Archive for the ‘A Force for Good in the World’ Category
A heartfelt thanks to Colonel (Ret) Bernard L. Talley, a US Air Force Pilot and a Vietnam POW for 6 1/2 years for sharing with us this extraordinarily emotional story of James Stockdale, a fellow prisoner in the Hanoi Hilton. This very successful high level espionage operation was kept top secret all these past 42 years so that the technique could be used by future POW’s. This operation was just declassified this year and the movie was produced by the Smithsonian Channel. Please be aware that there are scenes of torture in this movie that are very difficult to watch. Nancy
Smithsonian Channel to Premiere THE SPY IN THE HANOI HILTON, 4/27
|Smithsonian Channel Premieres THE SPY IN THE HANOI HILTON Tonight
April 27, 2015
The spy network was led by James Bond Stockdale, an air-wing commander who was shot down on a bombing mission into North Vietnam on Sept. 9, 1965. He was one of the two most senior-ranking U.S. Navy officers imprisoned in the Hanoi Hilton. Stockdale later rose to the rank of Vice Admiral, became one of the most highly decorated officers in the history of the Navy, and ran for Vice President. He was also awarded the Medal of Honor for his secret communication network and for bravery in the face of torture. Former CIA official Robert Wallace calls Stockdale’s spy network “one of the most significant activities in Agency history.”
Taking liberties with progress
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The Fading U.S. Nuclear Deterrent
The next president must restore America’s aging arsenal to face a world of new atomic threats.
None of the presidential candidates is talking about it, but one of the most important issues in the 2016 election should be the precarious decline of America’s nuclear forces.
When the Cold War ended in 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the U.S. began a debilitating nuclear freeze, establishing ever-broader antinuclear policies and largely ignoring the growing threat posed by these massively destructive weapons.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military strategy focuses on early use of these weapons in conflicts large and small. China is in the midst of an immense strategic modernization. India and Pakistan are expanding and improving their nuclear arsenals. North Korea issues nuclear threats almost weekly. The Mideast is dissolving into chaos, and Iran’s advanced nuclear-weapons program has been on the front pages for two years.
To address these multiplying threats, U.S. nuclear policy must undergo radical changes. Because policies as important as this require White House and congressional agreement and the support of the American people, a full-scale national debate is essential. I propose we begin with the following five changes: (more…)
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The End of History, Part II
The new Advanced Placement U.S. history exam focuses on oppression, group identity and Reagan the warmonger
—President Ronald Reagan, speech at the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, 1987
President Reagan’s challenge to Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev remains one of the most dramatic calls for freedom in our time. Thus I was heartened to find a passage from Reagan’s speech on the sample of the new Advanced Placement U.S. history exam that students will take for the first time in May. It seemed for a moment that students would be encouraged to learn about positive aspects of our past rather than be directed to focus on the negative, as happens all too often.
But when I looked closer to see the purpose for which the quotation was used, I found that it is held up as an example of “increased assertiveness and bellicosity” on the part of the U.S. in the 1980s. That’s the answer to a multiple-choice question about what Reagan’s speech reflects.
No notice is taken of the connection the president made between freedom and human flourishing, no attention to the fact that within 2½ years of the speech, people were chipping off pieces of the Berlin Wall as souvenirs. Instead of acknowledging important ideas and historical context, test makers have reduced President Reagan’s most eloquent moment to warmongering.
The AP U.S. history exam matters. Half a million of the nation’s best and brightest high-school students will take it this year, hoping to use it to earn college credit and to polish their applications to competitive colleges. To score well on the exam, students have to learn what the College Board, a private organization that creates the exam, wants them to know. (more…)
– FrontPage Magazine – www.frontpagemag.com –
America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the
Coming Global Disorder by Bret Stephens
Posted By Bruce Thornton On December 1, 2014 In Daily Mailer, FrontPage
The 6 years of Barack Obama’s foreign policy have seen American influence and power decline across the globe. Traditional rivals like China and Russia are emboldened and on the march in the South China Sea and Ukraine. Iran, branded as the world’s deadliest state sponsor of terrorism, is arrogantly negotiating its way to a nuclear bomb. Bloody autocrats and jihadist gangs in the Middle East scorn our president’s threats and behead our citizens. Countries in which Americans have shed their blood in service to our interests and ideals are in the process of being abandoned to our enemies. And allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia are bullied or ignored. All over the world, a vacuum of power has been created by a foreign policy sacrificed to domestic partisan advantage, and characterized by criminal incompetence.
How we have arrived at this point, the dangers to our security and interests if we don’t change course, and what must be done to recover our international prestige and effectiveness are the themes of Bret Stephens’ America in Retreat. The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder. Stephens is the Pulitzer-prize winning foreign affairs columnist for the Wall Street Journal, and in his new book he analyzes our current retreat from global responsibility with the same stylistic clarity and analytic rigor that make his weekly columns indispensable reading.
A clear sign of American retreat is the precipitous decline in military spending. “In the name of budgetary savings,” Stephens writes, “the Army is returning to its June 1940 size,” and “the Navy put fewer ships at sea at any time since 1916.” The Air Force is scheduled to retire 25,000 airmen and mothball 550 planes. Our nuclear forces are being cut to meet the terms of the 2010 New Start Treaty with Russia, even as its nuclear arsenal has been increasing. Meanwhile Obama––whom Stephens likens to Canute, the Danish king who in legend attempts to stop the tide––issues empty threats, blustering diktats, and sheer lies that convince world leaders he is a “self-infatuated weakling.”
Unfortunately, 52% of the American people agree that the U.S. “should mind its own business internationally,” and 65% want to “reduce overseas military commitments,” including a majority of Republicans. This broad consensus that America should retreat from global affairs reflects our age’s bipartisan isolationism, the centerpiece of Stephens’ analysis. This national mood is not a sign of decline, according to Stephens, who documents the enormous advantages America still enjoys globally, from its superiority in research and entrepreneurial vigor, to its healthy demographics and spirit of innovation. But it does bespeak a dangerous withdrawal from the policies that created the postwar Pax Americana––even though this global order policed by the U.S. defeated the murderous, nuclear-armed ideology of Soviet communism, and made possible the astonishing economic expansion that has lifted millions from poverty all over the world.
Stephens first traces the history and causes of America’s distrust of military engagement abroad. The left, of course, committed to a universalist ideology challenged by national sovereignty and self-interest, promoted isolationism once the threat of Nazism had been destroyed. Henry Wallace, FDR’s third-term vice president who was “willfully blind to the reality of Stalinist Russia,” vigorously opposed the Truman Doctrine, which saved Greece from a communist takeover in 1947, as a “disaster” and “reckless adventure.” Like progressives today, Wallace believed that America was a global “sinner,” as Stephens puts it. As such, the U.S. should meet aggression with appeasement, and consider those who protect our security to be a greater danger than foreign aggressors.
On the other end of the political spectrum, isolationists like Republican Senator Robert Taft feared the “enemy within,” the “’infiltration of totalitarian ideas from the New Deal circle in Washington,’” more than foreign aggressors. He believed that American foreign policy should be limited strictly to fending off obvious threats to the security of and interests of the American people, which Taft narrowly defined as a military attack on our soil. America’s success in waging and winning the Cold War proved both critics wrong. (more…)
In just the last five or six years the world has been fundamentally transformed. Instead of the old
accustomed Western-inspired postwar global order, crafted and ensured by the United States and its European and Japanese partners, there is now mostly chaos, from Ukraine to Syria to the South China Sea. Or, rather, there may be emerging new rules, given that we are still frozen in a Wild West moment, when everyone in the saloon has drawn his six-shooter, paused, and is wondering what happened to the sheriff — and wondering, too, who will be the first to dare start shooting.
The general cause of the unrest is that, fairly or not, the world senses that the United States is tired after its recent interventions, cutting back its defenses, and all but financially insolvent. We might scoff at Neanderthal notions like a loss of deterrence inviting aggression, but Neanderthals do not.
Barack Obama apparently believes that such a retrenchment was both inevitable and to be welcomed. He thought that most U.S. interventions abroad had been either wrong or futile or both; he questioned the world’s status quo and certainly felt, for example, that the widespread persecution of Christians in the Middle East was not nearly as much of a problem as Islamophobia in the West. He came into office believing that Iran, Hamas, and Russia had all been unduly demonized, especially by George W. Bush, and could be reached out to by a sensitive president whose heritage and attitudes might not appear so polarizing.
To Obama, old allies like Britain and Israel either did not need unflinching U.S. support or did not necessarily warrant it. The postwar world that the U.S. had once ensured was no fairer a place than is America at home, and certainly did not justify the vast investment of American time and money — resources that could be far better be spent at home addressing inequality and unfairness. A program of higher taxes, huge budget deficits, and enormous increases in entitlement spending did not have budgetary space for the sort of defense required to keep things calm abroad.
As a result, we now are witnessing a world in transition — a world of regional hegemonies that are filling the vacuum after the abdication of the United States. And we have no idea how it will eventually pan out. Barack Obama, for example, believes the chaos is only superficial. He thinks the reported universal warring is a sort of artifact of global social networking that too easily lets us know, for example, what Putin is doing in a way we could not with just radio and TV. But old-fashioned television lets us know perfectly well that Russia now determines the course of events in the huge area of the former Soviet republics — and from time to time steps into the Middle East to remind the U.S. that it is clueless. Putin just reminded the West that his nuclear arsenal makes it unwise to “mess” with Russia. (more…)
“Maybe one hundred,” Mr. McCain replied. “As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed, it’s fine with me and I hope it would be fine with you if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world where al Qaeda is training, recruiting, equipping, and motivating people every single day.”
All hell broke loose in the media. Democratic candidates then-Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama swiftly condemned what was widely regarded as a gaffe. On CNN Mr. McCain felt obliged to clarify. “It’s not a matter of how long we’re in Iraq,” he explained, alluding to our military presence in Japan, Germany and South Korea, “it’s if we succeed or not.”
In retrospect, Mr. McCain was correct: He predicted that setting a timetable for withdrawal would mean “chaos, that means genocide, that means undoing all the success we’ve achieved.” This is now happening. But the press consensus, then as now, was that the American people were war-weary and a President McCain would perpetuate Mr. Bush’s “failed” policies. (more…)