Some sanity from Jeffrey Lord and Andrew McCarthy over the perfectly legitimate questions that Reps. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Louis Gohmert (Tex.), Trent Franks (Ariz.), Thomas Rooney (Fla.), and Lynn Westmoreland (Ga.) are asking about the latest liberal pin-up girl Huma Abedin. Male Republican members of Congress were too busy falling over themselves in showing how chivalrous they are in sucking up to Abedin to consider the actual facts raised. We do not have proof that her ties to Islamist opponents of America, combined with her access to sensitive information and influence on the secretary of state, represent a risk to our national security, but we certainly have probable cause to ask questions.
Abedin checks the boxes to be untouchably politically correct—pretty, exotic, female, liberal, and glamorous (OMG! She’s been featured in Vogue!). If she weren’t, could she get a U.S. government security clearance?
(Neither could her boss’s boss, President Obama, what with his admitted drug use, foreign ties, and association with radicals, if he were a mere bureaucrat and not an elected or politically appointed official.)
This Washington Post excerpt of a book manages to advance a false left-wing narrative and do the late Richard Holbrooke’s bidding. To hear Rajiv Chandrasekaran tell it, the stalwart, heroic Richard Holbrooke would have achieved peace in Afghanistan and reconciliation with the Taliban if only the petulant bullies and war-mongers (some of them holdovers from the Bush Administration) would have let him.
Except for one tiny detail, buried in the middle of the story: “There was no clear path for Holbrooke to achieve peace talks. The Taliban had no office, mailing address, or formal structure. It was not clear that its leader, the reclusive Mullah Mohammed Omar, wanted to talk—in 2009, the Taliban appeared to be winning—or whether he and his fellow mullahs would accept the United States’ conditions for negotiations: that they renounce violence, break with al-Qaeda and embrace the Afghan constitution.”
We don’t mind the existence of the U.S. Agency for International Development, as long as its mission is seen as part of our national security apparatus. On the contrary, almost all of its programs futilely ram government-centered bureaucratic “economic development” programs down the throats of third-world societies that are laughably unable to cope with them. The result is, inevitably, utter waste, incompetence, and corruption. (We once worked on a typically inept USAID program at the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology in Afghanistan in efforts to improve automation of government services—except that most government buildings lacked electricity and most government employees were illiterate in every language.)
Here is one decent example of a USAID program that seems to have the right goals: creating alternatives to terrorism in the southern Philippines by training locals to work as call center agents. It brings the added value of benefiting U.S. companies and maybe even exposing the area to some positive American cultural influence.
Predictably, leftists and protectionists decry the effort as undermining jobs at home. Memo to the opportunist politicians who are slightly unattuned to business realities: call center operators in the Philippines making $200 a month are not a threat to U.S. workers. Those jobs are gone.
We can have a legitimate debate about whether the U.S. should be spending any money on such a program given our fiscal straits, but, if we’re doing to have a USAID at all, this seems like one of its better efforts.