The Lawless United Nations
by JBS President John F. McManus
The United Nations Charter contains an important limitation on the power of the world body in its Article 2, paragraph 7. There we find, “Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the jurisdiction of any state….” The Senate promptly approved the Charter in 1945 and the U.S. became one of the first members of the world body.
Pro-UN authors Leland M. Goodrich and Edvard Hambro wrote in their 1949 book, Charter of the United Nations: Commentary and Documents, that the paragraph we have noted constitutes “the most substantial limitation” on the UN’s power in the entire document. In 1966, U.S. diplomat James J. Wadsworth, another champion of the UN, pointed to the same limitation in his The Glass House: The United Nations in Action. He wrote: “It is a foregone conclusion that had this provision been omitted from the Charter, literally dozens of prospective members in 1945 would have balked at ratification – certainly the United States would have been among them.”
But the UN regularly ignores Article 2, Paragraph 7 and grasps every opportunity to add to its ominously growing clout.
Acting on a complaint filed by the Council of Canadians, the UN has been asked to rule that the shutting off of water to many Detroit domiciles constitutes a denial of a fundamental human right. Because of thousands of unpaid water bills, the Detroit Water and Sewage Department did indeed shut off the water to 3,025 houses (many of which are unoccupied) after receiving no response to its April notices that a shut-off would be initiated because of non-payment. The threat was sent to 44,273 residences and resulted in remittances of $400,000. In other words, a huge number of the scofflaws paid up.
Water and Sewage Department official Bill Johnson noted that the threat to shut off the water had to be made. He said, “The water bill isn’t the first bill people pay, it’s the last one – after the credit card, after the cell phone, after the [TV] cable.” But he knows that people who do pay their bill for water “are picking up the cost for people who aren’t paying.” And he complained that people who make outrageous claims about Detroit’s water situation never come up with any plan enabling is to “supply the best drinking water in the world for free.”
Canadian Maude Barlow, the chair of the liberal Council of Canadians, crossed into the U.S. to visit Detroit and, in her 92-page report sent to the UN, she maintained that shutting off the water was a grave injustice. She knew that the world body’s General Assembly had officially named clean drinking water a human right in 2010. What ever happened to the oft-praised good relations existing between our nation and our northern neighbor? Who gave a Canadian the right to protest what happens in the U.S.? Even more, what about the UN Charter’s limitations on such meddling by the world body?
Catarina de Albuquerque, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on water rights, hasn’t yet commented on the Detroit situation. But, in 2012, she sent a fiery letter to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson scorching the city’s leaders with claims that its homeless population didn’t have access to sanitation and clean water.
Beyond Detroit’s water and sewage problems, and even beyond the unfriendly meddling by a liberal Canadian, the most important issue here is UN lawlessness. If it won’t be limited by its own Charter, how is anyone going to stop its march toward total control of the planet? The sane recourse, even for Canada, is to withdraw from the United Nations, the sooner the better.
Get US out! of the United Nations has been the signature campaign of The John Birch Society for over 50 years. The global power elites view the UN as their main vehicle for establishing, step by step, a socialistic global government controlled by themselves. Now, more than ever, we need to get the US out of the UN and the UN out of the US.
More About Dave Brat
by JBS President John F. McManus
The man few outside southern Virginia had ever previously heard of sent a shock wave through the political world with his primary drubbing of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). Economics professor Dave Brat didn’t just beat Cantor; he walloped him by 11 points. He will now be known as the amazing upstart who defeated a highly situated congressional leader, the first in memory to accomplish the seemingly impossible.
Cantor has long been a favorite of the Washington and Wall Street establishment. It was these moguls who provided him with a huge war chest ($2 million) to insure his continued presence in Congress. Brat made an issue of Cantor’s benefactors calling them “Cantor’s crony capitalists.” His campaign raised only ten percent of the amount possessed by the seven-term incumbent. That issue was likely the largest reason for the upset victory.
The “experts” who always try to influence elections, and who seek to continue doing so even when their favorites get defeated, claimed that the two other matters propelled Brat to victory: our nation’s failure to control immigration and the clout of the Tea Party movement. But, as Antiwar.com leader Justin Raimondo pointed out, those two issues were of little consequence. Brat didn’t make much noise at all about immigration and the Tea Party did absolutely nothing to aid the winner. One report stated that the Tea Party Patriots wouldn’t even answer his telephone calls seeking help. What did resonate with voters was Brat’s concern about the growing government invasion of privacy, specifically the National Defense Authorization Act’s grant of power to access everyone’s telephone calls and emails. He even let it be known that he opposed going to war without the constitutionally required declaration of war by Congress.
However, during an interviewed conducted by NBC’s Chuck Todd after his victory, Professor Brat indicated some guarded approval of our nation using its military power abroad. He didn’t use the term “police the world” when offering his recommendation for U.S. foreign policy but, in essence, that’s what he conveyed to Todd. Voters in his district who are being assured of his “non-interventionist” stance had best be aware that he seems a bit weak on a very important matter.
A side consideration here is continued evidence that the Tea Party movement has become the establishment’s favorite whipping boy. Whether deserved or not, the Tea Party is credited either with extreme clout or no influence whatsoever. Like so many political organizations over the years, it has risen like a shooting star and then gradually or completely fizzled. Most Tea Party groups started out with hundreds of adherents. A few years down the road, many have completely disbanded and many others are down to a few stalwarts, some of whom remain as leaders in order to keep ideologically pure conservatives from gaining control, or to convert their Tea Party activity into acquiring some political or governmental post. When elements of the Establishment-controlled mass media continue to tell the public how powerful the Tea Party is, one should wonder. The reality, as shown in the Dave Brat victory, is quite different.
UPDATE: With news as of Monday, June 23rd from the Economic Policy Journal, Brat has replaced his campaign manager with a former Cantor campaign manager. We have to wonder if the Establishment is gaining a foothold for either a loss in November or a win with a co-opted future. Time will tell.
The John Birch Society does not endorse political candidates or parties. The organization has been consistent with this policy since its founding. Members are free to be as active as they wish within politics, but never in an official JBS capacity.
Architect of 2008 Bailouts; Now He’s Pushing Climate Change
by JBS President John F. McManus
Henry M. Paulson, Jr. should be remembered as U.S. Secretary of the Treasury during the 2008 economic crisis. He saw to it that favored banks received government bailouts costing the American people plenty. Along with a group of economic experts, he insisted that some financial institutions were “too big to fail.” According to his style of thinking, there aren’t any economic laws; there are only opportunities to increase government domination of the nation’s economic life.
In the June 22nd New York Times, Paulson transformed himself from economic wizard to climate expert. Because he has experience poorly combating an economic crisis, he feels qualified to beat the drums for combating the “climate change crisis.” In his lengthy op-ed piece, he advocated “putting a price on emissions of carbon dioxide – a carbon tax.” He claims that emissions of CO2 by power stations, factories, autos, and other “polluters” are the cause of our planet heating up. The man-made temperature increase, he says, is causing a catastrophic sea level rise, the result of melting Antarctic ice. How great is the threat? He says it may take centuries, but sea levels could eventually rise “by as much as 14 feet.” And all of this extra water, he tells readers, will inundate New York and many other coastal cities.
Not only will cities be flooded, says Paulson, there will be other “climate-related disasters like floods, drought-related crop failures, and extreme weather like tornadoes, hurricanes and other violent storms.” With this great threat facing him, Paulson has allied with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and billionaire-moneybags-for-Democrat-candidates Tom Steyer in a venture called Risky Business. They plan to influence business leaders worldwide to abandon traditional methods of generating and using energy. Others say these plans will harm the world economy, destroy freedom, and even impact health. Yet Paulson claims of climate scientists and economists: “There is virtually no debate among them that the planet is warming and that the burning of fossil fuels is largely responsible.”
No debate? It seems none exists in the circles where Paulson, Bloomberg, and Steyer travel. But consider what happened to American University’s Dr. Caleb Rossiter. In his op-ed article appearing in the May 4th Wall Street Journal, he suggested that the African continent is being “sacrificed” on the altar of climate change and he termed the fright about man-made global warming “unproved science.” He even had the temerity to cite data published by the UN International Panel on Climate Change to show that there’s no change in the earth’s temperature over the past 20 years. Dr. Rossiter summarized: “Just two days after I published a piece in the Wall Street Journal calling for Africa to be allowed ‘all of the above’ energy strategy we have in the United States, the Institute for Policy Studies terminated my 23-year relationship with them.” Those who object to the fright peddlers and their questionable claims about climate change face being dealt with rather swiftly.
Richard Lindzen is the famed retired professor of Meteorology, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has never in his long career agreed with the doomsayers who point to “global warming” or “climate change.” He stated that the most recent report from the UN “has truly sunk to the level of hilarious incoherence.” And he concludes that there is “nothing to be alarmed about.” Many who insist that mankind’s future will be marked by catastrophic climate change agree with Paulson’s dire assessment. More sensible people stick with the likes of Rossiter and Lindzen.
Learn more about environmental issues and climate change from The John Birch Society. The John Birch Society calls for responsible stewardship of our natural resources. It believes our natural resources should be used to the fullest extent via the free market and that the government should not lead the charge for new markets, nor should it hinder the growth potential of coal, oil, nuclear, and other natural resources found in the U.S.
Much Ado About Nothing (of Real Importance)
by JBS President John F. McManus
Youngsters by the thousands have crossed into the United States in a new wave, invading our nation. They are being given food, shelter, and medical treatment courtesy of the American taxpayer. The federal government, supposedly the guardian and policeman of the border, has actually stimulated the massive crossing and is actually encouraging more to come with the generosity given to those already here.
In Iraq, the country that the U.S. tore apart because of non-existent weapons of mass destruction and false claims that its leaders had ties to Al Qaeda plus complicity in the 9/11 attack, is now being besieged by a new wave of militant Islamists. Those who continue to advocate U.S. policing of the world want our forces to reenter the country, flex a few muscles, kill a few more, and undoubtedly add to the already achieved list of U.S. casualties.
The U.S. government continues to deepen the nation’s indebtedness while scorn gets heaped upon any attempt or even any advocacy of cutting spending for numerous completely unconstitutional programs (e.g. foreign aid, housing, education, medicine, etc.).
But instead of dealing properly and constitutionally with the above problems and many more, attention is focused on the name of the Washington Redskins. Described as a “racial slur” that is offensive to some, the “Redskin” part of the name is the target although one wag suggested that the “Washington” portion of the team’s name is more loathed by many Americans because of the deficiencies and outrages consistently being emanating from the nation’s capital. According to RedState columnist Eric Erickson, school teams on several Indian reservations proudly call themselves the “Redskins.” It’s clearly not offensive to them and, if so, why is there a growing demand for ditching the name?
On June 18th, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled that use of the term is “disparaging” to many American Indians. Some Indians agree. But this federal bureaucratic decision doesn’t force the hand of team owner Dan Snyder to make any change. He has adamantly informed all that there will be no change. Even so, he has appealed the ruling. Meanwhile, U.S. Representative Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) outspokenly called for the Redskins to ditch their name. And other liberals, including the likes of TV sports announcer Bob Costas, have ginned up the cry for altering the name.
Several years ago, a North Dakota university caught the wrath of the nation’s busybodies because its teams had for years been known as the “Fighting Sioux.” Sioux spokesmen came to the school’s defense telling all who would listen that they liked the name, were even proud of it, and hoped it would remain. It didn’t. A similar campaign targeted Florida State University whose teams are known as the Seminoles. But Seminole support for the name has so far kept change from occurring there.
If the Redskins cave in, what of the Atlanta Braves whose fans wave their arms in tomahawk fashion and chant an Indian war hoop during games? Isn’t that displaying a form of racism and maybe even a love for reinstituting war? What of the Cleveland Indians? Think for a moment about the Pittsburgh Pirates and their audacity in adoption of the name of criminals who killed and pillaged for centuries?
It’s well past the time that all Americans ought to focus more on real problems. News headlines should be focusing on foreign policy and the U.S. involvement in the Middle East, the current influx of illegal immigrants and the action our government is taking to accommodate them, stopping the free trade agenda, and much more. Count me as one in the camp of those who say the Redskins should be left to win or lose on the football field, not having to satisfy a minority that thinks a mere molehill is a huge mountain.
The Rising Amount of Student Debt
by JBS President John F. McManus
According to The Institute for College Access & Success, seven out of ten 2012 college graduates incur student loan debt. The average per indebted student totals $29,400. The required monthly payment on that burden takes $350 out of whatever salary is earned – if the graduate can find a job and earn a salary. If no job, the monthly payment must still be made. And these figures grow more burdensome every year. Default is common.
If a college graduate is weighed down with debt, he or she can’t buy an automobile, will postpone marriage, not even think about buying a starter home, and find it very difficult to borrow for a small business. Many who marry end up living in a parent’s home. So student debt has a ripple effect on the entire national economy.
Take a look at what some young people are borrowing for and be prepared to be horrified. Yes, there are some engineers, mathematicians, chemists, pre-med students, future lawyers, accountants, and others who are employable or soon will be after post-graduate study. But the number of graduates who sailed through college immersed in “soft” courses is already enormous, and it’s growing. After four years of college, no doubt with many hours consumed by partying and little real learning, many of these grads are now waiting on tables and filling other jobs that never required a college degree in the first place. But the professors who taught them aren’t hurting.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) recently addressed the student debt problem by authoring legislation to lower the interest rate to at 3.86 percent, even allowing recent graduates to apply for the new rate. (She once earned upwards of $400,000 for a single year at Harvard where she taught only one class!) Democrats overwhelmingly backed her bill but Republicans blocked passage. Then, keeping up with threats to use his ever-ready pen, would-be-emperor Barack Obama signed an executive order expanding the Pay As You Earn program (PAYE) to make it easier for young people to dig out of the hole they created for themselves. If asked, neither the president nor Senator Warren could cite constitutional authorization for federal loans to students – at any interest level.
However, a proper non-government kind of help for students does come from some companies, foundations, and others. Teaming with Arizona State University, Starbucks just announced a remarkable plan to pay the costs of an online college education for any of its 135,000 workers. Each is required only to work a minimum of 20 hours per week and, once into the program, each can continue to participate even after leaving the famous coffee house’s employ. Unlike some corporate programs, all of which are surely appreciated by those who participate, the Starbucks plan doesn’t require workers to stay with the company or study only work-related courses.
While the Starbucks plan will definitely create happy employees, the plans offered by Democratic politicians are surely designed to increase voter loyalty. As Bob Adelmann quotes Obama in his most recent article, Obama Further Inflates Student Loan Bubble, “A higher education is the single best investment that you can make in yourselves and your future, and we’ve got to make sure that investment pays off….”, it is evident politicians have little difficulty finding ways to buy the votes of some with money taken from the pockets of others. The Starbucks way costs taxpayers nothing and, as usual, the politicians are eager to redistribute wealth. Karl Marx would be proud of them.
Iraq’s Agony Based on Gross Deception
by JBS President John F. McManus
The entire Iraq nation appears now to be vulnerable to takeover by hardline Islamists determined to impose strict Islamic law on that unhappy land. But Iraq’s agony, largely brought on by U.S. diplomacy, actually began many years before. The American role started with the 1990 absorption of Kuwait by Iraq.
Months before Saddam Hussein’s forces marched into its southeastern neighbor, U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie met with Saddam in Baghdad. She pointedly asked him why he was massing 30,000 troops on the Iraq-Kuwait border. The Iraqi dictator reminded her that Iraq considered Kuwait part of Iraq as it had been prior to 1918. And he mentioned the current disputes over the actual border between the two countries as well as jurisdiction over the strategic waterway known as the Shatt al Arab. He then asked Glaspie for the U.S. position on these matters.
Glaspie promptly assured Hussein that the U.S. had “no opinion” and even stated that she had been directed by Secretary of State James Baker to emphasize that stand. Within days, State Department spokesperson Margaret Tutweiler backed up what Glaspie had said in a DC press conference and Assistant Secretary of State John Kelly did likewise in testimony before a congressional panel. Less than a week later, while believing a green light for such action had been given by Washington, Saddam ordered his troops into Kuwait to take control of the country. Immediately, President George H.W. Bush went ballistic and sought authorization from the UN to reverse Saddam’s action with a military coalition he would assemble and lead. He emphasized repeatedly that the forthcoming attack on Iraq would usher in the “New World Order.”
One month later, April Glaspie was recalled to Washington and silenced by her State Department superiors. Several months later, in answers she provided to queries posed by a Senate panel, she claimed that she was the victim of “deliberate deception on a massive scale.” Eventually shipped off to South Africa and posted to a minor assignment, she retired in 2002. The Desert Storm (1991) conflict was over in several days as hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops and allied contingents forced Saddam’s forces out of Kuwait. But President Bush continued even after the short-lived triumph to refer to it as the ushering in of the “New World Order.” In other words, there were motives for that engagement far beyond anything related to Kuwait or Iraq.
After 9/11, the second President Bush insisted that his reasons for targeting Iraq included Saddam’s reported possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), his country’s ties to Al Qaeda, and Iraq’s complicity in the 9/11 attack. But after Scott Ritter had spent seven years as the UN’s chief inspector searching all over Iraq for WMDs, he repeatedly stated prior to the second war against Iraq that none had ever been found. Nor had anyone uncovered evidence linking Saddam’s government to Al Qaeda or to the 9/11 attack. In England, an Iraqi defector from his homeland known as “Curveball” later confessed that he was the chief supplier of phony claims about WMDs. He stated publicly that the second war against Iraq was based on “lies.” But the U.S. invaded again in 2003 and our nation’s casualties over the next seven years totaled more than 4,000 dead and over 30,000 wounded.
The number of dead and wounded Iraqis has been much greater. Of the 1.5 million Christians living peacefully in Iraq’s formerly placid and multicultural society, there are now fewer than 400,000. Many have been killed and more than a million have fled. Those who remain are now in militant Islam’s crosshairs. So much for being “liberated” by U.S. forces.
Today, there are cries for the U.S. to conduct new military actions to save Iraq from its latest scourge. We can only wonder what new lies are being spread.
Issues concerning foreign policy and America’s role in the affairs of other countries can be found on The John Birch Society’s website.
Let the Export-Import Bank Fade Away
by JBS President John F. McManus
The U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) came to life in 1934 when, via the executive order route increasingly favored by recent presidents, Franklin Delano Roosevelt created it with his pen. He did so after he had legitimized the murderous USSR a year earlier with formal diplomatic recognition. Having taken that incredible step, Mr. Roosevelt needed a way to send millions to keep Josef Stalin’s tyranny afloat. Not only did Ex-Im money flow to Moscow, after World War II the bank started sending loans and loan guarantees to numerous other communist-led regimes in Europe (Romania, Yugoslavia, Poland) and even to the blood-drenched tyrants running China. It also sends funding to governments and companies considered friendly, but these become competitors of American firms that aren’t subsidized. As Professor Donald Boudreaux of George Mason University summarized, “… at best the Ex-Im Bank creates jobs in export industries by destroying jobs in non-export industries.”
Ex-Im leaders and its partisans claim the bank earns money for the U.S. government when the loans and interest are paid back. And, they add, jobs are created when foreign entities purchase U.S. products. Texas GOP Congressman Jeb Hensarling disputes these supposed benefits and says that using fair-value accounting, as recommended by the Congressional Budget Office, Ex-Im would likely “show a $200 million loss.” But even if money is not being lost, where in the Constitution does anyone find authorization for supplying financial assistance to companies here and abroad?
The chief U.S. beneficiaries of this unique form of subsidization turn out to be General Electric, Ford, and Boeing. They are among the 10 large corporations receiving 60 percent of Ex-Im’s financing. Hensarling says that we should never forget that “Fannie and Freddie made money until they didn’t; the National Flood Insurance Program made money until it didn’t; and Social Security used to make money until it didn’t.” Obviously, he sees potential for Ex-Im to follow the same pattern.
The Export-Import Bank must gain congressional reauthorization every two years. In 2008, candidate Barack Obama stated during a Green Bay, Wis., campaign stop that the Ex-Im Bank was “little more than a fund for corporate welfare.” As a candidate, he was its opponent and now, as President he supports the scheme saying, “As long as our global competitors are providing for their exports, we’ve got to do the same.”
California Republican Tom McClintock has claimed in the past that the bank “dragoons American taxpayers into subsidizing loans to foreign companies making it cheaper for them to buy products from politically favored American companies.” He noted that past beneficiaries “include such upstanding enterprises as Solyndra and Enron,” both of which failed completely at great cost to taxpayers.
Ex-Im’s funding runs out in September. One of its chief backers, Virginia Republican Eric Cantor, the GOP‘s Majority Leader, lost in a 2014 primary race and consequently has lost much of the clout he previously possessed. And Hensarling, as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee where legislation to keep Ex-Im functioning would have to emerge, seems dead set against such a move. If Congress simply does nothing, this form of “crony capitalism” will cease because positive reauthorization is required.
Hensarling (202-225-3484) should receive messages from many Americans encouraging him to allow the Export-Import Bank to go out of business.
Visit Hensarling’s Freedom Index rating, a congressional scorecard rating congressmen on their adherence to Constitutional principles of limited government, fiscal policy, national sovereignty, and a traditional foreign policy of avoiding foreign entanglements.
Bergdahl’s “Desertion” Likened to Kerry’s False Charges
by JBS President, John F. McManus
It’s good news that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has been released by the Taliban; however, while government officials have been quick to describe him as a “hero,” several of his former platoon mates refuse to agree.
On June 5th, Megyn Kelly of Fox News assembled six of the men who served with Bergdahl five years ago in that 30-man unit in eastern Afghanistan: all are still serving in the Army. The leader of the group in 2009 was Sergeant Evan Buetow. Without mincing his words, Buetow immediately stated that Bergdahl “had deserted.”
Seemingly aghast, Kelly asked the men sitting before the Fox cameras to raise a hand if they thought he had deserted. All six did so without hesitation. Cody Full stated with proper emphasis, “We took an oath and we all had to abide by it; you don’t just leave your fellow Americans to join with somebody else.” Matt Verkant was the team leader of the squad in which Bergdahl had been serving. Verkant noted that each of them had volunteered to serve and “had signed up to do a job.” He felt that Bergdahl had let all of his mates down. Squad leader Justin Gearlever also stressed that they had all “volunteered” knowing what was expected of them wouldn’t be easy.
Together, these men expressed their firm belief that Bergdahl wasn’t captured and that he had voluntarily left his post and his mates. “So we pushed the patrol out right away” to look for him and bring him back. That effort and subsequent efforts to find the missing soldier became costly inasmuch as two were killed immediately and several others died in subsequent efforts to locate him.
Obama administration spokesmen, even the president himself, have refused to label Bergdahl a deserter and have cautioned all to wait until the man has a chance to get back to America from his hospitalization in Germany and tell his own story. Secretary of State John Kerry has sought vociferously to defuse anger over the release of five top Taliban operatives from the Guantanamo Base prison in exchange for the wandering soldier.
Kerry’s frequent appearances on television and statements given to the press prompted California Republican Representative Duncan Hunter to liken Bergdahl’s “desertion” with Kerry’s conduct while serving in Vietnam in 1969 and when he returned to the States. Hunter recalled in a televised interview:
As John Kerry threw his medals over the White House fence and turned his back on all of his Vietnam brothers and sisters, that’s what Bergdahl did…. Bergdahl walked away from his men and he left them in a bad spot. People lost their lives or got hurt trying to find him.
Congressman Hunter took the opportunity to remind listeners that while he was serving on active duty, Kerry fraudulently earned three Purple Heart medals for minor scratches that no one would else had ever received. Some of his supposed wounds were even self-inflicted. He was given a Silver Star for heroism performed by others. Still in uniform after arriving back in the States, Kerry threw his medals over Washington DC fence and then provided a completely false account of the action then taking place in Vietnam. He insisted to a Senate panel that American personnel had “raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, razed villages” and more. He even went to France to meet with a high Viet Cong official in an act that violated the law but won him great praise in the American Communist Party’s press.
Later in 2004, when challenged about his disgraceful conduct and his sensational indictment of fellow American military personnel, Kerry admitted that what he said about fellow Americans serving in Vietnam wasn’t true. Congressman Hunter’s charge that Kerry had “turned his back on all of his Vietnam brothers and sisters” was correct, even if understated.
We await the return of Bowe Bergdahl to America and his answers to some tough questions he should be required to supply; we suggest Secretary of State John Kerry not conduct the questioning.
In the meantime, visit The New American website to read past articles on Bergdahl, learn more about the story and keep up-to-date as we wait for new news to surface.
Bergdahl is No Hero, According to His Fellow Soldiers
by JBS President John F. McManus
One late June night in 2009, U.S. Army Private Bowe Bergdahl disappeared from his unit in northeastern Afghanistan’s Paktika province. He left a note saying he was disillusioned with the U.S. military, could no longer support the mission he was tasked to participate in, and had left to start life anew. He had earlier sent his computer and some other belongings home to Idaho. In a letter to his parents, he concluded that “the horror that is America is disgusting.” Fellow soldiers recall him gazing at the mountains from the small base his unit had established and wondering aloud whether he could cross them and get to China. For months after his disappearance that was never considered a capture, the mission his unit sought to carry out dwelled instead on finding him and rescuing him from the Taliban who were thought to be holding him.
Now that he has been released, several of the men who served alongside him have spoken out with renewed anger. Joshua Cornelison, a former medic assigned to the same platoon from which Bergdahl bolted, told the New York Times, “Everything that we did in those days was to advance the search for Bergdahl.” That search turned out to be very costly when two soldiers were killed in an ambush within a week of the disappearance of their lost comrade. Cody Full, another member of Bergdahl’s unit, agrees with Cornelison that their fellow platoon mate ought to be court-martialed as a deserter.
Over ensuing weeks and months, another four to six Americans met death in efforts to find the missing private. For at least 90 days, the American forces in that area of Afghanistan were under orders to abandon whatever mission they were on if they had any indication that Bergdahl was being held nearby. Not only were ground troops searching, they were aided by helicopters, drones, and dogs trained to locate humans.
Now, after five years, Bergdahl has been released by the Taliban and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and National Security Adviser Susan Rice say he is in poor health. (Why should anyone believe Rice after her false claim that the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi occurred because of a Los Angeles airing of an uncomplimentary rogue video?) The prisoner swap arranged by the Obama administration has to be of the most-lopsided exchanges in history. For Bergdahl’s freedom, the U.S. released five top Taliban officials from the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. All appear from news photos to be in excellent health. Each has a history of top service within the Taliban. Considered leaders of the forces that would impose the strictest form of Islam on their native country (and the world!), their release has led to the widespread conclusion that the Taliban will be energized and become more determined and deadly. Capturing more Americans and bargaining for the release could become a new tactic as the Americans prepare to leave the ravaged country.
Let’s put this into perspective by switching roles. Would it make any sense if we had exchanged a private in the Taliban for five colonels and generals in our armed forces?
The 5 for 1 deal arranged by the Obama team included mediation from the officials in the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar. It also included official contact with the Taliban, and implicit recognition of their legitimacy. The arrangement also requires Qatar, a Muslim-dominated country, to hold the five for a year and ensure that they will not engage in any contact with their Afghan comrades, all of whom are overjoyed at receiving what they consider excellent news. Will Qatar enforce such an arrangement?
Bergdahl will soon be back in the United States. Already the recipient of praises from President Obama and others, he will be feted as a “hero” by some but not by all – especially many who served alongside him. The Code of Military Justice governing military personnel states that “desertion or attempt to desert” is punishable during time of war with whatever a military court decides, even including death. There is no likelihood that Bergdahl will meet death or even that he will be court-martialed. Nor will there be any happy recalling of their loss by families of the men who died searching for a man who surely disgraced himself while wearing the uniform of his country.
But surely the greater disgrace is that the military continues to be used (and abused) to unconstitutionally fulfill the role of world policeman, “spreading democracy” by interfering in other countries affairs, unnecessarily expending blood and treasure. Bring them home — now.
Mr. McManus served on active duty as a lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps for three years in the 1950s.
Will Hillary Testify and Provide Forthright Answers? “What Difference Does it Make?”
by JBS President John F. McManus
A Select Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives has been tasked to investigate the Benghazi incident that cost the lives of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. It will be chaired by Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy, a former prosecuting attorney.
On September 11, 2012 (the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon), Ambassador Christopher Stevens met with Turkey’s Consul General in the Eastern city of Benghazi. The two seem to have been planning ways to get arms into the hands of rebels in Syria who were – and still are – seeking to topple the Bashar al-Assad Syrian government. The weapons were obviously going to enter Syria from Turkey. But some heavily armed individuals in Benghazi, probably comrades of one of the other anti-Assad factions, didn’t want those arms delivered to the favored recipient.
There has been plenty of discussion about what happened on that fateful date but little attention has been given to why Stevens was in Libya’s easternmost big city. It seems likely that at least one of the three factions seeking to oust Syria’s Assad became angered about the plan to get the arms into the hands of a rival anti-Assad faction. Stevens was the chief arranger of the deal and that’s likely why he was targeted.
Immediately after the four Americans had been killed, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice (now President Obama’s National Security Adviser) stated during five separate television appearances in the U.S. that the attack had been prompted because of the showing of sloppy, privately-made video in Los Angeles portraying the Prophet Mohammed unfavorably. Rice had obviously been given that implausible reason by State Department personnel. This completely false scenario has since been discredited and retracted. Did Rice hold back on better information and will it come out when the Select Committee conducts its investigation? Who told her to point to the video as the reason for the attack? Why was there an obvious attempt to cover up what Stevens was doing?
The Secretary of State at the time, of course, was Hillary Clinton, now a front-running presidential hopeful. In her about-to-be-released new book entitled “Hard Choices,” she heaps praise on the four deceased Americans and accepts full responsibility for their deaths. But will the book explain why Stevens was in Benghazi? When questioned in January 2013 about the incident during an appearance before a different congressional committee, she seemed annoyed and stated loudly with arms flailing, “What difference – at this point – what difference does it make?” In other words, those men are dead and please don’t bother me any more about this incident.
If Stevens was indeed working quietly to get arms into Syria, laws were being broken. And the Secretary of State sits at the top of the chain of putative lawbreakers. Already, top Clinton advisers are hard at work seeking to protect their boss whose book has 34 pages devoted to Benghazi. Yes, we know that the attack started at 9:40 PM and included mortar rounds fired into the building where Stevens was holed up. And we know also that by 5:00 the next morning, the four men were dead. But we still have no explanation about why the ambassador journeyed all the way across Libya from Tripoli to be with an official from Turkey.
Hillary Clinton has a lot riding on how she responds to a tough prosecutor like Trey Gowdy. It will be more than a little interesting to see how she handles what we expect will be tough questions.
For more JBS perspective on foreign policy, visit our Issues page.