Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, September 4, 2010



Mountain Views News Saturday, September 4, 2010


As I See It

GREG Welborn

Iraqi Lessons

In his column last week, Greg 
wrote that President Obama 
“suffers the lowest approval 
rating of any President since 
we started keeping track of 
approval ratings”. I’m not sure 
when Greg started keeping 
track, but according to the latest CBS News poll 
(August 26), Obama has an approval rating of 

 For comparison, there’s polling for other 
recent presidents taken a year-and-a-half into 
their first terms: George W. Bush tops the list at 
70%, followed by George H.W. at 66%. At this 
point in his presidency, Obama’s 48% approval is 
higher than Bill Clinton’s and Ronald Reagan’s, 
who both came in at 42%.

 After success in driving Iraqi forces from 
Kuwait, George H.W.’s numbers fell and he lost 
his bid for re-election. Reagan’s and Clinton’s 
ratings climbed and both went on to second 
terms. As for “lowest approval rating of any 
President”, we haven’t since and probably won’t 
see again the likes of George W. Bush’s 24% at 
the end of his presidency. (But it’s still a point 
higher than Sarah Palin’s current favorable rating 
of 23%.)

 One thing presidents are judged on is keeping 
their promises; President Obama promised one 
month after his inauguration that all combat 
troops from Iraq would be withdrawn by the end 
of August, 2010 - a promise kept. 

 For the past couple years, the war has seemed 
like a radio or TV left on while you’re focused 
on something else; you’re aware of it, but not 
really paying attention. When it’s turned off, you 
might recall something you heard or somehow 
picked up. We all have our own recollections; 
here are some of mine:

 Early in the Bush Administration, Vice 
President Cheney not having time to convene 
his committee on domestic terrorist threats, 
preferred instead to preside over a secret meeting 
of his energy committee, where reportedly a map 
of Iraq is pulled out and oil resources divvied up.

 National Security advisor Richard Clarke 
complaining of the Administration’s initial 
reaction to 9/11; “How can we tie this to Saddam 

 President Bush making it clear he doesn’t 
want to go to the United Nations, he wants to 
go to war. Complaints that U.N inspectors are 
unable to do their job, while at the same time 
those inspectors are methodically destroying 
Hussein’s arsenal.

 Ari Fleischer proclaiming Iraqis will “rejoice” 
at their liberation. Paul Wolfowitz assuring that 
the war will be paid for with oil revenues. Donald 
Rumsfeld asserting, “We not only know Saddam 
Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, we 
know where they are.”

 Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani warning, “We will 
welcome the Americans as liberators, but will 
fight them as occupiers.”

 The career of Gen. Colin Powell coming to an 
effective end after having to present amateurish 
drawings as “evidence” of “mobile weapons labs” 
to the United Nations.

 Invading forces establishing the protection of 
oil facilities as the number-one priority.

 Twenty-somethings manning the U.S. 
Embassy in the Green Zone, with experience 
not in reconstruction but in Republican political 
campaigns. Thousands injured and dying while 
staffers debate how best to switch to private, for-
profit medical care from the former government-
provided system. Hunger rampant and crops 
destroyed while farmers are compelled to enter 
into seed-licensing agreements with Monsanto.

 No media coverage of returning fallen 
soldiers, no combat on the nightly news, tightly-
controlled “embedded” journalists. The toppling 
of the Saddam statue staged as elaborate photo-
op. Phony stories concocted for Pat Tillman and 
Jessica Lynch.


 Marines complaining of having made progress 
in pacifying Fallujah, until joyriding Blackwater 
yahoos barrel through town letting residents 
know who’s boss (and later whose charred 
bodies are found hanging from a bridge). The 
soldier complaining to Rumsfeld about having 
to scavenge through garbage piles for material 
to armor vehicles, while billions are shelled 
out in no-bid contracts (at least $15 billion still 
unaccounted for). The officer who, including 
combat pay, makes about a tenth as much as the 
contractor hired to ladle out his oatmeal in the 
chow line.

 The lieutenant who had a plan for addressing 
the problems of unemployment and trash-strewn 
streets in the town just cleared of the enemy - 
hiring drivers from among local residents at $10 
a day to haul garbage out of town. That plan 
being summarily rejected by higher-ups who 
instead order that outside contractors be hired at 
almost a hundred times the cost.

 Soldiers electrocuted in their showers because 
of shoddy construction work performed by 
Halliburton subsidiary KBR.

 Hopes for winning a “hearts and minds” 
campaign dashed with the exposure of the abuses 
at Abu Ghraib. Low-ranking servicemen and 
women convicted and sent to prison so those 
who authorized and encouraged the practices, 
up to and including Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, 
can escape accountability.

 Joe Wilson, who exposed the lie of “yellow 
cake” uranium from Nigeria, smeared as a 
partisan hack. His wife Valerie Plame, twenty-
year CIA veteran working undercover on nuclear 
proliferation in the Middle East, exposed and 
derided as a “glorified office worker”. Cindy 
Sheehan, mother of a fallen soldier, savaged by 
Administration apologists for demanding the 
President identify the “noble cause” for which 
her son died.

 The Administration and military responding to 
media reports of soldiers’ complaints of abysmal 
care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center by 
punishing the soldiers who complained and 
further restricting media access.

 President Obama suggested in his Oval Office 
address that now’s the time to “turn the page” on 
the war. It’s history, though, has just begun to be 
written. Hopefully, that history will be heeded 
more than have other lessons from our past, such 

 “ . . . we must guard against the acquisition of 
unwarranted influence by the military/industrial 
complex. We must never let the weight of this 
combination endanger our liberties or democratic 
processes. Only an alert and knowledgeable 
citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the 
huge industrial and military machinery of defense 
with our peaceful methods and goals, so that 
security and liberty may prosper together.”

 Dwight Eisenhower, 1961

President Obama’s prime time speech this 
week was given on the occasion of the formal 
end to hostilities in Iraq. While the president, 
to his credit, praised the accomplishments and 
sacrifices of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and 
marines, it is equally important that we as a 
nation draw the proper lessons from the Iraq war. 
After all, 7 years of armed conflict should teach us 
something, and the all too present danger is that 
the wrong lesson will be learned.

 Our president, as gracious as he was to the 
troops who bore the brunt of this war, still seems 
stuck in his original perceptions of the war. In 
2002, Mr. Obama was a state senator and attended 
an anti-war rally in Chicago to pronounce this a 
“dumb war”. Later, as he entertained and then 
sought the candidacy for the presidency he 
articulated a more complex view. He told us that 
he was under no illusions about Sadddam, that he 
had repeatedly derailed U.N. inspection teams, 
developed chemical and biological weapons, used 
these weapons on his own people, sought nuclear 
capacity and invaded two of his neighbors for 
no other provocation than either territorial gain 
or public stature. Nonetheless, Barack Obama 
concluded that “Saddam pose[d] no imminent 
and direct threat to the United States. He [could] 
be contained.”

 Thus, Obama’s more nuanced view was that 
there were reasons to consider waging a war 
against Saddam, but the proper analysis should 
have been not to do it, because he could otherwise 
have been contained. This remains the president’s 
opinion, and it is widely held among his advisors 
and the liberal elite. As recently as last week, The 
Economist’s editors said that President Obama’s 
view was correct; all that this 7 year long war did 
was to “rid the Middle East of a bloodstained 

 This is why I believe the stage is set for the 
wrong lesson to be drawn from this chapter in 
American foreign policy and military strategy. 
If this view is chiseled into the history books, 
we will get marginal credit for helping the Iraqi 
people, but also be seen as having been pretty 
stupid in how we choose to deploy our military 
and conduct our foreign policy. So, let’s ask the 
questions of what would have happened if the 
U.S. had not gone to war with Saddam. In all 
honesty, do we really believe that we could have 
contained Saddam? And what do we think the 
world would look like today if that path had been 

 I believe the obvious answer lies in the 
timeline of events from then until now. At the 
time of Obama’s first major speech on this topic 
to that anti-war rally in Chicago, there were 
at least 2 other countries striving for nuclear 
weapons capability. North Korea and Iran 
both stated publicly their intents in this regard 
and took concrete steps toward achieving 
them. In response, the U.S. and the rest of the 
“international community” stridently opposed 
these actions, publicly condemned them and 
warned of dire consequences if they were 
pursued. We alternately, imposed sanctions and 
sent aid. At various points along the way, each 
country agreed to stop their development efforts 
in return for aid or the relaxation of sanctions. 

 What we all know, of course, is that those were 
just the well played faints and bluffs of experienced 
poker players. The reality belied the public 
statements and celebrations of containment that 
only a true believer in the inevitable superiority 
of pacifism could deny. North Korea continued 
to develop their bomb right under our watchful 
eye, obtained the technology to throw missiles 
long distances, and even demonstrated their 
ability to do so by putting one up over Japan 
and well into the Pacific Ocean. Then came the 
announcement and world acknowledgement that 
the North Koreans had a working bomb. I may 
not be the greatest wordsmith, but the definition 
of containment doesn’t allow 
for nuclear-tipped missiles 
being fired into South Korea, 
Japan, The Philippines, Alaska 
and Hawaii. 

 On the Iranian front, our 
favorite madman, Mahmoud 
Ahmadinejad, has taken great delight over this 
period of time in mocking the West’s efforts to 
shutter his nuclear program. He has expanded 
the program, bragged about his progress along 
the way, threatened to actually use the bomb 
on Israel and convinced Russian and China to 
minimize if not outright thwart sanctions against 
his country. Apparently, the allure of cheap oil 
is just too much to pass by for Russia and China. 
Promise them easy access, and they’ll aid and abet 
your efforts to gain nuclear weapons capabilities. 
As of this writing, it’s the worst kept secret in the 
world that Iran will not imminently announce 
that they have the bomb, have the rockets and 
are trying to decide what to do with all of them, 
absent the Israelis doing what we should have 
done long ago.

 Given this history, how does anyone reasonably 
conclude that we could have contained Saddam 
Hussein? I really am open to an honest and 
sincere logical argument about how we could 
have succeeded here where we so incredibly failed 
everywhere else we tried it. The most definitive 
report ever issued on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, The 
Duelfer Report, makes clear that while Saddam 
didn’t have the WMDs he claimed to have, he 
nonetheless desired them, would have done 
everything in his power to get them and was very 
successful in convincing his own generals, his 
neighbors and every major intelligence agency in 
the world that he indeed did have them. What 
sense does it make to try to contain someone 
from getting what they’ve already convinced you 
they have?

 Saddam was obsessed with Iran, and he was 
obsessed with ruling the Middle East. Is it at 
all reasonable to believe that he would have 
voluntarily given up his desire to have a weapon 
which would have allowed him to blackmail his 
neighbors, or to believe that given Iran’s progress 
along the nuclear timeline that he wouldn’t have 
felt threatened enough for that reason alone to 
get the bomb. I honestly don’t think I’m naïve 
in concluding that Saddam Hussein would have 
laughed off containment efforts and eventually 
would have obtained WMD and nuclear weapons 

 Given that conclusion, what do we realistically 
believe the other Middle East countries would 
have done? Does anyone really believe that Egypt, 
Syria, and Saudi Arabia would have stood by and 
watched all this without taking the steps to obtain 
a bomb of their own? Does anyone believe that if 
we had allowed Saddam to succeed that any other 
country would take the U.S. seriously when we 
tried to prevent further proliferation?

 The answers are as clear as they can possibly 
be. The proper lesson is that the Iraq War was 
necessary to preserving world peace and securing 
the interests of all democratic countries. Yes, we 
benefited the Iraqi people by removing the despot 
who had terrorized them. But we also removed 
the most significant hostile actor in the region, 
prevented rapid proliferation in that unstable 
region, and more than likely prevented the 
military use of a nuclear weapon. Pretty damned 
good for 7 years’ worth of effort. 

 About the author: Gregory J. Welborn is a 
freelance writer and has spoken to several civic 
and religious organizations on cultural and 
moral issues. He lives in the Los Angeles area 
with his wife and 3 children and is active in the 
community. He can be reached at gregwelborn@

Ask jai……

Ask jai is a weekly column that will strive to honestly answer your job search 
questions relating to job searching techniques, networking skills, resume 
writing and interviewing. The employment situation is getting better, however, 
it is still a challenge finding were the jobs are located and how to get pass the 
“gate-keepers”. As an Executive Recruiter I was privy to working directly 
with Corporate Recruiters and understanding their process in selecting which 
candidates to interview and hire. I will candidly answer your questions, 
possibly bluntly answering you questions, but I will be totally honest. My 
objective is to help you achieve your employment goal. 

Q: Employers and interviewers always have a lot of questions to ask during an interview. 
Why type of questions should I ask? Erin

A: Dear Erin:

The interview is a time for you and the employer to really get to know each other. Most 
employers only conduct interviews with candidates that they are possibly considering to 
hire. So, always consider the interview as the next step in the hiring process. However, 
do not relax. This is a crucial step to getting hire. The ideal situation would be for you 
to immediately start asking a few questions after introducing yourself to the interviewer. 
This would give you some advantage and understanding about the job. You could ask the 
interviewer: “What are they looking for in the ideal employee?” or “Could you tell me more 
about the position?” The more you know about the position, the better you will be able to 
respond to their questions. Also, ask the employer for permission to ask questions during 
the interview. Be sure that you have done you homework regarding the company and the 
position. Your questions will give the employer some indication as to the type of employee 
you will be. Your questions should show your interest in the company and the position. Be 
a good listener. Avoid interrupting the interviewer. Always ask for clarification about any 
questions that you did not understand. When the interviewing seems like it is coming to a 
close or when the interviewer asks that final question “Do you have any questions?” Ask 
them about their time-frame in making a decision and the start date. Summarize your 
strengths and ask them how you should follow-up. Then, ask them for the job.

Q: I have been a stay at home mother for 15 years. Before that I was a secretary. Our 
family has experienced some financial set backs, so I need to return to work. I think my 
skills are probably out dated. What would you suggest? Nicey

A: Dear Nicey:

Reach out and start networking with family, friends and former co-workers. Let them know 
that you are planning on returning to the workforce and will need their assistance or referral. 
Use the internet to search for jobs and job descriptions. This research will let you know what 
type of skills you will need. Enroll in adult classes or training courses. Develop a resume 
that summarizes your community, school or church activities. Your resume should include 
skills that could be transferred to the workforce (i.e., leadership, organizational or decision 
making skills). Add any achievements or accomplishments (i.e., winning, fundraising, 
events). Highlight your relationship skills (i.e., communication, customer relations, solving 
problems). The cover letter will be your most important document when applying for 
positions. Explain in your cover letter the reason why you are returning to the workforce. 
Do not state that it is for financial reasons. I would suggest that you explain that you are 
returning to the workforce because you have raised your family and you are now seeking a 
position where you could apply those skills and experiences.

In Computer World, a Man-
in-the-Middle attack is one 
where an eavesdropper 
manages to intercept and 
access previously-supposed 
confidential communications 
without the knowledge 
of either of the intended 
communicants. This is 
accomplished by the attacker 
managing to electronically 
insert him or herself into the 
stream of communication 
without disrupting the actual 
message flow in progress. 
These types of attacks can be 
prevented (or at least made 
much harder to deploy) 
with the implementation 
of various encryption 
protocols and some technical 
planning and monitoring. 
The point is that prevention 
of potential compromise 
doesn’t just happen. It has 
to be purposefully sought 
after. Makers of various 
smartphones have gone to 
great lengths to ensure that 
communication conducted 
via their end devices 
was as secure as possible 
for all normal working 
conditions. In this country, 
telecommunications are 
also protected by various 
encryption schemes that 
work to keep calls and 
communication separate, 
encrypted and private. 
One leading smartphone 
service provider, Research 
In Motion, maker of the 
BlackBerry, had a fairly 
unique security model 
that routed and encrypted 
all traffic through its own 
servers. This model added 
an extra layer of security 
through consolidation and 
the fact that any potential 
message interceptions 
couldn’t be decrypted in 
a short enough time for 
any of the information to 
still be relevant. It would 
take a really long time 
to decrypt a BlackBerry 
communication. RIM’s 
reputation for confidentiality 
made it the preferred device 
of politicians and business 
professionals. This reputation 
for confidentiality also 
made it the bane of national 
security policy makers in 
countries with a big stake 
in stemming terrorism, 
such as Saudi Arabia and 
India, both of whom have 
demanded that RIM grant 
their security personnel 
access to BlackBerry traffic 
originating from and 
coming into devices in their 
respective countries. Both 
countries also threatened a 
ban on the devices if RIM 
refused to comply with 
this request or provide a 
technical means of accessing 
encrypted traffic of interest 
to them. These developments 
were not met without a 
measure of concern on RIM’s 
part as its once-dominant 
market share continues to be 
eaten away by competitors. 
A ban on the devices by the 
Saudi market would certainly 
be uncomfortable but the 
loss of the Indian market is 
apparently unacceptable. In 
addition to the attention the 
Indian government has been 
paying to the BlackBerry, 
there is also the matter of 
their concern over Google 
and Skype communications 
traversing the Indian 
infrastructure. While the 
concerns of the Indian 
government over national 
security and anti-terrorism 
appear to be valid on their 
faces, those companies 
seeking to do business in 
the huge Indian business 
market worry about the very 
real possibility of sensitive 
communications related to 
trade secrets and business 
dealings being leaked by 
corrupt public officials to 
competitors. Even without 
official subterfuge there is the 
concern that the very security 
structure of the BlackBerry 
Enterprise will be weakened 
by allowing these exceptions 
to occur. RIM seems to be 
willing to compromise about 
this particular issue in order 
to appease the governments 
in question but at the end 
of the day they will have to 
question themselves about 
the quality and security of 
their signature service now 
that they’ve decided to let the 
man-in-the-middle call the 

The Main In The Middle

MVNews this week:  Page 9