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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Obama vs. ISIS and Benghazi

Links: Obama Vows to Attack ISIS

Benghazi: Did CIA Order Rescue Team to Stand Down?

Per the first link, President Obama made a public declaration today that the United States would be waging war on ISIS/ISIL.  And then he announced that he would provide more details to the American people (and ISIS/ISIL, we assume) on Wednesday.  Personally, an announcement that we were going to drop Agent Orange on these ISIS/ISIL Assholes would have been just fine with me.  I don't need the details "on Wednesday".  When did we start providing military strategy in public forums?  But at least the President showed some resolve.  Since I'm no longer in the loop, its okay for me to hypothesize what this Administration intends to do.  Lets review this post Wednesday afternoon and see how many I got correct: we will work with a coalition of our Arab (and European?) partners to develop a strategy that will surely work to erode ISIS/ISIL's ability to conduct terror activities.  And we will enact sanctions on any nations who we determine to be providing ISIS/ISIL with weapons and supplies.  Most importantly, we will continue and in some instances intensify the bombing campaign.  Because bombing the enemy is safe.  You don't put any troops in harm's way, which would be a terrible blow to the base just before November mid-term elections.  And millions of dollars in humanitarian aid is on its way to the people suffering from ISIS aggression.

I am old enough to remember the day when an enemy like this was identified, and every resource at our disposal was used to destroy it.  I have this theory, and I would like to know if you agree with me.  War is the most disgraceful insult that we can deliver to our Creator.  It involves every kind of evil behavior known to our species. But history has shown that war can be unavoidable in the defense of liberty and human rights.  I believe that if war is forced upon us, then we must do everything in our power to win quickly and decisively.  It doesn't take Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, or Machiavelli to teach us that a short victory is the best kind of victory. Fewer people die when the conflict is resolved decisively and quickly.  If your army has more resources, more weapons, more allies and more initiative, then throw the book at the bad guys, and make a statement to the next bunch of cowards who like to engage in random beheadings.  I believe that once ISIS/ISIL was declared an enemy of the state (actually, for me it was the beheading of Thomas Foley), then we should have instructed our respective military commanders to develop a plan for a rapid annihilation of this group.  And if someone doesn't want to come along for the ride (read: our Arab friends), then they had better look for cover.

Regarding the recent revelations by Fox News (timed to perfection with the release of the book by these Special Ops guys), I am going out on a limb by writing these comments before the evening broadcast of the Fox News Special on Benghazi.  I'm confident I won't step on my tongue, though, because I think I already know the basics of the "new developments".  A trio (or was it five?) of Special Ops guys were prepared to make their way to the CIA Annex and assist Amb. Stevens and his three companions. A CIA officer with some level of authority (they listened to him at first, right?) allegedly told these soldiers to "stand down".  I believe their version of events, and I think I am personally familiar with the ubiquitous "CIA Bob" (no love lost, believe me).  The Fox News link I have provided repeatedly refers to Bob as the "Top CIA Officer In Benghazi".  What exactly does that mean?  Was Bob the Benghazi Station Chief?  Not to quibble, but I doubt seriously that the top ranking Agency official in Benghazi was sitting with these guys that evening.  But Bob obviously did carry some bona fides.  It would not surprise me if Bob instructed these soldiers to "stand down" because that seems to be the order of the evening.  Folks, Bob did not make that decision unilaterally, regardless of the comment that Bob "was trying to rally local support".

I hope everyone keeps one fact steady: just like everyone else, Bob had orders.  Someone was instructing Bob throughout the evening's events.  Having been present in a few similar events in my career, I have learned that at the end of the day, any military action involving embassies and annexes must be approved by the Secretary of State.  Agency presence in diplomatic quarters is a controversial subject.  At the end of the day, Agency personnel working in a State Department facility fall under the authority of the Ambassador and, higher up, the Secretary of State.  Until someone proves to me otherwise, I believe the decision that night to "stand down" on military action was made by the Secretary of State.  I believe that she made the decision after weighing the negative diplomatic repercussions of offending the new Libyan government, who I am convinced would not have given their approval for an exfiltration (extraction) operation.  All of this is supposition on my part, and its very possible that I'm wrong.  We may never know who made the binding decision that cost Chris Stevens, Glen Doherty, Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods their lives.  What tremendously brave men they were, and we won't see their like again.  God Bless Them and their families.

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