Archive for Saturday, June 21, 2014

Saturday Column: National security advice should be free of politics

June 21, 2014

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Susan Rice serves as senior adviser to President Obama on international affairs and chairs the National Security Council overseeing the National Security staff. She serves on the president’s cabinet and is said to be among the president’s inner-inner circle of advisers.

She has an impressive record of achievements, starting with her college years and her selection as a Rhodes Scholar. She has served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, in senior advisory positions with both Presidents Clinton and Obama and as assistant secretary of state for African affairs. She noted in a U.S. Mission to the United Nations report that she “served on the front lines of the president’s ‘new era of engagement.’” She is good, smart and deeply embedded in the Democratic Party.

Also, she serves as a mouthpiece for the president, as she did when explaining the White House version of the Benghazi tragedy.

Who should be held responsible for the current state of affairs in Iraq and the fact our country and the White House were caught unprepared and/or flat-footed?

If titles mean anything, the chair of the National Security Council should be a major player, but in the current hyper-partisan environment in Washington, is there a case to be made that the head of security should not be a partisan political operative?

This past Thursday, President Obama met with members of his national security team and then held a press conference to disclose the actions he will take relative to the Iraq situation.

He emphasized the need to increase intelligence activities inside Iraq and detailed several facets of this intelligence-gathering task such as identifying specific targets within Iraq for possible missile strikes and the necessity to strengthen our counterterrorism efforts.

This sounds good and on target, but right now, the big question is what happened to our intelligence efforts prior to the Iraq insurgents/terrorists surge? What can be learned from our inability to keep on top of potentially deadly situations?

Were members of the National Security Council blind to what was going on or asleep at the switch? Those serving under the leadership of Susan Rice include national security advisers and cabinet officials, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other officials whose expertise is pertinent to current situations.

These people should have all the resources, the absolute best, to be aware of dangerous situations around the world, but they obviously blew it with Iraq.

Or did the intelligence and military people know of the danger but didn’t make a strong enough presentation to the entire National Security Council? Or, another possibility: Since those on the National Security Council are appointed by the president and serve as the president wishes, are they hesitant to speak up and differ, even argue and vote against the policy favored by the president? Are too many on the council “yes men” for the president rather than being totally committed to what is in the best interests of this country?

As noted above, Rice has a distinguished record, but how does she measure up in the security, intelligence, terrorism and military areas? Does she present unvarnished facts to the public? Did her performance in presenting these facts to the nation represent the thinking of her fellow council members or were these facts given to her by White House and State Department officials?

Either way, it looks as if White House and State Department officials were blind-sided by the Benghazi attacks or they knew what happened but didn’t shoot straight with the public.

Years later, the insurgents of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria mounted their deadly, brutal attacks apparently once again catching National Security Council members by surprise. Did some members of the council know about this danger but didn’t make a strong case, or did they make their concerns known but Obama or Rice dismissed the situation as not sufficiently dangerous?

The public has every right to expect members of the National Security Council to be on top of all situations, with little excuse — really no excuse — for being caught napping.

There should be no room or justification for party politics to play a role in the council’s actions. The president and this country deserve exceptional, professional public servants serving on this critical council, not individuals who possibly compromise their mission by trying to please the president who appoints them. They must base decisions and votes on their professional appraisal of the situations.

The country relies on the National Security Council to keep it from being caught off-guard. We’ve been relatively fortunate so far, in that none of the blind spots have critically wounded this country, but how can Americans be more confident that National Security Council members will be more diligent in carrying out their duties, free of partisan political pressures?

Comments

Fred Whitehead Jr. 11 months, 1 week ago

As usual, another tirade from the Koch Regime member owner of this Republican newsrag attacking the President of the United States. We see almost daily the revulsion and prejudice against the current Commander-in-Chief in the printed attacks on this lawfully elected Chief of Sate. I know that "Bleeding Kansas" is pretty much in line with this line of crap, and that the owner feels somehow the need to verify this stupidity, but it is getting very tiresome and disgusting to see the almost daily rant against the President and the Federal Government.

Kendall Simmons 11 months, 1 week ago

"Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 hour, 10 minutes ago

As usual, another tirade from the Koch Regime member owner of this Republican newsrag attacking the President of the United States. We see almost daily the revulsion and prejudice against the current Commander-in-Chief in the printed attacks on this lawfully elected Chief of Sate. I know that "Bleeding Kansas" is pretty much in line with this line of crap, and that the owner feels somehow the need to verify this stupidity, but it is getting very tiresome and disgusting to see the almost daily rant against the President and the Federal Government."

Note: I copied the above from the "apparently not signed in" comment section. I think Fred thought it was posted, but it apparently wasn't visible (at least not at 11:20 AM) once anyone else was signed in. Or maybe it was just invisible to me when I signed it :-) I guess we'll soon learn.)

Kendall Simmons 11 months, 1 week ago

Frankly, I think Dolph has his head up his butt when he writes things like "The public has every right to expect members of the National Security Council to be on top of all situations, with little excuse — really no excuse — for being caught napping."

Excuse me? We're one country. Nothing more. There is no way on earth we're going to be "on top of all situations". It's frickin' IMPOSSIBLE!!!

Oh, and you want to know "Who should be held responsible for the current state of affairs in Iraq"??? How about we hold al-Maliki responsible? ISIS responsible? The people actually doing this responsible? Sure...we could go back to 2003 and hold Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, and...most assuredly, Bremer responsible. But we simply CANNOT control everyone!!!

So please stop with the American ego-tripping. It's stupid and pointless. We are NOT responsible for everything. We CANNOT know everything. We CANNOT solve every problem in the world. So let's stop pointing fingers for failure to do the impossible.

Oh...and what on earth did this diatribe have to do with the headline..."National security advice should be free of politics"??? Where were politics demonstrated as a factor even once??? All we suffered through, instead, was Dolph's bizarre belief that somehow America has superhuman powers that allows it to see all, know all and solve all. Yeah, right. Sure, Dolph.

How about...just for once...you comment on things actually related to local issues? And I do NOT mean KU or the Chancellor or the Board of Regents. And I do not mean simply offer pointless rhetorical questions. Maybe your thoughts on how the state keeps trying to usurp power from local communities and the people and centralize it within the state government? Or the spending spree our commissioners seem to be on when we're already going to be faced with increased local taxes thanks to so-far obviously foolish state tax decisions?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 11 months, 1 week ago

Mr. Simons, why not just sell all your investments in oil and put it elsewhere.

Scott Quenette 11 months, 1 week ago

It was under a previous National Security Council that our country was attacked and thousands of people died yet Condoleeza Rice, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld keep getting asked their opinions on things. See how this works dummy?

By the way. Abu Kattalah appears to be corroborating the story about the video. That's inconvenient for Trey Gowdy and crew, isn't it?

Julius Nolan 11 months, 1 week ago

Dolph can't can't let a Saturday go by without attacking Obama or KU.

Scott Quenette 11 months, 1 week ago

One more thing. The National Security Advisor isn't the "head" of the NSC. The NSC includes the President, VP, Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense also.

Who do you think actually "leads" that team? Then again, I don't come to this Saturday column for facts.

Philipp Wannemaker 11 months, 1 week ago

If you want facts, based on my short time here, don't look for them on Journal World, least of all in Saturday columns.

Chris Scafe 11 months, 1 week ago

Saddam Hussein kept the Iraqi people under his thumb, but he also kept the country stable. When we overthrew his government under false pretenses we freed the various factions to start fighting each other for control. The only way to keep the factions from fighting would have been to dedicate as many resources to stability as Hussein had (probably more since we are outsiders and thousands of miles away). How long, Mr. Simons, do you think we should have kept our military there to maintain stability? How much of your money and how many offspring are you willing to sacrifice to maintain Iraq after a war of American aggression? Me? I wish we had never invaded and I'm glad we're out.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 11 months, 1 week ago

Most of what government does shouldn't be political, but that's where we have come, especially since President Obama was elected. It's a sad state of affairs when the opposing party is so focused on getting rid of one man, that they could care less about solving problems and actually governing. I keep looking for reasons for this obsession. He hasn't gone after anyone's guns. He has tried to get Congress to pass some bills to help the American people, even borrowing from Republican ideas. He hasn't enacted more banking regulations as many of us would like. He hasn't shut down your hollowed Gitmo, and hasn't even released as many prisoners as Bush did. He followed the withdrawal plan from Iraq. He hasn't gotten us into another war we can't afford. He hasn't even used his executive powers as much as past presidents have. We are slowly recovering from the Great Recession, and slow is good. We don't need the cycle of boom and bust which is not a responsible adult thing to do. What is their obsession with making him a failure, even if it ruins our country? Is it racism? Are they still seeking revenge over Nixon? Are they really so obsessed with abortion, gays, and guns like their supporters that they can't see what they are doing to our country? They seem to be anti-education, yet put down people who work manual labor jobs, because they didn't get an education. They were all gung-ho for war, but don't want to pay for it, either in taxes or their own sons being drafted. They want to ban abortion in all cases, unless it's their own wife's health that is in jeopardy. They want everyone to own a gun, but requiring training how to safely use these guns shouldn't be a requirement. They want their religious rights, but they don't want people of other religions or atheists to have rights. They think marriage is really important, but they have just as high a rate of divorce as anyone. They think all embryos should be brought to term, but after that, they could care less. They encourage people to not buy health insurance, yet they say people need to take personal responsibility for themselves. They say welfare people are bad, yet they put down the people who are working 2 jobs to make ends meet. They say the President was born in Kenya, so he isn't a citizen, even though the proof is against them, yet they support a guy who was really born in Canada and has a Cuban father. The hypocrisy and, yes, racism, abounds, and the sad thing is, they don't even see it.

Bob Smith 11 months, 1 week ago

The IRS should also be free of politics.

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