Mitt Romney on Doing or Not Doing Business With Iran

September 27, 2007 at 8:57 pm | Posted in Iran, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney | 4 Comments

hit him where it hurts.

Update: I changed the video, (thank you Brian). For some reason the first one is no longer available.

So, I should have asked this question with the post when I wrote it last night, but what do you all think about Romney’s attempts at being someone he is not?

Speaking of Ahmadinejad…

September 26, 2007 at 1:58 pm | Posted in Ahmadinejad, Foreign Policy, Iran | 4 Comments

This is probably the best analysis of Ahmadinejad’s appearance at Columbia University yesterday.

But the most tragic part of the event was the Q and A segment. The Iranian regime is as vulnerable with regards to its domestic policies as America is with regards to its foreign policy and war in Iraq. It is true that Iran has occasionally funded various groups that have been hostile to U.S. interests. But the United States has done the very same thing to Iran and much more. An example which Ahmadinejad pointed out to was Reagan’s sales of weapons to Saddam, which he used against in Iran for eight years. I can still vividly remember the sound of sirens, duct taped living room windows and American-funded air strikes.

And yet, most of Bollinger’s questions focused on Iran’s foreign policies. By keeping the focus on international issues, Columbia gave him an easy way to turn the conversation around time and again and criticize American policy. One question was why Iran was enriching uranium, which Bollinger naively ended with “would you stop?” And why should they stop? There is no evidence that they are building a bomb, they are a member of the NPT, which gives them the right to enrich uranium, and their two main open enemies — Israel and America — both possess nuclear weapons, with the former not being a member of NPT and the latter breaking its rules by not moving toward the treaty’s ultimate goal: elimination of all nuclear weapons.

Without asking these significant questions or any meaningful understanding of more than 2,500 years of Iranian history, Columbia provided an environment for Ahmadinejad to criticize American policy, divert every viewer’s attention from the country’s brutalities and oppression and play to the audience’s idealist beliefs that scored him more applauses than any meaningful challenge to his stance and record on issues that mattered the most.

Indeed.

“We wanted to send [Ahmadinejad] a powerful message”

September 26, 2007 at 1:55 pm | Posted in Ahmadinejad, conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, Iran, United Nations | 1 Comment

the ridiculousness and petty childishness of our current administration continues

The U.S. delegation walked out of the General Assembly chamber when Ahmadinejad went to the podium, leaving only a low-ranking note-taker to listen to his speech, which also indirectly accused the U.S. and Israel of human rights violations. Gonzalo Gallegos, a State Department spokesman, said the U.S. wanted “to send him a powerful message.”

Oh yeah, real powerful message. You only showed how petty and childish you really are. Why are you so afraid of this piddly man? Why does he instigate such fear in conservatives, enough to drive you to war?

Why would we want to preposition nuclear weapons at a base conducting Middle East operations?

September 5, 2007 at 8:00 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, George W Bush, Iran, Military, secret combinations | Leave a comment

That is a really good question.

You ready for nuclear war in the Middle East, America? Because it is coming. Sooner than you think.

Condoleezza Rice Ponders On Her Future and Legacy

September 1, 2007 at 5:52 pm | Posted in American politics, condoleezza rice, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Syria | 2 Comments

In an interview with the New York Times, Ms. Rice talks about her future (even though she still has 18 months of work), and bemoans that her legacy will forever be tainted by failure. Well, duh, Ms. Rice. It might be because of, well, what you did:

In the Palestinian territories, she engineered a political boycott of the militant Islamist group Hamas after it won legislative elections, which she had pushed for, in 2006. In Pakistan, while continuing to express support for elections, she has scrambled for ways to keep Gen. Pervez Musharraf, a military dictator who took power in a 1999 coup, in office. And she made little mention of democracy during a visit to Egypt and Saudi Arabia in July, and did not meet with any political dissidents, citing time pressures and a full schedule.

So you tell Palestinians that they must elect leaders and then when the Palestinians do exactly what you tell them, you boycott their chosen leaders. It doesn’t make your legacy look good, Ms. Rice.

What would help your legacy, Ms. Rice, is to talk to those you don’t like, the Iranians, the Syrians, and elected Palestinian officials, including those of Hamas. How do you even expect to make peace between Israel and Palestinians if you totally ignore millions of Palestinians? That just doesn’t make any sense.

Some Numbers Regarding Detainees in Iraq

August 25, 2007 at 2:21 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Iran, Iraq, violence, War, War on Terror | 2 Comments


(Courtesy of New York Times)

Look at these numbers carefully from Iraq. This tells you about detainees in Iraq since the start of the surge. Note the significance of what they say:

Nearly 85 percent of the detainees in custody are Sunni Arabs, the minority faction in Iraq that ruled the country under the government of Saddam Hussein; the other detainees are Shiites, the officers say.

Got that? 85% of detainees are Sunni Arabs. Not Shi’ite Iranians.

Military officers said that of the Sunni detainees, about 1,800 claim allegiance to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a homegrown extremist group that American intelligence agencies have concluded is foreign-led. About 6,000 more identify themselves as takfiris, or Muslims who believe some other Muslims are not true believers. Such believers view Shiite Muslims as heretics.

Got that, they hate Shi’ite Muslims. There are no Sunnis in Iran (except for a really tiny minority—but not the ones in power—or the Iranians we accuse of messing around in Iraq)

“Interestingly, we’ve found that the vast majority are not inspired by jihad or hate for the coalition or Iraqi government — the vast majority are inspired by money,” said Capt. John Fleming of the Navy, a spokesman for the multinational forces’ detainee operations. The men are paid by insurgent leaders. “The primary motivator is economic — they’re angry men because they don’t have jobs,” he said. “The detainee population is overwhelmingly illiterate and unemployed. Extremists have been very successful at spreading their ideology to economically strapped Iraqis with little to no formal education.”

They don’t attack us because they hate us. Got that? They attack us because they get paid.

Now, are you ready for the most significant numbers?

According to statistics supplied by the headquarters of Task Force 134, the American military unit in charge of detention operations in Iraq, there are about 280 detainees from countries other than Iraq. Of those, 55 are identified as Egyptian, 53 as Syrian, 37 as Saudi, 28 as Jordanian and 24 as Sudanese.

Look at those numbers carefully. Notice something strange? Let’s see. I see 55 Egyptians. I see 53 Syrians. I see 37 Saudis. I see 28 Jordanians. I see 24 Sudanese. Who is missing? Isn’t it interesting that the one nation we consider the scourge of the Middle East has absolutely zero of its people detained by Americans in Iraq? Where are the Iranians?

When it comes to the hard facts, the Bush administration is proven wrong again and again and again. They really do live in an alternate reality where the bad guy continuously shifts to whoever they choose, and not what the facts on the ground tell them.

Iran is not our enemy. However, if we are not careful, we may end up being theirs.

You Ready For War With Iran? Our Crusade in the Middle East Has a New Target

August 23, 2007 at 12:44 pm | Posted in Foxnews, Iran, Iraq, Military, Republicans, secret combinations, violence, War | 3 Comments

Are you ready America? Because it is coming. See how it is being spun by Fox News.

And be ready, because you just might be called to serve. You also might have the Pentagon proselytize you into the “Christian faith” if you are not careful. hilzoy quotes the LA Times:

“Last week, after an investigation spurred by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the Pentagon abruptly announced that it would not be delivering “freedom packages” to our soldiers in Iraq, as it had originally intended.

What were the packages to contain? Not body armor or home-baked cookies. Rather, they held Bibles, proselytizing material in English and Arabic and the apocalyptic computer game “Left Behind: Eternal Forces” (derived from the series of post-Rapture novels), in which “soldiers for Christ” hunt down enemies who look suspiciously like U.N. peacekeepers.

The packages were put together by a fundamentalist Christian ministry called Operation Straight Up, or OSU. Headed by former kickboxer Jonathan Spinks, OSU is an official member of the Defense Department’s “America Supports You” program. The group has staged a number of Christian-themed shows at military bases, featuring athletes, strongmen and actor-turned-evangelist Stephen Baldwin. But thanks in part to the support of the Pentagon, Operation Straight Up has now begun focusing on Iraq, where, according to its website (on pages taken down last week), it planned an entertainment tour called the “Military Crusade.”

Apparently the wonks at the Pentagon forgot that Muslims tend to bristle at the word “crusade” and thought that what the Iraq war lacked was a dose of end-times theology.”

What the hell is a “freedom package?”

Austria Breaks With the West

August 23, 2007 at 5:57 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Foreign Policy, Iran, Russia | 3 Comments

Well done, Austria. They are asking the United States to stop recreating the Cold War by setting up a missile shield over Eastern Europe. Bush may say whatever he wants to about this shield being a protection of Europe from Iranian missiles, but really, please, we all know it really is a way to take advantage of the peace with Russia to reposition ourselves against an emerging Russian strength.

Why are many Americans so afraid of the Russians?

Quote of the Day – Dick Cheney

August 16, 2007 at 1:07 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, Iran, Middle East, secret combinations | Leave a comment

Well well well, it seems before 9/11 Dick Cheney actually made some sense, or at least did not let the delusions that were to come after 9/11 get in the way of sound thinking. Here he is in 1998 on sanctions on Iran:

[O]ur sanctions policy oftentimes generates unanticipated consequences. It puts us in a position where a part of our government is pursuing objectives that are at odds with other objectives that the United States has with respect to a particular region.

An example that comes immediately to mind has to do with efforts to develop the resources of the former Soviet Union in the Caspian Sea area. It is a region rich in oil and gas. Unfortunately, Iran is sitting right in the middle of the area and the United States has declared unilateral economic sanctions against that country. As a result, American firms are prohibited from dealing with Iran and find themselves cut out of the action, both in terms of opportunities that develop with respect to Iran itself, and also with respect to our ability to gain access to Caspian resources. Iran is not punished by this decision. There are numerous oil and gas development companies from other countries that are now aggressively pursuing opportunities to develop those resources. That development will proceed, but it will happen without American participation. The most striking result of the government’s use of unilateral sanctions in the region is that only American companies are prohibited from operating there.

Another good example of how our sanctions policy oftentimes gets in the way of our other interests occurred in the fall of 1997 when Saddam Hussein was resisting U.N. weapons inspections. I happened to be in the Gulf region during that period of time. Administration officials in the area were trying to get Arab members of the coalition that executed operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1991 to allow U.S. military forces to be based on their territory. They wanted that capability in the event it was necessary to take military action against Iraq in order to get them to honor the UN resolutions. Our friends in the region cited a number of reasons for not complying with our request. They were concerned with the fragile nature of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, which was stalled. But they also had fundamental concerns about our policy toward Iran. We had been trying to force the governments in the region to adhere to an anti-Iranian policy, and our views raised questions in their mind about the wisdom of U.S. leadership. They cited it as an example of something they thought was unwise, and that they should not do.

So, what effect does this have on our standing in the region? I take note of the fact that all of the Arab countries we approached, with the single exception of Kuwait, rejected our request to base forces on their soil in the event military action was required against Iraq. As if that weren’t enough, most of them boycotted the economic conference that the United States supported in connection with the peace process that was hosted in Qatar during that period of time. Then, having rejected participation in that conference, they all went to Tehran and attended the Islamic summit hosted by the Iranians. The nation that’s isolated in terms of our sanctions policy in that part of the globe is not Iran. It is the United States. And the fact that we have tried to pressure governments in the region to adopt a sanctions policy that they clearly are not interested in pursuing has raised doubts in the minds of many of our friends about the overall wisdom and judgment of U.S. policy in the area.

Let me repeat what he just said again, “The nation that’s isolated in terms of our sanctions policy in that part of the globe is not Iran. It is the United States.” Wow, what the hell happened to this guy after 9/11? Why did his wisdom go the way of the dodo bird?

The Fruits of Our Labors in Iraq

August 13, 2007 at 3:28 pm | Posted in American politics, Iran, Iraq | 2 Comments


(courtesy of Needlenose.

Note how well they hold hands…

F.U.B.A.R. in Iraq

August 8, 2007 at 10:26 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, King George, Military, Republicans, secret combinations, War | 1 Comment

Michael Gordon writes another propaganda piece in the New York Times, unquestioningly passing along Bush’s false assertion about Iran being our greatest enemy, blah blah blah. Interestingly in his piece, while uncritically writing what the military wants us to hear—accusations that Iran is supplying the worst EFPs— Mr. Gordon probably unknowingly reveals a bit of a truth. See, Mr. Gordon and the Bush administration want us to believe that our greatest enemy in Iraq is Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia. But Mr. Gordon writes:

Such bombs, which fire a semi-molten copper slug that can penetrate the armor on a Humvee and are among the deadliest weapons used against American forces, are used almost exclusively by Shiite militants.

and

While the group [al Qaeda] is seen by the American military as the most serious near-term threat, there are other signs that Shiite militias remain active. According to General Odierno, the day-to-day commander of American troops in Iraq, Shiite militants carried out 73 percent of the attacks that killed or wounded American troops in Baghdad in July.

Even though Shi’ite militias are attacking us at a greater rate, he can’t help himself and state what a threat Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia is. Note that he states that Al-Qaeda is “seen by the American military as the most serious near-term threat,” even though “Shi’ite militants carried out 73 percent of the attacks” in July, which would seem quite “near term” frankly.

Worse, of course, is that Mr. Gordon does not even care to show what evidence the military has that proves that Iran is behind the EFPs, even though a previous raid in southern Iraq found a bomb-making factory that made those very EFPs that are killing Americans. In Iraq. Not Iran. Hmmmm…..

“Iraqi army soldiers swept into the city of Diwaniya early this morning to disrupt militia activity and return security and stability of the volatile city back to the government of Iraq,” the U.S. military said in a statement.

Bleichwehl said troops, facing scattered resistance, discovered a factory that produced “explosively formed penetrators” (EFPs), a particularly deadly type of explosive that can destroy a main battle tank and several weapons caches.

That was in April of this year. But that doesn’t matter to Mr. Gordon and the Bush administration. They would rather have Americans believe that Iranians are the Great Satan, the dark that the light of America must consume, the evil that must be vanquished. Forget that over half the foreign fighters in Iraq come from our bestest of friends, the Saudis. Forget that Shi’ites in Iraq themselves are actually creating these EFPs.

Worse yet, we’re now funding Sunni insurgents we used to be fighting. And to top it off, 30% of our weapons that we gave to Iraqis have gone missing. Is there a more appropriate time to use the old FUBAR phrase than now to describe our mission in Iraq?

As Anonymous Liberal writes:

The administration would have us believe, particularly of late, that our primary enemy in Iraq is al Qaeda of Mesopotamia. But if 73% of attacks in Baghdad in July were carried out by Shiite militants, who are certainly not al Qaeda fighters, then that’s a major story, one that underscores just how unmanageable the situation in Iraq is.

We are simultaneously under attack by Sunni and Shiite militants, who, when not attacking us, are attacking each other. Both Sunni and Shiite militant groups are (apparently) being supplied, whether with official blessing or not, by sympathetic parties in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Some have suggested that we are in a proxy war with Iran. I think it’s far more accurate to say that we are stuck in the middle of a proxy war between Iran and its Sunni rivals.

Meanwhile, in order to root out al Qaeda, we’ve started arming the very Sunni militants we were previously fighting. And we continue to support a Shiite-led central government that is openly allied with Shiite militias who, when not ethnically cleansing Sunnis in the Baghdad area, are apparently blowing up our troops with Iranian-made bombs. There’s a word for this type of situation and it rhymes with fustercluck.

Indeed.

UPDATED: Matt Yglesias adds:

The administration is lying (for them not to be lying would be unprecedented) and Gordon is passing on what his sources tell him.

As a policy matter, looking at the Iranian support issue tends to highlights how pointless it is to get one’s hopes raised by such minor signs of progress as may or may not be thought to exist in Iraq. Iran is charged with supplying a bit more than 100 explosive-formed penetrator bombs to Iraqi militants per month. Iran is also a bit of a rinky-dink third world country. But even they clearly could be providing a lot more weaponry than that were they so inclined. Hezbollah’s armaments are, for example, much more sophisticated than that. If the Iranians ever were to reach the conclusion that the US were in danger of achieving its goals of creating a stable Iraq happy to play host to large US military installations and serve as an anti-Iranian bulwark in the region, Iran could easily step up its assistance and then you’re back to square one.

The issue here, then, really isn’t where, exactly, these EFPs come from and why. The issue is whether you think it serves US interests to try to reach an accommodation with Iran so they we can fight terrorism by trying to fight the al-Qaeda terrorists who want to come here and kill or, or whether you think it serves US interests to continue picking unprovoked fights with tangential adversaries. But before you pick what’s behind door number two, just keep in mind that a US-Iranian escalation cycle will certainly lead things to get much, much worse over the short and medium terms.

The War in Iraq, Detrimental to American Families

August 1, 2007 at 8:41 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, family values, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George, Middle East, secret combinations, violence, War, War on Terror | Leave a comment

Here may be a great reason for the multitude of Mormons still supportive of this war to think twice about it. The families, especially the children of soldiers who go off to Iraq are irreprably harmed.

Rates of neglect and abuse of the children of servicemen and women rose 42% within the family when the enlisted parent was deployed on a combat mission, according to a new study led by senior health analyst Deborah Gibbs of RTI International, a research institute in North Carolina. Previous studies have shown an association between combat-related deployments and higher levels of stress in the family, and it is this stress that is thought to play a major role in the maltreatment of children by the parent who stays home.

The current study is the first to take a comprehensive look at how deployment affects child neglect and emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Backed by funding from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, the researchers harvested data from the U.S. Army Central Registry of 1,771 families worldwide with at least one instance of child neglect or abuse between Sept. 2001 and Dec. 2004, a period during which many soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. The results show that a staggering 1,858 parents had maltreated their children during that period — boys and girls in equal numbers, with an average age of 6. Nearly 10% of those parents neglected or abused their children on more than one day. The number of times a parent was deployed, however, whether once or twice, did not significantly affect the rate of maltreatment — researchers speculate that by the time of a soldier’s second tour of duty, the homebound parent has developed at least few coping strategies.

The study suggests that Mom is the one taking it out on the kids. During the deployment of her soldier-husband, rates of child maltreatment tripled; neglect quadrupled; and physical abuse nearly doubled. “Female spouses are the ones that stay at home when soldiers are deployed,” says Gibbs. “They deal with the stress of single parenting, worrying about a spouse and holding down a job as well. We recognize that military families do an amazing job at getting though these situations that are tougher than many of us could ever imagine.” Abusive women were more likely to be Caucasian than Hispanic or black, suggesting that there may be differences in the way white mothers cope with stress compared with black or Hispanic moms; the study’s authors write that the racial difference may have to do with the mother’s employment status or her willingness to ask for outside help. In contrast, male spouses showed no increase in maltreatment when their wives were deployed.

The study controlled for characteristics often linked to child maltreatment — such as substance abuse, socioeconomic status and age of the children —making it evident that deployment was the determining factor.

So let us review the costs of this war and see if they do not indeed outweigh the supposed benefits

1. Our good, professional, all-volunteer force is being decimated and spent, making it more difficult to be fully ready for any bigger event on the horizon.

2. Their families are suffering at a staggering rate back home, with abuse and maltreatment.

3. The financial costs of this war are being put on a credit card for future generations to pay while we sit back and consume like good baby boomers.

4. Iraq is a veritable hell-hole. Thousands of Iraqis die violently a month. They have to rely on militias to get some semblance of security because the Americans are certainly not providing proper security.

5. There is no political resolution on the horizon in Iraq. The Iraqi Parliament is on vacation for the month of August.

6. Regional countries are beginning to be assertive in controlling the broken country to their own selfish needs. Turks are attacking Kurds in the north. Saudis are funding their Sunni brothers in the insurgency. Shi’ite Iranians are supporting the Shi’ites in the south.

7. The war has done absolutely nothing to stop Al-Qaeda regain its strength while they sit comfortably with friends in Pakistan.

8. The Taliban in Afghanistan are learning techniques used by insurgents in Iraq so as to further undermine and destabilize the country we should have already bagged years ago. Instead, Afghanistan is falling further and further in the direction of Iraq.

9. Iran is not feeling any real heat and continuing on their desired path towards nuclear technology.

10. Israel certainly does not feel any safer than it did before 2003.

I’m sure there are many more. Now, I ask those few who read my blog, what have been the benefits of our invasion of Iraq that have outweighed these costs? I ask it in this fashion, because there of course have been obvious benefits to the invasion, one being that Saddam is gone. But tell me, does his removal outweigh these costs?

Bush to Sell Weapons to Saudi Arabia Which Funds Sunni Insurgents in Iraq

July 27, 2007 at 11:31 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, Military, Saudi Arabia, secret combinations | 4 Comments

That’s basically the gist of what is going on right now.

The Bush administration is preparing to ask Congress to approve an arms sale package for Saudi Arabia and its neighbors that is expected to eventually total $20 billion at a time when some United States officials contend that the Saudis are playing a counterproductive role in Iraq.

Yeah, that “counterproductive role in Iraq” is Saudis supporting and financing Sunni insurgents on a level far exceeding that of what Iran does with the Shi’ites. After all, most of the violence against Americans come from Sunnis. Remember the kind of relationship the Bush administration has with the Saudi Royal Family where the Saudi King can summon the Vice President of the United States! As Steve writes for Carpetbagger:

Dick Cheney was in Riyadh over the weekend, but the VP’s office, which is not exactly forthcoming on a regular basis, was unusually vague about this trip. According to what Cheney aides were willing to share, the Vice President traveled half-way around the world for a two-hour meeting with King Abdullah, then hoped on his plane and came home. A spokesperson for the VP’s office would only say that Cheney’s meeting covered a “wide range of issues.” Yeah, that’s helpful.

While the AP suggested that Cheney’s trip was part of a “U.S. diplomatic push to stem surging violence in Iraq,” the WaPo reported that that the push for the meeting came from the Saudis, not the other way around. (via Nico)

Saudi Arabia is so concerned about the damage that the conflict in Iraq is doing across the region that it basically summoned Vice President Cheney for talks over the weekend, according to U.S. officials and foreign diplomats.

Classic. No wonder Cheney and his aides wanted to keep this under wraps; it’s rather humiliating to have the Saudi Crown Prince “summon” our VP for a chat about how badly he’s screwing up the Middle East.

I’ve often wondered if there was any force on earth that could get Cheney to do something he doesn’t want to do. He’s not inclined to care about Congress, or follow U.S. law, or honor U.S. commitments, or negotiate, compromise, or cooperate with anyone.

But when “summoned” by King Abdullah, Cheney is on the plane. Good to know.

How much more evidence do you want, America, that the Bush administration is fake, that they have completely and utterly abrogated the oath they took to uphold the Constitution and protect America? Here they are selling advanced weaponry to the very country that strongly supports and aides Sunni insurgents who turn around and kill our soldiers? Where is the outrage akin to the outrage against Iran? Why are we outraged at Iran’s involvement in Iraq but not Saudi Arabia’s?

The Real Fake Hero

July 23, 2007 at 9:54 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, King George, Lord of the Rings, Media, Middle East, Military, nationalism, neo-conservatives, Republicans, secret combinations, Thoughts, War, War on Terror | 14 Comments

This past Saturday my wife and I went and saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The movie was pretty well done, though I do wonder what the “Order of the Phoenix” actually had to do with the plot of the movie—the actual Order members appear at the very beginning and then at the end to save the day (but that’s another story). In any case, the movie was pretty good. I got thinking about a particular aspect of our modern fictional heroes and villains. See I’m also reading Hugh Nibley’s books on the Jaredites and their origins in ancient Asiatic cultures and kingdoms. Absolutely fascinating stuff! Mr. Nibley has opened a window to a world I did not really know about but have been quite curious about for the longest time. The steppes of ancient Asia were quite a bloody, violent, and unstable times, with ruling kings dueling with rivals, capturing kings, having them live in captivity all their lives, so on and so forth. These ancient Asiatic and Jaredite kings were unafraid of battle. In fact, it was their culture that the king took the lead in the battle. They reveled in besting their rivals on the field of battle. In fact, in the account of the Jaredites the two remaining kings, Coriantumr and Shiz battled to the ultimate death and destruction of the Jaredite nation.

In any case, I’ve noticed quite a trend in our stories of late regardless of medium, be it film, television or book. The hero (and the villain too) usually takes the lead, usually is willing to go through hellfire and damnation to achieve near impossible tasks. (These same heroes apparently come out rather unscathed psychologically, but again that is also another story). Jack Bauer takes the lead on “24”. Harry Potter leads the ragtag children of Hogwarts against far more advanced Death Eaters at impossible odds. Maybe their young age makes them not think twice about the fact that they could die very easily at the hands of a Death Eater. And let me just say, if I were a Death Eater, I doubt I would let little kids get in my way of things. But that would ruin the story, wouldn’t it? Leonidas takes charge of the 300 Spartan warriors against one million Persians. Leonidas and his men die in their efforts but their efforts were able to weaken the Persians enough that a few years later they were defeated. Aragorn charges wildly into the mass of orcs in Return of the King, even though it is a foolish move if you think about it. He doesn’t though, because dramatically speaking, charging against the mass of orcs is a far more powerful scene than sitting back strategizing the perils of the kingdom of Gondor at large if the king were to die in battle.

Reality is that when the king leads the battle, the kingdom has a good chance of completely failing, of complete collapse. This is what we learn about ancient Asiatic kingdoms. People wait around until a strongman appears who takes charge, quickly amassing a powerful army that takes control of half of Asia. In no time at all, upon the king’s quick death in battle, the kingdom falls. Modern nations are a vastly different institution, where the ultimate leader stays in the back of the battle sending off the underlings to die for the cause, the homeland, for the state.

I wonder what it is doing to our culture and our mindset when we tie in our hearts and culture the worship of the hero, the soldier, the warrior, the one who, risking all, darts off to battle “evil”, coming back conqueror. Even the most insanest of us all tends to be quite realistic when it comes to his or her own survival. Thus I am befuddled when I see for example this video of College Republicans who speak so easily of our cause against terrorism, but who they themselves do not wish to pick up a weapon and fight.

I don’t mean to pick necessarily on Republicans with this point, it’s just that their example is the most blatant right now. Who do they expect to do the fighting for the cause they speak so proudly of?

We see so many examples in our entertainment, in all mediums, books, television and film, of a worship of the warrior that I really do think it has clouded our understanding of both warfare and tolerating situations we really have no power to control. So many speak of doing “something” about Iran, for example, as if it were not tolerable to have an Iran with nuclear technology. When we speak of not tolerating a nuclear Iran, what does that mean? Do we really have the power to 1) stop Iran from learning nuclear technology? 2) and not further decay our own power?

Reality bites hard. We may have deposed Saddam Hussein. Few doubted our military might and our ability to defeat someone as weak as Saddam. But I wonder if the fakery of fictional characters has so clouded our vision that we think taking massive risks means the risks won’t actually take place? I was watching “A Bug’s Life” with my daughter the other day and I thought some more about this. Flick made a grave mistake when his contraption caused the offering to fall into the river below. That’s fine, a big problem, but fixable. But Flick does not learn the lesson of his mistake, and that is that taking risks could be destructive to the whole tribe. It was quite opportune for Flick and the ants that a bird lived close by, because really, without the bird, something Flick could not control, all his plans were doomed to fail.

Pundits favoring the actions in Iraq talked so often and frequently about how this action would utterly change the Middle East that one really has to wonder how they were believed. Then again no one really asked these pundits just what evidence they had that forcible invasion of a very nationalistic tribalistic state would magically create a pro-Western democratic haven right smack in the middle of a whole slew of other ultra-nationalistic tribalistic states whose influences were and still are far greater and more powerful than the invading army’s influence. We took a high priced risk. We were the hero who rushed wildly at the mass of orcs thinking that, hey it worked in the fictional account, it should work in reality. Aragorn won’t die. He can’t. Frodo will somehow magically make it to the Mount of Doom to melt the ring of Sauron’s power. And more importantly that action would somehow make all the orcs stop attacking to kill Aragorn. Or that Han Solo would appear at the right moment to “surge” and deflect just enough of Vader’s ship to give Luke the opportunity to shoot his guns into the plot-appropriate hole that magically destroys the entire Death Star. We hear plenty in real life from war supporters who say, hey “bomb them all to hell.” “Just nuke the place, that will solve all our problems.”

I used to think that we should restart a draft into American culture, because I used to believe that forcing Americans to serve in defense of their country would make them wisen up about risking so much in wars of choices. After all, interestingly, many of today’s leaders did NOT fight in Vietnam (Dick Cheney had five deferments for “other priorities” for example). But I now don’t think the problem with our rush to wars is lack of fighting by Americans. I think it is our worship of the hero, the warrior, the soldier. Ironically, the Army’s new slogan is an “Army of One.” Heh, it couldn’t be more fitting for our culture of hero worship.

This is not going to change soon. In fact, it will probably get worse before it gets better. Which is too bad, because we’re now in decline in the world around us. The risks were not neutralized, but instead materialized as we were warned. We’ve got many problems ahead of us.

Raw Power vs The Rule of Law, or Why Democrats Can’t Do a Single Thing About Bush

July 19, 2007 at 9:49 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, Congress, conservatives, corruption, Democracy, Democrats, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, King George, liberals, Media, Military, nationalism, neo-conservatives, Republicans, Scooter Libby, secret combinations, Thoughts, Torture, violence, Voter Suppression, War, War on Terror, Washington DC, World Events | 8 Comments

I have closely observed the goings on of my government (as best as I can seeing how secretive they want to be) these past five years, ever since Bush decided to go to war with Iraq back in the summer of 2002. (Read Bill Schneider’s “Marketing Iraq: Why Now?” where you can read Andrew Card’s comment: “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.” They decided over the summer to attack Iraq. The rest was all a matter of marketing, selling it to the American public). They got the war rammed down Americans’ throats, with an extremely complicit media rooting the Administration on, damned be anyone that stood in their way.

The corrupting influence of raw power began immediately after 9/11. I’m sure in the very first seconds of realizing the potential power the Executive could yield, the Administration probably had good intents, but those were just a few seconds. They realized just how much power they really had: raw power. And they realized they must keep it a secret, for if it really got out, they would be forced to follow the rule of law, and not the rule of raw power. They took advantage of all the support (90% approval ratings and support from many nations around the world) and ran with it as far as they thought they could go. Karl Rove told Republicans in January of 2002 to run with the war in the November elections and they would win seats. They did and they won seats. They got the war they wanted, on the cheap, small force, shock and awe military might that defeated a ragtag worn down Iraqi military in three weeks. No surprise there. No wonder so many neo-conservatives and their allies chortled after the war, and drank in their wine of success.

Reports and studies, however, were there from the beginning that all was not well, and that continuing down this path would lead to serious problems for America. The most serious is the raw power employed by the Bush administration. Unchecked, the Bush administration began, right from the start, right from 2001 and early 2002, to employ power beyond what is written in the Constitution. Why? Because they saw what raw power there was in the Executive Branch and they took it. Even so, they knew they were doing wrong, or they wouldn’t be so secretive about it. Only those with something to hide, hide something. So right from the start, the United States of America began torturing people, employing techniques learned from the Soviets and the Nazis. They kept this as much of a secret as they could. For they knew if this were to get out, they would be in trouble. The American public still had more raw power over the administration, at least until after the 2004 presidential election. Once that election passed and Bush won, their raw power achieved the ultimate. For the next four years, no one could stop them. So some of their secrets could get out. In fact, by slowly getting out, the secrets became acceptable. Like any watcher of pornography, you can justify the soft porn at first, but you cannot justify the hardcore. Once you get enough of the soft porn, the hardcore becomes acceptable and even desirable. It soon becomes a part of who you are.

In 2006 something wonderful happened. America broke out of the spell of this administration and its evils. A lot of Democrats and liberals (and many independents) were hopeful to see a change.

Unfortunately that is not going to happen. You see, the Bush administration has tasted of raw power and they will not let go. In fact, even if the Democrats get a veto proof majority in these next 18 months, there is nothing to hold back the Bush administration from simply defying the veto overrides of Congress. Note with what impunity the administration is telling private citizens not to show up for Congressional subpoenas! They even claim executive privilege over documents related to Pat Tillman’s debacle. Why? Because they can. There is no raw power above them, so why should they listen to anyone or do anything for anyone? They answer to none but themselves.

We must realize that there is only one thing that can actually end this raw power by this administration over these next 18 months and that is a full on revolution where the American people rise up and kicks this administration out of power. Congress has no raw power to impeach this president. He will simply defy their will. Why should he bother with Congress? He has no incentive. He has nothing to lose.

America has not been in as dangerous and precarious position as it is today. We must go back to the rule of law. For the rule of law to have any real effect, those who broke the rule of law must be punished and held accountable. Otherwise, what is the purpose of law? Without any punishment, there is no law. Unfortunately this will not happen, and we will have to deal with the administration as currently constituted for the next 18 months. We will have to deal with a possible military strike on Iran. We will have to deal with attempts by this administration to fix the next election so that they ensure a Republican president and a security and secrecy over what they have done these past six years. What Republican candidate today is going to actually hold anyone in the Bush administration accountable for their crimes? What Republican candidate today will punish anyone in this administration?

For that matter, what Democrat will truly do what needs to be done? I bet that even they will come up with some rationale about healing the wounds of Bush’s divisiveness and let them get away with it. Again, if there is no punishment, can there really be a law? If there is no law, what do we have?

Jack Balkin writes about why this is so important:

At this point in Bush’s Presidency three things matter above all others. They motivate this final round of constitutional hardball: The first is keeping secret what the President and his advisers have done. The second is running out the clock to prevent any significant dismantling of his policies until his term ends. The third is doing whatever he can proactively to ensure that later governments do not hold him or his associates accountable for any acts of constitutional hardball or other illegalities practiced during his term in office.

If the NSA program and the Torture Memos were examples of the second round of constitutional hardball, the Libby commutation and Harriet Meiers’ refusal to testify before Congress are examples of the third round. Although his Presidency now seems to be a failure, Bush’s third round of constitutional hardball may be every bit as important as the first two. That is because if Bush is never held accountable for what he did in office, future presidents will be greatly tempted to adopt features of his practices. If they temper his innovations and his excesses only slightly, they will still seem quite admirable and restrained in comparison to Bush. As a result, if Congress and the public do not decisively reject Bush’s policies and practices, some particularly unsavory features of his Presidency will survive in future Administrations. If that happens, Bush’s previous acts of constitutional hardball will have paid off after all. He may not have created a new and lasting constitutional regime, but he will have introduced long-lasting weaknesses and elements of decay into our constitutional system.

This administration is by far the worst that America has ever seen. But it is far more dangerous than that. Their policies and their use of raw power has done serious and potentially permanent damage and harm to the rule of law and the Constitution. Note for example the audacity of Sara Taylor claiming her oath to the president rather than to the Constitution. When corrected, now how smugly she replied:

Leahy: And then you said, I took an oath to the President, and I take that oath very seriously. Did you mean, perhaps, you took an oath to the Constitution?

Taylor: Uh, I, uh, yes, you’re correct, I took an oath to the Constitution. Uh, but, what–

Leahy: Did you take a second oath to the President?

Taylor: I did not. I–

Leahy: So the answer was incorrect.

Taylor: The answer was incorrect. What I should have said is that, I took an oath, I took that oath seriously. And I believe that taking that oath means that I need to respect, and do respect, my service to the President.

Leahy: No, the oath says that you take an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States. That is your paramount duty. I know that the President refers to the government being his government — it’s not. It’s the government of the people of America. Your oath is not to uphold the President, nor is mine to uphold the Senate. My oath, like your oath, is to uphold the Constitution.

This was an unscripted moment showing the reality of the raw power employed by the Bush administration. Loyalty is NOT to the Constitution, but to the president. Because the real raw power is not in the Constitution, but in Bush and Cheney. Note also Cheney’s ludicrous claim that is was not part of the executive branch, and thus cannot be held in check by any rules or regulations. These are but a few examples of the raw power employed by the Bush administration. (Heck, let’s not even bring up Scooter Libby!).

What can be done? At this point we must continue to reveal the secrets, show Americans just how much the Bush administration is not for the Constitution they took an oath to uphold. Continue forcing them to explain themselves. History will be the judge. If the administration attempts to start a fight with Iran, we must take to the streets and say NO! It won’t do much to actually stop them, but that’s all we can do, unless we’re riping for a real revolution.

A Realistic Assessment on Progress in Iraq

July 14, 2007 at 5:23 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Democrats, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, King George, Media, Military, neo-conservatives, Republicans, Saudi Arabia, secret combinations, Thoughts, violence, War, War on Terror, World Events | 3 Comments

Whatever you do, if you want a real assessment about the situation in Iraq, do NOT listen to the President of the United States. Read Patrick Cockburn instead, for example. What will you learn? You’ll learn that, yes, Iraqis did progress on a few of the 18 benchmarks, but all the areas where they improved were insignificant, and the areas where Iraqis must have improved, about six benchmarks, Iraqis made absolutely no improvement at all. Things like security and politics. The very important stuff. No improvement at all.

The White House yesterday sought to suggest possible change for the better in Iraq by saying that there had been satisfactory progress on eight of the 18 goals set by Congress. Unsatisfactory progress is reported on six, unsatisfactory but with some progress on two and “too early to assess” on a further two.

The picture it hopes to give – and this has been uncritically reported by the US media – is of a mixture of progress and frustration in Iraq.

The wholly misleading suggestion is that the war could go either way. In reality the six failures are on issues critical to the survival of Iraq while the eight successes are on largely trivial matters.

Thus unsatisfactory progress is reported on “the Iraqi security forces even handedly enforcing the law” and on the number of Iraqi units willing to fight independently of the Americans. This means that there is no Iraqi national army but one consisting of Kurds, Shia and Sunni who will never act against their own communities. Despite three years of training, the Iraqi security forces cannot defend the government.

Set against these vitally important failures are almost ludicrously trivial or meaningless successes. For instance, “the rights of minority political parties are being defended” but these groups have no political influence. The alliance of Shia religious and Kurdish nationalist parties that make up the government is not keen to share power with anybody. This is scarcely surprising since they triumphantly won the election in 2005.

There have been some real improvements over the past six months. Sectarian killings in Iraq have declined to 650 in June compared with 2,100 in January. So-called “high-profile” bombings, including suicide bomb attacks on Shia markets, fell to 90 in June compared with 180 in March. But it is doubtful if these are entirely or even mainly due to the US surge.

The fall in sectarian killings, mostly of Sunni by Shia, may be largely the result of the Mehdi Army militia of Muqtada al-Sadr being told by their leader to curb their murder campaign. It is also true that last year, after the attack on the Shia shrine in Samarra on 22 February 2006, there was a battle for Baghdad which the Shia won and the Sunni lost.

Baghdad is more and more Shia-dominated and the Sunni are pinned into the south-west of the city and a few other enclaves. As Sunni and Shia are killed or driven out of mixed areas, there are less of them to kill. Some 4.2 million people in Iraq are now refugees, of whom about half have fled the country.

The real and appalling situation on the ground in Iraq has been all too evident this week. Thirty bodies, the harvest of the death squads, were found in the streets of Baghdad on Wednesday. The figure for Tuesday was 26 and, in addition, 20 rockets and mortar bombs were fired into the Green Zone killing three people. This was significant because they were fired by the Mehdi Army, who had been upset by criticism made on them by the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki. By way of gentle reproof they shelled his offices in the Green Zone.

What does this mean? It means that the surge is not having the intended effect. That is, if the intended effect was indeed a progress in security and political resolutions in Iraq, the surge has not succeeded, and probably will not succeed no matter how long we continue pressing this surge. The problem we are facing here at home is two fold. The public is now dead set against the war, and the military does not have any new fresh troops for the fight. A government cannot go to war without the nation behind it. Once it loses the nation, it will fairly quickly lose the war. The reason is that the soldiers come from the nation. Now, the military will run out of new soldiers to send to Iraq next April. Once April comes around what is the military going to do? They don’t say. Why not? Because their civilian bosses at the White House order them to remain silent. Why? Because it would hurt them politically.

Listen guys, the Republicans, by continuing this charade will lose badly in the November 2008 elections. They don’t seem to realize this. They believe that the American public will somehow never ever consider dropping them all. They figure that the more they filibuster Democratic legislation the more they can paint the Democrats as unable to rule. But this time the Americans will not forget (as they usually do with their massively short term attention span) that it was the Republicans who pressed for this war. This is important because if it were not for the Republicans, we’d get more honest assessments about this war and about what to do with our dear soldiers who fight for us. Instead, April will come around and well, we’ll still be living in denial while our soldiers come home wounded and weakened, stretched to the limit, and not the fighting force that can or will win our battles for us. This is very dangerous. Republicans would rather not talk about that. Neither their cohorts who control the media (see for example this latest evidence that even the New York Times would rather portray a political situation in Republican light—liberal media indeed).

What should happen?

In the real world, what should happen, especially when it comes to war, is to end the politicization. Republicans must stop using the soldiers as political fodder against Democrats. It must end. Were regular Americans to realize just how much the soldiers have been used by Republicans for political points, well, maybe many of them, the conservative kind, don’t mind the hypocrisy. In any case, it must end. It won’t unfortunately. But this is what should happen. We should look realistically at our situation now. We should assess just where this war has taken us, just what the costs have been. Will we actually do that? Not likely. Why not? Because partisan politics has gripped our nation at just the wrong time. Who is to blame for that? Karl Rove of course. As long as he is still employed we will never get an honest assessment.

The best solution for America right now in regards to Iraq is to begin talking about a way out of Iraq. The British were able to do so. We could learn a lot from the British it seems. One of the lessons is that you have to plan a good escape from the situation. The problem with Vietnam, and unfortunately the problem we will face with Iraq, is that we did not have a good plan of escape. So in the end you had a helicopter on top of the embassy with thousands of people trying to take it. What a shameful way to leave. Who is to blame for that? None other than Nixon of course. He orchestrated the ending of the war so that it would cast a bad light on the Democrats. But it was he, in the end, who left Vietnam the way he left it. George Bush does not wish to talk about how to leave Iraq. He would rather punt that on to the next administration (at this point assuredly a Democratic one). The moment the next administration withdraws the troops, he, from the sidelines, will criticize and demonize the next administration for failing in Iraq, and for not continuing his “grand crusade—er mission.” Why would he do this? Because in his heart, George W. Bush does not care about the troops as much as he cares about scoring political points for his Republican party.

The British withdrawal from southern Iraq also opens a window into our future for us to see what would happen with a withdrawal of foreign occupying troops. The Shi’ite militias turn on each other. This is the expected outcome. Why? Well, we go back to our realistic assessments. We keep pretending to believe that somehow the new Iraqi “army” will be loyal to the “government.” But please, let’s be honest. The real power lies in the militias, and will do so until the Americans leave to let the militias work it out on their own just how to run a large country the size of Iraq. What may really end up happening is that Iraq breaks down to tribal groups, as before World War I. Who knows, that may be what is actually best for a region like Iraq. The problem is that our world today prefers the nation-state. How would tribal organizations manage in such a system? Especially one like Iraq with all those lucrative resources?

In any case, Iraq will not fall to Al-Qaida. Al-Qaida’s presence in Iraq is small, and homogeneous. Their power is nowhere near that of the Shi’ite militias or the Kurdish militias. Will the Shi’ites try to murder all the remaining Sunnis? Not if the Sunnis have their own militias who protect their own. Also, if Iraq goes tribal, it won’t remain so for long. Here is where you get into the danger of a possible regional conflict. Iran will most likely eat up the Shi’ite south and east while Saudi Arabia will take in the Sunnis in the west. Will Saudi Arabia (or the United States) allow Iran to take possession of such a large amount of land with oil? Of course not. What about Turkey and Kurdistan? Turkey does currently have 140,000 troops on the border with Kurdistan. Turkish leaders have to think more of domestic politics than their obligations to foreign powers. The domestic politics demand action against the Kurds.

It really is unfortunate, and very tragic that we cannot have a realistic assessment about our actions in Iraq. The American people deserve to know the entire situation so they can make a realistic decision on whether or not to follow the president’s plan or some other. Whipping up the frenzy of Al-Qaida does nothing to solve the problem. I really hope Republicans can understand this. At this point, I am not holding my breath.

The American Young Lean Left

June 27, 2007 at 5:34 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, Democracy, George W Bush, Iran, Republicans | Leave a comment

Despite all of Karl Rove’s deceitful attempts to undermine democracy and create a permanent majority of Republican rule, the strong majority of America’s youth lean left on practically all topics. Republicans need to take some notes on how to best convince their fellow Americans that their way is the “more excellent way.” One really small thing, but so important, is that it usually does not do you any good to call your fellow Americans who disagree with you anti-American terrorist lovers. Just a small bit of advice.

In the meantime, we must bear with patience these next 17 months or so until this horrible administration is finally history, and pray they don’t do anything else stupid, like say, start a war with Iran. And I can tell you exactly what has ruined it for the Republican party. It is one small four letter word: Iraq. I hope it was worth it guys, because out of the multitude of costs, the biggest one you will feel will be when you sit back and languish with, say, 30 Senators in the Senate.

Failed States, the Legacy of the Bush Administration and Republicans

June 19, 2007 at 9:20 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Christianity, condoleezza rice, conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Hezbollah, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George, Middle East, Military, nationalism, neo-conservatives, Pakistan, Religion, Republicans, Revising History, secret combinations, Somalia, Syria, Thoughts, violence, War, War on Terror, World Events | Leave a comment

Republicans and the Christian Right should be well familiar with this particular verse from the Bible, Matthew 7:15-20:

15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

By their fruits, ye shall know them. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. A corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. Any Christian knows this parable. What does this mean for our world today? Let’s look at the fruits of the Bush administration and the Republican party.

Iraq

A failed state. The Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine have released their annual report of the world’s failed states. Iraq is the second worst failed state in the world, only two points better in the rankings than the world’s worst failed state, The Sudan. We’re now well over four years into our war in Iraq. Let’s put that in perspective. World War II, if started on March 20, 2003, would have ended last December or so. What is worse about this is that unlike The Sudan, America has pumped billions of dollars into Iraq with so little to show for it.

That is not to say that all failing states suffer from international neglect. Iraq and Afghanistan, the two main fronts in the global war on terror, both suffered over the past year. Their experiences show that billions of dollars in development and security aid may be futile unless accompanied by a functioning government, trustworthy leaders, and realistic plans to keep the peace and develop the economy. Just as there are many paths to success, there are many paths to failure for states on the edge.

So I ask you, Americans, and especially Christian conservatives, what do these fruits tell you about the tree from which they come? Now some of you may say, the tree really is terrorism. The answer to that is, no. The tree is America. We entered Iraq with the supposed intent to recreate the Middle East, and Iraq itself. After four years, what are the fruits of our labors? An utterly failed state. Jesus said, evil fruit cannot come from good trees.

By their fruits, ye shall know them.

Afghanistan

Recently a US airstrike killed seven children along with many others. More than one hundred die in three days of heavy fighting. The Taliban (living over in neighboring Pakistan) continue to plague the Americans now SIX YEARS after we attacked them. Six years. And they are still around? Afghanistan is ranked as the 8th worst failed state in the world, behind only The Sudan, Iraq, and a bunch of African states.

By their fruits, ye shall know them.

Pakistan

The Bush administration continues to support the highly corrupt and repressive military dictator, Musharraf, regardless of how much he punishes reformers in Pakistan. Pakistan is ranked as the 12th worst failed state in the world. Only Haiti, Central African Republic and Guinea separate Pakistan from her neighbor Afghanistan.

By their fruits, ye shall know them.

Lebanon

Poor, poor Lebanon, the world’s pawn, played by all parties against her own will. Israelis bomb her to the stone age. Hezbollah is a parasitic virus, destroying the country from within. Syria assassinates her leaders. The United States sacrifices her democracy on the altar of supposed Israeli preference (though if the United States were smart, they would have reined in Israel last summer, because it is in Israel’s best interest to have a stable country to her north. Now because of their idiotic bombing campaign, Lebanon is failing). Lebanon is ranked as the 28th worst failed state in the world.

Palestine

Not a state (and apparently not ever going to be a state), this is probably the worst of Bush’s failures. Is it really in the best interest of our ally, Israel, to have a failed non-state as her neighbor? Is it really in Israel’s best interest to have 1.4 million starving raving lunatics in a 25 mile strip of land right on her border? Is this Condoleezza Rice’s idea of “birth pangs?”

Why are these failed states so important to the world? The Foreign Policy magazine states it well in their introduction:

It is an accepted axiom of the modern age that distance no longer matters. Sectarian carnage can sway stock markets on the other side of the planet. Anarchic cities that host open-air arms bazaars imperil the security of the world’s superpower. A hermit leader’s erratic behavior not only makes life miserable for the impoverished millions he rules but also upends the world’s nuclear nonproliferation regime. The threats of weak states, in other words, ripple far beyond their borders and endanger the development and security of nations that are their political and economic opposites.

These are the fruits of the Republican philosophy to the world. These are the fruits of neo-conservatives. These are not the fruits of good trees. These must be cast into the fire, metaphorically speaking. We must do what needs to be done with these kinds of philosophies, let them pass the way of the dodo bird, to be a relic of history, never to be seen again. At least, if Americans want a better world.

Dick Cheney Goes Around President to Start War With Iran

May 25, 2007 at 1:15 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, conservatives, corruption, Iran, violence, War | 4 Comments

Well, we knew this day was coming. Cheney is apparently disappointed with Bush for going the diplomatic route with Iran and is going around the president to force the president’s hand. This is from Steve Clemons who is deeply connected in the world of Washington. He states:

There is a race currently underway between different flanks of the administration to determine the future course of US-Iran policy.

On one flank are the diplomats, and on the other is Vice President Cheney’s team and acolytes — who populate quite a wide swath throughout the American national security bureaucracy.

The Pentagon and the intelligence establishment are providing support to add muscle and nuance to the diplomatic effort led by Condi Rice, her deputy John Negroponte, Under Secretary of State R. Nicholas Burns, and Legal Adviser John Bellinger. The support that Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and CIA Director Michael Hayden are providing Rice’s efforts are a complete, 180 degree contrast to the dysfunction that characterized relations between these institutions before the recent reshuffle of top personnel.

However, the Department of Defense and national intelligence sector are also preparing for hot conflict. They believe that they need to in order to convince Iran’s various power centers that the military option does exist.

But this is worrisome. The person in the Bush administration who most wants a hot conflict with Iran is Vice President Cheney. The person in Iran who most wants a conflict is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Quds Force would be big winners in a conflict as well — as the political support that both have inside Iran has been flagging.

Multiple sources have reported that a senior aide on Vice President Cheney’s national security team has been meeting with policy hands of the American Enterprise Institute, one other think tank, and more than one national security consulting house and explicitly stating that Vice President Cheney does not support President Bush’s tack towards Condoleezza Rice’s diplomatic efforts and fears that the President is taking diplomacy with Iran too seriously.

This White House official has stated to several Washington insiders that Cheney is planning to deploy an “end run strategy” around the President if he and his team lose the policy argument.

The thinking on Cheney’s team is to collude with Israel, nudging Israel at some key moment in the ongoing standoff between Iran’s nuclear activities and international frustration over this to mount a small-scale conventional strike against Natanz using cruise missiles (i.e., not ballistic missiles).

There are many other components of the complex game plan that this Cheney official has been kicking around Washington. The official has offered this commentary to senior staff at AEI and in lunch and dinner gatherings which were to be considered strictly off-the-record, but there can be little doubt that the official actually hopes that hawkish conservatives and neoconservatives share this information and then rally to this point of view. This official is beating the brush and doing what Joshua Muravchik has previously suggested — which is to help establish the policy and political pathway to bombing Iran.

The zinger of this information is the admission by this Cheney aide that Cheney himself is frustrated with President Bush and believes, much like Richard Perle, that Bush is making a disastrous mistake by aligning himself with the policy course that Condoleezza Rice, Bob Gates, Michael Hayden and McConnell have sculpted.

According to this official, Cheney believes that Bush can not be counted on to make the “right decision” when it comes to dealing with Iran and thus Cheney believes that he must tie the President’s hands.

On Tuesday evening, i spoke with a former top national intelligence official in this Bush administration who told me that what I was investigating and planned to report on regarding Cheney and the commentary of his aide was “potentially criminal insubordination” against the President. I don’t believe that the White House would take official action against Cheney for this agenda-mongering around Washington — but I do believe that the White House must either shut Cheney and his team down and give them all garden view offices so that they can spend their days staring out their windows with not much to do or expect some to begin to think that Bush has no control over his Vice President.

It is not that Cheney wants to bomb Iran and Bush doesn’t, it is that Cheney is saying that Bush is making a mistake and thus needs to have the choices before him narrowed.

As some of Mr. Clemons’ readers note, that is usually called a coup, and would be in violation of American law. But Cheney has never been one to really care what the law states. He wants his war with Iran, and he will damned well get it.

What Would the Founding Fathers Do? and Other Matters

April 19, 2007 at 7:58 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Cho Seung-Hui, Congress, Democrats, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, liberals, McCain, Middle East, Military, nationalism, Republicans, secret combinations, violence, Virginia Tech, War, War on Terror, World Events | 9 Comments

( Updated )

Many things in the news today that are noteworthy. The first is the foolish childish John McCain joking about bombing Iran. Continue Reading What Would the Founding Fathers Do? and Other Matters…

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