Civis Americanus…

I’ve just started seeing reports of a second American citizen, a journalist covering the war in Syria, being beheaded by Islamic extremists.

Two Americans are dead at the hands of these thugs and still there is a deafening silence from the White House. We don’t have a strategy. The American president has so much as said he doesn’t want to engage and that his administration doesn’t have courage to lead this great Republic in a war of retribution against those who would do harm to our countrymen.

I’m reminded of a first season episode of The West Wing, when President Bartlett notes how Rome responded when a citizen was killed. He said, “Did you know that two thousand years ago a Roman citizen could walk across the face of the known world free of the fear of molestation? He could walk across the Earth unharmed, cloaked only in the protection of the words civis Romanus — I am a Roman citizen. So great was the retribution of Rome, universally understood as certain, should any harm befall even one of its citizens… Where was the retribution for the families, and where is the warning to the rest of the world that Americans shall walk this Earth unharmed, lest the clenched fist of the most mighty military force in the history of mankind comes crashing down on your house?!”

I’m sick of hearing that the United States doesn’t have the stomach to be an occupying power. We’ve been occupying Germany and Japan since 1945. We’ve been occupying Puerto Rico since 1898. Our warships patrol every seaway across the globe. We’re already an occupying power in fact if not in word. It’s time we get over the self-denial and self flagellation about that. A hundred years from now keeping the lid on a batshit crazy world will be someone else’s problem, but today it’s ours.

As such, if I were President this afternoon my statement of strategy would be simple: I have directed the Secretary of Defense to begin offensive military operations using overwhelming force against Islamic radical elements in Syria and Iraq and in any other location where they harm or threaten to harm the interests or citizens of the United States. I have directed my Secretary of the Treasury to seize all assets and freeze all accounts held by or known to support terrorist elements. I have directed my Secretary of Commerce to place an immediate trade embargo on all countries known to support terrorism or those doing business with countries known to support terrorism. I am invoking Article 5 of the NATO Charter and calling on our allies to take immediate steps to place themselves on a similar war footing. Those countries who shirk their long standing treaty obligations are no longer considered strategic allies of the United States. I am calling on Congress to vote an immediate declaration of war and directing every resource of the United States government towards eradicating the threat of radical trans-national terrorism by stem and root. There are no terms except unconditional surrender.

To do anything other than rise to this challenge is an act of cowardice and wholly unworthy of the United States of America.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Being off schedule. I don’t know what it is about this summer, but I no sooner hit “post” on one week’s WAJTW entry and I’m right back here doing it all over again. It feels a little like Thursdays are separated by 60 hours instead of six days. I’m going to blame the unwelcome interloper of physical therapy on the fact that it feels like I’m always on the cusp of being late to do everything. Throwing an extra hour of “stuff” plus the drive time into the mix has really kept things pressed at the margins. It hasn’t been a recipe for keeping up with my usual activities – not surprisingly, cleaning and sleep have taken the worst of it. I’ve been trying to remind myself that it won’t last forever, which is fine, but at the moment it’s annoying the living hell out of me.

2. The Islamic State. ISIS needs but a single, swift lesson – that if you kill an unarmed American civilian anywhere, you don’t get your picture on every news website on the planet. What you get is the wrath of an angry god falling down on your house. It’s hard to bomb someone back to the stone age when they’re living there already, but I’m all for using those pretty B-52s we have and making the rubble bounce again and again and again and again. Every time ISIS pops up long enough to make a statement, a cruise missile should fly straight down their collective throats. I’m tired of pretending that we have to be tolerant and respectful. In some cases there is an absolute right and an absolute wrong and slaying an unarmed journalist guilty of nothing more than doing his job is an absolute wrong. I’m not naive enough to think we can solve every problem with 1000 pound bombs, but in this case I think they’d be a damn fine start until we think of something more permanent.

3. The news. I need to stop watching it. I need to stop reading it. I operate on the basic assumption that bad things were happening all over the world long before the magic of television brought all of those stories into our living rooms. It’s not like mayhem and chaos are a new force in the universe. Most of what passes for news today doesn’t inspire me to action, but it does tend to drive my blood pressure to new and probably dangerous heights. I can’t shake the feeling that I’d be better off on nearly level if I didn’t know (and didn’t care) what was happening around me. Ignorance, I fear, may truly be bliss.