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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Why It Matters

For John, BLUFSecState Clinton didn't answer the question and as a result we should conclude that Foggy Bottom isn't capable of drawing the needed lessons.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Mr Eric Chase, in a 24 January article at Small Wars Journal, brought up the issue of Defining Terrorism:  A Strategic Imperative.  Reflecting on the Benghazi Imbroglio, he noted:

Even if a video attacking the Muslim faith had in fact inspired a spontaneous attack on the Consulate, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”  This definition certainly seems applicable in such an instance.  Nevertheless, applying the label “terrorism” or “terrorist” to any one event, person, or group conjures visceral emotions, incites ideological sparring, and stirs vociferous political debate that reverberate well beyond the initial application of the term.
So, in answer to the question, "What differences does it make?" we have a proposal to sift through these things and come up with decent terminology to help us better understand what we are doing in this global war on terrorism.  The thing is, if you don't know the names of the different items in the garden, it is harder to communicate what needs picking and what needs hoeing.  It is as simple as that.  If you don't know what is causing problems then you can't tailor your responses.

Focusing in on Secretary of State Clinton's testimony, and in particular her response to questions from Senator Johnson, I believe there is a difference in knowing the reason for the attack.

  1. If it was all due to the video, Innocence of Muslims, then it is incumbent upon the Department of State and its Public Diplomacy program to make clear that we will not be curtailing any of our freedoms because of concerns overseas.  Just as we don't allow mobs to run wild in the streets of Washington, DC, because someone objects to polygamy or female circumcision in certain Islamic nations, or suppression of homosexuals in Russia, nations overseas should be about protecting American Citizens and American Embassy property from mobs in their nations.  If it is all about the video then the responsibility of the Department of State is clear, and it isn't about apologizing.
  2. If this was all about some man, or group of men out for a walk and feeling a little frisky and they killed four Americans and ten Libyans, then it is a different thing.  The attention of the Department of State should be focused like a laser on security of Embassy personnel.  As Secretary Clinton said, "It is our job to make sure that it doesn't happen again."  End of story; unless it happens again.
  3. A third possibility is that this is one of a number of attacks being executed at this time (the Algerian Gas Works incident being another) and that this represents a coordinated set of terrorist attacks to achieve some larger goals, such as driving the US and Europeans out of the Islamic Maghreb or destabilizing secular governments in the MENA area.  If it is determined that this is, in fact, what Benghazi is all about, then the response of State, in coordination with the Department of Defense, should be about pulling together alliances, providing aid, including training for indigenous forces and airlift and intelligence support to all fighting the war.  Economic aid and support is called for, since there seems to be a 5% growth rate threshold for keeping these kinds of things at bay.
So, Madam Secretary, what is it?

And this isn't just on Secretary Clinton.  Senator John Kerry, the Secretary designate, didn't do any better in answering the question in his testimony before Congress.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Captain Eric Chase is a former Intelligence Officer in the United States Marine Corps with multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He currently commands Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines and he works at Toffler Associates as a consultant specializing in defense strategic planning and irregular warfare.
  From SecState Clinton (Manchester Guardian):  "Was it terrorists, or was it because of a guy out for a walk one night?  What difference at this point does it make?  It is our job to make sure that it doesn't happen again."
  I know the term "Global War on Terrorism", along with "Long War", has been not just abandoned, but rejected by the US Federal Government, but that doesn't mean there isn't still some war going on with terrorists and that it doesn't stretch across the face of the earth.


Jack Mitchell said...

"... it is incumbent upon the Department of State and its Public Diplomacy program to make clear that we will not be curtaining any of our freedoms because of concerns overseas."

Let's examine a statement issued by State, that was painted as an 'apology' by right wingers:
The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.
Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy.
We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others

(bold and breaks mine)

Apparently, the word "efforts" means "Youtube Video"?" The first part of the statement seems to ball the YT video up with other "efforts," to include the Koran burning escapades of 'Pastor' Terry Jones.

Then, there is the obvious nod to neocons: "... the enemies of democracy." Come on. This is red meat for acolytes of Dick Cheney.

Last, the assertion of a "universal right of free speech" should stir the empassioned souls of purveyors of nation building everywhere. Especially, when building nations in OUR image. How 'God-like.'

Neal said...

But it is just fine for Islamists to refer to Christians as infidels and targets for elimination as part of a Muslim duty. I repeat a very valid axiom. Folks who stand for nothing will fall for anything. The DoS statement is nothing more than a breathlessly lofty appeasement....a step back from the Islamic line in the sand. We can expect that once THAT line is redrawn, we will retreat once more.

To be sure, America has no business whatsoever to go nation building, especially when our own is such an endless work in progress. We are hardly a bunch to be emulated. Moreover, if we expect that others respect our sovereignty and sovereign rights, then we need to keep our donut grabbers off of theirs. Put another way, leave them alone. The ONLY time we have a duty and a RIGHT to interfere in the affairs of another nation state is if that country becomes a direct threat to our country. Arguably, the only instance that has been applicable in the last century was when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

If we don't like being stung....we need to stop banging on the beehives.

As for the so called "offensive" video.....THAT is what America is about....or did anyone notice Christ in Urine. One person's art is another's abomination. It is called FREEDOM.

I do find it curiously ironic that these Muslims who are so deeply offended by the video have no problem killing Christians and destroying anything that is representative of Christianity. Pardon me if I don't shed any crocodile tears over there being offended.

Jack Mitchell said...

"... America has no business whatsoever to go nation building ..."

Some would call this cowardly surrender. Not me, but some.

Neal's scolding of Obama's foreign policy, while concurrently championing the Bush Doctrine and begging for isolationism, is nothing less than iconic of the erratic, convoluted irrationale of rightwingers who strive to be everywhere on these issues, so they can have a free hand to do as they please.

American exceptionalism is to be deviod of integrity and principle, allowing the US to follow its whim.

And, by "whim," I mean whatever the corporate feudal overlords desire.
If the good Pastor Jones aimed to assinate a foreign dignitary, authorities would be sanctioned to stop his effort. However, should Pastor Jones opt to undo decades of diplomacy, via a pyre of Korans, we are to sit on our hands?

Cliff's point, though, must be considered. Why let yahoos in Cairo, reacting to our domestic yahoos, dictate the US doctrine?

In the US, purveyours of political and diplomatic smut are free to do so. The WWW enables global impact.

It could be considered "Democracy" if the will and sentiment of "We The People" could be transmitted, beyond the stewardship of our elected leaders.

Unfortunately, to date, the transmissions seem to come from lunatics, unshackeled from responsibility, free to masturbate on the world stage.

We, via elected leaders,are left to mop up the mess. Yes, that does matter.

C R Krieger said...

The problem with Jack's argument is that the "vile video" starts out talking about the oppression of a religious minority by a Muslim majority, in Egypt.  Oppression of religiouis minorities is, in deed, vile.  If our individual citizens cannot protest oppression overseas, then where are our rights?  Where is our freedom?

And, the First Amendment is out there for the lunatics.  One of the problems with the Soviet Union was that it would declare those who descented as mentally incompetent and lock them away.  That is a bad thing.  Psychiatry as political oppression.

And, at the end of the day, the descripton of what happened in Benghazi does matter, because it informs our foreign policy.  If we ignore it, we are adrift.

Regards  —  Cliff