Posts Tagged ‘Noonan’
Four years ago, I wrote the post below. I think it bears repeating today:
Ronald Reagan gave two moving speeches on the 40th anniversary of D-Day. The first was at Omaha Beach and the second was at Pointe de Hoc, where Rangers scaled the cliffs to take out machine gun posts. Both are great speeches, but the Pointe de Hoc is the one I like better (probably because it was written by Peggy Noonan). Below is an excerpt of the moving prose, still inspiring 25 years later and 65 years from the day that changed the course of the War and the course of history.
Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there.
These are the boys of Pointe de Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.
Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender’s poem. You are men who in your “lives fought for life…and left the vivid air signed with your honor….”
Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith, and belief; it was loyalty and love.
The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge — and pray God we have not lost it — that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.
You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One’s country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.
Peggy Noonan’s column this weekend in the Wall Street Journal is a must read. She writes about the flood of intelligence leaks that have happened over the last few weeks and months.
What is happening with all these breaches of our national security? Why are intelligence professionals talking so much—divulging secret and sensitive information for all the world to see, and for our adversaries to contemplate?
In the past few months we have read that the U.S. penetrated al Qaeda in Yemen and foiled a terror plot; that the Stuxnet cyberworm, which caused chaos in the Iranian nuclear program, was a joint Israeli-American operation; and that President Obama personally approves every name on an expanding “kill list” of those targeted and removed from life by unmanned drones. According to the New York Times, Mr. Obama pores over “suspects’ biographies” in “what one official calls ‘the macabre ‘baseball cards’ of an unconventional war.”
What are they thinking? That in the age of Wikileaks the White House itself should be one big Wikileak?
More from the Sanger book: During the search for Osama bin Laden, American intelligence experts had a brilliant idea. Bin Laden liked to make videotapes to rouse his troops and threaten the West. Why not flood part of Pakistan with new digital cameras, each with a “unique signature” that would allow its signals to be tracked? The signal could function as a beacon for a drone. Agents got the new cameras into the distribution chain of Peshawar shops. The plan didn’t catch Osama, because he wasn’t in that area. But “traceable digital cameras are still relied on by the CIA . . . and remain highly classified.”
Well, they were.
All of this constitutes part of what California Sen. Dianne Feinstein calls an “avalanche of leaks.” After she read the Stuxnet story in the Times, she was quoted as saying “my heart stopped” as she considered possible repercussions.
Why is this happening? In part because at our highest level in politics, government and journalism, Americans continue to act as if we are talking only to ourselves. There is something narcissistic in this: Only our dialogue counts, no one else is listening, and what can they do about it if they are? There is something childish in it: Knowing secrets is cool, and telling them is cooler. But we are talking to the world. Should it know how, when and with whose assistance we gather intelligence? Should it know our methods? Will this make us safer?
It’s pretty remarkable when you have the Senior Senator from California, who is a member of the President’s party, quoted as saying her “heart stopped” after reading a news story.
Noonan points out that when you are trying to figure out why something is happening, ask, who benefits?
Here is her answer:
That is not a mystery. In all these stories, it is the president and his campaign that benefit. The common theme in the leaks is how strong and steely Mr. Obama is. He’s tough but fair, bold yet judicious, surprisingly willing to do what needs to be done. He hears everyone out, asks piercing questions, doesn’t flinch.
He is Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer.
And he is up for re-election and fighting the constant perception that he’s weak, a one-man apology tour whose foreign policy is unclear, unsure, and lacking in strategic depth.
There’s something in the leaks that is a hallmark of the Obama White House. They always misunderstand the country they seek to spin, and they always think less of it than it deserves. Why do the president’s appointees think the picture of him with a kill list in his hand makes him look good? He sits and personally decides who to kill? Americans don’t think of their presidents like that. And they don’t want to.
National security doesn’t exist to help presidents win elections. It’s not a plaything or a tool to advance one’s prospects.
Ultimately, this is why Obama is dangerous – when you cut through all the chatter and praise and leaks – you realize that he is willing to risk innocent human lives in order to get reelected.
Many compare politics to sports – and most in politics view it as a sport most of the time. But when politics uses national security it’s no longer a game.
This piece points out the hollow victory for Obama with the House passing a stimulus bill with no Republican votes. If he were serious about “a new way” it would have been a bipartisan bill. But Peggy says it much better than me, so I’ll stop right here.