We elect Presidents to make the tough calls, the calls that put the welfare of the nation above politics, partisanship and even individuals. We expect them to make those calls and to accept the consequences, knowing that popularity doesn’t lie in that part of the job.
July 16, 1945, Trinity site: the Manhattan Project’s work bore fruit with the first detonation of an atomic device in history. Harry Truman, president only since mid-April, had a terrible decision to make. As American forces closed in on the Japanese home islands, the Japanese, including civilians, fought with renewed fanaticism. In only four months, the Japanese had inflicted nearly half the total American casualties already suffered in three years of the Pacific war. The best estimates of casualties in a conventional assault on Japan were more than one million.
In the hope of avoiding so many casualties, American and Japanese, President Truman authorized the use of an atomic weapon on Hiroshima on August 6. At least 80,000 died in the blast, but Japan did not surrender, and another bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later, killing approximately 40,000. Tens of thousands would die later from radiation exposure. Harry Truman’s gamble paid off: Japan surrendered on August 15, and a million and more Americans and Japanese did not die.
This was not the most destructive air raid of the war. On March 9, 1945, in a single fire bombing air raid on Tokyo, as many as 130,000 died. In February of 1945, a series of Allied fire bombing raids on Dresden, Germany killed as many as 135,000.
Harry Truman, despite the destruction he knew would result, despite the loss of tens, even hundreds of thousands of lives, had the moral character and the courage to do what was necessary to protect American lives, to make the hard choice. He didn’t care about his legacy, a presidential library, Rose Garden public relations photos ops or slobbering adulation. He did what was right for America and for the world.
And then, Barack Obama.
Today, June 24, 2015, Mr. Obama announced the results of a “policy review.” He took no questions. It was a standard Obama speech, full of “I, “me,” and “my.” He lauded his great successes, and explained his great humanitarian concerns for the families of Americans taken hostage, some 80 since 9-11. It was, as always, all about him, his feelings, his great moral superiority as he makes decisions, and his unmatched humanitarian concern for American hostages held by terrorists that caused him to make–via executive order–new policy affecting not only American national security, but the security of the world.
In effect, Mr. Obama just put a huge target on the backs of every American abroad, and probably, near our southern border.
CNN provides the central features of this new policy:
–A Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell will coordinate all of the U.S. government’s response. Located at the FBI, it will be directed by a senior FBI official, but will have representatives from other key US agencies such as the State Department and the Pentagon. This will be a 24/7 operation and is modeled on Joint Terrorism Task Forces where officials from many agencies come together to work on a common set of problems.
–A “family engagement coordinator” will be the single point of contact for the families of hostages.
–A senior U.S. diplomat will be appointed to be the presidential envoy for hostage affairs at the State Department and will be responsible for the diplomatic component of any hostage negotiation.
–An intelligence official will be appointed who will be able to declassify information about the hostages so that it can be given to the hostage’s family. A big problem in the past has been the fact that the families were not ‘cleared’ to receive the intelligence, often classified, about what was happening to their family members who had been taken hostage.
–Hostage families had in the past been threatened with prosecution if they paid ransom to terrorist organizations. They will no longer need to fear this outcome, as the U.S. government will not prosecute them if they communicate directly with the hostage takers and offer ransom payments.
–As per longstanding policy, the U.S. government won’t pay any ransom itself, nor will it alter its ‘no concessions’ policy.
Of course, in the Bergdahl deal, Mr. Obama threw any “no-concessions” policy out the window. I suspect in the years to come, when Mr. Obama goes on to his reward of running the UN, playing golf, and being generally worshipped, we’ll discover that the Bergdahl deal, and others, did in fact involve paying handsome ransoms.
Like the coming Iran nuclear deal, this is obviously a horrific policy, but why now, and what’s in it for Mr. Obama?
* First and foremost, Mr. Obama is looking toward his legacy. He wants iconic Rose Garden photo ops of grateful families and perhaps even returned hostages with their heads attached. Such photos and video will look splendid in his presidential library.
* Obviously, Mr. Obama hopes this will distract people from his terrible record in actually rescuing hostages. This is due not only to his politicization and dismantling of our intelligence apparatus and our military, but to his unwillingness to actually identify our enemies and to admit that we are at war with them.
* He is searching desperately for anything he can call a foreign policy success. Inevitably, this policy will encourage the kidnapping of Americans, and others. Even so, Mr. Obama will call this idiotic and dangerous policy a great success. He is shamelessly doing just that with Obamacare. If he manages to close Gitmo, that too, regardless of the harm it causes our national security, will be lauded as a great success.
* Mr. Obama thinks, always and first, about himself and what will benefit him. Political posturing and rhetoric take precedence over America and Americans. He cares so little about Americans, even American ambassadors, that in the aftermath of Benghazi, he blatantly lied about everything, even refusing to admit that it was a terrorist attack. He and Hillary Clinton, over the very coffins of the dead, lied to their survivors.
* In refusing to admit that we fight a worldwide war against Islamist jihadists, Mr. Obama prefers to treat terrorism and war as mere criminal acts. Thus is the “fusion center” centered in a civilian law enforcement agency that has no actual responsibility or jurisdiction for recovering the hostages taken as acts of war. However, it does allow Mr. Obama and his press secretary mouthpieces to claim that the FBI is on the job.
* This will also allow Mr. Obama to greatly expand the size and power of the federal government and he’ll be doing it “for the hostages and their families.” There will soon be a great many more for which to do it.
* Mr. Obama is turning American foreign policy and responsibility over to the families of kidnapping victims and whomever they choose to help them. Apparently, those people will also be given previously classified intelligence information. One can be certain that when their efforts catastrophically fail, Mr. Obama and his lackeys will be quick to point out that the fault was not theirs. Mr. Obama wants to keep his administration in the loop primarily to ensure plausible deniability and the ability to spin convincingly.
The subtext of Mr. Obama’s speech was that his administration was going to better coordinate with third parties, such as Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) in helping families secure the release of hostages via ransom. In effect, the highest levels of the American government will be directly involved in paying ransoms to terrorists while Mr. Obama will solemnly intone, as he did in the speech, that the policy of the American government never to pay ransom has not changed.
CNN also had this to say:
This is predicated on the seemingly reasonable view that the U.S. government should not pay ransoms, as they will encourage hostage-taking. In fact, there is no empirical evidence for the claim that the United States’ policy of not paying for the release of its hostages–unlike certain Europe governments–makes Americans any safer in hostile areas overseas.
It will not take long before such “empirical evidence” will be so obvious even CNN will not be able to avoid reporting it.
Mr. Obama is concerned about terrorists in a declared war against America–a war he will not recognize–taking American hostages. Hostage families are complaining about how his administration treats them, and about the fact that he is doing little or nothing to rescue their loved ones. In displaying his moral superiority and great humanitarianism, he admitted as much in his speech. The optics are terrible. What to do?
Does Mr. Obama revitalize the CIA, provide additional resources for our military intelligence and special operations forces? Change his policies to make our allies trust us, and our enemies fear us, thus deterring hostage taking?
Some might be tempted to say that I have no proof that he is not better using our intelligence and military assets. This is true. I don’t know that he is not, but he is surely not doing any of the things any of us could detect that would make that possible, such as actually recognizing and naming our enemies, and rather than talking about “degrading” them, actually destroying them. Our allies certainly don’t think Mr. Obama a trustworthy partner in defeating terrorist armies and nations whose goal is nothing less than world domination.
Keep in mind that it is Iran, the main state sponsor of terror, that is directly responsible for the taking of many hostages. I seem to recall something about them taking a few American hostages for more than a year back during the Carter Administration. We still owe them for that one. Yet, Mr. Obama stands ready to sign any deal that will give them nuclear weapons so he can have a historic signing photo for his presidential library. Such a man cannot be taken seriously on lesser matters.
Perhaps the primary reason for our past hostage policies is that, as heart-wrenching as it is, the families of hostages tend to inadvertently damage our intelligence operations and have, entirely understandably, little or no knowledge about or concern for the long-term good of the nation. They can hardly be blamed for focusing on the welfare of their loved ones, but they don’t have the responsibility for looking out for all Americans and America, short and long term.
This is why we pay our presidents to make terribly sad but vital decisions on behalf of us all, decisions that often cannot take into account the welfare of single Americans. While Mr. Obama is quick to damage the lives and welfare of countless Americans domestically, he abhors defending America internationally, and so he is putting off a substantial portion of his responsibility to a few Americans at the most stressful, wrenching times of their lives. The damage will be incalculable.
That, gentle readers, is why Mr. Obama is, in his final years in office, finally becoming a jobs president. It was State Department spokesperson Marie Harf who declared that Obama Administration policy for fighting the war on terror was to provide job training and jobs for jihadists:
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, after coming under fire for suggesting a way to fight the Islamic State and all terrorism is by creating jobs, has an answer for her critics: Her argument is just “too nuanced” for them to understand.
But now, Marie Harf is vindicated! This new policy will certainly provide a great many more, highly compensated, jobs for jihadists. They’re more than nuanced enough to take advantage of the opportunity Mr. Obama has just handed them. It will also provide more highly compensated jobs for federal bureaucrats and third parties anxious to get in on the ground floor of a lucrative new growth industry.
To avoid becoming a part of this exciting new Obama jobs program, Americans abroad might want to book passage for America as rapidly as they can make electrons flow. And Americans living near our southern border might want to avoid traveling alone, and start carrying more than sufficient arms to fight off any kidnapping attempts. I’m sure there are more than a few folks in that area that will do their best to do the jobs Americans won’t do, like kidnapping and ransoming American hostages.