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In one exchange with a Congressman this morning, Hillary Clinton acknowledged that there was an over-reaction that led to war when the U.S. claimed that weapons of mass destruction were in the hands of the Iraqui government. I wonder if this was code language that explains why U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice cited in a TV interview mob violence as the reason for the Benghazi attack, and did not mention that it was conducted by terrorists, at a time she would have known the truth?
At a juncture when a public accusation that a terrorist attack on the anniversary of 9/11 was behind the death of a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans might have lit a candle of retailiation that could have led to war across the middle east, or lack of faith in a Presidential candidate for re-election, is it possible that the geniouses in Washington decided the American people couldn’t handle the truth?
If you doubt the plauibility of this interpretation of events, consider that in 1968, recently released papers of President Lyndon Johnson confirm that he decided against accusing Richard Nixon of treason for blocking peace talks regarding Vietnam so the war in Vietnam couldn’t be concluded before the fall election, which Nixon won. The reason Johnson didn’t go public with his charges against Nixon was because Johnson’s advisors believed that such an accusation on the eve of an election could destabilize the American public.
If this suggests to you, as it does to me, that Obama’s advisors felt the American people couldn’t handle the truth that America was successfully attacked again on the anniversary of 9/11, and on the verge of another Presidential election, then perhaps you are ignoring the lessons of history. “Weapons of mass destruction” looks like just such code-language regarding Benghazi.
For decades now, if you recall, word has been out that Iran is about to have a nuclear bomb. Now, somehow, we hear it is imminent. This sounds like more politics, than reality, to me. If we are so worried about an Islamic state possessing the bomb, what about Pakistan? They’ve had it for years, and the U.S., inadvertently or not, financed a lot of its development with our aid.
We just got out of Iraq, at least sort of. And we’re on a road that should also get us out of Afghanistan in a few years, at least sort of. Why would we be so foolish to get into Iran now, much less Syria?
Yes, today is the 4th of July, but the event we are commemorating is Independence Day, which means a lot in reference to our freedom and democracy in the U.S. Doesn’t it bug you when others say, “Have a happy 4th.” Guess it’s too much trouble to remind people we’re celebrating our freedom.
2. Lots of media coverage out there of the impending end of the Shuttle Space program, as if that’s something we should celebrate, when the opposite is true. We learn a lot of practical things through the space program every day, including taking baby steps towards the possible future salvation of mankind, when we’ve worn this world out. Now, if we want to venture out there, we have to make a reservation with the Russians for a ride to the Space Station, which we’ve spent billions developing. We hear our scientists are now focused on “deep space,” which is good, but doesn’t that ring a little hollow when we remember what this nation accomplished when John Kennedy challenged us, almost 50 years ago, to put a man on the moon?
3. The news is reporting that the last draftee from the Vietnam War is retiring from the military after 32 years of service. This generation is relieved that the draft is gone, and that war is now left to professional volunteers. It still doesn’t occur to many that we might have moved these decade-long wars of the 21st century along a little faster if we all recognized we have a stake in what neurotic politicians and military/industrial bureaucrats drag us into. Of course, we’re about to go bankrupt as a nation because of Iraq and Afghanistan. Maybe that will get our attention.
4. All that said, it’s a nice day to enjoy family, the outdoors, good food, good friends and our freedom. Happy Independence Day, and may there be many more!
President Obama’s Libya strategy is sketchy, to say the least, when it comes to the question of what comes after the UN, and NATO’s and America’s “humanitarian intervention.”
One of the best and most succinct discussions I’ve seen on this question to date is in this NPR article — http://www.npr.org/2011/03/28/134920431/foreign-policy-what-happens-if-libyas-rebels-win
— in which Lisa Anderson, President of the American University in Cairo, says, “Any military and political intervention that will bring an end to the Gaddafi regime should be accompanied, from the beginning, by mobilization of the resources of political reconstruction.”
I see that the U.S. is dispatching a senior diplomat to meet with the opposition, whoever they are, in Libya, and that the Brits have such meetings scheduled in London. Will these early efforts bear fruit and lead to any realistic reconstruction, if total civil war can be avoided in the interim? Big question. We’ve blown efforts to deliver practical help towards reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan. Do we even begin to understand the tribal dynamics in Libya? Do we understand the role of their military, and the basis of political power through Libya? I don’t think so.
Now that the air war has been brought under control and Gaddafi’s tanks have been knocked out in the East, and the opposition forces, if we can call them that, have been stopped by armed civilians in Gaddafi-controlled towns. Is this the beginning of a civil war, in which “humanitarian intervention” becomes more and more difficult to achieve, as civilians become the combatants and victims, on both sides?
Is this the dawning of tribal war and revolution? Will the U.S. be on the winning side of such a conflict? Will tribes previously loyal to Gaddafi switch sides to the opposition? Will an opposition coalition of tribes, towns and forces be formed, with a recognizable leadership widely supported by the population?
Will a new generation of terrorists, who hate the West, and one another, be spawned? Well, that’s probably already a given.
Will we regret the day we entered into “humanitarian intervention” in Libya? Or will we celebrate the victory of successfully imposing our U.S./Western ethos on another African/Middle Eastern culture? In what year, or decade, or century, will that “political reconstruction” be celebrated? And by whom?
One last comment: I fear that Obama has again, ala Afghanistan, been romanced by the military into believing that a limited armed intervention will likely produce successful political results.
Imagine that a far right or far left or other faction in the U.S. were to actively attack their own government (for example, if the union protests in Madison had gotten out of hand and escalated in violence, resulting in a crazed governor ordering State Police and State Reserve forces to push back protestors, with injuries and some deaths). Then, China sits down and decides this is unacceptable, and drafts a U.N. order that commands the “allies,” in this case the military of China, Cuba and Libya to respond by enforcing a no-fly zone in Southern Wisconsin to prevent the government from further attacking and suppressing its protesting citizens. How would we, the people, feel about these violent assaults by foreign nations against the sovereign U.S. government, even if our government was wrong and had made big mistakes (what’s new)?
A crazy and totally inappropriate analogy, you say. It could never happen. Sure. But put your shoe on the other foot.
But how would you, as an American citizen loyal to your government, feel about such bombing and strafing of U.S. forces by China, Cuba and Libya? Of course, as Americans living in the real world, we are well prepared to determine how Libya should be organized and led politically, and we are more than willing to send our sons and daughters to die to make Libya conform to our vision. Right?
See my previous blog post, “Leave Libya alone.” I hope upcoming events prove me to be wrong in my cynical view of our foreign policy decisions regarding Libya, but our U.S. track record in such things is not very strong. P.S. I served in Vietnam.
The proposition that reinstating a military draft could help save American democracy, at least in terms related to national decisions on military adventures, is one of the provocative concepts brought to mind by the new book: One Nation Under Contract, by Allison Stanger, Yale University Press.
With the number of private civilian contractors working for the military in Iraq and now Afghanistan equaling the number of deployed service members, at perhaps triple the cost of soldiers doing the same jobs, it’s pretty clear that the economic impact of these wars on the American taxpayers — including teachers, policemen and fire fighters — could be drastically reduced by reinstating a draft to fill most of these roles.
But, why isn’t a draft even on the table for discussion? Because the White House, Congress and the military-industrial complex knows full well that the American populace would be much less motivated to support or remain silent on the continuation of these foreign conflicts if a draft was imposed on a broader portion of youth and families across the land.
So, we pay and pay, and now are at a point where the U.S. can’t sustain pensions, Social Security, health care, and union benefits in Wisconsin and throughout the country for teachers, policemen and firefighters — among many others. The power elite are deciding when, where and how long to go to war, without allowing democracy to be fully engaged in such life and death decisions.
If government doesn’t trust the people, it won’t be long before the people don’t trust their government. Those times are already upon us. So, if government won’t be responsible to the people — democracy cannot survive. So, give us a draft that engages the people in military decision-making, or live with the destabilizing consequences of a government that doesn’t know or trust the wisdom of its people.
To die for an idea; it is unquestionably noble. But how much nobler it would be if men died for ideas that were true!
H. L. Mencken
Excerpt from “Freedom’s just Another Word,” by Frank rich, NYT, 9/4/10. “The other American casualties of Iraq include the credibility of both political parties, neither of which strenuously questioned the rush to war and both of which are still haunted by that failure, and of the news media, which barely challenged the White House’s propaganda about Saddam’s imminent mushroom clouds. Many pundits, quite a few of them liberals, stoked the war fever as well. Some eventually acknowledged getting it wrong, though in most cases they stopped short of apologizing for their failures of judgment and their abdication of journalistic skepticism about the government’s case for war.
“Even now those think-tank types who kept seeing light at the end of the Iraqi tunnel are ubiquitous on television and op-ed pages making similar stay-the-course prognostications about Afghanistan. Their embarrassing track records may have temporarily vanished into the great American memory hole, but actions do have consequences, and there must be an accounting. America does have a soul, and, as Franzen so powerfully dramatizes in “Freedom,” when that soul is violated, we are paralyzed until we set it right.”
Somehow, leaving 50,000 troops in Iraq to work as “trainers and advisors” doesn’t smack of an end to the war in Iraq, and it doesn’t even stack up to the shameful 60-year garrisons we’ve left behind in Germany, Japan and South Korea.
While the returning “combat” troops deserve our thanks and appreciation, I hope there are no victory ticker tape parades in NYC or DC, or any crowing from the imperial White House for a so-called “end” to the war that’s gone on longer than the Civil War or WWII.
The criminals in the last White House who committed all these people, all these deaths and injuries, all these resources to a fantasy, remain at large. And 50,000 “trainers” left in Iraq does not end the war, while we pile on new mistakes in Afghanistan. I’m ashamed of our country’s former and current elected and civil leadership in Federal government, and their sick and vicious “defense” strategies…
I started my adult life wasting 3 years in the Army during the dumb Vietnam War, and the beat goes on to this minute.
Yes, Professor Jay Rosen (jayrosen.posterous.com) is right, we the public would be better served if the commentary by politicians and “experts” on political talk shows were fact-checked on a timely basis. Here is my comment on his blog site: “Rosen is right, there should be fact-checking of these political talk shows, and it should be done independently, and I’d subscribe to any blogger or news organization that does it well. Real journalists deal in facts, and based on facts, render opinions.”