Forget Obama’s Katrina. What about his Dunkirk?

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(London, June 1, 1940) — Thousands of British troops, cut off by German forces at Dunkirk, France, will likely not be evacuated. “The whole root and core and brain of the British Army has been stranded on the beaches,” said Prime Minister Winston Churchill. “We are studying the problem.”

As many as 330,000 British and French troops face capture or slaughter at the hands of the Germans. This despite the fact that up to 700 merchant marine, fishing vessels and small pleasure boats are available to mount a rescue effort, sources say. However, British law prohibits private watercraft from carrying military personnel and sources say the number of Royal Navy vessels available is not adequate. “The Royal Navy is evaluating various scenarios in light of available resources,” said a spokesman for the prime minister. “The PM is holding regular meetings with experts from leading universities and vows to kick someone’s arse,” the spokesman said.

Of course, what really happened in the first week of June 1940 is that 850 ships, most of them civilian, mounted Operation Dynamo and helped evacuate nearly 330,000 Allied troops that had been cut off in the Battle of Dunkirk. Those troops lived to fight another day and helped defeat Adolph Hitler. The “little ships of Dunkirk,” those fishing vessels and private pleasure boats that were essential to the rescue, remain a part of British folklore. The smallest of the little ships, the 15-foot fishing boat, Tamzine, is on display in the Imperial War Museum. The “Dunkirk spirit” remains an expression of the solidarity of the British people in times of adversity.

Contrast the Dunkirk spirit with the Obama administration’s dithering behind the Jones Act. The Jones Act is a piece of 1920s protectionist legislation that requires vessels operating in U.S. waters to be American-built and American-crewed. The Jones Act itself provides that the president may waive its provisions in an emergency, as President Bush did in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Offers to help with the BP oil spill have come from Belgian, Dutch and Norwegian firms that have high-tech ships and equipment specific to the cleanup task, resources that the U.S. Coast Guard lacks. In all, thirteen countries have offered to help clean up the Gulf and the Obama administration has turned them all down.

So why does President Obama not waive the Jones Act as President Bush did?

Out of concern for the safety and worthiness of the vessels, says the administration. But that answer is obviously phony. The only believable answer appears to be the cynical answer and it is really cynical. Maritime unions support the Jones Act and they see waiving it as a threat to jobs.

And if ever, oh, ever there was a president beholden to the unions, it’s Barack Obama.

If it were you or me faced with a huge problem and someone from Belgium called and said, “I have some gear and some people that know how to help,” we’d say, “When can you get here?”

But when you’re a big-government statist like Barack Obama, everything you do has a political calculus. Constrained by such calculus, a statist government inevitably gets bigger and tries to control more to the point that it cannot perform even its most basic functions.

When you try to do everything you wind up not being good at anything. Thus is the Obama administration coming to be defined.

Rather than publicly vilifying British Petroleum and casting about for posteriors to kick, President Obama would be better served to let whomever on planet Earth that is possessed of the expertise, the equipment and the willingness to help, get to the Gulf of Mexico and get to work.

It’s a strategy that’s worth a try. It worked for Winston Churchill at what otherwise might have been his Katrina.

Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of Gleiser Communications, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The Team FM & KYZS in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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3 Responses

  1. Linda Montrose says:

    Obama feels he is not beholden to anyone but himself and the unions that have seen to it he was elected and has kept him in office. The people of the United States, unfortunately don’t have the guts to go out there and DO WHAT IS RIGHT as the people did at Dunkirk. We have become like the frog in the stew pot my Grandmother used to tell me about. You do not put a frog in a pot of hot water because he will jump out immediately. You put it in a pot of cool water and gradually increase the heat. The frog will just sit there because he gets used to the increase of heat and before you know it, is cooked. Unfortunately, that is the situation of the people of the USA. Socialism has taken root a long time ago and with a step by step increase, the people have gone to sleep. We are seeing this more today, with more clearity because Obama inceased the heat a little too much, making us uncomfortable. Obama has gotten away with more than anyone I can ever remember in my lifetime. Things, that in the not so distant past, would have caused a clammer of the people to impeach this president. This oil spill has outraged people, that is for sure, but who is willing to stand up to this president and tell him he has to either crap or get off the pot? It is clear by the spill still spewing in the gulf…no one. Jones act? That is just an excuse by this administration to sit on their hands so that a “good crisis” won’t go to waste. Though we “frogs” are uncomfortable with the sudden increase in the temp of the water we are in, I don’t see any jumping out to face this corrupt president by doing what needs doing. We need to follow the ONE judge and the ONE governor who have taken a step out of the stew pot. But ONE judge and ONE governor can not do it all!

  2. L Miles says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Those that support this administration continue to worship at the alter of BIG Government and are devoid of common sense. There are none so blind as those who will not see! Why they trust a Government Monopoly (central planning and control) instead of hundreds of Corporations that must (in the long run) please their fellow man to stay in business, is beyond me.

    Our founders believed in Limited Government because of the natural tendency of evil men, once in power, to control the lives of others. These Socialists/Statists believe in their intellectual superiority and are determined to crush any threat to their power. It is too bad that more Americans don’t recognize Natural Law and the superiority of competition and the free market which forms the basis of our Representative Republic (safety in numbers). For example, don’t you have your investments diversified instead of all in one place?

    The larger the bureaucracy, the greater is the inertia and the lesser is the accountability.

  3. Rick Armstrong says:

    We all know that the ONLY reason that Team Obama does not rescend the Jones Act is the Unions. He owes them and feels he must pay up. Even at the expense of the Gulf Coast. We did not vote for him so he feels he owes us nothing. The unions worshiped him so they collect the pay off. Chicago Politics at its finest. Impeachment sounds far too good for this man.

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