President Obama has an amazing ability to make Jimmy Carter’s foreign policies look good.Opposition to imperfect allies and support of radical Islamists has resulted in the almost-extinction of religious freedom for religious minorities – from the Copts in Egypt to the defenseless women and children who were slaughtered in Homs, Syria – in the Middle East.
Another example is the devolving situation in Iraq. President Obama was so committed to fulfilling an arbitrary campaign promise to get our troops out of Iraq that he ignored the advice of his senior military officials about the consequences of establishing a firm withdrawal date and about how long it might take before Iraq was ready to manage the situation on their own. As a result, Al-Qa’ida is resurgent, Iran’s influence is greater than ever, religious tensions between Sunni and Shi’a are increasing, the existential threat facing Iraq’s indigenous minority communities has never been greater, and our ability to affect the situation there is weaker now. Recent coordinated car bomb attacks are just the latest in a string of such events since the start of the new year, and they portend many more violent assaults to come.
The departure of our military forces has once again left a security vacuum that is bound to be filled by someone, and all those with the means to vie for that space will do so, whether Sunni insurgents, terrorists like Al Qa’ida, security forces controlled by the ruling Shi’a political establishment, and in parts of the country even Kurdish Peshmerga. These machinations undermine institutionalizing the rule of law, protecting minority rights, or developing the economy and infrastructure, let alone advancing American interests in that country and the region.
The most vulnerable people in this situation also happen to be the ones most aligned with our values and interests. These are Iraq’s besieged Christians – the Chaldeans, Assyrians, Syriacs and Armenian Orthodox communities. The role their faith has played in developing their worldview is far more in keeping with America’s values than any other constituency in the country or the region. Moreover, because these communities have an ethic that places a premium on education, entrepreneurship, and peaceful co-existence and respect for others, they have constituted a disproportionately large part of the upper-middle class, they have historically contributed far more to the country’s economy than their numbers would suggest, and they have been the most trusted elements of Iraqi society. They also have a much greater respect for the value of the rule of law, they were the ones who came along side our military, diplomats, and contractors to provide translation services and cultural advice.
With the departure of our forces and the recent announcement of the Obama Administration that we will also be reducing our embassy staff by 50 percent because it is now too dangerous for our diplomats there we are effectively abandoning both Iraq and our investment there as well as the communities who risked the most to help us in that effort. What is more, walking away like this also sends messages to other players in the region. It signals to potential allies in the future that we are not dependable. It signals to terrorists that if they just lay low, they can wait us out. It signals to the world that we no longer have the resolve to see a situation through to the end – that we can’t finish what we started.
We need all the help we can get in that part of the world, and Iraq’s Christians are the ones most inclined to provide that help, but not if doing so is only going to increase the prospect of their genocidal annihilation.
Accordingly, we need a comprehensive policy aimed at preserving these communities in Iraq. We need to focus on helping Iraqis create the conditions that incentivize staying in Iraq and making there a better future for themselves. The last thing we want is for them to abandon the land their ancestors have occupied for nearly 7,000 years,forsake the culture they have preserved in that volatile region for all these millennia, and deprive the country, the region, and the world of the positive contributions they could still make if only some space was created for them in Iraqi society. These people – who are all but canaries in a coal mine – represent hope for a better future for a pluralistic Iraqi society.
First, they need security. By “security,” though, I mean more than just safety from terrorist and insurgent attacks. I mean they need the means to protect themselves and their own communities so they do not have to depend on political actors whose interests are not necessarily aligned with the needs of their own communities. They should not be subjected to political shakedowns and corrupt political machinations.
Second, they need political empowerment. They have the right to some degree of self-determination and to have a say in how their local communities should be governed. It is wrong for them to be treated as a political football, constantly crushed between manipulative forces that surround them.
Third, they need economic development in the region where they now find themselves. Having been forced off their ancestral lands in the last century, they reestablished themselves in the cities such as Baghdad and Basra. In the aftermath of the second Gulf War, though, they have had to seek refuge back in the North again. Yet this region was not developed very well under Saddam’s regime, and today’s Iraqi Christians are disproportionately of the urban professional class rather than farmers.
It is time that we stand with those who stood with us over the last 8 years. We must not abandon them. I will stand with those who stand for freedom of religion and conscience and against violent jihadism and persecution of religious minorities in Iraq, Egypt, and elsewhere.
By Kate Brannen – Staff writer
Posted : Friday Feb 24, 2012 9:26:03 EST
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said Friday the Army could drop from today’s 45 brigades down to 32, depending on the results of an internal Army study.
With the unveiling of the new DoD strategic guidance in January, the Pentagon announced the Army would eliminate at least eight brigade combat teams and drop from 570,000 soldiers in the active duty force to 490,000. Army officials have said the number of brigade combat teams could fall even further with the conclusion of a force design/force mix study being done by Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC).
The major brigade change TRADOC is considering is adding a third maneuver battalion to the brigades.
Increasing the number of battalions within the brigades would add “significant flexibility,” Odierno said at the Association of the U.S. Army winter symposium.
The Army is also considering adding more engineer capability within the brigade.
Both of these moves could allow the Army to eliminate more brigades, down to 32 or 33 brigades, the four-star said.
TRADOC will make its recommendations in the coming months to Army Secretary John McHugh, who will make the final decision, according to Odierno. MORE HERE
How can the Military be expected to do the job assigned to them by the US Constitution is they are ill-equipped and undermanned?
You may think the rising tide of radical Islam is a relatively new thing, especially as it relates to America, but it is not.
by Gerard W. Gawalt
Gerard W. Gawalt is the manuscript specialist for early American history in the Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
“The ruthless, supremely committed element of radical Islam we face today are not new to the United States of America.
More than two hundred years ago the newly established United States faced Muslim pirates that were the scourge of the Mediterranean Sea and a significant area of the North Atlantic. Their practice was to attack any and every ship and ransom the captives. Pirate ships and crews from the North African states of Tripoli, Tunis, Morocco, and Algiers (the Barbary Coast) became the extortionists of the seas and presented a radically different threat to the young American nation.
“Before the United States obtained its independence in the American Revolution, 1775-83, American merchant ships and sailors had been protected from the ravages of the North African pirates by the naval and diplomatic power of Great Britain. British naval power and the tribute or subsidies Britain paid to the piratical states protected American vessels and crews. During the Revolution, the ships of the United States were protected by the 1778 alliance with France, which required the French nation to protect “American vessels and effects against all violence, insults, attacks, or depredations, on the part of the said Princes and States of Barbary or their subjects.”
“After the United States won its independence in the treaty of 1783, it had to protect its own commerce against dangers such as the Barbary pirates. As early as 1784 Congress followed the tradition of the European shipping powers and appropriated $80,000 as tribute to the Barbary states, directing its ministers in Europe, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, to begin negotiations with them. Trouble began the next year, in July 1785, when Algerians captured two American ships and the dey of Algiers held their crews of twenty-one people for a ransom of nearly $60,000.” (Gawalt)
“How many know that perhaps 1.5 million Europeans and Americans were enslaved in Islamic North Africa between 1530 and 1780? We dimly recall that Miguel de Cervantes was briefly in the galleys. But what of the people of the town of Baltimore in Ireland, all carried off by “corsair” raiders in a single night?
Some of this activity was hostage trading and ransom farming rather than the more labor-intensive horror of the Atlantic trade and the Middle Passage, but it exerted a huge effect on the imagination of the time—and probably on no one more than on Thomas Jefferson. Peering at the paragraph denouncing the American slave trade in his original draft of the Declaration of Independence, later excised, I [Christopher Hitchens] noticed for the first time that it sarcastically condemned “the Christian King of Great Britain” for engaging in “this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers.” The allusion to Barbary practice seemed inescapable.”(Jefferson Versus the Muslim Pirates)
“In 1786, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams met with Tripoli’s ambassador to Great Britain to ask him by what right his nation attacked American ships and enslaved American citizens. He claimed that the right was founded on the laws of their prophet and that it was written in the Koran that all nations that didn’t acknowledge their authority were sinners, and that not only was it their right and duty to make war upon these sinners wherever they could be found, but to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Muslim slain in battle was guaranteed a place in Paradise. Despite this stunning admission of pre-meditated violence on non-Muslim nations, as well as the objections of numerous notable Americans, including George Washington, who warned that caving in was both wrong and would only further embolden their enemy, the United States Congress continued to buy off the Barbary Muslims with bribes and ransom money.
“They paid Tripoli, Tunis, Morocco, and Algiers upwards of one million dollars a year over the next fifteen years, which by 1800 amounted to 20% of the United States annual revenues. Jefferson was disgusted. To add insult to injury, when he was sworn in as the third president of the United States in 1801, the pasha of Tripoli sent him a note demanding an immediate payment of $225,000 plus $25,000 a year thereafter. That was when everything changed!
Jefferson let the pasha know in no uncertain terms what he could do with his demand. The pasha responded by chopping down the flagpole in front of the US Consulate and declaring war on the United States. Tunis, Morocco and Algiers followed suit.” (The Last Patriot, by Brad Thor)
“Thomas Jefferson, United States minister to France, opposed the payment of tribute, as he later testified in words that have a particular resonance today. In his autobiography, Jefferson wrote that in 1785 and 1786 he unsuccessfully “endeavored to form an association of the powers subject to habitual depredation from them. I accordingly prepared, and proposed to their ministers at Paris, for consultation with their governments, articles of a special confederation.” Jefferson argued that “The object of the convention shall be to compel the piratical States to perpetual peace.” Jefferson prepared a detailed plan for the interested states. “Portugal, Naples, the two Sicilies, Venice, Malta, Denmark and Sweden were favorably disposed to such an association,” Jefferson remembered, but there were “apprehensions” that England and France would follow their own paths, “and so it fell through.”
“Paying the ransom would only lead to further demands, Jefferson argued in letters to future presidents John Adams, then America’s minister to Great Britain, and James Monroe, then a member of Congress. As Jefferson wrote to Adams in a July 11, 1786, letter, “I acknolege [sic] I very early thought it would be best to effect a peace thro’ the medium of war.” Paying tribute will merely invite more demands, and even if a coalition proves workable, the only solution is a strong navy that can reach the pirates, Jefferson argued in an August 18, 1786, letter to James Monroe: “The states must see the rod; perhaps it must be felt by some one of them. . . . Every national citizen must wish to see an effective instrument of coercion, and should fear to see it on any other element than the water. A naval force can never endanger our liberties, nor occasion bloodshed; a land force would do both.” “From what I learn from the temper of my countrymen and their tenaciousness of their money,” Jefferson added in a December 26, 1786, letter to the president of Yale College, Ezra Stiles, “it will be more easy to raise ships and men to fight these pirates into reason, than money to bribe them.”
“Jefferson’s plan for an international coalition foundered on the shoals of indifference and a belief that it was cheaper to pay the tribute than fight a war. The United States’s relations with the Barbary states continued to revolve around negotiations for ransom of American ships and sailors and the payment of annual tributes or gifts. Even though Secretary of State Jefferson declared to Thomas Barclay, American consul to Morocco, in a May 13, 1791, letter of instructions for a new treaty with Morocco that it is “lastly our determination to prefer war in all cases to tribute under any form, and to any people whatever,” the United States continued to negotiate for cash settlements. In 1795 alone the United States was forced to pay nearly a million dollars in cash, naval stores, and a frigate to ransom 115 sailors from the dey of Algiers. Annual gifts were settled by treaty on Algiers, Morocco, Tunis, and Tripoli.
“When Jefferson became president in 1801 he refused to accede to Tripoli’s demands for an immediate payment of $225,000 and an annual payment of $25,000. The pasha of Tripoli then declared war on the United States. Although as secretary of state and vice president he had opposed developing an American navy capable of anything more than coastal defense, President Jefferson dispatched a squadron of naval vessels to the Mediterranean. As he declared in his first annual message to Congress: “To this state of general peace with which we have been blessed, one only exception exists. Tripoli, the least considerable of the Barbary States, had come forward with demands unfounded either in right or in compact, and had permitted itself to denounce war, on our failure to comply before a given day. The style of the demand admitted but one answer. I sent a small squadron of frigates into the Mediterranean. . . .”
The American show of force quickly awed Tunis and Algiers into breaking their alliance with Tripoli. The humiliating loss of the frigate Philadelphia and the capture of her captain and crew in Tripoli in 1803, criticism from his political opponents, and even opposition within his own cabinet did not deter Jefferson from his chosen course during four years of war. The aggressive action of Commodore Edward Preble (1803-4) forced Morocco out of the fight and his five bombardments of Tripoli restored some order to the Mediterranean. However, it was not until 1805, when an American fleet under Commodore John Rogers and a land force raised by an American naval agent to the Barbary powers, Captain William Eaton, threatened to capture Tripoli and install the brother of Tripoli’s pasha on the throne, that a treaty brought an end to the hostilities. Negotiated by Tobias Lear, former secretary to President Washington and now consul general in Algiers, the treaty of 1805 still required the United States to pay a ransom of $60,000 for each of the sailors held by the dey of Algiers, and so it went without Senatorial consent until April 1806. Nevertheless, Jefferson was able to report in his sixth annual message to Congress in December 1806 that in addition to the successful completion of the Lewis and Clark expedition, “The states on the coast of Barbary seem generally disposed at present to respect our peace and friendship.”
“In fact, it was not until the second war with Algiers, in 1815, that naval victories by Commodores William Bainbridge and Stephen Decatur led to treaties ending all tribute payments by the United States. European nations continued annual payments until the 1830s. However, international piracy in Atlantic and Mediterranean waters declined during this time under pressure from the Euro-American nations, who no longer viewed pirate states as mere annoyances during peacetime and potential allies during war. MORE HERE
“Among the more intriguing stories, the USS Philadelphia, a 44-gun Navy frigate, ran aground off Tripoli in October 1803. The Tripolitans forced the captain and crew to surrender, and they used the Philadelphia for harbor defense against the Americans. On Feb. 16, 1804, Lt. Stephen Decatur, using a captured Tripolitan boat, led a contingent of Marines to seize the Philadelphia and burn it. They also briefly captured Tripoli, but they didn’t recover the captain or crew. Decatur became the first military hero since the Revolution and became a commodore, who kicked more ass in the Second Barbary War in 1815. Tripoli was again captured, and the pirates surrendered in 1805. This is why the Marine Hymn has the phrase, “. . .to the shores of Tripoli.”
Thomas Jefferson understood the same thing Ronald Reagan understood … that the best position for negotiation is from a position of strength. He quickly realized that though he was pledged to “religious freedom,” the brand of Islam involved in this slave trade taught him Islam was not just a religion but a political system as well. The fact that President Obama continues to dismantle and understaff our military, and fail to give them a specific and clear “winnable” objective demonstrates either his lack of resolve OR his resolve to our destruction.
*NOTE: All notations to quoted text are done by blogsensebybarb for emphasis.