To all the Fathers I would like to wish you all a Happy Fathers' Day. I was able to be home (albeit a day late) for Mother's Day, but was unable to do the same for this Holiday. Fathers and Mothers, the nuclear family, is important and I was truly blessed in my parents.
Thank you Dad for everything. I always called you Daddy Lecture and gave you hell, but it made me a better person. You instilled in me at an early age a Love of Country and History. I was privileged to be the recipient of countless family vacations not to the Beach or Amusement Parks, but battlefields and museums. While many kids my age went to "fun places", I was able to walk the hallowed ground of Shiloh, Gettysburg, Antietam, Yorktown, and Lexington. I was able to roam through countless museums filled with natural and man-made history (making the Night at the Museum a life-long dream). In many ways the instillation of those values is part of the reason I am where I am today. It is a tribute to your success that I am living those values you passed on to me. Thank you.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
I am a little late to the celebration, but I am celebrating nonetheless:
In Lebanon, Hizballah was handed an electoral defeat, despite their alliance with the Christian leader, GEN Auon. My Lebanese friends were delighted by the election results. When asked about GEN Auon, they could only shake their heads at his betrayal. They said that he was so eager to become President that he was willing to make a deal with the devil. Sadly, that isn’t uncommon, but their reaction expresses the bitter disappointment such a betrayal naturally produces. Yet, despite this alliance that for a time looked like it would emerge the victor; the pro-Western, pro-US government of Lebanon won. The Cedar Revolution continues. My friend could hardly contain his glee at the results and went on, “and now it will make things difficult in Tehran”.
It would seem that there is some difficulty for the Iranian Regime at this time, but with the future very much in doubt. Are we witnessing just another Prague Spring of 1968 or something more akin to 1989 across the former Eastern Bloc. Only Time will tell what the results will be.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
During down times during the work days the staff will occasionally congregate in an office, lean back in the chair, and talk. We don't necessarily talk about our day or sports, but the Global War on Terror, the future of Energy and the Environment, Economic Freedom, etc. Yesterday we were wondering if this is what a "Think Tank" does all day. If it is, we all agreed, it is the job we desire. An opportunity to lean back and be paid to talk about the world and ideas.
We had the conversation about the meaning of victory in the War on Terror. What I think very few Americans understand is that there won't be a "Mission Accomplished" moment in the Global War on Terror. While one can debate the correctness of former President Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech, it was for an event that perhaps had an actual end, the overthrow of Saddam. The Global War on Terror is a different animal entirely.
The Global War on Terror should properly be viewed as The Long War. It is a war whose end we won't perhaps see in our lifetime, yet it is a war that is certainly worth fighting. Bill Roggio maintains one of the best blogs on the internet at The Long War Journal. The blog is properly named and charts the long war (eight years so far) against Islamic (Takfiri/Salafist) Terrorism. His site doesn't just track the War in Afghanistan or Iraq against Al Qaeda and Shi'a Extremists, but also the War on Terror in the Horn of Africa, in the Maghreb (North Africa), Pakistan, and the Philippines. It is a site that merits one's time and attention because through it one can see just how GLOBAL the Global War on Terror is and has become.
But what is victory? Victory in Iraq was overthrowing Saddam - in that sense the Mission was accomplished. However, there is also more to Iraq that removing Saddam. Now we are both building the first attempt at a democratic nation in the Islamic Middle-East and defeating a violent terrorist network. Neither goal is easy and Congress, former President Bush, and President Obama understand that and have articulated that fact.
Yet when we leave, and the Bi-Lateral Security Agreement (SOFA) puts that end in site, is it over? The answer is no. In reality, we won't be able to judge Iraq a success or a failure in 2010. We won't be able to do it in 2011 or 2012. 2015 will be a stretch as well but by 2020 we might be able to formulate an initial judgment. Even then, as a war of ideas and for the very soul of a society, it will continue long after.
The American Civil War ended in 1865, yet one could certainly argue that victory really wasn't achieved (in that the Emancipation Proclamation made the war about slavery) until 1964, nearly 100 years afterwards. Others would argue that it wasn’t until 2008, when America elected her first Black President, that victory (equality, an idea) was truly achieved.
In many ways, that long view of history is the lens through which we must view the Global War on Terror. It is a war against a violent Takfiri/Salafist ideology within Islam that will take generations to defeat.
It is the Long War.
Monday, June 8, 2009
In recent weeks we've heard the Media lament President Obama's wise decision NOT to release any more photographs of Abu Ghraib and other possible cases of detainee abuse. I'm surprised the release was even considered in the first place, but ultimately, wisdom prevailed. Prime Minister Nouri Maliki also reportedly asked President Obama not to release the photographs and I imagine that request also played into the President's decision.
President Obama made an excellent decision. The Media (mainly MSNBC, that bastion of insanity) however decries this lack of transparency and calls for the pictures to be released. This is the same Media that can hardly find a good thing to say about the men and women of the US Military (Steven Colbert, FOX News, Lou Dobbs (though he can be kinda nutty on immigration), and a few others at ABC not withstanding). I was recently forwarded a prayer wheel that showed the real story of Iraq in pictures. These are the pictures that some apparently don't want people to see, they would characterize the men and women of the US Military not as monsters who revel in the torture and degradation of the Iraqi people but as upstanding human beings who care.
Friday, June 5, 2009
There are few military anniversaries that enjoy the universal recognition of "D-Day". Because of this universal recognition and its key role (from the Western perspective) in defeating Hitler's Germany, it is an accessible gateway to Military History and World War II.
The American War Effort during World War II epitomizes everything it means about being an American. It was a war fought for the Freedom of a Continent (even if that Freedom would take nearly fifty years for some parts of Central and Eastern Europe). It was fought by a fully mobilized American population whose single-minded goal was the defeat of Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany. It was fought by a strong-willed people who had the strength to endure defeat and face-down tremendous odds with the knowledge that the Tide Would Turn. World War II (and the Normandy Campaign) demonstrated the awesome power that the Arsenal of Freedom could bring to bear on an enemy when it was focused on a single aim.
Yet, it is difficult to look back on World War II and the Normandy Campaign and not feel a hint of Nostalgia for the past. The generation that fought World War II is rightly called the Greatest Generation. But America has come a long way from that generation. Could America fight World War II today? The answer I fear is no. If that is the answer, our apathy, our lack of national will, our lack of strength undermines all that "D-Day" embodies. We are in essence, a radically different country.
On this anniversary of D-Day, it is good and right to remember what that Generation did on the Beaches of Normandy and in the fields and in the air. But we should also resolve to try and imitate that Generation's noble example. We should strive to make ourselves worthy of their sacrifice and truly Thank them for their gift.
And on a side note, go watch the Longest Day, it is perhaps the greatest World War II movie ever made.