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All We Are Saying …

June 7th, 2013 - 7:56 pm

In the halcyon days before the Verizon and PRISM revelations gave the subject a sinister cast, the New York Post examined President Obama’s attempt to end the War on Terror by declaring peace. The signed editorial read: “President Obama’s speech at the National Defense University calling for an end to the war on terror forces the question of who gets to declare peace.” Could he actually do that?

The Left wing in our political debate has been agitating for some time to repeal the authorization to use military force that the Congress passed after 9/11. The President boarded the bandwagon yesterday. He vowed he would sign no laws designed to expand the mandate and declared outright that he looks forward “to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal” the congressional mandate to use force. “This war, like all wars, must end,” he said, declaring: “That’s what our democracy demands.”

“Suppose”, the NY Post asked further, “the President or the Congress do want to end the war with al-Qaeda but al-Qaeda doesn’t want to end its war against us. Is it constitutional for the president or the Congress to declare an end to the war if our enemy is still in the field levying a war against us?”

The problem of  declaring victory against an enemy who refuses to concede defeat is not new. The World War 2 generation solved the problem by continuing until the foe threw in the towel. Although President Obama may believe that victory consists in convincing one’s countrymen that “we won”, historically it  consisted of convincing the enemy that he lost. In World War II for example, both Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan were defeated as a military fact by early 1944. But they were not convinced of the fact. The remainder of the war was spent knocking the idea into their consciousness.

But the allies did not declare peace in 1944. They went on and by mid-1945, Curtis LeMay’s bombers were incinerating one Japanese city a night; US battleships were shelling coastal towns, harbors everywhere were being mined and submarines kept ships from leaving or entering ports. Victory as an objective fact was not debatable. But to the Axis accepting defeat subjectively was unthinkable. One of the supreme ironies of World War II was that the Japanese high command needed the A-bomb more than the Americans. They needed it not to change any military fact, they were as defeated before the Bomb as after it, but in order to change a mental perception. The bomb provided the pretext to accept defeat.

But in the bad old, unenlightened days you convinced the enemy they lost. Today we’re smarter. We convince ourselves the whole misunderstanding should never have happened in the first place.

What is the administration’s pretext to accept victory? As near as can be seen, it consists in convincing ourselves that we never had an enemy to begin with. We just misunderstood things. There is no such thing as a Clash of Civilizations, nor rogue states, nor even a militant version of Islam. That’s all a conservative invention. There are just only misunderstood people who, if we got to know better, we would not drive to workplace violence.

Maybe that’s why the White House erroneously refers to its authority to bug domestic communications as deriving from the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act. Not the “Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act”, which actually exists, but by some slip of the fat finger, the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act, which are the words which occur in the White House transcript.

The most peculiar thing about not having a War on Terror to fight is that for some reason you have to keep on fighting. Just who is problematic.  Neither Bush nor Obama ever got around to naming an enemy. And now that Obama wants to say it is over, we can say that maybe we never had one at all.

Instead, the administration undertook an expensive “outreach program” to people who are not the enemy to recruit Muslim Brotherhood operatives into American national security agencies to convince us they were never bad guys in the first place. And presumably having convinced enough of us, well then the war’s over.

So if peace is busting out all over what was the purpose of the PRISM and Verizon operations? What Conor Friedersdorf of the Atlantic called “all the infrastructure a tyrant would need”. Why nobody knows. It was the ‘whoops’ dump.  The British Empire, it was said, was acquired in a ‘fit of absentmindedness’. Why then should not the NSA pick up terrabytes of records in the same accidental manner?James Clapper told  Congress that any interception of domestic communications under the FISA — the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act or Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, as you prefer — was purely unwitting.

“Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” committee member Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked Clapper during the March 12 hearing.

In response, Clapper replied quickly: “No, sir.”

“There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect [intelligence on Americans], but not wittingly,” the U.S. intelligence chief told Wyden and the rest of the committee.

So there you have it. There”s nothing to worry about.  You may say the means are disconnected from the ends. But in fact there are no ends. There’s no War on Terror, remember? At the root of this difficulty is an absurdity, which Walter Russell Mead calls “public peace, secret war“.

But as the MSM reels with Nixonian revelations about a man it has lionized, something important is being missed. There’s a connection between the President’s May 23 speech on the COFKAGWOT (the conflict formerly known as the global war on terror) declaring an end to the “war phase” of the struggle against terror and the secret intelligence system his administration has put in place. The two policies are joined at the hip, and while the President has likely understood this for a long time now, the political success of his foreign policy depended on keeping this truth concealed from his political allies in the US.

From the President’s point of view, the public belief that we have been engaged in a “war on terror” is part of the many sided problem he inherited from his predecessor. As long as that kind of military mindset dominates public thinking, even Democratic presidents will have to spend lots of money on defense. Tensions between America and Islam will fester, with the risk of more attacks and confrontations making things yet worse. The flexibility of presidents in reaching out to Islamic movements and governments, and perhaps also pressuring Israel to make more concessions in the hope of further reducing regional tensions, will also be limited. When they think the country is in danger, Jacksonians are vigilant and engaged; when they think all is well, they go back to sleep. This President wants them asleep, clinging to their guns and Bibles all they want, but not bothering their pretty little heads about American foreign policy.

The readers of this blog will remember all the posts which warned of the dangers of falsely abolishing war by redefining it as a law enforcement problem. The result, I wrote, would either grant all enemy combatants the rights of citizens or to reduce all citizens to the status of enemy combatants. It was an act of supreme intellectual dishonesty, a self-deception so obvious it was hard to see how anybody but a man of the Left could fall for it. The whole thing was a con pulled off by President Obama on a voter base  so eager to see itself as intellectually sophisticated and morally superior they were willing to call a horse chestnut a horse.

President Obama’s solution to the problems of the world are those of a con man. And he had no difficulty convincing his base it had no enemies, faced no unemployment, that it could look forward to free healthcare. And that it could have free Obamaphones. He forgot to say there was one problem with those phones ….

Don’t worry he’s building a world without nuclear weapons, without provocative “unproven missile defense systems”; and as for those millions of records, well trust him. His is the most transparent and ethical administration in history.

Rush Limbaugh says “America is in the midst of a coup”. You might quibble with that dire interpretation, but the one sure thing is that someone’s  in the middle of a joke. Maybe the joke is on us. The audience in the video below should be glad they’ve gone to college.  Now they know better than to worry.


The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99

Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99

No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99

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Top Rated Comments   
... "and approved of by the American people at every election"

Don't forget "paid for". That may be the most crucial thing of all. The question going forward is not only whether people will pay to have themselves spied upon, but whether any society can afford to pay the cost of jailing themselves.

Modern economies run on information. We should never forget that information requires trust. Trust that when we use the ATM a debit is a debit and a credit is a credit. We spend billions to ensure trust. Trust is all that holds a currency up.

What happens when President Obama, in pursuit of nothing in particular, categorically informs us that nothing can be trusted? We are largely our online reputation. We are our social security numbers, our driver's licenses, our passport numbers, our ATM pins. Trash that and you trash everything. Maybe not just now, maybe not tomorrow. But soon and for a long time thereafter.

Hell of a thing to risk for nothing in particular. It's not like there's a war on, is there? The Atlantic had a great article about why building back doors into software is a dumb idea. Basically today the NSA, tomorrow China, the day after Saudi Arabia? Who's going to stop them? The most ethical administration in history.

If we give up control over information integrity and reasonable privacy we give up the modern world. Maybe the President hasn't thought it through. But it will occur to someone that we have screwed the pooch sooner or later. In his case, probably later.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Walter Russell Meades's Public Peace, Secret War is the best I've read that explains the APPARENT contradiction between Obama's simultaneous appeasement of Islamism and the aggressive use of drones and the targeting of al Qaeda leadership - American citizen or otherwise. Behind it was a surveillance program more thoroughgoing than what Bush was doing - in part because the technology has been been getting rapidly more capable and, as we see now, because secret surveillance seems to appeal to this president's way of wielding power. I've found it hard to bring Obama into focus. I can see the post colonial college professor because I've worked with a fair few and also the ruthless Chicago politician because I worked on the South Side in the late 60s. But I haven't been able to make sense of them together as well until now. Now I see the politically correct college professor who systematically destroys his rivals on the way to the endowed chair. To my mind at least, suddenly Obama is coherent - the classic power driven academic phony. What had bemused me is his Chamberlain like lack of understanding that he is dealing with a totalitarian enemy - his capacity for post colonial self delusion. He isn't dealing with a departmental rival here, but a real enemy. I have lived long enough to recognize my own propensity to underestimate what happens when ambition and ideological imbalance intersect. Most of us recognize a Hitler or a Stalin when we see one, but an Obama is more a more subtle kind of man and the destruction he causes is likewise more subtle. These revelations are good in that his supporters on the left are seeing that he isn't what they thought at all. Ironically I think the ruthlessness he has directed to al Qaeda has been a proper use of that quality against an implacable enemy. That he doesn't seem to see that the Tea Party is not worse than al Qaeda, but simply countrymen who don't agree with him, shows the massiveness of the flaws in his character. I think things will be different now because he will be better understood and will not be trusted with undivided government again. Nor will the Republicans be so trusted until they prove that they have a better policy. Wretchard goes right to the heart of the problem in his comment that both Bush and Obama have failed to harness the power of information technology as well as Truman and Eisenhower did nuclear technology.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Implicit in the development every new and powerful technology was the creation of a C3 system and strategic framework to go with it. The use of nuclear weapons, for example, was strictly controlled. And they were deployed according to a well-thought out strategic framework. In consequence they proved extraordinarily useful. And for that we owe a debt of gratitude to Harry Truman and Ike, and those who pioneered the nuclear age.

The use information weapons has been grossly incompetent by comparison. The Bush and Obama administrations -- you decide who has been worse -- have handled this supremely powerful weapon carelessly, so that the brunt of its effects appear to have been borne by the American and Western innocent. With great power comes great responsibility.

Obama seemed not only unable to subject the information weapon to a controlling strategy, he seemed to have no use for strategy at all, or if he had one, it was perverse. How can you use such a powerful set of weapons with no clear idea against whom it should be directed? How can you embark on these kinds of activities with no clear identification of the enemy?

That leaves the key definition a variable, to be filled at the caprice of the Commander in Chief. Harry Truman only had a high school diploma, whereas Obama boasts degrees from multiple institutions of higher learning. But at least Truman knew that the most important part about firing a gun was knowing where to aim it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (77)
All Comments   (77)
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Obama and his crew remind me of American "statesmen" between the two World Wars who were pontificating about "outlawing war" and blaming the first conflict on munitions merchants or something. The level of naivete back then was understandable to some degree because of the terrible devastation of WWI. But even then, men like Sec/State Lansing was prescient enougnh to call out buffoons like Sen. William Borah, a amn who would have also tried to ban nukes had they existed back then. Nowadays we have the lessons of that past to learn from, but refuse to. As long as the world is treated as a plaything for clueless narcissists, we are in grave peril.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Go to Troy and ask- who won.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Obama is a fool.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
For the response of the Institutional Republicans, you have only to look no further than here at PJM. In Rick Morans' post

Rick states that the whistleblower, Edward Snowden, should be put away for the rest of his life for exposing what many of us think is a blatant abuse of our Constitutional rights.

Yes, Snowden has technically broken an unconstitutional law, but where would we be without his actions?

I am deathly afraid that the RINO elite will join the Dems like " let's all calm down' Harry Reid and not only allow this outrage to continue but let it expand as it will under our Dear Leader Buraq.

Hello permanent Fascism.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
“They are not all accounted for, the lost
seeing-stones...we do not know who else
may be watching.”

Well, now we know.

And what do you suppose they do with all of those extra “security questions” they have been systematically adding to all of your online accounts? Collectively they are your history. We are all guilty of future crimes.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If the an end to the war on terror includes cutting DHS budget in half and we also end the wars on poverty and drugs, then I'm with B-Rack.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Wretchard brought up the destruction of the trust in a society. Related to that it this from Hunter Briggs:

---- Hunter Briggs

...Liberals might now be thinking, ''What will happen if the other side gains control of the White House?''----

Would you trust the Left [not Liberals, they are all Leftist, collectivist, authoritarians] as a "loyal Opposition" if they should lose power? Given the collaboration with the Enemy that the Institutional Republicans have committed, and their absolutely pusillanimous reaction to what we have learned so far, would you trust them to either punish the Left for its crimes OR to institute safeguards to prevent a recurrence?

Cold, hard fact. There is no possibility of going back to the "way things were" under what passed for constitutional rule until those who seized power are removed from any possible access to the levers of power in the future. Whoever replaces the current regime will have to continue to operate outside the Constitution to act to punish those who destroyed Constitutional rule. Otherwise there is no alternative but allowing the Left to steal power again, and this time they will not fail to make it permanent.

At the very least, as a starting point, everything that has been done to us will have to be done to them before they can do it to us again.

The social contract has been broken. The Left has destroyed it as thoroughly as the original Revolution destroyed the old bonds with Britain and the social/political contract with the old country. Just as there was a period post-1783 when society re-formed itself and then could seek a new social contract after casting off the old bonds in 1787.

But we cannot trust the Left not to betray us again, any more than the new United States could have possibly trusted the Tories to stay if they had retained their loyalty to the Crown.

Removal of the current regime from power is but step one of the multi-part process of restoring a social contract based on acceptance of a constitutional government. And steps cannot be skipped.

It was also noted [quite rightly] that since Obama has declared the war on terror over; that logically the entire network of internal espionage and political controls should be dismantled and the staff forced to seek other employment.

What person in their right mind would then hire or associate with someone who ever worked for one of the many agencies being used to seize control of the country?

What person would voluntarily associate or deal with them now; since their career choices marks them out as TWANLOC?

In the 1770's and 1860's families and communities were permanently sundered by the political choices of individuals. We are in similar days.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
AH! found another html formatting that works here. "b" inside the "<>" gives boldface, but like "i" inserts a carriage return after the "/i".

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Oh, SB! "Carriage return"! Does THAT expression ever take me back to my highschool typing class!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
To our cultural elite, America is the problem with all that ails the world, but it not its government per se, it is the people in fly over country, the Pubs, the Tea Party, the fiscal conservatives and especially, the social conservatives. So the war has shifted to fix that problem. Destroy those enemies and peace around the world will break out. And if you show enough venom and resolve through surveillance, drone strikes, and executive action, then you are only left with a few eggs to break.

The solution to all of this hubris is to defund the government to the point that they do not have the time or resources to engage in shenanigans. We must pass a law to dissolve public employee unions and see to it that they are no longer able to build and operate a shadow government then staff it with their hand selected presidential candidate. But the government is defunding itself at an alarming rate which happens in war, especially an undeclared civil war against its citizenry. As the swamp drains we will see more as the Beast circles the wagons so to speak and defends its vital organs, before swallowing its own tail. They will knock the sh!t house down before they relinquish their failures to the commerce of the masses.

As a side note, I live near a particularly small harbor… I jokingly say that it is about the size of a K-Mart parking lot but in actuality it more like the parking at Disneyland, maybe a little smaller. They took on a shovel ready project with federal funds to redo their entirely adequate Harbor Patrol office. They built a 20,000 square feet edifice to government hubris. Some call it a mansion, I call it a castle. Well they and the fire department are struggling to keep funds in the coffer so the fire marshal came by the club and told us that our annual flag raising and firing of the cannon would now cost us $160 and several pages of permits. Had enough government yet?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
----We must pass a law to dissolve public employee unions and see to it that they are no longer able to build and operate a shadow government then staff it with their hand selected presidential candidate.----

When the enemy controls the government; 1) how do you pass such a law?, and 2) when passed, how do you enforce it?

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Happy 4th of July. Now pay up Mf'r!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It answers the question as to who is the enemy, for the Feds have looked no farther than their noses and found; They is us. Not the gov as in we the people, those others, those potential usurpers, those who cannot be trusted to vote for the preferred government expansion plan. And do they limit the immigration of Ahkmed Jihad or Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, or a million armed illegal aliens running dope rackets, extortion, rape, and prostitution rings? No, that too is part of the expansion plan and what group of voting immigrants better to ensure it with their foreign nationalistic vote?

Look at how all the other “war on ______’s” worked out;
War on poverty
War on drugs
The fed needs these failed programs because it keeps the proles giving up their paychecks. We have illegal drugs funding all evil in the world from the Taliban to Mexican Cartels and it is a bonanza to the police state, ammo and MRAP’s. Terrorism is the biggest boon of them all. What constitutional guarantee or safeguard can stand against it? Imagine a boot on the neck of freedom for eternity and a grateful public demanding more. We demand to pursue failure because it makes us feel better. And make no mistake, it can only end in failure and a total blowback against liberty.

Calling an end to the war on terror is swapping out a true with a false flag. We are now the enemy within. The war continues the same way bigotry does; it just gets a new face. Remember, Nazi death camps were a law enforcement action.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"All we Are Saying..."

I was talking to some contemporaries yesterday and instead of "Give peace a chance", I'd recommend to young American LIVs that they consider

"Thank a Grunt".

18 year olds have the right to vote because of the thousands of young men, between 18 and 20 years of age, who gave their lives in the rice paddies and boonies of Vietnam.

LIVs, think before you vote. Is your vote worth giving your life to preserve? Your right cost someone else his life.

"No man, woman or child left behind" should be your creed. And the lack of performance by our government in Benghazi should be a matter of abject shame for all those involved.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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