Foreign Policy

State Dept. Officials Who “Resigned” Over Benghazi Back on the Job

Josh Margolin over at the New York Post has some startlingly news, if true:

The four officials supposedly out of jobs because of their blunders in the run-up to the deadly Benghazi terror attack remain on the State Department payroll — and will all be back to work soon, The Post has learned.

The highest-ranking official caught up in the scandal, Assistant Secretary of State Eric Boswell, has not “resigned” from government service, as officials said last week. He is just switching desks. And the other three are simply on administrative leave and are expected back.

The four were made out to be sacrificial lambs in the wake of a scathing report issued last week that found that the US compound in Benghazi, Libya, was left vulnerable to attack because of “grossly inadequate” security.

State Department leaders “didn’t come clean about Benghazi and now they’re not coming clean about these staff changes,” a source close to the situation told The Post., adding, the “public would be outraged over this.”

Last week, the four officials had apparently resigned over the disaster that was Benghazi, when an American consulate was attacked and four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were murdered by Libyan militants. Not only was that grounds for a massive public outrage, but it was compounded when for weeks the Obama Administration blamed it on a really stupid, poorly made “anti-Muslim” video, instead of paying attention to actual militant groups in the country.

Does Japan’s Foreign Policy Shift Take Collective Security Burden Off US?

japan

I’m sorry for the clunky title, but I was honestly unsure how to title this one—and besides, it sounds like it belongs right in the pages of Foreign Policy magazine. For those of you not in the loop, Japan has had a new election, and the incoming Prime Minister is a bit more, shall we say, “hawkish” than his predecessors:

TOKYO (AP) - Imagine that North Korea launched a missile at Japan. Tokyo could - and would certainly try to - shoot it down. But if the missile were flying overhead toward Hawaii or the continental United States, Japan would have to sit idly by.

Japan’s military is kept on a very short leash under a war-renouncing constitution written by U.S. officials whose main concern was keeping Japan from rearming soon after World War II. But if Japan’s soon-to-be prime minister Shinzo Abe has his way, the status quo may be in for some change.

Abe, set to take office for a second time after leading his conservative party to victory in elections last Sunday, has vowed a fundamental review of Japan’s taboo-ridden postwar security policies and proposed ideas that range from changing the name of the military - now called the Japan Self-Defense Forces - to revising the constitution itself.

Most of all, he wants to open the door to what the Japanese call “collective defense,” which would allow Japan’s troops to fight alongside their allies - especially the U.S. troops who are obliged to defend Japan - if either comes under direct attack. The United States has about 50,000 troops in Japan, including its largest air base in Asia.

Right now, if Japan’s current standoff with China over a group of disputed islands got physical, and U.S. Navy ships coming to Japan’s assistance took enemy fire, Japan wouldn’t be able to help them.

Obama, President of Peace? Seriously?

You mad, bro?

Question: What’s the difference between conservative foreign policy and liberal foreign policy?

Answer: Nothing.

That’s the way it looks to me, noting a few stories in the media. First, US military supplies and troops are going to Turkey:

The United States and Germany are sending Patriot missiles and troops to the Turkish border, a warning to Syria’s besieged President Bashar al-Assad.

The surface-to-air interceptors would be “dealing with threats that come out of Syria,” said U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Threats would include Syrian strikes inside Turkey and fighting between the government and rebels that extends into Turkey.

Errant Syrian artillery shells struck the Turkish border town of Akcakale and killed five Turkish civilians in October.

“We can’t spend a lot of time worrying about whether that pisses off Syria,” said Panetta after signing the order Friday. He spoke after arriving Friday at Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base, a U.S. Air Force installation about 80 miles from Syria’s border.

Despite the prospect of U.S. missiles on Al-Assad’s doorstep and a weakening regime, U.S. intelligence officials said the Syrian leader is showing no signs of giving up.

If Romney Wants to Win Libertarian Votes – He Has the Chance Tonight

I know that I am in the minority among the contributors to UL in that I will cast my vote on Election Day for Mitt Romney. I laid out my reasons for switching my vote from Gary Johnson to Mitt Romney in The Blaze a couple of weeks ago.

I was no fan of attempts to bully or shame libertarians into voting for Romney before I made my endorsement and I am no fan of those tactics now. I tried in my piece in The Blaze to lay out reasons why a libertarian should consider a vote for Romney – reasons that are obviously compelling enough for me personally to cast that vote.

If Romney wants to win over libertarians he doesn’t need his supporters trying to bully or shame libertarians who plan on voting for Gary Johnson. Instead, to win the votes of libertarians, Romney needs to actually take positions advocated by libertarians. I know this isn’t rocket science, but considering some of the pieces I have seen written by Romney supporters with the supposed objective of winning over Johnson voters, this actually needs to be said.

Tonight, Governor Romney has an opportunity to win over libertarians in the foreign policy debate.

First, let me say that I am realistic about what Romney could do to win over libertarians tonight. I know, unfortunately, that he will not repudiate the failed nation-building and interventionism that has been the hallmark of the Bush and Obama foreign policies.

That having been said, here is what Romney could say that would set his approach apart from the disastrous Obama foreign policy and win over libertarians:

A Libertarian, if Controversial, Response to Consulate Attacks

Libya protests

I’m going to say something that is highly controversial amongst libertarians. It may even lead me to be cast out (particularly among one “part” of the movement). If that is the case, then so be it. It is my suggestion to the United States government to deal with the rash of attacks on our diplomatic missions throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East: send in our forces. Find the people who have done these terrible deeds.

Bring them to justice. And then leave.

This flies in the face of generally accepted libertarian foreign policy, at least as construed by many “rank and file” libertarians. We’re not supposed to be in other countries. We’re not supposed to be out there getting ourselves involved. And if American personnel are hurt, we shouldn’t get ourselves involved more.

This, however, is dangerously short-sighted and naive. Yes, we shouldn’t be in foreign countries. On that I completely agree. But we should not, when we are attacked, simply throw our hands up in defeat and pull out. Or do what President Obama did, and “apologize” for one man using his right to free speech. That does not keep us safe, and that does not fix anything.

Giving in to bullies and madmen does not stop them, it emboldens them, as Britain learned so painfully after Munich. There is also no room for it in libertarian philosophy. If someone aggresses against you, if they attack you and destroy or take your property, and worse if they actually kill you and your comrades, they have violated your liberty. That is not something that libertarianism condones.

The Images of Benghazi You’ll Never See

benghazi_peace

The above picture is from a story in BuzzFeed, of Libyans in Benghazi denouncing the attack on the consulate and the death of envoy Chris Stevens.

Betcha twenty bucks it doesn’t go far in the mainstream media, because they just want to show violence and flames and people out for our blood.

But this is the real message here: people are individuals. Groups do not have minds. We should not, and can not, blame all Libyans for what happened in Benghazi. Just something to remember as the fallout from this incident hits all of us.

Can this Marriage be Saved: Libertarians and the GOP

Republicans

Conventions aren’t just about the present, conventions are also about the future. As the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa draws to a close, one of the most important questions for the party going forward is what role – if any – will libertarians play in the direction of the GOP in the years ahead.

Congressman Ron Paul’s 2008 campaign for the Republican Party’s Presidential nomination helped to launch the modern day liberty movement and gave voice to libertarians within the Republican Party.

The rise of the Tea Party and a second Paul Republican Presidential run gave the libertarian wing of the party hope for the future and increased visibility.

As Paul’s popularity grew in the party, so did the tension between the libertarian wing of the GOP and the party’s establishment. Many in the establishment would have you believe that the tension was more about the behavior of Ron Paul’s supporters than about policy. While there is no doubt that Ron Paul has an intensely loyal and fervent following, the truth is the tension wasn’t about behavior – it was about policy.

Libertarians want an end to foreign adventurism, they want deep cuts in spending across the board (including the military), they want government out of the boardrooms and the bedrooms, they want dramatic tax reform (starting with throwing out the current tax code), they want to privatize social security and Medicare, and they want a return to sound money.

The policy differences between libertarians and the current GOP are real and they are significant. The question going forward is whether this marriage can be saved?

Romney’s Praise of Israeli Healthcare Shows GOP Blind Spot

Earlier this week, Mitt Romney visited Israel, and in a speech praised the Israeli healthcare system for keeping down costs. This sounds like an utterly uncontroversial statement (Republican politician praising Israel), until one realizes that Israel has a single-payer, universal health care system.

OH BOY.

Yet, oddly, there was very little mention of this in conservative spots. I checked The Weekly Standard, Hot Air, the Washington Times, even The Blaze, but none of them talked about Romney’s statement. Not even Fox News seemed to have an article about it. Instead, places like the Boston Globe, the Washington Post (in particular, Ezra Klein), Matt Yglesias at Slate, and Steven L. Taylor at Outside the Beltway were the ones who seemed to actually notice what Romney said.

Ron Paul’s Poor Choice of Words

Yesterday, Rep. Ron Paul gave a speech on the House floor in regards to situation in Syria. Syria has descended into bloody civil war with rebel groups trying to oust Syrian dictator Bashir Assad. There have been reports of massacres and atrocities being committed by forces to loyal to the Assad government. In response, there have been increasing calls for intervention by United States and NATO forces, in the mold of the recent Libyan adventure, to remove the Assad government from power.

Rep. Paul spoke out against the proposed intervention and will file legislation to stop President Obama from launching a war against the Assad regime without Congressional authorization. This is legislation I would strongly support because only Congress has the constitutional duty to declare and authorize war. Plus, I believe intervention in Syria would be a huge mistake because it would likely ignite a larger Middle Eastern war involving Israel and Iran. However, the Paul speech unfortunately I believe did harm to supporters of non-interventionism and confirmed many negative stereotypes about them.

The speech included a few troubling passages, such as:

We are already too much involved in supporting the forces within Syria anxious to overthrow the current government. Without outside interference, the strife—now characterized as a civil war—would likely be non-existent.

Have conservatives lost their mind on foreign policy?

As a libertarian, it has been puzzling to watch how conservatives have reacted to the foreign policy of Barack Obama.  In almost every tangible way, Obama’s policies have been a continuation of his predecessor’s.  In fact, in some ways he has been even more aggressive - amping up the mission in Afghanistan, involvement in Libya, and increased drone attacks (including against American citizens).  Yet the right continues to pretend that the Obama administration has been “weak” on national defense.

This debate has reached an even greater level of absurdity in recent weeks as Obama has used the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s killing to tout his foreign policy successes.  Obama has even attempted to argue that Mitt Romney would not have ordered the killing (more than a bit far-fetched in my humble opinion).  Conservatives, on the other hand, have tried to minimize the significance of the event and find any way possible to not give Obama credit for it, when surely they would have praised George W. Bush.

And while military spending has not been cut at all under Obama, conservatives are still arguing that he is somehow short-changing the Pentagon.  Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma went as far as to claim Obama is “gutting” the military in recent comments regarding President Obama’s trip to Afghanistan early this week:

“Clearly this trip is campaign-related,” [Inhofe] said. “We’ve seen recently that President Obama has visited college campuses in an attempt to win back the support of that age group since he has lost it over the last three years. Similarly, this trip to Afghanistan is an attempt to shore up his national security credentials, because he has spent the past three years gutting our military.”


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