Scared S***less

Yesterday on “Meet the Press”, host David Gregory interviewed Tom Ricks, Senior Pentagon Correspondent for the Washington Post.  In 2006, he authored the bestseller “Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq.”  He now has a new book out called “The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008.”

Ricks’ answers to Mr. Gregory’s questions about the global dangers facing President Obama scared the living daylights out of me.  Ricks thinks that the year 2009 will be extremely difficult and dangerous for the Obama administration regarding the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan and, most of all, Pakistan.  Obama’s “Viet Nam” will not be either Iraq or Afghanistan, but Pakistan.  Our homegrown problems on the economic front seemed tame after a comparison to the scenario Ricks painted for us internationally.

In a nutshell, while Obama’s projected  increase in our military presence in Afghanistan is a bit off the mark, it is a lot closer to Bush’s mark of Iraq.  The physical borders between Afghanistan and Pakistan are truly blurred.  The military in Pakistan is rife with soldiers who are Islamic extremists.  Of course, Pakistan is a nuclear power and that is the crux of the problem.  If the many radical Muslims in the military, political offices and the general public combine with their arsenal of nuclear weapons, Pakistan stands to be a hair-trigger power that needs to be dealt with immediately.  All during his administrations, Bush was forcing war down our throats by constantly heralding the threat of Islamic terrorism.  His great mistake was that he got the geographical place wrong.  The real threat was not Iraq, but Afghanistan, whose borders and extremist religious powers are co-joined.  I need to read Ricks’ book to comment further but the solution he offers is almost no solution at all.  He says there is not much we can do to control the Taliban and other extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan and we will just need to keep an open pipeline for dialogue with them over the next few years.  Yikes!  Extremists, especially of the religious ilk, and nuclear arms do not mix well at all.

With that dire warning on the table, I do hope Obama and Congress can agree on some sort of economic package so at least, we can have some semblance of a domestic plan in place just in case we have to direct our attention and react to some global crisis.  My “sources” told me that Obama was fantastic today at the town hall meeting in Elkhart, Indiana.  He made his case, stood his ground and connected the urgency of his package to the people’s needs very well.  If you are interested, the following is a live blog of what transpired at that town hall meeting:

No expert economist, no elected official and no any one person is claiming that they know if and how this economic stimulus will effect us.  We are in a real pickle and all the other economic fiascos that came before just might not have any relevance to this one.  Is the $800 million salvo too much?  Is it too little?  We supposedly need this infusion immediately, but speed often negates oversight.  So who is to say?  Only time will tell.  It will be a veritable experiment.

Meanwhile, this combination of radical Islamists and nuclear arms might take over front page news at any time.  I am going to try to read Ricks’ book and if I don’t get scared to death by its content, I will get back to you with my thoughts.

Now you must excuse me.  I have a standing date with my dog for two evenings in February every year.  We watch, admire and criticize all the entrants in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, which starts tonight.  Castine and I already know that she is always “Best in Show.”  Nonetheless, we like to view the competition.  So we are off to the big screen in the basement. Perhaps one or two of you could report back to me on President Obama’s live press conference tonight.  Castine and I do not forfeit this annual date for anything or anyone.


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