Nel's New Day

March 2, 2015

Send in the Clowns to CPAC

The annual Conservative Political Action Conference last week started with speaker Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) saying that the GOP needs to support and elect “principled, positive, and proven” conservative candidates instead of rewarding “the guy who can shout “freedom” the loudest.  In other words, stop sending in the clowns. Nobody took his advice.

Some CPAC messages: waterboarding works, the Muslim Brotherhood controls one-third of all mosques in the U.S., and the nation is currently experiencing Islam’s “third great jihad.”

tomi lahrenSouth Dakota TV host Tomi Lahren, 22, explained that women like Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren can be classified as male because they get attention through their words and wisdom. Then she said she wasn’t apologizing for being white and she’s rich because she grew up in South Dakota. She concluded, “Let’s look at the top three Democrats for 2016. You’ve got Hillary, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden? Old, rich, white, and if the pantsuit fits, male too?” She also doesn’t want the government near her body, so that would make her pro-choice if she thought about it. This may be a rising GOP star!

Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson said, “Bring your Bible to the Oval Office, and your woman, ’cause the hippies are coming to get you.” No one seems to know what he meant although the rest of the speech concerned the possibility of Republicans getting sexually transmitted diseases.

Heritage Foundation vice-president Jennifer Marshall said that the three legs of the conservative stool are marriage, small government and a stable economy because “the sexual revolution has made relationships between men and women much more challenging.” Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute followed up by saying that poverty can be erased “by having stable, two-parent households.” Poverty might be eradicated by just having “stable” households.

Donald Trump still questions the authenticity of President Obama’s birth certificate, and Rick Santorum gave a birtherism “joke”: “The president’s popularity is so bad around the world today that I heard this report from a source that the Kenyan government is actually developing proof that Barack Obama was born in America.” Both men were greeted with silence.

Trump also said he would be the best commander-in-chief because he has the best skills to negotiate with terrorists. Trying to follow the GOP mantra of non-negotiation, however, he said he would “hit [ISIL] really hard,” maybe with “some boots on the ground for a period of time until you get rid of the cancer.” Then he would put lots of sanctions on Iran despite Iran’s opposition to ISIL. As for the national debt, the man who has personally filed bankruptcy declared:

“I understand debt, I understand business better than anybody that’s ever run, in my opinion, for office. Nobody’s had the success, in a business sense that I’ve had. I know how to get rid of debt… and I would do it quickly.”

Governors don’t know enough about foreign affairs to be president, said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), trying to flaunt his personal knowledge. His strategy to defeat ISIL: defeat them “on the ground by a Sunni military force with air support from the United States.” Although a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he claims that the president doesn’t have a military strategy “because he doesn’t want to upset Iran.” ISIL and Iran are actually enemies, and Iran has already gone after ISIL targets. The president has already launched a military offensive against ISIL targets, as Rubio suggests. Rubio wants “a sustained air campaign,” increased  “efforts to equip and capacitate non-jihadists in Syria,” arming and supporting “forces in Iraq confronting it,” and work with “with nations in the region threatened by the Islamic State to participate in real efforts to defeat it”—everything that President Obama is already doing.

Triangulation in politics: exploiting public disapproval of both major parties by separating from both. Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) approach: GOP congressional leaders have sold out to Democrats on immigration, and people should support him because he’ll be farther right than all those Washington “politicians.” He wants everyone to stand up to the Republicans.

Sarah Palin inadvertently skewered leading GOP candidates for president when she said:

“It’s said that old men declare wars, and then they send the young ones to fight ‘em. So it’s the duty of he who sends them to actually make sure that we can win those wars. And it’s our duty to elect an honorable commander-in-chief who is willing to make the same sacrifices he sends others away to make.”

That lets out those who didn’t serve, some of whom actually dodged the draft: Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and perhaps a few others.

The biggest reaction from the media, however, came from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s comparison of Wisconsin protesters and ISIL: “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world.” Non-violent Wisconsin protesters didn’t hold hostages, behead people, or burn them alive; they just marched, chanted, held signs, and sang. Walker, however, equates U.S. citizens peacefully exercising their constitutional rights with violent terrorists killing people and blowing up the infrastructure.

joan walker

Walker’s spokesperson tried to cover for him by saying that he wasn’t comparing the protesters to ISIL, but Walker made the situation worse when he said, “That’s the closest thing I have in terms of handling a difficult situation, not that there’s any parallel between the two.” In other words, he admitted he has no experience with terrorism. Even Jim Geraghty wrote in the highly conservative National Review that “Walker doesn’t quite understand the complexity of the challenge from ISIS and its allied groups.”

Walker's protesters These are some of Walker’s ISIL look-alikes in Wisconsin. More images are available here.

tractorISIS

Walker’s CPAC comment followed his claim a week earlier that “the most significant foreign policy decision of my lifetime” was then-President Ronald Reagan’s move to break up the union for the air traffic controllers by firing about 11,000 of them during a 1981 strike. He explained that this event proved to countries throughout the world that “we weren’t to be messed with.” Walker, 47, missed two wars in Iraq, START treaties, Nixon in China, ending the Vietnam War, the Camp David Accords, negotiation of the Northern Ireland peace process, Osama bin Laden’s death, the Iranian hostage crisis, wars in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Bosnia, Iran/Contra, and much more.  Foes around the world also didn’t stop “messing” with the United States after 11,000 people lost their jobs. Walker’s naïve statements show his approach toward foreign affairs.

http://www.alternet.org/world/guess-what-scott-walker-and-isis-have-common   Walker and ISIL militants have something in common: their hatred for unions. Walker may also not know that Reagan supported unions in other parts of the world.

Mark Salter, a top adviser to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign added this comment to an article about Walker on Salter’s Facebook page:

“I want to like him but Scott Walker is kind of a dumb ass.”

Matt Taibbi called Scott Walker, “God’s Gift to the Democratic Party.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) came out the winner of the CPAC with over one-fourth of the votes. Koch-supported Walker got 21.4 percent among the 17 GOP contenders, and Cruz, with 11.5 percent, was third. Fourth and fifth were Ben Carson (11.4 percent) and Jeb Bush (8.3 percent). Some of his votes probably came from the people he bussed in from downtown Washington, D.C. The remainder of the wannabes got under 5 percent. Paul had a position that everyone can agree with: “It’s time for a new president.” That’s because of term limits for U.S. president. Of the 3,007 CPAC voters, 42 percent were students.

A report from Pew Research Center released last week shows that “majorities say the Democratic Party is open and tolerant, cares about the middle class and is not ‘too extreme.’ By contrast, most Americans see the G.O.P. lacking in tolerance and empathy for the middle class, and half view it as too extreme.”

September 20, 2014

Wanted: Strategy for Peace, Not War

Filed under: War — trp2011 @ 8:49 PM
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The International Day of Peace is commemorated each year on the 21st of September. Before Congress left for home two days ago, members passed an amendment to arm Syrian “moderates” for more war. Where the United States goes from there is not yet known because Congress doesn’t meet for very long and makes very few decisions when it does.

The media has fueled the fear of ISIL in the U.S., and the constant showing videos of two beheadings has created a frenzy among people in the U.S. United States intelligence agencies concluded that it provides no threat to this country. Daniel Benjamin, who served as the State Department’s top counterterrorism adviser during Mr. Obama’s first term, said the public discussion about the ISIS threat has been a “farce” and that the lurid descriptions of the threat are “unjustified.”

Former Senate Intelligence Chair, former Sen. Bob Graham, believes the rise of ISIL was helped by the U.S. failure to investigate Saudi Arabia’s role in the 9/11/01 attacks. When air traffic was blocked after 9/11, 144 people, mostly from Saudi aristocracy, were allowed to fly back to Saudi Arabia without any questioning. Graham noted that U.S. officials “were inexplicably solicitous to Saudis.” U.S. officials in Saudi Arabia found people to be obstructive to any investigative attempts, and the pattern continued for a decade. In 2007, Stuart Levey, the Under Secretary of the US Treasury in charge of monitoring and impeding the financing of terrorism, said, “If I could somehow snap my fingers and cut off the funding from one country, it would be Saudi Arabia.” At that time, no one identified by the U.S. or the U.N. as funding terrorism had been prosecuted by the Saudis.

Other concerns, according to the co-chairman of the official inquiry into these attacks, are the continued Saudi support of jihadi movements such as al-Quaeda. In 2009, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” Throughout George W. Bush’s “war on terror,” Saudis funded al-Qaeda, ISIL, Hamas, and the Taliban. The Saudi monarchy has long had an alliance with the Wahhabi clergy, who support an intolerant Islam belief that denounces Shia as heretics and treats women as possessions.

The current plan calls for a special training facility for “moderate” Syrian opposition in Saudi Arabia, which gives priority to regime changes in Damascus. Each U.S. military intervention in Iraq only makes the country more unstable. After U.S. involvement, Syria and Libya are failed states.

A century ago, Britain and France divided Middle East countries between the two countries to loot its resources and maintained power by defeating any move toward independence, smothering Arab nationalism. The French put Christians in charge of Lebanon to control the Sunnis and Shiites and the minority Shiites in charge of the majority Sunnis in Syria. Britain set up a Sunni king in Iraq to rule the majority Shiites and used Zionism in Palestine to keep the country divided.

The U.S. and Europe continue to keep the status quo.  As President Obama said, “We will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world.” Roughly translated, the U.S. goal is to keep making money off the oil.

Bin Laden said he goaded the U.S. into war to “bleed America to the point of bankruptcy.” George W. Bush paid between $3 trillion and $4 trillion for his two wars in the Middle East, and, with the help of Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), ISIL is following the same pattern. The Saudi ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir, found support from these two legislators to move toward taking over Damascus. To topple the Syrian president Bashar Assad, Saudi King Abdulla appointed Prince Bandar bin Sultan who successfully woos McCain.  Bandar was involved in illegal sale of U.S. weapons to Iran during Ronald Reagan’s administration and was clear about his goal to use Sunnis in committing genocide on all Shiites in 2001. In 2008, he threatened a terrorist attack in London if Britain did not stop their investigation into Saudi arms deals. Although Bandar resigned as head of Saudi General Intelligence, he remains Secretary General of Saudi National Security Council.

james o.keefeJames O’Keefe, master of editing videos to prove that liberals are evil, also fueled McCain’s arguments by dressing like Osama bin Laden and crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. In a Senate hearing, McCain use the stunt in claiming that the border isn’t safe. Top Homeland Security official, Francis Taylor, said that border officials saw O’Keefe and the people filming him, but The Drudge Report (one of Mitt Romney’s “news” resources) printed as its top headine “ISIS at the border?” Fox told its elderly white viewers “D.H.S. Confirms ISIS Planning Infiltration of U.S. Southern Border” although its headline on the Fox Latino network read “ISIS Terrorists Not Sneaking Over U.S. Southern Border With Mexico, D.H.S. Officials Tell Congress.”

Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) criticized President Obama’s playing golf and said that ISIL may partner with Iran to receive nuclear weapons and cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Playing golf doesn’t “degrade” national security, Iran and ISIL are enemies, and Iran has no nuclear weapons. Yet Franks is still convinced that ISIL is operating in Ciudad Juarez (Mexico) across the border from El Paso (TX). Franks is a member of the Armed Services Committee.  Senatorial candidates on the campaign trail in Alaska, Arkansas, New Hampshire, and North Carolina are using this issue to instill more fear in their constituents. Republicans believe that the ISIL controversy will win them this fall’s election.

Retired generals demanding aggression against ISIL are making money from war. General Jack Keene wants 25,000 “boots on the ground.” His think tank, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), includes such neoconservatives as Liz Cheney and William Kristol among its leaders. He has long called for air strikes and then moved up to calling for special operation forces. Among his other credentials, left unmentioned, are special adviser to Academi (formerly Blackwater); board member to tank and aircraft manufacturer General Dynamics, which paid him $258,006 just last year; and “venture partner” to SCP Partners, an investment firm that partners with defense contractors, including XVionics, an “operations management decision support system” company used in Air Force drone training.

General James Mattis also wants the U.S. in Iraq; his role on General Dynamics paid $88,479 cash and stock options last year. General Anthony Zinni, who wants at least 10,000 troops, is a board member to BAE Systems’ US subsidiary and also works for several military-focused private equity firms. Frances Townsend has positions in two investment firms with defense company holdings, MacAndrews & Forbes and Monument Capital Group, as well as acting as advisor to defense contractor Decision Sciences.”

The U.S. has actually been training and arming Syrian rebels in Turkey and Jordan during the past six years. Keane’s ISW, which made money out of the venture, promised that this action will create stability. Many of the groups that were part of the Free Syria Army—and who we trained—have now joined ISIL with their CIA-backed training and equipment.

The United States caused the Middle East to implode by removing Saddam Hussein from Iraq with no contingency plan. The loss of his power led to the rise of fundamentalist movements that resulted in the Isis Caliphate and the exploitation of Syria’s populist uprising. Without U.S.-provided training, weapons, and funding, ISIL would never progressed into starting war throughout the Middle East and leading to serious global issues.

The plan to arm more so-called moderates that can then take their weapons to ISIL is reminiscent of the protest sign during the Bush years: “We’re making enemies faster than we can kill them.”

We need to listen to Aristotle’s advice: “It is not enough to win a war; it is more important to organize the peace.” We have never had a strategy for winning the war that George W. Bush created at the beginning of his first term and then nurtured during his eight years in Washington. The U.S. needs a strategy for peace, not war.

September 16, 2014

GOP Supports Equal Pay, Unanimously Votes against It

Filed under: Elections,War,Women's issues — trp2011 @ 8:52 PM
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rebublicanwomensenators980

While ISIL dominates the news, Congress continues to vote against the people of the United States. In last night’s vote, the four female GOP senators joined the rest of their caucus in a unanimous vote against the Paycheck Fairness Act. It was the third time since 2012 that the GOP has voted down the bill. The legislation required 60 votes to move on to debate but received only 52, a unanimous vote from Democrats.

New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte (left) thinks that it would prohibit merit-based pay. She also voted against it because Democrats opposed her amendment to the legislation.

Maine’s Susan Collins (second from left) thinks that the Civil Rights Act the 1963 Equal Pay Act are enough protection to provide equal pay. According to Collins, the proposed law would “impose a real burden … on small businesses.” She thinks that women get paid less because of their own choices.

Nebraska’s Deb Fischer (second from right) accused Democrats of politics for putting the bill forward for the second time, this time one week before the congressional recess for midterm elections.

Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski is on the right.

All four of these women benefit from equal pay. Each one gets $174,000 a year for being in Congress, exactly the same amount as male congressional members take home. That’s 4.6 times women workers’ media yearly income, but only 3.5 times that of working men.

At the beginning of September, the Republican National Party sent this tweet: “This #LaborDay, the White House & Democrats believe paying women less than men is an acceptable practice.” It appears that none of the U.S. Senators got the tweet.

GOP tweetThe bill bans salary secrecy that currently punishes employees from exchanging information about amounts of salary. Although mandated secrecy is illegal, about half the private sector workers are told that they cannot talk about pay. The wage gap has shrunk in workplaces that don’t ban this secrecy. Pay scales are usually transparent in the federal workforce, and the wage gap there has fallen significantly during the past 20 years. There is also less wage gap among unionized workers that also have the wage transparency.

The proposed law would also narrow definitions of justifications for pay differences between men and women with the same skills, responsibilities, and working conditions.

Some industries, such as finance, pay women 66 percent of men’s wages; overall women get 71 cents for every dollar that men receive. Women’s poverty rate is 13 percent, compared to 11 percent for men, and women in low-wage jobs make 13 percent less than men do in similar jobs.

A “low-wage” job is one with an hourly median pay of $10.10 or less. Women comprise about two-thirds of low-wage works in the United States. About 80 percent of these workers have finished high school, and some have completed some college or have an associate’s degree. They struggle to support families on the $7.25 per hour, which brings an annual salary of $14,500.

Terminology leads to unequal pay for men and women. Maids and housekeepers, traditionally women, are paid less than janitors, a job typically with men. The work is basically the same, but women are paid less. Leadership positions such as manager and supervisor typically go to men.

Despite laws protecting pregnant workers and mothers, these women can be discriminated against in bizarre ways. Doctors tell pregnant women to stay well hydrated, but employers tell them that they cannot carry a bottle of water.

Top on the GOP Senate agenda, according to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is tax breaks for big business. In a speech last week, Hatch told business leaders how angry he was that Reid had procedurally blocked an amendment to extend a large number of expiring business tax breaks for two years. “I’m ready to kill somebody,” Hatch said as he left the stage. That was after he promised that those tax breaks would pass by the end of the year.

Nothing about immigration reform, extending unemployment benefits, energy efficient legislation, infrastructure bills including highway funding, Voting Rights Act legislation, and all 12 annual appropriations bills.

Over in the House, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) addressed an issue of great importance last week. The chair of the Science Committee had a hearing on privatizing asteroids. Introduced by Reps. Bill Posey (R-FL) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA), the bipartisan legislation states:

“Any resources obtained in outer space from an asteroid are the property of the entity that obtained such resources, which shall be entitled to all property rights thereto. Any assertion of superior right to execute specific commercial asteroid resource utilization activities in outer space shall prevail if it has found to be first in time, derived upon a reasonable basis, and in accordance with all existing international obligations of the United States.”

Finders, keepers out there—except for the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, barring nations from claiming extraterrestrial land as sovereign territory. The bill also no ban on mining efforts that harm or impair scientific causes or public interests. Plus there’s no indication that the U.S. is even close to needing such a law.

The Science Committee has a number of colorful characters including Mo Brooks (R-AL) who warns about a “war on whites,” Steve Stockman (R-TX) who debuted a bumper sticker reading “If Babies Had Guns They Wouldn’t Be Aborted,” and Paul Broun (R-GA) who referred to evolution and the Big Bang as “lies from the pit of hell.”

If the House can tear themselves away from debates about outer space, it will discuss and vote on the president’s proposal to arm and train “moderate” Syrian rebels in the war on ISIL. The proposal will probably be an amendment to the Continuing Resolution to keep the nation from a federal government shutdown in two weeks. No money is attached to the amendment, but the Pentagon can shift existing funds for any needs.

The public polls in favor of air strikes and training but opposes the use of U.S. forces in the Middle East. With Election Day in 49 days, representatives have to use careful language not to offend their constituents. Over in the Senate, Roger Wicker (R-MS) wanted to know how long it would take to win, what the definition of victory is, and a number of other issues that certainly won’t bring any definitive answers.

The rest of September in Congress will be the GOP dance to stay out of trouble until November 4.

September 12, 2014

George W. Bush Created ISIL

Filed under: War — trp2011 @ 7:40 PM
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It started 13 years ago with planes crashing into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania field. George W. Bush’s first action was to ensure that any potential accomplices from Saudi Arabia were flown home before any investigations. A month later, Donald Rumsfeld stood in front of a $2-billion bomber and told the aircrews:

“We have two choices. Either we change the way we live, or we must change the way they live. We choose the latter.”

Since then the U.S. has killed a million people and reduced tens of millions of others to disability, dislocation, and poverty with more than 94,000 air strikes. Most of these were launched on Afghanistan and Iraq, but others covered Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Rumsfeld achieved his goal of changing the way that they live. Three months before 9/11, Bush gave Al-Qaeda almost $50 million; two years later he acquiesced to their demand that he withdraw U.S. forces from U.S. military bases in Saudi Arabia.

ISIL goes back to 2004 when Western propaganda needed a villain. U.S. military intelligence officers explained: “We were basically paying up to $10,000 a time to opportunists, criminals and chancers who passed off fiction and supposition about [the original leader of ISIS precursor] as cast-iron fact, making him out as the linchpin of just about every attack in Iraq.” After the leader’s death in 2006, the U.S. continued to describe the Iraqi Resistance as bloodthirsty religious fanatics instead of the people of an invaded country resisting Bush’s preemptive occupation. According to a Congressional Research Service investigation, the group was responsible for only two percent of violence incidents. The real violence came from U.S. air strikes, night raids, and other indiscriminate use of force.

The 1,000 members of ISIL found support after the Western- and Arab royalist-backed war in Syria during 2012. ISIL moved from there back to Iraq where it again exaggerates its strength and accents its brutality. By that time, the sectarian Maliki government had exacerbated the problems by politically and economically marginalizing the largely Sunni Arab areas of northern and western Iraq where security forces used brutality to deal with dissent and political demands.

The U.S. met resistance in Iraq by recruiting, training, and directing Iraqi death squads, largely from the Shia militia. Its reign of terror in 2005 and 2006 tortured and killed tens of thousands of mostly Sunni Arab men and boys by ethnically cleansing most of Baghdad. Adnan al-Asadi, the leader of that campaign is still in office where he runs the Interior Ministry. With the current crisis, al-Asadi has released a new surge of death squad activity.

Almost 70 years ago, George Orwell wrote, “The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.” He listed “torture, the use of hostages, forced labor, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians.” During the past 13 years, the U.S. has committed all these atrocities.

President Obama, elected on a “peace” platform, now has the biggest military budget since the second world war, supervised eight times as many drone strikes, and become commander-in-chief of special forces operations in at least 134 countries, twice as many as during the regime of George W. Bush. Night raids in Afghanistan have gone from 20 per month in May 2009 to 1,000 during the same time period by April 2011; senior officials report that these kill the wrong people most of the time.

The more deaths, the better the recruiting of terrorists. During the massive tonnage of U.S. bombs dropped on Cambodia, the CIA said that Khmer Rouge recruiting “has been most effective among refugees subjected to B-52 strikes.” During his speech this week, the president announced his intention of escalating U.S. bombing in Iraq, but he has already launched over 24,000 air strikes in Afghanistan, vastly increasing the number of U.S. enemies.

President Obama’s use of Islamist militias to destabilize Libya supported ISI by giving them weapons, equipment, and training. Many of them were veterans of groups that worked with the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Qatari special forces in Libya, with U.S. support, just moved over to Syria where they trained al-Nusra in the use of chemical weapons which almost started another U.S. bombing campaign last year.

The lesson of 9/11 should have been that creating and arming groups of religious fanatics to fight secular enemies leads to their increased power and refusal to submit to external control. The U.S. and its allies, the U.K., France, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, insisted on undermining Kofi Annan’s 2012 peace plan in Syria and pledged ever more support, funding and weapons to the rebels. With the help of the Western propaganda, the coalition claimed to fund and arm only “moderate” forces, allowing ISIL to gain strength and eliminate any rivals.

When Iraqis participated in the 2011 Arab Spring protests, the repressive sectarian government sent security forces to beat, torture, arrest, and kill the demonstrators. Protests after the arrest of activist Dr. al-Issawi, a Maliki opponent, spread to 14 cities and were greeted with the usual brutality, firing on demonstrators in Mosul and Fallujah. The killings have continued since then as the Maliki’s government has banned satellite TV channels, including Al-Jazeera, to censor news of any uprising.

Since then, the Iraqi problems have worsened as the U.S. denies any diplomatic attempts to recognize opposition to the U.S.-installed Maliki government. Tribal leaders have tried to approach U.S. officials with no response. With no attempt to work out differences, ISIS will only grow stronger. If the nation can work out diplomacy with Iran, it can certainly do the same in Iraq if all people in the country can be given civil and political rights.

Instead of using air strikes and sending more arms to the Middle East for ISIL to take, the United States could work on changing the sectarian dynamics in Iraq. People who lost their jobs and suffered from bombings, arrests, torture, and watching murders are those who now support ISIL. Every bomb that is dropped has the marks of the Kurds and the Shia to the Sunnis. A partnership with Iran could move Iraq toward inclusive governing because Tehran is worried about its neighbor’s growing instability. Diplomacy, especially with a coalition, would undermine ISIL, and Middle Eastern countries might stop arming anyone in Syria, including the al-Qaeda supporter al-Nusra Front, who claims to be against Assad.

If the U.S. stopped sending arms to the Middle East, an embargo might stop Russia and Iran from supporting the Assad regime. As long as this nation sends arms, other countries—Qatar, Saudi Arabia, etc.—will send arms to what we see as the opposition. This policy could move toward eliminating nuclear arsenals, including that in Israel.

None of this can happen, however, as long as leading U.S. conservatives shout for war in the Middle East. The odd couple, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), are demanding that the president call for more war, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is agreeing with them. Republicans won’t notice that these legislators have the authority to call on Congress to declare war, that, in fact, it is the role of Congress and not the president. Voting to send more troops into Iraq would create a problem in the upcoming election. People want something done about ISIL, but they don’t want to go back to war.

Two beheadings in Iraq have driven 59 percent of the people in the United States toward war in the Middle East, yet tens of thousands of beheadings by Mexican drug cartels don’t seem to disturb them. This past summer, Israel killed 2000 civilians, and in the last month Saudi Arabia beheaded 26 people. Most people in the U.S. have either nodded sagely about the importance of these actions or remained ignorant of them, but they went insane over two beheadings.

Two years ago, Dennis Kucinich emphasized the importance “of strong and patient diplomacy, working together with the community of nations to address security challenges, letting our allies take responsibility for regional security, being willing to talk to anyone in the cause of stability, and setting aside stale, ideological doctrines of intervention.” Reasonable people could look for diplomatic solutions, but conservatives aren’t reasonable. Their only goal is to take over all three branches of government.

Bringing back the draft would make any war more relevant to the people of the United States, possibly making them more thoughtful about hard decisions.

September 11, 2014

Demand Exit Strategy for War

Filed under: War — trp2011 @ 8:36 PM
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With the drums of Iraqi war beating more loudly and steadily, President Obama made a brief address last night to announce his plans. It was a mild speech that largely dealt in generalities:

  • Increase airstrikes to “roll back” ISIL in Iraq and into Syria, if necessary.
  • Strengthen troops by sending off another 475 military members to help Iraqi and Kurdish forces as well as ask Congress to authorize a million to equip and train Syrian opposition. (We won’t call them “boots on the ground.”)
  • Prevent terror by stopping attacks on the homeland through cutting off ISIL’s funding and improving U.S. intelligence.
  • Protect civilians such as Iraqi Christians.

ISIL knew that video of the beheadings of two U.S. citizens would draw the U.S. public into war. The militants also know that conservatives in this country will oppose anything the president plans. ISIL has won the war of fear with the help of irresponsible statements from such conservatives as Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), Cory Garner (Democratic Sen. Mark Udall’s opponent in Colorado), and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). The heretofore Libertarian/isolationist said, “If I were president, I would call a joint session of Congress. I would lay out the reasoning of why ISIS is a threat to our national security and seek congressional authorization to destroy ISIS militarily.”

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) assessed congressional support—or lack thereof:

“It’s an election year. A lot of Democrats don’t know how it would play in their party, and Republicans don’t want to change anything. We like the path we’re on now. We can denounce it if it goes bad, and praise it if it goes well and ask what took him so long.”

Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), chair of the Armed Services Committee, said that the House didn’t have time to take a vote on any proposed military action in the Middle East. (Yawn.) would probably not take a vote on military action because they didn’t have the time. Tommy Christopher explained:

“Congress, especially Republicans in Congress, has responsibilities it doesn’t want, especially when it comes to military action. The less they have to do with making actual decisions, the more they can play Goldilocks on Sunday shows and complain that the president’s actions are too weak, or too strong, or too pitchy, dawg, or whatever.”

GOP members of Congress are currently suing the president for tweaking the Affordable Care Act as the GOP wanted, but they’re telling the president to make all the decisions about ISIL because any position on war is dangerous to their re-election.

Legislators such as Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-NC) calling for more airstrikes and more aggression in the Middle East ignore the most important factor of war—an exit strategy. In the early 21st century, George W. Bush, led by Dick Cheney and other advisers, charged into Iraq with no idea how to get out. Now conservative media, led by Fox network, are playing a 2007 video of Bush II warning that the withdrawal of troops from Iraq would mean “surrendering the future of Iraq to al-Qaeda. It would mean that we’d be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It would mean we’d allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan.” Bush finished by saying that U.S. troops would have to go back later against an even more dangerous enemy.

The U.S. left Iraq on a timetable that Bush established. The October 2008 Status of Forces Agreement, ratified by Iraqi lawmakers, stated, “All the United States Forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31, 2011.” People probably forgot about SOFA because a man threw a shoe at Bush during the press conference when he and Mouri al-Maliki announced their agreement on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by New Year’s Day 2012. Bush ducked the problem in the same way that he ducked the shoe.

Conservative war-mongers could have left Saddam Hussein’s regime intact and let him suppress the Islamic extremists. Instead they chose to remove Hussein which spends an indefinite length of time there (Arizona’s GOP Sen. John McCain suggested 100 years), lives (almost 5,000 from the U.S. and a possible 600,000 from Iraq), and dollars (between $2 trillion and $6 trillion). Cheney knew it would be a disaster almost a decade earlier, but he did it anyway. Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair (1997-2007) was told “before invading Iraq that a stable post-war government would be impossible without keeping large numbers of troops there for ‘many years.’”

Cheney, mistakenly identified by The New York Times as a former president instead of vice-president, met earlier this week behind closed doors with GOP members of Congress this week and called for more defense spending. He’s sure to want more money for his business, Halliburton, like the funds he got  from the no-bid contracts he awarded his company during the earlier Iraq war. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said they appreciated Cheney’s advice “because most of us think we did the right thing in Iraq.”

As for sending all those arms to the people who we like—right now—in the Middle East, just read about ISIL’s resources. Their M-16 assault rifles bear U.S. government markings, and their anti-tank rockets are identical to the 1980s-era M79 rockets used by the moderate Free Syrian Army (FSA) to bring down planes flying at 16,000 feet. Other quantities of weapons, including warplanes, come from Syrian military installations. ISIL got more military gear and U.S. equipment, including U.S.-made amored Humvees, that Iraqi army soldiers abandoned. ISIL brings in over $1 million a day in addition to tanks, grenade launchers, field guns, and anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles produced in Russia, China, the Balkans, and Iran. Descriptions are available here. More arms that the U.S. sends to the Middle East will provide more arms to ISIL.

Over two years ago, former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) gave a speech on the floor of the House that included this advice:

  • Stop creating wars.
  • Stop funding and arming mercenaries.
  • Stop causing abject chaos by “liberating” countries and delivering them to illegitimate non-state actors, i.e. terrorists.
  • Stop NATO and other Western front groups from promoting neo-conservative agendas which lust for empire, for control of oil and gas resources, and which bait countries into conflict to cause an increase in arms trade.
  • Stop playing the naïve fool and falling for the theater of propaganda while interest groups and arms dealers stand at the cash register.

In that speech, Kucinich said, “In the weeks and months ahead, when our leaders are calling for military strikes, without considering the consequences or knowing the end game, let’s remember our recent history.” There’s something terribly ironic about calling for air strikes that kill civilians when that was the issue calling Bush to declare war.

Today is the 13th anniversary of the killing of over 3,000 people in the United States because 19 terrorists were able to take over four airplanes and use them as bombs. It is also the day that allowed Bush, Cheney, and others to convince the people of the United States to start the Middle East conflict that continues today.

Yesterday, The New Yorker published an article about 28 pages that George W. Bush excised from the Joint Congressional Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks. According to Bush, that information damage U.S. intelligence operation. Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) said, “There’s nothing in it about national security.” Yet Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) said that it describes complicity of some Saudi people and entities in Al Qaeda’s attack on the United States. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), another co-sponsor, said that reading those 28 pages has made him more cautious about a military response to ISIL.  These three representatives have co-sponsored a resolution to declassify the 28 pages.

Most of the people in the United States desperately need help. Most of us grow poorer every year, and wealthy members in the Congress won’t even begin to increase minimum wages to match the 1960s. The NRA and the gun industry demand the ability for so-called “responsible” gun owners to wound and kill more and more innocent people. A ginned-up fear from conservatives is driving people to want more trillions of dollars sent to a crisis on the other side of the globe that Dick Cheney and his minions created over a decade ago and that isn’t going to go away because the war-mongers have no exit strategy. The wealthy will continue to get richer from war profiteering while the poor will be forced to subsist on less and less until they revolt.

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