Not Being Frank About Defense

Financial Post editor-at-large and newspaper columnist Diane Francis, who can always be counted on to get things wrong, has recently added another plank to the Democratic Party’s platform. Commenting on an interview with the equally problematic Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, she joins the great media chorus for whom America can do no right, at least until the ascension of Barack Obama. What we are observing in this PR union is a typical collaboration between the press and the political left that eerily resembles insider trading. Indeed, a Francis and a Frank are a marriage made in leftist heaven, as is the case with the majority of their likeminded colleagues. But the offspring of this consummation, if it is truly fertile, would be a neonatal nightmare, malnourished and vulnerable.

Francis gives uncritical prominence to Frank’s rather dubious and erratic views. American military spending must be substantially cut and the quotient put in the service of the government’s vast health care “reform” program, which, as the bloviating congressman must be perfectly aware, is nothing less than a massive statist takeover of a significant portion of the American economy. As Francis puts it, Frank has “hammered home the unsustainability of America’s role as policeman of the world” to the detriment of the country’s quality of life and domestic solvency. Strangely enough, the tandem makes no reference to the fact that in just one year, the Democratic administration is well on the way to quadrupling the American deficit. The Bush deficit for 2008 was $457 billion; the Obama deficit for 2010 is projected to top off at $1.5 trillion. (Obama’s protestation in his State of the Union address that he had inherited “a one-year deficit of over $1 trillion” was the typical presidential spandex we have by now grown accustomed to.) But the deficit momentum is inexorable and has absolutely nothing to do with defense spending. Further, neither the journalist nor the politician gives the slightest indication that America might be at war with a relentless jihadist enemy. From this perspective, the Iraq war was a major blunder and the ongoing hostilities in Afghanistan are entirely unnecessary.

With respect to Iraq, there is no recognition of the fact, as Bruce Thornton has written, citing the Iraq Survey Group publication for October 2003, that Saddam had established a number of “WMD-related programs and equipment, laboratories and safe houses concealing equipment from UN monitoring, research on biological weapons, documents and equipment related to uranium enrichment, plans for long-range missiles, and evidence of attempts to acquire long-range missile technologies from North Korea.” Kenneth Timmerman in Shadow Warriors and former Iraqi General Georges Sada in Saddam’s Secrets both present compelling testimony for the transfer of existing WMD by Russian convoy to Syria prior to the American invasion -- precisely as Saddam did with his air force to Iran before the first Gulf War. The hypothesis is certainly a plausible one. The U.S. recently facilitated the removal of 550 metric tons of remnant “yellowcake” uranium, the seed material for nuclear weapons, stockpiled at the Tuwaitha nuclear complex twelve miles south of Baghdad. What, one may be permitted to wonder, was this cache doing there in the first place?

As for Afghanistan, the pair seems to have entered a fantasy world in which the Taliban do not figure, the training camps from which the strikes against the United States were prepared were never there, the 3,000 dead are still alive, and in any event there is no danger of a repeat in the future if we merely pull in our horns and declare our peaceful intentions. Such a roseate worldview could find a home only in the precincts of the media and the pastures of left-wing officialdom. According to Frank, the American interventions “only destabilized the region, encouraged the worst kind of radicalism, and made us hated around the world.” Neither Frank nor his interviewer takes into account that “the region” was already destabilized, that radicalism was already at its fiery apex, and that America will always be hated owing to the ubiquitous envy and resentment of the world’s only superpower and the last bastion of the supine West against Islamic subversion.