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Posts published in “Jones”

Undermining the rule of law

jones

Ever since William Barr was sworn in as U.S. Attorney General, he has failed to honor the sacred oath he recited to “faithfully discharge the duties” of that high office. Among other things, he has shown a higher allegiance to the President than to the law, has knowingly allowed his departmental attorneys to make specious arguments in court, and has disregarded his responsibility to uphold the rule of law.

The United States Attorney General is not the personal attorney of the President. He represents the American people and is to be guided in doing so by the U.S. Constitution and the other laws of this great land. The AG is responsible for seeing that the laws are carried out impartially and that law enforcement is independent of political influence.

I served as attorney general of Idaho for eight years and understand the need for the top legal officer of a governmental entity to stand up for the rule of law. A person fulfilling that role is often pressured or implored to do the bidding of his or her party but doing so is ethically and legally wrong. When the AG acts in a partisan manner it seriously erodes public confidence is our legal system.

Right from the start, Barr violated his ethical responsibility to recuse himself from all aspects of the Mueller investigation. Even though Jeff Sessions had many serious failings as attorney general, he understood that he was too closely aligned with the President to oversee that investigation. Barr telegraphed how he viewed that proceeding before his appointment, likely got appointed precisely because of that, and has acted as the President’s chief cheerleader ever since.

Despite Mueller’s disclosure of strong evidence of Trump’s obstruction of justice, including the President’s directive to White House counsel Don McGhan to commit the felony offense of lying to federal investigators, Barr improperly exonerated the President. It is no wonder that over a thousand former federal prosecutors signed a statement saying that Mueller had made a powerful case for Trump’s indictment on obstruction charges.

Barr’s disregard of ethical standards has been on full display during the unfolding scandal over the citizenship question on the 2020 census. It was clear from the start that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was lying about the reason for wanting the question. It was for raw political purposes. Three federal district courts found Ross to have lied, as did the appellate courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. Barr forced his attorneys to repeatedly lie as to the source and reason for the question, knowing that it was not in keeping with the Constitution’s directive for the census.

Rather than fessing up for his department’s frequent repetition of the lies to numerous federal judges, Barr has been trying to come up with additional contrived excuses for trying to corrupt the census. It is like the police officer who pulls over a speeder only to hear numerous alternate reasons for why the car was going too fast--being chased, new tires, medical emergency, bad speedometer, yada, yada, yada.

Despite knowing the law requires young asylum seekers to be provided safe and sanitary living conditions, Barr’s attorneys tried to convince a panel of federal judges that imprisoned migrant kids did not need soap, toothbrushes and sleep. The judges were all dumbfounded as to how that constituted proper care, as all of the rest of us should be. The AG has a moral and legal obligation to comply with the law rather than to try to justify its breach.

Our AG has turned out to be a political lap dog, rather than an advocate for the rule of law, which has made our legal system the envy of the world. With Barr in charge, the luster is wearing off fast.
 

A fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants foreign policy

jones

The President’s trip to the G-20 meeting in Japan produced some foreign policy blunders that will prove harmful to America’s national security. The problem is that he just wings it without bothering to develop an understanding of complex international issues.

Trump started off by suggesting that the U.S. defense treaty with Japan was unfair. He noted that we are obligated to defend Japan if it is attacked, but Japan would not have to defend the U.S. What he does not understand is that the treaty provides significant national security benefits to our country.

We can base substantial forces on Japanese territory, projecting American power and influence throughout the eastern hemisphere. That is a vital part of our defense posture against our Asian adversaries. An attack on Japan by China or North Korea would also be an attack on our forces. Plus, it was our intention in negotiating the treaty to limit Japan from having a large standing military force.

After gratuitously shaking our alliance with Japan and insulting the German Chancellor, the President cuddled up with Vladimir Putin, our principal adversary. Trump joked with Putin about Russia’s attack on the 2016 election. They both got a good chuckle when our commander in chief gave a comic admonition to Putie to stay out of our next election. Putin and any other adversary around the world got a loud and clear message that an election attack in support of the right presidential candidate would not be regarded as a hostile act against the United States of America.

From the very infancy of our nation, foreign meddling in our affairs has been regarded as un-American. When France was torqued off because President Washington signed a treaty with Great Britain, the French Ambassador let it be known that we might be at war with France if electors voted for John Adams in 1796. It did not work because Adams won (and, there was no war).

Washington then warned in his Farewell Address that “history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government.” Americans have ever since been wary of and hostile to foreign interference in our affairs, or at least until 2016.

The President then buttered up Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as an exemplary leader, despite his murderous war in Yemen and the prince-approved slicing and dicing of a Washington Post journalist. Trump praised Prince Charming’s treatment of Saudi women, which must have provided great comfort to the Saudi women’s rights advocates rotting away in Saudi prisons.

The President then turned his affections to Kim Jong-un, the homicidal tyrant in charge of North Korea. In exchange for further elevating the world stature of this loathsome despot, we got nothing but a vague promise to go back to the bargaining table.

Even the President’s advisors admit that Kim will not give up his nuclear weapons and it seems to be dawning on Trump that this is the case. My prediction is that we may see a deal where Kim gets to keep the nukes he presently has if he solemnly promises not to build any more--move the goalposts, declare victory and move on.

Seat-of-the-pants foreign policy is certainly easier to do because you don’t have to have in-depth knowledge, perform detailed groundwork, and craft a binding agreement, like the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran. That agreement took excruciating work by many nations but it was ironclad and verifiable. It successfully prevented Iran from working on nuclear weapons until Trump unilaterally withdrew from it. Now, we can’t seem to find a workable replacement short of a seat-of-the-pants war.
 

Renewing the Declaration

jones

On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted a remarkable Declaration, proclaiming the thirteen American colonies to be free from British control. The delegates famously stated: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The 56 colonial signers listed 27 grievances against King George III that caused the split with Great Britain. They were fully aware that they were placing their lives and fortunes at great risk because the King was bound to use force of arms to squelch the rebellion. Nevertheless, they concluded the Declaration, “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” They were united in the struggle to gain the blessings of liberty for the colonists and their descendants, no matter the cost.

We won that fight and established a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Our ancestors bestowed those hard-won rights upon us and we now enjoy more freedoms than any other society on Earth. Why is it, then, that we are no longer united? Why are we at each other’s throats, rather than working together to achieve greater heights for our country and its people?

Benjamin Franklin provided the answer to a woman who asked him what had been achieved by the Constitutional Convention of 1787. She asked, “what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” He replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.” Franklin was obviously not putting the onus on the lady, Mrs. Powel, to keep the republic. The “you” he referred to was all of us.

Franklin knew that future generations would lose this exceptional form of government if they did not work hard to keep it. It would take the same kind of unity, sacrifice and commitment that drove the Declaration signers to make the break with Great Britain. We can’t just sit on our hands and take our nation’s blessings: Every citizen is obligated to contribute to the preservation of our democracy. When one does not have to pay a price for a precious thing, its true value may not be appreciated.

We too often take our freedoms for granted. Many of us do not know how government works or what to do if it is not working effectively. Others do not keep up with what is going on in society or know how to address serious societal problems. Too many don’t vote. Few serve this great nation.

We could take a cue from those who signed the Declaration and pledge to do more to serve and improve our country. Strengthening civic education in our schools would help. Our youngsters should learn more about governing and of their responsibility to work cooperatively to improve our system of government.

Everyone should have the opportunity to serve their country in some role. Military training should be made available to more young men and women to relieve the strain on our volunteer force. There are many things young Americans could do in civilian society, like building up their communities and building their character in the process.

We need more inspirational leaders, besides our school teachers, who will encourage young people to pursue careers in public service roles. And there should be more programs for older Americans to help others in need.

We can get started this Fourth of July by reflecting on what each of us can do to make this a more caring and communal country and how we might enlist others, including those with whom we have political disagreements, in achieving that goal. That would renew the spirit of that first Independence Day in 1776.

American pride on refugee day?

jones

World Refugee Day, June 20, is a time to consider the desperate plight of the more than 25 million people around the world who have fled their home countries because of a well-founded fear of being persecuted. America has always been regarded as a refuge for people fleeing despotic countries to escape religious and political persecution. In the past, we have taken seriously the admonition in Deuteronomy 10:19 to “love those who are foreigners.”

Until recently, America has played a leading role among nations in protecting refugees who often have suffered unspeakable atrocities in their home countries. The U.S. has provided comfort and shelter to over 3 million oppressed people from around the world since 1975. America welcomed 84,944 refugees in fiscal year 2016, but that dropped to 53,716 in FY 2017 and then to 22,491 in FY 2018.

Savage fighting in Syria has produced the largest outpouring of refugees in recent years--about 6.3 million. Of that number, 3.6 million are registered in Turkey, over 900,000 in Lebanon and about 665,000 in Jordan. The U.S. settled 12,587 Syrians in FY 2016, only 62 in FY 2018, and just 218 in the first half of FY 2019. We played a large part in creating the Middle East upheaval that caused the massive flow of refugees, but have essentially turned our back on them.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel saw the flood of refugees from Syria as a humanitarian crisis of the first order, but also as an opportunity to address a serious German social problem. Unemployment and the birth rate in her country are at near-record lows, as they also are in the U.S. The aging population of both countries poses great economic problems for the future. Merkel’s solution was to admit about 1.5 million refugees, who have injected new workers and more vitality into the German economy.

I’m not suggesting we bring a similar number into the U.S. but we should remember that immigrants have provided the backbone for America’s growth into an economic powerhouse. With our record low birth rate, how can we sustain our economy into the future and pay for Social Security, Medicare, national defense and everything else we hold dear? We need a new population source to keep our economy from faltering.

Along with the substantial decline of refugees being allowed into the U.S., the numbers coming to Idaho have plummeted—from 1,118 in FY 2016, to 629 in FY 2017, and then to 265 in the first 8 months of FY 2019. The drop has caused serious damage to the infrastructure of Idaho’s refugee resettlement agencies, which are among the best in the country.

Those agencies--the Idaho Office for Refugees, Agency for New Americans and International Rescue Committee—sponsored World Refugee Day Boise on June 15. There was a remarkable outpouring of appreciation for these people from distant parts of the world who have enriched the communities of Idaho.

Refugees from a variety of countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ukraine and Myanmar, have settled in Boise, Twin Falls (thanks to the well-regarded refugee program of the College of Southern Idaho) and surrounding areas. They have shared their cultures and cuisines, started businesses at twice the rate of home-grown Americans and taken jobs that locals will not do. Many of their sons and daughters are becoming nurses, engineers, social workers and information technology experts.

Just like immigrant groups from years past, Idaho’s refugee community supports America and is doing its part to make the country even better. Soon we will stop referring to them as refugees and call them our fellow Americans. And, when America remembers its responsibility to extend love to those fleeing persecution, the country can once again hold its head up with pride on some future World Refugee Day.
 

Magic wand solutions

jones

Pointy-headed scientists make life in these United States way too complicated. They always want to study a problem to death and, once they have reached a consensus on how to fix it, they want to spend tons of money on a cure. We need to simplify the process with less scientific study and more gut-inspired action.

Take the issue of nuclear waste disposal. The U.S. has struggled for decades trying to clean up high-level radioactive waste. There has been a lot of heartburn about removing high-level waste from the Idaho National Laboratory, as well as from the Hanford Reservation in Washington and Savannah River in South Carolina. The cost of cleaning up the waste is astronomical and finding a place to dispose of it is perplexing.

The U.S. Department of Energy under the stewardship of former Texas Governor Rick Perry has cut through all of the red tape and figured out a simple solution--just change the classification of the waste from high-level to low-level. Why didn’t we think of that long ago? Those of you who poked fun at Perry for not being able to name the Energy Department as one of the three agencies he proposed to eliminate during the 2016 presidential primaries should be eating a little crow, thanks to this stroke of genius.

Lowering the classification of the waste will save $40 billion in cleanup costs and allow the reclassified waste to be disposed of in low-level facilities in Utah or Texas. Problem solved with the stroke of a pen!

And, how about reducing the number of deaths from the fine particulate pollution produced by burning fossil fuels? When the Environmental Protection Agency proposed to eliminate the strict air pollution rule in the Clean Power Plan, its scientific staff estimated the roll-back would result in an added 1,400 premature deaths in the U.S. each year.

Agency leadership has just announced a simple solution to the dilemma--simply change the methodology for calculating the number of deaths that will be caused by the rule change. Now we can have more air pollution and fewer deaths at the same time. Problem solved by a simple calculation change!

Climate scientists are continually warning of the existential danger facing the Earth from climate change. They point to the record-breaking weather disasters occurring around the globe and claim they will intensify if earthlings do not take drastic action to curtail greenhouse gas emissions. They say the danger will increase dramatically in the second half of this century.

The administration has settled upon a simple fix to the problem. Rather than projecting the effects of climate change to the end of the century, as we currently do, just cut the projections off at the year 2040. That provides a less dire picture since the greatest effects of climate change will occur after that time. And it eliminates the need to take effective action now to save the planet from turning into an uninhabitable hothouse for our children and their offspring. Another problem solved by the mere stroke of a pen!

Why spend the time it takes to carefully study a complex problem and develop a scientific consensus as to how to solve it, when most problems can be easily resolved by a simple gut check and change of nomenclature? We don’t need to follow the urgent warnings of 97% of the climate experts about the growing danger of climate change when we can simply step outside on a cold day and announce “problem solved.”
 

The Russians are coming, again

jones

Debate over what the Mueller Report concluded with regard to Russian interference in the 2016 election has only intensified since Robert Mueller spoke to the nation on May 29. In his sphinx-like manner, the special counsel summarized what he had found, declining to go beyond the confines of his written report.

Mueller was unequivocal on one point - the Russians engaged in “multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election.” He began and ended his presentation with that stark warning, apparently confounded by the fact that the U.S. has not seriously mobilized to stop it from happening again in 2020. Normally, there would be an all-hands-on-deck effort to warn off the Russians, prepare strong counter measures, and harden our election systems, among other things, but these are not normal times.

Because Mueller declined to give his personal views on the report findings, all sides have stepped forward to give their particular slant. The Attorney General has repeatedly claimed that the report found no “collusion” between the Russians and the Trump campaign. That is absolutely correct but beside the point. On pages 2 and 180 of Volume One of his report, Mueller clearly states that he did not look into the question of whether there was collusion.

Mueller’s inquiry was concerned with whether the Trump campaign committed the crime of conspiracy, which he describes at page 181 as “an agreement to commit any substantive violation of federal criminal law--including foreign-influence and campaign-finance laws.”

The report details over 140 Russian contacts with the Trump campaign in pages 66-173 of Volume One, concluding that Russia made offers of assistance to the campaign and that the campaign was receptive to some of those offers. However, Mueller said on May 29 that “there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy.” At page 2 of the report he clarifies: “A statement that the investigation did not establish particular facts does not mean there was no evidence of those facts.” In other words, there was evidence of conspiracy, but not enough to support a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.

Proving criminal conspiracy is no easy task because of the reasonable doubt standard. During my tenure as Idaho Attorney General in the nineteen-eighties, I spent many hours trying to pinpoint price-fixing among gasoline dealers. It generally requires either court-approved electronic surveillance or a credible inside source to make a triable conspiracy case. A phone tap won’t help if the conduct is not on-going, and credible inside sources are hard to come by, as Paul Manafort clearly demonstrated.

I often explained to the public that it was not a price-fixing conspiracy for gas retailers to charge the same price all over town. It was only an unlawful conspiracy when there was an agreement to set prices. In the case of the 2016 election, there would have had to be strong proof of an agreement between Russian actors and the campaign in order to establish a conspiracy. Mueller implies that such evidence existed but he apparently was unable to obtain enough documents or credible inside witnesses to prove it.

We will likely never know whether the Russian interference helped Trump win the presidency. The President hinted in that direction when he tweeted on May 30 that, “I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected.” He later denied that Russia helped him get elected.

What we do know is that Russia gave the President substantial help in the 2016 election. Putin admitted in Helsinki that he wanted Trump to win. All honorable and patriotic presidential candidates should loudly and clearly tell the Russians and every other foreign country that the United States will not tolerate interference in our elections in 2020 or ever. Our Congressional delegation should demand severe consequences for those who try to pervert our democracy.
 

War crimes and punishment

jones

On May 6, President Trump gave a full pardon to a former Army officer, Michael Behenna, who had been convicted of the 2008 murder of a naked and unarmed Iraqi man. Trump has reportedly asked the Justice Department for pardon files on a number of other individuals involved in war crimes.

One of those individuals is Navy Seal Edward Gallagher, whose fellow Seals reported him for killing a teenage prisoner and shooting two civilians. Trump has praised Gallagher’s service and ordered that he given more favorable conditions of confinement while awaiting trial. A lawyer for the Trump Organization is on the defense team, which should raise eyebrows.

Nicholas Slatten, who was recently convicted in federal court for a murder that led to the unprovoked slaughter of 16 other Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, is also being considered for clemency. Slatten was a member of the shoot-’em-up Blackwater private security company owned by Erik Prince, the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

It sickens me that we still have a few members of the military who dishonor our nation and our military by committing crimes of war. As a result of the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, the U.S. military put great emphasis on morality training to prevent future atrocities. The great majority of America’s servicemen conduct themselves with honor and integrity. The few criminals that still slip through the cracks should be dealt with harshly and not be given executive clemency.

It is notable that colleagues of both Gallagher and Slatten stepped forward to report their misconduct, even though they were warned against it. That was the system of honor working as it should to hold the bad actors accountable. If the bad eggs are let off the hook, it will discourage others who witness atrocities from stepping forward.

Some news outlets and members of Congress have called for pardons for these and others by claiming military courts are unfair. That is pure baloney. Although I served in an artillery unit in Vietnam, I defended a dozen special courts martial and found the system to be fair to those I represented. A higher-stakes general court martial has even greater protections for defendants.

Criminal conduct on the battlefield is destructive of discipline and order. It besmirches the honorable reputation of the U.S. military. It lowers our standing among nations. It put our service personnel at greater risk by inviting retaliatory action by hostile forces--if we can kill unarmed prisoners, they will also.

Vietnam was this county’s first televised war. Broadcasts of atrocities like the My Lai Massacre severely harmed our mission there. In our present electronically-connected world, news of misconduct by U.S. troops can spread around the world in a matter of minutes.

In a guerilla war, like Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Iraq, you can’t prevail without winning the hearts and minds of the general population. They have to feel they are more secure with American and allied forces than with the insurgents. That can’t be done if our forces are committing war crimes.

Enemy recruiting and consequent American casualties were fueled by My Lai, the Blackwater massacre, the wretched conditions at Abu Ghraib Prison, murders of unarmed prisoners, and the like. All of our actions are being played out on the world stage and we need to comport ourselves in a fashion that wins and holds the hearts and minds of that broader population. They need to know that America conducts itself with honor on the battlefield and that it punishes those few who fail to do so.
 

Memorial Day

jones

Memorial Day is a time set aside for Americans to remember and honor those brave souls who died serving this wonderful country. They include men and women from all walks of life, from every corner of America and of every race, ethnicity, religion and creed. From the beginning, the sons and daughters of this great melting-pot nation have selflessly put their lives at risk to protect and uphold our precious freedoms. They have earned and deserve our undying gratitude.

This Memorial Day is an appropriate time to recognize the service contributed by the very first residents of North America. Native Americans have served and died for the United States from the beginning. Almost 3,600 served in the Union Army during the Civil War, including General Ely S. Parker of the Seneca Tribe, who served on General Ulysses Grant’s staff. Parker’s father had fought for the country in the War of 1812.

Even though American Indians were not considered U.S. citizens when World War 1 broke out, 12,000 of them volunteered to serve the country in the Great War, including 14 women who joined the Army Nurse Corps. By the end of the Second World War, 44,500 Native Americans had taken up arms for the country--about one-third of the able-bodied Indian men of service age. Had the whole population enlisted at the same rate, the draft may not have been necessary.

Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, a Brule Sioux tribal member, who was born in Coeur d’Alene and grew up in St. Maries, earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroism as a combat pilot in WW2. A 1970s television series, Baa Baa Black Sheep, was inspired by Colonel Boyington and his Black Sheep Squadron. Medals of Honor had been earned by 28 other Native Americans.

Pascal C. Poolaw Sr., a Kiowa tribal member, served in WW2, Korea and Vietnam, earning a Purple Heart in each war. He died near Loc Ninh, Vietnam, on November 7, 1967, where he earned his fourth Silver Star for bravery under fire. More than 42,000 other Native Americans served in Vietnam and the names of 232 of them show up as this nation’s honored dead on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

Raymond Finley, a member of the Flathead Tribe who grew up in St. Maries, enlisted in the Marines, just as his brother had. Raymond died in combat in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam, on October 1, 1967. He is honored on the Wall in Washington, on Idaho’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Idaho Falls, and on a special memorial at De Smet, Idaho.

I was reminded of the Native Americans’ dedication to service of country when I recently spoke with Phil “Bart” Sagataw, whose father was a Potawatomi Indian and mother a member the Ottawa Tribe. Bart is a long-time resident of Boise and telephone company retiree. He and his seven brothers all voluntarily enlisted to serve this country.

Bart served in Vietnam in 1969 with the 173rd Armored Cavalry and 101st Airborne. His oldest brother, Kenneth, served in the Korean War, brother Larry began years of service with the Special Forces in Vietnam in 1964, Mike was a Marine at Khe Sanh in 1966, Harvey served on a Navy gunboat on the Mekong River, Levi served with the Army in Germany, and both Donald and Faron served stateside with the 101st Airborne.

A national memorial to honor the many thousands of Native Americans, like the Sagataw brothers, who have served and are serving our country is expected to open in Washington on Veterans Day next year. Congress authorized the memorial in 1994, but legislation allowing fundraising was not approved until 2013.

The memorial, called the “Warriors’ Circle of Honor,” will be located next to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. It will be a fitting and long-overdue tribute to the patriotism and dedicated service of the roughly 156,000 Native Americans and Alaska Natives who are veterans or active duty military.
 

America’s credibility chickens

jones

The Trump Administration is having trouble convincing our allies of the necessity of a confrontation with Iran. Administration claims that Iran is posing an increasing threat to U.S. interests in the region have been met with skepticism by a number of governments.

American efforts to enlist our European allies in an effort to crack down on Iran have fallen flat. A senior British general, who serves as deputy commander of the U.S. coalition against the Islamic State, typified their response. On May 14, he said, “there has been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces.”

When the Secretary of State made a surprise visit to Iraq on May 7 to share threat information, Iraqi officials were not impressed. That response might be taken with a grain of salt because our ill-conceived invasion of Iraq drove that country much closer to Iran. But, it does demonstrate a troubling credibility gap in a critical part of the world.

It may be that Iran has plans to harm American interests in the region, requiring a U.S. response, or it may be that Mike Pompeo and John Bolton, the Administration’s Iran hawks, are just trying to pave the way for another unnecessary military conflict. The problem is that truth-challenged, seat-of-the-pants foreign policy is seriously eroding America’s credibility around the world and putting our country at risk.

There is something to be said for employing a certain amount of uncertainty in dealing with our enemies. An element of bluffing is fair game in dealing with an adversary. However, it must always be carefully employed and rooted in reality. A chaotic policy or one based on untruths will not deter our enemies.

And, when dealing with allies, it is essential to be truthful and respectful. When we surprise our partners with policies harmful to their interests, fail to be truthful with them, or fail to honor our commitments, it erodes our credibility and ability to advance our national interests.

Foreign governments, both friends and foes, carefully follow American politics. They see tallies of the untruths attributed to the President. They are aware of the wide policy swings that can occur in a short period of time--an immediate pullout from Syria one day, a retraction several days later, something else a short time later. Or, in this hemisphere--off-and-on promises to help the people of Venezuela rid themselves of a dictator, or alternating threats and promises to Central American countries regarding aid to keep their people at home.

When our friends and enemies can’t rely on predictability and a certain amount of truthfulness from the U.S. government, it damages our moral standing and harms our national interests. This month our allies won’t buy our case for confronting Iran because they have seen a lack of candor on other issues. What will it be next month and the month after? Once credibility is lost, it is hard to restore.

The icons of the Republican Party - Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan - stood up for the moral dignity of the United States. While they were not perfect and may have strayed from the absolute truth on occasion, they understood the need to let both friend and foe know where America stood, what they could expect from the U.S. and the consequences of transgressing our national interests. It is not too late to restore America to its position as moral beacon of the world. Let’s demand it of our leaders.