Mr. Obama’s War

Scattered among the first breaking news reports of the Fort Hood massacre were statements by FBI sources that there was no terrorist connection to Maj. Nidal Hasan’s jihadist murder of his fellow soldiers. Why?

Three days after the murders, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey told a CNN interviewer, “Our diversity, not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.” So the leader of our army believes that diversity is more important than protecting the lives of our troops? Why?

On Friday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the 9-11 plotters — including Khalid Sheik Muhammad, also the self-professed murderer of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl — will be moved to New York for trial in a civilian criminal court, though several other inmates at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba detention facility will be moved to the United States for trial by military commissions.  Why put some of these men on trial in civilian courts and others in military commissions?  

And why — now almost ninety days since Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s report requesting a new strategy and troop reinforcements for Afghanistan — has his “3 a.m. phone call” to the White House not been answered?

The answer is as clear as it is dangerous:  our president’s war plans are rooted in his — and his administration’s — naiveté and political correctness.  

About five weeks ago, I wrote that President Obama was stalling on Afghanistan because he didn’t want to commit to the long fight and the number of troops that Gen. McChrystal’s counterinsurgency strategy requires. Since then, leaks and trial balloons launched by the White House evidence support that precise judgment.

If we can win a counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan — which I doubt, because we are fighting the enemy’s proxies, not the enemies themselves — we would be fighting on Afghan soil not for years but decades. It would require an open-ended commitment which Obama will never make.

Obama will decide — eventually — on a “McChrystal Lite” strategy that will create the greatest danger to our troops while accomplishing the least.  And there will be an exit strategy announced to cover the president’s rear in the 2012 election.

There is no worse, no more immoral strategy than to commit too little, to resolve on irresolution which will cost the most American lives while accomplishing nothing that lasts past the moment we withdraw and — at the same time — leaves the nations that sponsor terrorism untouched.

To lead his politically-correct war, Mr. Obama’s team starts with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who gladly leads the president’s long-range plans to gut our defense capabilities. And, among many others of similar inclination, he has Gen. George Casey.

I first met Casey over dinner in his Baghdad quarters in December 2005.  He held court while the combatant commander — Lt. Gen. J. R. Vines — spoke frankly about the toughness of the fight.  This was before the February 2006 Samarra mosque bombing that inflamed the Sunni insurgency and turned Casey’s “train and build” strategy into a shambles.

When I next met Casey, it was in a private briefing for the military analysts group in the Pentagon just a short time, as I recall, after the mosque bombing.  When I asked him about a piece of important information I’d gleaned from sources, he asked me to not write about it, and I agreed.  I do not regret trusting him then, but I could not trust him now.

His comment on the Fort Hood massacre is well beyond political correctness: it is despicable.  He now believes that “diversity” is more important than protecting the lives of our troops at home and abroad.  Anyone who cares more about diversity than protecting the force from internal threats cannot be trusted to lead.  Casey should be removed forthwith.  

Since the Fort Hood massacre, a huge amount of information has come out about the perpetrator, Major Nidal Hasan. Too much to excuse the Pentagon from pursuing the tool of behavioral profiling.

We know now that Hasan was communicating with an Al-Quida-connected imam (of at least twenty e-mails Hasan sent, some were answered) and, according to press reports, Hasan was on one end of wire transfers — money — to or from Pakistan.  Yet no one acted on this knowledge for fear of being labeled anti-Muslim.  

Hasan — whose business card said “SoA”, “soldier of Allah” — had been emitting loud signals of Islamic radicalism for years, at least since his infamous June 2007 briefing at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.  In that briefing, he showed a Power Point slide that proclaimed, “And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his punishment is hell…” His briefing also said, “God expects full loyalty. Promises heaven and threatens with hell. Muslims may seen as moderate (compromising) but God is not.”

And Hasan recommended that Muslims who have religious conflicts with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars be identified.  In that he was correct.

I have scoured the history books and cannot find an example that compares to Hasan.  Japanese-American soldiers, many of whom served bravely in the famed 442nd Infantry Regiment while their families were interned in the United States, never committed anything resembling Hasan’s act of disloyalty.  Islam is different, and it has to be treated differently.

All of the services, not just the Army, should institute behavioral profiling of their members.  When someone like Hasan is identified and information like what the FBI and our intelligence agencies knew about him is gathered, that person should be removed from the service.  We owe it to all those who serve loyally to protect them from an enemy who pretends to be one of them.

A soldier who cannot trust the people with whom he serves cannot be effective in combat.  An Army which is threatened from within cannot be ready to fight. And when it does, it carries a burden that can bar it from winning.  If Casey stays, we will know how little President Obama values the safety of our troops and their ability to fight.

Eric Holder’s decision to split the al-Quida varsity from the terrorists who have committed acts such as the bombing of the USS Cole is a political decision, not a legal one. To try Khalid Sheik Muhammad and his ilk in civilian courts redefines their crimes. They are guilty of acts of war, not bank robberies. They were captured on the battlefield by troops in combat, not arrested by the FBI in an American city.

If Holder’s decision were based on the law, it would be based on the law of war which allows all the Gitmo inmates being transferred to military tribunals to be judged by them, and doesn’t require any to be subjected to civilian trials.  

Clear-headed Republicans — Sen. Christopher Bond (R-Mo) and Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mi) among them — condemned Holder’s decision.

In a conversation with me on Friday, Bond said, “I think it is an outrage. It is a triumph of political correctness over protecting America.”  In another interview that same day Hoekstra said, “It’s like having a scab that’s just about healed and ripping it open.”

Bond reminded me that KSM had said he fervently desired a trial in New York and added that it will be a propaganda bonanza for the terrorists. Bond and Hoekstra — respectively the ranking Republicans on the Senate and House Permanent Select Committees on Intelligence — are very concerned that much of our intelligence methods and sources will be revealed in these trials.

War is fundamentally different from crime: it is motivated by the determination to end our way of life. Those who commit acts of terrorism are guilty of military acts against the security of the United States that are illegal under the Geneva Conventions.  They should all face military commissions at Guantanamo Bay and serve their sentences or be executed — as the commissions may judge — at Gitmo.

Almost fifty years ago, William F. Buckley, Jr. mused that he’d rather be governed by the first two thousand names listed in the Boston phone book than the two thousand members of the Harvard faculty.  

I’d much rather be governed by the first hundred names on the roster of the Tailhook Association than the top one hundred members of the Obama administration. The Tailhookers are the last word in political incorrectness, and they have a pretty good handle on how to defend our nation.


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