You say Thermopylae, I say Alamo

That roll-call in the sky.

A few observations on the battle for America’s future as it shapes up heading for 1 October, or perhaps 17 October, or perhaps a date after that.

1.  Allen West invoked Thermopylae, Leonidas, and the 300 Spartans as an analogy to where we are after Ted Cruz’s stand in the Senate this week.  Cruz being from Texas, I was going to invoke the Alamo, Colonel Travis, and the 180-some who died with him in the siege there.  But OK.

As every school kid used to know, Thermopylae and the Alamo both mattered, even though both battles were lost by their tiny contingents of doughty defenders.  The pass at Thermopylae was well-chosen terrain for a defending force as small as the Spartans’; the Alamo was poorly chosen for making a defensive stand against a much superior Mexican army.  Both battles were, in any case, lost.  But Continue reading “You say Thermopylae, I say Alamo”

Why Ted Cruz speaks for me

Warriors versus wimps.

Ted Cruz and his allies get it.  They get that Americans can’t afford to have Obamacare implemented against our groaning, near-collapse finances.  They get that we are disgusted (and alarmed) at the idea of being the GOP’s economic attrition strategy for the 2014 election: the strategy that says, “Let things get as bad as they’re going to with Obamacare, and then people will finally blame the Democrats.”  The problem with that strategy is that someone has to pay the price for it – has to accept the financial losses, which for many people could be disastrous, even permanently life-changing – and that someone is us.

Cruz – and Mike Lee in the Senate, along with Matt Salmon (AZ) and others in the House – show that they get what the stakes are, Continue reading “Why Ted Cruz speaks for me”

Missile defense mash-up: Reagan’s vision derailed

Missile defense for them but not for us.

If you went strictly by the MSM reporting on the Defense Department’s recent announcement about missile defense, the thought in your head would be “we’re deploying more interceptor missiles because of North Korea.”

The “North Korea” deployment

What’s probably not in your head is the auxiliary details.  DOD has requested that funding for the additional deployments start in fiscal year 2014.  The deployments won’t start until after that.  Assuming DOD gets the funding, it will take until 2017 for the interceptors to be in place.  And the deployment, if it happens, will do no more than provide the ground-based interceptor baseline that was originally planned by the Bush II administration (44 interceptors), a baseline the Obama administration cut back to its current level (30 interceptors) in April 2009.

To put the last point another way: Continue reading “Missile defense mash-up: Reagan’s vision derailed”

Dead in the water: Obama’s military and the Iran nuclear threat

Promises we can’t keep.

Two to three years ago, the United States Department of Defense had enough military forces on station in, or readily deployable to, the Persian Gulf region (the “CENTCOM AOR” – area of responsibility – or Southwest Asia, as it is called in the military) to execute a limited strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities without asking Congress for special funding.  The military could have performed such an operation “out of hide,” as quickly and seamlessly as the president wanted it to.

Four to five years ago, moreover, the U.S. had the regional political capital to use our bases in the local nations (e.g., Qatar and Bahrain) to launch and direct such a strike campaign.

Both of these conditions have now changed. Continue reading “Dead in the water: Obama’s military and the Iran nuclear threat”

Obama and Israel: Community-organizing the planet?

Organize this.

A correspondent of mine expressed some surprise when it was announced yesterday that the new secretary of state, John Kerry, would not be visiting Israel prior to the visit next month of President Obama.

What this means to foreign-service hands is that there won’t be a ministerial-level sit-down in advance of the president’s trip.  The army of foreign-service specialists who negotiate for the U.S. and Israel won’t come up with serious negotiating points (or at least statements of common objectives) on topics like talks with the Palestinian Arabs, or the Iranian nuclear threat.  The president’s itinerary and official events will no doubt be planned thoroughly, but there is a big hole where the normal process of policy preparation would be.

The prospect of Obama’s visit producing a tangible Middle East-policy outcome is thus nil.  Appearances now suggest that the trip will basically be Continue reading “Obama and Israel: Community-organizing the planet?”