In 1427, a ship captain sailing for his Portuguese Prince, Henry the Navigator, discovered the Azores Islands. If the question of the significance of this event had been posed, at the time, to Sultan Murad Khan (the leader of the Ottoman Empire), or to Itzcoatl and Nezahualcoyotl (the co-leaders of the Aztecs) or to Rao Kanha (one of the princes of Jodhpur in India), it is unlikely that any of them would have responded that it is an early indication of a historic explosion of cultural energy in Europe that will lead to European exploration and conquest of most of the known world, and to a renaissance of European thought that will give rise to scientific, industrial and scholarly dominance of the planet by European culture for at least half a millennium.
Today, no European or American leaders with whom I am familiar have tied the Sept. 11, 2001 attack, the various Islamist bombing attacks around the world, the push for Sharia law in the West and the current disturbances in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Jordan, Syria and Bahrain together as symptoms of one larger phenomenon.
President Obama's decision to bomb Libya is not even so multilateral as President George W. Bush's decision to attack Iraq. Nor is it ultimately driven by humanitarian concerns — and certainly not by any vital U.S. national interest.
Despite Obama's vilification of Bush for his alleged unilateralism, "Obama's 'coalition of the willing,'" according to foreign policy reporter Josh Rogin, "is smaller than any major multilateral operation since the end of the Cold War." Obama's Libyan intervention is more unilateral than Dubya's in another respect, as well: Obama has brazenly refused even to consult Congress, much less seek its blessing.
One sign that the broadcast networks aren’t vigorously opposed to President Obama’s air strikes in Libya is the utter lack of polls. There were no ABC/Washington Post or NBC/Wall Street Journal polls touted before Obama’s Libya address, and a Gallup poll showing only 47 percent support for military action has been barely mentioned.
CBS News did a poll (without The New York Times) and briefly touted its results on March 22. Katie Couric offered one sentence on the Evening News: “A CBS News poll out tonight finds most Americans are following the events in Libya closely and nearly seven out of ten approve of the air strikes.” But the question was phrased in a way to encourage support for a coalition effort protecting innocent civilians:
"As you may know, the U.S. military and other countries have begun cruise missile and air strikes in Libya in order to protect civilians from attacks by Qaddafi's forces. Do you approve or disapprove of the U.S. and other countries taking this military action in Libya?"
During Monday's "Morning Joe," Time's Mark Halperin and co-host Mika Brzezinski helpfully provided some spin for the White House to borrow as President Obama finishes his prepared remarks for Monday evening's address to the nation on the events in Libya.
President Obama has received sharp criticism for his foreign policy concerning Egypt and Libya, but Halperin threw cold water on that, calling Obama's strategy "extremely deft in a very tough situation." Brzezinski agreed with his premise, adding that his "deft" handling is also in accord with promises he previously made.
"He's pro-democracy, right? He's anti-violence. He's anti-unilateral U.S. intervention," Halperin noted of Obama, trying to connect his current policy with the peacemaker he claimed to be as a presidential candidate.
(Video below the jump. Comments begin at the 12:30 mark.)
Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, the Libyan rebel leader, has said jihadists who fought against allied troops in Iraq are on the front lines of the battle against Muammar Gaddafi's regime.
So how will the U.S. press deal with this hot potato?
Everyone seems to have a different theory about why President Obama attacked Libya when he did and what his ultimate purpose is, because he has been so adamantly against similar uses of military force and reluctant even to voice his support for some democratic movements. I don't think it's that mysterious.
Commentators have been mystified by Obama's vacillation, his indecisiveness and his apparent apathy about foreign policy. I do think that Obama far prefers domestic policy to foreign policy and that he wants to focus most of his attention on redistributing wealth, administering "economic justice" and otherwise fundamentally changing America. But we should understand that fundamentally transforming America has an essential foreign policy component, as well.
On Thursday at Reuters, Andrew Quinn, with the help of Caren Bohan, cobbled together a pathetic "analysis" full of sympathy for a "struggling" Barack Obama and recognition of the need to keep oil flowing from Saudi Arabia. It also contained a false jab at George W. Bush and the War in Iraq.
First, let's look at Quinn's Bush jab:
Obama is committed to partnering with other countries rather than going it alone as did his predecessor George W. Bush, which both broadens and complicates the decision-making process.
This got the attention of Jeffrey Goldberg at the Atlantic (HT Instapundit), who linked to the identical but unbylined Reuters item at the New York Times. Goldberg's response:
In the lead-up to the Iraq War, the media "hammered Bush" about getting congressional approval, NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell noted on last night's "Hannity" during the "Media Mash" segment. Yet such scrutiny has been missing in President Obama's actions on Libya, he noted.
What's more, the media have failed to press Obama on violating his own standards on presidential use of military force:
Amid all the confusion of our new little war in Libya, one thing is clear: Notwithstanding the bravery and professionalism of our troops, in naming it Operation Odyssey Dawn, the Pentagon has invoked a haunting specter. The war's namesake — Homer's epic poem "The Odyssey" — is the tale of the hero, Odysseus, taking 10 years to get home from the Trojan War — which itself took 10 years to fight.
In fairness to the Pentagon, when the Germans started their ill-fated campaign in Tripoli in February 1941 (that was to be lost due to a too-long and thin logistics line), they, too, had difficulty, calling it Operation Sonnenblume (Sunflower). As the German historian Wolf Heckmann drolly noted of the Wehrmacht high command: "Unconsciously, someone had hit upon the perfect symbol: a huge and showy flower at the end of a long and rather fragile stem."
Well, it is official. The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, has asked the Norwegian Nobel Committee to take back President Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize owing to Obama's missile strikes in Libya. The head of Russia's Liberal Democratic Party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, also has weighed in, and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is really in a snit. This is the best news Col. Moammar Gadhafi has had in weeks.
President Obama, who ordered airstrikes against Libya and then took his wife and the girls on a sightseeing and official junket to South America, probably took little note of the Bolivian's and Russians' actions, but it does show how difficult it is to get "world opinion" behind the use of force, even against a fla fla dictator such as Gadhafi. There is more unease in the "world community." Amr Moussa, the head of the Arab League, at first was for enforcing a "no-fly zone" over Libya. Now he is not so sure. The next thing you know, he will be on Gadhafi's side. World opinion can be volatile.
Former Clinton advisor and current CNN contributor Paul Begala thought he was being clever Friday evening when he took a cheap shot at George W. Bush on HBO's "Real Time."
Without skipping a beat, St. Louis Tea Party founder and Big Government editor Dana Loesch smacked down her CNN colleague with a delicious jab at his former boss (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Calls for a U.S. or NATO-imposed no-fly zone over Libya to aid the fledgling rebellion against dictator Muammar Qadhafi have been met with protests by Obama administration officials that it is a logistical nightmare requiring careful planning and forethought.
While that's something to that argument, fears of Libya's air force are way overblown, some retired Air Force officers argue, according to Aviation Week's David Fulghum, in his March 8 blog post, "Libyan Air Defenses Would Fade Fast" (emphases mine):
During the Bush administration, the media perpetually pounded on news developments that highlighted real or imagined incompetence and/or the low regard with which the administration was held in foreign capitals.
But with the Obama administration's poor handling of the Libyan crisis, the MSM have been strangely mute.
Take for example the evaucation of American expatriates from Libya.
If Time-magaziner-turned-WH-press-sec Jay Carney ever tires of defending Pres. Obama, Norah O'Donnell clearly seems ready to step in...
When on today's Morning Joe Donny Deutsch described PBO as having a passive leadership style as evidenced by his approach to Libya, health care and other issues, an indignant O'Donnell piped up, defending the president's passivity.
It is truly disgusting for me to hear politicians, national and international talking heads and pseudo-academics praising the Middle East stirrings as democracy movements. We also hear democracy as the description of our own political system. Like the founders of our nation, I find democracy and majority rule a contemptible form of government.
You say, "Whoa, Williams, you really have to explain yourself this time!"
"U.S. still awaiting Libya's permission to evacuate Americans," blared the headline for a page A6 story in today's Washington Post.
"The United States has been unable to get Libya's permission to evacuate American citizens from the country, State Department officials said Tuesday, prompting the administration to temper its response to the Libyan crackdown," Post staffers Mary Beth Sheridan and Colum Lynch noted.
Gee, you'd think that should be front-page news, and it's difficult to imagine this not being front-page news had it happened under President George W. Bush's watch.
On Monday's "Morning Joe," MSNBC co-host Joe Scarborough hinted that President Obama may have been a major catalyst of the current protests against the authoritarian Mubarak regime in Egypt. Scarborough referred to the president's 2009 Cairo speech and wondered if it inspired the present protests.
"Barack Obama, he goes to Cairo, he gives a speech, and he inspires – perhaps he's the one who inspires a lot of these Egyptians to get out into the streets eventually," Scarborough proposed.
The "Morning Joe" panel was discussing the transition of power in Egypt and how it might affect American politics. Scarborough characterized President Obama as on the one hand a possible galvanizing figure in the current push for freedom in Egypt, and yet on the other hand a world leader accused of inaction during oppression of Iranians by their government in 2009.
Washington Post reporter David Brown found "rage and panic" at a recent meeting of AIDS activists in Vienna, placed on page A-10 of Thursday's paper:
The rage is directed at the Obama administration, which many activists say is reneging on a commitment to continue big annual increases in global AIDS spending. The panic arises from the knowledge that in some African countries, patients who want antiretroviral treatment are being turned away and will soon start dying.
Some activists pine for former president George W. Bush, who launched a much-praised multibillion-dollar fund to fight AIDS around the world. But now, in the eyes of many, the U.S. government has replaced the pharmaceutical industry as the main impediment to progress.
The headline on the piece is nondescript, mentioning neither president: "Rage, panic in AIDS fight: Activists fear a lack of funding will force people to be turned away from help and accuse the U.S. of reneging on pledges."
The 2010 World Cup opens in South Africa in a few weeks. As a sports event it is unrivaled in its popularity. It promises to bring a half-million soccer fans to that country.
But it will also draw out the worst of the worst. The Christian Science Monitor reports that the economic promise of an expected half a million largely male incoming consumers is attracting a massive influx of prostitutes from across the border in Zimbabwe. Hotel managers are guessing that as many as 40,000 ladies of the evening are assembling from as far away as Hong Kong, Pakistan, and Venezuela.
This is not the first time this unholy amalgam of sports and the sex trade has materialized. Evidence shows this to be the norm.
The last World Cup competition four years ago in Germany, where prostitution and brothels are legal and tax revenue-generating, attracted thousands of “sex workers” to exploit the crowds. It made a dirty joke out of the tournament motto “A time to make friends.”
The Pentagon rescinded the invitation of evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at its May 6 National Day of Prayer event because of complaints about his previous comments about Islam.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."
On ABC last Wednesday, both World News and Nightline featured a report filed by correspondent Dan Harris in which he linked the activities of some American evangelical Christian pastors with anti-gay hatred and attempts by Uganda’s parliament at passing death penalty legislation to punish homosexuals in the African nation. Each of the reports focused on the extreme views of American pastor Scott Lively and Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa, without including the views of more mainstream American evangelical leaders.
On World News, anchor Diane Sawyer teased: "Gay terror: Have some American evangelical ministers helped threaten the lives of homosexuals in Africa?" She later plugged the report again: "And still ahead on World News, a death threat for gays. It happened after American evangelicals delivered a potent message."
In the version of the report that ran on Nightline, Harris made a point of mentioning Pastor Rick Warren as being a "one-time friend" of Pastor Ssempa. And, though Harris’s reference to Pastor Warren as a "one-time friend" perhaps implies a falling out between the two men, the ABC correspondent could have more directly informed viewers that Pastor Warren released a statement last October declaring that he had not associated with Pastor Ssempa since 2007.
Furthermore, last December, Pastor Warren released a video message for Christians in Uganda in which he attacked the proposed anti-gay law as legislation "I completely oppose and I vigorously condemn," as he went on to declare, "The potential law before your parliament is unjust, it’s extreme, and it’s un-Christian toward homosexuals, requiring death penalty even in some cases."
It's hardly news that black conservatives are reviled among much of the left. There seems to be a sense among much of the liberal media that they have betrayed their own interests through their conservative principles.
Few, however, would have the (dare I say it) audacity to lump prominent and accomplished African American political figures in with oppressive genocidal dictators and serial killers.
But TheRoot.com, a blog owned by the Washington Post, seems to have no qualms about doing so, as evidenced in its list of 21 "Black Folks We'd Like To Remove From Black History". Among the names are Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele.
Also included on the list: murderous Ugandan military dictator Idi Amin, the notorious "DC Sniper" John Allen Muhammad, Zimbabwean kleptocrat Robert Mugabe and the ruthless father-and-son Haitian dictators "Papa Doc" and "Baby Doc" Duvalier.
Does Arianna Huffington consider Glenn Beck more radical and dangerous than an advocate of Islamic Sharia law? She's let off a lot of hot air lately criticizing Fox News president Roger Ailes for employing Beck, but it turns out that on the Huffington Post's payroll is an envoy to the United States from the Somali Unity government, led by the Islamic Courts Union.
The ICU is a strong proponent of Sharia law, and an organization dubbed by some the Taliban of Africa for its radical interpretation of Islam and its support for some violent elements of the Islamic community (like Osama Bin Laden).
Abukar Arman, the Somali Unity government's envoy to the United States, is open about his advocacy of Sharia as long as it is "adapted to address contemporary political, social, economic, and spiritual challenges in a just way." He lays out a number conditions that would have to be satisfied for sharia to be effectively implemented in Somalia. These include respect for life, assembly, conscience, thought, rule of law, political freedom, and international peace. Considering the violent history of the Somali Unity government and he ICU, that is not likely.
Trying to blame someone—anyone—other than his man Barack Obama for the security meltdown surrounding NWA 253, Ed Schultz ran head-first into history without a helmet tonight. Seeking to shift some of the onus onto England for not having alerted us about having denied young Umar entry into its country, Ed entertainingly claimed that the UK has probably been "our best ally since the country started."
Um, Ed: "since the country started"? You mean, like, when we started the country in 1776? When we declared our independence from, and fought a war against, uh, you know? That same "best ally" that—more than a third of a century later—we fought the War of 1812 against, in the course of which its forces occupied Washington, DC and burned down the White House?
Now it's true that for many years we have enjoyed a special relationship with the UK, one personified by the warm and respectful dealings between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. One that was strained, however, when shortly after his inauguration PBO removed the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office and sent it back to the Brits.
Before his run-in with American history, Schultz also played the blame-Bush card.
Pres. Obama should find time in his busy vacation schedule to drop a palm-trees-and-sandy-beaches thank you postcard to NBC. On this morning's Today, successive network staffers defended the administration's [mis]handling of the Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab matter.
First, terrorism expert Roger Cressey [who usually plays it straight], claimed there wasn't enough information to "connect the dots" and move young Umar from the "watch list" to the "no-fly" list. Really? The guy's father, a respected international banker, was so concerned about his son's extremist Islamist views that he took the unusual measure of personally contacting the US embassy with a warning. Dots? How about a huge, flashing, neon exclamation point!?
Next, John Harwood backhands GOP criticism of the Obama admin's national security policy as "partisan."
Today is World AIDS Day, on which we reflect on the global epidemic that has taken so many millions of lives and ponder ways in which we can improve world health by combating the terrible illness. In honoring the day, however, some news outlets have neglected to note the tremendous contributions to the AIDS effort undertaken by our last president.
MSNBC noted on its website a recent U.N. report that found that new cases of the syndrome are "stabilizing." "There are now 4 million people on lifesaving AIDS drugs worldwide, a 10-fold increase in five years," the article noted, adding that those drugs have saved roughly 3 million lives, according to the report (h/t NB reader Tom M.).
Yet MSNBC makes no mention of President Bush or his tremendous efforts to combat the global AIDS epidemic. It's not as if his contribution to the fight is ambiguous. U.S. News reports that the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is credited for saving roughly 2 million lives.