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Archive for December, 2010

Obama and Pakistan. Quo Vadis?

Welcome to the twisted world of US foreign policy. On Saturday, a suicide bomber killed dozens of people at a World Food Program project.

“I strongly condemn the outrageous terrorist attack in Khar, Pakistan,” Barack Obama said in a statement from Hawaii, where he was spending Christmas with his family. “Killing innocent civilians outside a World Food Program distribution point is an affront to the people of Pakistan, and to all humanity.”

However, on Friday, the residents of Jos and Maiduguri, both Nigerian cities, were treated to at least four successive bomb explosions, killing no fewer than 30 people. The bombs were the work of the Boko Haram sect. Boko Haram (literally, “Western or non-Islamic education is a sin”) is a Nigerian militant Islamist group that seeks the imposition of Shariah law in the northern states of Nigeria. As an interesting sidenote, Boko Haram opposes not only Western education, but Western culture and modern science as well. In a 2009 BBC interview, the leader of the sect, Mohammed Yusuf, stated that the belief that the world is a sphere is contrary to Islam and should be rejected, along with Darwinism and the theory that rain comes from water evaporated by the sun. The response from the White House? A deafening silence.

A bomb exploded during Christmas Day Mass at a chapel inside a police camp in the southern Philippines, wounding a priest and 10 churchgoers. The bomb was hidden in a ventilation window near the ceiling of the chapel, which is on the compound where the provincial police office is located in Jolo town on Jolo Island, Sulu provincial police said. The island is a stronghold of al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militants. All the victims were civilians. Barack Obama held a press conference…no, wait, he didn’t. Not a word was heard from the White House.

Three bombings, all committed by Islamic groups, one directed at Muslims, two directed at Christians. The only one that rates a condemnation is the one where Muslims were killed. I know the president knows about the other two; if I do, he must. Why the silence? There are a couple of possible explanations. Let’s look at a few.

It could be that there are so many Islamic terrorist attacks going on in the world that Obama hasn’t the time to commiserate with all the victims. Considering the vast number of incidents perpetrated by the adherents of the religion of peace, it’s a possibility, although not likely.

It could be that Obama is a Muslim and approves of violence directed at Kafirs. I’m not sure I believe this, although there are a large number of Muslims who do. In early September 2010, Pakistan’s Minister of State for Industries, Ayatollah Durrani, went so far as to propose Obama as the right man to become caliph of all Muslims. Durrani, a member of Pakistan’s governing People’s Party, said: “The time is approaching fast. Barack Hussein Obama must act now. This is a golden opportunity, Muslims badly need it.” He added that on the Muslim feast of Eid-ul-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and fell in 2010 on September 11, Obama should offer the prescribed Eid prayers at Ground Zero in New York City and seize the moment to declare himself caliph: “In this way all the problems of the Muslim world would be solved.”

It could simply be that Obama is inimical to the ideals of western Christendom, and prefers the eventual ascendancy of a competing set of values. Perhaps he sees the west’s insistence on the dignity and autonomy of the individual as an outmoded worldview, and prefers the Islamic model of submission to a set of rules that does all it can to reduce human beings to property. He has certainly spent a great deal of time praising the Islamic system, and promising to combat negative stereotypes about it.

I’m not sure which, if any, of these theories I’m completely on board with. I do know that Obama evinces a terrifying lack of concern for American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. For example, the United States maintains an uneasy alliance with Pakistan, where Obama considers Pakistan’s lawless tribal belt the global headquarters of Al-Qaeda and says eliminating the militant threat is vital to winning the nine-year war against the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan. Yet, at the same time, Pakistan has funneled to the terrorists the money it received from the U.S. to fight terror.

Washington transferred more than 600 million dollars to the Pakistani government this week to pay for its efforts in the fight against violent extremists, the US embassy in Islamabad said Thursday. The 633 million dollar payment covered the first six months of this year and Pakistan had now received “approximately 8.76 billion dollars” since 2001 under the scheme. Almost 9 billion dollars, and what do they do with it? Let’s see. The following is excerpted from an article by Dexter Filkins in the N.Y. Times of 9/7/08.

Back in June, during a firefight with Taliban along the Afghan-Pakistani border, American soldiers called in airstrikes to beat back the attack. This stretch of border was guarded by three Pakistani military posts. The airstrikes ended the fight, the Taliban militants slipped away, and the American unit was safe. 11 Pakistani border guards lay dead as a result of the airstrikes called on their position by American forces. Why had the Americans called in fire on what are nominally our allies? Even after a joint inquiry by the United States, Pakistan and Afghanistan, it remained unclear why American soldiers had reached the point of calling in airstrikes on soldiers from Pakistan, a critical ally in the war in Afghanistan and the campaign against terrorism.

The mystery, at least part of it, was solved in July by residents of Suran Dara, a Pakistani village a few hundred yards from the site of the fight. According to two of these villagers, the Americans started calling in airstrikes on the Pakistanis after the latter started shooting at the Americans.

“When the Americans started bombing the Taliban, the Frontier Corps started shooting at the Americans,” said one of Suran Dara’s villagers, who, like the others, spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being persecuted or killed by the Pakistani government or the Taliban. “They were trying to help the Taliban. And then the American planes bombed the Pakistani post.”

Back to me, now. Why are we giving 9 billion dollars to the Pakistanis, who are using at least some of it to try to kill us? Why is our president praising Islam on the one hand, and remaining silent about the Christian genocide being committed in its name? Why does Obama continue to show a callous disregard for the civilization that gave us what Abraham Lincoln called “the last, best hope of mankind?”

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Categories: Uncategorized

DADT and UCMJ, and Health Care for First Responders

The U.S. Senate passed legislation the other day eliminating Bill Clinton’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy of gays in the military. Personally, since my military days are long passed, I couldn’t care less. I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I agree with the late Barry Goldwater, who said, “You don’t have to be straight to shoot straight.”

The policy shift was inevitable given the clamoring from the left and their allies, but it also comes with a number of questions. All members of the military are governed by the Uniformed Code of Military Justice. This is a combination criminal code and procedural code for the governance of the military, and the keeping of order in such a large group.

The UCMJ has this to say about homosexual behavior in Subchapter X, Section 925, Article 125:

SODOMY

(a) Any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy. Penetration , however slight, is sufficient to complete the offense.

(b) Any person found guilty of sodomy shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

So now that DADT is dead, will we see more, or fewer prosecutions for homosexual behavior? This may be a case that demonstrates the law of unintended consequences. The UCMJ makes no distinction about “on-duty” or “off-duty” conduct. The soldier, sailor, airmen, or Marine is always governed by the UCMJ. Therefore, even behavior while on leave, in whatever location, is always subject to the strictures of article 125.

I suppose the question then becomes whether or not the President will amend the UCMJ to eliminate article 125?

As to health care for first responders, there has been an inordinate amount of hand-wringing and name-calling over the bill that’s stalled in Congress. The bill’s ostensible purpose is to provide health care to the firemen, policemen, and paramedics who responded to the islamic terrorist attack on New York City in 2001. Before I continue, let me say this. I am a New Yorker, and I come from a family of New Yorkers. We have given more than our pro rata share of first responders, namely cops, to the city. We have fought in every war this country has had, going back to the French-Indian conflicts before the Revolution. Every generation has provided military men, policemen, and firemen. I am a veteran, and my brother was a cop.

Having said that, I have questions about the wisdom of the “James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.” That is the name of the bill that the Senate will vote on, likely as early as today. The bill is estimated to cost some 6 billion dollars, and some senators have indicated a disinclination to vote for it based on the inability to pay for it. That is certainly a valid concern, but hardly of any import to a congress that has pushed us into a 14 trillion dollar national debt, and continues its reckless deficit spending.

My questions revolve around efficacy and justice. First, efficacy. The health care bill proposes to spend 6 billion dollars on medical treatment to help our injured first responders. But before it does that, the bill requires the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to form the World Trade Center Health Program. In turn, the WTC program is required to : (1) implement a quality assurance program; (2) establish the WTC Health Program Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee; (3) establish the WTC Responders Steering Committee and the WTC Community Program Steering Committee; (4) provide for education and outreach on services under the WTC program; (5) provide for the uniform collection of data related to WTC-related health conditions; (6) conduct research on physical and mental health conditions that may be related to the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center; and (7) extend and expand arrangements with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to provide for the World Trade Center Health Registry.

Wow! And, buried in there somewhere, the WTC program is also to provide: (1) medical monitoring and treatment benefits to eligible emergency responders and recovery and cleanup workers who responded to the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001; and (2) initial health evaluation, monitoring, and treatment benefits to residents and other building occupants and area workers who were directly impacted and adversely affected by such attacks.

So, in addition to all the committees, the bill provides health care benefits for people who lived, worked, and otherwise occupied the area. Hardly just a tribute to our fallen heroes, eh?

Which actually lead into the question of justice. There is a firefighter in California who is dying of mesothelioma, a pernicious form of lung cancer. All parties agree that he contracted this painful and fatal disease in the line of duty, running in and out of buildings that were on fire, and loaded with asbestos. The U.S. Senate is unaware of this man’s sacrifice, and he will die, unsung, unhonored, and in debt. What is the difference between this firefighter, and the men who ran into the WTC? None at all. And yet the Congress throws billions at one, and not the other. And this violates the fundamental principal of justice, to treat like things alike, and unlike things differently.

We need to have a coherent policy to deal with those we ask to do our dirty work. This bill doesn’t address that issue.

Categories: Uncategorized
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