Boom! Justice Department demolishes case against Trump order

James Robart, the U.S. district judge in Washington State, offered little explanation for his decision to stop President Trump’s executive order temporarily suspending non-American entry from seven terror-plagued countries. Robart simply declared his belief that Washington State, which in its lawsuit against Trump argued that the order is both illegal and unconstitutional, would likely win the case when it is tried.

 

Justice Department demolishes case against Trump order

By BYRON YORK (@BYRONYORK) • 2/5/17 7:31 PM

James Robart, the U.S. district judge in Washington State, offered little explanation for his decision to stop President Trump’s executive order temporarily suspending non-American entry from seven terror-plagued countries. Robart simply declared his belief that Washington State, which in its lawsuit against Trump argued that the order is both illegal and unconstitutional, would likely win the case when it is tried.

Now the government has answered Robart, and unlike the judge, Justice Department lawyers have produced a point-by-point demolition of Washington State’s claims. Indeed, for all except the most partisan, it is likely impossible to read the Washington State lawsuit, plus Robart’s brief comments and writing on the matter, plus the Justice Department’s response, and not come away with the conclusion that the Trump order is on sound legal and constitutional ground.

Beginning with the big picture, the Justice Department argued that Robart’s restraining order violates the separation of powers, encroaches on the president’s constitutional and legal authority in the areas of foreign affairs, national security, and immigration, and “second-guesses the president’s national security judgment” about risks faced by the United States.

Indeed, in court last week, Robart suggested that he, Robart, knows as much, or perhaps more, than the president about the current state of the terrorist threat in Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and other violence-plagued countries. In an exchange with Justice Department lawyer Michelle Bennett, Robart asked, “How many arrests have there been of foreign nationals for those seven countries since 9/11?”

“Your Honor, I don’t have that information,” said Bennett.

“Let me tell you,” said Robart. “The answer to that is none, as best I can tell. So, I mean, you’re here arguing on behalf of someone [President Trump] that says: We have to protect the United States from these individuals coming from these countries, and there’s no support for that.”

Perhaps Robart has been briefed by the intelligence community on conditions in Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and the rest. Perhaps Robart has received the President’s Daily Brief. Perhaps not. In any event, the Justice Department argued — reasonably but not successfully — that it is the president, and not a U.S. District Court judge in the Western District of Washington State, who has the knowledge and the authority to make such decisions.

“Your Honor, I think the point is that because this is a question of foreign affairs, because this is an area where Congress has delegated authority to the president to make these determinations, it’s the president that gets to make the determinations,” Bennett said. “And the court doesn’t have authority to look behind those determinations.”

Robart rejected that position outright. Later, in its emergency brief filed Saturday night with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, the government argued that a U.S. District Court judge has no legal right to stop a presidential action in which the president exercised his own constitutional power to conduct foreign policy, as well as power delegated by him to Congress in the area of immigration. The political branches of government have plenary authority over those areas, the government argued, citing cases from 1950, 1952, and 1999:

Judicial second-guessing of the president’s determination that a temporary suspension of entry of certain classes of aliens was necessary at this time to protect national security would constitute an impermissible intrusion on the political branches’ plenary constitutional authority over foreign affairs, national security, and immigration. See, e.g., Harisiades v. Shaughnessy, 342 U.S. 580, 588-89 (1952) (“[A]ny policy toward aliens is vitally and intricately interwoven with contemporaneous policies in regard to the conduct of foreign relations, the war power, and the maintenance of a republican form of government.”). “[I]t is not within the province of any court, unless expressly authorized by law, to review the determination of the political branch of the Government to exclude a given alien.” Knauff, 338 U.S. at 543; see also INS v. Aguirre-Aguirre, 526 U.S. 415, 425 (1999).

In addition, the government argued, “courts are particularly ill-equipped to second-guess the president’s prospective judgment about future risks.” The reason: “Unlike the president, courts do not have access to classified information about the threat posed by terrorist organizations operating in particular nations, the efforts of those organizations to infiltrate the United States, or gaps in the vetting process.”

The government brief supported the president’s decision on both legal and constitutional grounds, starting with the law. And that starts with the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which states:

Whenever the president finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.

Quoting cases from 2016 and 1977, the Justice Department argued that, specifically in the context of immigration, “the Supreme Court has ‘long recognized the power to expel or exclude aliens as a fundamental sovereign attribute exercised by the government’s political departments largely immune from judicial control.’” “When Congress delegates this plenary power to the executive, the executive’s decisions are likewise generally shielded from administrative or judicial review.” BOOM!

Susan Rice: No regrets on Benghazi description.

Susan Rice: No regrets on Benghazi description

US National Security Advisor Susan Rice speaks about the situation in Syria at the New America Foundation in Washington,DC on September 9, 2013.  NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Sunday that she doesn’t regret blaming the September 2012 attack a U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, on a spontaneous protest against an anti-Islamic video when she first spoke publicly about the attack.

That description has since been undermined by evidence that the incident was not spontaneous, but the result of a concerted terrorist effort.

Republicans have spent over a year accusing the administration of orchestrating a cover-up to minimize the political fallout, but Rice has insisted she was simply voicing the best intelligence assessment available at the time.

“The information I provided, which I explained to you, was what we had at the moment. It could change. I commented that this was based on what we knew on that morning, was provided to me and my colleagues, and indeed, to Congress, by the intelligence community,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And that information turned out, in some respects, not to be 100 percent correct. But the notion that somehow I or anybody else in the administration misled the American people is patently false. And I think that that’s been amply demonstrated.”

Asked about Rice’s comments Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., one of the administration’s most persistent critics on the issue, said they left him “almost speechless.”

“She read talking points that we are now beginning to believe came from the White House, which were absolutely false,” McCain explained. “We now know that the director, that the C.I.A. station chief on the ground sent a message immediately saying, ‘Not spontaneous demonstration.’ And of course, the information was totally misleading, totally false. And for Susan Rice to say such a thing, I think it’s a little embarrassing, to tell you the truth.”

In her appearance on NBC, Rice also said the U.S. is making headway on finding those responsible for the attack.

“The investigation is ongoing, and it has indeed made progress,” she said. “But the point is we will get the perpetrators. And we will stay on it until this gets done.”

The fruits of epic incompetence.

obama epic incompetence

The fruits of epic incompetence

By , Published: September 12.

The president of the United States takes to the airwaves to urgently persuade the nation to pause before doing something it has no desire to do in the first place.Strange. And it gets stranger still. That “strike Syria, maybe” speech begins with a heart-rending account of children consigned to a terrible death by a monster dropping poison gas. It proceeds to explain why such behavior must be punished. It culminates with the argument that the proper response — the most effective way to uphold fundamental norms, indeed human decency — is a flea bite: something “limited,” “targeted” or, as so memorably described by Secretary of State John Kerry, “unbelievably small.”

Charles Krauthammer

The mind reels, but there’s more. We must respond — but not yet. This “Munich moment” (Kerry again) demands first a pause to find accommodation with that very same toxin-wielding monster, by way of negotiations with his equally cynical, often shirtless, Kremlin patron bearing promises.

The promise is to rid Syria of its chemical weapons. The negotiations are open-ended. Not a word from President Obama about any deadline or ultimatum. And utter passivity: Kerry said hours earlier that he awaited the Russian proposal.

Why? The administration claims (preposterously, but no matter) that Obama has been working on this idea with Putin at previous meetings. Moreover, the idea was first publicly enunciated by Kerry, even though his own State Department immediately walked it back as a slip of the tongue.

Take at face value Obama’s claim of authorship. Then why isn’t he taking ownership? Why isn’t he calling it the “U.S. proposal” and defining it? Why not issue a U.S. plan containing the precise demands, detailed timeline and threat of action should these conditions fail to be met?

Putin doesn’t care one way or the other about chemical weapons. Nor about dead Syrian children. Nor about international norms, parchment treaties and the other niceties of the liberal imagination.

He cares about power and he cares about keeping Bashar al-Assad in power. Assad is the key link in the anti-Western Shiite crescent stretching from Tehran through Damascus and Beirut to the Mediterranean — on which sits Tartus, Russia’s only military base outside the former Soviet Union. This axis frontally challenges the pro-American Sunni Arab Middle East (Jordan, Yemen, the Gulf Arabs, even the North African states), already terrified at the imminent emergence of a nuclear Iran.

At which point the Iran axis and its Russian patron would achieve dominance over the moderate Arab states, allowing Russia to supplant America as regional hegemon for the first time since Egypt switched to our side in the Cold War in 1972.

The hinge of the entire Russian strategy is saving the Assad regime. That’s the very purpose of the “Russian proposal.” Imagine that some supposed arms-control protocol is worked out. The inspectors have to be vetted by Assad, protected by Assad, convoyed by Assad, directed by Assad to every destination. Negotiation, inspection, identification, accounting, transport and safety would require constant cooperation with the regime, and thus acknowledgment of its sovereignty and legitimacy.

So much for Obama’s repeated insistence that Assad must go. Indeed, Putin has openly demandedthat any negotiation be conditioned on a U.S. commitment to forswear the use of force against Assad. On Thursday, Assad repeated that demand, warning that without an American pledge not to attack and not to arm the rebels, his government would agree to nothing.

This would abolish the very possibility of America tilting the order of battle in a Syrian war that Assad is now winning thanks to Russian arms, Iranian advisers and Lebanese Hezbollah shock troops. Putin thus assures the survival of his Syrian client and the continued ascendancy of the anti-Western Iranian bloc.

And what does America get? Obama saves face.

Some deal.

As for the peace process, it has about zero chance of disarming Damascus. We’ve spent nine years disarming an infinitely smaller arsenal in Libya — in conditions of peace — and we’re still finding undeclared stockpiles.

Yet consider what’s happened over the last month. Assad uses poison gas on civilians and is branded, by the United States above all, a war criminal. Putin, covering for the war criminal, is exposed, isolated, courting pariah status.

And now? Assad, far from receiving punishment of any kind, goes from monster to peace partner. Putin bestrides the world stage, playing dealmaker. He’s welcomed by America as a constructive partner. Now a world statesman, he takes to the New York Times to blame American interventionist arrogance — a.k.a. “American exceptionalism” — for inducing small states to acquire WMDs in the first place.

And Obama gets to slink away from a Syrian debacle of his own making. Such are the fruits of a diplomacy of epic incompetence.

‘Million Muslim March’ 2013 and ‘2 Million Bikers’ [VIDEO]: Washington D.C. rally expected on anniversary of September 11 attacks

VIDEO: MOTORCYCLES RUMBLE THROUGH ON THE WAY TO D.C. FOR 9/11 RALLY

Sep. 11, 2013 9:20am 

Editor’s note: This post is being updated throughout the day. Be sure to scroll to the bottom for the most recent videos, pictures, and information.

While the bikers heading to Washington, D.C., for the “2 Million Bikers to D.C.” rally to commemorate 9/11 (and counter the million Muslim march) aren’t expected into the nation’s capital until around 11 a.m., pictures and video are still surfacing of them making their way.

The local NBC station in D.C. says riders will be first hitting the area around 9 a.m. before reaching their ultimate destination a couple hours later.

We’ve compiled some of the preparation and early action below and will bring you more complete coverage from our reporters on the ground when they roll in:

This video was posted on YouTube of riders rolling down a highway — it’s unclear where it was taken:

WATE-TV in Tennessee has video of bikers from that area departing to join the rally:

WPMT-TV in Harrisburg, PA, chronicled a local group’s participation:

And WTOL-TV in Toledo, OH, did the same thing last week:

This video from Smithfield, NC, shows a group rolling through at night:

The event’s Facebook page posted a schedule:

Video of 2 million bikers to D.C. rally goers on their way to Washington

And organizers also posted some pictures of organizers firing up the crowd and  showing just some of the numerous motorcycles already lining up at a meeting point in Maryland:

Video of 2 million bikers to D.C. rally goers on their way to Washington

Video of 2 million bikers to D.C. rally goers on their way to Washington

Video of 2 million bikers to D.C. rally goers on their way to Washington

One Twitter user posted another picture showing the line outside the local bike show. She says the bikes are four to six wide:

Video of 2 million bikers to D.C. rally goers on their way to Washington

Another user posted a different angle:

Video of 2 million bikers to D.C. rally goers on their way to Washington

Belinda Bee, one of the rally’s co-organizers who told TheBlaze on Monday the story of the group being denied a permit by the Park Service, told her story again this morning on “Fox & Friends”:

Blaze reader Joe Roberts, who says he’s a retired Marine Corps master sergeant, sent these pictures in as he’s waiting to start his ride.

“I don’t think the progressives on the hill will be able to ignore this,” he says:

Video of 2 million bikers to D.C. rally goers on their way to Washington

Video of 2 million bikers to D.C. rally goers on their way to Washington

Video of 2 million bikers to D.C. rally goers on their way to Washington

Dick Uliano, whose Twitter profile says he’s a reporter for WTOP, sent out a message saying that there are “easily several thousand motorcycles” at the area he was stationed:

Video of 2 million bikers to D.C. rally goers on their way to Washington

He also sent out a picture as the kickstands came up and the riders began rolling:

Video of 2 million bikers to D.C. rally goers on their way to Washington

According to local outlet WTOP-RADIO, it appears the bikers may not be actually entering the capital as a massive group.

They reportedly will not go into D.C. as a large group.

“There are so many motorcycles that trying to go through Washington, D.C., would not have worked,” Eric Zern, a ride organizer from Hagerstown, MD, told the station.

Instead, the station says the group will travel one time on the Outer Loop of the Capital Beltway from Prince George’s County to Montgomery County and then into Virginia. They’ll then return to where they started, the Harley Davidson story in Fort Washington, MD.

However, individual riders can decide if they’d like to divert themselves into D.C.

You can try and capture the arrival via DC’s extensive traffic camera system.

In fact, one video posted to YouTube appears to have been taken from one of those cameras:

Other videos are surfacing as well claiming to show the bikers on the highway:

Other Must Read Stories:

Support for President Obama’s call for military airstrikes in Syria is sliding on Capitol HIll.

blog insert Jan 25

Support for President Obama’s call for military airstrikes in Syria is sliding on Capitol HIll.

WASHINGTON — President Obama’s push for congressional approval for military airstrikes in Syria ran aground Monday, forcing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to delay a procedural vote as opposition builds among senators in both parties.

Six senators, including five Republicans and one Democrat, announced Monday they would vote against a resolution authorizing the use of force — a strong indication that the administration’s efforts to build bipartisan support have been ineffective.

The Senate was scheduled to vote Wednesday on a procedural motion to begin formal debate on the resolution, but Reid announced late Monday the vote would be delayed in order to buy the president more time to make his case to senators and the public.

“What we need to do is make sure the president has the opportunity to speak to all 100 senators and all 300 million American people before we do this,” Reid said.

The delay also came amid reports that Russia was seeking a deal with Syria to dismantle its chemical weapons program. Obama said in television interviews Monday such a deal could circumvent the need for U.S. military intervention, but senators had not been briefed on the development and expressed skepticism.

“I have no idea what’s going on. It’d be great if the Russians could convince Assad to turn over his chemical weapons to the international community. That’d be a terrific outcome. I just am very dubious and skeptical,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Comments made Monday in London by Secretary of State John Kerry describing the military effort as “unbelievably small” also rankled lawmakers. Graham said Kerry “undercut everything the president has been doing for the last couple of days” to build support.

The rapid clip of senators announcing their opposition on Monday raised serious doubts that the president would be able to muster the necessary support in either the House or Senate. The GOP-led House is not likely to take up a resolution unless the Senate can pass it first. A final Senate vote was expected this weekend, but Reid’s decision to delay the formal debate puts the schedule in flux.

Five GOP Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, and Mike Enzi of Wyoming all announced opposition Monday, as did Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.

Briefings by top administration officials and a weekend conversation with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel were not enough to sway Alexander. “I see too much risk that the strike will do more harm than good by setting off a chain of consequences that could involve American fighting men and women in another long-term Middle East conflict,” he said.

Heitkamp was the latest in a string of Democratic senators from conservative states to come out in opposition, including Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark. Heitkamp and Manchin are working on an alternative resolution that would give the Assad government 45 days to sign an international chemical weapons ban and begin turning over its chemical weapons before authorizing U.S. military action.

Two Democratic senators, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, declared their support. However, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., who voted for the resolution in the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, cautioned Monday that he preferred pursuing diplomatic solutions.

The opposition underscored the uphill battle Obama faces on Capitol Hill to rally around his foreign policy agenda. The president will visit separately with Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans on Tuesday before his prime-time television address.

Graham, who supports the resolution, said he believed it could still pass the Senate: “If the president does a good job tomorrow night, yes.”

OBAMA REALLY IS A LEFT WING RADICAL

RADICAL

Obama’s Successful Foreign Failure

The president may look incompetent on Syria. But his behavior fits his strategy to weaken America abroad.

    By

  • NORMAN PODHORETZ

It is entirely understandable that Barack Obama’s way of dealing with Syria in recent weeks should have elicited responses ranging from puzzlement to disgust. Even members of his own party are despairingly echoing in private the public denunciations of him as “incompetent,” “bungling,” “feckless,” “amateurish” and “in over his head” coming from his political opponents on the right.

For how else to characterize a president who declares war against what he calls a great evil demanding immediate extirpation and in the next breath announces that he will postpone taking action for at least 10 days—and then goes off to play golf before embarking on a trip to another part of the world? As if this were not enough, he also assures the perpetrator of that great evil that the military action he will eventually take will last a very short time and will do hardly any damage. Unless, that is, he fails to get the unnecessary permission he has sought from Congress, in which case (according to an indiscreet member of his own staff) he might not take any military action after all.

Getty ImagesPresident Obama on Friday at the G-20 economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Summing up the net effect of all this, as astute a foreign observer as Conrad Black can flatly say that, “Not since the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, and before that the fall of France in 1940, has there been so swift an erosion of the world influence of a Great Power as we are witnessing with the United States.”

Yet if this is indeed the pass to which Mr. Obama has led us—and I think it is—let me suggest that it signifies not how incompetent and amateurish the president is, but how skillful. His foreign policy, far from a dismal failure, is a brilliant success as measured by what he intended all along to accomplish. The accomplishment would not have been possible if the intention had been too obvious. The skill lies in how effectively he has used rhetorical tricks to disguise it.

The key to understanding what Mr. Obama has pulled off is the astonishing statement he made in the week before being elected president: “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” To those of us who took this declaration seriously, it meant that Mr. Obama really was the left-wing radical he seemed to be, given his associations with the likes of the anti-American preacher Jeremiah Wright and the unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers, not to mention the intellectual influence over him of Saul Alinsky, the original “community organizer.”

So far as domestic affairs were concerned, it soon became clear—even to some of those who had persuaded themselves that Mr. Obama was a moderate and a pragmatist—that the fundamental transformation he had in mind was to turn this country into as close a replica of the social-democratic countries of Europe as the constraints of our political system allowed.

Since he had enough support for the policies that this objective entailed, those constraints were fairly loose, and so he only needed a minimum of rhetorical deception in pursuing it. All it took was to deny he was doing what he was doing by frequently singing the praises of the free-enterprise system he was assiduously working to undermine, by avoiding the word “socialism,” by invoking “fairness” as an overriding ideal and by playing on resentment of the “rich.”

But foreign policy was another matter. As a left-wing radical, Mr. Obama believed that the United States had almost always been a retrograde and destructive force in world affairs. Accordingly, the fundamental transformation he wished to achieve here was to reduce the country’s power and influence. And just as he had to fend off the still-toxic socialist label at home, so he had to take care not to be stuck with the equally toxic “isolationist” label abroad.

This he did by camouflaging his retreats from the responsibilities bred by foreign entanglements as a new form of “engagement.” At the same time, he relied on the war-weariness of the American people and the rise of isolationist sentiment (which, to be sure, dared not speak its name) on the left and right to get away with drastic cuts in the defense budget, with exiting entirely from Iraq and Afghanistan, and with “leading from behind” or using drones instead of troops whenever he was politically forced into military action.

The consequent erosion of American power was going very nicely when the unfortunately named Arab Spring presented the president with several juicy opportunities to speed up the process. First in Egypt, his incoherent moves resulted in a complete loss of American influence, and now, thanks to his handling of the Syrian crisis, he is bringing about a greater diminution of American power than he probably envisaged even in his wildest radical dreams.

For this fulfillment of his dearest political wishes, Mr. Obama is evidently willing to pay the price of a sullied reputation. In that sense, he is by his own lights sacrificing himself for what he imagines is the good of the nation of which he is the president, and also to the benefit of the world, of which he loves proclaiming himself a citizen.

The problem for Mr. Obama is that at least since the end of World War II, Americans have taken pride in being No. 1. Unless the American people have been as fundamentally transformed as their country is quickly becoming, America’s decline will not sit well. With more than three years in office to go, will Mr. Obama be willing and able to endure the continuing erosion of his popularity that will almost certainly come with the erosion of the country’s power and influence?

No doubt he will either deny that anything has gone wrong, or failing that, he will resort to his favorite tactic of blaming others—Congress or the Republicans or Rush Limbaugh. But what is also almost certain is that he will refuse to change course and do the things that will be necessary to restore U.S. power and influence.

And so we can only pray that the hole he will go on digging will not be too deep for his successor to pull us out, as Ronald Reagan managed to do when he followed a president into the White House whom Mr. Obama so uncannily resembles.

Mr. Podhoretz was the editor of Commentary from 1960-95. His most recent book is “Why Are Jews Liberals?” (Doubleday, 2009).

THE MILITARY IS EMBARRASSED AND DISMAYED BY OBAMA’S AMATEURISM.

TRAP BLOG

A war the Pentagon doesn’t want

By Robert H. Scales, Published: September 5

Robert H. Scales, a retired Army major general, is a former commandant of the U.S. Army War College.

The tapes tell the tale. Go back and look at images of our nation’s most senior soldier, Gen. Martin Dempsey, and his body language during Tuesday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on Syria. It’s pretty obvious that Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, doesn’t want this war. As Secretary of State John Kerry’s thundering voice and arm-waving redounded in rage against Bashar al-Assad’s atrocities, Dempseywas largely (and respectfully) silent.

Dempsey’s unspoken words reflect the opinions of most serving military leaders. By no means do I profess to speak on behalf of all of our men and women in uniform. But I can justifiably share the sentiments of those inside the Pentagon and elsewhere who write the plans and develop strategies for fighting our wars. After personal exchanges with dozens of active and retired soldiers in recent days, I feel confident that what follows represents the overwhelming opinion of serving professionals who have been intimate witnesses to the unfolding events that will lead the United States into its next war.

They are embarrassed to be associated with the amateurism of the Obama administration’s attempts to craft a plan that makes strategic sense. None of the White House staff has any experience in war or understands it. So far, at least, this path to war violates every principle of war, including the element of surprise, achieving mass and having a clearly defined and obtainable objective.
towel obama
They are repelled by the hypocrisy of a media blitz that warns against the return of Hitlerism but privately acknowledges that the motive for risking American lives is our “responsibility to protect” the world’s innocents. Prospective U.S. action in Syria is not about threats to American security. The U.S. military’s civilian masters privately are proud that they are motivated by guilt over slaughters in Rwanda, Sudan and Kosovo and not by any systemic threat to our country.They are outraged by the fact that what may happen is an act of war and a willingness to risk American lives to make up for a slip of the tongue about “red lines.” These acts would be for retribution and to restore the reputation of a president. Our serving professionals make the point that killing more Syrians won’t deter Iranian resolve to confront us. The Iranians have already gotten the message.Our people lament our loneliness.
Our senior soldiers take pride in their past commitments to fight alongside allies and within coalitions that shared our strategic goals. This war, however, will be ours alone.They are tired of wannabe soldiers who remain enamored of the lure of bloodless machine warfare. “Look,” one told me, “if you want to end this decisively, send in the troops and let them defeat the Syrian army. If the nation doesn’t think Syria is worth serious commitment, then leave them alone.” But they also warn that Syria is not Libya or Serbia. Perhaps the United States has become too used to fighting third-rate armies. As the Israelis learned in 1973, the Syrians are tough and mean-spirited killers with nothing to lose.Our military members understand and take seriously their oath to defend the constitutional authority of their civilian masters. They understand that the United States is the only liberal democracy that has never been ruled by its military. But today’s soldiers know war and resent civilian policymakers who want the military to fight a war that neither they nor their loved ones will experience firsthand.
Civilian control of the armed services doesn’t mean that civilians shouldn’t listen to those who have seen war. Our most respected soldier president, Dwight Eisenhower, possessed the gravitas and courage to say no to war eight times during his presidency. He ended the Korean War and refused to aid the French in Indochina; he said no to his former wartime friends Britain and France when they demanded U.S. participation in the capture of the Suez Canal. And he resisted liberal democrats who wanted to aid the newly formed nation of South Vietnam. We all know what happened after his successor ignored Eisenhower’s advice. My generation got to go to war.Over the past few days, the opinions of officers confiding in me have changed to some degree. Resignation seems to be creeping into their sense of outrage. One officer told me: “To hell with them. If this guy wants this war, then let him have it. Looks like no one will get hurt anyway.”Soon the military will salute respectfully and loose the hell of hundreds of cruise missiles in an effort that will, inevitably, kill a few of those we wish to protect. They will do it with all the professionalism and skill we expect from the world’s most proficient military. I wish Kerry would take a moment to look at the images from this week’s hearings before we go to war again.