which would happen if Israel went back to its 1967 borders.

Let's play a little game of "what if." What if Israel decides to go back to the 1967 borders? Then what? Here's what I think would happen.

1) The violence in the Middle East wouldn't stop. The hatred that's there now would still be there if Israel would go back to the 1967 borders.

2) Israel would become more concentrated. Although it would mean it would be easier for Israelis to dig in to defend themselves with less land mass to defend, it would also make it easier for Israel's enemies to do more damage with terrorist or even military strikes

3) Jerusalem would become like Berlin after World War II. One of the most tragic events after the fall of Nazi Germany was seeing Germany and Berlin in particular split, separated by a wall and an ideology. If Israel goes back to its 1967 borders, Jerusalem will be the second coming of a divided Berlin.

4) Palestinians will be further emboldened. Having Israel pushed further back would give Palestinians more of a reason to keep pushing to get more concessions. And with world opinion seemingly on their side, there will be more pressure on Israel to comply.

5) The Middle East problem will still be there.

What Obama and the people who think his idea is valid miss is the Middle East situation isn't about land. It was and is about the justification of hatred against one particular group. There is a lot of misinformation out there about the Middle East and who is the cause of the strife there. What isn't getting the attention it should is how Israel has accommodated Palestinians who want to live in peace, even being willing to scale back its previous land acquisitions to allow Palestinians a place to live. Yet, no matter how many olive branches Israel holds out, the Palestinians swat them away and hold onto their hate.

No, Mr. President, making Israel go back to its 1967 borders won't bring about Middle East peace. If anything, it will create more problems that will need to be dealt with for years to come.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Devil We Don't Know

With the death of Osama Bin Laden and recent news of intelligence on al Qaeda from Bin Laden's computer records, it appears we've struck a major blow to international terrorism. Yet, when taken as part of the totality in the Middle East, we may be looking at a vastly different and much more dangerous landscape soon.

If what I've heard recently is true, al Qaeda may have split in half on religious grounds with a more radical faction ignoring Bin Laden's leadership. If so, this is consistent with what we've seen in Egypt and Libya, where more radical factions have pushed for the removal of less strident or weaker leaders. Even more radical Islamic regimes, such as Iran, could be moving in that direction.

Whether international terrorist groups are leading the charge or going with the flow is immaterial. The real issue is the further radicalization of the Middle East and its impact on the war on terrorism. Dealing a death blow to al Qaeda (or a portion of it) is good, but if we leave it at that, we're setting ourselves up for failure yet again, a failure that could dwarf 9/11.

So, what are we doing about it? From what I'm seeing, not much. President Barack Obama can do as many victory laps as he wants, but he's already come out supporting the forces in Egypt and Libya, both of whom have clear ties to radical Islam. Even former President George W. Bush took his eyes off the ball in the war on terrorism by not following through once Iraq and Afghanistan were more stabilized after our military interventions. Sure, waterboarding and Gitmo worked to nab Bin Laden, but we've wavered on those as well.

Also, doesn't it bother anyone else how quickly the Obama Administration sided with the more radical elements in Libya and Egypt? It's not like those elements have hidden their agenda or their hatred of America, either. Yet, we're content to let them do the dirty work in getting rid of leaders we no longer "need" in power. If they succeed, something will have to fill the vacuum, and I don't think it's going to be filled by Muslims who want to peacefully co-exist with the West.

Although we can breathe a sigh of relief at Osama Bin Laden's death, the war on terrorism isn't over by that one act. There is a bigger storm on the horizon, and if recent history and current events are any indication, we're not ready for it.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Quick Hits - Post-OBL Edition

Because I'm a Man of My Word: I congratulate President Obama for his efforts in the operation that brought Osama Bin Laden to final justice. There were a lot of factors involved in putting together the operation and I'm glad Obama, his team, and the military personnel involved were able to come together and accomplish a major goal in the war on terrorism. Good on you, sir.

Because I'm a Man of My Word II: The speech Obama gave to the nation, to the world really, about the death of Osama Bin Laden was more than a little disappointing. Instead of focusing on those who risked their lives or those who laid the groundwork for the assault, Obama chose to talk about...himself. In a situation like that, leaders tend to focus not on taking personal credit, but spreading it around. What could have been a great speech was cheapened by his back-patting.

An Inconvenient Truth: As much as I appreciate the sheer joy of Osama Bin Laden meeting his maker, I can't help but think about those who cheered our tragedy on 9/11 and wonder how much different we are from them. And the more I think about it, the fewer differences I see.

So, Who Gets Credit?: Is it George W. Bush? Is it Barack Obama? Is it Bill Clinton? At this point, there is enough credit (and blame) to go around. Leave it at that.

The Political Fall-Out: To many, killing Osama Bin Laden has all but ensured President Obama a second term. I'm not so sure. Time will tell.

The Biggest Mistake We Can Make Right Now: I get the feeling with the death of Osama Bin Laden, people will think we can deescalate the war on terrorism. That would be a huge mistake because the war on terrorism has never been and should never be about getting Bin Laden. Now that he's out of the picture, there are others who will step up and fill the void he left. If the situations in Egypt and Libya are any indication, we may be getting cozy with people as extreme as Bin Laden was, which means another 9/11 becomes that much more certain.

Burial at Sea?: This part has me puzzled. People involved with the burial of Osama Bin Laden said they gave him a proper burial at sea in accordance with the Muslim faith. Yet, Muslim clerics have said the burial wasn't in accordance with the Muslim faith and was actually an affront to it. You know, if I were in charge of that operation, I would make sure to take extra care not to offend the Muslims any more than I did by taking down Osama Bin Laden. That's kind of something you want to be sure to get right if at all possible. Just sayin'.