על שלשה דברים העולם עומד: על התורה, ועל העבודה, ועל גמילות חסדים
(אבות א:ב)The world stands upon three things: on Torah, and on Divine Service, and on acts of kindness.
Unofficially, word among enlisted airmen at Lambert Field's Air National Guard complex holds that the 131st Fighter Wing will soon fly its F-15 Eagle fighters to Israel for exercises with the Israeli air force.
Officially, Air Guard officers will say nothing about any such exercise.
If the St. Louis-based Eagles indeed lift off and head east toward Israel, they'll continue a long-running but remarkably low-profile series of joint military exercises between the two countries.
Some people who pay attention to such affairs expressed surprise. Among them is military historian Jerry Morelock of Fulton, Mo., managing editor of Armchair General magazine. From 1990-94, he served on the Joint Staff in the Pentagon as an Army colonel - and in that post, he said, "I don't recall anything like that. This is a new one for me."
Similarly surprised was aviation historian Walter J. Boyne of Auburn, Va., a retired Air Force colonel. He said he found it hard to imagine such an exercise, "particularly at this time, because things are so sensitive." In particular, he cited the suspicion by some that "we're going to whack Iran" to prevent that nation from developing nuclear weapons.
The St. Louis Eagles lack any whack, at least with bombs. The planes are C-model Eagles, designed to shoot down other fighters. Only E-model Eagles tote bombs - and the Air Guard here has no E-model Eagles.
At any rate, from EuCom headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, Navy Lt. Corey Barker said: "The exercises are not based on real-world events. They are designed to increase interoperability and understanding."
Still, when Middle East scholar Victor Le Vine of Washington University first heard of the exercise, he said, "Maybe these are tests in preparation for that strongly denied possibility of an attack on Iran."
Like many others, Le Vine was unaware that since 1984, the United States has regularly and routinely held joint military exercises on Israeli soil.
The nation’s largest pro-troop grassroots organization, Move America Forward (website: www.MoveAmericaForward.org) has uncovered new ties between disgraced CIA leaker, Mary McCarthy, and Washington Post reporter, Dana Priest.
Priest was the reporter who received a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on classified information on the war on terrorism that CIA analyst Mary McCarthy leaked to her in violation of U.S. law. The case has been referred to the Justice Department for possible prosecution.
Move America Forward has learned that McCarthy and Priest had other intersecting interests.
McCarthy’s political involvement suggests a coordinated effort by former Clinton Administration officials to proactively undermine the war on terrorism to advance their political interests.
“This cast of characters also has a bad habit of breaching U.S. security when it serves their own political agenda, and that is disgraceful behavior,” said Melanie Morgan, Chairman of the Move America Forward.
Mary McCarthy has a well-documented history of making political contributions to individuals opposed to the Bush Administration’s anti-terrorism policies. The most recent political contributions by McCarthy were made just last month – two contributions made to Democrat Joseph Sestak, who is challenging Republican congressman Curt Weldon for Congress.
Last July I attended the White House welcome ceremony for Singh. The Indian journalists -- who tend to be skeptical of all things Bush -- were in awe. The arrangements were elaborate. The ceremony was flawless. Indian flags were everywhere. The warm dynamic between Bush and Singh was palpable. Dubya's light blue tie even matched Singh's turban. Each remarked on how big a no-brainer a U.S.-India alliance is, as the common democratic values that seemed irrelevant during the Cold War were today more important than ever.
Then they held a state dinner -- one of only 5 under this president. They hammered out the contours of a deal on civilian nuclear technology that was a big shock to Washington's policy elite -- the conventional wisdom had a deal materializing later in the year, away from the glare of television cameras. The visit was a huge breakthrough in U.S.-India relations, and will be remembered in New Delhi for a long time, if not in Washington.
Cut to April 2006.
Hu Jintao is about to visit. It's China, so everyone knows the drill: tiptoe around human rights, figure out something nice to say about trade and freedom, do the statesmen stuff, and let's be on our way. Oh, and make sure the ceremonial stuff is taken care of, because the Chinese put a premium on pomp, ceremony, and pride. They eat it up. Hu wants to show his people that he's being greeted as an equal in Washington. They turned down the White House's offer of 2 days with the president in Crawford because they wanted all the protocol and ceremony that comes with a Washington visit.
And then, the protocol backfired in a big way. A protester yelled at Hu. We announced China as Taiwan. Bush tugged at Hu's sleeve because Hu was leaving the podium too early. There was no state dinner, just a big lunch. There was no breakthrough on anything, just bland restatements of each country's position. This was a visit memorable for entirely different reasons.
I roll my eyes at every magazine feature I read on India vs. China. To the extent that there's a contest, China is winning bigtime. But I can't help but notice the sharp contrast between last year's visit by Indian PM Manmohan Singh and last week's visit by Hu Jintao.
So what's the point? Well, if you wanted to read a lot into the contrasting visits, it can be a metaphor for what the future holds for U.S. policy in Asia. We may have reached the point where we are very close to India because we want to be and we are deeply engaged with China because we have to be. That probably needs more explanation, but someone smarter out there is probably writing a good piece on this. I'll just link to it when it comes out.
Author James Risen won the Pulitzer Prize on Tuesday for his much ballyhooed New York Times report last December that revealed President Bush's previously secret terrorist surveillance program - a revelation he uncovered while researching his book "State of War."
In the same book, however, Risen makes an equally explosive claim about President Clinton's relationship with the CIA - which his editors at the Times have so far declined to cover.
Upon taking power in 1993, Risen reports, the Clinton administration "began slashing the intelligence budget in search of a peace dividend, and Bill Clinton showed almost no interest in intelligence matters."
The agency cutbacks combined with presidential disinterest took their toll almost immediately.
"Over a three-or-four-year period in the early-to-mid 1990s," reports Risen, "virtually an entire generation of CIA officers - the people who had won the Cold War - quit or retired. One CIA veteran compared the agency to an airline that had lost all of is senior pilots . . . "
After Clinton CIA Director John Deutch cashiered several senior officers over a scandal in Guatamala, the situation got even worse.
"Morale [at the CIA] plunged to new lows, and the agency became paralyzed by an aversion to high-risk espionage operations for fear they would lead to political flaps. Less willing to take big risks, the CIA was less able to recruit spies in dangerous places such as Iraq."
The Clinton era of risk aversion also hobbled CIA efforts to get Osama bin Laden. In early 1998, Risen says, the agency was prepared to launch a special operation to kidnap the al Qaeda chief in Afghanistan.
"To be sure the operation was high risk, and there was a strong possibility that it would be so messy that bin Laden would be killed rather than captured. [CIA Director George] Tenet and the CIA's lawyers worried deeply about that issue; they believed the covert action finding on al Qaeda that President Clinton had signed authorized only bin Laden's capture, not his death."
Frustrated by restrictions that made dealing with the big challenges too difficult, the agency turned its energy to lesser problems.
Reports Risen: "Thanks to Vice President Al Gore, for example, the CIA briefly made the global environment one of is priorities."