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Mark Steyn on the demise of OBL, and the rise of the DOJ

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HH: I begin today as I do on Thursdays when we are lucky with Mark Steyn, Columnist To the World. And Mark, I was reflecting that the first time I ever met you was actually at the Naval Academy Foreign Affairs conference in the spring of 2002 when we spoke.

MS: That’s right.

HH: And you spoke about the strong horse, and the strong horse is now looking a lot like glue. Your reaction to the killing of bin Laden?

MS: Yeah, I think this is strong horse/weak horse all in one. If you want highly trained, superbly equipped warriors on a precise, targeted mission, to go in and do what they’re supposed to do, then this is a brilliant operation. I think when you look at everything surrounding it, including the reaction in Washington, and the facts on the ground in Abbottabad, then I think it’s, we’re deep in weak horse territory, in part because our so-called ally feels it can, in effect, de facto, officially shelter Osama bin Laden, his three wives, and his thirteen children as the Senator said on your show the other day. And they know, the Pakistanis know they will pay no price for it. That’s real weak horse stuff. That’s serious weak horse stuff.

HH: It is. I want to talk about both of those. I’ve got to start, first, I have to start with thirteen children, three wives and the commenter to my blog yesterday who said he was already in hell and asked the SEALs to kill him. But I wonder, Mark Steyn, do you approve of the decision not to release the photograph, or as I suspect, do you condemn that as being craven?

MS: Well, I think in the normal course of events, if you kill some guy, a proper modicum of respect, even for a criminal, would say well, we don’t release the photograph. But the danger here is not releasing the photograph will be seen as part of the disastrous appeasement of Islam that has characterized Obama’s reaction to this. So it’s seen as part and parcel of the Muslim burial service, 45 minute Muslim burial service he was accorded, or funeral service, and Obama’s prostrations, you know, and insistence America is not at war with Islam in his speech, which is true. We’re not at war with Islam. But in that case, why do you go to such lengths to demonstrate respect for Osama bin Laden as an observant Muslim? So I think the argument for releasing the picture is to show that hey, we don’t care, this guy was a guy who attacked the United States, and here’s his corpse. There’s an element of the Mussolini from the lamppost thing that this whole episode could use.

HH: And Ceausescu. And people remember those images.

MS: Right.

HH: Mark Steyn, in terms of the undeniable consequence now of what we know is that black sites in the CIA world worked, waterboarding worked, Gitmo is necessary, and the invasion of Iraq brought in a lot of bad guys who otherwise wouldn’t…the flypaper theory that people are embarrassed to bring up anymore. Your reaction to all this?

MS: Yeah, and I think you’ve got a choice here, that the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld view of the world after 9/11 more or less accorded with reality. The Obama-Biden-Harry Reid-Democratic Party showboating version of the world didn’t accord with reality. And I think this is the danger here, whether Obama is really just taking advantage from the sort of hangover of the Bush administration, or whether he understands what’s at stake here, and he would be actually willing to reverse his policy on this. I mean, the absurd thing, this joke of an attorney general the United States has at the moment, advancing the novel legal concept of national self-defense to justify this, because he’s obliged to twist himself into a pretzel, because of what he and his colleagues have said in the previous two years. I’m entirely consistent on this. I’m in favor of targeted assassination of American enemies, whether it’s done by Bush and Cheney, or Obama and Biden. I don’t have a problem with that. The Euro left are consistent. They oppose it, whether it’s a Republican or a Democrat doing it. The people who have the problem here are the American liberals who thought that Bush and Cheney were war criminals for what they did, but hail Obama’s targeted assassination as, you know, a sophisticated use of smart power.

HH: Wow. Now Mark Steyn, my friend and yours, Mark Levin, the great one…

MS: Right.

HH: He was, by the way, he’s the subject of a great interview by Ginny Thomas at the Daily Caller, which I’ve linked at Mark, on his program last night, pointed out that these very special helicopters that got SEAL Team Six into the heart of Pakistan to drop unaware didn’t get made last week. It took years of development. It took a Defense establishment. And his point, the larger point is it takes an enormous military to be able to do this. And yet, there seems to be some cognitive dissonance as we get the knives out to go after the Pentagon.

MS: Yeah, I mean, what I find odd about this is there’s a huge problem with American government spending. These SEALs, these guys who killed bin Laden, earn about $54,000 a year. I mean, they’re not paid a lot compared to, say, the average bureaucratic deadbeat retiring at the age of 50 in your great state of California.

HH: Right.

MS: These guys are not paid a lot. They’re worth every penny. And they’re backed up by some very sophisticated equipment. And if you are like the United States, which is not an imperial superpower, you rely on this kind of stuff, because you’ve got to be able to take off and go somewhere on the other side of the planet, and do something unpleasant that you’re the only nation in the world that can do, and get out of there fast. And I think that’s why, you know, I’m happy to have serious debates on government spending. But this refuge that the left take in the whole business, that somehow the burden here is being born by the United States, you know, the United States is the global order maker. And if you don’t have a global order maker, then as we see in Pakistan, you have guys like Osama bin Laden instead of just being able to have the run of Abbottabad, he’d have the run of the planet.

HH: Now I’ve got to also connect a couple of dots here, which may not seem obvious. But I don’t know if you’re yet up to speed on the National Labor Relation Board war on Boeing.

MS: Right.

HH: They’ve threatened to take them apart and prosecute them under complaints by the machinists union, because they’ve opened a new assembly line in South Carolina. Is it possible for them to not understand you can’t attack America’s defense establishment on trumped up union charges, and not hurt American defense?

MS: No, I mean, this is an extraordinary story to me, because I happened to hear about it after I’d seen the Atlas Shrugged movie. And you watch the Atlas Shrugged movie, and it’s filmed a bit, all the dialogue sounds a bit like off cuts from Dynasty.

HH: (laughing)

MS: It’s a very goofy looking film, and in some ways, a very strangely acted film. But the idea of the government forcing private corporations to sell off, and private business owners to sell off their assets and do this and go there, and not do that and not do this, and you think to yourself this is ridiculous, and then you come out, you leave the movie, and you find that the United States government is doing it for real, there is a real, I think there is a real issue here. If there is no reason why a corporation should not be able to decide the state it wants to build a plant is, and I think the idea of the government, and the Department of Justice in particular under Eric Holder acting as Democratic lobby groups’ bully boys, is absolutely, it’s obscene to watch. And it’s going to be disastrous for this country.

HH: Oh, I know. An old colleague of mine, Michael Luttig, is their general counsel, sent back an amazing letter to the NLRB’s acting general counsel. I hope you read it, because people have got to fight back. I’ve got to get a second story in front of you today from USA Today. The Department of Justice today sent a letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert asking why the association does not have a major college football playoff. Now I hate the bowl playoff system…

MS: Right.

HH: …the bowl system as much as anyone. But I don’t want Eric Holder suing them over this.

MS: No, no. I mean, this is what is disgusting about it. I have a very low opinion, just between us, because I certainly don’t want to get any letters from Eric Holder…

HH: (laughing)

MS: But I have a very low opinion of the United States Department of Justice, because you basically know, you get the message when they send you a letter. It’s a form of thuggery and intimidation, because they’re powerful, they’ve got unlimited resources, and what they’re saying is we’re just thinking of lining you up in our sights. Is there anything you might possibly say that would, might persuade us to go off and stitch up some other guy instead? I think Eric Holder is doing way too much of that. And I hope this guy has, you know, has the guts, which is asking a lot, just to tell him to go take a hike, because Americans are freeborn citizens, and they need to tell Eric Holder to take a hike.

HH: I know. Whether…even if I have to defend the BCS championship, as vigorously asi do Boeing, I hope we have to get there. I’ve got to quickly close by…you’re at Oberlin tonight. How’s the response? And how do you like Oberlin?

MS: Oh, Oberlin is a lovely town. I’m looking out on the town square, and it’s flying the United Nations flag.

HH: (laughing)

MS: It’s always lovely when liberal college towns so deliriously conform to stereotype.

HH: Oh, you know what their nickname use to be when my father played football for them in the 40’s, Mark? It was the Yeomen. I don’t think they’re the Yeomen anymore.

MS: Yeomen are in short supply these days, Hugh.

HH: Have a great night at Oberlin, Mark Steyn,

End of interview.


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