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Being Your Own Man

September 4th, 2013 - 1:13 pm

The Washington Post notes that certain Arab countries have offered to pay for the “invasion” of Syria.

Secretary of State John Kerry said at Wednesday’s hearing that Arab counties have offered to pay for the entirety of unseating President Bashar al-Assad if the United States took the lead militarily. With respect to Arab countries offering to bear costs and to assess, the answer is profoundly yes. They have. That offer is on the table.  Asked by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) about how much those countries would contribute, Kerry said they have offered to pay for all of a full invasion.

One reason why Congress is vested with the power to declare war is because whoever pays the piper calls the tune. If the KSA et al. are paying the piper, they will certainly be calling the tune. For the executive branch to order a Syrian operation bankrolled by the Arabs  is to effectively shift the allegiance of the executive branch from its legitimate paymaster — the American people — to a foreign one. From an intellectual and moral perspective, though probably not a legalistic one, this borders on disloyalty.

It is in this regard that the failure to take the case to the public becomes so unwise. If Obama had simply made a decision to act on Syria prior to or independently of the Arab offer by making the case to the American people, submitting to Congress first, then the operation would have been decided independently, on the basis of national self-interest.

Any subsequent Arab offer would merely have been a generous offer to support an earlier decision. But for the executive to treat with a foreign paymaster prior to taking the case to America while evading, until forced, placing the matter before the constitutionally mandated branch looks very, very bad, perhaps not legally, but morally.

In terms of legalisms, Obama is doubtless parsing his words. As everyone should know by now with regards to Syria, he said “I didn’t set a red line” despite everyone remembering exactly the opposite. He said “the world set a red line. My credibility’s not on the line. The international community’s credibility’s on the line. And America and Congress’ credibility’s on the line.” That’s what he he told reporters in Stockholm.

Sure. I believe him. He didn’t set the red line. Somebody else did.

Nafeez Ahmed at the Guardian quotes a RAND study that advocates setting one Arab country against the other, one Islamic sect against the other and to undermine Arab oil strength to win the Long War. The RAND study is well worth the read. Would that it were true. Ahmed describes it as “disturbing strategy.”

It’s really a policy paper written by low-level staffers describing eight scenarios which the U.S. might find itself in and providing a strategic framework for winning. It shows more strategy than the administration is capable of. It is the way the administration should be thinking if it were capable of thinking for itself; if it were capable of perceiving its own self-interest. It is the unfortunate case that they cannot. What is disturbing is that the administration has no strategy other than to act like Pavlov’s dogs and salivate at the sight of money.

They will do the bidding of whatever lobbyist feeds them and brag to Congress about it. Obama allegedly made his decision during a 45 minute walk in the White House Rose Garden.  “At the Last Minute, Obama Alone Made Call to Seek Congressional Approval,” says the Wall Street Journal. Did they mean he was alone with his phone? Is that how he makes up his mind?

To go to war under these leaders would be like undertaking to climb K2 with a carload of clowns.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
For those who observe:
May your New Year be sweet. May you and yours be inscribed in the Book of Life.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't like this. I am liking this less and less. Arabs may be paying for it, but America is getting screwed. I don't like the idea of our military getting pimped out like a bunch of Hessian soldiers.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
The United States soldier is not a mercenary to be rented out and killed on behalf of any nation, especially not those who's mindset is still in medieval times.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (158)
All Comments   (158)
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If those sheiks are so keen on footing the bill for America to dispense their Clausewitz-ian failure of policy for them, why don't they just go ahead and foot the butcher's bill themselves?

They seem to suffer no compunction over spilling Muslim blood.

Yet it's "Onward Christian Soldiers"!

...Hmmm.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
So Middle Eastern nations are willing to foot the bill for the invasion of Syria.

When did the United States become Hessian Janissaries?

And will these foreign countries write a check to each American family who loses a loved one? As if mere money can replace a lost loved one.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
"When did the United States become Hessian Janissaries?"

January 20, 2009

Subotai Bahadur
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'd rather climb K-2 with a car load of clowns. It'd be safer.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
So the Arabs will pay the US to bomb Syria in the interests of the US backed jihadis that are raping and killing Christians, and even Muslims that won't go back to the 7th century.

I am coming to the conclusion that the US is the most retrograde supporting force in the world. We live in a period similar to the 1930's, but this time the leading axis power is the US.

My father survived the 1915 Armenian genocide march into the Syrian desert and loved America. If he was alive today how hard it would be to tell him what America has morphed into, and how evil it has become.

How can I feel that in any sense I am an American when I see the US backing jihadis that are raping and murdering Armenians and other Christians in region? My identity is no longer hyphenated; I am now just an Armenian. America means nothing to me but what I loath and despise.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
One of the things your father loved, no doubt, was that America believed in its system and would stand by it. This strength isn't easily lost (that's the very point of it, after all).

But that very strength is working against us now. America's system is to stick with the office holder in order to maintain the power of the office.

The antidote to bad officeholders is what amounts to a regularly-scheduled revolution every two years, when the House of representatives must stand for election.

This is why you are seeing what you're seeing. We are loathe to break the system on an ad hoc basis because that system is the source of everything the world once loved.

Why and how we got rolled by a bad force designed to exploit the strength of the system and use it against itself, is becoming clear to more and more citizens every day. The repairs are underway. Help us hold things together and we will all together get past this mess.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Don't confuse Americans with our government.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Maybe not a day to take much time for me to read through everything.

Today many Jews around the world said this prayer as we have for millennia:

Therefore, may it be your will , that our land should be a blessing to all inhabitants of the globe. Cause to dwell among all peoples friendship and freedom. And soon fulfill the vision of your prophet: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. Let them learn no longer ways of war.” And let us say: Amen.

Shanah tovah

A sweet year to all of you.

Spindok
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
In a Persian - Saudi arms race, the Persians have more to lose from a counter-value nuclear war and the Saudis would recover more quickly.

For conventional weapons, the Saudis have a much smaller population and so a huge disadvantage.

Ergo, I suspect that the Saudis are buying as many warheads and missiles as they can, ensuring a nuclear arms race with Iran. As Spengler and others, Iran is on a suicide course.

So what's Putin's long game? Stirring up the Middle East certainly boosts oil prices meaning more profit to Russia's oil and gas business.

As to the movement to repeal the 16th Amendment, calls are increasing for a constitutional convention. Mark Levin has a book out offering specific texts for amendments.

There's even coffee cups and bumper stickers on CafePress now!

http://www.cafepress.com/mf/81627339/constitutional-convention_mugs
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
heh. Come on. Accidentally or not, we're trying to shut off the flow of oil and gas to and from Russia. How in the hell does Russia benefit??? The price of energy for the average Russian would go through the roof. (Start with Qatar and wok your way from there...)
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Whitehall...

I don't know if you speak for the British Government but:

Neither side could recover from atomic warfare. They have oil export/ mining economies that would be shut down for a generation -- or more -- due to contamination.

That event would zero out the Saudis, the few that survived.

Urban Iran would be gone.

Unlike the Cold War -- this dynamic has the crazed opponents facing off across a mere pond. All of their critical infrastructure is at waters edge.

32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Don't over-estimate the effects of nuclear weapons. They are certainly effective against soft targets like cities but against industrial equipment like well heads, pumping stations, and ports, the ruggedness of the hardware makes it much more difficult to destroy and each burst has a much smaller radius of effect. Go through Glasstone's "The Effects of Nuclear Weapons" carefully!

Ground bursts to maximize local fallout certainly have area denial effects but those are not as long-lasting as often supposed. The main oil deposits cover hundreds of square miles. The US Army was ready to attack nuked positions promptly with ground troops. Armored vehicles offer significant shielding to fallout too.

My point is that the Saudis have a much smaller and dispersed population while Persians are urbanized. It is easier to kill Persians wholesale with nuclear weapons than it is to deny and prevent Saudi oil production. Plus, once you're dead, you're dead. You can rebuild damaged oil production facilities.

I say it again - the Persians have much more to lose than the Saudis in an counter-value nuclear exchange and would be slower in rebounding.

As to Mr. Bonesteel, Russia is a wholesale exporter of oil and gas. Having imports to Russia shutoff would mean little or nothing to them although there might be trade in refined products. I don't really understand your comment.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
There is a theory that Crusading English King Richard the Lionheart was wildly incompetent -- almost Obama-level lack of organizational skills. But in those days, the King was expected to lead the Crusade, no matter how bad he was at the job.

Since King Richard could not delegate the task of leadership, he took to leading his army onto the battlefield and charging headlong at the nastiest-looking buch of Muslims; his own death would be the only honorable way for him to relinquish command.

Unfortunately, Richard's reputation for these near-suicidal attacks grew to the point that the Muslims turned and ran whenever he appeared; he was Lion-Hearted, and widely feared. So incompetent that not even Death took him seriously.

These days, it is too much to expect the man with the perfect crease in his pants to be the first to hit the beaches of Syria. But maybe Congress could attach a rider to Barry's Boffo War Bill withdrawing -- for the duration of any military action -- Secret Service protection, the armoured limousines, no public access to the White House, and all the other cotton wool that surrounds & protects the President of the US.

As long as US forces are in harm's way, Barry should demonstrate solidarity with them by flying coach -- after Homeland Security gropes him.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Kinuachdrach said:

"There is a theory that Crusading English King Richard the Lionheart was wildly incompetent ... Since King Richard could not delegate the task of leadership, he took to leading his army onto the battlefield and charging headlong at the nastiest-looking buch of Muslims; his own death would be the only honorable way for him to relinquish command."

Alexander the Great was one of histories greatest generals and used almost the same tactic as Richard's, i.e. lead from the forward edge of battle with his "Companions", who were his main cavalry. Ancient history had two main models of successful generalship:

1) Alexander the Great: Lead at the forward edge of battle, be on a first name basis with soldiers surrounding him, be prepared to seize any change in situation and immediately exploit it (do real-time strategy).

2) Julius Caesar: Command from the rear on a high hill overlooking the entire battlefield while wearing a brightly colored uniform so as to be easily seen by all supporting troops and enemy. Issue commands via messenger to trusted executive officers.

The Phalanx system of combat best served Alexander's approach to leadership while the Roman legion system was best served by Caesar's approach. Alexander's approach had the obvious weakness that Alexander exposed himself to excessive danger and represented a single point of failure. Caesar's approach had the problem of lag time from his issuing orders to an executive officer via messenger and the battlefield changing before the order could be carried out.

Trivia about Richard: Supposedly he was as queer as a three bob watch. His sister Matilda married Henry the Lion, is the direct ancestor of Elizabeth II and the hereditary basis for Elizabeth II being Queen of England.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment

The Macedonians had a combined-arms approach to warfighting that employed the heavy infantry phalanx, cavalry, and light infantry in mutually supporting roles. It was not a limited "phalanx system," a term more properly applied to hoplite warfare of the Archaic and Classical Greeks.

Caesar was far from being the best general in the long and illustrious history of the Roman military. He did have the advantage of facing enemies who were manifestly inferior to the Roman armed forces, which had reached a very high level of skill and sophistication by the time he appeared on the scene. Overall, the genius of the Roman system lay not in its general and leaders but in the system itself, which was so excellent it could make even mediocre commanders look good. The heart of the system were the career officers (tribunes), NCOs (centurions) and, of course, the legionaries themselves. If pressed, however, I would contend that Publius Scipio was the best and greatest of the Roman generals, at least in the period of the Republic and Empire. His opponents were the Carthaginians and Hannibal, very worthy opponents indeed, far more formidable than the Gauls and Britons against whom Caesar made his reputation.

Richard I was not gay. The notion that he is derives chiefly from modern-era British historians (public school-educated, specializing in sodomy during the student days) and that wretched, awful movie "The Lion in Winter." Richard I was not a skilled tactician but he was surpassingly brave, with a sang-froid approach to combat that his troops found inspirational.

Caesar, on the other hand was bisexual, which means he was gay. He was also extremely promiscuous. One contemporary wit noted that he was "every man's woman and every woman's man." He was a repulsive personality for the most part, a genocidal egoist entirely without scruples.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Roughcoat2 said:

"Caesar was far from being the best general in the long and illustrious history of the Roman military. ... If pressed, however, I would contend that Publius Scipio was the best and greatest of the Roman generals ,..."

I believe the traditional Roman opinion was that Marcus Claudius Marcellus was the greatest Roman general because of his performance during the Second Punic War and winning the spolia opima. In my own opinion, the distinction should go to Lucius Sulla for his skill in handling the Mithridatic War and particularly for the Battle of Orchomenus where he invented trench warfare.

Caesar was not in the same league as Sulla or Scipio but still a very skilled general. Caesar's handing of the Siege of Alesia through circumvallation and contravallation was brilliant. What struck me as interesting in Caesar's "War Commentaries" was his focus on military engineering and logistics. Caesar seemed obsessed over where his own baggage train and the enemy's baggage train were located. I suspect Caesar was more a general like George B. McClellan than Ulysses S. Grant.

Getting back to King Richard, here's a wonderful story about his encounter with Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn (Saladin):

http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=evans&book=kings&story=richard

I particularly liked the part where Saladin out did Richard's performance with a broadsword by cutting a free hanging fine thread with a Damascus scimitar. Saladin was definitely a class act.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment

Sulla and Marcellus were both superb generals, 'tis true. But I stand by my assertion that Scipio was the best. Just a matter of opinion, however.

But, truly, it was the Roman system that made them what they were. That, and the steadfast, steady Latin men who served in the legions. With the Roman army to command, you didn't have to be a charismatic genius; it helped, but it wasn't necessary--you merely had to be competent. And to stay out of the way of the tribunes and centurions who really ran the army.

As a postscript: my favorite Roman general was Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus--the author of "Fabian tactics." A tough old coot, stubborn and determined, patient, unflappable: a real genius. Gave Hannibal fits, which was no mean achievement.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hey watch it! My ancient Briton (say great 40 times) Grandfather was down on the beach keeping Julius Caesar at bay with a few buckets of pickled onions and a catapult.

The only reason that Caesar made it ashore was that the fight went way past lunchtime and the Brits got distracted and ate their ammunition.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment

I hear ya. My ancient Briton grandfather was probably there too, maybe standing next to your pop-pop--or, more likely, jumping up and down, naked as a jaybird, painted blue and hurling imprecations and feces at the legionaries. They were insanely brave, and I do mean "insanely" in the literal sense, upholding in fine form the berserker tradition so cherished by Indo-European primitives. Great warriors--but not skilled soldiers. A distinction with a big difference. A Briton army was a horde of brave warriors, leavened with absolutely insane berserkers. If you weren't ready for them, they could (and sometimes did) cause a lot of trouble for civilized armies. But they were, alas, no match for a disciplined, experienced legion.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
The ancient Britons, in fact, turned Caesar back at the beachhead.

They lost to his successors.

It's FINALLY been determined why the Romans turned left at Holland: the were going for the gold.

Britain had the only viable gold mine (in the West) not yet over run by the Roman Army.

Their expedition to Dacia (Trajan) led to genocide (the column) and the land repopulated by Romans. (Romania)

Those gold mines are still there for the tourist to visit. Those Dacians could really dig.

If you're crazy enough, you can even visit the Roman works in Britain. Their techniques were right out of Dante. A Roman gold mine was an inferno. The scorch marks are still there!

32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment

No, blert. In the summer of 55 BC Caeser landed in Kent with a small force to scout out the the land, and withdrew to Gaul as intended after some sharp fights which the Britons mistakenly interpreted as decisive battles. The Roman Senate, on the other hand, was so impressed it decreed a period of thanksgiving to honor his achievement. He returned a year later with a large army, mounting a full-scale invasion. Advancing north to the Thames, he forced the local king, Cassivellaunus, to surrender.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
OFA Holds Pro-Amnesty Rally In Ohio… Nobody Shows Up Except Five Of Their Own Interns…

http://mediatrackers.org/ohio/2013/09/04/organizing-action-tries-generate-support-amnesty-ohio
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Is Putin Nuts! Doesn’t he know about the 0bama’s IRS suppressing the vote, wait till 0bamas people start leaking Putin’s tax Info!!! He’s a goner…I bet we start hearing all sorts of Divorce paper leaks, personal phone call conversations and private text messages, Putin doesn’t have a clue who he’s mess’n with.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
LOL!

Snowden...
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
from a USA today article:

Speaking to his human rights council Wednesday, Putin said, "This was very unpleasant and surprising for me. We talk to them (the Americans), and we assume they are decent people, but he is lying and he knows that he is lying. This is sad."

Where to even begin on that ... Putin has a human rights council!? Putin is channeling H. Ross Perot? Putin thinks Kerry knows when he's lying?

32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Putin's HRC isn't about humans' rights, it's about rights to humans
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
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