Thursday, May 1, 2014

Friday, October 18, 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013

Syria & Kosova

I voted for Barack because he was the right man for President. And I have Obama's back on Syria.

Where is the outrage? This recent use of the known Syrian stockpiles of sarin/mustard (or whatever) gas is just the last straw. It demands, at long last, some kind of international reaction to syrian crimes against humanity.

Remember the Wars of Yugoslavian Dissolution? In the 1990's, after interminal agonizing and hand wringing, the USA bombed Serbian army to smithereens. That eventually resulted in regime change and alone enabled the eventual arrest and prosecution of Slobodan Miloševic. Bosnia and Kosova are today far from perfect. But the flood of refugees was interrupted before it de-stabilized surrounding states. No American boots were on the ground and no American blood was lost.

Now Syria: 80,033 have been killed to keep this killer & and his family in power. The 2 million refugees that the U.N. now documents, which includes more than 1 million children, is placing a huge strain on the countries hosting them. At the end of August, some 716,000 Syrian refugees were registered or in the process of being registered in Lebanon, 515,000 in Jordan, 460,000 in Turkey, 168,000 in Iraq and 110,000 in Egypt. This is ethnic cleansing at its worse.

General Wesley Clark, who led the NATO campaign against Serbia forces in Kosova also has Obama's back:

But President Obama has rightly drawn a line at the use of chemical weapons. Some weapons are simply too inhuman to be used. And, as many of us learned during 1990s, in the words of President Clinton, "Where we can make a difference, we must act."
Interestingly, General Clark also points out:
As in the case of Syria today, there was no United Nations resolution explicitly authorizing NATO to bomb Serbia. But NATO nations found other ways, including an earlier U.N. Security Council Resolutionpage 105, to legally justify what had to be done. In Syria, the violation of the 1925 Geneva prohibition against the use of chemical weapons is probably sufficient justification. (The fact that Russia used chemical weapons in Afghanistan in the 1980s should be used to undercut Russian objections to strikes against Syria today.)
I opposed the war in Vietnam, and the invasion of Iraq. In the streets. But I am in favor of killing or ousting this hereditary dictator in Damascus by any means short of putting American boots on the ground. Drones, missiles, bombs. He's propped up by the Russians, Iranians, and Hezbollah. Bashar al-Assad is, at the moment, the world's bloodiest terrorist. Some people just need killing. If he can be disappeared, the Syrians can sort Al-Qaeda out w/o our assistance.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

News Item: Mission Accomplished

The George W Bush Presidential Library Is Open to the Public

Iraq on edge after raid fuels deadly unrest.


More than 30 people were killed in gun battles between Iraqi forces and militants on Wednesday, a day after a raid on a Sunni protest ignited the fiercest clashes since American troops left the country.

The second day of fighting threatens to deepen sectarian rifts in Iraq where relations between Shia  and Sunni Muslims are still very tense just a few years after inter-communal slaughter pushed the country close to civil war.

The clashes between gunmen and troops were the bloodiest since thousands of Sunni Muslims started protests in December to demand an end to what they see as marginalisation of their sect by Shia  Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki.

On Tuesday, troops stormed one of the Sunni protest camps and more than 50 people were killed in the ensuing clashes which spread beyond the town of Hawija near Kirkuk, 170 km (100 miles) north of Baghdad, to other areas.

Sporadic battles continued on Wednesday and hardline tribal leaders warned that protests could turn into open revolt against the Baghdad government even as Sunni moderates and foreign diplomats called for restraint.

Militants briefly took over a police station and an army base and burned a small Shia  mosque in Sulaiman Pek, 160 km (100 miles) north of Baghdad, before army helicopters drove gunmen out of the town.

At least 18 were killed, including 10 gunmen and five soldiers, officials said.

An ambush on an army convoy near Tikrit with roadside bombs and rocket-propelled grenades killed three more soldiers. Three more troops were killed in an attack in Diyala province.

Later on Wednesday, clashes erupted in the northern city of Mosul, where gunmen launched an attack after using a mosque loudspeaker to call Sunnis to join their fight. At least three police and four soldiers died in the assault, officials said.

In a separate attack, at least eight people were also killed and 23 more wounded when a car bomb exploded in eastern Baghdad, police and medical sources said.

A surge in Sunni militant unrest has accompanied growing turmoil among the Shia , Sunni and Kurdish parties that make up Maliki’s power-sharing government.

A decade after the U.S.-led invasion, sectarian wounds are still raw in Iraq, where just a few a years ago violence between Shia  militias and Sunni insurgents killed tens of thousands of people.

Sectarian bloodshed reached its height in Iraq in 2006-2007 after Al Qaeda bombed the Shia  Askari shrine in Samarra, triggering a cycle of retaliation.

Thousands of Sunnis have been protesting since December, venting frustrations building up since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the empowerment of Iraq’s Shia  majority through the ballot box.

‘We are staying restrained so far, but if government forces keep targeting us, no one can know what will happen in the future, and things could spin out of control,’ said Abdul Aziz Al Faris, a Sunni tribal leader in Hawija.

The two main Shia  militias, Asaib Al Haq and Kataeb Hizbullah, appear to have stayed out of the latest violence. But former fighters said they could take up arms again if needed.

Maliki has set up a committee headed by a senior Sunni leader to investigate the violence at the Hawija camp, which left 23 people dead. He has promised to punish any excessive use of force and provide for victims’ families.

The prime minister has offered some concessions to Sunni protesters, including proposed reforms to tough anti-terrorism laws, but most Sunni leaders say they will not be enough to appease the demonstrators.

The Shia  premier may also seek to consolidate his position before 2014 parliamentary elections by taking a tough stance against hardline Sunni.

That may be a risk which could further alienate Sunnis.

‘What we are now likely to see in western Iraq is a deteriorating cycle of confrontation between the central government and protesters that will benefit extremist groups,’ said Crispin Hawes at Eurasia Group.

Iraq’s Sunni community is deeply divided between moderates more keen to work within Maliki’s government and those who see resistance as the only way to confront Baghdad.

‘The Maliki government’s aggression against our people in Hawija has forced us to take our uprising on another course,’ said Shaikh Qusai Al Zain, a protest leader in Anbar province.

‘We call upon all tribes and armed groups to begin supporting our brothers in Hawija.’

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense!

Tom Friedman Give Chuck a Chance:

In case you haven’t heard, President Obama is considering appointing Chuck Hagel, a former United States senator from Nebraska and a Purple Heart winner, as the next secretary of defense — and this has triggered a minifirefight among Hagel critics and supporters. I am a Hagel supporter. I think he would make a fine secretary of defense — precisely because some of his views are not “mainstream.” I find the opposition to him falling into two baskets: the disgusting and the philosophical. It is vital to look at both to appreciate why Hagel would be a good fit for Defense at this time.

The disgusting is the fact that because Hagel once described the Israel lobby as the “Jewish lobby” (it also contains some Christians). And because he has rather bluntly stated that his job as a U.S. senator was not to take orders from the Israel lobby but to advance U.S. interests, he is smeared as an Israel-hater at best and an anti-Semite at worst. If ever Israel needed a U.S. defense secretary who was committed to Israel’s survival, as Hagel has repeatedly stated — but who was convinced that ensuring that survival didn’t mean having America go along with Israel’s self-destructive drift into settling the West Bank and obviating a two-state solution — it is now.

I am certain that the vast majority of U.S. senators and policy makers quietly believe exactly what Hagel believes on Israel — that it is surrounded by more implacable enemies than ever and needs and deserves America’s backing. But, at the same time, this Israeli government is so spoiled and has shifted so far to the right that it makes no effort to take U.S. interests into account by slowing its self-isolating settlement adventure. And it’s going to get worse. Israel’s friends need to understand that the center-left in Israel is dying. The Israeli election in January will bring to power Israeli rightists who never spoke at your local Israel Bonds dinner. These are people who want to annex the West Bank. Bibi Netanyahu is a dove in this crowd. The only thing standing between Israel and national suicide any more is America and its willingness to tell Israel the truth. But most U.S. senators, policy makers and Jews prefer to stick their heads in the sand, because confronting Israel is so unpleasant and politically dangerous. Hagel at least cares enough about Israel to be an exception.

No one captured the despair in Israel better than Bradley Burston, a columnist for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, who wrote the other day: “This year, for Hanukkah, I want one person running this country, this Israel, to show me one scrap of light. One move — any move — for freedom, for all the peoples who live here. One step — no matter how slight — in the direction of a better future. What makes this Hanukkah different from all others? It’s the dark. It’s the sense that this country — beset by enemies, beset by itself — has locked down every single door against the future, and sealed shut every last window against hope. ... This country has begun to feel like a lamp whose body is cracked and whose light seems all but spent. On these long nights, we can make out little but an occupation growing ever more permanent, and a democracy growing ever more temporary.”

So, yes, put me in the camp of those who think that a few more bluntly outspoken friends of Israel in the U.S. cabinet would be a good thing.

The legitimate philosophical criticism of Hagel concerns his stated preferences for finding a negotiated solution to Iran’s nuclear program, his willingness to engage Hamas to see if it can be moved from its extremism, his belief that the Pentagon budget must be cut, and his aversion to going to war again in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, because he has been to war and knows how much can go wrong. Whether you agree with these views or not, it would be nothing but healthy to have them included in the president’s national security debates.

For instance, it’s impossible for me to see how America can secure its interests in Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Bahrain and Lebanon without ending the U.S.-Iran cold war in the Middle East. I’m skeptical that it’s possible. I think the Iranian regime needs hostility with America to justify its hold on power. But with sanctions really biting Iran, I’d like to test and test again whether a diplomatic deal is possible before any military strike. I think Hamas is dedicated to Israel’s destruction and has been a disaster for the Palestinians. But it is a deeply rooted organization. It controls Gaza. It is not going away. I don’t think America or Israel have anything to lose by engaging Hamas to see if a different future is possible. I think the world needs a strong America to maintain global stability. But the “fiscal cliff” tells you that our defense budget is coming down and we need to cut with a smart strategic plan. I think it would be useful to have a defense secretary who starts with that view and does not have to be bludgeoned into it.

So, yes, Hagel is out of the mainstream. That is exactly why his voice would be valuable right now.
Obama should grow a pair and quit letting McCain having a veto over the cabinet.