Category Archives: Bush

Part II-War, National Interest, and Iraq

Last week I wrote about the first part of the following quote.  In the piece, I discussed reasons we went to War in Iraq, why we are still there, so on and so forth.  It came to my attention that it was really long and so with Part II today, I will attempt to keep it considerably shorter.  Now let’s address the 2nd sentence of the comment below. 

I guess my problem is I can’t honestly justify attacking a country for its oil when there are so many worse countries and regimes around the world. The situation in Darfur is much worse than it ever was in Iraq, and we don’t do something about it why?

There are two ways to address this sentence about Darfur and that is to discuss why we don’t get involved in Darfur due to interests (or lack thereof) and also to address the utter hypocricy by those who use this as a counter argument for Iraq.

First, let’s answer the question.  The hard and cold truth is we aren’t going into Sudan militarily because we have no interests there and because Sudan poses no threat to the outside world.  If you think that justifying war in Iraq was difficult, wait until you have to justify war in Sudan.  The reality, as cold and sad as it may be, is that Iraq and the Middle-East is of great interest and value to us and to the civilized world.  First and foremost they provide the world’s energy needs.  That is the only reason we have any relationship of a significant value with that part of the world.  If they didn’t have oil or natural gas we would treat and view them no differently than we do Mali or Chad. 

Today, admitting the fact that oil is a national interest and adding that it should be draws the gasp of millions people.  But why shouldn’t it be, we need it, the world needs it, and the middle-east has it.  But, people say, we are exploiting those people and making their lives worse. B.S., they and their governments are what determines whether or not their lives suck; how that money is used and spent is entirely up to them. I don’t see the UAEers or Kuwaitis complaining.  But I digress.

I completely understand the desire some have for more action in Darfur.  I have a great fascination for Africa, it is my favorite region to study.  I wish so much that we had the means and justification to use force to end genocide and ethnic cleansing. I remember studying the Rwanda genocide and then watching Hotel Rwanda and just being so disgusted with the actions of the western World and the inaction of the UN.   As I pondered those things, I realized the catch-22 the United States is in.  On the one hand, we are the world’s most powerful and prosperous nation.  Our people enjoy immense freedom and partake of democracy, don’t we have an obligation to help and defend those who can’t help and defend themselves?  I wish the answer were ‘yes’ and in a perfect world, we would do so.  But unfortunately, we just can’t do it.  First, if we did start getting involved militarily, where does it end?  Are we going to attack Sudan, then Uganda, Nigeria, Somalia, Eritrea, Myanmar, Zimbabwe, etc?  We would be involved everywhere and undoubtedly, both sides of the conflict would wish we would go home.

Second, we have limited resources, just because we have the largest military in the world, doesn’t mean we have the ability to fight multiple wars on multiple fronts.  Third, the entire world would be outraged and we would have no support.  We can’t force democracy through the barrell of a gun, no matter how much we may want to.  The sad reality is that there is only so much we have the ability to do and only so much we can legally do. 

This brings me to the hypocricy of those that make comments like this.  There are two hypocricies herein.  First, they imply the argument that that we should leave Iraq to go stop a genocide in Africa, they try to come across as so compassionate and caring about human rights, yet they they either fail to realize or blatantly ignore the fact that if we leave Iraq too soon, we would inevitably have a human rights crisis created in Iraq.  All of these people who say we need to get out of Iraq also claim to care about freedom and human life, yet are ok with us pulling out to make a political point and indicting Bush, all the while creating a major humanitarian crisis.  Fixing one humanitarian crisis while creating another one does not sound like a productive move to me.

The second hypocricy is that people who make comments like this want us to think they would actually support military action in Sudan.  This is utterly ridiculous.  These people will yell and scream for us to leave Iraq and say that we should be helping in Sudan, if we actually did it and sent our military in there, they would call us murderers, empirialists, etc.   Straight hypocricy. 

Finally, as I said earlier I have great affinity for Africa.  What is occurring in Sudan and other parts of that continent break my heart and is very sad.  The U.S. does need to do more, but we also need to do more smartly.  Throwing money at it won’t help.   I personally believe that this should be a EU and UN matter.  It was European countries who colonized that continent and they have a significant amount of blame on their shoulders.  The UN needs to allow their peacekeeping forces to use force when necessary, just minor force.  Peacekeepers are worthless if they can’t do anything to keep the peace.  We also need to put much more pressure on the African Union.  Most of the responsibility falls on the backs of those people and countries who surround Sudan. 

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Iran’s New Hardline Nuclear Negotiator

Last week, Iran’s nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, resigned his post due to a complete inability to work with President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. This alone is terrible news for those seeking a peaceful resolution to the nuclear standoff. While Larijani is not considered a reformer and is indeed among the more conservative officials in the government, he is very pragmatic and firmly believed that the best resolution was through negotiation. To lose a person like this in the negotiations is quite detrimental. (Contrary to American belief, not all Iranian officials are nuts like Mahmud.)

To compound the problem is the person chosen to replace Larijani, Said Jalali. Jalali is a close ally to Ahmadinejad; perhaps even considered a right hand man. He fully supports Mahmud’s hard line stance on the nuclear program; intending to pursue it regardless of the cares of the outside world. Currently, Jalali is saying all the right things; fully intending to cooperate with the IAEA and international community to find a diplomatic solution. However, if indeed he is from the Ahmadinejad school of diplomacy, he will say one thing and do the opposite.

Said Jalali

In Ahmadinejad’s administration there have been two camps of Iranian political power; the Ahmadinejad wing and the Larijani wing. The latter, while still conservative, is much more pragmatic and really wielded the true power in Iran. Included in this wing are such prominent Iranian politicians as former President Rafsanjani and Hassan Ruhani, Iran’s National Security Advisor. In between these two camps is Ayatollah Khamenai, occasionally siding with the hardliners and occasionally with the pragmatists. Sadly, now it looks as if he has committed to Ahmadinejad and his ilk; indeed there is now a consolidation of power around the President.

The thing most American’s (including the President of Columbia University) failed to realize about the Iranian government is that the President is really just a figurehead. He has limited real power. He has no right to dictate foreign policy or be involved in internal affairs. His is primarily domestic authority, of which most decisions have to be ratified by the Council of Experts and the Ayatollah. So for people in America to have been so afraid of Ahmadinejad and for the President of one of America’s most prestigious universities to call him a dictator, was really ignorant and reflected poorly on us as a people. However, now there is reason to fear, not because of Ahmadinejad per se, but because the Ayatollah seems to have completely joined his camp, and the Ayatollah is the true arbiter of Iranian power and foreign policy. The chance for a peaceful resolution to the nuclear crisis has diminished extensively.

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The Media on Hillary v. Barack, Romney v. GOP, & the Primaries

Ocassionally while flipping through the channels on TV I stop on cnn or foxnews or any other news program out there.   As a rule of thumb, I do not watch partisan news shows (e.g. Hannity & Colmes, Olbermann, etc), however if there is a topic that interests me I will stop and try to last as long as possible without throwing my shoe through the TV.  I have always paid attention to politics and the goings on in the world, I have always had an opinion about everything, but it was not until I started blogging that I realized how much information the media leaves out or fails to cover.  I have also noticed that they push things they want to be true regardeless of if they are more than I ever anticipated.  This is especially true of the ’08 election.

First, the media gives predominant coverage to the Democratic race, despite the fact the GOP race is ridiculously tighter.  It would be comparable to sports writers constantly writing about an AL East race where the Red Sox are up by 7 games on the Yankees in mid-September, but it is reported like it is neck and neck.  The reason for this coverage seems to be 2-fold.  First, the media wants a Dem victory in ’08 and they think it is inevitable.  Second, the media seems to have (on average) a fascination and crush on Barack Obama.  So regardless of how large Hillary’s lead gets, the media will continue say the race is closer than it looks.  The media needs to clue in to the fact that Hillary is the nominee for the Dems. Period.

The close race, despite a fairly large lead nationally, really resides in the GOP.  We’ve got Giuliani with about a 10 point lead nationally on Thompson and a twenty point lead on Romney.  Looking purely at this, it seems that Giuliani is a near lock.  However, Romney has a huge lead in Iowa and a solid lead in New Hampshire.  Additionally, he leads in Wyoming, Nevada, and Michigan, all comprising  the first five contests– and Thompson leads in South Carolina.  So Giuliani doesn’t really lead the race.  No one leads the race.  Despite this all we hear about is the democratic contest. 

This leads to my next piece of evidence.  It appears that the media (mainstream and otherwise) is fairly anti-Romney and it baffles me.  He certainly has been raked over the coals more than other candidates and is the primary target of other GOP attacks.  Usually, this is a sign that he is the biggest threat among GOP candidates, something that I believe is accurate.  However, whenever I watch news shows or go to MSM websites they always tout Giuliani, Thompson, and McCain.  They fail to recognize that Romney is a legitimate candidate and is running no worse than a solid second, or even tied for first in the race.  And McCain is all but dead (despite a slight resurrection of late).  So not only does Romney get the most negative coverage, he also gets treated like a second tier candidate.  Something is not adding up, second tier candidates are not the target of negative media attention (unless your Ron Paul).

Finally, (and this expands on some comments above) whenever media folk are summing up the race for the GOP they say something along the lines of this, “While Giuliani leads nationally, Romney leads in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire, and Thompson in South Carolina.”  And then they proceed to act like the order of the primaries are IA, NH, SC, FL, then super-duper Tuesday in February.  By only mentioning those select states, they act like a Romney win in IA and NH would be fairly easy to overcome.   Which, if this were the actual order, it would be in the realm of possibility with SC going to Thompson and FL likely going to Giuliani.  It would be wide open in February.  However this is not the schedule.  The schedule is/will likely be IA, NH, WY, MI, NV, SC, FL, ME, then super-duper Tuesday.   So looking at this, Romney is not only ahead in the first two states, he is ahead in the first 5.  A Romney sweep of those first five states would be near impossible to overcome.   But, probably to keep people interested, we never hear about that.  It is a slight to not only the true status of the race but also to Wyoming, Nevada, and Michigan that they are rarely mentioned. 

(Side note, we never hear anything about Wyoming.  I don’t even think a poll has been done there.  How strange.  I know that it is largelt inconsequential, but considering there are reports about polls in PA and OH, two states that vote later, one would think that at least an occasional story or poll would come out of Wyoming.  I would think that they would have at least some sway in the momentum of the race, being so early and all.) 

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Hamas, Democracy, and U.S. Hypocricy

Since the end of WWII the United States has had a foreign policy centered around spreading democracy across the world.  The general belief is that democracy, though imperfect, provides the best mechanism for providing peace, building a market economy,  and cordial foreign relations – (not to mention keeping more countries in the good graces of the U.S.).  Some of the strongest arguments from the right and the conservatives in this country for going into Iraq and from the left for interveneing in humanitarian efforts like Sudan was for providing freedom and spreading democracy. 

Last year, after years and years (even decades) of working and negotiating with the Palestinians, Palestine held its second (relatively) free election.  Much to our surprise and the surprise of the West, so-called terrorist group Hamas won.   Many of us asked how that could have happened.  We thought that democracy would naturally choose the most pro-freedom and U.S. friendly.  The Hamas victory came as a shock to the nation, and undoubtedly strongly upset the Bush administration. 

I was extremely disappointed in the Bush adminstration for their handling of the election results.  In fact, I am/was more disappointed in that than I have been over anything surrounding Iraq.  Essentially, the U.S. said that they will not recognize the legitimacy of Hamas as a political entity and governor over Palestine. We will not work with them or support them.  What a missed opportunity for our country to really make a positive difference there, instead we acted like kids and whined about the results, all because the election did not turn out how we would have liked. 

This response on the part of America is as hypocritical as it is childish.  Here we are spouting how great and wonderful democracy is.  When our State Department goes into a country, all we do is push freedom and democracy.  We hear the rhetoric from our President, our congress, our radio pundits, the blogs, and on the television.  Yet when a country elects a group that we are completely against, we refuse to even remotely work with them.  How can we be expected to be a standard bearer for democracy when we act like that?  It is sad.

 The proper response would have been to publicaly state our disappointment in the results but that we respect the choice of the Palestinian people.  They have the right to vote for whomever they vote for.  Then go on to say that, ‘nevertheless, we will work with the political wing of Hamas to the extent appropriate so long as they begin from day one to reign in the militant wing, so long as they behave the way a political and government entity will behave.”  And rather than waiting for evidence of this to occur before we start working with them, we should have started from day one. (I’m not saying that we had to be buddy buddy with them and treat them Britain, but recognize them as valid and treat them like we do Pakistan, we have issues with their government too).  This type of response would have demonstrated our unwavering commitment to democracy, our respect for the palestinian people, and could have provided enough incentive and support to Hamas to abandon its terrorist entities and primarily become a political group, much like the PLO did.  Essentially, it would have provided more of a window of opportunity for peace in the region. 

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Ames: Called It! … Huckabee, Romney the Big Winners

Before diving into analysis, let’s review how I did on may Ames Straw Poll predictions:

Prediction: 1. Romney (by 13), 2. Huckabee 3. Giuliani 4. Brownback 5. Paul

Results: 1. Romney (by 13) 2. Huckabee 3. Brownback 4. Tancredo 5. Paul

Nailed it! Well, I was way off on Giuliani and think I (unofficially) had Tancredo in 6th or 7th. I will admit, that all through Friday and Saturday of last weekend, I was doubting my Huckabee prediction; that was a risk well taken. I am most pleased with my 13 point margin of victory prediction. Anyway, enough with that, let’s get to some analysis.

While Romney won, the biggest news was Huckabee’s second place finish. He had no buses and his organization was poor compared to Brownback. While this may not be enough for him to overtake Romney or Giuliani in January, it will certainly put him in the mix and will earn him outward support from people who were not supporting him purely because they thought he had no chance. Look for Huckabee to get a significant jump in support over the next few polls in Iowa.

Huckabee’s win also spells doom for Brownback. Sam can try to spin this all he wants, but the fact that he hired some 100 buses (by some accounts) and lost to his chief rival, Huckabee, who had no buses, demonstrates the weakness of his campaign. I would be surprised if Brownback stays in through January. It would be a waste of time and resources to do so.

This is also a big deal for Huckabee because it makes him a front runner for the VEEP slot should Romney or Giuliani win the nomination. Both of those candidates would have a fairly tough time in the South, and would absolutely need to run with a southerner. (The short list: F. Thompson, Huckabee, Kay Baily Hutchison, and Charlie Crist – but this is a topic for another day).

Mitt Romney, obviously, was also a big winner in this. And had Brownback or Tancredo come in second, as many predicted, he would have been the only big winner. The 13% victory, as I said in my Friday morning post, is just fine. It is not too low, but it is not groundbreaking. Romney did what he needed to do, and he seems to have Iowa locked up. Romney should continue to have an active presence in Iowa, but should scale it down. Invest more resources in SC, FL, and NV.

Mitt’s victory has been getting some criticism due to the claim that he spent some $400+ dollars per vote. I suppose that this is one way to look at it, but more accurately, all of this is an investment. Sure he spent a lot of money to get people there, but he doesn’t have the advantage of Giuliani, McCain, or Thompson who have built in name recognition. Romney has to work harder and spend more money than any other of the top candidates. The money he spent on Ames was purely for marketing. He did not spend the money to win Ames, he spent the money to get his name, demonstrate that he is electable, and to keep in in the top tier. This event was about January, not Ames.

Finally, some analysis on the other candidates. This morning Tommy Thompson withdrew. He was a nice enough guy and was likely competent enough to be president, but he was lacking everything else. In the debates he looked like a talking statue, he does not carry himself in a presidential manner, and he did not have the bank roll to compete with the other candidates. A person like Thompson is perfect for a cabinet postion, but nothing more.

Ron Paul also did not have a bad day, while 5th is nothing to pat yourself on the back for and was worse than his supporters thought they would do, it shows that he at least belongs a little. Paulites have been complaining about efforts to keep Ron out of the debates, they have a legitimate argument. Ron Paul is a legitimate second tier candidate, if Hunter, Brownback, and Tancredo are in the debates, so should Paul. I think he will stay in the race if only for ideological purposes. He is the GOP Ralph Nader.

McCain is done in Iowa and likely nationally.

I am starting to doubt if Thompson will really run. I’m not sure his heart is in it, at least that’s my impression.

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Perceptions of Iraq Improving at Home

Prior to starting this blog, I like most Americans, was wavering in my support for the Iraq War. In 2002 and 2003 I was all for military action in Iraq. I, like nearly everyone in the world, believed Iraq had WMD’s, I criticized the UN for their “if you do it one more time!” routine without ever backing it up, and I believed that Saddam had to go (although I did not believe he was a direct threat to America). As the war continued and dragged on and as the media only reported the negatives in Iraq, my commitment weakened and by May of this year I was leaning towards withdrawing the troops. That all changed once I started the blog and actually started researching what was really going on. Within two weeks of doing this research I was (and still am) 100% convinced of how essential it is that we stay in Iraq and I was also convinced that the surge was starting to work and the tide was slowly changing there.

Previous columns highlighted my reasoning for such beliefs, but I was ever more frustrated. The word was not getting out to the American people. However, that looks like it is starting to change. Last week a couple of analysts from the Brookings Institution, Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack (who were staunchly against the War from the beginning) said, “we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily ‘victory,’ but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.” They continued, “there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.” While these quotes are far from throwing support behind the war, they emphasize a current trend among the media and other observers that Iraq is not as bad as some thought. The one question I have for the above individuals is what constitutes ‘victory’? I would think that a ‘sustainable stability’ is exactly what we are looking for in order to be victorious in Iraq; a stable government that can provide basic services and freedoms and can also provide relative security from insurgents and terrorists. I think we should be looking for stability more along the lines of Morocco or Indonesia rather than Canada or Sweden (at least for the relative short term). But I digress.

Even the AP is getting in on the act. Robert Burns wrote in a column that, “the new U.S. strategy in Iraq… is working.” He further adds:

Despite political setbacks, American commanders are clinging to a hope that stability might be built from the bottom up—with local groups joining or aiding U.S. efforts to root out extremists—rather than from the top down, where national leaders have failed to act.

Commanders are encouraged by signs that more Iraqis are growing fed up with violence. They are also counting on improvements in the Iraqi army and police, which are burdened by religious rivalries and are not ready to take over national defense duties from U.S. troops this year.

Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Peter Bronson writes, “We’re winning in Iraq. Ok, I said it. It’s crazy. Stupid. Naïve. Hopelessly optimistic. And true. Something has changed, and the cut-and-run crowd in Congress did not get the memo. They insist the war is lost and we should get out yesterday. But the war has taken a turn for the better, like a patient making a sudden recovery after years on life support.”

These are just a few examples from among many articles that show that the perceptions of the current situation in Iraq is starting to change. It is very refreshing to finally be hearing good news out of Iraq.

However, the most significant sign that things are changing here at home does not come from the media but by what the people think. In a Gallup Poll released today says that, “the additional troops are ‘making the situation better’ rose to 31% from 22% a month ago. Those who said it was ‘not making much difference’ dropped to 41% from 51%. ” While the 31% and 41% numbers respectively are nothing to write home about, it does show a recent trend of increasing support for our mission in Iraq.

This current situation makes me wonder if Iraq will follow the trend of most of America’s previous wars – e.g. the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and WWII. In each of these wars we lost major battles and were struggling during the initial and early stages in the War. In fact in the Civil War, the Union was losing for the first 3 years and only Lincoln’s resolve kept us afloat. It looks like this same pattern could be what is happening for us in Iraq: early loses, strong negative public sentiment, and then, finally, victory.

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Is Obama OK with Genocide in Iraq?

Barack Obama up until now has been a strange enigma in my mind.  On the one hand, he is among the most left-wing senators in our country and I completely disagree with him on most of his policies.  On the other hand, he seems to be a genuine and honest person.  He does not seem to be overly tainted by Washington politics…yet.  And he is generally likeable and charming.   I have wondered if the race for President came down to Giuliani v. Obama, would I really consider voting for Obama?   Me, a right-wing conservative?   Well, up to last week, the answer was yes, I would consider it (though not likely).    

Anyone who reads this site fairly regularly is aware that I believe that success in Iraq is essential to U.S. national security, U.S. long-term interests, and to the preservation and rebirth of America’s image world-wide.   I have also argued that if the sole reason we stay in Iraq is for humanitarian reasons alone it would be worthwhile and justified.    So, when I read the comments of Mr. Obama on Iraq last week, you could imagine my extreme disappointment.  He essentially said that maintaining troops in Iraq for humantiarian problems and preventing Genocide in Iraq is not enough of a reason to keep our troops there

Now before I get into his justifications for this remark and my interpretation of what he is saying, allow me to interject something about what the Left (of whom he is a significant part) is suppossed to be about.   The left continually supports human rights and life, they are suppossed to be the U.S. humanitarians, they support Amnesty International, condemn U.S. actions across the world that are remotely deemed as insensitive and hurtful, and they are currently staging a large advertising campaign to raise awareness for the genocide in Darfur.  Aside from Obama’s obvious lack of understanding about the realities of the War, this is what is most disappointing in him.  He and candidates of his party should hold the line that they don’t agree with the war, they believe that political success is highly unlikely, but if only to save lives we should maintain a presence in Iraq.  Very disappointing and really causes the left to lose even more credibility.

Now, back to Obama’s specific statement.  Is he saying that the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people is not as important as the loss of another 1-2 thousand American lives?   That is what it sounds like to me.  Many of you may think that 1-2 thousand more American lives are not worth it, but personally I think that is sad.  In a situation like this in Iraq that we essentially created, I personally would be willing to make such a sacrifice, and when I signed my name on the dotted line to join the Military, that is exactly what I said I was willing to do. 

To emphasize his point Obama said the following:

 “Well, look, if that’s the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now—where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife—which we haven’t done,” Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven’t done. Those of us who care about Darfur don’t think it would be a good idea,” he said.

What a completely stupid and asinine argument.  It infuriates me that he could be this short-sighted and moronic.  The problem with his argument is that we had nothing to do with the problems in the Congo and Sudan.   We did not cause them.  In Iraq, we are the reason the Iraqi’s are in the situation they are, for good or bad.  Al Qaeda in Iraq is there because we ousted Saddam and they see an opportunity to take advantage of the situation in attempt to earn themselves another country from which to field their operations.  We have an obligation to the Iraqi people to help them and protect them from people who commit atrocities like those AQI has committed.  We have no such obligation for Sudan or Congo.  

Further, regarding the deployment of US forces his argument is off on the wrong foot immediately.  Our troops are already deployed there for a military engagement mission.  The humanitarian crisis in Iraq is in no way the basis for our deployment there, but it should be part of the mission now that we are there.   He is right that we should not engage in war or deploy troops solely for such reasons, but that is hardly applicable to the situation in Iraq.  Thus, he has a complete lack of understanding of what is happening there and what our mission is.  Obama then added the following:

It is my assessment that those risks (of genocide) are even greater if we continue to occupy Iraq and serve as a magnet for not only terrorist activity but also irresponsible behavior by Iraqi factions,” he said.

Wow, what can I say here?  I am almost speechless. He is wrong, wrong, wrong.  If we left too early AQI, Iran, and other groups would push into Iran harsher and faster to establish a new Taliban like state, to build a new Islamic Republic, or just to gain political power at the expense of anyone who stands in their way.  These groups are not just there to attack Americans, they are smarter than that.  When they see our weakness and wavering they push harder and are more ruthless, but the one thing remotely holding them back is the presence of American troops.  For evidence of this read Michael Yon’s blog.

I am extremely disappointed in Barack.  I recognize that he is a politician and is trying to earn votes, but this is unacceptable.  Primarily because it is a poor and not-thought-out argument.  It makes him look ill-suited to serve as commander-in-chief and leader of the free world.

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