Archives for: May 2012, 04
The man, who is known only as Sam, was parked on Sixth Avenue near Niketown when Tuesday's violence erupted.
"My family came down for a holiday, welcome to the States!" he said. "They (protestors) were just going to town on (Niketown windows) and they (nearby cops) weren't doing anything."
To add insult to injury, Sam said even the non-violent protestors were rude, mocking him and taking photos of his damaged car.
"I don't know why people want pictures of my car. I don't know why they have to mouth off to me and tell me to go back to Canada, you hoser," he said. "This is a real welcome to Seattle."
Not wanting Sam's opinion of Seattle to be tainted by Tuesday's mayhem, the folks at Seattle's Convention and Visitors Bureau want to show him and his family how wonderful Seattle can be for tourists. The organization has generously offered to bring him back to the city on their dime.
The only problem is that nobody knows who he is.
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There was a mistake in a map at the Metropolitan Museum of Art—but nobody noticed until 13-year-old Benjamin Lerman Coady visited with his mom. The Connecticut seventh-grader and history buff was checking out a permanent exhibit on the Byzantine Empire when he spotted the problem:
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It is understandable that Mitt Romney reacts sharply to the credit given to President Obama for the killing of Osama bin Laden. I can recall well the analogous anger many of us felt at the political points scored by the Bush campaign machine after the 9/11 attacks. I like to think the anger was more justifiable back then, but there is room for disagreement. After the 9/11 attacks there was a strong show of unity. Al Gore's famous speech George W. Bush "is MY Commander in Chief!" was not unusual. It was all followed by attacks on Democrats as weak and unpatriotic.
A conservative acquaintance argued that a President Gore would not have had the ability to rally conservatives as President Bush had rallied liberals. I explained that his argument was based on an unjust assumption: that conservatives lacked the simple patriotism that liberals were showing in abundance. His only response was a blank uncomprehending stare. I had just said something in an unfamiliar language. It was quite beyond him.
Mitt Romney's response has been a twofer. A gratuitous slap at President Jimmy Carter and a diminution of Obama's accomplishment: It was an easy call on Obama's part. Any President would have made the same decision. "Even Jimmy Carter."
Jimmy Carter was, in fact, given a somewhat similar choice, and he did make a similar decision during the hostage crisis. The risk was great and, in his case, the results were not at all good.
Wouldn't it be something, though, if some hidden parallel universe allowed a glimpse of what a Republican administration would have done? Talking Points Memo manages the next best thing. They have tracked down an account published in 2007 that provides just such a glimpse. The New York Times discovered an incident from a couple of years earlier. The resemblance in circumstance is striking.
In 2005, it wasn't bin Laden. The number two al Qaeda figure, Ayman al-Zawahri, along with several top terrorist figures, had been located. A plan had been put together. It involved the capture of a stunning number of senior al Qaeda operatives. The CIA was begging for permission to go on in. The Bush administration thought about it and cancelled the whole thing. The main reason was that Pakistan might get ticked off.
It was one of several such instances. The CIA would track important bin Laden deputies. They would put together careful plans and logistical backup. The Bush administration would cancel everything. "There is a degree of frustration that is off the charts, because they are looking at targets on a daily basis and can’t move against them." To be fair, similar hesitations had been expressed by the Clinton administration, as well as President Bush before the 9/11 attacks. But the urgency after the destruction of thousands on US soil did not come close to the horror of what had been seen in New York and Washington as buildings tumbled down.
One instance, perhaps the earliest after the 9/11 attacks, came at the battle of Tora Bora in the following weeks. As CIA personnel and Afghan allies closed in, the Americans on the ground were on the phone, begging for American troops to land and finish off bin Laden. He was surrounded and cut off. They could hear his voice broadcast from nearby expressing resignation as he gave what he and others thought would be his final words. But US officials on the other side of the ocean said no. Too risky. And troops were engaged in readying the coming invasion of Iraq.
Campaign ads on behalf of President Obama show Mitt Romney attacking then candidate Obama for even talking about going after bin Laden in Pakistan without that county's permission. Words a few months later are also shown. "It’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person."
Critics charge that the pro-Obama ad does not provide the context of Mitt Romney's 2007 remarks. They are correct. Paul Glastris, writing for the Washington Monthly, provides that context. And it doesn't help those critics.
The reason the Bush administration pretty much abandoned the lethal hunt for bin laden was not that it couldn't be done. It was a strategic decision. When President Bush talked of bin Laden as just one person, not important to the entire effort, he was not making excuses. The administration invaded Iraq because they were privately convinced that one man in a cave on the other side of the world could not have been responsible for so terrible an event. It had to have been a nation. Decades of cold war experience had made that central fact evident to them. The one candidate that had to have been the strategic mastermind could only have been Saddam Hussein.
The focus was on a hostile country, and not on a group of terrorists. Get the head and the rest will die. Variations on the theme survive today, urging a war with countries or even an entire religion. We were attacked by Islam. Millions of Muslims around the world collectively should be our new target.
Millions. Let's keep that scope in mind.
When President Obama shifted priorities he was criticized for ignoring the wider picture, those millions. But now that bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda is crippled, albeit still alive, the cold-war experience has to be seen as misapplied. Terrorism, as it turns out, is sometimes the doing of terrorists.
Mitt Romney's context, released by his own campaign, played into that.
It’s not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person. It is worth fashioning and executing an effective strategy to defeat global, violent Jihad and I have a plan for doing that.
His plan, the substitute for going after bin Laden and his group, was a bit vague. But the broad outline, the ambitious scope, was clear.
Global Jihad is not an effort that is being populated by a handful or even a football stadium full of people. It is—it involves millions of people and is going to require a far more comprehensive strategy than a targeted approach for bin laden or a few of his associates.
Mitt Romney took a stand against targeting. It is the difference between a rifle and a blockbuster bomb, a difference massively multiplied. Millions.
A change in administration can produce a dramatic change in results. A broad stroke effort in Iraq resulted in many more American deaths than the 9/11 attacks. Certainly the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi casualties must not be discounted. A narrowly focused, laser-like, targeting of the group responsible for the 9/11 attack has gotten bin Laden dead, his group on the run.
Mitt's context would have made our wide scope even wider, the force more diffuse, the results a disaster.
Obama killed what Romney accurately called a football stadium full of terrorist leaders. We are much safer than we were.
Mitt Romney would mobilize American war capabilities against millions around the world. If he becomes President, we can only hope he will have changed his mind.