Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Senator McCain

Posted February 27, 2008 on 5:02 pm | In the category Afghanistan, Election 2008, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, U.S. Foreign Policy | by Jeff

Recent and ongoing events in Pakistan and Afghanistan highlight in new ways the disastrous effects of the United States’ misguided Iraq invasion and the delusionary nature of Senator McCain’s commitment to continuing a bankrupt policy in Iraq.

The War in Afghanistan is not going well. The Taliban is back in force, the poppy fields are again feeding America’s cocaine habit, America’s allies are beginning to question their willingness to continue in Afghanistan, violence against civilians is on the increase and the U.S. cannot bring enough force to bear because its military is bogged down in Iraq.

If there is a failure in Afghanistan – which appears possible, if not likely – the blame can go directly to the Bush decision to commit to an unnecessary war in Iraq. By not committing the needed forces to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan in favor of invading Iraq, Bush allowed the Taliban to withdraw into Pakistan and form a new commitment to take Afghanistan back. This in turn led to a stronger terrorist structure in Pakistan which has destabilized much of that country and which runs the risk of leading to the loss of major portions of Pakistan to the Taliban and its Al Queda allies. This is doubly worrisome given Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. Afghanistan was a major training ground for Al Quada and the opportunity to eliminate that from happening again now seems lost.

Which brings us to Senator McCain’s delusions. His campaign is based largely on his belief that the so-called surge has worked and that victory is in sight. While those are extremely questionable opinions, it is clear that even were they true any such victory would come at terrible cost – in human life, American treasure, diminished American influence in the world, increased Iranian influence in the region, a destabilized Pakistan and in all probability a failed state of Afghanistan.

The U.S. president has enormous powers in foreign affairs – reviewing the disastrous impact of President Bush’s foreign policy reminds us of that. And it reminds us that choosing the next president can send the United States further into decline if it sends into office a man (or woman) unable to understand the difference between genuine American national interest, and jingoistic political slogans. Senator McCain clearly is determined to wage a campaign aimed at continuing the failed Bush policies in Iraq and the voters will need to decide whether it wants what would amount to a third Bush term.

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Roger Clemens’ Theater of the Absurd

Posted February 14, 2008 on 6:11 pm | In the category Politics, U.S. Domestic Policy | by Jeff

If anyone needs performance enhancing drugs, it is the Republican members of the U.S. Congress. In an exhibition befitting Little Leaguers, the House Oversight & Govt. Reform Committee managed to turn a hearing on illegal use of steroids by baseball players into theater of the absurd.

Steroid use is a serious issue at least partly because of its effects on those young athletes – high school age and younger – trying to gain an edge by using drugs that ultimately can seriously damage their health. By focusing on one player’s presumed guilt the Committee managed to create an opportunity for Republicans to rush to the protection of Clemens, a Bush family friend, and turn a potentially serious discussion into one more GOP generated partisan flackshow.

As for the Hearings – Mike Wise in the Washington Post cut quickly to the chase:

“As the contradictions kept coming yesterday in the Rayburn House Office Building, Clemens came across as a megalomaniac, a habitual liar and a barrel-chested fraud. The people who believe him now seem to be either paid by Clemens, married to him or in worse denial than the Rocket himself.

He came to Capitol Hill not to swear, under oath, his innocence of being a drug cheat; Clemens came here to show America that the arrogance of the elite athlete has moved beyond our ball fields, universities and clubhouses straight into a witness chair at a congressional hearing.”

Those Republican Committee members that attempted to portray Clemens as a hero rather than an egotistical liar were on something but it was decidedly not performance enhancing. They accepted Clemens’ nonsensical testimony without blinking an eye and proved once again that most of a generation of Republican politicians have become T.S. Eliot’s Hollow Men.

“We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar”

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Whose war is this, anyway?

Posted February 10, 2008 on 1:53 am | In the category Afghanistan, Canada, Europe, Germany | by Mackenzie Brothers

Who knows? Maybe Senator McCain will overcome all odds and become the next president of the United States, in which case the war in Iraq, which has become a forlorn US war as the few original allies head for the hills, may not be over. But the war in Afghanistan, supposedly a NATO war with some help from Australian special forces, is anything but over. But for most of the NATO countries, it has never started.

In a scenario that nobody could have imagined even five years ago, Canadian Minister of Defence Peter MacKay knocked on the doors of all of his colleagues at the meeting of NATO Defence Ministers in Lithuania this week, and asked a simple question. “Are you willing to order your soldiers to actually fight in Afghanistan, or do you plan to keep them in safe havens under orders to not engage in combat while Canadian, British, and US troops do all the dangerous work, with some limited help from the Netherlands and Denmark?” For the Canadian government has announced that it has had enough of this charade of a NATO army and will pull its 3000 troops out of dangerous Kandahar, where 78 Canadian soldiers have been killed, if other NATO countries don’t contribute at least 1000 actual fighting soldiers by next year. The US Secretary of Defence inadvertently added his salt to this wound by stating that while US soldiers knew how to fight Taliban forces, other NATO soldiers didn’t. Later he admitted he hadn’t meant to include Canada, the UK and the Netherlands in this condemnation, but by then it was too late.

MacKay met with lots of encouragement but little success, though the US promised marines on a temporary basis, and France seemed to vaguely suggest it might send 700 fighters. The real disgrace is that supposed leading powers in NATO like Germany, Italy and Spain have ordered their armies to not engage in combat, while their Canadian, US and British colleagues, all supposedly part of the same army, are suffering heavy casualties. Can such a supposed political union really survive such a breech of loyalty?

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Willard Mitt Romney: Sewer Rat

Posted February 7, 2008 on 6:45 pm | In the category Election 2008, Politics | by Jeff

“Because I love America, in this time of war, I feel I have to stand aside for our party and our country… If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror” Willard Romney, 2/7/08

Mitt Romney has spent $40 million to provide an opportunity for the vast majority of Americans – including the majority of republicans – to learn to despise him. He could have saved his money – all he really had to do was crawl out of the sewer and open his mouth in public. His ever-shifting stands on issues indicated his lack of character and judgment but the pious, self-serving slanders quoted above seal the verdict.

The people of Massachusetts learned their lesson the hard way but Romney is indeed doing the right thing to stand down “for the good of our country”.  Not even Schadenfreude over his failed campaign can compensate for having to listen to his self-indulgent, mealy-mouthed, pious bullshit.

A Mormon friend had the following to say to me months ago and he nailed it.

“I really detest this Romney guy. There is something sickening about him besides arrogance and his shameful bragging about success. …The bastard has lived off others his whole life….he is a hollow version of himself. It is hard for me to believe that anyone who makes an honest living won’t be revolted by the bastard….He has a long history of parasitic success. He has no track record of running anything or risking like a true capitalist. He has always had the inside track behind closed doors. Warren Buffett nailed him in a NYT piece that discusses how he made millions on commissions. Buffett hates fees and commissions because they drain share holder profits and don’t add to the economy. And by the way in that NYT article they hit him on how many people lost their livelihood when he bought and sold companies, several ended up in bankruptcy and he still made a ton of money while others lost their jobs, pensions and benefits. Romney actually said, “I wish I had paid more attention to how these deals affected employees”.
He is living off blood money.

All he did in his campaign was show us how insecure he is.”

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