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House Intelligence Committee Benghazi Report Misleads and Conceals Facts

dark forces timmermanKen Timmerman, author of Dark Forces: The Truth about What Happened in Benghazi   was interviewed Wednesday, November 26, 2014 on 1330AM WEBY  in Pensacola by host Mike Bates and this writer.  This is the third in a series of interviews with Timmerman on the Benghazi terrorist attack that took the lives of four Americans, US Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Information Manager Sean Smith, and CIA security contractors, Tyrone Power and Glen Doherty.  This latest interview with Timmerman was occasioned by the recently released House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) chaired by outgoing Rep.  Mike Rogers (R-MI).

Timmerman’s views expressed in the interviews are reflective of his Daily Caller, article, “House Intelligence Committee Report Obfuscates Benghazi Arms Smuggling.“  His views parallel those of ex-CIA agent Larry Johnson and Col. Dick Brauer of Special Operations Speaks, that we posted: “UPDATE: The Benghazi House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee Report is a “Whitewash”. Overall Timmerman considers the report, “lame” and a “whitewash” of the conduct by the Administration and the Central Intelligence Agency leadership. He especially called in to question Deputy Director Michael Morell and the Chiefs of Base in Benghazi.

Timmerman believes the media abetted this deception by suggesting that the HPSCI Report exonerated the Administration and the CIA dismissing so-called conspiracy theories.  He noted that given the short news cycle following the release of the report, Friday, November 21, 2014, the press barely had time to digest the 37 page report let alone delve into the underlying transcripts.    Report findings denying that there was no stand down orders have been contradicted by surviving CIA security contractors in the book 13 Hours.  Those contractors engaged in the battle at the Annex  said  that the Chief of Base in Benghazi had issued such stand down orders  several times, resulting in a critical 21 minute delay  too late, to rescue Amb. Stevens and aide Sean Smith. When asked his opinion, Timmerman said that with arms and equipment already in a vehicle, the CIA contractors if released in a timely manner might have saved the lives of both Ambassador Stevens and Smith.

Timmerman said that the Report leaves many unanswered questions that might be addressed by the House Select Committee on Benghazi, led by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC). He doesn’t believe that possible GOP Senate creation of a parallel Select Benghazi Committee in the 114th Session beginning January 2015 would be productive.  He noted there have already been five House Committee investigations, including this final report issued by the HPSCI.

On the matter of arms shipment from Libya to Syrian opposition, Timmerman drew a fine line between so-called Presidential Findings authorizing covert operations and liaison with foreign intelligence agencies, the latter not subject to Congressional oversight.   He said the CIA briefings on covert operations in Benghazi under Presidential findings were typically given to the Chairs and Ranking Members of both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and the Senate Majority and Minority leaders as well as the House Speaker and Minority Leader, the so-called ‘eight Cardinals.’  According to his sources none of the briefed Congressional members made any objections. Timmerman, following the revelations by ex-CIA agent Johnson, indicated the filtration of arms was accomplished through a ‘cut out involving British, Turkish, and Qatari Intelligence and Australian contractors.

According to Timmerman, a 400 ton shipment of arms on the vessel Al Entisar was sent by a Libyan Jihadist group to a Turkish Muslim Brotherhood charity, IHH.  That attracted Western press whose reports embarrassed CIA Director Gen. David Petreaus and led to former Secretary of State Clinton dispatching the late Ambassador Stevens to Benghazi to shut the operation down.  The Turkish Embassy General Consul, who Stevens met in Benghazi on the evening of 9/11/2012, was likely an intelligence official.  Timmerman commented that Stevens had conducted liaison with Islamist Libyan militias during the Arab Spring rebellion against Gaddafi.  He said that was reflective of the Administration’s distinction that there were good versus bad Jihadists.

When asked about what was going on at the CIA Annex in Benghazi, Timmerman pointed out there were two groups of intelligence personnel there, not including the CIA security contractors at the Annex.  One group of CIA operatives was monitoring the activities of local Islamist militia and the arms filtration cut out operation with foreign intelligence agencies. Not even mentioned in the HSPCI report, Timmerman contends was the presence of NSA agents intercepting communications of local Islamist militias and Iranian Quds Force operatives in Benghazi.  Timmerman agrees with the comments of Col. Brauer that the Iranian Quds Force operatives had surveyed the Annex in Benghazi preparing it for a possible mortar attack.

Timmerman noted the HSPCI Report comment that use of mortars by the Taliban in Afghanistan was woefully inaccurate reflecting little training in the use of such weapons. Col. Brauer said in an interview with this writer that Soviet 82 mm mortars require a team of four and weigh over 120 pounds. Moreover, each rounds weighs over 7 pounds. Brauer pointed to the expertise in the use of mortars by the Iranian Quds force and military during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980’s. Timmerman believes that members of the Quds Force in Benghazi were possibly involved in preparation and execution of the mortar attack in Benghazi.

Col. Brauer’s sources suggested that some Republican members of the HPSCI may not have been consulted on the release of Final Report.  That prompted observations by Timmerman that in too many instances, ruling majority parties are often side tracked by the interests of Chairman and Ranking Members.  That may have played a part in the timing of the release of the House Intelligence Committee report. Timmerman noted former CIA Director Michael Morell’s role in editing the talking points exonerating the Administration and subsequently joining a Washington, DC-based strategic consulting firm, Beacon Global Strategies.  The firm with close connections to former aides of Secretary Hillary Clinton and former Pentagon Chief, Leon Panetta.  Also joining the firm as Managing Director was Michael Allen former Majority Chief of Staff to outgoing House Intelligence Committee Chair, Mike Rogers.  It appears that the revolving door in Washington Intelligence circles creates conflicts overarching important national security interests.

Listen to the 1330 am WEBY interview with Ken Timmerman:

Segment 1Segment 2, Segment 3Segment 4.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

UK Home Secretary’s renewed commitment to fighting extremists welcome news [+Video]

In 2010, HJS Associate Director Douglas Murray wrote an article summing up our objections to the problematic components of the government’s Prevent strategy – its flagship anti-terror policy, as it was then.  Writing in theTelegraph he said:

‘Barking Mosque received more than £5,000 to provide rap “workshops” and lunches. Something called “Bedford: Faith in Queens Park” received £9,000 for its basketball club, another £10,000 for its cricket club and £11,000 for “fusion youth singing”. It received £1,350 for a talk on “prophetic medicine”. The Cherwell “Banbury Fair Trade Society” was paid by Prevent to deliver a “multicultural food festival”. Across the country Prevent money went to boxing, karate, judo and five-a-side football clubs, while the 1st Bristol Muslim Scout Group bafflingly received £3,180 of Prevent money for camping equipment.’

With the advent of the new British government we continued to push for reform of the Prevent policy and achieved a major success when the official review process emerged with the Prevent Strategy 2011, which adopted many of the wide ranging new measures we called for and saw HJS’ landmark report Islamist Terrorism: The British Connections become the most cited work out of any outside source in the documents setting out the new government policy.

Fast forward to 2014 and rather than raising the issue from the outside, Douglas’ original quote was used in full by Conservative Party HQ as part of a briefing sent to MPs in advance of the Home Secretary’s keynote speech on Tuesday setting out Conservative policies on counter-terrorism for the next manifesto – precisely to show how far we’ve come.

Yet, in her speech Home Secretary Theresa May displayed a welcome recognition of the importance of challenging extremism more thoroughly still – the threat to our security at home has never been higher, with government circles displaying near certainty that a so-called “returning jihadist” with a British passport will eventually manage to attack us.  We have always made clear that nothing other than zero tolerance of anyone that countenances the ideology that feeds this terrorism can be allowed to stand.

As such, more work remains to be done and we are particularly pleased to see the Home Secretary announce new measures on Tuesday, several of which have been key CRT recommendations we have discussed with her top officials in recent years and will serve to improve the government’s ability to combat extremism in all forms.

The speech promised a commitment to strengthening the restrictions put on terrorism suspects who cannot be deported or prosecuted, known as Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIMs) – a measure outlined in HJS’ briefing document for the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Tackling Radicalisation and Extremism.  The Home Secretary went on to argue for the strengthening of legal and regulatory procedures for vulnerable institutions such as charities, universities, schools and prisons – a measure we have argued for forcefully for years and a pillar on which we have specifically predicated the Centre for the Response to Radicalisation and Terrorism – two recent examples of our work are Disrupting Extremists: More Effective Use of Existing Legislation (which focused on public institutions) and Challenging Extremists (which focused on universities).

Getting policymakers to recognise the value of our work and implement it has often been challenging, but as the body of high-quality policy-relevant work has grown, it has become easier to get heard – today our government is using the very words Douglas wrote four years ago to emphasise the points we have been making for years.  But the scale of the challenge, as Prime Minister Cameron correctly says, is huge – generational and as grave as anything this country has fought in the past.

CRT experts will continue to advise the government and help shape policy through their in-depth and high-quality research, as well as provide thought leadership by making our case in the media. The hard work so far means that today when the Home Secretary gives a speech on challenging extremism, the BBC turns to us for comment. But as you can see from the clip below, Douglas is still making our case that more needs to be done – commenting in particular on one of the main pillars of our work, in that government can and must use already existing legal means to challenge proponents of radical Islam effectively.

So our work will continue – with your support.

Douglas Murray on BBC News discussing the Home Secretary Theresa May’s speech:

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of BDNew24.com.

“Shock and Flaw”

Not a week goes by without our work at HJS turning out to be ever more prescient and ever more disconcertingly necessary. Sometimes it is our work on Russia and other autocratic states. Sometimes – and never more so than in recent months – it is our work on Islamic extremism, its causes, proponents and the possible answers to it.

The murder of an American citizen by a British subject would always be a cause of shame and horror. But never could it have been more shameful or horrific than in the murder of the American journalist James Foley this week. Everyone is shocked – David Cameron is shocked, the leaders of the opposition are shocked. But shock is not enough, and nor is horror or outrage. We are all capable of feeling that and all do. The question for political leaders is what they are going to do about it.

To date, the political reaction in Britain has been woeful. The normally hawkish former Security Minister Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones was reduced to advocating more ‘tweeting’ to extremists from Britain in Syria. The shadow Home Secretary was reduced to complaining about the coalition government’s watering-down of Control Orders into ‘TPIMs’. Nothing could have been more grossly partisan or inept. Even if the very slightly watered-down ‘TPIMs’ were turned back into Control Orders immediately it could have had no impact on the life or death of James Foley.

So the paucity of debate is striking. Our political leaders remain strangely fearful of trying to answer the problem that we are all now aware of and increasingly concerned by. But that gap of political leadership will at some point have to be filled. And that is one of the areas where The Henry Jackson Society is able to tread. Because we have been ahead of the curve in identifying this problem, we are also in a good position to be ahead of the curve in providing the answers to it.

The Best Debt in the World by Emma Elliot Freire

Hard to believe, but Britain’s student loan problem is worse than the Yanks’.

In late 2010, tens of thousands of British students took to the streets of London. They protested government plans to cut direct funding of higher education and raise the cap on tuition from £3,290 ($5,500) to £9,000 ($15,000). Some of them occupied government buildings and clashed violently with police. Hundreds were arrested.

Maybe they shouldn’t have gotten so worked up. It’s now becoming clear that most of them won’t repay their loans in full. Some of them will even be getting their education for free.

The UK government’s student loan scheme is more generous than its American counterpart. Any British student who is accepted to a university is automatically entitled to a government loan for the entirety of their tuition. Most universities are charging £9,000 per year. British students can also get loans for their living costs, which range from £4,418 to £7,751 per year. The average student will graduate £44,000 ($74,000) in debt.

The core difference between the British and American systems lies in the terms of repayment. American students typically have to start repaying 6 months after they graduate. Opportunities for loan forgiveness are extremely limited, and loans cannot be discharged via bankruptcy. By contrast, British students don’t have to start repaying until they are earning £21,000 ($36,000) per year. They must then pay 9 percent of their gross income as long as they stay above the threshold. Their outstanding balance is automatically forgiven 30 years after it became eligible for repayment. Also, the loans do not appear on their credit report. 

“The thing people worry about with debt is that they won’t be able to pay it back. The way this is structured means that is not a worry ever, and it doesn’t follow you around until your old age,” says Sam Bowman, Research Director at the Adam Smith Institute, a free-market think tank. 

Bowman finds it helpful to understand loan repayment as a tax. “You can either think of it as a graduate tax or it’s the best debt in the world,” he says. “It makes sense to think of it as a graduate tax, a specific kind of tax on a specific action that is designed to offset the cost of that action.”

Uncharted waters for repayment

The first students to take on the new, larger type of loans have yet to graduate, so it is hard to estimate what repayment rates are likely to be. However, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), an independent research center, is already projecting that 73 percent of students will not repay their loans in full. They believe the average amount written off will be around £30,000 ($50,500).

report released in July by a committee of the British parliament reached similar conclusions. “By providing favourable terms and conditions on student loans, the Government loses around 45p [cents] on every £1 it loans out.” When the new policies were first announced in 2010, the government projected it would only lose 28p per £1 loaned out. The report notes that government loans to students are expected to total £330 billion by 2044. “We are concerned that Government is rapidly approaching a tipping point for the financial viability of the student loans system,” says the report.

By and large, students still think of themselves as having “real debt” for their education. “One valid criticism of the loan system is that students don’t realize how generous it is,” says Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute. “Students think they’re paying for the entirety of their education when actually they’re not. Taxpayers are covering quite a lot of the cost.”

The IFS report notes that the lowest-earning 10 percent of graduates will only repay £3,879 (in 2014 prices). A survey earlier this year showed that 40 percent of graduates are still looking for a job 6 months after leaving university. If this trend continues, some graduates may never start earning £21,000.

A few savvy individuals are learning to work the system. British financial advisors encourage parents who could contribute to their child’s education to have their kid take out government loans instead. Martin Lewis, who runs the popular website moneysavingexpert.comwrites, “If a parent pays the £27,000 tuition fees upfront, and their child becomes a poet and never earns above £21,000, the whole £27,000 would have been wasted.”

The only people who can expect to repay their loans plus interest in full are the small group who take high-paying jobs soon after graduating and get regular pay increases for the next 30 years. These individuals are thinking hard about whether they need a degree. “The only income group that has gone to university less are the richest. That might be surprising, but what the debt does is it imposes some cost on people for going to university,” says Bowman. “So if they have other options, they take them. Maybe they could skip college and join their parent’s business or their parents can find them jobs.”

This is one immediate impact of the new loan scheme. There will undoubtedly be unintended consequences that may only become evident years or decades from now. For example, Britain may see an increase in the number of stay-at-home parents. Loan repayment is tied to an individual’s income. Spouse’s earnings are irrelevant. Child care is already very expensive. For some families, the extra 9 percent they would lose in loan repayments will be enough to push one parent out of paid employment.

Loans without borders

Loan repayments are collected by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, the British equivalent of the IRS, via withholding from a person’s paycheck. This makes it fairly simple to collect money from anyone working for a British employer. Things become harder when a graduate leaves the country. 

“There is no way that the government can collect money from people who go abroad,” says Bowman. “There is a big incentive for them to stay away. Say you’re an English graduate and you go to America for a couple of years to work. If you have this debt waiting for you when you get home, there’s a big reason for you to stay abroad for as long as possible.”

The number of students who would actually permanently leave is probably very small. “It would be a much bigger problem than the student loan book if we were seeing Irish levels of emigration,” says Bowman. However, a determined few will be able to dodge repayment.

And then there’s the question of students who come to Britain from other European Union countries. Since 2006, EU law has required Britain to offer these students the same loan deals for tuition, though not for living costs. It is a tradition in British politics to blame problems that are largely homegrown on the widely-hated EU. As the issues with loan repayment have come to light, stories about EU students borrowing money and then “going to ground” have also been hitting the headlines.

This problem is still fairly small, since EU students have only been receiving loans since 2006. Hillman says that about half of EU students who study in Britain choose not to borrow or repay their loan in full before they leave the country. Many EU students enroll at British universities because they want to work in Britain later. Thus, they have a strong incentive to repay. However, data is now emerging that shows unpaid loans in the low millions. “The issue is less about what has happened to date but what might happen in the future because there aren’t many people yet who are liable to repay, but it’s growing all the time,” says Hillman. 

“If a French or Dutch person studies at a British university then goes home and gets a job, we can certainly chase them through the French or Dutch courts because they’ve signed a legal contract and they should repay,” Hillman says. “But the trouble is that it’s an incredibly expensive business. The person may owe £27,000, which is a lot of money, but chasing someone through the courts can easily cost that much.”

One way to address this problem would be an EU-wide agreement. “But there’s no real incentive for other European countries to do this because other European countries don’t use loans in the same way we do,” says Hillman. 

Relative improvement

Despite the problems, both Hillman and Bowman say the new system is an improvement over the way British higher education used to be funded. Tony Blair’s government only introduced tuition in 2004. “Before loans and fees came in, British taxpayers paid 100 percent of the cost of going to university. Now they don’t. But they still fund part of the loan cost,” says Hillman.

Bowman says it is important to remember the overall British context. “The alternative is not a kind of free market where you have everybody paying their own way and banks privately making loans to people. The alternative is going back to a situation where the government pays for everything, and that’s a disaster,” he says. “The political climate in the UK is very hostile to any kind of marketization of anything. That’s not going to change for a couple of years, at least until we’re growing rapidly, and we all feel rich and safe again.” 

Potential Solution

One interesting idea put forward by David Willetts, a Member of Parliament and former Minister of State for Universities, is to sell government student loans to universities, making them responsible for collecting repayment. This approach would address a problem that afflicts both American and British higher education: Universities collect tuition upfront and then have little incentive to ensure loans are repaid. 

Bowman supports the proposal. “Making universities responsible for whether people repay might make them more willing to turn people away if they’re not a great bet in terms of their future earning, and that might counteract some of the qualification inflation. Right now, you need a university degree for any job that isn’t blue collar manual labor.”

He believes Willetts’ idea is politically viable. “Britain has lots of middle-class people who think of themselves as being working-class. They feel like they’re fighting against the man when in reality they are the man. You could say to them that we don’t want people who haven’t gone to university picking up the bill in any way for people who have gone to university.” 

The only question is whether universities would go along with it. Right now, they have a very beneficial arrangement. 

Much will depend on how loan repayment rates develop in the next few years. Graduates will probably soon grasp that they have the best debt in the world. Maybe taxpayers will start to realize this debt isn’t such a good deal for them. 

ABOUT EMMA ELLIOTT FREIRE

Emma Elliott Freire is a freelance writer living in England. She has previously worked at the Mercatus Center, a multinational bank, and the European Parliament.

RELATED ARTICLE: Can You Pay Student Loans With a Credit Card?

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission. The featured image is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

The Death of Free Speech: British Citizen Arrested for quoting Churchill

Paul Weston, able leader of LibertyGB, whom we interviewed for the New English Review, epitomizes the Hyde Park corner free speech tradition that many in the UK and even here in the United States have taken as an article of faith. His arrest in Winchester for reading a quote about Islam by Sir Winston Churchill from the latter’s acclaimed The River War  wouldn’t have occurred here in the United States under the First Amendment of the Constitution.

However, in a UK obsessed with political correctness and tolerance of rejectionist Islamic representatives like Anjem Choudary and other Jihadists, revealing the truth about Islamic doctrine from an historical figure like Sir Winston Churchill is tantamount to sedition. We trust that our friend Paul Weston made bailment after his arrest and can bring a cause of action in the law courts for his wrongful arrest exercising his free speech. Onward Liberty GB!

This just in from Liberty GB:

Today Paul Weston, chairman of the party Liberty GB and candidate in the 22 May European Elections in the South East, has been arrested in Winchester.

Weston speech

Paul Weston speaking at Winchester Guildhall.

At around 2:00 pm Mr Weston was standing on the steps of Winchester Guildhall, addressing the passers-by in the street with a megaphone. He quoted the following excerpt about Islam from the book The River War by Winston Churchill:

“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property – either as a child, a wife, or a concubine – must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the faith: all know how to die but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith.”

Reportedly a woman came out of the Guildhall and asked Mr Weston if he had the authorisation to make this speech. When he answered that he didn’t, she told him “It’s disgusting!” and then called the police.

Six or seven officers arrived. They talked with the people standing nearby, asking questions about what had happened. The police had a long discussion with Mr Weston, lasting about 40 minutes.

At about 3:00 pm he was arrested. They searched him, put him in a police van and took him away.

RELATED VIDEO:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/HQzV_-latew[/youtube]

 

RELATED STORIES:

UK: Liberty GB’s Paul Weston, arrested for quoting Churchill, could face two years in jail
‘Muslim Brotherhood in UK warns of attacks in response to government probe’
UK: Churchill quotation gets Liberty GB leader Paul Weston arrested
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Major Islamic conference in Paris: “All the evil in the world originates from the Jews and the Zionist barbarism”
New York: Muslim group’s libel suit dismissed against book saying it held terror training
Raymond Ibrahim: Muslim Brotherhood Member Rapes Boy for Supporting Anti-Brotherhood Revolution
Muslims seeking sharia state kill more than 2,596 Nigerians in three months

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Russia controls Crimea, Ukraine plans joint exercises with US & UK. Anyone listening?

Masked by the media frenzy and focus on the missing Malaysian Airlines flight, Russian President Vladimir Putin is increasing his military incursion into Crimea, while Ukraine struggles to defend its sovereign nation. Faced by the Russian threat, Ukraine’s security chief announced it would hold joint military exercises with the United States and Britain.

As reported by the Associated Press, “Ukraine’s government said Wednesday it has begun drawing up plans to pull its troops from Crimea, where Russia is steadily taking formal control as its armed forces seize military installations across the disputed peninsula.” The most recent action involves masked Russian-speaking troops who seized control over Ukraine’s naval headquarters in the city of Sevastopol.

The several hundred militiamen who captured the base in Sevastopol met no resistance. The Russian-speaking troops, who arrived on the base after the storming, wore helmets, flak jackets and uniforms with no identifying insignia — a clear Geneva Convention violation. By afternoon, they were in full control of the naval headquarters.

Ukraine’s defense minister and deputy prime minister had planned to travel to Crimea on Wednesday in bid to avert an escalation in hostilities. But Sergei Aksyonov, the prime minister in Crimea, warned after the announcement of their departure that they would be turned back. And so it seems Crimea is indeed no longer a part of Ukraine — it is Russian — while the world stands by and watches. And as this video by The UK Guardian shows, for Pro-Russian separatists, Crimea is only the beginning.

Russian news agencies on Wednesday cited Constitutional Court chairman Valery Zorkin as saying the treaty signed by Putin has been ruled valid, thus formally clearing another hurdle for Moscow to annex Crimea.

In a warning to Moscow, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden declared the United States will respond to any aggression against its NATO allies, which include neighbors to Russia. “Russia cannot escape the fact that the world is changing and rejecting outright their behavior,” Biden said, after meeting in Vilnius with the presidents of Lithuania and Latvia. Ukraine’s secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, said today that his country will hold maneuvers with the countries that signed the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, but he didn’t give any specifics.

The 1994 Budapest Memorandum was signed by the U.S., Britain and Russia to guarantee Ukraine’s territorial integrity when it surrendered its share of Soviet nuclear arsenals to Russia — how’s that working so far? Seems the only country holding maneuvers is indeed Russia — and not guaranteeing Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty.

As well, it seems Russia is now massing forces for “military maneuvers” near the Estonian border — any ethnic Russians there? The proverbial clock is ticking and twelve F-16s are not going to send a message. I think I know a great mission for the A-10 Warthogs. Oops, I forgot, Defense Secretary Hagel wants to retire that fleet — supposedly it’s outdated and its original mission is no longer valid. Think again, Mr. Hagel.

RELATED STORY: Washington Post: Goodbye, Russia; hello again, Cold War-era Group of Seven

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on AllenBWest.com. The featured image is of a Ukrainian 9K22 Tunguska SAM during the Independence Day parade in Kiev, Ukraine in 2008.  The photo was taken by Michael and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.