Hillary Clinton recounts tense minutes during OBL mission
In a speech given before cadets at Annapolis on April 10, the Secretary of State recounted her impressions of the Navy Seal raid that ended in the death of Osama bin Laden. She dramatically told those gathered that she, “was not sure anyone breathed for, you know, 35 or 37 minutes.” (Widely misquoted in the press but, hey, contemporary journalists aren’t known for accuracy.)
She’s told the story before, in nearly the same phrasing in past press interviews. In fact, her speech last night didn’t touch on the OBL episode; these comments were merely a response to a question from the audience. So what did she talk about and why is OBL the headline on CNN and elsewhere?
April 10, 2012, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis Maryland
Last night’s speech centered on a topic far more important, if not far less interesting to Americans. Ms. Clinton spoke on U.S. international relations, covering topics such as Syria, the Middle East, Asia, and North Korea.
In my opinion, the Secretary hit the nail on the head when she said that Asia needs leadership from the U.S. She could have been lecturing the President, who has shown no active leadership only reactive hyperbole – and not much of that.
Interestingly she tried to credit the administration for “pivoting” toward the region. Then noted that N. Korea’s leaders saw improved relations with the West as a threat to their stability.
Without rehashing the news, listening and reading excerpts of her speech there was much to agree with. She touted the importance of economic freedoms in Asia – read free enterprise. And she said asserting U.S. leadership in Asia does not translate into protecting American interests or signal a Sino-American cold war.
Protecting the interests of others?
I found this part very interesting. Why would America inject itself into another part of the world if not to protect its own interests or those of an ally? This is a serious foreign policy question. Whenever America inserts itself into the affairs of another region or nation without having its own interests as priority it creates instability.
Before going on let me define that the interests of allies are, in theory, aligned with our own interests. Part of an alliance is mutual protection.
In the 1960s left-wing protestors were fond of demanding that America not be the policemen of the world – I would define that as attempting to mediate between parties where you have no interest.
The Middle East is a good place to look for such history. We’ve been trying to play good cop there for more than half a century and what has been accomplished? Not much, aside from thousands of dead Americans, mainly because we attempted to represent the interests of all parties. And since 2009, we’ve worked to the disadvantage of our only true ally in the region.
Continuing with this region for a moment, have Obama’s policies on Egypt made the region more or less secure? Didn’t Egypt simply exchange tyrannies; one peaceful toward Israel for one hostile? In Libya we chose to side against a neutered wolf in favor of a pack of wild wolves we cannot control. In Syria our impotence is palpable.
A less bloody century
Last night Clinton said, “The shape of the global economy, the advance of democracy and human rights, and our hopes for a 21st century less bloody than the 20th, all hinge to a large degree on what happens in the Asia-Pacific [region].” Naturally, we all want a century of peace and prosperity. The problem we modern folks have is, in seeking peace, we suppress and/or ignore the source of the conflict, we often demand one side give an unfair concession to appease a violent unbending opponent. We lack a sense of history or blatantly distort it.
This follows much of our involvement in the Middle East and I fear it is about to be our approach on the Korean peninsula. Strength sometimes results in violent conflict, but that often results in a more lasting peace. When one side is stronger than the other, whether through military of just plain strength of will, it has leverage. Negotiations have more weight when one or both sides believe everything is at risk.
When you set parameters that let the other party know where the limits to your reaction are; demonstrating a lack of willingness to act, no matter how strong your military superiority might be, it loses relevance and becomes impotent.
You must be willing to come to blows in order to achieve lasting peace. If you have no interests to protect and are not willing to go the entire distance you do not qualify to be engaged in the region.
In spite of the Secretary’s comment, everyone knows America does indeed have interests in the Asian-Pacific region which need to be carefully orchestrated with China, not quite an adversary yet neither an ally, but absolutely a trading partner.
The only way to deal with a bully
Case in point, we demand N. Korea not test long-range missiles, the entire world knows the U.S. will do nothing more than expel warm air if Pyongyang goes ahead with its plans. We’ve proved it before and will do so again.
In the 6th grade I was taught a lesson. I just wanted to enjoy middle school, but I wasn’t allowed. Daily, bullies would push me around, steal my lunch, and taunt me. One day I had enough. I don’t know what came over me but I lost all sanity. I hurled myself at the nearest bully and began pummeling him.
He was significantly larger than me and responded by pounding me. The other bullies backed off and watched. I don’t recall my thoughts except one, “I’m not giving up!” Soon my eyes were so swollen I could barely see my opponent, yet I kept throwing myself at him.
Losing consciousness, I poured all my strength into one last blow. Aiming for his right eye I gave my all. His head snapped back in an attempt to evade me but that was a fatal error. My fist landed squarely on his trachea and he dropped to his knees like some kind of Goliath, clutching his throat and gasping for air.
The audience fled. Adrenaline flooded my body. Staggering, I helped my opponent to his feet and a teacher appeared. The fact he had been tormenting me for months was unappreciated, because in America sending another student to the hospital makes you the bad guy. However, that has nothing to do with the story.
The wonderful conclusion to this story defies logic, but is true to human nature. The next day, walking through the schoolyard, both my eyes black and lips still swollen, my defeated bully approached. I braced for a beating, but instead of aggression he patted me on the back and asked me to play basketball with him. For the next hour I played basketball with the bullies who had, only a day before, been taunting me. In fact, for the rest of my time at that school these guys treated me with respect and I was never bullied again.
Do you get my point?
The great thing about being an Omega male is you can blame someone else if things go badly
President Obama has clearly demonstrated timidity and weakness on the world stage. He has established himself as the world’s chief Omega Leader. Do we want a leader who gives pretty speeches where he says what America wants to hear, but when he thinks no one is listening, he promises to sell America out?
If America leads on the interests of others its actions and its leadership will only serve to further divide and polarize the region. Because in Obama’s world, traditional American allies are not protected, because he’s seeking favor among America’s traditional foes. If things don’t go well, then it isn’t his fault, he can always point to historical American policies, blame our allies, or hell, just lie. The mainstream press won’t call him out.
I for one, want Obama to focus on golf and basketball and not playing politics on the global stage. But perhaps I digress.
What did any of that have to do with Osama bin Laden?
I know, if you’ve read this far you’re wondering what any of this has to do with Hillary Clinton’s comments on Osama bin Laden.
Very little. The point is that while Hillary spoke about very serious international issues, the press focused on an aside that essentially repeated comments Ms. Clinton had already made.
Because bringing up President Obama’s most heroic moment should be done whenever and where-ever it can. If your candidate is an abject failure with an ideology that has been proven unworkable time and again since 1917, and yet you hope against hope that it can succeed if only the right people try it, then you must focus on and remind people of the few successes as much as you can.
I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot about the death of OBL in the coming months. While every opportunity to twist Romney’s words and highlight his odd brand of religion will supplant any message he might be trying to communicate.