If there was ever a “nation” in the ordinary meaning comprising the Islamic State it is unquestionably moribund. The area reportedly controlled by the terrorist organization remains for the time down to one square kilometer, according to some reports less than six hundred meters square in Baghuz.
What actually has so far saved the jihadists from annihilation was that they interspersed themselves among civilian human-shields while Kurdish forces and allies exercise pause to protect the innocent. Thus remains the glory of the Caliphate, hiding among women and children to save itself.
President Donald Trump attacked his own intelligence chiefs today after they contradicted his statements about the status of threats posed by Iran, North Korea and other countries. Trump called the intelligence chiefs “wrong” and “passive and naive.” He also said that these seasoned intelligence officials might need to go back to school. It is worth noting that the testimony of these officials were not only quite measured but widely shared by experts in the field.
In his signature fashion, President Donald Trump on Wednesday embraced the criticism of the Democrats and said that his wall is “medieval” but works. Last night, the public saw both the President and the Democrats announce that they will not yield an inch as the country continues what will soon become the longest government shutdown in history. Lingering in the background is the threat of a presidential declaration of emergency — followed by a unilateral order to start to build the wall with unobligated funds. If so, the White House needs to guarantee that it will not repeat the grossly negligent performance of its first travel ban roll out. Trump reportedly stormed out of a meeting with Democrats in the afternoon.
This week I published a column on how the Democratic Party seems to have jettisoned many of its defining values to simply become the anti-Trump party. The best example of that transformation is the automatic opposition to Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria and other countries. At the same time, liberal media outlets like CNN and MSNBC have been airing continual experts denouncing the “hasty” withdrawal. Now veteran NBC award-winning journalist William Arkin has resigned in protest of what he says is the unrelenting support of the network for endless wars. He notes that the anti-Trump agenda at the network has overwhelmed what used to be critical coverage of “the machine of perpetual war acceptance and conventional wisdom to challenge Hillary Clinton’s hawkishness.” Now the reflective anti-Trump response at the network has overwhelmed all such considerations, according to Arkin. While Arkin calls Trump “an ignorant and incompetent impostor,” he cites the transformation of NBC into an opposition network as the main reason for his departure.
After thousands of fatalities to U.S. personnel and allies and hundreds of billions of dollars, the Taliban now controls more of Afghanistan than at any point since 2001 . . . that the momentum seems to favor the Taliban. The government controls only 55 percent of the country. One can only wonder at the problems in this country that could have been addressed by hundreds of billions of dollars but the thousands lost and wounded are no abstraction.
Day Four of our trip to Hawaii started early with a trip to the Diamond Head crater. This was my second hike up the crater, but the first such venture for the family. We then had a great lunch at Duke’s restaurant in Waikiki and journeyed on to Pearl Harbor. We finished the day with an evening dip back on the North Shore. It felt wonderfully decadent. Continue reading “Day 4: From Diamond Head To Pearl Harbor”→
The University of Exeter has had the embarrassing task for apologizing for its distribution of an inspiration quote to students that “One cannot permit unique opportunities to slip by for the sake of trifles.” The problem is that the quote is from General Erwin Rommel. What should be the most alarming aspect of this story is not the use of the Rommel quote but that the university personnel did not know who the “Desert Fox” was. Continue reading “University of Exeter Apologizes For Use of Inspirational Quote From Erwin Rommel”→
Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the recent Senate hearing (in which I testified) on the proposed new AUMF legislation. In the last couple days, an open battle erupted between Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., South Carolina) and Sen. Rand Paul (R., Kentucky) after Graham called for the addition of North Korea among the ever changing list of countries. Paul called him “a danger to the country.”
West Point graduate and Army infantry officer Spenser Rapone has been drummed out of the military after receiving an “other than honorable discharge” from the military. He caused a stir with a posted photo of his West Point cap with the words “Communism will win” written inside. He also displayed a Che Guevara T-shirt underneath his uniform jacket. Rapone is clearly a dedicated socialist, but the action raises the issue of whether being a communist or socialist is disqualifying. His removal is widely tied to a letter sent by Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fl.). Rapone is scheduled to be a featured speaker at the conference “Socialism 2018” in Chicago this year.
The State Department was eager to brush over miffed feelings connected to the G-7 meeting, particularly with Germany. Perhaps a bit too eager. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert was striving to list examples of our close historical relationship and included the D-Day invasion. It is true that that was a key moment in our “relationship” but it was hardly a positive one.
I will be testifying today in the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management. The hearing is entitled “War Powers and the Effects of Unauthorized Military Engagements on Federal Spending” and will address the new proposed Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) proposed by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Tim Kaine (D-VA). As my testimony below discusses, the new legislation would represent an unprecedented change in the law governing war powers. The new AUMF amounts to a statutory revision of one of the most defining elements of the United States Constitution. Putting aside the constitutionality of such a change absent a formal amendment, the proposed legislation completes a long history of this body abdicating its core responsibilities over the declaration of war. Continue reading “Turley To Testify On War Powers In Senate Today”→
While people of good faith can still debate whether Hillary Clinton and her staff received considerably deference in the criminal investigation into the email scandal, there remains troubling cases where the Justice Department has shown no such deference or restraint told less powerful individuals. The most glaring example was the ridiculous treatment of former Navy sailor Kristian Saucier. Saucier was sentenced to a year in prison for simply taking pictures on a nuclear submarine without any intention of compromising national security. Last week, President Donald Trump wisely granted a pardon to Saucier.
The United States has long rejected the holding of military parades featuring tanks, missiles and other heavy weapons as a symbol of authoritarian regimes like the Soviet Union, North Korea and other countries. We commonly have parades with marching military and military bands in Washington. What we generally have not done is add heavy weaponry — the signature display of so many of the history authoritarian enemies of this country (though, as some have pointed out on this blog, there have been exceptions where tanks or missiles were present in inaugurations). Trump’s desire for military equipment at the presidential inauguration was reportedly rejected by the Pentagon as running counter to the long traditions of the country. Now Trump appears to be close to getting such a parade, modeled on the Bastille Day parade. A military official told The Washington Post is quoted as saying“The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France.” (The current results show 77 percent against such parades with around 800 polled. The Army-Navy Times is reported opposition at 89 percent). Opposition is also coming from Republicans who are calling it “cheesy” and “wasteful.” The Navy Seal who killed Osama Bin Laden has called it “third world bulls**t.”
Ironically, as many on this blog know, I am a military history buff and love to review both vintage and modern weaponry. However, I like our tradition in not holding such military parades. Our military has long maintained its apolitical and professional distance in our system. We celebrate and honor our military but do not use heavy weapons as props. We also avoid the high costs associated with such parades. However, people of good faith can disagree and I wanted to ask the blog about the consensus (if any) on this issue below.