Sunday, February 22, 2015

George Washington’s Birthday Reminds us of Great Leadership

           As I do every year around this time, I post some observations on George Washington’s birthday.  In addition to praising Washington and defending him against false allegations or misconceptions, I have been encouraging that he ought to be better remembered and honored by restoring the name of the holiday popularly celebrated as “Presidents’ Day” and officially called some variation of the same by most of the States of the American Union to “Washington’s Birthday,” as it is legally called by the United States in order to detract from Washington.  I post today to observe his birthday, as I have also urged that the celebration of  “Washington’s Birthday” be moved to the date of his birth, February 22, because it is never observed on that date under federal and state law.

            As I have noted before, George Washington the Great is underrated as the General who led the Patriots to victory in the American Revolution against overwhelming force, as the indispensable Founding Father of the Union and its Republic and as the first and greatest President of the United States.  This year, recalling Washington’s biography, I cannot help but think of how in the midst of crises today, the world is crying out for leadership, particularly from the American President.  When the American people and others around the world admire the King of Jordan or President of Egypt more than the leader of the Free World, let alone notice the superior leadership skills of a dictator like Russia’s, the deficiency in leadership in the current Chief Executive and Commander in Chief is obvious.  Although we cannot expect that men as extraordinary as Washington would be ordinary, we nevertheless rightly expect that at least an adequate level of leadership be exhibited, especially by one of Washington’s successors, and that his successors study Washington and his leadership skills and follow his example.  The Electors especially should know Washington as the model for the presidency, as should Congress, the States and We the People. 

           Now, more than ever, a holiday of “Washington’s Birthday” is needed to provide the example of virtue, civility, fidelity to the Constitution and republican government, and especially of leadership.

Monday, February 16, 2015

East Timor Completes Transfer of Power

East Timor completed its first successful transfer of power from one party to another, which it performed peacefully, since independence in 2002, following the resignation of its independence leader as Prime Minister to allow younger leaders to take his place.  The President chose the opposition leader to from a coalition government. 

Congratulations to the East Timorese on their benchmark accomplishment in representative government.  I wish them successful parliamentary elections and the continued enjoyment of liberty.

War on Terrorism Updates: Libya, Nigeria, Europe

In a follow-up and update to my post yesterday calling for United Nations intervention in Yemen and Libya, I note there are fears in Italy that jihadists could infiltrate the multitude of refugees from Arab states coming to its shores I mentioned that have been burdening the Italian Republic.  The “Islamic State,” which has affiliates in Libya, has threatened to conquer RomeLibya is only a few hundred miles from Italian territory.  Italy, which formerly ruled Libya, supports United Nations-sponsored negotiations in Libya among the warring parties, but is supportive of UN-authorized action, should diplomacy fail.  The Libyan government, which notes Italy is especially vulnerable to the spread of Islamist attacks from Libya, is pleading for more international intervention, including air strikes and the supply of weapons.

Egyptian warplanes did strike “Islamic State” targets in Libya after the Islamists murdered the kidnapped Coptic Christian Egyptians who had gone to Libya to work.  As I mentioned in a post earlier this month, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have bombed Islamists in Libya who are fighting the Libyan government, as Egypt continues to battle “Islamic State-affiliated” rebels in the Sinai Peninsula.  The Egyptian government also has been cracking down on supporters of the Islamist government it replaced by popular demand after the Islamists became oppressive.  In addition to the numerous other African states besides Egypt battling terrorism I praised in that same post, Benin is also sending troops to Nigeria to fight the al-Qaeda affiliate there, as the Islamists have launched attacks in Cameroon, Niger and Chad, each of which is fighting al-Qaeda and supporting Nigeria. 

Numerous European states have been implementing various anti-terrorism measures, especially in regard to those who go abroad to wage violent jihad and who could pose a threat to their homelands upon return. 

American Purchases of Iraqi WMDs Further Refutes WMD Truth-Deniers

The latest revelation from the New York Times investigative reports on the finding by American and coalition forces of numerous dangerous chemical weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) for several years after the 2003 Liberation of Iraq is that the United States secretly purchased hundreds of artillery shells with chemical warheads from an Iraqi source.

            The Times, the liberal newspaper of record, reports the U.S. bought over 400 WMDs in the form of artillery shells, many of which contained warheads with the nerve gas, sarin, some of which were much more lethal than expected, between 2005 and 2006.  American forces had previously discovered chemical WMDs in buried caches and in improvised explosive devices assembled by insurgents, as had been reported at the time, was revealed to have amounted to 500 weapons by the U.S. in 2006, was referred to in federal documents leaked in 2010 and was detailed in a series of reports from October to December of last year by the Times to be an even larger number, and that both American and Iraqi forces had suffered wounds from exposure to the WMDs that had remained more dangerous than claimed by the WMD truth-deniers, who insisted that the WMDs were “too degraded” to pose any threat. 

All of these WMDs had been manufactured by Iraq prior to 1991.  Some of the Iraqi WMDs found, as well as all those that were purchased, were among those known about by United Nations inspectors, in part through inconsistent Iraqi declarations.  However, unlike some of the other Iraqi WMDs, the inspectors did not know the precise number of these specific rocket shells with chemical warheads still in existence, which appears to have been larger than believed, because Iraq did not fully disclose how many it possessed, which validates the finding of the Deulfer Report that Iraq was in some ways “more dangerous” than believed.  The WMD truth-deniers selectively ignored that part of the report, and focused on the lack of an official announcement of the finding of large stockpiles of WMDs at the time.  The Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein lied that it had destroyed its WMDs and failed to provide any such proof of their destruction.    

Iraq’s failure to fulfill its obligation under its 1991 ceasefire after the Liberation of Kuwait, as well as UN resolutions, was why the UN Security Council found Iraq in “material breach” of those resolutions, subject to “serious consequences,” which were understood to mean military action.  In addition to the Baathist regime’s violation of its ceasefire by firing on Coalition aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones over Kurdish and Shi’ite parts of Iraq, and Iraqi sponsorship of terrorism, including harboring and financing terrorists who had targeted and killed Americans, Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction were a justification for war.  Indeed, Iraq, which had committed serial aggression under Hussein, intimidated its neighbors, both with its remaining conventional force, and its retention of WMD.  The Baathist regime was also found to possess missiles of longer range than permitted by UN resolutions.  Iraq was violating the UN embargo in the hope of outlasting it to resume its WMD program.

The program to acquire the 400 Iraqi chemical WMDs succeeded in removing the weapons from the black market and potentially from the hands of terrorists or other insurgents.  It makes sense, therefore, that the results of the program were not announced at the time, despite the public criticism of President George W. Bush and other American an international leaders who supported the Liberation of Iraq for the supposed lack of finding of WMDs. 

The lack of credibility in Hussein and the absence of any proof provided by him that he had destroyed his known WMDs or even disclosed his full arsenal, made criticism by the WMD truth-deniers, even at the time, invalid, especially after both media and government reports of finding of WMDs in Iraq.  The series of Times reports now demonstrate clearly, as if any further proof were necessary, how wrong the WMD truth-deniers were in believing Hussein and insisting that Iraq no longer had any WMDs, that the WMDs it had were few or were not lethal (at least in 2003), and thus Iraq was not a threat and war was not justified, leaving aside Iraq’s other aforementioned acts of war that were alone sufficient even without Iraqi possession of any WMD.  The critics’ argument that the only justifiable cause of war would have been new WMDs because of the insignificance of the old WMDs has been thoroughly refuted by reference to Bush Administration specific citations of Iraq’s old WMDs as a justification, as well as in terms of the amount and lethality of Iraq’s WMD arsenal. 

The report even diminishes the one criticism of the Bush Administration that might reasonably have been made about Iraqi WMDs: that the Bush Administration’s efforts to destroy Iraqi WMDs had not been effective.  At least in regard to this particular stockpile of Iraqi WMDs, the program did achieve some success. 

See also my posts on the Times reports from October to November of last year and my commentary on the significance of the finding of larger numbers of dangerous Iraqi WMDs: Thousands More Lethal Chemical WMDs Have Been Found in Iraq, Wounding Soldiers,, and Follow-Up on the Finding of More Chemical WMDs in Iraq,, Update on the Exposure of American Troops to Iraq’s Chemical WMD,, and American Concern about the Islamic State’s Capture of Iraq’s Chemical WMDs,

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Calls for the United Nations to Intervene in Yemen and Libya

           There have been calls by several governments for the United Nations to intervene in two Arab states where Islamists have either gained power or have created a security crisis by threatening to seize power from legitimate governments

            In Yemen, Iranian-backed Shi’ite rebels have taken control from the government.  They are also fighting with Sunni tribes and al-Qaeda.  Yemen, the poorest Arab state, is fractious, as there is a separatist movement in South Yemen, which merged with North Yemen, which sparked a civil war in the early 1990s.  There are also Communists, who had been in power in South Yemen before the fall of the Soviet Union and the union of both Yemens.

            The UN Security Council passed a resolution today demanding the Shi’ite rebels relinquish control of Yemen’s government, but the Gulf Cooperation Council is calling for UN intervention in Yemen or the organization of Arab states of the Arabian (or Persian) Gulf will act on its own, with or without UN authorization.  They are interested in thwarting any spread of Iranian revolutionary influence among Shi’ites in Arab states.  Egypt and Saudi Arabia are also reportedly making coordinated contingency plans to keep shipping lanes in the Red Sea open, while the latter has reportedly been arming Sunni tribes against the Shi’ite rebels.

            At the same time, Libya remains in civil war after the overthrow of Col. Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.  Various Islamists are fighting the government, which has fled the capital.  Some of the militant Muslim rebels are affiliated with al-Qaeda and others with the “Islamic State.”  Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have provided limited military support to the Libyan government, which retains control over some of Libya’s territory. 

           Italy is calling for UN intervention in Libya, which it would lead in its former colony across the Mediterranean, as it has been burdened by a refugee crisis from Libya, Syria and other Arab states since the Arab Spring.  The Italian Government’s own maritime refugee rescue program implemented since the Arab Spring was replaced with a European Union one to relieve Italy of the disproportionate financial responsibility of saving tens of thousands of lives, but there were recently hundreds more deaths of refugees and other incidents, including threats by human smugglers pointing guns at Italian Coast Guardsmen.  The Italians rescued over 2,000 refugees this weekend alone.  

           It is in the interests of the world, as in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Mali and Nigeria, to stop the spread of Islamism, whether Sunni or Shi’ite, in Yemen and Libya.  As negotiations in Yemen and Libya have failed, the UN must act to authorize military intervention in both states to stop militant Muslims from imposing harsh Islamic rule by force on Yemenis and Libyans, undermining international anti-terrorism efforts and creating refugee crises.  

Friday, February 6, 2015

Update: The United States Army Will Award Purple Hearts to the Ft. Hood Jihad Victims

           The United States Army will award Purple Hearts to the victims of the violent jihadist attack at Ft. Hood, Texas in 2009, Fox News reports. 

The survivors and the families of those killed would thereby be entitled to certain benefits.  I would expect the Army also to award its corresponding civilian medal to those civilian employees killed or injured in the attack, as well as to the victims of the shooting at the Arkansas recruiting center earlier that same year. 

The decision came after the passage of the defense authorization bill by the lame duck Congress, which included a provision authorizing the awards in response to resistance from the Obama Administration to acknowledge the attack as an act of violent jihad (Islamic holy war).  See also my post from December, Conservative Analysis of the Federal Spending Authorizations:  The Ft. Hood attacker was inspired by the leader of al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, with whom he corresponded. 

I have criticized the Obama Administrations failure to identify the enemy and its motivation in several posts to this blog and have specifically championed the cause of awarding the medals to the victims of these jihadist attacks.  The awarding of the medals for those wounded in action necessarily acknowledges the attack was part of the War on Terrorism.  Congress, which acted in a bipartisan manner, deserves praise for righting this wrong.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

In Praise of African Allies in the War on Terrorism

           Several individual African states, as well as the African Union (AU), have engaged in combat on their continent over the last several years to fight Islamist terrorists, most of who are affiliated with al-Qaeda. 

            Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, along with AU troops, have all fought al-Qaeda’s branch in Somalia, with much success in liberating territory from Islamist control.  Niger and Chad supported Mali’s government under AU encouragement against al-Qaeda and their allied Tuareg Islamist rebels and Burkina Faso is sending troops to Mali.  The French-led intervention last year freed northern Mali from the Islamists in the former French colony, but insurgents have been launching more attacks there from the desert over the last several months.  Both Niger and Chad also have been supporting Nigeria’s fight against its al-Qaeda branch, as has Cameroon.  These states are operating under an AU mandate.  Their efforts, especially those of Chad, which had also provided the largest African contingent of troops in Mali, have provided a much-needed boost to the Nigerian government, which has proven ineffective in its battle against its Islamist rebels. 

            Egypt has battled Islamists in Libya and along their border while engaging in its own struggle against Islamist terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula that are affiliated with the “Islamic State.”  In addition, Egypt has choked off supplies to the Iranian-backed terrorist Palestinian Hamas organization.  The most populous Arab state has become a bulwark in the War on Terrorism since its overthrow of its own Islamist government last year. 

            Several other African states have been sharing intelligence or even arresting Islamists.  Morocco has been especially helpful in this regard.  Other states have provided logistical support.  Meanwhile, Algeria continues to fight Islamist rebels, while Tunisia has cracked down on Islamists there, as well.

            The United States occasionally strikes by drone or launches a commando raid in Somalia, while France still helps Mali.  In contrast, after a European-led international coalition intervened in the Libyan civil war to help overthrow longtime dictator Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, there has been no intervention, other than by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, on behalf of the internationally-recognized government in its fight against various Islamists.        

           These African states deserve praise for all their efforts against terrorism and Islamism.  The international community outside of Africa must do more to support its African allies in the War on Terrorism, especially Libya and Nigeria.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Liberal Democratic Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf Is off to a Poor Start

           Newly-inaugurated Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, a liberal Democrat, is off to a poor start with three noteworthy actions in particular. 

First, Wolf fired the Open Records Office head who had been appointed by outgoing Governor Tom Corbett.  The Corbett appointee is a respected expert on the matter, having worked as a Senate staffer on revisions that strengthened the law that guarantees public access to public records.  The legislature is suing Wolf, arguing he lacks the authority to fire the Open Records head.

            Wolf’s second mistake was to ban horizontal drilling for natural gas thousands of feet below public parks from adjacent lands that would not have disturbed the surface of the parks or anywhere near it.  His decision was not based upon sound science or out of concern for the environment, but upon an unreasonable political and ideological motivation, including pleasing one of his major coalitions.  Wolf’s prohibition on environmentally safe horizontal drilling from adjacent lands will cost the Commonwealth millions of dollars of revenue that was expected from the leases to help offset the state’s budget shortfall.

           The third mistake by Wolf was to raise the salaries of his cabinet members by 9% each, as well as three other senior administration officials, despite the Commonwealth’s $2+ billion projected deficit.  The raises also mean the officials receive a substantially higher base for their pensions, which means Pennsylvania taxpayers will be on the hook for decades for Wolf’s decision.