PowerLine -> Summer Camp In Gaza – An Excellent Speech: Let’s Hope It’s an Excellent Strategy

Powerline John Hinderaker at HoaxAndChange

PowerLine -> Summer Camp In Gaza – An Excellent Speech: Let’s Hope It’s an Excellent Strategy

Powerline image at HoaxAndChange

Powerline image at HoaxAndChange

Daily Digest

  • Summer Camp In Gaza
  • Afghanistan and “nation building”
  • An Excellent Speech: Let’s Hope It’s an Excellent Strategy
  • Klobuchar considerations
  • Stand by your Awan (4)
Summer Camp In Gaza

Posted: 22 Aug 2017 02:21 PM PDT

(John Hinderaker)

Kids in Hamas-controlled Gaza go to summer camp, just like kids in the U.S. They build fires, they play games, they watch movies, they learn new skills. And at the end of the camp, they put on a show for their parents to show what they have learned.

This short video was put together by the Israeli Defense Force. In just one minute, it explains why peace in that region of the world is so hard to attain. Really, what you see here is child abuse:


Afghanistan and “nation building”

Posted: 22 Aug 2017 09:34 AM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

In defending his decision to increase America’s war effort in Afghanistan, President Trump needed to do two main things: (1) explain why he was breaking his campaign promise to abandon Afghanistan and (2) distinguish his approach to the fight from President Obama’s. In the post I wrote right after the speech, I tried to describe how Trump went about accomplishing these things.

One technique I didn’t mention was the president’s insistence, several times, that we will not be engaging in “nation building.” That’s a buzz phrase, sort of like “neocon” in this context, the rejection of which is designed to show Trump’s supporters that he hasn’t gone Bushie on them.

It’s also a largely meaningless promise for several reasons, two of which John noted earlier today. First, I think it has been a while since we have engaged in nation-building, in the strong, Bushian sense, in Afghanistan.

Second, to the extent we are engaging in some affirmative nation-building, it looks like Trump will continue to do so. As John observed, the money Trump called on India to provide Afghanistan for “economic assistance and development” sounds an awful lot like money earmarked for “nation-building.”

The other point I want to make is that defeating Islamic radicals in Afghanistan, or even just keeping them at bay, is a form of nation building. It gives the Afghan people the space they need to build their nation in important ways.

And in large portions of the country, they have taken advantage of it. Life expectancy is way up and infant mortality is way down due to improved health care. Education has improved significantly, especially for girls. Women’s rights, though still lagging, are more prevalent.

Critics often claim that nation building is futile in Afghanistan because society there is so tribal and primitive. In a sense, though, the opposite conclusion follows from the premise. Because the floor is so low, the opportunity for progress is great.

In the U.S., I doubt there’s much the government can do to improve education, increase life expectancy, or enhance women’s right. If anything, the Department of Education seems to be dumbing down education and the equal gender rights movement, nearly out of worlds to conquer, is fixated on bathroom “rights” for transgender people.

In Afghanistan, there is serious progress to be made. And lots of it can be made larger, though not entirely, by keeping the religious fanatic barbarians at bay.

This progress benefits Afghans, not Americans. Thus, it is being touted by an “America First” president. Nor, in my view, is this progress, standing alone, sufficient to justify the loss of American lives in Afghanistan.

But it is part of the equation, or should be. Unfortunately, President Trump feels he can’t or shouldn’t mention it.


An Excellent Speech: Let’s Hope It’s an Excellent Strategy

Posted: 22 Aug 2017 07:24 AM PDT

(John Hinderaker)

More than six years ago, I wrote that we should get out of Afghanistan. We conducted a poll, and 74% of our readers agreed. So President Trump’s inclination to wind down our effort there, as articulated on the campaign trail, was not at all unusual.

Last night the president said that he has changed his mind and will pursue victory in Afghanistan. The first thing that struck a listener was that Trump delivered his speech strongly, with conviction. This was a welcome contrast to his predecessor, who was a weak public speaker. Moreover, unlike some of Trump’s impromptu efforts, he knew his text well and had obviously studied and refined it.

By way of preface, the president argued that “the consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable. … A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and al Qaeda, would instantly fill, just as happened before September 11th.” Trump supported this point by noting the terrible consequences of our premature withdrawal from Iraq:

[A]s we know, in 2011, America hastily and mistakenly withdrew from Iraq. As a result, our hard-won gains slipped back into the hands of terrorist enemies. Our soldiers watched as cities they had fought for, and bled to liberate, and won, were occupied by a terrorist group called ISIS. The vacuum we created by leaving too soon gave safe haven for ISIS to spread, to grow, recruit, and launch attacks. We cannot repeat in Afghanistan the mistake our leaders made in Iraq.

That is certainly true, but Afghanistan arguably lacks Iraq’s strategic importance. It is an open question whether we could destroy terrorist training centers and the like without having much physical presence and without trying to control territory.

The president said that our strategy in Afghanistan will change in the following ways; I have added my comments:

As a result of our comprehensive review, American strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia will change dramatically in the following ways:

A core pillar of our new strategy is a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions. …

Conditions on the ground — not arbitrary timetables — will guide our strategy from now on.

This is a long-overdue change.

Another fundamental pillar of our new strategy is the integration of all instruments of American power — diplomatic, economic, and military — toward a successful outcome.

Someday, after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan, but nobody knows if or when that will ever happen. …

Ultimately, it is up to the people of Afghanistan to take ownership of their future, to govern their society, and to achieve an everlasting peace. We are a partner and a friend, but we will not dictate to the Afghan people how to live, or how to govern their own complex society. We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists.

Few will argue with Trump’s emphasis on killing terrorists. But I think it has been a while since we have done any serious nation-building in Afghanistan. The country is so culturally backward as to appear hopeless, at least for the foreseeable future.

The next pillar of our new strategy is to change the approach and how to deal with Pakistan. We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond. …

In the past, Pakistan has been a valued partner. Our militaries have worked together against common enemies. The Pakistani people have suffered greatly from terrorism and extremism. We recognize those contributions and those sacrifices.

But Pakistan has also sheltered the same organizations that try every single day to kill our people. We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change, and that will change immediately. No partnership can survive a country’s harboring of militants and terrorists who target U.S. servicemembers and officials. It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order, and to peace.

This is another long-overdue change. Whether it will seriously impact events in Afghanistan, I don’t know. But Pakistan is a major problem in its own right. Like Saudi Arabia, but perhaps to an even greater extent, it is a purported ally that does much to undermine civilization around the world.

Another critical part of the South Asia strategy for America is to further develop its strategic partnership with India — the world’s largest democracy and a key security and economic partner of the United States. …India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development.

This is consistent with Trump’s view that America’s allies need to do more to help us on security matters–a view that I and a large majority of Americans share. But isn’t “economic assistance and development” nation-building? The most practical contribution India can make to our effort in Afghanistan is financial support.

Finally, my administration will ensure that you, the brave defenders of the American people, will have the necessary tools and rules of engagement to make this strategy work, and work effectively and work quickly.

I have already lifted restrictions the previous administration placed on our warfighters that prevented the Secretary of Defense and our commanders in the field from fully and swiftly waging battle against the enemy. Micromanagement from Washington, D.C. does not win battles.

This is obviously a positive and important change. Lawyers can’t fight wars. How much difference it will make remains to be seen, but it can only help.

In his concluding comments, Trump revisited his rejection of nation-building:

From now on, victory will have a clear definition: attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge.
The stronger the Afghan security forces become, the less we will have to do. Afghans will secure and build their own nation and define their own future. We want them to succeed.

But we will no longer use American military might to construct democracies in faraway lands, or try to rebuild other countries in our own image. Those days are now over. Instead, we will work with allies and partners to protect our shared interests. We are not asking others to change their way of life, but to pursue common goals that allow our children to live better and safer lives. This principled realism will guide our decisions moving forward.

“Principled realism” is a phrase we likely will continue to hear from the president and his subordinates. Does it amount to a winning strategy? Only, I think, if lethal attacks on the terrorists are stepped up dramatically. Even then, Afghanistan’s history offers little encouragement. For now, at a minimum, it is good to hear our commander in chief talking about victory–a word that was rarely if ever used, in connection with America’s security interests, by his predecessor.


Klobuchar considerations

Posted: 22 Aug 2017 06:08 AM PDT

(Scott Johnson)

In Minnesota, we have four vacancies to fill for high federal offices: the United States Attorney, the United States Marshal and two federal district court judges. President Trump has nominated Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, but his nomination has been blocked from consideration in the Senate so far by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. Approximately no one in Minnesota opposes Justice Stras’s nomination to the Eighth Circuit. He is widely admired and respected.

So what gives with Senator Klobuchar? I understand that she is “negotiating” with the White House. I understand that she offers to stand down on Justice Stras in exchange for getting her way on one or more of the four vacancies. I previously reported that Klobuchar supports Minneapolis attorney Joe Dixon for United States Attorney. I doubt that the Trump White House can abide a partisan Democratic United States Attorney for Minnesota and I am certain it should not do so. Neither Klobuchar nor Dixon responded to my request for comment when I sought it earlier this month.

As I say, we have four high offices to be filled by presidential appointment subject to Senate confirmation. I understand that Senator Klobuchar seeks to have her say on all of them in exchange for acceding to the Senate’s consideration of Justice Stras. However, I may be wrong about that. On August 15 I sought her comment; her spokesman failed to respond.

There is a story here. Unless I am missing something, the Star Tribune has gone silent. By custom, the Star Tribune serves as the public relations arm of the permanent Klobuchar campaign. If Senator Klobuchar were talking, the Star Tribune would amicably publicize whatever she had to say. But she’s not talking.

Early yesterday evening I wrote the spokesman for Senator Klobuchar from whom I have heard in the past: “I understand that Al Franken has returned his blue slip on Justice Stras. As I wrote you previously, I understand that Senator Klobuchar is holding hers and still ‘negotiating’ with the White House over vacancies including the US Attorney. Would you please comment tonight or let me know if I should direct my inquiry to Senator Klobuchar elsewhere?” As of this morning, I have received no comment.

Senator Klobuchar’s power to block Justice Stras’s nomination derives from Senate Judiciary Committee custom and from her status as Justice Stras’s home state Senator. However, the Eighth Circuit vacancy does not belong to Minnesota. It could go to a lawyer from any state in the Eighth Circuit. Among the states in the Eighth Circuit are Arkansas and Iowa and South Dakota — each of which has two Republican senators. Indeed, Senator Grassley is not only from Iowa, he serves as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

If the time were to come when the White House chose a path of less resistance, it would be to the detriment of Minnesota and Senator Klobuchar would have to answer for it. In the meantime, someone other than me should be asking her about it.


Stand by your Awan (4)

Posted: 22 Aug 2017 04:39 AM PDT

(Scott Johnson)

Andrew McCarthy’s most recent NRO column on the case of the Awans is “The very strange indictment of Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s IT scammers.” Paul wrote about it last night here. The sagacious Mr. McCarthy concludes with the observation: “There is something very strange going on here.” If you haven’t done so yet, please read Andy’s column.

A little birdie draws attention to the attorney representing Imran Awan. The attorney’s name is Christopher Gowen. Gowen formulated his comment on Awan’s case with a familiar public relations spin. He described it as “clearly a right-wing media-driven prosecution by a United States Attorney’s Office that wants to prosecute people for working while Muslim.” Clearly.

The little birdie points out Gowen’s firm profile. He links to this background on Gowen in Conservative Review. He quotes from Gowen’s firm profile:

Recognized for his years of experience and accomplishments, the District of Columbia Superior Court appointed Mr. Gowen to two panels for representing defendants under the Criminal Justice Act as well as respondents in criminal juvenile proceedings. He began his legal career as a public defender in Miami-Dade, Florida where he represented hundreds of adult and juvenile clients accused of committing crimes. Mr. Gowen left the Public Defender’s office to work for former President William Jefferson Clinton and then-Senator Hillary Clinton. Chris was a fact checker for President Clinton’s memoir, My Life. He also served as a traveling aid for President Clinton’s national and international trips. Chris finished his tenure with the Clintons by directing the advance operations for then-Senator Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential campaign.

As a wise man once said, “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”


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