Tuesday, 28 April 2009


Ken Berwitz

Arnaud de Borchgrave is a highly respected veteran reporter - and a man whose knowledge of world politics stacks up favorably against just about everyone else's.  He views Pakistan as a major problem that can get dramatically worse. 

Here is his analysis -- please pay particular attention to the passages I've put in bold print:

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

DE BORCHGRAVE: Pakistan another Iran?

After six decades of independence - half that time under military dictatorship - Pakistan is still a largely feudal society where landless Taliban have started an uprising against the landlords that back the inept government of President Asif Ali Zardari. It is hard to imagine that he enjoys much support in the budding showdown between Pakistan's "haves" and "have-nots." He says Pakistan is in a state of war without defining the enemy. For Taliban and Pakistan's landless millions, the enemy is Pakistan's political establishment and the feudal estates that enjoy government protection.

Pakistan is increasingly a rerun of the Islamist fundamentalist revolution in Iran that ousted the pro-Western regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1979 and proceeded to execute about 7,000 "counterrevolutionaries" in a few months, or thousands more than were sentenced to death during the shah's 40 years on the Peacock throne. The Iranian equivalent of Pakistan's Taliban (revolutionary Islamist students) seized the U.S. Embassy and kept 52 U.S. citizens hostage for 444 days.

To understand the angry growl of Pakistan's 170 million people, look at the number of Taliban (students) who are graduated from Pakistan's 12,500 madrassas, the free-board Koranic schools. They grind out about 2 million teenage boys a year.

They are the sons of peasants with little or no land who cannot afford the fees of proper schools. (Most Pakistanis subsist on $2 a day.) Besides free food, clothes, books and notebooks, many are promised jobs in mosques or other madrassas.

They learn Arabic and the Koran (by heart), an education based on memorization of medieval texts to the exclusion of analytical skills. It's the ossification and stagnation of knowledge, one Pakistani professor harrumphed. Countless millions of young Pakistanis have been similarly brainwashed.

Many join the ranks of Pakistan's professional army - and they believe that shooting at Taliban insurgents in the Swat Valley or Buner, 60 miles northwest of the seat of government in Islamabad, or the seven Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) that abut the Afghan border is tantamount to killing the soldiers of Allah. For them, Islam is the only true religion. The others are heretical enemies that are on the warpath against Islam. That was drilled into most of them for 10 consecutive years, from age 6 to 16.

Under tremendous U.S. pressure to take action against Taliban and al Qaeda in FATA, Pakistan's army lost 1,400 killed and 4,000 wounded in 2007-08. Their hearts were not in it. They were fighting their own people. The army negotiated cease-fires with Taliban that promptly were broken. Unknown numbers of Taliban guerrilla fighters then moved out of FATA and into the 70-mile-long Swat Valley, the country's most popular tourist area.

There, too, the army grew tired of killing its own citizens; the Zardari government conceded defeat and allowed Taliban to impose Shariah law, a strict Islamic code of justice that allowed the public beating of a 17-year-old girl seen talking to a man to whom she was not related. Her screams were caught on a video that was shown widely around the world.

Then black-turbaned Taliban insurgents, with grenade-propelling rifles and AK-47s (automatic Russian assault rifles) slung over their shoulders, pushed their luck and moved into the neighboring Buner district.

Mrs. Clinton and special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke raised a cry of alarm and leaned on Mr. Zardari and army Chief of Staff Gen. Ashfaq P. Kayani to take action. But Mrs. Clinton also conceded some U.S. responsibility for sowing the seeds of Islamist extremism as a means of undermining the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Today's Taliban are the sons of yesterday's mujahedeen guerrillas.

The Pakistani government responded by dispatching eight platoons of paramilitary troops to shore up its authority. Taliban militants ignored them and went about terrorizing a population of half a million. All music was banned. Barber shops were closed, and men were instructed to grow their beards to the regulation length, measured by holding one fist under the chin. From age 7, all girls were ordered to wear burqas, the ambulatory tent look. Taliban enforcers rode around in stolen vehicles.

Stung to the quick by U.S. criticisms, Gen. Kayani ordered helicopter gunships to attack Taliban guerrillas after they ambushed a convoy of security forces in Buner's Lower Dir district.

But in downtown Islamabad, pro-Taliban religious extremists were back in charge of the Red Mosque after their leader, Maulana Abdul Aziz, arrested as he escaped an army siege in burqa camouflage, was released from prison. More than 100 were killed on both sides before the army prevailed in July 2007.

One Urdu-language TV channel called the Taliban "mazahmat kaar," the latest translation for resistance fighters. State-controlled PTV labels them with a halo of respectability, "askaryet pasand," a flowery translation for militant, which made them sound like a distant Tupamaros threat in Uruguay. In the towns and villages they occupied, they killed local policemen, even an army general in the medical corps.

By week's end it became increasingly clear Pakistan was spinning out of control with a discredited, ineffectual government that the army did not seem inclined to save for the benefit of corrupt politicians.

Waiting in the wings was Nawaz Sharif, head of the Pakistan Muslim League (N), twice prime minister, who presided over Pakistan's first nuclear test explosions in 1998 (in response to India's) and was deposed by army chief Pervez Musharraf in 1999. The son of a wealthy industrial family, Mr. Nawaz was sentenced to 10 years of exile, which he chose to serve in Saudi Arabia.

Among his assets were 15 major properties that ranged from steel, paper and spinning mills to an engineering company and vast land holdings.

Mr. Zardari served more than 11 years in prison on corruption charges but proudly says he was never convicted. Similarly plagued by accusations of corruption throughout his two stints as prime minister in the 1990s, Mr. Nawaz still enjoys a huge following. Almost 1 million people responded to his recent call to block Mr. Zardari's attempt to depose Mr. Nawaz's brother Shahbaz as chief minister of Punjab and to reinstate Chief Justice Mohammad Chaudhry. Mr. Zardari backed down on both counts.

Taliban's religious fanatics, meanwhile, continue to gnaw at Pakistan's body politic, much the way they did in Iran before the ayatollahs overthrew the Shah of Iran 30 years ago.

Is Pakistan headed down a one-way street towards disaster - not only for itself but for us too?  It sure looks that way.

Would this have happened if Pervez Musharraf, warts and all, had remained in power?  That's a question no one can answer.  But we can note that, while he was in power, the taliban was at least somewhat repressed.  And now that Zardari has replaced him, the taliban seems to be flourishing.

It is terribly troubling, but (said with the fervent hope that I am wrong) I have no good reason to think President Obama can do a thing about this.  I have no good reason to think he is up to accomplishing anything at all.  He is in way too far over his head.

Pakistan cannot be solved with a winning smile and a well-functioning teleprompter.


Ken Berwitz

Here is a terrific piece on the breathtakingly fraudulent claims by Nancy Pelosi and other high ranking Democrats that they did not know about waterboarding or other "enhanced interrogation techniques".  It is written by Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal, and I post it without any further comment - because it doesn't need any.

The Politics of Liberal Amnesia

Nancy Pelosi is "pushing back" against charges that she was aware of -- and acquiesced in -- the CIA's harsh interrogations of terrorist detainees nearly from the moment the practice began, reports the Politico Web site. Maybe she's suffering from amnesia.

[Global View] AP

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Maybe, for instance, the speaker doesn't remember that in September 2002, as ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, she was one of four members of Congress who were briefed by the CIA about the interrogation methods the agency was using on leading detainees. "For more than an hour," the Washington Post reported in 2007, "the bipartisan group . . . was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

"Among the techniques described," the story continued, "was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder."

Or maybe the speaker never heard what some of her Democratic colleagues were saying about legal niceties getting in the way of an effective counterterrorism strategy.

"Unfortunately, we are not living in times in which lawyers can say no to an operation just to play it safe," said Democrat Bob Graham, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during the 2002 confirmation hearing of Scott Muller to be the CIA's general counsel. "We need excellent, aggressive lawyers who give sound, accurate legal advice, not lawyers who say no to an otherwise legal opinion just because it is easier to put on the brakes."

Or maybe the speaker forgot that after 9/11, the operative question among Americans, including various media paladins, wasn't whether the Bush administration had gone overboard. On the contrary:

"I asked the president whether he and the country had done enough for the war on terror," writes Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward in his book "Bush at War." "The possibility of another major attack still loomed. . . . Was it not possible that he had undermobilized given the threat and the devastation of September 11?" (My emphases.)

Or maybe the speaker missed what former CIA Director (and Bill Clinton appointee) George Tenet writes in his memoir, "At the Center of the Storm," about the CIA interrogation of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed:

"I believe none of these successes [in foiling terrorist plots] would have happened if we had had to treat KSM like a white-collar criminal -- read him his Miranda rights and get him a lawyer who surely would have insisted his client simply shut up. In his initial interrogation by CIA officers, KSM was defiant. 'I'll talk to you guys,' he said, 'after I get to New York and see my lawyer.' Apparently he thought he would be immediately shipped to the United States and indicted in the Southern District of New York. Had that happened, I am confident that we would have obtained none of the information he had in his head about imminent threats to the American people."

Mr. Tenet continues: "From our interrogation of KSM and other senior al Qaeda members . . . we learned many things -- not just tactical information leading to the next capture. For example, more than 20 plots had been put in motion by al Qaeda against U.S. infrastructure targets, including communications nodes, nuclear power plants, dams, bridges and tunnels."

Maybe, too, the speaker no longer recalls what she knew, and when, about the Bush administration's other much-reviled counterterrorist program, the warrantless wiretaps.

"Within weeks of the program's inception," writes Mr. Tenet, "senior congressional leaders were called to the White House and briefed on it. . . . At one point in 2004 there was even a discussion with the congressional leadership in the White House Situation Room with regard to whether new legislation should be introduced to amend the FISA statute, to put the program on a broader legal foundation. The view that day on the part of members of Congress was that this could not be done without jeopardizing the program."

Maybe, finally, the speaker has forgotten the role that previous grand congressional inquisitions played in gutting U.S. intelligence.

"After the Watergate era," the bipartisan 9/11 Commission reported, "Congress established oversight committees to ensure that the CIA did not undertake covert action contrary to basic American law. . . . During the 1990s, tension sometimes arose, as it did in the effort against al Qaeda, between policy makers who wanted the CIA to undertake more aggressive covert action and wary CIA leaders who counseled prudence and making sure that the legal basis and presidential authorization for their actions were undeniably clear."

The speaker and her partisans are the current beneficiaries of this politics of amnesia. It won't be so forever. And when the time comes to pay the price for their forgetfulness, it will not be small.



Ken Berwitz

Yesterday I blogged that Democrats were trying to blame swine flu on Republicans (hard to believe, but they really were).  The rationale was that, since every Republican house member and all but 3 Republican senators voted against the "stimulus package", which contained money related to pandemic events, it must therefore mean they are responsible if there is a potentially pandemic event.

Well, read this blog by Moe Lane of www.redstate.com - and definitely watch the 16 second video of Chuck Schumer (who, the last time I checked was a Democratic senator).  It will give you some insight into who really was against that money for pandemic funding:


(For those who cant see it: it shows Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer bragging about cutting out the very funding that a good number of ostensibly-unrelated Left-bloggers and writers are trying to pin on the GOP, in the person of Senator Susan Collins.  And never mind the fact that the cutting was done as a spectacularly unsuccessful attempt to bribe the GOP into signing on to the Democrats debt bill; or that it was an incredibly tacky unsuccessful bribe in the first place.  Reality-based thinking is somewhat flexible for the Online Left.)

Yes, neither did I.  Even the ones that arent overtly obediently writing whatever they get told to write are busy with their uncritical willingness to accept Democratic talking points as gospel truth (as if its our fault that it takes a Cabinet appointment to make a Democrat pay his taxes).  So its almost certainly foolish to expect that the dogs linked above will even dare bark at their masters.  Never a good idea to make those who feed you angry, right?

Anyway, see Michelle Malkin, Don Surber, Protein Wisdom, The Sundries Shack, Legal Insurrection, Q & O, AoSHQ, Hot Air, and my unworthy self for more details of what is proving to be all the evidence that you need that not only is the Left-sphere being fed its points: its being fed its points sloppily.  Frankly, any of the above could have done a better hit job, even if you assume (as well you should) that wed be intending to sabotage it

Moe Lane


This is so blatant that even mainstream media may be forced to talk about it.  In any event, if I were a  Democratic strategist I would think twice, then twice again, before using the pandemic attack on Republicans anymore.

What's that saying about throwing stones if you live in a glass house?


Ken Berwitz

Here, courtesy of Canada's National Post, is an excellent commentary by Pierre Poilievre, parliamentary secretary to Canada's Prime Minister, on why Canada was right to boycott the second "UN anti-racism conference", also known as "Durban II" (though it actually was held in Geneva Switzerland).  The bold print is mine:

Pierre Poilievre: Canada vindicated at Durban II

Posted: April 28, 2009, 7:30 AM by NP Editor

We Canadians are often too polite to say, I told you so. But 16 months after we told the world that the Durban anti-racism conference was anything but, we have been vindicated. Canada was the first nation to pull out of the Durban II conference and to cut off funds for NGO participation. Countries like Italy, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Israel and the United States of America followed us. Many other nations later walked out of the conference when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad poured verbal acid all over Israel, the United States and Europe.

As Ahmadinejad was speaking in Geneva, I too was giving a speech in the same city at a true anti-racism conference organized to protest against the Iranian President and Durban II in general. UN Watch, the invaluable NGO, helped to host the event, which included presentations by Harvard legal scholar Alan Dershowitz and legendary soviet prison camp survivor Natan Sharansky. Everyone at the meeting praised Canada and Prime Minister Stephen Harper for leading the world in staying away from Durban II.

As a prescient lead-up to the conference, I joined the International March of the Living Mission in Poland, where we visited the remains of Auschwitz and Birkenau, two of the most infamous Nazi death camps. Thousands of students marched through the camps commemorating victims of the Holocaust and celebrating its survivors.

As the tyrant from Tehran took to the stage at the United Nations, I was reminded of the importance of reading history so as not to repeat it. Our experience with Durban II can teach Canadians two lessons.

First, the best way to support the UN is to insist that it live up to its own ideals. The world bodys Universal Declaration of Human Rights offers basic standards of liberty that all its member states should and must achieve. Thats what makes Durban II so completely tragic. Here is a UN institution reduced to little more than a soapbox for those who would demonize the one state in the Middle East that practises what the declaration preaches.

As Professor Dershowitz told me in Geneva, millions have died because the obsession with Israel has distracted the world from real atrocities Cambodia, Rwanda and Darfur all come to mind. Imagine the lives we might have saved if the world had appropriated as much energy to these and other catastrophes as it has devoted to bashing Israel.

The second lesson is that leading can be lonely. When Canada first pulled out of Durban II, we were alone. When Canada first cut off aid to Hamas, we were alone. But others later followed, because we were right. Now would be the worst time for Canada to return to the mushy middle, where we follow the pack, as we did all too often in the past. You have enemies? Good, said Winston Churchill. That means youve stood up for something in your life.
We should continue to march in the right direction, at the front of a growing parade.

Could this have been said any better?  I don't think so.

Apart from (understandably) demonstrating a healthy dose of national pride, Mr. Poilievre has provided us with a crystal-clear blueprint of what is wrong with the UN and how it should be performing if it wants to live up to its avowed reason to exist.

Is anyone listening over there?  Lamentably, the answer is almost certainly no.


Ken Berwitz

Ken Berwitz

Can this get any stupider?

Air Force 1 (one of the Air Force 1 planes to be exact, there are more than one) flew low, almost down to building level, in lower Manhattan yesterday -- for no reason other than to take some PR pictures.

But the geniuses performing this ridiculous, wasteful excercise in absolute nothingness didn't bother to advice the public about it.  They didn't even mention it to NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, only to one of his underlings (who, incredibly, didn't bother to pass it along to the Mayor).

The New York Post has the specifics:




"Air Farce One" played out over lower Manhattan yesterday -- in a terrifyingly bizarre military photo op that sent office workers fleeing from their buildings fearing a new 9/11-type attack.

But it turned out that the backup Air Force One jet and the fighter that appeared to be pursuing it only 1,000 feet above Ground Zero were staging the spectacle to get publicity shots of the presidential plane with a New York backdrop.

"We all ran to the window, and I thought, that's it, we're all dead," said Chris Biancamano, 36, who works at a brokerage in Jersey City. "It brought back all the memories of 9/11. I said, 'I have to get out of here now!' "

Have Photos of the Stunt? E-mail them to photo@nypost.com or Upload Them


The planes flew over the Verrazano Bridge, buzzed Lady Liberty's left ear, continued up the Hudson past Jersey City and then circled back toward Staten Island, federal officials said. The jets then completed two more loops as photographers aboard the F-16 took the world's most expensive snapshots.

Although the Air Force had permission for the 10 a.m. flyover, no one bothered to warn the people on the ground, and as the two jets hurtled toward lower Manhattan, many mistook Obama's plane for Osama's.

President Obama himself was not in the plane at the time, but the 747 flew so low that New Yorkers had no trouble reading the aircraft's insignia.

Dominick Caglioti, who works at the Mercantile Exchange in lower Manhattan, thought the planes were headed straight for his window. After learning it was all a photo op, he fumed.

"It's so stupid because they tell you about every fire drill, but they didn't tell us about this," he said.

Jillian Pizzarello, who also works at the Mercantile Exchange, said, "You don't do this to people down here after all we have been through."

Thousands of people were evacuated from buildings on both sides of the Hudson during the half-hour episode.

Federal aviation officials had notified Mayor Bloomberg's office -- but not the mayor himself -- and the NYPD last week. But officials were given clear instructions not to share the classified mission with the public, sources said.

NYPD brass told 911 operators in advance to explain to callers that the planes -- which came within 500 feet of the Statue of Liberty's torch -- were conducting an "authorized" military operation.

The only relatively high-ranking person in the Bloomberg administration told of the plan was Marc Mugnos, the director of operations in the Office of Citywide Event Coordination -- a man normally charged with approving street fairs, sources said.

Bloomberg said he never received word of the plans, and he was "furious."

"Why the Defense Department wanted to do a photo op right around the site of the World Trade Center catastrophe de fies imagination," he said. "Poor judgment would be a nice way to phrase it. Had I known about it I would have called them right away and asked them not to." Mugnos was reprimanded for failing to notify the mayor, a source said.

It's unclear how much the stunt cost taxpayers, but officials said earlier this year that flying Air Force One comes with a $40,000-per-hour price tag.

At first, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs dismissed complaints and said he had no knowledge of the flyover.

"I was working on other things. You might be surprised to know I don't know every movement of Air Force One or what happens to it," he said.

But Louis Caldera, director of the White House Military Office, later said he approved the mission.

"I take responsibility for that decision. While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it's clear that the mission created confusion and disruption," he said. "I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused."

Obama did not know of the elaborate plans for the photos.

"When he found out, he was absolutely furious," a White House aide told The Post.

The new photo of the plane with the Statue of Liberty was to replace the current publicity shot of Air Force One above Mount Rushmore.

Ok, let's be fair:  I am certain that President Obama, personally, didn't have anything to do with this, or even any knowledge of it. 

That said, however, could this have been any dumber?  Did these people not realize what a panic it would cause in New York City? Do they own cerebrums?  If so, why? 

Could Presidential Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, in particular, sound more inept and ridiculous?  Is his version of "How should I know?" supposed to be acceptable?

Really, who is running this show - at the White House and in the Mayor's office?  Moe, Larry, Curly or Shemp?


UPDATE:  President Obama has apologized for this fiasco -- despite the fact that (I am certain) he, personally, had nothing to do with it.  In other words, he was stuck with having to make that apology because of the stupidity of others.  I guarantee they will hear about it from him....and they won't like what he has to say.

FURTHER UDATE:  We now have an estimate of how much the Air Force 1 fiasco cost taxpayers.  It is about $335,000.  A third of a million dollars spent to scare the excrement out of people in New York and New Jersey.  And why?  So the Obama administration could have updated photos of something that could have been "photoshopped" for ten bucks. 

Thank you, oh guardians of our revenues. 


free` This is just one more indication that these people don't take what happened on 9-11-2001 very seriously. (04/28/09)


Ken Berwitz

Arlen Specter, March 17th 2009:

"[Democrats] are trying very hard for the 60th vote. Got to give them credit for trying. But the answer is no.

"Im not going to discuss private talks I had with other people who may or may not be considered influential. But since those three people are in the public domain, I think it is appropriative to respond to those questions.

"I am staying a Republican because I think I have an important role, a more important role, to play there. The United States very desperately needs a two-party system. Thats the basis of politics in America. Im afraid we are becoming a one-party system, with Republicans becoming just a regional party with so little representation of the northeast or in the middle atlantic. I think as a governmental matter, it is very important to have a check and balance. Thats a very important principle in the operation of our government. In the constitution on Separation of powers."

Arlen Specter, April 28th 2009:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Veteran Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter switched from the Republican to the Democratic Party on Tuesday, saying he has found himself increasingly "at odds with the Republican philosophy."

"This is a painful decision. I know I'm disappointing many of my colleagues," he said at a news conference announcing the move. "The disappointment runs in both directions.

"I'm putting principle at the top of the list," he added.

I am assuming you don't need me to come to a conclusion about Mr. Specter.



Ken Berwitz

James Kirchick of the New Republic has written a genuinely thought-provoking column in today's Los Angeles Times.  It discusses the medium and long term effect of President Obama's A.D. (Apology Diplomacy) as well as his amazingly naive view that by justt being nice he will persuade very bad people be nice too.

Here it is:

Squanderer in chief

By James Kirchick
April 28, 2009
At a stop on his grand global apology tour this spring, President Obama was asked by a reporter in France if he believed in "American exceptionalism." This is the notion that our history as the world's oldest democracy, our immigrant founding and our devotion to liberty endow the United States with a unique, providential role in world affairs.

Rather than endorse the proposition -- as every president in recent memory has done one way or another -- Obama offered a strange response: "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism." This is impossible. If all countries are "exceptional," then none are, and to claim otherwise robs the word, and the idea of American exceptionalism, of any meaning. Besides, American exceptionalism is demonstrable -- Cuban journalists, Chinese political dissidents, Eastern Europeans once again living in the shadow of a belligerent Russia and, yes, even some Brits and Greeks look toward the U.S. and nowhere else to defend freedom.

Viewed within the context of the first 100 days of his presidency, Obama's nonsensical statement is part of a disturbing pattern. Since swearing the oath of office, our president has traveled the world criticizing his predecessor, confessing America's supposed sins and otherwise flagellating the nation he leads on the altar of international "public opinion."

Obama delivered his first collective mea culpa on our behalf in an interview with the Arab Al Arabiya television network, in which he said that he hoped to "restore" the "same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago." (Would that be when Iranian revolutionaries held our embassy hostage for 444 days?) Obama neglected to identify what exactly had caused the rift between the United States and the "Muslim world," leaving his audience to believe that Islamic radicalism is as much our fault as it is of the Islamic radicals themselves.
But that was a mild beginning. Obama waited to ramp up the apologetics until his first trip overseas. In Strasbourg, France, he said the United States had "failed to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world" and that "there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive." Never mind the questionable basis of these statements (even if Europe played a "leading role in the world," which it hasn't since nearly destroying itself 60 years ago, how have Americans "failed to appreciate" it?). More troubling was the impropriety of Obama's willingness to attack President George W. Bush in an obvious gambit to curry favor with Europeans.

Not content with faulting Americans for their arrogance (in France, no less!), Obama delivered a speech in Prague days later where he offered a not-so-subtle apology for America's use of nuclear weapons in World War II. "As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act" in furtherance of total disarmament, he said.

Yet the use of the atomic bomb in ending the war with Japan saved hundreds of thousands of lives, and America's possession of nuclear weapons prevented the Cold War from becoming bloodier. More unsettling, however, was the implication that the U.S., and not regimes that have illicitly sought such technology, is at fault for nuclear proliferation.

Obama apologized some more in Turkey. "I know that the trust that binds us has been strained, and I know that strain is shared in many places where the Muslim faith is practiced. Let me say this as clearly as I can: The United States is not at war with Islam."

Here, Obama seamlessly joined the Bush administration's irritation at Ankara's refusal to allow American troops' passage to Iraq with the bogus claim that the United States has, until Obama's presence in the White House, been "at war with Islam," an assertion that essentially (and falsely) blames Bush for declaring such a war.

When not establishing false premises about the previous administration (the easier to glorify his own) or apologizing for his country, Obama has shown unusual deference to autocrats. At the Summit of the Americas, he calmly sat through a 50-minute anti-American tirade by the communist leader of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, and was disturbingly ebullient in glad-handing Venezuelan autocrat Hugo Chavez. There's nothing wrong with the president participating in a multilateral summit where criticism, even egregiously unfair criticism, of the U.S. is expressed. But if he can sit and take verbal abuse from Latin American demagogues, then surely speaking a little truth in response to their lies is appropriate.

It was plenty controversial when, years into his ex-presidency, Jimmy Carter publicized his critique of U.S. policy by meeting with hostile governments to conduct freelance diplomacy. In 1994, Carter traveled to North Korea, called its then-dictator, Kim Il Sung, a "vigorous and intelligent" man, and took the Clinton administration by surprise, negotiating a deal empowering Kim to continue his nascent nuclear program. But Carter at least waited until he left the White House before denigrating his country.

The ill effects of Obama's obsequious behavior will not be immediate. His friendly handshake with Chavez will not suddenly lead to the closing of more opposition radio stations in Venezuela, nor will his bemoaning American arrogance in Europe lead to more Russian aggression tomorrow.

But Obama's fecklessness emboldens our adversaries and discourages advocates of liberty around the world. The consequences will be felt in damage to American prestige. As much as liberals like to claim that Bush "squandered" America's reputation, Obama is doubling that offense by setting up his country -- rhetorically and materially -- to be overtaken by other powers on the international stage. He is paving the way for America's decline.

James Kirchick is an assistant editor of the New Republic.

Do you really want a President who is working to end the United States' status as a world superpower and devolve us into one of the pack - a contrite, apologetic one at that?

Well, if that's what you do want, you apparently have it.  And if you don't want it?  Sorry, you've got it anyway.

To quote (almost) that TV show from the 70's, "Welcome Back, Carter"


Ken Berwitz

Arlen Specter, the long-time Republican senator from Pennsylvania, has announced he is switching parties and will now be a Democrat.

Some will hail this switch as a blow for the Democratic, thus correct, side of things.  Some will say he was a RINO (Republican In Name Only) who mostly took the Democratic side for years, so this is just a formalizing of reality.  And some will say it has less to do with party preference than it does with the fact that he probably could not win a Republican primary against former congressperson Pat Toomey, who nearly beat him in 2004.

But one meaning is definite:  assuming that al franken is declared the senator from Minnesota (which, while not guaranteed, appears to be very likely) it will mean that, until the year 2010, Democrats will have a "supermajority" of 60 senators.  That, in turn, means that as long as they all stay party-loyal it doesn't much matter what Republicans say or do.  There will effectively be one-party governance.

If you think this is good, congratulations.  You got what you want.

Conversely, if you like two parties having a say in things, my condolences (and you can wish me the same, since I agree with you). 

This is truly a dangerous time for us -- which we, as voters, have brought on ourselves.

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