Yesterday, I read an article from the Council on Foreign Relations called “Reforming U.S. Drone Strike Policies.” The opening paragraph read:
Over the last ten years, drones have become a critical tool in the war against terrorist and militant organizations worldwide. Their advantages over other weapons and intelligence systems are well known. They can silently observe an individual, group, or location for hours on end, but take immediate action should a strike opportunity become available—all without putting a pilot at risk. This combination of capabilities is unique and has allowed the United States to decimate the leadership of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and disrupt the activities of many other militant groups.
The paragraph seems to be a wholehearted endorsement of drones. But everyone knows what happens when you start peeling the layers of an onion. What appear to be reasons for drone strikes also happen to be reasons against them.
With the “fiscal cliff” behind us, it’s important to remember that in less than two months, the Congress will be dealing with another manufactured crisis: The budget cuts of the 2011 Budget Control Act known as “sequestration.” The Department of Defense will bear 41% of the prescribed cuts, eliminating an additional $492 billion over 10 years. Although entitlement spending will also be on the table, the initial fight will be over cuts to the Defense budget.
A new study by the nonpartisan RAND Corporation concludes that the defense budget cuts cannot be taken without altering our overall defense strategy, and that “the department should modify defense strategy to fit the new resource constraints and prepare its course of action sooner rather than later.”
The authors highlight three alternative strategies, which anyone interested in this topic should read and consider. An accompanying article by the authors states, “Reductions of the magnitude implied by sequestration—some $500 billion over the coming decade—cannot be accommodated without a re-examination of current defense strategy.”
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:
During the campaign season before the 2010 elections, my dad (the administrator of a small private school) called me to say that a man running for Congress stopped in the office to talk with him for a few minutes. That man was Mick Mulvaney, who, as Dad noted, would be a substantial upgrade over long-time incumbent John Spratt.
I’ve kept an eye on Mulvaney the last couple of years since he joined Congress as part of the wave of new Republicans in the House. While I haven’t always agreed with Mulvaney, I have seen him take some stands I admired. He usually flies under the radar without stirring up too much controversy within the party.
The days of Mulvaney flying under the radar may be over soon, as he has been working to do what few Republicans dare to do: curb increases in defense spending.
Mulvaney was recently interviewed by The American Conservative about defense spending, specifically about his efforts with Barney Frank to freeze defense spending. Their amendment to the 2013 defense appropriations bill to freeze defense spending at 2012 levels passed the House and awaits action by the Senate.
When Rand Paul spoke at the Republican convention in August, he referred to the “sacred cows” that each party was going to have to kill in order to gain any ground on balancing the federal budget. The GOP’s sacred cow, without a doubt, is defense spending.
Mulvaney’s attempt to freeze spending isn’t exactly what we need, but it’s a good start to convince the warmongers within the party that we can, in fact, defend our country without exponentially inflating defense spending every year.
If there was one theme that was found throughout the Republican convention last week, it was this: America is awesome and everything would be great if only our guys were in power. Now, this is certainly not a new idea. It is common for partisans to see their opposition as the source of all our societal ills. But in the Republicans’ case, this is amplified into the concept of “American exceptionalism,” the idea that America is not only a great nation, but one that is uniquely blessed and, thus, obligated to spread freedom throughout the globe.
Now, this would be one thing if it were just a bunch of overblown nationalism. Pride in one’s country is perfectly fine, of course, but the concept of American exceptionalism takes that to an even further extreme, arguing that the normal rules don’t apply to the US and we have a special role unique in history. It is an attitude that causes one to overlook America’s numerous failings and sins, and to excuse actions that, if undertaken by another nation, we could rightly condemn. It is a worldview that calls anyone who questions it unpatriotic and part of the “blame America first” crowd.
Written by Tad DeHaven, a budget analyst at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
According to the Associated Press, Mitt Romney supports postponing the sequestration cuts scheduled for January 2, 2013 by at least one year:
The Republican presidential contender said Friday during a campaign trip to Las Vegas that the cuts would be “terrible,” particularly for the military.
Congress approved the cuts as part of a deal to reduce the deficit. They were designed to help lawmakers come up with a better plan. But that didn’t happen — so the cuts are scheduled to go into effect next year.
Romney says he wants President Barack Obama and lawmakers to work together to put, in his words, “a year’s runway,” in place to give the next president time to reform the tax system and ensure the military’s needs are met.
In other words, Romney’s position on sequestration is no different than the rest of the spendthrifts in Washington.
Memorial Day is a holiday that most Americans take for granted. They enjoy the unofficial start of summer by making their first pilgrimage to the beach or by celebrating in the backyard with a barbecue. It is a joyous occasion where people relax, eat, drink, soak up the sun and hang out with friends. But the majority of Americans don’t even realize why they have the day off from work.
A few Americans actually follow the spirit of the federal holiday and remember those who have died “defending” their freedom in wars waged by the U.S. Government. Unfortunately, the list who have died fighting and dying at the behest of politicians is still growing longer everyday. Those names of the dead and maimed are continually added to the over 1.3 million who’ve already died and to the other 1.5 million who have been wounded fighting under the banner of Old Glory.
But does any citizen really understand why the 2.8 million fellow Americans were killed or wounded fighting in wars waged by the U.S. Government? Most people believe that all the wars the U.S. has fought have been to make the “world (including the U.S. homeland) safe for Democracy? But when you delve deeper beyond the patriotic propaganda of why the wars were truly waged in the past and continue to be waged in the present you begin to find a disturbing pattern of why the United States Government goes to war. We should all remember on this Memorial Day that the wars that the United States of America has waged, have been waged not to protect our freedom but to enrich a very few at the expense of the very many.
From the New York Times:
KABUL, Afghanistan – The American military claimed responsibility and expressed regret for an airstrike that mistakenly killed six members of a family in southwestern Afghanistan, Afghan and American military officials confirmed Monday.
The attack, which took place Friday night, was first revealed by the governor of Helmand Province, Muhammad Gulab Mangal, on Monday. His spokesman, Dawoud Ahmadi, said that after an investigation they had determined that a family home in Sangin district had been attacked by mistake in the American airstrike, which was called in to respond to a Taliban attack.
Whatever you think about the war in Afghanistan, there is no disputing that this is recruitment fodder for terrorist organizations. In a region where objective information is scarce, the narrative that America is an evil empire is easily spread unchallenged, and when your family is killed by Americans, you seek vengeance. Events like this only serve to aid those we are truly at war with.
On Wednesday, Senator Marco Rubio outlined his vision for American foreign policy in a speech to the Brookings Institution in Washington. Suffice to say, it is a vision that will have more appeal to Bill Kristol than to Ron Paul. Rubio calls for more involvement in the world, more foreign aid, and more intervention. After reading Rubio’s speech, it is clear that he has not learned anything from the past decade and the foreign policy mistakes of the Bush43 and Obama Administrations.
Rubio first outlines his globalist agenda:
I always start by reminding people that what happens all over the world is our business. Every aspect of our lives is directly impacted by global events. The security of our cities is connected to the security of small hamlets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Our cost of living, the safety of our food , and the value of the things we invent, make and sell are just a few examples of everyday aspects of our lives that are directly related to events abroad and make it impossible for us to focus only on our issues here are home.
Rubio of course forgets that the 9/11 plot was hatched in the parts of Afghanistan that were under the control of a government, the Taliban.
No foreign policy speech in America would be complete without the prerequisite China bashing:
Jorge Gonzalez is a motion designer and political activist living and working in Midtown Atlanta. In his free time, he enjoys filming, photography, and reading. **Please note, this post contains spoilers. If you haven’t seen the film and don’t want to hear all about it, then stop here and read it after you’ve seen it. If you don’t care about spoilers, then by all means, read on.**
I’ve seen Act of Valor twice now. It’s a visually stunning movie, it is —unlike what the critics seem to suggest— a moving story, and has raised some important questions for me about valor, honor, war and how I should understand it given my worldview.
First, I was amazed at the realness of the movie. From the actor’s cadence to the weapons, the tactics to the sound engineering, the movie is frighteningly real. The action scenes were relentless. The sound of the M4’s (the assault rifle used by the SEALS) was spot on. I’ve never watched a movie where the M4 sounded as it actually does when fired. Not to mention, the Soviet weapons used in the movie were also very real sounding. That may seem like a minor detail but to me, I’ll never forget the sound of an AK or the sound an RPG makes when it’s passing by. Nor will I ever forget the sound an M4 makes, especially when fired repeatedly. That sound does stick with you and this movie brought back some memories.