PowerLine -> Summer Camp In Gaza – An Excellent Speech: Let’s Hope It’s an Excellent Strategy
PowerLine -> Summer Camp In Gaza – An Excellent Speech: Let’s Hope It’s an Excellent Strategy
- 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
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
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
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:
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:
This is a long-overdue change.
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.
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.
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.
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:
“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.
Posted: 22 Aug 2017 06:08 AM PDT
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
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.
As a wise man once said, “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”