By Alan W. Dowd

Restraining Victory
Hoping to win more hearts and minds in Afghanistan, the U.S. and its NATO allies are planning a commendation to recognize “courageous restraint” among troops in the field. According to a NATO statement, the goal would be to “celebrate the troops who exhibit extraordinary courage and self-control by not using their weapons.”

The notion that there needs to be a commendation for restraint seems to be based on the false and faulty premise that U.S. forces haven’t used restraint to date. In fact, they comprise the most lethal force in history, which makes their restraint all the more impressive. 

Plus, the people who know best—those who have served—worry about the unintended consequences of rewarding and thereby encouraging “courageous restraint.” As National Commander Clarence Hill observes, “Too much restraint will get our own people killed…The proposal to award medals for holding fire is troubling because it is symptomatic of a growing culture in the military that will punish troops for making split-second decisions while they are expected to defend themselves and their comrades.”

Press Predators
The latest Reporters Without Borders survey of “press freedom predators” around the world finds the usual suspects at the top of the list. Among those earning RWB’s dubious distinction:

-Abdallah ibn al-Saud of Saudi Arabia
-Ali Khamenei of Iran
-Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran
-Bashar al-Assad of Syria
-Mullah Mohammad Omar of the Taliban
-Muammar Gaddafi of Libya
-Kim Jong-il of North Korea
-Hu Jintao of China
-Vladimir Putin of Russia
-Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus
-Raúl Castro of Cuba

Find out more at rsf.org.

Kill Shot
British Army Sniper Craig Harrison “has earned a place in military history by killing two Taliban machine-gunners from more than a mile and a half away,” The Daily Mail reports.

The insurgents were actually 3,200 feet beyond the official range of his L115A3 Long Range Rifle. Even so, the newspaper reports that the two bullets took just three to hit their targets.

Harrison’s kill shots from 8,120 feet broke the previous record of 7,972 feet held by a Canadian sniper.

Life, Liberty and a Vacation in Monaco
The European Union has declared vacationing a human right. And as such, the EU is planning to subsidize vacations for those in need, The Ottawa Citizen reports.

“Traveling for tourism today is a right…a formidable indicator of our quality of life” said Antonio Tajani, EU commissioner for enterprise and industry.

Tajani and other EU officials are now exploring what sort of vacations EU taxpayers will be subsidizing—and who will get the vacation subsidy. The EU appears willing to subsidize up to 30 percent of the cost of vacations for senior citizens, teenagers and twenty-somethings, the disabled and families in “difficult” financial circumstances.

The Very Definition of Self-Defeating
New Pentagon data indicates that the recidivism rate among terrorists released from Gitmo has spiked to more than 20 percent. In June 2008, the Pentagon estimated that just 37 former Gitmo detainees had returned to jihad. That number has steadily climbed, from 61 in early 2009 to 112 (out of 560) in early 2010. The worrisome but unsurprising news was reported by The Weekly Standard (weeklystandard.com).

As a contributing editor to The American Legion Magazine, Dowd writes columns and news briefs on national security, foreign affairs and U.S. politics each month for the magazine's "Rapid Fire" section.