10 August 2008

The Presidential gut-check

The following is a cross-post from The Jacksonian Party.

The following is a position paper of The Jacksonian Party.

The small Nation of Georgia has sought, and hard, to reach out to the United States and support us, looking towards the US as a friend of liberty.  As part of that they have welcomed our training of their armed forces and have contributed the largest contingent per population size of any Nation in helping us in Iraq (Source and excellent read at Mudville Gazette).  With the current military actions of Russia over the 'breakaway' region of South Ossetia Georgia is recalling the 20% of its fighting force that it has dedicated to the mission in Iraq.  In this series of operations, Russia has been a clear antagonist towards Georgia in being the only Nation to recognize South Ossetia and then supply it with backing and encouraging it to antagonize Georgia via military means.  This is the view of Ralph Peters in his NY Post article and Anne Applebaum, who has been covering the region for years, in her WaPo columnAustin Bay looks at this is part of an ongoing way of Russia in 'working on' small Nations, citing Kosovo for historical reference.

Michael Totten had coincidentally been scheduled to head to the region and offers this piece at Slate as backgrounder, and also offers a previous piece by Anne Applebaum.

Another ally of the United States, our longest friend in Europe, Poland (Source: Polish Radio at thenews.pl), stands up against Russian intimidation and attempts to dominate Georgia.  This was done in coordination with the leaders of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia as a co-release:

The presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have issued a joint statement condemning what they see as the naked aggression of Russia against the independent state of Georgia, as hostilities continue in the breakaway state of South Ossetia.

The statement says: “The European Union and NATO must take up the initiative and oppose the spread of imperialist and revisionist policy in the east of Europe.”

President Lech Kaczynski told TVP public television that Poland had a mission to inform western countries, and the EU in particular, of the nature of the aggression by Moscow.

He underlined that any peacekeepers in the region must be international. “That peacekeeping troops [in South Ossetia] are only from Russia is simply a farce,” he said.

The President said that Poland would offer Georgia any help it asked for. “We are not planning to send any troops there, but anything is possible.”

Poland, if anyone cares to remember, sent light cavalry to the United States when we had none in a time of dire need by us. 

That time was called the Revolutionary War.

From this we can see how the two major party candidates reacted.

On 08 AUG 2008 Sen. John McCain said the following about this, as reported by the WaPo's Michael D. Shear:

The news reports indicate that the Russian military forces crossed an internationally recognized border into the sovereign territory of Georgia. Russia should immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Georgian territory. What is most critical now is to avoid further confrontation between Russian and Georgian military forces. The consequences of Euro-Atlantic stability and security are grave. The government of Georgia has called for a cease fire and for resumption of direct talks on South Ossetia with international mediators. The U.S. should immediately convene an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council to call on Russia to reverse course. The U.S. should immediately work with the E.U. and the OSCE to put diplomatic pressure on Russia to reverse this perilous course that it has chosen.

We should immediately call a meeting of the North Atlantic Council to assess Georgia's security and review measures NATO can take to contribute to stabilizing this very dangerous situation. Finally, the international community needs to establish a truly independent and neutral peacekeeping force in South Ossetia.

That is a prime 'gut-check' response by anyone wanting to be a President of the United States: a friend of liberty helping our friends to rally around liberty when it is under siege by a tyrant.

At Politico, Ben Smith on 08 AUG 2008 reported the following, starting with Sen. Obama's statement:

“I strongly condemn the outbreak of violence in Georgia, and urge an immediate end to armed conflict,” Obama said in a written statement. “Now is the time for Georgia and Russia to show restraint and to avoid an escalation to full-scale war. Georgia’s territorial integrity must be respected.”

Obama added briefly that the international community should get involved. More than an hour later, as more details of Russia’s incursion into Georgia emerged, he cited Russia more directly: “What is clear is that Russia has invaded Georgia’s sovereign — has encroached on Georgia’s sovereignty,” he told reporters in Sacramento.


John McCain’s top foreign policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann, defended McCain’s direct criticism of Russia in the early hours of the crisis.

"Sen. McCain is clearly willing to note who he thinks is the aggressor here,” he said, dismissing the notion that Georgia’s move into its renegade province had precipitated the crisis. "I don't think you can excuse, defend, explain or make allowance for Russian behavior because of what is going on in Georgia.”

He also criticized Obama for calling on both sides to show “restraint,” and suggested the Democrat was putting too much blame on the conflict’s clear victim.

That's kind of like saying after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, that Kuwait and Iraq need to show restraint, or like saying in 1968 [when the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia] ... that the Czechoslovaks should show restraint,” he said.

A foreign policy adviser for Obama, Ben Rhodes, said Obama was deliberately measured in response to the conflict, balancing his disapproval of Russia’s “troubling behavior in its near-abroad region” with “the fact that we have to deal with Russia to deal with our most important national security challenges.”

Rhodes declined to discuss McCain’s statement directly, but did indirectly criticize it.

"The temperature of your rhetoric isn't a measure of your commitment to Georgian sovereignty,” he said, noting that the two candidates’ statements shared a substantive commitment to Georgia’s borders. “You don't want to get so far in front of a situation that you're feeding the momentum of an escalation.”

Critics of McCain’s stance said he’d imposed ideology on a complicated situation in which both sides bear some blame.

“McCain took an inflexible approach to addressing this issue by focusing heavily on one side, without a pragmatic assessment of the situation,” said Mark Brzezinski, a former Clinton White House official and an informal adviser to Obama.

“It’s both sides’ fault — both have been somewhat provocative with each other,” he said.


A public relations firm working for the Russian Federation pointed out Scheunemann’s lobbying past to reporters — a sign that McCain’s stance is not, for better or worse, being welcomed in Moscow — as did Obama’s campaign.

“John McCain’s top foreign policy adviser lobbied for, and has a vested interest in, the Republic of Georgia and McCain has mirrored the position advocated by the government,” said Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan, noting that the “appearance of a conflict of interest” was a consequence of McCain’s too-close ties to lobbyists.

Scheunemann dismissed the criticism, saying he severed his ties to his firm and to his client on March 1 and noting that McCain has been a firm supporter of Georgia’s move toward the West, and away from Russia, since the Arizona senator’s first visit there in 1997.

What Sen. Obama did is come out with not only pabulum, but an unmeasured response that did not take into account Georgia's commitment to helping the United States.  While we work with Russia, we cannot consider it a friend in much of anywhere in the world where it operates.  It is a large Nation and gets consideration due to that size, but liberty and freedom are commitments that go beyond the mere size of a Nation in geography or population.  Even worse, in backing a Russian line on Mr. Scheunemann, Sen. Obama is taking sides in the conflict with the non-liberty embracing Russia against the interests of the US in promoting liberty and freedom abroad.

Further the comments of Mr. Brzezinski show the influence of his father (and both have influence in this campaign, apparently), Zbigniew, who had the unfortunate position of first backing the Shah of Iran, then trying to find if 'moderates' in Iran would take part in some sort of 'Islamic Green buffer zone' between the West and the USSR.  I have detailed Sen. Obama's problematical 'foreign policy team' along with the past views of Sen. McCain.

The one thing the Cold War did demonstrate is the United States *must* be a staunch advocate of liberty and freedom in more than just rhetoric, which is why the response from Sen. McCain demonstrating knowledge of the situation and having previously supported a Nation that supports the US is one to be respected.  As Mr. Smith notes, the view taken by Sen. Obama is a 'European one' that does not apparently recognize that Russia is also seeking to bring all of the pipelines from the Far East that supply Europe with oil and natural gas under the sway if not direct control of Russia.

In this, the most primal of gut checks for who you would vote for as President, Sen. Obama loses and clearly does so by backing a tyrannical regime's attempts to meddle in US politics and puts the blame 'equally' where the blame is unequal and weighs heavily towards one side.

By supporting a friend and ally of the US, Sen. McCain wins and if Poland seeks to step in and asks for our help in remedying the situation, then the current President should back that.

Because liberty is purchased by feeding the Great Tree with the blood of tyrants and patriots, both.

You do not play political games with those who have come to the US seeking our help in securing their own liberty and befriending our Nation in such a hard fight as in Iraq.


Both candidates have also had a chance to get a 'gut-check' on another issue, far closer to home, in the area of international affairs:  Mexico.

From AZ Central on 07 AUG 2008, Sean Holstege of the Arizona Republic reports the following:

Four Mexican army soldiers entered southern Arizona and pointed their rifles at a U.S. Border Patrol agent early this week, the Border Patrol said.

The incident Sunday was the Mexican military's 43rd incursion across the U.S. border since October, the agency said. However, it was unusual because firearms were involved. The Border Patrol and the Mexican government are investigating, Border Patrol spokesman Mike Scioli said.

Details remain sketchy, but the incident occurred at 2 a.m. on the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation about 50 miles southeast of Ajo. The incident took place just north of the border in sight of the new border fence.


In Washington, D.C., State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said the encounter "stemmed from a momentary misunderstanding as to the exact location of the U.S.-Mexican border."

A 'border fence' is a clear demarcation line of a border.

This incident took place within sight of that fence to the North, clearly in US sovereign territory.

I have examined this previously (here) and find that Congress had the Library of Congress create a report looking at the slow incursion of money and foreign operatives with arms into Northern Mexico, and looking to disrupt and take over the old cartel based crime syndicates.  That report, in 2003, detailed influence from Russian Mafia groups, Islamic terrorist organizations, and from FARC which used to have better control over such criminal operations after it took over the old cartel businesses in the late 1990's.  Last year the monthly violence in Northern Mexico passed the violence of levels for Iraq, both heading in opposite directions with Iraq's down and Mexico's up.

As part of the influence brought by outside funds, the Mexican Federal Police and Army have been corrupted to an extent that the older cartels were unable to do.  In many cases individuals now utilize their positions of power (even in such places as the judiciary in Mexico) to aid and abet these purely criminal operations now trending towards terrorist means.

To date neither campaign nor the current President have been able to offer a clear defense of the US border and its sovereignty.  As that is done in neglecting the corrupting influence of organized crime in Northern Mexico, the violence has been spreading with criminal hit squads starting to show up in the US to take out US criminals and take over their local operations.

Many have offered that 'Sen. McCain saw clearly in Iraq on COIN'.

Very well: what is Sen. McCain's view on the COIN needs of the SW United States along the Mexican border now that Mexico is falling into a criminal based insurgency with backing from larger organized crime and terrorist groups?

Sen. Obama is absolutely clueless here and has demonstrated that for months.

Sen. McCain has done no better and some worse in not making any statement that would antagonize the Hispanic population in the US, forgetting that many came to the US to get AWAY from such situations and to be SAFE in a Nation they could call their own.

In this gut-check, they both lose, and horribly.

I expect nothing from Sen. Obama and he consistently delivers less.

I expect much from what those touting Sen. McCain have said about him: he under-performs and is often self-contradictory in his skills and ability to analyze a situation.

As both of these situations are primal defenses of liberty and freedom at home and abroad, I expect any candidate to get both of them RIGHT.  Otherwise the days of refugee camps being reported upon will not be overseas, but right here at home.

I heartily applaud giving good, hard support to our friends and allies abroad.

I damned well expect to have our own liberty and freedom protected from military incursions, criminal insurgencies and not 'helped' by a government that takes liberties in exchange for increased taxation, thus diminishing liberty further.

Defense of the Nation must include supporting those that support the US, and I look for any good signs that we will do so with Georgia as, although having problems, they DESERVE IT.

And so do WE.

Right there, along that southern border before it goes to hell, and the next deployment for major COIN operations is not in Iraq or Afghanistan, but places like Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, California, Nevada... unless you really like the idea of refugee camps in such places as Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah?

America can support freedom abroad and insure our own at home:  it is a prerequisite of those running for President to understand that.

Or God Help the United States, because no one else WILL.

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