As the death toll among U.S. service members in Afghanistan continues to mount — 2010 is the deadliest year of the war thus far — President Barack Obama may regret his administration’s decision, correct though it was, to permit the media to cover the return of dead soldiers’ remains to Dover Air Force Base. Scenes such as this one reported by the Associated Press may become all too common: “Several of President Barack Obama’s top national security advisers stood on a silent, windy tarmac Wednesday night to watch as the bodies of six U.S. soldiers killed by a rogue Afghan policeman returned to U.S. soil.”
The Internet-based watchdog site WikiLeaks began releasing more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables in batches beginning November 28, earning the condemnation of the Obama administration and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The documents, which include frank assessments of foreign political officials, have already embarrassed U.S. diplomats to a variety of countries.
M1A1 Abrams tanks will be put to use in Afghanistan’s Helmand province by early spring. It is the first time in the nine-year Afghan war that the United States has made use of what CNN describes as “the fastest and most deadly ground combat weapons system available.”
Only a few days have passed since President Obama’s return from an expensive overseas jaunt in which he traveled from India to Indonesia praising Islam, but the scandal which his statements on Islam and Jihad evoked did not cause him to shirk what he apparently views as his duty to greet Hajj pilgrims. In a November 15 press release, Obama declared:
AP reported on November 17 that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking to reporters after a 90-minute breakfast meeting with members of Congress, was exerting pressure on the Senate to vote on a new U.S.-Russian nuclear weapons treaty. Clinton asserted that postponing the vote until the next session of Congress would undermine national security.
Voice of America news reported a statement made by Defense Secretary Robert Gates on November 9 that the United States is willing to keep troops in Iraq past the current 2011 deadline, if Iraq's leaders request an extension of U.S. troop presence. VOA noted that Gates made the comment to reporters in Kuala Lumpur following a meeting with Malaysia's Defense Minister.
In 2008 a series of terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, claimed the lives of 164 people. According to the New York Times, one of the key plotters of the attacks was David C. Headley, a former drug dealer then serving as an informant in Pakistan for the U.S. government. To make matters worse, Washington had evidence that Headley was a terrorist sympathizer yet kept him on its payroll, says the Times, “even as he was learning to deal with explosives and small arms in terrorist training camps.”
When Republicans take control of the nation’s purse strings in January, one of the first things they could cut to save taxpayers money is the White House travel budget. In addition to earning the gratitude of Americans, it could also generate some goodwill among taxpayers in the countries the Obama family might otherwise visit since the citizens of those countries are forced to pay for security and put up with other inconveniences whenever the First Family shows up.
On October 22 the Internet-based whistleblower organization WikiLeaks published some 391,000 classified U.S. military documents on the Iraq War. WikiLeaks alleges the documents prove that the U.S. government continued to look the other way to Iraqi government torture through the end of the first year of the Obama administration and that civilian casualties in the Iraq war were much higher than publicly documented.
Voice of America reported on October 22 that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced an Obama administration pledge to seek $2 billion annually in military aid to Pakistan over five years “to help that country defeat violent extremism.” The report stated that the pledge came at a bilateral dialogue held at the State Department attended by Clinton and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi (shown at a March meeting at left).
Americans do not like to think of their government as an aggressor against foreign countries. We prefer to believe that our country is always the victim of unprovoked attacks and that military actions our government takes against other countries are always in response to such unwarranted aggression. For this reason, Presidents have generally felt it necessary to provoke attacks secretly, knowing that once the country was attacked, seemingly with no cause, Americans would rally ‘round the flag and support the war the President had wanted all along.