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When Silence Is Golden

As more and more time passes, it becomes clearer and clearer that Barack Obama, as so many of us feared, simply isn't ready for prime time. He not only does not grasp so many fundamentals about being president, but refuses to acknowledge it and has surrounded himself with sycophants who can't or won't tell him when he's wrong.

One of his flaws that keeps getting him in trouble is how he's in love with his own voice, and is convinced that he can get his way on any subject if he can just talk enough about it. That, I am convinced, is at the core of two of his bigger blunders of late.

First up, his placing of Anwar Al-Awlaki, a Taliban leader and an American citizen, on a "hit list" went public. Now, I have no problems with Al-Awlaki's getting sent to his divine reward, but I am uncomfortable with our government deciding that it has the right to kill an American citizen -- even one as openly traitorous as Al-Awlaki -- without any legal due process.

In the past, this sort of thing was handled sub rosa -- a quiet order was given and carried out, and something bad would just happen to the person or persons in question. Oh, there would be all kinds of rumors and speculations, but nothing official. A textbook example was the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in his hotel room in Dubai. Most of the world is convinced that Israel carried it out (they certainly had the motive, and the efficiency of the hit certainly points towards them), but there are enough muddy details to allow plausible doubt -- and Israel has refused to say one way or another, citing a long-term policy of not commenting on what the Mossad does.

Most Americans are OK with that. We understand that every now and then, on very rare occasions, our government has to bend the laws in the name of our national security. We watch for signs when it goes too far, and raise holy hell when we think it does, but as long as it's done with exceptional restraint and only against exceptionally dangerous individuals, we're willing to let those rare exceptions slide.

Such as in the case of Al-Awlaki. If he were to get killed in an attack, along with a bunch of his followers, there would be at worst, a collective shrug saying "he laid down with dogs, he got blown up with the fleas." No great loss.

But to have him on a "hit list," and to have our government say openly that it intends to kill an American citizen without benefit of trial... that's a little scary.

In a similar vein, Obama's showing his amateurness with how the crisis on the Korean peninsula is unfolding. Right now, the best analysts are saying that the first real step in the current tensions was last year, when a North Korean warship intruded into South Korean orders and ignored warnings and warning shots. The South Koreans ended up shooting the hell out of that ship, sending it limping home barely afloat.

Then, this year, the North Koreans apparently struck back, with one of their subs sinking a South Korean corvette, killing 46 sailors.

Now, the traditional way of dealing with this is again sub rosa. A quiet tit-for-tat game would play out -- a North Korean submarine would simply fail to return to port, and South Korean or American anti-sub weapon inventories would be juggled to conceal a shortage. Or a North Korean military facility would suffer a rather spectacular "work accident," and we (the US and South Korea) would offer our sympathies in an exceptionally timely fashion.

But no. Obama (after consultations with the South Koreans, and I strongly suspect who was taking the lead on that -- Obama is exceptionally tough on our allies, while downright obsequious to our foes) decided to make the whole thing public, to announce that we had an open-and-shut case, and take it to the United Nations for adjudication.

Excuse me, Mr. President? There is a huge difference between crimes and acts of war. We aren't prosecuting North Korea. We aren't interested in trying and convicting them. We don't need to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that they did it.

And we especially don't need to try to sway a "jury" at the United Nations. Here's a hint, sir: they don't like us. They might like you, because you seem to agree with them about how terrible the US is (especially during the previous administration), but they aren't going to give us a "fair shake." And they're certainly not going to "convict" North Korea and impose some kind of sentence on the dictatorship.

There's one rule that you don't learn in law school, but you do in pretty much any kind of war-game and in the real world. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best: "If you shoot at a king you must kill him."

In situations like this, you have to be very careful with how you handle your opponent. You must always leave him a way out, an escape, some way of salvaging something -- until you're ready to finish him off. An enemy backed into a corner is utterly unpredictable, utterly desperate, and will do anything he can to survive. Which is why you don't do that until you've done everything you can to minimize the harm he can inflict.

North Korea is in dire straits, but it is hardly on the ropes. It still has an exceptional military power, and can cause much death and destruction. To bring the matter before the United Nations and demand that it take some kind of "action" -- in and of itself a laughable notion -- is to attempt to corner North Korea. Indeed, it has already announced that any kind of sanction or other action would be an "act of war" -- unlike, say, attacking and sinking a South Korean warship in international waters -- and would bring about retaliation.

Now, if they'd only limit their "retaliation" to the UN, I'd be tempted to say "go for it! Need any help?" But no, it's clear Kim Jong Il would strike back against South Korea or the United States.

The downfall of the North Korean regime is inevitable. The state is inherently unstable, and the day it falls will be a hugely chaotic event that will have severe consequences on South Korea, China, and the United States. It will be a humanitarian nightmare, and absolutely no one can say with any authority what the North Korean military will do with its tremendous arsenal. Will they walk away from their stations? Will they fire them off, figuring they have nothing to lose? No one knows.

What can be known is that taking the matter to the United Nations offers no good solutions to the situation. But it lets Obama play to what he perceives as his strengths: lots of talking, lots of "community building" and "seeking consensus," and not a single tough decision to make or any real accountability.

That's how "community organizing" goes, Mr. President. It's a wonderful position -- lots of potential power, no real accountability.

But you're the Commander In Chief, not the Community Organizer In Chief. You're not trying to win concessions from the powers that be, you ARE the powers that be.

Start acting like it, sir.


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Comments (24)

"But you're the Commander I... (Below threshold)

"But you're the Commander In Chief, not the Community Organizer In Chief."

I'm sure there will be an announcement shortly that a commission will be formed 'to study' the problem. That's Barry's way of voting "Present!" as CIC.

The Boy Queen is not naive ... (Below threshold)

The Boy Queen is not naive and inept, he is evil.
Everything he does is part of the agenda to bring America to its knees.
I do not understand the inability of some to admit this truth. No one could be so lacking in intelligence and ability to learn from past mistakes. His speeches are only a stalling tactic to buy time to implement his plans.
This intelligence blunder is by design and will achieve the desired intent.

Is Obama merely naive, or j... (Below threshold)

Is Obama merely naive, or just plain stupid? Given that his supposed college transcripts have never been made public, I say that Obama never spent a sober day in any college classroom.

I've wondered at times, jus... (Below threshold)

I've wondered at times, just HOW MANY have, to use Chicago slang, 'gotten whacked' by direct order of the President over the course of our history.

There was even discussions all the way up to FDR when Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto's travel itinerary was discovered by navy codebreakers. Fortunately for us, lawyers had not yet gotten a stranglehold on decision making. But that did not stop some from using the word "assassination". And this was war time.

Remember back to the good o... (Below threshold)

Remember back to the good old days when Bush was an idiot?

It must chap the democrats asses to watch Obama Coyote - Super Genius flounder around so.

America will have to be DAM... (Below threshold)

America will have to be DAMN LUCKY to survive this moron!

And calling him a MORON is the best thing I can offer. Because if he is DELIBERATELY making us appear defenseless then he is something MUC worse!

You seem to be forgetting t... (Below threshold)
jim m:

You seem to be forgetting that obama wants the communists to win. He would be thrilled to see a thug with a nuke wipe out S Korea.

FOB will go down in history... (Below threshold)

FOB will go down in history in 2012 as the most worthless prez ever! Fob is something worst than evil, we can understand evil, as Stan, but it's harder to accept having a prez being a pathological liar! Politics aside, Lying is a disease.

Obama's frigid and child-li... (Below threshold)

Obama's frigid and child-like response to North Korea's assualt is almost as comical as bryan's attempt to critique Jay's writing skills, but at least bryan exhibits a sense of awareness.

Oh yeah. Textbook example o... (Below threshold)

Oh yeah. Textbook example of identity theft. Of "friendly" nationals blared all over the western world. "Efficiency".

In the spy world, anything that gets you in and out without detection is, by definition, efficient.

Or were you somehow under the impression that such things are done under the Marquis of Queensbury Rules?

Such individuals also seek to avoid overexposure and needless risk. IF it were the Mossad, why would they travel via Iran?

"The kikes" - nice choice o... (Below threshold)

"The kikes" - nice choice of words. You think that up yourself, or did Lee Ward, BULLSHIT ARTIST!(TM) help you?

As for the "video". Yeah real good. I'm sure every one of those beards and mustaches was real. Same with the hair color. And no one wears lifts anymore.

I'll bet they have every one of those "kikes" ID'd right now, right bryanD, SpyMaster?

I'll make it simple, for your simple mind. Local TV stations have been showing the video of a local bank robbery suspect for the last week. Still pictures in the newspaper. Really good photos. Still hasn't been ID'd.

I guess that you're unaware... (Below threshold)

I guess that you're unaware that the PLO and Hammas hate each others guts, and on occasion, knock one another off. Brother killing brother. With "PEOPLE LIKE YOU", it's always THE JEWS.

Simple solution for simple minds.

You really are good at the ... (Below threshold)

You really are good at the pirouette aren't you?

I am right on topic as to who might have offed al-Mabhouh. You seem very upset that it might not be THE JEWS.

I can see why you hang out with Lee Ward, BULLSHIT ARTIST!(TM)

"Even the Jews admit it was... (Below threshold)

"Even the Jews admit it was the Jews. It's a big story in the Israeli press. Rather taboo in America, as usual."

Oh, sweet Jesus! In bidding you good night, because the BULLSHIT index has gone way up, I leave you with this.

Let me tell you a story, child. It may open your mind a tiny bit. One can only hope. I really don't care about "the Jews admit it was the Jews" crap.

On occasion, not often, I'd get to meet a 'smart' crook. Not a 'lucky one', a 'smart' one. I'd talk to these people in order to learn how their minds work, so that I could do my job better.

After a very lengthy follow-up and several search warrants, this guy was found to be good for over 100 crimes. But the arrest that led to all of this occurred because as he said "I violated my one and only rule." When I asked what it was he said "NEVER SHIT IN YOUR OWN BACK YARD". Now I know this will be very difficult for you bryanD, but please, think that statement over.

Here's one more. Again, try and THINK about it. Your GREATEST advantage over your enemy isn't the prowess you actually have, IT'S THE PROWESS YOUR ENEMY THINKS YOU HAVE.

THINK about it when you make those mammoth leaps of logic of yours.

Why is <a href="http://wizb... (Below threshold)

Why is the Jew-hater still here?

Sigh... first good night's ... (Below threshold)

Sigh... first good night's sleep I get in ages, and BryanD shows up again and goes on a huge tear.

Folks, you KNOW (or oughta know) that his comments last about 30 seconds after I discover them. DO NOT BOTHER RESPONDING TO HIM.


1. Anwar al-Awlaki wasn't ... (Below threshold)

1. Anwar al-Awlaki wasn't put on a "hit list", he was approved for capture or killing. Or do you want to avoid hitting a terrorist base if capture isn't an option he's a (former, really) American citizen?

2. I like how you're apparently fine with anything our government does, as long as they keep it secret from us. And how are we supposed to "watch for signs it's going too far" if it's kept secret?

3. North Korea threatens war if you look at them sideways, that's hardly new. And just what makes you think they would keep quiet about any covert attack?

4. You seem to be in favor of terrorist acts against international diplomacy bodies. Perhaps the government should sign you up for one of those completely unacknowledged assassinations you seem to be so fond of.

5. You're an idiot.

What can be known ... (Below threshold)
James H:
What can be known is that taking the matter to the United Nations offers no good solutions to the situation.

As I understand it, South Korea has reacted today by suspending all trade with North Korea and appealing to the UN for support and sanctions. The US is backing this move.

Here's the important thing about the UN, though: If the Koreas take their dispute there, then it will end up before the Security Council ... and China, North Korea's long-term ally, will be forced to take a stand, one way or the other. This IMO, is the value of carrying the matter to the UN.

Besides, I reiterate that we should follow South Korea's lead on this matter, as a South Korean warship was sunk and any consequences in this standoff would fall first on South Korean heads.

"...and China, North Korea'... (Below threshold)

"...and China, North Korea's long-term ally, will be forced to take a stand, one way or the other. This IMO, is the value of carrying the matter to the UN."

So what happens when China pisses on us again?

As for boob...er...Bob:

"Anwar al-Awlaki wasn't put on a "hit list", he was approved for capture or killing."

"hit list" - American slang. DEATH list.

"Anwar al-Awlaki wasn't ... (Below threshold)

"Anwar al-Awlaki wasn't put on a "hit list", he was approved for capture or killing."

"hit list" - American slang. DEATH list.

Ohhh.. I thought we were going to give him a Gitmo "belly slap". Good thing we're not - that's torture, doncha know.

So what happens wh... (Below threshold)
James H:
So what happens when China pisses on us again?

Will China or won't China? I don't know. But China can bring pressure on North Korea in a way that other countries can't. And finding out China's mood could be very useful.

Well James, I'm not going t... (Below threshold)

Well James, I'm not going to hold my breath. Let's just say that so far, their record isn't one to inspire confidence.

The main concern the Chinese seem to have about the North Koreans is KEEPING THEM OUT OF CHINA.

When silence is golden you ... (Below threshold)

When silence is golden you can be sure Barrys mouth will be shut.

Obama is truely not ready f... (Below threshold)

Obama is truely not ready for prime time. I think his senate victory was premature for his experience and ability to actually deliberate, gain a concensus and compromise but he is so immature he always brings it back to himself. I am the opposite of Michelle Obama. For the first time in my life I am not proud of my country. I cannot wait until 2012 but 2010 will relieve some of the stress. What is more perplexing to me is the number of liberals on this thread that actually think Obama is accomplishing anything. ww






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