Former Governor Sarah Palin spoke at a Colorado Christian University on Monday for a “Tribute to the Troops” benefit for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), which provides support to those who suffered the loss of a military loved one. Reading through a partial transcript there were a couple of things I wanted to highlight and comment on.
First she questions Pakistani harboring of Osama bin Laden, noting that he wasn’t exactly discovered in a cave.
But there are still many serious questions that demand answers. Osama bin Laden was killed in an affluent city outside Islamabad, not in a dark cave in the mountains. How long had he been there? The town where he was hiding is home to the Pakistani equivalent of West Point. According to some reports, the gun battle took place just about 800 yards from the Pakistani Military Academy. Many retired Pakistani military officers live in the area. How was the most wanted man in the world able to avoid detection living in comfort in a mysterious super compound in plain sight? ….We know that speculation will be that at least some of the Pakistani leaders perhaps were helping him. Consider that just last October, the U.S. offered $2 billion in military aid to Pakistan. That’s on top of $7.5 billion that we provide them in civilian aid. So, we deserve answers to our questions and should demand answers to our questions. We also must demand that anyone who cooperated in hiding Bin Laden be brought to justice. So there are lots of questions, lots of questions about the burial, about photos; and those things will certainly be disclosed, we must trust.
This essentially is calling for a shift in how we deal with Pakistan. It’s a significant foreign policy statement as we have considered this nation (somewhat tongue in cheek) an ally in the war on terror. I wonder if President Obama will again demonstrate that he lacks gravitas by not asking and demanding answers to similar questions.
She then offers criteria that should be used before even considering whether or not we place our troops in harm’s way.
First, we should only commit our forces when clear and vital American interests are at stake. Period.
Second, if we have to fight, we fight to win. To do that, we use overwhelming force. We only send our troops into war with the objective to defeat the enemy as quickly as possible. We do not stretch out our military with open-ended and ill-defined missions. Nation building is a nice idea in theory, but it is not the main purpose of our armed forces. We use our military to win wars.
And third, we must have clearly defined goals and objectives before sending troops into harm’s way. If you can’t explain the mission to the American people clearly and concisely, then our sons and daughters should not be sent into battle. Period.
Fourth, American soldiers must never be put under foreign command. We will fight side by side with our allies, but American soldiers must remain under the care and the command of American officers.
Fifth, sending in our armed forces should be the last resort. We don’t go looking for dragons to slay. However, we will encourage the forces of freedom around the world who are sincerely fighting for the empowerment of the individual. When it makes sense, when it’s appropriate, we will provide them with material support to help them win their own freedom.
She could just be speaking to the powers that be in Congress and in the White House about appropriate use of force and when it should be employed. Or… she is making a case for how she would act as Commander-in-Chief. She didn’t come out and say it, but I wonder if she’s favoring a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Our chief objective going in was to defeat Al Qaeda, push the Taliban out of power, and bring Osama bin Laden to justice. What is our mission in Afghanistan now? Chuck Colson wrote yesterday that our involvement in Afghanistan no longer meet just war criteria. I’m beginning to believe it is time to pull our troops out, perhaps Palin is as well.