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  1. #671
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus View Post
    Well, no surprises there. You need a new pony.
    You think so?

    From the Fiscal Times:

    We Finally Know Where the Buck Stops in Benghazi

    Normally, when Congress undertakes an investigation of the executive branch, the committee heading the probe will issue two versions of the findings – one for each party. Partisans on both sides use the political process of oversight to either defend their own or to make hay about their opponents, and astute observers can usually find truth by reading both and looking somewhere in between. Rare are those investigations within the normal committees on Capitol Hill that issue a bipartisan report – and one that condemns an administration for its incompetence.

    That’s not to say that the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the failures surrounding the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, resulting in the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, is entirely free from partisan arguments.

    Democrats (as “the Majority” in the report) concluded that the attempt to claim that the attack was a demonstration over a YouTube video did not constitute a cover-up, but rather resulted from confusion in the intelligence community (IC) that didn’t clarify the issue quickly enough to the administration. Likewise, Republicans included a shot at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the only reference to her in the report, stating that “the final responsibility for security at diplomatic facilities lies with the former Secretary [of State].”

    For the most part, though, the conclusions are both bipartisan and damning. The committee found that a string of terrorist attacks in Benghazi against Western targets, especially one three months before the final attack on the US facility itself, should have alerted State to the danger it faced. Furthermore, the committee questioned how State could have ignored its own security standards to approve the use of the building, a decision reapplied in July when State renewed the lease – just weeks after the previous attack.

    These two issues – of the terrorist activity and the inexplicable waivers for proper security – drive most of the bipartisan condemnation of the report. The committee pointedly notes that the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) warned the Obama administration in June 2012 of the growing threat against Western interests in Benghazi in a report with a title that should have grabbed attention: “Libya: Terrorists Now Targeting U.S. and Western Interests.” It listed “recent attacks against the U.S. Mission compound in Benghazi, the growing ties between al Qaeda (AQ) regional nodes and Libya-based terrorists,” and said DIA “expect[ed] more anti-U.S. terrorist attacks in eastern Libya [redacted] due to the terrorists' greater presence there.”

    The warnings didn’t end there. The Pentagon admonished the next week that the failed-state environment would “increase Libyan terrorist capability in the permissive post-revolution security environment. Attacks will also increase in number and lethality as terrorists connect with AQ associates in Libya.” The CIA, whose facility also came under attack, issued a report three weeks later on July 6th titled "Libya: Al Qaeda Establishing Sanctuary."

    That month, State signed a lease on the Benghazi facility with a waiver on security requirements. Who signed that waiver? We still don’t have an answer to that question – it’s not answered in the bipartisan portion of the report – but Republicans raise the question in their response. “Although certain waivers of the standards could have been approved at a lower level, other departures, such as the co-location requirement, could only be approved by the Secretary of State.” Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) raises a more direct accusation at Clinton aide Patrick Kennedy:

    “Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy testified before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in 2012 that the threat environment in Benghazi was "flashing red,'' yet our investigation found that Under Secretary Kennedy, and other State Department officials, failed to ensure that a facility he personally approved in December 2011 had the necessary security to match the heightened threat environment.”

    State doesn’t stand alone in the committee’s crosshairs, either. The CIA, which helped draft the initial talking points that led the Obama administration to insist for two weeks that the attack was a demonstration that got out of control, somehow forgot that they had warned over the summer about al Qaeda establishing sanctuary in eastern Libya with attacks predicted as a result, and asked to have the mention of the terrorist network removed. Both the FBI and CIA had reviewed the videotape of the compound and determined that there was no demonstration at all, but it took them six days to fix the assessment.

    Far more consequential was the lack of coordination between CIA, State, and the Pentagon, however. The CIA did not formally share knowledge of the existence of their annex with the Department of Defense. The commander of US Africa Command, General Carter Ham, had no idea that there were more personnel to protect until the attack, leading the Republicans to muse: “We are puzzled as to how the military leadership expected to effectively respond and rescue Americans in the event of an emergency when it did not even know of the existence of one of the U.S. facilities.”

    Not that it would have done much good anyway. Fox’s James Rosen reported earlier in the week that classified testimony to the House Armed Services Committee made it clear that the military considered this a planned terrorist attack within minutes. Defenders of the Obama administration pointed to additional testimony that debunked the claim that the military had received a “stand down order.”

    That rumor turns out to be false – because the US military had no assets in position to stage a rescue, according to General Ham, despite the escalating terrorist activity and the rather obvious approaching anniversary of the 9/11 attack. “No attack aircraft were placed on high alert on September 11th,” Fox reported. “Fighter jets were unarmed, and air refuelers were ten hours away in Great Britain.”

    It’s as if the Pentagon, CIA, and State Department set out to ignore the red flags they themselves had been raising all year long. No one was prepared on the anniversary of 9/11 for an attack in the region where everyone knew al Qaeda to be “establishing sanctuary,” openly operating, and where the US predicted attacks would escalate.

    The State Department in particular didn’t take action to bring its facility into compliance with its own security requirements, purposefully waiving them, in a city where terrorist attacks had already begun to escalate – including one on the facility itself – nor took action to get Americans out of harm’s way, despite the departure of other Western nations from Benghazi earlier in the year.

    One does not need a name at the top of this report to know where responsibility rests for this massive failure. Hillary Clinton ran State, Leon Panetta ran Defense, and David Petraeus ran the CIA. But the distributed nature of the failure indicts the Obama administration and Barack Obama himself, too. The White House is responsible for interagency coordination, for one thing, especially when it comes to national security and diplomatic enterprises.

    However, Obama’s responsibility extends farther and more specifically, too. The reason that eastern Libya had transformed into a terrorist haven in the first place was because of the Obama-led NATO intervention that deposed Moammar Qaddafi without any effort to fill the security vacuum his abrupt departure created.

    Four months before the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Daniel Larison warned that the vacuum left by that 30,000-foot intervention not only meant trouble for the West in eastern Libya, but throughout North Africa as al Qaeda and its affiliates entrenched themselves. Sure enough, al Qaeda infused itself into a Tuareg rebellion and almost topped Mali, an effort which France belatedly stamped out with a boots-on-the-ground intervention – with those boots transported in part by the US Air Force. At the time, the Financial Times called Mali “among the most embarrassing boomerangs” of American policy, specifically noting “the blowback in the Sahel from the overthrow of Colonel Moammar Gaddafi in Libya.”

    The policies and actions of the Obama administration in Libya left behind a failed state, and the incompetent handling of security and readiness afterward left four Americans to die needlessly. The buck stops at the top for this mess.

  2. #672
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    If you really wanna know the future of the Republican Party, have a look at the 32 candidates the party has included in its online straw poll.

    From the Washington Examiner:

    GOP mulls 32 candidates for president in 2016 --- so far

    If you thought the 13-candidate clogged 2012 Republican presidential primaries were too crowded and confusing, then you might want to skip the 2016 process -- because the Republican Party is suggesting that 32 might be interested in running.

    The Republican National Committee is operating a 2016 Presidential straw poll that lists all 32, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. It's all part of a fundraiser.

    The poll asks users to pick their three top choices. No results are available yet. The list:

    - Sen. Kelly Ayotte, of New Hampshire

    - Haley Barbour, former Mississippi governor

    - John Bolton, former ambassador to the United Nations

    - Jeb Bush, former Florida governor

    – Herman Cain, a radio host

    - Ben Carson, author and neurosurgeon

    – Chris Christie, New Jersey governor

    – Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas

    – Mitch Daniels, former Indiana governor

    - Newt Gingrich, former House speaker

    - Nikki Haley, South Carolina governor

    - Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor

    - Bobby Jindal, Louisiana governor

    – John Kasich, Ohio governor

    - Rep. Peter King, of New York

    - Susana Martinez, New Mexico governor

    – Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor

    - Sen. Rand Paul, of Kentucky

    - Former Rep. Ron Paul, of Texas

    – Tim Pawlenty, former Minnesota governor

    – Mike Pence, Indiana governor

    – Rick Perry, Texas governor

    - Sen. Rob Portman, of Ohio

    - Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state

    – Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida

    – Rep. Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin

    – Brian Sandoval, Nevada governor

    - Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania senator

    – Sen. Tim Scott, of South Carolina

    - Sen. John Thune, of South Dakota

    - Scott Walker, Wisconsin governor

    – Former Rep. Allen West, of Florida
    Very interesting.

    I already voted for my top three.

  3. #673
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    Selecting the top three is a good way to do this. Everyone says that Christie is the front runner, but he's only the front runner because Paul, Rubio and Cruz are competing for largely the same type of republicans while Christie is the only person appealing to moderates. The reality is that once the crowd gets thinned and the tea party have their champion he's gonna have a hard time. I would not be surprised if in this poll Christie came in third or fourth.

  4. #674
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    Here's a fucking bomb of an endorsement for Rand Paul for you....

    From the Huffington Post:

    Rand Paul Boosts Foreign Policy Stock

    Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) gave a provocative, smart foreign policy speech last night at the 20th anniversary dinner of the Center for the National Interest, previously known as the Nixon Center.

    I'll offer highlights about the speech later, but I wanted to get the speech itself up now. In it, he identifies himself squarely as a realist in foreign policy, punches neoconservatives and isolationists, and embraces negotiations with America's rivals and enemies -- which puts him on the same page as Obama, Biden, Susan Rice, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel.

    It's one of the smartest foreign policy addresses I have heard in some time -- and he takes on and seems to opposed the growing Senate bandwagoning now in play behind a new Iran sanctions effort.

    There are a number of policy areas in which I have fundamental differences with Senator Paul -- as is true usually between any two people -- but if I were to read this speech not knowing the Senator gave it, there is practically nothing in it with which I would disagree.

    Charlie Cook thinks Rand Paul may very well be the GOP nominee in 2016 -- and if this speech is any testament to the real Rand Paul's thinking on foreign policy, I think he will be formidable on this front
    The speech is in the next post.

  5. #675
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    Senator Rand Paul on US Foreign Policy at the 20th Anniversary Gala Dinner of the Center for the National Interest:

    Good evening and thank you for hosting me. Congratulations on CNI's 20th anniversary.

    When I was about ten years old, I used to play chess with an old Ukrainian named Pete Karpenko. Captain Pete, as we called him, told us stories of fighting the Bolsheviks when he was fourteen years old. He and his family were little more than peasants but they resisted the idea of collective farming. He fought with the White Army against the Bolsheviks and fled when the communists won. Fifty-five years later he still was afraid to return to the Soviet Union.

    So, it's easy to understand that around my house, we had little use for communists or their sympathizers.

    Like many conservative middle class families our inclination was to resist anything to do with Red China. In that black and white world, you were either for us or against us. Trade with China was thought to be trade with the enemy.

    A funny thing happened, though, along the way. Many Conservatives came to understand a larger truth. As trade began to blossom with China, many conservatives, myself included, came to admit that trade improves our economic well-being AND makes us less likely to fight.

    The success of trade with China made many conservatives rethink their view of the world.

    People sometimes ask me what my worldview is . . . my response is . . . that even if you've criss-crossed the globe, I'm not sure that the world doesn't change by the time you return to the same spot twice.

    I really am a believer that foreign policy must be viewed by events as they present themselves not as we wish them to be.

    A few years ago, I read a review of John Gaddis' biography of George Kennan. I laughed when I read that Dr. Gaddis promised Kennan not to publish it until after his death and that twenty years later Gaddis' students were jokingly wondering who might die first.

    I loved the book. To me containment is not a dead letter. I look at the worldwide menace of radical jihad and I think we need a long term vigilance like containment.

    Kennan believed that there is "distinction between vital and peripheral interests." I couldn't agree more.

    Politicians vaguely understand that they must assert a national security interest before launching war, but asserting a national security interest doesn't necessarily make it so.

    To me the assertion of a vital interest is the beginning of the debate not the end. When the President came to us trying to convince the Senate to support a military engagement with Syria, he acknowledged that any national security interest was ambiguous at best.

    Because of the demand, by many of us, for more debate a diplomatic solution arose that may well do something that no military strike could perform . . . remove the chemical weapons.

    The Syrian chemical weapons solution could be exactly what we need to resolve the standoff in Iran and North Korea. By leveraging our relationship with China we should be able to influence the behavior of North Korea. Likewise, we should be engaging the Russians to assist us with the Syrians and the Iranians.

    Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates commented on this in his new book, Duty. "In recent decades," he says, " presidents confronted with tough problems abroad have too often been too quick to reach for a gun. Our foreign and national security policy has become too militarized, the use of force too easy for presidents."
    _________________________

    Last year, I was appointed the Foreign Affairs committee.

    I like foreign policy, especially the name calling. It seems everybody's got a name for themselves and even nastier names for their opponents.

    So we've got neo-cons, realists, hawks, doves, isolationists, globalists, and idealists. Seems the only thing for certain is if you don't label yourself first, your enemies will.

    I do think that the world of foreign policy has been turned on its head in the past decade.

    Neoconservatives brag of their desire for engagement but increasingly preach a doctrine that is hostile to diplomatic engagement.

    To this crowd, everyone who doesn't agree with them . . . is the next Chamberlain. To this crowd, anyone who doesn't clamor first for the military option . . . is somehow an isolationist.

    The irony is that the crowd that claims they want to engage, often opposes diplomatic engagement.

    The irony is that this crowd wants to "project power" . . . but from inside an echo chamber that isolates itself from negotiation because "foreigners" can't be trusted.

    The school of thought that beats its chest and seeks to spread worldwide enlightenment now promotes not a neo-conservatism but a neo-isolationism in which diplomacy is distrusted and war is. . . if not the first option . . . the preferred option.


    I believe the answers to most problems that confront us around the world can and should be approached by engaging both friend and foe in dialogue. No, I don't naively think that dialogue always works, but I believe we should avoid the rigidity of saying that dialogue never works.

    I believe we should approach diplomacy from the notion that dialogue is nearly always preferable to war but that potential enemies should never mistake . . . as Reagan put it . . .
    our reluctance for war, with a lack of resolve.

    Our response to 9/11 should disabuse any potential enemies of the belief that America is to be trifled with.

    In the end, to me, diplomacy is similar to a market transaction. Market transactions are never equal. I may give you $2 for a loaf of bread but only because I value the loaf of bread more than the $2 and you value the $2 more than the loaf of bread. So exchange occurs when each party perceives that they have gotten the better of the bargain.

    This may be no great insight to a group of diplomats and foreign policy experts but to me it is the beginning of understanding problem resolution and to me it is the first principle of diplomacy: understanding that diplomacy only is successful when both parties feel that they have won.

    In order for both parties to perceive victory, I think both parties must save face or at the very least not lose face. Saving face is even more important if one party to the transaction is a Superpower and the other party is a second or third tier country.

    The Chinese have finessed the concept to such a degree that they have three different words for saving face.

    To me saving face is similar to what Sun Tzu wrote about leaving your enemy an escape. Tzu wrote: "To a surrounded enemy, you must leave a way of escape.

    I would add -- that to a surrounded enemy ---- you must leave a way of saving face.

    If you insist on unconditional surrender as a pre-requisite to diplomacy there will be very little diplomacy.

    William Ury describes leaving an exit as an integral facet of wielding power, "Superior power is useless if it drives your opponent into a corner and makes him resist you with all his might. Leaving him a way out is a time-honored precept."

    Short of unconditional defeat of the enemy, both sides must recognize that problem resolution requires . . . both sides to perceive victory . . . and both sides to save face.


    The technological ease of war dulls our ability to be statesmen . . . .
    Karl Marlantes a decorated Vietnam combat veteran says that the great deficiency of legislators is their inability to make decisions as if they themselves were the warrior on the ground on the receiving end of mortar blasts.

    There is certainly a time for war. But the threshold should be high, and the cause clear. Colin Powell was fond of saying that "war should be the politics of last resort. We should have a purpose our people understand and support."

    When America is attacked or our interests directly threatened, our country should and will defend itself with the force and authority of our collective wills. We will seek no other military objective than complete victory over our attackers.

    I doubt I've presented any new insight tonight that isn't already known to each of you and I hope I haven't insulted anyone....or too many of you....with a physician's thoughts on diplomacy.

    Someone once said that there are really no new ideas there are only ideas that are new to you.

    Thank you for allowing me to come this evening. If nothing else, I want you to know that I consider foreign policy to be an unending process of learning and that I am very open to learning new ideas, whether they are indeed new, or may be just new to me.

  6. #676
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    I am a foreign policy realist and so is Rand Paul.

    This is the beginning of why I think he might be the unsuspected juggernaut in 2016.

  7. #677
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    Rand's speech begins at 4:32

  8. #678
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    The Atlantic as well...

    Rand Paul Rethinks the Art of Diplomacy

    Parsing the senator's shrewd, subversive critique of U.S. foreign policy.

  9. #679
    Senior Member Nicodemus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    You think so?

    From the Fiscal Times:

    We Finally Know Where the Buck Stops in Benghazi
    Haha, you certainly drank the Kool-Aid. I guess I could have known.

  10. #680
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus View Post
    Haha, you certainly drank the Kool-Aid. I guess I could have known.
    How is that Kool Aid its findings from the Senate Intelligence committee. This is one of the few times the committee has released I bipartisan report.

    The only positive for HRC in the report is that it debunks the worst of GOP accusations regarding a coverup etc..

    But we already new that argument was reaching at best.

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