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Oliver North
Oliver North
10 May 2013
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Theater of War

Comment

WASHINGTON — My old American Heritage Dictionary defines the word "theater," inter alia, as "a large geographic area in which military operations are coordinated." Throughout World War II, official dispatches and press reports described military action and events in the European, Pacific and China-Burma-India "theaters of war." We now have a new definition, courtesy of our present commander in chief: a place to remind everyone that Osama bin Laden is still dead.

On the anniversary of bin Laden's demise at the hands of U.S. special operators, the Barack Obama re-election campaign made a "surprise" middle-of-the-night visit to Kabul, Afghanistan. According to White House talking points, the purpose of the trip was twofold: "thank the troops" and sign a "historic" strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan's erratic president, Hamid Karzai. It was brilliant political theater in a theater of war.

Since the end of World War II, few military operations have received as much self-congratulatory acclaim by a commander in chief as the operation to kill the head of al-Qaida. Mention of Osama bin Laden's death is a constant in every Obama campaign appearance and fundraiser. Bin Laden's being dead is a staple in Democratic Party direct mail and Internet solicitations and mentioned more often than Obama's Nobel Peace Prize. The topic even creeps into speeches about green energy, health care, the economy and White House meetings with foreign dignitaries.

Republicans complain about the O-Team's hyping bin Laden's death. They cite Vice President Joe Biden's chest-thumping comment that "Osama bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive" as proof that Obama is "overplaying his hand" or "taking too much credit," even "dancing in the end zone." But wait. Every politician running for re-election touts his or her "accomplishments," deserved or not. And face it; killing bin Laden is one of the few real accomplishments of this administration. Anyone who didn't see this "we killed bin Laden celebration" coming knows less about American politics than my Boykin spaniel.

Angst over the O-Team's use of bin Laden's death in the president's re-election campaign is a distraction. Critics — including Mitt Romney's advisers — should focus on issues that really are important to protecting the American people. Some recent examples:

There are Republicans running around Washington trying to calculate how much this week's campaign junket to Kabul cost the American taxpayers. But this isn't just another General Services Administration swindle. Those who want us to hire a new commander in chief need to explain what's in — and not in — the so-called Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement Obama and Karzai signed in the few minutes they spent together Tuesday morning.

The document has glowing words about "shared determination" and "mutual commitments" but is silent on our financial burden. It contains nothing about how many American military personnel will remain in Afghanistan after our "combat forces" are withdrawn in 2014 and fails to describe their mission or capabilities. Unlike a status of forces agreement, it provides no legal protections for U.S. troops. In short, it's fluff. The Romney team needs to tell us how it would do better.

The substance of what actually transpired in Kabul wasn't the only missed opportunity for the GOP to hone in on the Obama administration's destitute national security record. On Monday, John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, told a Washington audience that "targeted strikes" from remotely piloted aircraft (the media incorrectly refer to them as drones) are the most "effective," "legal," "proportional," "ethical" and even "humane" way of protecting us from terrorists. Instead of a GOP response, it took Jose Rodriguez, former director of the CIA's National Clandestine Service and author of the new book "Hard Measures," to ask how death by Hellfire missile is more "humane" than capturing and questioning terror kingpins. Rodriguez points out that Obama's "take no prisoners" policy means no captured terrorists, no interrogations and no human intelligence.

Obama doesn't talk about our abysmal lack of human intelligence in this long war. He called waterboarding and sleep deprivation for captured terrorists "torture" and banned those enhanced interrogation techniques.

Our appalling HUMINT deficit was evident shortly after Air Force One took off from Bagram Air Field early Tuesday morning, when suicide bombers struck "Green Village," a secure compound outside Kabul. Press accounts incorrectly ascribed the attack — which killed seven and wounded dozens, including schoolchildren — to the Taliban. A credible source says that the assault was conducted by the Haqqani network and that NATO officials were alerted more than six hours before the strike about the arrival of the suicide team in Kabul. The intel provided included information on how to precisely locate the terrorists. When I asked why the attack wasn't prevented, I was told: "It was HUMINT. Nobody pays attention to HUMINT."

Strategists in the "Romney for president" campaign need to identify problems such as these and explain how Romney would fix them — fast. Bin Laden is still dead. But the war being waged against us isn't. If Republicans fail to focus on doing better, the O-Team will turn the "theater of war" in Afghanistan into a "theater of the absurd."

Oliver North is the host of "War Stories" on Fox News Channel, the founder and honorary chairman of Freedom Alliance, and the author of "American Heroes in Special Operations." To find out more about Oliver North and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2012 CREATORS.COM



Comments

10 Comments | Post Comment
Mona, you are honest and unbiased. Keep it up...it's rare in you profession.
Comment: #1
Posted by: nahum
Sat Jun 5, 2010 11:26 AM
At least Obama did not play dress-up and land on a carrier. (Funny, I don't remember your columns critical of Bush for endless politicizing of the wars. Must of missed those.)
.
"Obama doesn't talk about our abysmal lack of human intelligence in this long war. He called waterboarding and sleep deprivation for captured terrorists "torture" and banned those enhanced interrogation techniques." Yes, unlike the foolish little man from Texas and his puppet master VP, Obama listened to the experts in the field of interrogation who are very clear on the matter: TORTURE DOES NOT WORK. Obama is at least making some attempt to avoid committing war crimes, unlike the dim little Texan.
.
Speaking of theater: It has been over seven months since the end of don't ask - don't tell in the military and, yet, there is no crisis of retention or recruitment in our armed services, contrary to the breathless warnings of Oliver north and his ilk. Mr. North, will you ever have the personal integrity and courage to admit that your predictions of disaster in this matter were political theater? Will you acknowledge that our men and women in uniform are made of stronger stuff than you told your readers? Don't you at least owe the troops an acknowledgement of their professionalism in this matter?
Comment: #2
Posted by: Mark
Thu May 3, 2012 10:22 PM
At least Obama did not play dress-up and land on a carrier. (Funny, I don't remember your columns critical of Bush for endless politicizing of the wars. Must of missed those.)
.
"Obama doesn't talk about our abysmal lack of human intelligence in this long war. He called waterboarding and sleep deprivation for captured terrorists "torture" and banned those enhanced interrogation techniques." Yes, unlike the foolish little man from Texas and his puppet master VP, Obama listened to the experts in the field of interrogation who are very clear on the matter: TORTURE DOES NOT WORK. Obama is at least making some attempt to avoid committing war crimes, unlike the dim little Texan.
.
Speaking of theater: It has been over seven months since the end of don't ask - don't tell in the military and, yet, there is no crisis of retention or recruitment in our armed services, contrary to the breathless warnings of Oliver north and his ilk. Mr. North, will you ever have the personal integrity and courage to admit that your predictions of disaster in this matter were political theater? Will you acknowledge that our men and women in uniform are made of stronger stuff than you told your readers? Don't you at least owe the troops an acknowledgement of their professionalism in this matter?
Comment: #3
Posted by: Mark
Thu May 3, 2012 10:25 PM
Re: Mark

"Speaking of theater: It has been over seven months since the end of don't ask - don't tell in the military and, yet, there is no crisis of retention or recruitment in our armed services, contrary to the breathless warnings of Oliver north and his ilk."

Thanks to Obama's planned gutting of the military, retention is going to be the least of our worries. The Army is finalizing plans to eliminate some 80,000 positions as we speak.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Jeff Gunn
Fri May 4, 2012 12:33 AM
Sir;... I feel sorry for the democrats and republicans on this one... The republicans attacked a whole country to get at a single individual, and it was the democrats who had to finish the job... But for each of them there is no hope... They live with a: cut of the head and the beast will die mentality with Islam; but nothing could be further from the truth... From every drop of blood we shed a warrior for Islam will spring up...We think he was the problem... Bin Ladin was a symptom of the problem... We have gone to great lengths to engender hatred in these people instead of love... We should try as best we can to keep our distance... Every thing we do to hurt them hurts us... We cannot afford to fight these stupid wars in the fashion in which we have been fighting them... The class of generals we have today is useless...And the politicians are worse...Thanks ...Sweeney
Comment: #5
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Fri May 4, 2012 6:36 AM
Jeff,
We spend more on our military than the next 15 or so nations COMBINED. How much is enough? If such expenditure is so vital, would you support a major and immediate increase in taxes to pay for this support of the military/security corporate complex? Paul Craig Roberts recently pointed out that empires have traditionally been extractive, extracting resources from the lands that they conquered - their colonies. Roberts then goes on to note that we have not extracted any natural resources from Iraq or Afghanistan. He postulates that these are also extractive colonizations, but that the extraction is from the pockets of the US tax payers (and their descendents) to the pockets of military/security related corporations. There is a not insignificant ring of truth to his theory.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Mark
Fri May 4, 2012 9:15 AM
Re: Mark

"We spend more on our military than the next 15 or so nations COMBINED. How much is enough? If such expenditure is so vital, would you support a major and immediate increase in taxes to pay for this support of the military/security corporate complex?"

No, because I understand that increasing tax rates won't increase tax revenues.

And statistics like how much we spend on our military compared to other nations are totally meaningless without context. When comparing our expenditures to those of other western nations, the fact that we do spend so much is what allows them to spend so little on their own defense. I don't think that we should be subsidizing the defense of these other countries, but it is a fact that we do.

As for the expenditures of our competitors, dollar comparisons are meaningless, because most of them have conscript armies who are paid almost nothing. They also have largely state-controlled defense industries, again with near-slave wages for their workers.

The only meaningful comparison between our expenditures and theirs is in terms of GDP percentages. We're currently spending about 4.7% on defense. China is right around 2%, and Russia is at 3.9%. Considering that we actually pay our soldiers, that's not such a huge difference.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Jeff Gunn
Fri May 4, 2012 10:36 PM
Re: Jeff Gunn;... Really; meaningless... If you look at the difference you would find that a great deal expense is made of buying high tech, which we think costs less than boots on the ground, and for contractors who do not cost less than troop running their own supply chain, and shipping which we have practically none of... I knew there was going to be war in Iraq the moment it became known that the U.S. had leased shipping, as if it had a choice... None of these ships fly our flag because they do not want to follow reasonable labor standard or pay taxes... Never since the days of our civil war and commodore Vanderbuilt was such a great part of our shipping leased... How can you be an international threat without your own shipping??? Expensively, with profits going abroad, or into foreign accounts of U.S. owners... It is possible that foreign shipping is producing foreign produced goods for us to fight with, but this is uncertain.. What I am certain of is that profiteers add the highest cost: and that much of the money they charge never leaves America...The gain to the public will be slight from these wars but the public will bear the price in lives and money...

As far as your notion that taxes will not increase revenue... Well, the poor and middle class are taxed out, and because they are taxed out, and as much of our business has fled from America like so many rats, there is not a lot to tax...It is only profitable for a short time to export your production and import your product...Steve Jobs was right that those job are never coming back...If you can produce abroad for pennies what you can sell for hundreds here, why change??? Sooner or later you come up against the fact that if you have no job you cannot bear taxation, and must become a consumer of tax revenue that only the rich can afford to pay, and the rich do not want to pay because it would tax them out of profitability since in many instances they have driven down the prices of their own products to steal market share from domestic production...People guided by profit are not patriots... They want us to fight for them...Certainly, without our help they cannot defend their own wealth...But they do not want to pay for it, and who does; but they are the only ones left who can pay, and if they did pay they would soon find exporting jobs and importing profit is just a shell game for the whole society... We lose productive capacity, see wages fall competing with slaves, and they see their profits fall in the ruined economy they alone have ruined... .. Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #8
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Sat May 5, 2012 4:47 AM
Re: James A, Sweeney

Nobody ever claimed that having our logistics run by contractors would save money. It was never intended to.

The reason we have contractors doing those jobs today is that they were largely eliminated within the military, in an effort to shift bodies into combat roles without raising the statutory personnel caps that Congress put in place. This all began during the Clinton administration. It was a pet project of Al Gore's when he was VP.

And as far as it being "my notion" that raising tax rates won't increase revenue, you don't have to take my word for it. It's been proven time and time again. New Jersey tried it not too long ago, and saw their tax revenues go down, not up, as people left the state. California has done the same thing. When we do it at the federal level, businesses go overseas.

It's not rocket science.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Jeff Gunn
Sun May 6, 2012 1:12 AM
Mr. North,
It seems that, given the news this week, that the Obama administration is not doing too bad in the "HUMINT" department. I look forward to your next column explaining how Obama did this all wrong.
Comment: #10
Posted by: Mark
Wed May 9, 2012 11:31 PM
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