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Define ‘Caution,’ Mr. Gates


While in Israel week before last, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates spoke out of two sides of his mouth. (No real surprise there. The Obama administration has become famous for such indecisive doubletalk.)

On the one hand, he indicated that no country would tolerate the bombardment and terror that Israel is experiencing.

On the other hand, he stressed that Israel must be cautious in its response to terrorism against its civilian population. The “peace process toward a two-state solution must proceed,” he said – despite the ongoing Arab attacks.

I wonder what he really meant with his admonishment that Israel “must be cautious” in its response to the slaughter of innocent babies, the bombardment of Israel’s cities with Kassam rockets and Grad missiles, and bus bombings such as the one in Jerusalem last month.

Israel’s current response to all this deadly provocation has not only been cautious, it borders on criminal abandonment of its own citizens. How much more “cautious” does Israel need to be? Does it need to absorb another 20 bombings before responding in kind? A dozen families murdered? Three dozen? Ten butchered babies? A hundred?

And while I wonder about all this, I notice that without even consulting Congress and with not the slightest concern for the possibility that innocent civilians would die in Libya, the U.S. and its allies unleashed a bombing and strafing mission against the Khaddafi regime.

Yes, of course Khaddafi needs to be deposed, eliminated, obliterated. No question as to the logic of that. But that is not why I can’t figure out how Gates gets both sides of his mouth to work.

If he were here right now I’d say the following to him: Please remind me, Mr. Gates, whether Khaddafi bombed, shot or otherwise harmed any Americans in his fight against his own people. I have no recollection of how many American babies Khaddafi butchered in cold blood in Galveston, Texas or Memphis, Tennessee.

The answer, of course, is zero. Yet despite that, and despite Libya’s being situated some 6,000 miles from the eastern coast of the United States, our president, together with France, Great Britain and a few other countries, began bombing in the name of saving Libyan civilians from the murderous onslaught of their own government.

I wonder how many civilians have died and will die as a result of this “cautious” response to Libya’s non-provocation of the U.S.

I’d also – if I only had the chance – ask the defense secretary if he’s ever driven to work fearing his windshield might be smashed to bits by a heavy boulder sent hurtling from the side of the road by would-be killers intent on murdering him and his family. Or if he ever went to sleep worried that terrorists might break into his home looking to slit his children’s throats. Or how “cautious” his reaction would be if a loved one were blown up by a bomb or shot by a roadside sniper.

Some more questions for Mr. Gates:

How many homes in the United States have been invaded by terrorists whose only mission is to butcher parents, children and infants?

How many Shalhevet Passes and Dr. David Applebaums and Hadas Fogels – among the thousands of other civilians of all ages, killed and wounded in the past decade alone – would the U.S. tolerate?

Why is the blood of Jewish children less precious than the blood of the sewer-crawlers in Gaza? Why is Israel supposed to be “cautious” in its response to the murder of its babies?

How long did the United States wait to invade Iraq following the latter’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990? There was no direct threat to America, but the first Bush administration felt it necessary to stop Saddam Hussein from taking over oil-rich Kuwait and possibly moving on to Saudi Arabia. And you’ll hear no argument against that decision here. But how many Iraqi civilians were killed in that war?

A decade later, in the wake of 9/11, the U.S. again went to war with Saddam Hussein, invading Iraq, occupying the country, deposing Hussein and commencing a long, bloody, still ongoing struggle to democratize the country.

How many civilians have been killed since the first American missile hit Baghdad in March 2003? The conservative estimate is more than 100,000; other counts claim several times that number. Whether one accepts the higher or the lower estimate, we’re talking about a lot of dead civilians. Where was the “caution” there, Mr. Gates?

About the Author: Isaac Kohn is senior vice president for Prime Care Consultants.


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While in Israel week before last, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates spoke out of two sides of his mouth. (No real surprise there. The Obama administration has become famous for such indecisive doubletalk.)

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