Home & Family Finance
 

Subscribe to this podcast with:

Subscribe with iTunes Subscribe with My Yahoo! Subscribe with Google Reader Subscribe with RSS or XML
Media Player
 

Welcome to the Dateline Washington Podcast Page
Listen to recent podcasts, download episodes, and share with your friends using with the buttons below. New episodes are posted daily. You may also subscribe to the feed using your preferred RSS reader or podcast player.

What Is Podcasting?
If you are new to podcasting and would like to learn how to have all this great, free content automatically delivered to your computer or mp3 player, please click here.

Radio America News

'We Don't Have A Strategy':

Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen Tom McInerney says the U.S. has no strategy yet in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), is about to arm the wrong people in Syria and that our efforts are headed for disaster if President Obama calls the shots on when and where to bomb. In congressional hearings this week, Pentagon and State Department officials tried to make the case for the Obama vision of a fight against ISIS, from building a coalition to arming Syrian rebels to insisting no American troops would be involved in ground combat. Lawmakers in both parties expressed skepticism that the strategy was clear or likely to be effective. Well, we don't have a strategy. That's why they're not impressed. What is the strategy? We've flown 176 missions in thirty-some days and we have attacked a few piddling targets. We ought to be flying 200 sorties a day and hitting 200 targets a day. So. we don't have a strategy, said McInerney, who rose to U.S. Air Force Assistant Vice-Chief of Staff during his distinguished career. The president talks about degrading and destroying ISIS. Right now we're irritating ISIS, but we certainly don't have a campaign to degrade them and clearly don't have a campaign to destroy them, he said. McInerney's frustration with administration is only compounded by Thursday's Wall Street Journal report suggesting Obama plans to be personally involved in plotting any air strikes against ISIS inside Syria. 1cThe U.S. military campaign against Islamist militants in Syria is being designed to allow President Barack Obama to exert a high degree of personal control, going so far as to require that the military obtain presidential sign-off for strikes in Syrian territory, 1d reported the Journal. I had to fly missions into Hanoi during the Vietnam War that had that same kind of oversight by Lyndon Johnson. It is doomed to failure. The president ought to give clear guidance of what he wants to do, not how to do it, said McInerney. However, the general does believe U.S. air power can do 90 percent of the work needed to eviscerate ISIS. If you look at the lines of communication that they have, they are clearly in a very vulnerable area. There's not a tree from the Syrian border to Mosul. It's not much different from the Iraqi border up to Raqqa (Syria), which is the headquarters for ISIS. This is ideal for our precision strike and our air dominance, said McInerney, who says the U.S. needs to go all out in destroying our enemy. I'm not saying we don't need ground forces, but I am saying that we have the intelligence. We have weapons that we can put in the right window and the left window and we need to change the rules of engagement and have 'shock and awe' if you will and go violently against them and not be overly concerned about the collateral damage, he said. McInerney is not holding his breath. He does not expect Obama to embrace a full-out assault on ISIS anytime soon. The president has a campaign that is a political campaign. He does not have a campaign that destroys ISIS. The generals are talking about a campaign to destroy ISIS. Until they get in sync, until this election is over. I don't see them doing anything that is really satisfactory, he said. On Thursday night, the U.S. Senate approved a continuing resolution that includes funding for the arming and training of moderate Syrian rebels. The House of Representatives backed the plan on Wednesday. McInerney says experts like retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely tell him that the U.S. is planning to arm the wrong rebels but that there are trustworthy factions trying to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The general says previous efforts to arm the rebels have only made ISIS stronger. Remember, we ended up sending weapons from Benghazi to Turkey to Syria that ended up in ISIS' hands. we helped create ISIS and we do not want to duplicate that again, i.e. supply weapons to radical Islamists, said McInerney. Even if we arm reputable Syrians, McInerney sees two major problems with the plan. First, the top priority of all rebels is to depose Assad, not to confront ISIS. Second, he says the 5,000 rebels we're trying to arm and train are no match for an ISIS army that grows by the day. Five thousand is not enough to do this. They're going against somewhere between 30,000 and I've heard a number as high as 50,000, said McInerney. So 5,000 Syrian fighters, that's going to take six months to a year to arm, are not going to have an impact on any campaign. We have got to be very careful who we align with in Syria, because there are too many pitfalls. We have seen we do not understand how that part of the world works very well, he said.


Play Download Play in iTunes Twitter Facebook

'This Is A Big Mistake':

California Rep. Tom McClintock is ripping President Obama over reports he will personally oversee the bombing of ISIS targets in Syria and believes the bipartisan vote to arm and train Syrian rebels for the fight is a big mistake. The U.S. has been conducting air strikes against ISIS in Iraq for weeks. However. according to The Wall Street Journal, Obama is planning to be directly involved in plotting air strikes across the border in Syria. The U.S. military campaign against Islamist militants in Syria is being designed to allow President Barack Obama to exert a high degree of personal control, going so far as to require that the military obtain presidential sign-off for strikes in Syrian territory, reported the Journal. Defense officials said the strikes in Syria are more likely to look like a targeted counter-terrorism campaign than a classic military campaign, in which a combatant commander picks targets within the parameters set by the commander in chief, it stated. Rep. McClintock says our own history proves this is a terrible idea, citing the actions of President Lyndon Johnson a half-century ago. That's exactly what LBJ did in Vietnam and it was disastrous, said McClintock, who believes that approach will work no better with Obama calling the shots. This president apparently feels qualified to make every judgment for the military commanders in the field. That's not going to end well, he said. In contrast, McClintock says Winston Churchill provides the example of how a leader should act in times of war. (Churchill) was a brilliant mind. The guy invented the modern tank. He would always argue and throw up ideas to his military commanders. As opinionated and brilliant as he was, never once during World War II did he ever override a judgment of a commander in the field, said McClintock. Another key aspect of Obama's plan to defeat ISIS is to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels. On Wednesday, the GOP-led House of Representatives voted 273-156 to approve the plan. The majority of the bipartisan support came from Republicans, but they didn't get any help from McClintock. I voted no. I think that this is a big mistake. I think it runs a great risk of backfiring on us. The Free Syrian Army (FSA) that the administration plans to arm is a marriage of convenience among a lot of Islamist factions that have a long history of collaborating with the Islamic State, said McClintock. In fact, the single purpose of the Free Syrian Army is not to destroy the Islamic State. It's to destroy the Syrian government that is right now actively fighting against the Islamic State, he said. As a result, McClintock fears this plan will only end up putting American weapons in the hands of some of the world's worst actors. The equipment we're providing to the FSA could easily be turned against the Syrian government, which would weaken regional opposition to the Islamic State or it could end up being turned over to the Islamic State . We just watched that happen, said McClintock, pointing to ISIS capturing massive amounts of weapons the U.S. gave to Iraqi security forces. The congressman says history not only discourages presidents from micromanaging air strikes but from forging alliances with disreputable Muslim groups in the Middle East. We need to be clear that alliances among Islamist Middle East factions is at best precarious, can shift overnight, and quite often we end up discovering that our allies are our enemies, said McClintock. The Obama administration says no American troops will be used in a ground combat role but Secretary of State John Kerry also says no other nation has been asked or volunteered to provide those forces. McClintock says this approach risks disaster because there's only one way to fight a war. The president is unwilling to commit ground troops. I believe the country is unwilling to commit ground troops. That's probably wise right now. If you're not prepared to back our troops with the full and complete resources of our country (and) back our troops with the full might and fury of the nation, you shouldn't go in in the first place, said McClintock. The current reality in the region offers no good guys. The radical Sunnis in ISIS are currently fighting to topple the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. They are also hated and opposed by Iran, the world's leading sponsor of terrorism that is also in hot pursuit of nuclear weapons. So which side poses the greater threat to the U.S.? At the moment, the Islamic State is a great threat for two reasons. Contrary to what the president told us, it is Islamic. It is fundamentally Islamic and it has all of the elements of a state. It's that combination of factors that make it so dangerous. They have declared their intention very clearly to insert a fifth column into the United States and wage jihad against Americans on American soil, said McClintock, who believes we're rolling the dice on supposedly moderate rebels while much greater vulnerabilities are ignored. Here we are, sitting fat, dumb and happy with a wide open southern border, a barely enforced northern border and unenforced visa laws. If there is a terrorist attack on American soil through our porous southern border, I think this administration is going to have a lot of explaining to do, he said. McClintock says there is a right way to take the fight to ISIS. He listed four components, including a serious approach to border security. We have got to secure the border. That is where the Islamic State is directly threatening the United States to wage jihad on American soil, he said. When it comes to air strikes, McClintock applauds the campaign that's already underway but believes it needs to be ramped up to send ISIS a clear message. I think it's appropriate to order immediate and significant and focused retaliatory strikes against the Islamic State in response to specific acts that it commits against American interests. That's basically what Ronald Reagan did in Libya and it worked, said McClintock, who says Washington also needs to take serious action on two fiscal issues. The world is rapidly becoming much more dangerous and unstable and our military budget's got to be adjusted to meet that growing danger. And we've got to recognize that the precarious fiscal condition of our government has now become a matter of vital national security. Before you can provide for the common defense, you've got to be able to pay for it, he said. Finally, the congressman says the U.S. must foster a much closer relationship with the one partner in the region we can rely upon in all seasons. We do have one reliable, time-tested and true ally in the Middle East. It's Israel. We should make sure they have all the equipment and supplies and assistance that they need and that they have the unqualified support of the United States government when they have to take action for their own security, as they recently did in Gaza, said McClintock.


Play Download Play in iTunes Twitter Facebook

The Paper Coalition:

The Obama administration appears to be building a paper coalition that seems willing to do little more than cheer the U.S. on in the quest to destroy the terrorist army known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but a leading terrorism expert also says we should be willing to try arming moderate Syrian rebels in the effort if they can be identified. President Obama has stated repeatedly that the U.S. will lead a broad coalition in the fight against ISIS, and the administration now says 40 nations have promised assistance of some kind. However, in testimony Wednesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State John Kerry says no nations have been asked to provide ground troops and no nations have volunteered for the job. It troubles me. It is a paper coalition to date. I'm not sure, other than rhetorical support, what we're actually going to get. I actually thought money would be a help from places like Saudi Arabia. I think we should look into some financing for this effort, said Foundation for the Defense of Democracies President Clifford May. We also know, most distressingly, that certain of the most important actors in that region, say Turkey, a NATO ally, is refusing to help, he said. Turkey, long a secular Islamic state, is growing increasingly radical., most recently with it's rhetoric towards Israel in the battle against Hamas in Gaza. May says Turkey is refusing the U.S. to use our own air base on Turkish soil to launch any sort of air strikes against ISIS. The Turkish government is also refusing to take any action to stop illicit oil sales by ISIS. It's a very shaky coalition at best. We don't want (Syrian President Bashar) Assad in it. He is a client of Iran. We don't want Iran in it, though Iran is fighting the Islamic State. This is why we need a complex strategy. This is why it's tough. This is why the idea of the coalition is sort of fanciful at this moment, said May. President Obama is asking Congress to authorize spending for the arming and training of moderate Syrian rebels, such as the Free Syrian Army, in an effort to have local forces carry out the ground combat against ISIS. Critics assert that there may be no trustworthy elements of the moderate rebels and that rebels are more concerned with deposing Assad than fighting ISIS. May says this is a very thorny aspect of the U.S. approach to ISIS. This is why this game has to be seen not as checkers but as chess and maybe three-dimensional chess. It is not as simple as saying the enemy of my enemy is my friend. In most cases in the Middle East, and certainly in this case, the enemy of my enemy remains our enemy, said May. We need more than tactics, more than giving weapons. We need a strategy and that strategy should be to weaken or, to use Obama's phrase, to degrade and ultimately destroy all our enemies in this region, all of the various rival jihadi forces . The last thing we would want, for example, would be to be fighting the Islamic State as the air force of the Islamic Republic of Iran, he said. Nonetheless, May believes if there are some rebels we can trust, it makes sense to have them carry a share of the load. I would hope that in these past three-and-a-half years (since the Syrian revolution began) the CIA has done a lot of vetting and knows who our real friends are. If they have some, sure, give them some weapons. Be careful which weapons and monitor carefully how they utilize them, said May.


Play Download Play in iTunes Twitter Facebook

'Absolutely, Taxpayers Are Funding Abortion':

A new government study shows that the vast majority of insurance companies do not itemize abortions on medical bills and charge for them separately, meaning taxpayer dollars are paying for abortions through the Affordable Care Act. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) study found that 17 of 18 insurers it studied did not itemize elective abortions on the medical bills for Americans enrolled in plans through the health care reforms, also known as Obamacare. The report explicitly states it did not review whether federal subsidies were used to pay for the abortions, but pro-life activists say there's no other conclusion to reach. Absolutely, taxpayers are funding abortions, said former Colorado Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, who is now vice president for government affairs at the Susan B. Anthony List. The group is dedicated to electing pro-life women to public office. This report is very damning. It shows that when the president said there wouldn't be abortion coverage in this, that taxpayers wouldn't be funding it, that's not true, she said. The Associated Press reports that in response to the GAO findings, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a statement saying it acknowledges that additional clarification may be needed on the law. Musgrave says clarity has been elusive on this part of the law from the very beginning. This is the administration that said, 'We're going to be the most transparent administration in history.' Here we are now. People, whether they're pro-life or pro-abortion, can't figure out if abortion on demand is included in their coverage, said Musgrave. Taxpayer funding of abortion has been hotly debated ever since the Supreme Court's 1973 decisions legalizing abortion. In the late 1970s, then-Illinois Rep. Henry Hyde successfully pushed for a change in federal law to ban taxpayer dollars from being used to pay for abortions. It soon became known simply as the Hyde Rule. The law remained that way until the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. The resolution's language convinced pro-life lawmakers on both sides of the aisle that it would legalize taxpayer-funded abortions. President Obama and other Democrats insisted that wasn't the case. The final bill only passed the House after Obama promised to sign an executive order clarifying that the Hyde Rule was still in effect. At the last minute, this administration cut a deal with pro-life Democrats, who said they were pro-life but they voted for Obamacare that violates the Hyde Amendment. Supposedly, this little accounting gimmick was going to take care of that. Now this report from a non-partisan government watchdog says that taxpayers are funding abortion, said Musgrave. According to Musgrave, no one should be surprised the executive order was meaningless and the GAO report is another reminder that the law never should have been passed in the first place. Obamacare could have been stopped if pro-life legislators had held. Look at where we are now. My mom told me never to say I told you so, but here we are, she said. Musgrave says the GAO study is not the first sign of taxpayer-funded abortions resulting from Obamacare but is simply the latest evidence. She says administration officials have ducked the question for years. When then-Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius was testifying, there were members of Congress that asked for this information on transparency and questions about the surcharge. She said she would get that information to them. Evidently, the information is still not available, said Musgrave In addition, she says even pro-life Democrats know the executive order didn't stop taxpayer-funded abortions. It took individuals like (former Michigan Rep.) Bart Stupak a little while to be surprised that the executive order was worthless. Now, even he acknowledges that. He was the leader of the so-called pro-life Democrats that could have stopped Obamacare, said Musgrave. While hindsight may be instructive, what options to pro-life activists and the large majority of Americans who opposes taxpayer-funded abortions have in trying to reverse this part of the new law? The only way to ensure that we have a remedy for this is the immediate passage of the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act. Right now, it's being blocked in the Senate by Harry Reid. You have to realize the Obama administration has had years to deal with this problem. They've refused to do it, said Musgrave, who believes the right election results could move the bill at least one step closer to becoming law. After November, it is very likely that we will see a Senate that will be willing to do that and take up this legislation and then give it to the president. We'll see if he's going to stay true to what he said years ago, she said. First, she says, we need a Republican majority in the Senate. There are key races that will determine which party controls the United States Senate and whether legislation like the Unborn Child Pain Capable Act will be heard that are really at play in this, said Musgrave. Susan B. Anthony List is heavily targeting incumbent Democratic Senators Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Kay Hagan of North Carolina. Musgrave says regardless of their rhetoric, all of them consciously voted for taxpayer-funded abortions. With Louisiana being the most pro-life state in the U.S. and Arkansas second, she says abortion in the context of Obamacare could be a major issue in those races. Musgrave also says the group is targeting Colorado Sen. Mark Udall for his Obamacare vote and for even being opposed to a partial birth abortion ban. Despite the many challenges in policy and politics, Musgrave says she is very bullish that the pro-life cause will ultimately win this debate. It's a great time to be pro-life. Science is on our side. People are starting to understand issues like the unborn child being capable of feeling pain. They don't want their tax dollars going for abortion. They recoil at the thought of sex-selection abortion. So these senators in many of these states are out of touch, said Musgrave.


Play Download Play in iTunes Twitter Facebook

'Please Stop Helping Us':

Many black Americans are making bad choices from having children out of wedlock and embracing a violent inner city culture that keep them from reaching their potential and liberal government policies are encouraging them to make those bad decisions, according to Wall Street Journal editorial board member Jason Riley. Riley is author of Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make it Harder for Blacks to Succeed. Instead of encouraging black people to dream big and take responsibility for their actions, he says liberal politicians and civil rights leaders are more interested in telling them who to blame for their condition. They want to keep the focus on white behavior, not black behavior. That's the agenda of the black leadership today, from the NAACP to Al Sharpton to Jesse Jackson, we're not talking about black behavior. All the bad black outcomes we see are a result of white racism. That's their narrative and they want to stick to it, said Riley. As policy experts debate the effectiveness of Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty , Riley says the path to advancement is the same for black people as it has been for all other demographics: less government assistance and more individual achievement. Blacks must ultimately help themselves by developing the same habits and behaviors and attitudes that other groups in America had to develop in order to rise here. To the extent that a government program or policy, however well-intentioned, interferes with that self-development it does more harm than good, said Riley. I argue that blacks have been subjected to a lot of policies that aren't doing them any good by interfering with the necessary self-development that needs to take place. For instance, trying to replace a father in the home with a government check is not helpful, but that's what a lot of these welfare policies have attempted to do over the decades, he said. If the pathway to societal advancement is well-established, why are so many in the black community choosing not to take it? I think the left has done a brilliant job of convincing blacks that government is good for them and the more government the better. So you get an over-dependence on government among blacks, both in terms of jobs in the federal government, the military, the post office, civil service jobs or in terms of handouts like food stamps and welfare, said Riley. According to Riley, this problem is evident in countless areas of society. However, in just two examples he says we can see the damage done by the liberal approach to black Americans. Riley believes the first step toward addressing many ills of blacks is to get fathers back in the home. He says study after study shows that problems from criminal behavior, to drug use to dropping out of school is greatly worsened when fathers aren't living with their kids and active in their lives. You name it, there's just a lot of bad things that happen when dads aren't around and that's what you have as the norm in black communities. As late as 1960, two in three black kids in this country grew up with a mother and a father in the home, he said. Today, more than 70 percent do not. You can draw a straight line between that fact and a lot of the problems you see in the inner city, in these communities where these young black men have no sense of what it means to be black or a man. And it's because there's no one around to teach them that, said Riley, who says the problem is made worse when people are condemned for urging responsible parenthood. When Bill Cosby wanted to talk about this a little while back, he got his head handed to him from the left, saying he was elitist, he was talking down to blacks, he was condescending. Even when Obama on occasion and his wife have talked about absent fathers and the bad outcomes associated with that, they get slammed by the black left, said Riley. Another major issue is crime, says Riley. He says liberals and the media constantly focus on relations between blacks and the police and issues like racial profiling. Riley says the glaring issue is rampant black criminality, but few are interested in addressing it. Blacks are about 13 percent of the population but are responsible for about half of all murders in this country. Until that changes, you're going to have tensions between the black community and police. Blacks are arrested at numbers two to three times their numbers in the population for all manner of violent crime, all manner of property crime in this country, said Riley. Until that changes, racial profiling is going to be an issue. People, black and white, are going to view young black men suspiciously so long as crime rates are what they are, he said. While the black vote is overwhelmingly Democratic, Riley asserts many black people are very frustrated with how Democratic leaders and prominent black figures approach key issues like education. Today you have civil rights leaders siding with the teachers' unions who, of course, put the interests of the adults in the school system ahead of the interest of the kids. A disproportionate number blacks get hurt that way by being stuck in the worst schools, even though polls have shown overwhelmingly for decades that parents, and poor parents in particular, favor school vouchers, favor charter schools and so forth, said Riley. Riley says reaction to criticism of the conventional liberal approach to the black community comes in two forms. He says the elitists have no tolerance for him or any other black conservatives who dare to to challenge the system. I like to joke that black conservatives get put on the couch. You know, Justice (Antonin) Scalia is just wrong as far as the left is concerned, or maybe a little evil. But Justice (Clarence) Thomas is a sellout, Uncle Tom, self-hating. They put him on the couch and psychoanalyze him, said Riley. However, he says many black people have responded very favorably to the criticisms and recommendations outlined in his book. I think a lot of blacks don't self-identify as conservatives but they agree with a lot of what I'm saying, particularly on the cultural stuff. Church leaders, business owners, parents who struggling with trying to shield their kids from this culture, the rap music and all that, the materialism and the violence, they get what I'm saying. They understand this is something blacks are going to have to take care of on their own, said Riley.


Play Download Play in iTunes Twitter Facebook

'They're Just Terrific':

American military personnel are smarter and savvier than previous generations but they share the same love for country and desire to take the fight to the enemy, according to Bing West, the tireless embed reporter who has chronicled the work of our men and women in uniform throughout the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As the U.S. marks 13 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the last anniversary where significant combat forces are expected to be in Afghanistan. West has just published his sixth and final book detailing his time embedded with Americans in this war, entitled One Million Steps: A Marine Platoon at War. West, a 74-year-old Vietnam veteran and former assistant secretary of defense, says he committed his time and risked his life time after time to tell a story that had to be told. I thought somebody had to tell the story who had been in combat at the same level that they were. The generals and colonels hadn't been because they came up after Vietnam, so I thought I could go back with these platoons and try to explain to people what it's really like down there and what they're really doing, said West. One Million Steps traces the six-month assignment of a Marine platoon of the Third Battalion of the Fifth Marine Regiment in a small but deadly place called Sangin District in 2010 and 2011. It was the hardest battle of the war. More British troops, before the Marines got there, and more Americans were killed in Sangin than any other place in the country, said West. West says there's a good reason why that sliver of Afghanistan was so much more violent than the rest of the country. The basic reason was the Marines and the British had gradually squeezed the Taliban tighter and tighter in Helmand Province, which was the heartland of the poppy fields that supply 90 percent of the heroin and opium to the world, said West. The Taliban had great finances there. Gradually they were squeezed more and more and finally when they got to this one district called Sangin, the Taliban said, 'They're not going to take this from us.' So that's what caused the battle, he said. The platoon created lodging by hacking caves out of farm walls . West says a key three-mile stretch of the area was covered in thick vegetation, reminding him of Vietnam. He says the limited pathways were also natural targets for Taliban-placed land mines and other improvised explosive devices. That made for careful, tedious patrols. We went single file on these patrols with generally about 14 or 16 Marines on each patrol. The point man was watching out for the mines and he had a mine detector. He would drop bottle caps. The last Marine in line would pick them up and the rest of us made sure we walked right on the bottle caps where the point man had swept for mines, said West, noting that even with such caution, the platoon suffered heavy casualties over the six months. On average we found one or two mines a day and probably killed about one Taliban a day. But this went on for 200 days. The platoon had begun with 52 men. Of the original 52, only 27 were standing at the end, he said, marveling at how well the unit adapted to casualties. In the book, I try to explain how...they found the courage every day, kept the courage to keep going, and how they kept raising up leaders. When one leader would be hit, and we lost some terrific leaders, the next leader would take over, said West. Being in close quarters with American forces 30-40 years after the end of the Vietnam War, West says this generation is even more impressive in some ways then those he fought alongside decades ago. They're smarter than we were. They're more questioning of authority but the authority at the lower levels has a way of communicating back and forth with them about what they're doing it. They plan better and they have a recognition of how to use technology that no one can match, said West, giving an example of one major high-tech tool our forces now use. The way we use air on a battlefield, when we're allowed to use it, is astonishing. We can see every individual on a battlefield from 10,000 feet. We now have a way that the soldier on the ground is looking at the same picture. So they have higher technology. They are more intelligent, and they're just as dedicated as they were in the past, said West. While in theater, West had Marines fill out a survey covering many different topics. The Marines were rather pessimistic about the present and future in Afghanistan. The vast majority said the people of Afghanistan either couldn't be trusted or were easily bullied by the Taliban. A majority expects the country to be a mess not long after the U.S. leaves. Nonetheless, in a unit where many members were killed or wounded, 92 percent of the survivors said they would do their service all over again. West chalks that up to a special mentality that can be found in our heroes in uniform. He shared part of what he told the Marines when given the chance to address them by the platoon commander. You know that you joined because there was something in you that said, 'I want to be a warrior.' I'll tell you what, anyone who wants to come back with me now, I can speak to the general and I can get you out of here. Who wants to come with me? Of course, no one raised his hand. I laughed and I said, 'You see what I mean?' recounted West. You like to complain. You bitch a little bit but you know you love being here because you're having an adventure that only one of a thousand will ever have, he said. There is such a thing in our culture as some people who believe they were born to be warriors. That doesn't mean they spend their lives in the service, but it does mean they're willing to go out and fight for us and go back into civilian life and be able to say, 'Yes, I fought for my country,' said West, who is greatly encouraged by the impact he expects these Marines to have on America in the future. When you look at these young men and women that are volunteering, they're just terrific. So I have high hopes for where we're going, he said.


Play Download Play in iTunes Twitter Facebook

The War We Refuse to Win:

Choosing nation building over victory and refusing to take any action that might have the slightest chance of endangering civilians puts our troops in a position that makes progress almost impossible in Afghanistan and exposes the poor judgment of political leaders and military commanders who have no personal experience in combat. That's the conclusion of Reagan administration Pentagon official and prolific military embed reporter Bing West, in his new book, One Million Steps: A Marine Platoon at War. West also scolds President George W. Bush for becoming obsessed with nation-building and President Obama for thinking our enemies would go away if just stopped fighting them. In the book, West recounts his time with a Marine Corps platoon patrolling Sangin District, the deadliest area in Afghanistan. West describes Sangin as a place where the Taliban retreated after being forced back from other parts of the country. The dense vegetation made it very hard for Marines to see the enemy, but the rules of engagement made it even more difficult. Due to intense protests from the Afghan government whenever civilian casualties occurred, the U.S. went to tremendous lengths to prevent future deaths from happening. In doing so, West says our commanders tied the hands of our soldiers and Marines in unreasonable ways. I am one of the few who doesn't hold in high respect our four-star generals who most others know by household names, because I believe that those generals never understood the nature of the war. They told us that we would go over and persuade the population to join the side of the government and to become democrats and it never happened, said West. They said in order to do this, we had to avoid any civilian casualties. The generals said to do that, you will have positive identification (PID) before you take a shot. Well, the fact of the matter is the other side isn't stupid, he added, noting that those rules didn't stand up very well to the reality on the ground. Usually, in a firefight you very rarely see the other human being. You only see him for about a second or two and then he's gone again, because he's hiding to stay alive and you're hiding to stay alive. The notion that you needed positive identification, we all knew on the lines, everyone from a lieutenant colonel on down, that you really couldn't do that, said West. The rules only got worse from there. When he was commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal further tied the hands of American forces by ordering they could not attack any compound unless they knew for a fact no civilians were present. You can't be a squad leader as a four-star general, said West. The fact is when we were getting fire from a compound, 99 times out of 100, we knew from being in that area that was where the Taliban were and where the people were not. And yet our orders were that we weren't to return fire and certainly we weren't to use artillery or air. West says these rules constantly put our forces in a defensive posture, but the red tape didn't stop there. In One Million Steps, he reveals that each battalion had an attorney on staff. Troops engaged with the enemy were required to call into battalion headquarters and get legal permission before artillery and air power were authorized. Sometimes you would call for air, honestly I had this happening. You'd end up in this debate between the sergeant who's standing next to you on the phone and the lawyer who's back at the battalion and the air officer who's back there and the pilots in the air. You'd all be talking back and forth about, 'Well, are you really taking enough fire that I can really bomb? Are you really sure [no civilians are] there.' All of this was done with the best of intentions, but we went entirely too far, said West. How did the U.S. military end up tying its own hands? West says part of it came from leaders asking troops to do things those commanders had never done. It's the civilians and the generals having a wrong-headed view of war. Most of our generals have never been at war. Most of them were colonels or generals when the war began. They have never fired at anybody in anger, said West, who says President Bush had good intentions but set the stage for great frustration in Afghanistan. President Bush started it by basically saying we owe liberty to these people. What? I didn't understand this and I fundamentally opposed what we were doing when I was out there. We said we could go to these Iraqis and Afghans who are Muslims and say, 'We're form the West and we're here to show you there's a better way of doing things,' and they would become democrats and we would build their nations for them. That was injudicious. As a result, we've reaped a bad harvest, he said. West, who is a Vietnam veteran, says the approach in Afghanistan should have been much simpler. If you're going to fight people because they're your enemy and they've killed you, go over and kill those who have killed you and stop right there. Don't go any farther. Now we've reaped the whirlwind and we're back into Iraq because we left it too early after we did all this. Now we're back to fighting these guys again, he said. While West slams Bush for his focus on nation-building, he faults Obama for letting his political ideology trump sound policy. He did not want to be involved in wars and he told us, 'I'm just stopping these wars.' Well hello? If the other guy's still trying to kill you, you can't just stop a war. So he made the great mistake of pulling us out of Iraq and I'm very worried that he's still promised that we're pulling out of Afghanistan completely. If you allow those who intend to kill you to plot when they're going to kill you, you're going to get killed, said West. West is very critical of Obama's semantics in how he addresses the ISIS threat. Obama repeatedly insists there will be no boots on the ground . West says a thousand of our forces are already there. He says the government can officially designate the troops to be under CIA command and thus deny we have ground forces there. With respect to the big picture, West says Obama and his team obviously haven't thought about the long term goals. We haven't figured out the political end game. We go in and we destroy Islamists. Who are we going to destroy them with? We're going to destroy them with the Sunni tribes. Why are we doing this? Because the Baghdad government is Shi'ite and aligned with Iran and they were oppressing the Iraqi Sunnis when we left. So what are these Iraqi Sunnis going to do when they retake their country? asked West. If you listen to President Obama, he's going to tell you that this is reuniting Iraq under the Shi'ite government in Baghdad. No it's not. If we have this conversation two years from now and the Islamists have been driven out, that the Sunnis announce they're going to have their own state. I don't think we've thought through where we're going in this war, said West.


Play Download Play in iTunes Twitter Facebook

Click here to view more episodes in the Multimedia Player